Indonesian Beef Curry – Kastner and Ovens, Spitalfields

image

Brrr…. The weather really turned this week. Gone was the incessant rain and lingering clouds to be replaced with bright blue skies but also chilly winds and numbing cold. It’s getting hard to venture far for lunch forages but persist I shall!

image

It has been awhile since I tried a new food joint so decided to check a rather curious place out which I noticed when I went to Mangiare awhile ago. Kastner and Ovens has no obvious signage apart from some minimalist decals on the glass facade and the menu is rather cryptic as well. But it is pretty obvious they serve food looking at the display and the number of people in the queue. Apart from food, the joint is also like a delicatessen selling freshly baked bread and some specialist groceries.

image

image

Anyway, I joined the queue and when it came my turn, asked what they have on offer. There was a couple of pies, quiches, a beetroot and celeriac terrine (Boom, they copy you!) a choice of salads which you can mix and match and an Indonesian Beef Curry with rice. You don’t have to be a genius to guess what I went for.. Collected my order and went to pay at the cashier not knowing how much it cost since the curry was not on the menu. The cashier rung up £6 which was what I paid.

image

By Indonesian Beef Curry, I think they meant beef rendang. Well it certainly looks like one and a few colleagues commented on the delicious smell from my box. Yes, it smells like one as well. Added 4 spicy wings to my lunch from some random fried chicken place along Brick Lane, the 4 wings for £1 deal.

image

If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck, it is a duck? Unfortunately, the look and smell did not translate to the taste. Don’t get me wrong, it does not taste bad. The beef was cooked well, tender enough yet still has a bite. The potatoes were also well done having absorbed the taste of the sauce. But the dish just taste one dimensional, definitely missing lemon grass and pandan leaves.

Oh well, not being racist but what do you expect when a complex dish like rendang is cooked by non Asians? I should not be that harsh, at least the attempt was tasty enough. Or perhaps they were not after the rendang taste afterall?

Kastner and Ovens
13 Frying Pan Alley
London E1 7HS
0203 538 6992

Sierra Chicken Sandwich and Salad – Micha, Old Spitalfields Market

image

Readers of my blog will know that it’s very seldom that I crave for bread being a rice bucket and all. Came lunch time today, I could not get the image of a hot and toasted sandwich out of my mind. Was intending to go to Go to try out their toasted foccasia but got distracted by the long queue at Micha instead.

image

I have blogged about Micha awhile back and as before, was amazed by the range of options available and the value for money. Apart from Tesco, I don’t think you can get a huge sandwich/wrap/baked potato with a small salad for between £6 to £7. They also offer a soup and salad option due to the impending cold weather.

image

The Sierra Chicken Sandwich was the only bready thing on offer today and the combination of chipotle mayo, Gouda cheese, tomato and chicken sounded tempting enough for me. There was a choice of plain or seeded bread and I got seeded. The sandwich was toasted on order and managed to stay warm from the walk back to office. The highlight of the sandwich was the chipotle mayo which provided the smoky and spicy kick the sandwich requires while the thick slices of tomatoes counters with tang and juice.

image

For the small salad, I got gnocchi, orecchiette with pea sauce and a lentil and chickpea salad. It is suppose to be a small side salad, but after plating it out, it’s bigger than the sandwich! Sandwich and salad for £6, can’t beat that! So cost wise, it’s great but quality wise I’m not as convinced. The gnocchi was doughy and quite heavy in texture with a rather bland tomato sauce while some of the orecchiette was not cooked through. The lentil and chickpea salad is what it is so nothing to wow about.

image

Was looking at the other customers and some of them were munching on paper cones of chips while waiting for their wraps to be toasted. When I got closer to the counter, there was a note that said the chips are free with order of sandwich or wrap, you just need to ask. I never pass up a freebie and glad I did as the hot and crispy chips kept my tum warm on the walk back. Free chips! Score!

image

Micha
Horner Square
Old Spitalfields Market
London E1 6ED

Roast Duck Potsu Udon – Itsu, Canary Wharf

image

Interesting that it took me so long to blog about Itsu as it is one of my favourite High Street takeaway chains. It’s not like the shop is not accessible to me with 4 outlets in Canary Wharf and 1 near Liverpool Street station. There was once when the Vegetable Gyoza udon was one of my favourite lunches. Things fall out of favour I guess.

image

Anyway, being a damp and miserable day, I decided to pay Itsu a much needed visit. I went to the outlet at Cabot Place as it is the closest to me. It is quite a big setup with loads of seats available. The other outlet in Canary Wharf with seating is located at Jubilee Place while the other 2 dotted along Canada Square are pure takeaway outlets. As usual, you can chose amongst the sushi and bento boxes or you can order something hot from the counter. I broke the bank and went for the most expensive option of Roast Duck Potsu Udon at £6.49. Ok, I’m exagerating but £6.49 for a pot of noodles is not to be sniffed at.

image

The sauce you can see on top is hoisin sauce which is quite typically served with duck, especially the crispy duck wraps from all the Chinese takeaway joints. Since it’s roast duck, was expecting some duck skin but none was found. Guess it goes with Itsu’s philosophy of health and happiness sans fat! The broth has a miso base and is loaded with spinach, green beans, mangetout, fresh shitake mushroom slices and other bits of veg. The portion is very generous, there are loads of shredded duck as well as udon. Definitely not one of those noodle soups where they bulk things up with the broth. Well worth the £6.49 I would say.

image

Wonder how the rice version will taste like? You do have the option to either have brown rice or udon with your potsu.

Itsu
Level 2, Cabot Place East
Canary Wharf
London E14 4QT
0207 512 5790

Beef Curry with Noodles and Momos – Tibet Kitchen, Old Truman Brewery

image

The Nigerian told me last week that a few food stalls has popped up in the F block area, one of various spaces in the Old Truman Brewery compound. Knowing that these temporary food stalls only operates Thursdays and Fridays, I went to check them out today.

image

I counted around 6 – 7 food stalls selling food ranging from Asian, Mexican to Mediterranean and Caribbean. I was spoiled for choice and had a brief wobble. Luckily, one word on a stall’s banner caught my eye, Momo. From reading other food blogs, understand that momo is a type of dumpling not unlike gyoza or the dim sum dumplings. Well, they definitely look like the dumplings I know.

image

Apart from different types of momo, Tibet Kitchen also offers a few dishes where you can have with either rice or noodles. I got a large order of Beef Curry with Noodles which was £6 and only had £4 left (lazy to bring my wallet so just stuffed a £10 note in my pocket). Looking at the menu, 6 momo cost £5 so I humbly asked whether it’s ok for me to get some momo with the £4 I have left. The stall owner gladly complied.

image

I was expecting maybe just 4 momo since I was short. But I got the full 6 and the owner gave me a mixture of both steamed and fried ones. Taste wise, they are alright I guess. Can’t really tell the filling apart by taste. But looking at the colour, I think I got 2 beef, 2 pork and 2 chicken ones.
Continue reading

Chili Chicken and Spicy Aubergine – Mama Thai, Spitalfields

image

Felt guilty for not having been to the gym all week till today. The idea did cross my mind the past couple of days but with my workload heading towards a car crash, only managed to find some free time today. Threw in my usual 50 laps and did the whole hog by walking back to my office. Mama Thai was on the way and so thought why not?

image

By the time I reached Mama Thai, it was closed to 1pm and geared myself for a long queue. Interestingly, the queue was only 4 deep and I managed to get my order within 5 minutes. Today’s special dish was Chili Chicken so I got that as well as a side of Spicy Aubergine. As before, a fully packed box with rice for just £5.

image

Somehow, did not enjoy today’s lunch as much as I did before. Perhaps it’s cos the Tech Lead came to quiz me about work as I was eating or maybe my mind was occupied trying to get work priorities right. Though the Chili Chicken looked appetizing, taste wise, it was pretty one dimensional. Slightly spicy, moderately seasoned but just plain bland. The aubergine was slightly better with a smoky yet slightly sweet sauce. Lucky I have the container of pickled chilies to help pickup the taste.

Well, I never expected gourmet and for just £5, one can hardly complain. At least my tum was filled though my taste buds were not.

Mama Thai
10 Toynbee Street
London E1 7NE

Pastrami on Rye – Rough Trade East, Brick Lane

image

Today’s lunch is from a rather unconventional place, a record shop! I walk by Rough Trade East almost everyday on my way to work and noticed there in a small cafe in the shop. Upon closer inspection, they serve a couple of hot sandwiches for lunch and a specific one caught my eye. The Pastrami on Rye.

image

image

More specifically according to the menu, it’s pastrami, Emmental, gherkin, piccalilli on toasted rye bread and it’s made to order which ensure it’s freshness. At £4, it’s not bad but they have a lunch special which includes a sandwich, a cup of hot apple juice and a bag of pork crackling for £5. Obviously I went for the offer.

image

Personally, I think the sandwich was excellent! The pastrami was tender, not too salty and quite generous. The amount of gherkin and piccalilli did not overpower the pastrami slices and the balance was just right. The toasted rye bread could be thicker (I like my bread thickly sliced) but it was nicely toasted and I simply loved the caraway seeds scattered throughout the bread. Apparently, not all rye bread have caraway seeds, only some does.

image

While waiting for my sandwich to be made, I spotted a few other interesting things apart from records in the shop. Will have to pop by one of these days to see whether I can pickup some stocking fillers.

image

Rough Trade East
‘Dray Walk’
Old Truman Brewery
91 Brick Lane
London E1 6QL
0207 392 7788

Chicken Masala Dosa and Vada – Dosa World, Hanbury Street

image

Funny how cravings are like, came noon and my taste buds went ding, I want dosa. So it’s off to Dosa World for lunch today.

image

I have blogged about Dosa World before and a reader commented that he was surprised I managed to get a Meat Masala Dosa as he thought South Indians are predominantly vegetarians. Found myself standing outside the restaurant staring at the menu to gear myself for a vegetarian meal but the call of protein was too hard to resist. I succumbed and ordered a Chicken Masala Dosa with a side of plain vada. The dosa cost £5.99 while the plain vada was £1.49.

image

The Chicken Masala Dosa is served with a mild but flavorful sambar. To be honest, I much prefer the chicken to the meat version I have previously. Somehow, it’s more moist and the plain shredded chicken blends in much better with the rest of the filling.

image

As for the vada, the plain version is so much better than the spinach version! Crunchy on the outside but nice and fluffy on the inside. Perfect with the 2 chutneys that came with the order. The nice man who took my ordered explained that the white chutney is made with coconut (that was my guess before) while the red chutney is more spicy and made with tomato. I don’t know which chutney I prefer, I think they taste best when combined.

Brings back memories of when I was a kid growing up in Singapore. The vadas we have usually has a big unshelled prawn on top and always served with fresh whole green chilies. Oh well, the vada from Dosa World will just have to do then.

Dosa World
46 Hanbury Street
London E1 5JL
0207 377 0344