ze Wilde Bock – Herman ze German, Embankment

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Had an offsite event work wise today and decided to take a quick 5 minutes diversion to try  out a joint which I had my eye on for awhile. Whenever I’m in the area, it was never meal time so today it’s the perfect opportunity as it close to lunch and Junk’s tum is rumbling.

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Herman ze German as you can guess is a shop specializing in all things wurst and I believe I saw something on the menu board that resembles a frikadeller though they call it a meat ball. From my time in Germany I understand that a bockwurst is boiled while a bratwurst is grilled. It would seem that my understanding is not entirely accurate. From the wiki articles, the difference between the 2 is whether it is smoked or not. So a bockwurst is the smoked weiner.

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Of the variety on the menu board, I went with the ze Wilde Bock which I felt had a bit of everything I would like to try. It had pomme frites (chips or fries for those of you not in the know), fried onion, the curry sauce which I went for burner strength (the hottest which is meh!) and I added some sauerkraut for 30p more.

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The ze Wild Bock was £4.95, extra sauerkraut for 30p and a bottle of sparkling water for £1.25. They really get you on the drinks don’t they? Without the liquid, I felt the meal was a pretty good deal for it’s portion size.

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I really enjoyed my meal! The pomme frites were lightly seasoned with a spicy salt and not oily at all as they are baked. The roll was light and crusty but not so chewy that it hard to eat. The bockwurst had a snappy casing while the filling was uniformly smooth. The smoky taste was what made it special and it went very well with the tangy curry sauce which I would like more off. The sauerkraut rounded things off perfectly with it’s fresh crunch and I appreciate that the cabbage is really thinly sliced, nothing gets in the way worse then a big hunk of raw cabbage.

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I’m glad I finally got to try this. Well worth the wait and diversion.

Herman ze German
19 Villers Street
London WC2N 6NE

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Maryland Buttermilk Chicken Burger and Samurai Fries – The Drift, Bishopsgate

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Today’s lunch venue was purely a result of assumption. Assume = makes an ASS out of U not ME. Well, one of my favourite sayings came back to haunt me today!

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Was suppose to have lunch at The Slug and Lettuce between my office and Boom’s as I have a 25% discount food voucher if I use my new contactless debit card. Unbeknownst to me, the branch I chose is right smack in front of the Gherkin and was jammed packed came lunch time. Not wanting to fall back on high street chains, the Boom and I decided to give The Drift at the Heron Tower a try.

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I have been to The Drift’s sister bar The Folly on it’s opening bash and was impressed by the party thrown with free food and drinks for about 3 hours. I got pretty smashed that night if I recall but have not been back since. Another thing that left an impression was The Folly was refreshingly decorated with a shabby chic vibe, homely but ever so slightly opulent. Compared to her sister, The Drift has a more utilitarian decor but still impressive nonetheless.

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The main eating area is on the upper floor which has views into the open kitchen. View from the upper floor to the bar area is pretty impressive as well.

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Had a moment of indecision after checking out the menu. Should I go for an Asian style salad or should I go for something else. The one thing that caught my eye was the Maryland Buttermilk Chicken Burger and with Boom and the waitress breathing down my neck to get my orders in, I committed. Also shared a side of Samurai Fries with Boom which was ample for the two of us as the Boom lashed out on a double cheeseburger. Final bill with 2 pints of soft drinks came close to £40! Well, I’m not complaining as I’m not paying!

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Was disappointed with the Samurai Fries as I was expecting the katsu curry sauce to be served on the side. It would seem that the fries are tossed with the sauce prior service. The thin coat of sauce was neither here nor there, I wouldn’t have known if not told. I can understand the fries will be soggy if too much sauce was added but at least serve some of the sauce on the side. At £4.25, the portion size was ok, but still feel it’s a tad on the steep side.

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So did my Buttermilk Chicken lived up to the expectation? Unfortunately not! The batter was nice and crispy and kudos to the chief that it was not oily and the chicken breast was not dry. The problem was the batter seriously lacked seasoning! I can’t taste the tartness of the buttermilk at all and it was totally bland. I think someone forgot the salt, let alone the  herbs and spices I was expecting. The pitiful squirt of mayonnaise on the buns did not remedy the failure and I had to resort to ketchup to save the day. The saving grace was the nicely toasted brioche bun but still not worth £9.95.

In all, I think it’s all style but no substance. Nice enough place for a pint or some cocktail but don’t count on the food.

The Drift
Heron Tower
110 Bishopsgate
London EC2N 4AY
0845 468 0103

Lamb Biryani and Hot Wings – Hot Munchies, Southwark

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Received some comments from a regular reader of my blog saying that my posts have gotten less “junky” recently. Looking at my recent entries, he might be right and decided to try harder to return to my usual gluttonous ways. Made an effort to track down some low brow food today and remembered this small little shop under the train track bridge on the way to work.

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Hot Munchies is located in the least expected place, under the bridge that trains travel into London Bridge Station. Unlike those posh restaurants, bars and galleries under the bridge near Waterloo Station, this is a small little shop selling run of the mill kebabs, burgers, fried chicken etc. The shop’s only neighbour is a private cab office.  I would usually give such places a miss but the poster with biryanis and curry rice caught my attention. At around the £4 mark, it’s pretty affordable for this area.

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Of the 2 biryanis and 4 curry rice on offer, I went with the Lamb Biryani at £4.30 and added 5 Hot Wings for £1.70. Alas, no longer in Brick Lane, no more 4 Hot Wings for £1.

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The Hot Wings were pretty ordinary, could be more crispy but at least they were not dry. Do help yourself to the various sauces available at the counter. My concoction of chilli and garlic sauce went very well with the wings.

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For £4.30, I was not expecting much from the biryani and thus I was pleasantly surprised that it was pretty tasty. There were quite a few tender lamb pieces which I thought was generous. The rice was spiced with the usual cardamon, black pepper pods and cloves and not too oily. The curry sauce with bits of carrots, peas and onions went very well with the biryani.

In all, I enjoyed my attempt to be more hardcore junk today. Perhaps I should try harder again next week!

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You’d thought they would notice the typo!

Hot Munchies
30 Southwark Street
London SE1 1TU
0207 4070691

Chicken Pho and Rainbow Side Salad – EAT, Bankside

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The HR department where I work always give out freebies or offer vouchers as long as you make an afford to pay them a visit and collect the freebies in person. Last week I scored 2 free bottles of anti dandruff shampoo (no, I do not have dandruff!) while this week was £1 off when you spend £6 voucher from EAT. Seeing the voucher is from EAT, reckon there must be one nearby so I went on the hunt.

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This is the first time I’m exploring this stretch of Bankside as it is a bit out of the way from my office entrance. Apart from EAT, there is a Zizzi, Pizza Express as well as The Real Greek and the omnipresent Starbucks.

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Feel a tad under the weather today and needed some comforting, I got the Chicken Pho at £4.99 and the Rainbow Side Salad at £2.59 to take the bill over £6 so I can use the discount voucher from HR. Boom is correct, £6 is not a figure plucked out from thin air, you need to at least purchase 2 products to enjoy the discount and I got suckered into it. Total bill after discount came up to £6.58.

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I used to have the noodle pots from EAT all the time and though I do make it a point to try their limited edition noodles when available, the Chicken Pho is my staple as it is light, refreshing and the cheapest of the noodle pots. I always appreciate the high ratio of veg vs noodles, it almost makes you feel healthy eating it. Don’t forget to get the server to add chopped chili to your noodle pot and a hard squeeze from the lime wedge will give your noodles a slight wicked edge.

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Over the years, I have noticed that EAT has been tweaking the recipe for their Chicken Pho. If I recall correctly, egg noodles was used when they first started serving this. Then there was a period when they swap to thin rice noodles or bee hoon for those in the know. It has been awhile since I had the Chicken Pho and I’m glad they now used the correct rice noodles, the broader kind known as kway teow or guo tiao depending on which chinese dialect you speak.

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Continuing with the healthy theme, the Rainbow Side Salad was made up of muki beans, pomegranate seeds, lentils, barley, cranberry, melon seeds, capsicum, shredded carrots and chives. I hope I did not miss anything. The zingy and tart mint dressing compliments the sweet components of the salad very well while the beans and pulses puts your jaws on a workout.

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I know, some people might think EAT is boring and I guess it can be. But when you need some comforting, nothing is better than trial and tested food that you know will not let you down.

EAT
Unit 3 Riverside House
2A Southwark Bridge Road
Bankside
London SE1 9HA
0207 636 8309

Gourmet Hotdog – The Picture House, Stafford

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This was a lunch stop on a recent trip out of the big smoke and have to say what a gem Tweet and I managed to find. The original scheduled stop was another couple of hours away and we both didn’t want to have lunch at 4pm in the afternoon. So made an impromptu stop at the next closest town on the motorway with absolutely no idea what we will find.

The only thing we know about Stafford is it’s famous for Wedgwood pottery. Lately the high streets of small towns are blighted by pound shops, charity shops and payday lenders, was not surprised Stafford suffered a similar faith. Fortunately, the town center has enough distinctive architecture to make it not as depressing as the some of those we have been.

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So while walking down the high street looking for possible lunch location, came across this Wetherspoon pub and took a punt knowing the food though not out of this world, the price will definitely be a bargain. What we saw made our jaws dropped!

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Apparently, this is an old cinema which Wetherspoon had taken over and remodeled into a pub in the 90s. The building kept the old style ticket booth and also has weekly movie nights where punters are encouraged to dress up in the spirit of the movie on show.

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The interior of the pub was equally impressive. The moldings on the ceiling was probably as per how the cinema had it and the full length bar under the movie screen was a fantastic showcase. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Anyway, seeing it was a nice day, we headed out to the beer garden which is above a small river, or should I say canal. If you don’t fancy the intimate lightning in the main cinema hall, the beer garden is a good alternative.

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Enough ambiance gawking,  on to the food. As you can see from the menu, there were many deals to be had. From 2 for chump change to meal deals with drinks.

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The last time I went to a Wetherspoon, I missed out on the hot dogs so I decided to go for the Gourmet Hot Dog with an alcoholic drink which set me back £6.95. Look at the size of the dog and the generous chips and onion rings! Not bad for £6.95 eh?

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Taste wise, have to say I was disappointed. The frankfurter was missing the compulsory snap and the filling was slightly too mushy for my taste. The chili and melted cheese helped the lackluster texture of the hot dog to be let down again by the baguette. It’s a hot dog and thus it should be soft and fluffy hot dog buns. I have nothing against baguettes but the crunchy crust and chewy texture is just wrong and makes the entire thing hard to eat.

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Anyway, at £6.95 with a pint of cider, can’t really complain especially when it is served in such an unique location!

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The Picture House
Bridge Road
Stafford
Staffordshire ST16 2HL
01785 222941

Chicken Okonomiyaki and Salmon Soumen – Wasabi, St Pauls

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So the weather was nice last week and being a tad bored at work, lured the Boom out for lunch. Knew he was probably suffering from a hangover from a drinking bash with his ex-colleagues the night before and thus would love the distraction.

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After some discussion, decided to meet up at Wasabi at Paternoster Row near St Paul’s Cathedral. We have both tried making our own version of okonimiyaki the past couple of weeks and want to try Wasabi’s version to see how well we fared.

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This Wasabi outlet is a bit different from others in that it also has a Hot Plate Station where they make okonimiyaki, yakisoba and omsoba. I have tried both the okonomiyaki and omsoba previously but that was a while back.

I got the chicken okonomiyaki which cost £4.95 while Boom got the seafood version which was £1 more. In line with my 2 course lunches, also added a Salmon Soumen to my order which at £2.95 is a rather good deal! With a bottle of green tea at £1.95, grand total was £9.85.

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So how was the pancake? Was it as good as our homemade version? Though it was filled with cabbage, I think the batter is missing the starch component which will give the pancake a slight sticky consistency. The Boom was very happy with the amount of seafood in his pancake while I was slightly disappointed with the few bits of chicken breast in my. Overall, the portion was very generous and we were overwhelmed after 3/4 way through the pancake, the sweet teriyaki sauce did not help the situation.

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I really enjoyed the Salmon Soumen though, the rice noodles in a light but tasty broth with bits of salmon and fresh veg was a good contrast with the rich pancake. At £2.95, it works perfectly as a side dish to any of the main meals at Wasabi. I will definitely be back for more in future.

Wasabi
Unit 6 St Martin’s Court
Paternoster Row
London EC4M 7EJ