Pork Ramen – Wagamama, Clink Street, London Bridge

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Today’s post might not to everyone’s liking since I’m going to blog about a High Street joint. There is a Wagamama just around the corner from work and I was starving and craving for something nice and warming. Sorry if you’d thought I sold out.

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With the recent ramen craze sweeping major cities around the world, London is in on the act as well. Recent openings like Tonkotsu, Ittenbari, Bone Daddies and Shoryu were all blogged to death by regular food blogs. I did try out Tonkotsu with high hopes but sadly they were dashed beyond oblivion. Understand that Wagamama revamped their menu slightly to jump on the ramen bandwagon so thought why not give it a chance?

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Decided to go with the Pork Ramen seeing it’s supposedly new on the menu. Also gave myself a treat with a side order of Tori Kaarage, for those of you not in the know, tori = bird in Japanese, i.e. Chicken Kaarage. Also added some sliced red chilies as I can’t live without heat! The ramen was £8.50, the kaarage was £4.85 while the sliced chilies were £0.70. All in lunch was £14.10. Service was not included and since the servers were all very attentive, I dropped £16 when the bill came. Junk deserves a treat sometimes.

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I was glad I gave this a go! The Tori Kaarage had a very crispy and well seasoned coating of batter which has seaweed mixed into it. Unlike most places, the kaarage were truly bite size pieces, like the popcorn chicken from KFC. While the size is convenient for popping into your mouth, I think there is a higher tendency for some pieces to be dry as the size means the moisture in the meat is more exposed to the heat. The dipping sauce that came with it complimented the kaarage well, a mix of soy sauce with some chili and garlic. Recommend that you squeeze some of the lime juice into the dipping sauce to give it a tangy edge.

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On to the Pork Ramen. Ok, I really pimped this up with the chili oil and shichimi togarashi provided. On hindsight, I could have saved £0.70 for the sliced chili since the complimentary condiments gave me the heat I wanted. Pimping aside, the miso and chicken broth was deep but not too coying, the noodles had a nice bite while still maintaining the fresh ramen texture, the menma, wakame and pea shoots added some crunch while the half tea stained egg could be marinated a bit more. But the true delight of this dish has to be the barbecue pork belly slices! The portion was generous, the belly slices were tender with melt in your mouth fat yet has the smoky and charred flavour typical of a good searing. Thought I died and gone to heaven.

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So in all, Junk was a very satisfied customer. Two thumbs up!

Wagamama
1 Clink Street
London SE1 9BU
0207 403 3659

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Haggis, Neeps and Tatties – Chez Boom and Sillfield Farm, Borough Market

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One of my biggest past time on weekends is cooking. I’m always looking out for inspiration of new things to cook be it recipe from newspaper, supermarket freebie magazines or fellow food blogs. Seeing it’s Burns Night last Friday and I have a wee bottle of Scottish Whiskey hanging around, decided to grab some proper haggis from Borough Market and give Haggies, Neeps and Tatties a go.

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Wanted to get haggies from The Ginger Pig but they were sold out by lunch time. Had to resort to Plan B and got it from Sillfield Farm next door instead. The haggies supposedly comes in 2 sizes but they ran out of the big one so I had to get 2 small 3/4 pound ones instead. They were £3.95 each, not cheap considering it’s made from offal.

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For those of you who are curious, haggis is a traditional Scottish dish made from sheep’s pluck which is it’s heart, liver and lung. The cooked and minced pluck is mixed with onion, oats and various herbs and spices and stuffed in a casing so it’s something like a sausage. The “parcel” is boiled but unlike sausage, you don’t eat the casing.

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The classic accompaniment to haggis is neeps and tatties. Mashed turnip and swede and mashed potatoes. After reading several recipes from the interweb, I’m still not sure whether neeps refers to turnips or swede. Decided to go with swede since I thought the slight sweetness will go well with the rest of dish. Also made a basic Bisto gravy but added some leeks to it.

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I know the picture don’t look great, the lousy lighting at Chez Boom makes everything looks yellow (Junk included, well she is already yellow afterall). The pile with the green bits is the mashed potatoes, the green bits are chives.

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This is not the first time I have tried haggis but have to agree with Boom that this is best one we have both tried. The haggis is not dry at all and is rich and wholesome, no trace of offal taste at all. Combined with the creamy mash and slightly sweet mashed swede, it was the perfect meal for a cold winter night. Boom liked adding whiskey to the haggis while I prefer it without. Somehow the whiskey was too harsh for my taste. In all, really enjoyed it.

Chez Boom
Somewhere in West London
Open 24/7
Strictly by invitation
Only for the worthy

Sillfield Farm
Borough Market, Middle Market area
8 Southwark Street
London SE1 1TL

Thai Green Chicken & Seafood Curry – Furness Food Stop, Borough Market

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It’s Thursday today and Borough Market is in full swing, compared to other weekdays, the atmosphere is much better. I know I will have choices galore and rather then wandering around undecided, I set my mind on something warm and preferably with rice. The first few stalls I came across were hogging pies and sausage rolls which I will file for the future. Then I came across this place.

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Furness Fish & Game sells fresh seafood, poultry and game. They also portion off a part of their stall to sell takeaway for punters like me. Not a bad idea seeing most of the ingredients in the ready made food is from their produce stall.

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On offer today was a Seafood Paella, Thai Green Chicken & Seafood Curry and a Vietnamese Chicken Curry. Was tempted by the paella but peeling prawns and shelling mussels at my desk while blogging sounds too messy even for me. I might be able to multi-task but I’m not an octopus!

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Decided to go half way and went with the Thai Green Chicken & Seafood Curry. While waiting for my food, spotted the soup kettle and had a portion of Fish Soup as well. Handed over a £20 note and only got £10.50 back. Told you Borough Market can be expensive! The curry probably cost £6 while the soup is £3.50. There was no price posted and I did not bother to ask.

The Fish Soup is like a bisque, smooth and creamy and you can still taste small flakes of fish in it. But it does smell pretty fishy and I think it’s a tad too salty. I liked it though. The curry also fared pretty well. The sauce was rich with coconut cream and there was plenty of normal and shitake mushroom, capsicum, baby potatoes. A bit mean on the chicken and I only spotted 3 small shell on prawns as the token seafood. Surprisingly, the rich made the dish! Not too sure what rice it is, definitely not basmati or jasmine. Probably the bomba rice they used in the paella.The grains are plump, slightly sticky and it was nicely seasoned with salt. The combination of salty rice and the slightly sweet curry was magic.

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See, I was so excited with my food that I forgot to take a closeup pic till I was almost done. Tsk, tsk, Junk, what are you like eh?

Furness Fish & Game
Borough Market Middle Market Area
8 Southwark Street
London SE1 1TL

Pulled Roast Herdwick Lamb Wrap – Cumbrian Speciality Meats, Borough Market

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Most people think that Borough Market only trades from Thursdays to Sundays and is dead  early in the week. Strictly speaking, that is true as most of the stall selling fresh produce are closed. But there are a few stalls catering to lunch seekers open at the Green Market area.

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Was thinking of giving Soul Food a try but alas, they are not opened. So I went with the stall with the most crowd, Cumbrian Speciality Meats. For Monday to Wednesday, they only have their Pulled Roast Herdwick Lamb wrap so my choice is made. The lamb is roasted, pre pulled and heated up on a electric cooker like the wild rice. Apart from the lamb, the wrap is served with herb wild rice, a mix salad and 2 sauces. A simple yogurt and cucumber and a slightly spicy yogurt sauce. The wraps are made to order and it’s £5 each.

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What attracted me to the stall was the whiff of gamey lamb. Some people love it, some don’t. Taste wise, I think it’s ok. I would have loved more lamb and I think the portion of lamb I had was overheated and thus dry. But the gamey lamb taste is still there and mixed with the mild sauce was tasty enough. The wild rice was nicely spiced with coriander while the small portion of salad gave a much needed crunch.

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I never expected to eat cheap at Borough Market so can’t really complain about the price to size ratio. Let’s just say I can always have soup at the office canteen to bulk up. Sorry for the blurry picture, it’s a cold day afterall.

Cumbrian Speciality Meats
Borough Market Green Market Area
8 Southwark Street
London SE1 1TL

Red Thai Beef with Noodles – Chozen, Borough High Street

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Saw this place on my way home last night and thought what a quirky and imaginative name. The fact that they serve sushi and noodles makes it a must try.

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Chozen is located along Borough High Street, diagonally opposite Stoney Street, one of the entrances to Borough Market. The name of the joint is a word play on “Chosen” but spelled as “zen” so you know they serve Japanese inspired food. Subtle but rather effective I think.

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The set up is very much like Wasabi where you can get hot food from steamer trays and cold sushi from the fridge area. A variety of udon noodle soup is also available. Just pickup a udon container and the counter staff will top it up with soup. Price wise, I think it’s a tad more than Wasabi but not so bad to be obvious.

From a choice of red thai, green thai and katsu curry and also black bean with either veg, chicken or beef, I went with the Red Thai Beef and got egg noodles as carb instead of rice.  Was asked would I like to go large/upsize for £1.50 more, I simply had to say yes. Total came up to £7.15.

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The smell when I opened the container reminded me more of satay sauce then red thai curry, strong whiff of peanuts. The beef was thinly sliced and very tender with courgettes, kidney bean and peppers scattered throughout. Taste wise, it’s definitely not red thai curry. I would say this is more like a slightly spicy stew. Not too bad if you are not expecting red thai curry.

I will give their udon soup noodles a go when I’m craving for something soupy next time.

Chozen
59 – 61 Borough High Street
London SE1 1NE
0207 403 0031

Birthday Dim Sum Lunch – Taste of China, Harrow

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So it was Junk’s birthday last weekend and the Boom suggested we go to LPDJ at Westfield Shepherd’s Bush for dinner as I have always wanted to try the joint but never came around to it. Instead, I woke up in the morning craving for dim sum so countered his suggestion with a dim sum lunch instead. As it’s my birthday afterall, he gladly compiled.

There are 2 Chinese restaurants along Station Road at Harrow, Taste of China and Royal China. Royal China actually took over another Chinese restaurant a couple of years back and the Boom and I used to go to that but we jumped ship to Taste of China as I find Royal China tends to be packed on weekends, is pricier in comparison and tends to be snobby.

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For those of you who are not familiar with dim sum offerings, fear not! They have a special menu with coloured pictures of each dish and the price which makes ordering a breeze. Having dim sum is very much like having tapas, the dishes are small and is perfect for sharing. The aim is to order a variety of dishes and each person can have a try. If anyone wants more food, you can always add on to your order.

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I think we ended up ordering perhaps 10 dishes in total. As they are served when each is ready and I was starving, did not managed to get a picture with all the dishes. Clockwise from the left we have Mixed Seafood Hor Fun, Pan Fried Turnip Cake, Salted Egg and Lean Meat Rice Porridge and Seaweed and Beancurd Skin Roll.

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Clockwise from the left again, Steam Pork Ribs with Black Bean, Prawn and Chive Dumplings and Boom’s favourite, Five Spiced Chicken Feet!

Those that did not managed to make an appearance are Fried Seafood Beancurd Roll, Yam Croquettes and Shanghai Dumplings. All in the bill came up to £40+ with 2 Cokes and unlimited Chinese Tea. Not a bad deal for the pigout I would say!

So if you are ever in the area and Royal China is rammed, do give Taste of China a try.

Taste of China
172 – 174 Station Road
Harrow HA1 2RH
0208 863 1140

Chili Dog – Starvin Marvin’s, Perivale

20130106_starvinmarvin_chilidog1Sorry folks, I know it has been awhile since I have blogged but I assure you things will change pretty soon. Back to work next week and my next gig will take me to a different part of London with food options galore!

20130106_starvinmarvin_exterior1Starvin Marvin’s is a quirky American style diner along the A40 heading west. It is housed in what I would call a diner truck, complete with it own jukebox, open kitchen and ample booth seating. What makes it interesting is the A40, diagonally opposite Tesco Perivale is the last place you would expect an American diner

20130106_starvinmarvin_interiorThe menu consist of what you would typically find in a diner, burgers, hot dogs, pancakes and milkshake etc. I have eaten here many times, while the food is not fantastic, I think the setting is a worthy experience.

20130106_starvinmarvin_menuWas hankering for a chili dog and that was what I ordered. if I recalled, it was £6.45 with regular fries. For 40p more, you can upgrade to curly fries which I think is worthwhile. At £2, the free flow soft drink is also a good choice.

20130106_starvinmarvin_chilidog2The Chili Dog was garnished with shredded cheddar cheese and some chopped spring onions. The bun was nice and soft, the chili was not half bad and the spring onion was a nice touch. The hot dog does not have as strong a snap as I would like and more cheese would have made it much better. The highlight of the meal were the curly fries. Nicely seasoned and was nice and crunchy, well worth the 40p extra.

20130106_starvinmarvin_exterior2So if you are ever on the A40 heading west, do give Starvin Marvin’s a try!

Starvin Marvin’s
6 Western Avenue Central Parade
Perivale Greenford UB6 8TF
0208 998 5132