Chipotle Chicken Salad – Tossed, Bankside

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The weather is still cold as we speak and the forecast looks to be staying cold till end of March! Looks like spring will be awhile yet. Have not been feeling great digestion wise so decided to have a salad today. Took a walk to Bankside and visited Tsuru’s neighbour for lunch.

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Tossed is one of those salad places where you can either get a house menu salad or mix and match your own concoction on the spot. Identical in concept to Chop’d which I have blogged about  before. Apart from salads, they also have stews and what they call tossed pots which are various toppings on brown rice. Places like these can be bewildering while you decide which salad component goes well together so the house menu option is always a good bet. Posters around the joint stated that their Chipotle Chicken salad is a best seller so hedged for that to give my brain cells a breather.

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For the salads, you have a choice of medium or large or for it to be served as a wrap. I went with a large and it cost £5.95. There are quite a few other house menu options, some costing as little as £3.95. You place your order at the counter, pay then proceed to the collection counter where they assemble your order. Was wondering why my receipt has the name Jordan on it. Only figured out that each order is assigned a celebrity’s name when I overheard Justin Bieber and David Hasselhof summoned before mine. Ironic since I’m not really a breast person.

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There is also a fridge area where you can pickup pre made items if you are in a rush. Did not managed to explore that section much as my order was ready in a jiffy.

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Was not expecting much from my order by the looks of it but this is a standard case of don’t judge a book by it’s cover. I thoroughly enjoyed the concoction! The crunch of the tortilla chips and lettuce leaves, the creamy avocado, mixed beans and tender chicken breast, the tangy salsa and ranch dressing to the heat of the jalapeno peppers all complimented each other exceedingly well. A word of caution though, they were quite liberal with the jalapeno so for those who can’t stand the heat, do ask to go without.

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I will definitely be back to try the rest of the stuff on Tossed’s menu.

Tossed
6 Canvey Street
London SE1 9AN
0207 928 2928

Chicken Thigh Katsu Curry – Tsuru, Bankside

20130219_tsuru_chickenthighkatsuThe sun is bright and shining and decided to take a walk to Bankside to grab a spot of lunch. The last time I was out for a wonder, was thrilled with the myriad of food outlets at the Bankside area, just 5 minutes walk from my office. Been awhile since I had katsu curry so have to give it a go.

20130219_tsuruTsuru is a small Japanese restaurant with three outlets, 2 in the Square Mile and the last at Bankside.  The shop is roomy and spacious and can sit quite a few eat in diners. You can also see the chefs working behind the scenes via the glass panel behind the counter.

20130219_tsuru_menuIf you can read the menu, it’s filled with sushi, handrolls, salads and bento boxes. The sushi, salads and handrolls are pre made and the selection is pretty good I have to say. Definitely summer fodder.

20130219_tsuru_premadeFor the curry, you can choose from a choice of protein, from chicken breast or thigh to fish, prawn, tofu and even beef! I’m more a thigh than breast person so went with the Chicken Thigh Katsu Curry at £6.35 which is 5p cheaper than breast.

20130219_tsuru_recipetOn their menu, apparently the curry sauce takes up to 8 hours to cook! Well, that sets the expectation. Price wise, it is on par with Japanika but way more than Wasabi or Asta so I’m going to judge it against Japanika’s offering.

The chicken thigh is coated with panko rather than the normal breadcrumb which scores point on my part and as always, thigh meat is always juicier and more tender than breast. The main point of comparison will be the curry sauce I reckon. If you recall, I deemed Japanika’s version to be full bodied and beefy which I thought was the best of the 3 I have had. Tsuru’s curry sauce is a fruity rendition with a refreshing tang from apples I think. Personally, I’m not a fan of cooking with fruit but I can see how this will appeal to children and those with sweet tooth.

20130219_tsuru_chickenthighkatsu2Only complain I have is I could do with a bigger portion of rice though the generous portion of chicken thigh and big wedges of carrots and potatoes more than makes up for this. I am a rice bucket afterall.

Tsuru
4 Canvey Street
Bankside
London SE1 9AN
0207 928 2228

Salmon with Beetroot Risotto – Chez Boom

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Do any of you have a prejudice against some food? I know of some people who rather than say what they don’t eat can only state what they do! I despise fussy eaters… I’m not so bad as being Chinese, we are known to eat anything but I do have stuff I try to avoid and beetroot is one of those food that I am adverse to. As it is, I don’t have a sweet tooth and the fact that it stain your hands…. yeeee….

Anyway, saw this recipe on the Food Explorer booklet from Westfield London and was seduced by it’s vibrant colours. Thought it will work well when done at Chez Boom’s seeing the lighting at his place washes out all colours. Also curious as to how risotto made with pearl barley will taste like.

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So the ingredients include (clockwise from left), ready to eat beetroot, fennel bulb, an apple, salmon fillet and pearl barley. Not included in the lineup shot are black olives and fish stock. Decided to add some leftover black olives which Boom have hanging around from previous day’s dinner thinking the black will contrast nicely with the red risotto. A copy of the recipe is also available here.

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So you boil the barley in the stock till tender and all the liquid has been absorbed then you added in the pulverised beetroot. The barley took close to an hours to be ready which is a tad long but good as unlike risotto made with arborio rice, you don’t have to stay and stir.

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About 10 mins before the risotto is done, stick the salmon fillet into a preheated oven. Instead of thyme, I topped the salmon with stem of the fennel bulb crushed with some salt and pepper. Waste not want not!

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The fennel and apple salad was straight forward, I pimped it with sesame seeds, sesame oil and chili flakes for an Asian touch. Worked out pretty well, good contrast with the rich risotto.

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Viola! Have to say this was a great success, the pearl barley was smooth and creamy yet still retained a bit of bite. The beetroot gave a slight sweetness and also thickened the risotto. The addition of black olives apart from bringing more colour, also countered the sweetness of the beetroot while the fennel and apple salad gave the dish a refreshing edge.

Will definitely try other risotto versions with pearl barley in future!

Chez Boom
Somewhere in West London
Open 24/7, 365 days a year
Strictly by invitation
Only for the worthy

Chicken Lasagne – Theo’s Cafe, Sackler’s Studio Southwark

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Found this small cafe inside Sackler Studio while wandering around the office area. Sackler’s Studio is part of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater and the cafe can be accessed via Bear Gardens along Park Street.

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Theo’s Cafe serves breakfast and lunch as well as toasted sandwiches, snacks and cakes for your tea break. Today’s lunch choice included roast pollack, cottage pie, chicken lasagne and a chicken and mushroom pie. There is also a daily soup and a choice of salads. All mains comes with a choice of salads and starts from $5. I went with the chicken lasagne with the couscous, roast squash and feta salad as well as the coleslaw. The lasagne was £6.50 and I threw in a can of Coke, total was £8.

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Though I love pasta, I’m have never really been a lasagne fan. Not too sure why, perhaps most places serves a square of it which can look insubstantial for greedy Junk. But looks always deceived and I was stuffed to the brim after lunch today.

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First up the salads. The coleslaw was made with a combination of purple and regular cabbage with some sliced green beans throughout. The purple cabbage gave the salad a nice lilac shade which was visually pleasing but otherwise, it tastes like a normal coleslaw. The couscous, roasted squash and feta salad was something else. The combination of the sweet squash and the salty feta was a treat, would have been better if the squash and feta cubes were cut a tad smaller. As for the lasagne, it was pretty darn tasty! The tomato sauce was not too strong with the bechamel and cheese sauce taking center stage. The generous portions of spinach layered throughout helped to cut down the richness and using minced chicken made much more sense than beef in this case.

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I’ll definitely be back to try other lunch specials at Theo’s Cafe.

Theo’s Cafe
Sackler Studio
Bear Gardens off Park Street
Southwark
London SE1 9DT

*Chinese New Year Special – Steamboat, Chez Boom

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恭禧發財! Happy Chinese New Year to all the Chinese readers out there. It is a tradition to have reunion dinner on the eve of the first day of the Chinese New Year and seeing I don’t have family here in the UK, reunion dinner will have to be just Boom and me. Steamboat or hotpot is a typical dish served for reunion dinner and I thought it is a good idea especially when the weather is on the chilly side.

The Boom and I made a trip to a close by Asian supermarket to stock up on in ingredients on Saturday morning and as expected, the shop was busier than usual. Hoo Hing is a smaller Asia supermarket compared to Wing Yip and it caters more towards the trade business than individual shoppers like me. But it is substantially closer than Wing Yip and it has all the things I need for a steamboat dinner.

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Run down of what we had to cook in the steamboat. On the protein side, we had thinly sliced beef and lamb and they take less than a minute to cook in the hot broth. These are pre-sliced, frozen and comes in deep plastic trays. The portion you can see is just half of each box and they are about £4.95 per box.

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For seafood, prawns are a must while the clams are from Waitrose. Wanted to get fresh prawns but they were not available so frozen ones will have to do. If I recall, the box of frozen prawns were about £6.80 while the clams were around £4. Prawns on the shell is a must as the shell helps to impart flavour to the broth.

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Other must have items for steamboat are an assortment of balls! No, not that sort. These are balls made from fish paste or meat paste. We have 2 variety this time, pork and fish balls. Fried bead curd and knotted bean curd skins are also good for steamboat and a couple of noodles to end the meal if one is still hungry.

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As for greens, we have chinese leaf and water morning glory. I also got some enoki and buna shimeji mushroom which adds some texture to the spread.

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Steamboat is never complete without dipping sauces. Decided to be luxurious and we have 3 different sauces. A homemade chili sauce made with chilies, garlic, shallots, ginger, lime peel and fermented prawn paste, this is the one in the big orange bowl. The creamy looking sauce is made with tahini and fermented bean curd and the last one is a Cantonese Suki dipping sauce from the Asia supermarket.

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As for the broth, the fiery looking one is from a soup base used in Chongqing hotpots while the plain looking one is made from juice from the clams and a fish stock pot. Both the Boom and I thought the fiery one is tastier.

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Finally, steamboat in action! In all, a very enjoyable meal and for once, there was minimum leftovers which was a good thing.

Hoo Hing
A406 North Circular Road
Park Royal
London NW10 7UB
0208 838 3388

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

Mixed Pasta – Caffe Fratelli, Clink Street, London Bridge

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Though it’s Friday and Borough Market will be in full swing, somehow did not feel like getting lunch there. Passed by this cafe while walking to work and the offering looks good enough for a try.

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Caffe Fratelli is located next to the Clink Prison Museum and just around the corner from Borough Market. The cafe is bright and spacious and is a good place to rest your feet after sampling what Borough market has to offer. Looking at the signage, they serve both breakfast and lunch with the typical pasta and toasted sandwich varieties.

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I decided to have a mix of the Pesto Farfalle and Chorizo Penne. By itself, the farfalle would have cost £4.40 while the penne will be £5.55. I was charged the higher of the two which I didn’t really mind.

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Have to say I was disappointed with both pasta. The sprinkling of parmesan on top of both pasta melted and congealed by the time I’m back in office and stuck all the pasta pieces into a big lump. Though the farfalle is the right shade of green, there was hardly any taste of pesto and the pasta itself was tough and gummy. The penne fared slightly better. The tomato sauce is the right side of tangy while the small bits of chorizo is smoky and provides some chew as the penne in comparison was way over done.

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Seriously felt cheated having to pay £5.55 for it. Maybe the Chicken Escalope flatbread might salvage my impression of the place. But I doubt I will be back anytime soon.

Caffe Fratelli
Victor Wharf
Clink Street
London SE1 9DG
0207 234 0000

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta Salad – Rosie Tate Cafe, Southwark

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Refusing to accept that my lunch options is only confined to the vicinity of Borough Market, I went for a short walk yesterday when the sun was out. Started walking towards Tate Modern but not along the river banks and came across a rather new commercial development with the typical high street eateries but also some independent food outlets. My urge to blog has been ignited again!

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The Jubilee Line was delayed today due to some person stuck between the platform and the train at London Bridge. Wonder how that could happen as there is a glass gantry which separates the platform and the train at London Bridge. Anyway, London Bridge station was thus closed and had to get off one stop earlier at Southwark. Knew I will pass by Rosie Tate Cafe on my walk to the office and decided to grab something for lunch.

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The cafe is very spacious with separate chillers for sandwiches, pick and mix salads and prepacked lunch boxes. Of the lunch boxes, there is a choice of Chinese rice and noodles,  Caribbean style rice and choice of meat, some rice and curry as well as a range of salads.  They are all reasonably priced with the rice and noodles between £4 – £5 while the salads cost slightly less. I decided on the Mediterranean Chicken Pasta Salad which cost only £3.25! Bargain!

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The fusilli pasta is lightly dressed with a pesto dressing and it is topped with shredded cheddar cheese, some black olives, cheery tomatoes, some shredded marinated chicken, rocket and a veg stew made up of courgettes, aubergines and mange tout. The portion was generous but to be honest, the salad is just what it is, nothing special. But for £3.25, how could you complain?

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Rosie Tate Cafe
19 Great Guildford Street
Southwark
London SE1 0HS
0207 928 9100