Bun Hue, Bahn Mi and Rolls – City Caphe, Cheapside

image

I know this looks like a big lunch but I had a partner in crime for lunch today. Though I could happily finish everything if I wanted to!

image

Was reading another food blog and there was a post about City Caphe which I realised is pretty close to where the Boom works while only a 15 mins walk across the bridge from me. When it comes to Asian food, Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Thai food are pretty well represented in the City but not Vietnamese. So City Caphe is a much needed find.

image

When the Boom and I got to the place, the queue was about 15 deep but it moved pretty quickly and we both got our orders after 5 minutes. Not such a bad thing to be in the queue as it gives you time to decide what to order. In general, the choices includes soupy noodles like pho or bun hue, vermicelli salad or rice with a choice of grilled meats, bahn mi filled with grill meat options and either fried spring rolls or summer rolls.

image

The Boom went with a bahn mi with chargrilled pork (£3.50) and the fried spring rolls (£3.75) while I went for Beef Bun Hue (£6.50) and the summer roll (£3.75).

image

The problem with eating lunch in the city is finding a place to sit. There are limited seats in City Caphe but as food were made to order, it was pretty stuffy in the shop. Most people bring their food back to the office but sometimes taking a break from the office setting relaxes the mind. Thanks to the Boom who found this peaceful and tranquil setting near the Guildhall.

image

The Boom enjoyed his bahn mi. His one minor gripe is the bread could be lighter in texture.  Get the lady to go easy on the sriracha as Boom was scorched by the sauce half way through his sandwich.

image

image

We shared both the rolls and Boom preferred my summer roll while I have yet to have mine as my Bun Hue was very generous portion wise, especially the thinly sliced beef. The fried spring rolls was served with a portion of nuoc cham while the summer roll was served with a different sauce.

image

Once again, I’m always impressed when the herbs are provided in a separate container. In this instance, there was sliced chilies, basil and some beansprouts. I would have loved more beansprouts. Word of caution, for those of you who can’t take the heat, suggest you go for the pho rather then the bun hue.

image

Cute pictorial to link Vietnamese words to the food it represents. Will definitely go back to City Caphe when I’m craving for soupy noodles.

City Caphe
17 Ironmonger Lane
London EC2V 8EY

Traditional Lamb Tagine – Ealing Blues Festival, Walpole Park Ealing

image

A couple of weekends back, I dragged the Boom to the inaugural Ealing Blues Festival in exchange for weeding his driveway. Why on earth did I agree to this deal, I’m not sure. It’s not as if he did not enjoy the outing *grumble*.

image

Summer is festy season and everywhere you go, you will see promotions for festivals big and small all around the city, in local councils and around the country. Back in the day when Junk was a spring chicken and the Boom was just boom, we were big festy fans and we try to go for at least one festival yearly. Nowadays, we shudder at the thought of trekking through mud, long toilet queues and going for days without a hot shower. A day fest is all we can take which makes the summer festival held in Ealing a perfect option.

image

Apart from the blues festival, the Ealing Summer Festival collection also include a comedy festival, a jazz festival, open air cinema and many other similar events. We tried the jazz and comedy a couple of years back and hope we will enjoy the blues one as much.

image

For Boom, his main focus when at a festival is the location of the beer tent and the “facilities” i.e., toilet. As for Junk, her food radar will be on high alert once pass the festy gates. Junk was pretty happy with what she saw on offer.

image

After settling down in front of the quieter and more tranquil second stage, with beers and cider in hand of course, my stomach started to rumble. So off I went to checkout the food offerings proper.

image

Decided to get some tagine from Exotic Tagine and some snacks from the Thai store. The Traditional Lamb Tagine cost £7 while the snacks were £1 each or 3 for £2.50. I got 2 veg spring rolls and a chicken samosa to share with the Boom.

image

The lamb tagine was pretty good. Generous portion of lamb tagine on fluffy couscous with sides of mixed veg tagine, a puy lentil stew and some fresh salad. The bright red sauce on the edge of the plate as expected tasted like the typical salty sambal olek but with the addition of preserved lemon. My only complaint is at £7, I think its a tad steep especially when you are allowed to bring your own food into the festival ground.

image

image

Apart from food, there are also a few stalls selling stuff to satisfy those who can’t help but shop. Both of us were pretty impressed with the variety of herbs on sale at this stall near the second stage. Was tempted to buy some as the herb pots were a couple of quid each but couldn’t be arsed carrying them on the bus for home.

Ealing Blues Festival
Walpole Park
Ealing West London

Hot Dogs – Street Kitchen@The Miller, London Bridge

image

Boy! These dogs are really hard to come by! Took me 3 attempts to The Miller before I could lay my chomps on them. In all, I guess it was worth the effort.

image

Apart from wandering down mysterious lanes and alleys in search of interesting grub for lunch, I also resort to Google maps very often to find any potential outlets to try. The Miller was one such place. Located around the Guy’s Hospital vicinity, I would probably not find it in my wanderings. The Street Kitchen is in resident whipping up some mean dogs and reading other reviews, decided to give it a try.

image

My first visit was a pure recon mainly to check out the vibe of the place. So ended up having a pint of cider and reading the menu. Loved the way they named the hot dogs after dog breeds and both the Boston Hound and Bull Mastiff looks to be potential junk candidate.

A couple of days later, managed to knock off work early and feeling a tad peckish, thought I give the dogs a go. Lo and behold! There is no food service between 1500-1700hrs. Had to settle for a bag of crisp and another pint of cider in the beer garden.

image

Junk is nothing but tenacious! So another couple of days later, managed to drag Tweet along to give the dogs a run for it’s money and finally managed to score proper. I went for the Boston Hound, hoping that Tweet will get the Bull Mastiff but yes, as usual he went for the virgin option, the American Pitbull. The Boston Hound with more topping cost £7.50 while the virgin American Pitbull was £5.50. Also threw in a portion of Skin Chips with Rosemary Salt for £2.50 to share with the portion of slaw on the side that comes with every dog.

image

Starting with the chips, we both enjoyed this a lot for its “rustic” character. This is not the on trend double/triple cooked chips so common nowadays but a totally different creature. Reminds me of when I was a kid, and my dad attempts to make french fries by simply cutting up spuds with skin on and frying them in a wok. Leaving the skin on and slow frying the chips gives it an earthly yet sweet undertone. So much so that the Tweet thought perhaps some of the chips were made with sweet potato.

image

According to Tweet, he enjoyed his American Pitbull especially the snappy texture of the smoked pork sausage and the long strings of crispy onion. He thought I might find the ketchup too sweet but he was ok with it. I’m surprised he did not complain about the cucumber slices as it’s not his fav. I think being pickled and with slight hint of dill cut down the bitterness that he associates with cucumber.

image

As for me, I did not enjoy the texture of the sausage as much. The snap of the dog was fine but I don’t like how some smoked sausage becomes slightly dry and “waxy”, much like a salami. In contrast, the thick slice of pork belly was heaven! Soft, tender, smoky, melt in your mouth and was perfect with the veg accompaniments. The only disappointment was the small bits of what I think are pork crackling. I was expecting much bigger pieces but these are more the size of bacon bits, feels like an after thought.

image

In all, we both enjoyed our meal and also the ambiance of the pub with its lovely beer garden and kooky decor. I might just make it my local office pub.

Street Kitchen
@The Miller
96 Snowsfields Road
London Bridge
London SE1 3SS
0207 402 2690

Pork Tonkotsu Ramen and Chicken Teriyaki Donburi – Japanese Canteen, Middlesex Street

image

Junk is capable of healthy activities apart from those conducted in pubs. Yesterday’s outing was case in point. Bought a couple of vouchers for African Drumming class after work and had to look for something quick to eat for dinner. Most of the dinner places around the Spitalfields area are sit down, big menu, slightly long drawn out affairs unless one resorts to pub grub. Luckily, I found this place.

image

Japanese Canteen is another Jap food chain catering mostly to the lunch crowd. But this branch at Middlesex Street, a stone throw away from Spitalfields also serves dinner. It was rather empty when we were there and it’s perfect for a quick eat and run dinner. I think this branch is rather new as it was not there when I was working in the area less then a year back.

image

The menu is extensive and one can chose between donburi, bento box, ramen, sushi with a couple of non Japanese options like bibimbapgua bao and even Dan Dan noodles. Prices are very reasonable and definitely won’t break the bank!

image

image

As expected, I could not resist any soupy noodles on a menu and seeing that the ramen is freshly made and they have a tonkotsu soup base, I’m sold! The Tweet being his usual boring self, went with the mundane option of Chicken Teriyaki Donburi. *Yawn* To each his own I guess. Total bill came to £11.40, good deal on paper.

image

So is the deal as good taste wise? The Tweet was not impressed by his Chicken Teriyaki Donburi and neither am I. The chicken pieces according to the menu were supposed to be grilled but we could not see scorched marks nor taste any smokiness. Worse yet, the chook was tough and dry! The teriyaki sauce was typical, sweet, savoury and sticky while Tweet thinks the rice is too mushy. With just a sprinkling of spring onion as garnish, we both think this dish needs some other taste sensation. I had to donate all of my bok choy to Tweet to make his meal more enjoyable.

image

What about the more complicated ramen dish? At £5.95, I was not expecting much from the Pork Tonkotsu Ramen especially when I was disappointing by the much hyped Tonkotsu in Soho at more than double the price. One should not underestimate chain outlets I’d say, like the offering at Wagamama, I was impressed!

image

The toppings were generous with beansprouts, half a boiled egg, menma, nori, bok choy, spinach and 2 cuts of pork. The thinly sliced pork belly was tender but would be better if they were grilled while the shredded slow cooked pork was great soaked in a slight sweet and smoky sauce. The freshly made ramen could be cooked less but I’ve always prefer my noodles with bite. The star of the dish has to be the broth! Rich, milky with a slight hint of porkiness, just right and not too overpowering. The slight sheen of pork fat with a slight sweet and savoury taste complimented everything exceptionally well. The Tweet asked whether it was a 2 thumbs up and I violently nodded my head.

I have tried another branch of Japanese Canteen awhile back and I was not impressed. After this experience, I will definitely locate another branch near me to be my staple for lunch!

Japanese Canteen
100 Middlesex Street
London E1 7EZ

Tiger Prawn and Chorizo Linguine – Founder’s Arms, Bankside

image

* Sorry folks! It would seem that even after close to a full year of blogging, I’ve still yet got into the habit of photo before food! Luckily, this time I remember to take a pic after I have stirred the dish. No bites were taken, I swear!

image

Due to the recent good weather, the team I’m working in went out for lunch last Friday and I gladly tagged along. It’s normally a pub lunch on Fridays and the Scrum Master decided on a pub by the river.

image

Founder’s Arm is located just down the bank from Tate Modern and we were all worried that it will be jammed packed due to the weather and the throng of tourist. We were not fussed whether where we were seated and luckily, the crowd we saw outside the pub while we were approaching was solely confined to the outdoor seating area. Inside the pub, there was plenty of empty tables available and the views are as impressive on the inside.

image

Apart from the menu, there is a daily specials board and the selection as expected is similar to your regular pub fare. Most of the team went with a burger of some form so I decided to break the monotony and went to the only pasta on the menu. I was probably tempted by the light tomato sauce which I thought will be refreshing on a hot day. At £13, I was expecting big tiger prawns.

image

Alas, big prawns was not to be! I counted only 2 medium sized prawns in the pasta. As to whether they are tiger prawns, I can’t be sure since they were shelled and totally smothered in a rich and thick tomato sauce. The amount of chorizo pieces made up for the lacking of crustacean but they were there more for texture, unlike the smoky chorizo I love. My main complaint was the linguine. I’m not sure how one can cook pasta such that they are mushy on the outside and yet still tough and grainy on the inside? Especially when the linguine is not a thick pasta. Baffling!

image

Yes, not a very good lunch I’m afraid, the only saving grace was the rocket which I’ve stirred in. Next time, I’ll stick to proper pub grub and not be the contrarian.

Founder’s Arms
52 Hopton Street, Bankside
London SE1 9JH
0207 928 1899

Seafood Ramen – Taro Takeaway, Cannon Street

image

Summer is finally here in Borisstan! Took a walk across the bridge to check out this small Japanese takeaway place I spied in my wanderings. Would seem like Taro Takeaway is a spin off from two restaurants but somehow it’s not mentioned in their official website.

image

Located diagonally across the Kruger outlet on Cannon Street which I have yet to try, Taro is a small little shop catering mostly to the takeaway crowd. It does have a couple of small tables which you can eat in but to be avoided during lunch as the place will be filled with customers waiting for their takeaway order to be made.

image

The menu is pretty extensive for a small place with donburi, ramen and fried noodles, bento boxes, chahan and assortment of sushi and salads. You pickup sushi and salads, basically anything cold from the fridge, while orders are placed at the cashier for the hot items and cooked on demand. The open kitchen is right behind the cashiers and you can see your food being cooked thus can be sure it’s fresh!

image

As per my usual self, it’s a two course lunch for me and I decided on the Seafood Ramen at £5.90 and the Wonder Roll for £3.50. Was wondering which rolls I should get and I guess I got suckered by the word “Wonder”.

image

So how “Wonder” are the rolls? To be honest, it was not that wonderful as they were just your plain old California Roll with extra tobiko and teriyaki sauce topping. The rolls themselves were fine, the filling was generous and the extra tobiko gave the salty bursts and adds interest to the rolls. My issue is with the teriyaki sauce, sweet, sticky and rich, totally unnecessary, taking the freshness from the rolls.

image

Looking at the menu, I had the option to make the ramen spicy which I did. It’s either I have a bulletproof mouth but more likely, I think the cook forgot to add spice to my order. As mentioned before, I got to see the cook put together my ramen. The noodles are boiled on the spot and not pre cooked like many other places. Next he adds a generous portion of shredded carrots, beansprouts and sliced spring onions. Lastly, he topped the container with soup, added some pan fried mixed seafood and added a final topping of beni shoga.

Overall, the noodles were ok, the soup was savoury and rich, portion was generous. I would have exchanged a smaller portion of seafood for bigger pieces. If I’m desperate and up for a stroll across the bridge, I will try it again. But then again, I might feel differently about their other offerings? Chicken Katsu Curry Rice anyone?

Taro Takeaway
44A Cannon Street
London EC4N 6JJ
0207 236 0399