Nasi Lemak and Curry Laksa – Woolfson & Tay, Bankside

A couple of post back, I promised to return to Woolfson & Tay to check out their Nasi Lemak and Curry Laksa when they are on the menu. True to my word, I managed to do both this week! Why the rush you might ask? Well, my stint in this part of town is ending soon so best put in the effort when there is still time. Not that eating some of my favourite food is much effort 🙂

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First up was the Nasi Lemak for Tuesday’s lunch. The topping option was Curry Chicken or Veg Curry and as usual, went for the half and half which cost £5.50. Also packed a portion for my Pinoy tester who was gamed enough to give this a try.

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The Chicken Curry like the Braised Chicken was made with chicken thigh pieces and was perhaps a tad too spicy for the typical Caucasian. The gravy was rich and thick with coconut milk.

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The Veg Curry was also pretty good with fried tofu slices, cabbage and other mix vegetables. What I loved about the Nasi Lemak was the small but very crispy Ikan Bilis which provided the crunch in contrasts while the humble slices of cucumber adds a refreshing note.

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Overall, pretty good. Only gripe would be that the rice was a tad mushy, especially after the gravy assault from the 2 curries.

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Next up, the Curry Laksa. Once again there was a chicken or veg option and yes, I went with half and half at £5.50. The Pinoy chickened out this time. Apparently her stomach said today is not a curry day. I was wondering how the laksa will be packed for takeaway, was half expecting those big soup containers but I think packing the gravy separately is a much better idea.

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The chicken comes in the form of a dry chicken curry, very similar to what was served with the Nasi Lemak.

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The same goes for the veg curry. Was glad that thick rich vermicelli was used, soft and silky, goes so well with the crunchy beansprouts and blanched green beans.

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Totally satisfied! I might just repeat the effort next week.

Woolfson & Tay
39 Bear Lane
London SE1 0UH
0207 928 6570

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Homemade Ramen Burger – Chez Boom

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With the recent trend of hybrid foods like duffins and cronuts making the news, the one that took my fancy is the Ramen Burger. Seeing that Go Ramen! is really making a name for himself with it, thought I give it a try to see if the hype is of any substance.

The idea of using ramen noodles to form the bun of a burger is not rocket science. Back when I was in Singapore (Yes, back when policeman wear shorts!), Mos Burger, a Japanese burger chain already has a burger with a bun made from compressed sticky rice. Without stretching the imagination too much, it’s called a rice burger and is fairly popular amongst the rice eating population of Singapore. Yo! Sushi had a similar limited edition rice burger as well!

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After reading a couple of how-to articles, this was what I’ve done. First, cook the noodles as per instructions. I thought the bacon flavoured Bachelor’s Super Noodles will work well since it’s a burger. I know that the Bachelor’s noodles soaks up loads of water and is of a mushy consistency which will only help when it comes to forming the burger bun.

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Gooey mixture after adding 2 beaten egg as binding agent. Make sure the noodles have cooled down before mixing the egg or the egg might scrambled.

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2 packet of noodles into 4 portions. 2 buns for each burger. I used a mixture of tapas ramekin and cookie ring. Any round shaped container will work fine. I lined the base of the container with cling film to help with removing the noodle bun.

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Fold over cling film and weigh it slightly to help the bun firm up. Tuna tins were perfect as they are the correct size and not too heavy that it will sink into the mixture. Place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to chill and firm.

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Pan fry the noodle bun. Make sure you use a non-stick pan and do not turn the bun over till you are sure the bottom is well browned.

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Like this! A couple of heart stopping moment while trying to flip the bun.

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Made up burger. The rest of the burger were made up of typical ingredients, stored bought burger patty, caramelised onions, Kewpie mayo (keeping it Japanese), gherkin, raw chopped onions, sliced tomatoes etc….

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So how was the experiment, was it worth it? Taste wise, the noodle bun is slightly crispy on the outside and slightly mushy/chewy on the inside, much like the consistency of an okonomiyaki batter. Surprisingly, you can’t taste the strands of the noodles after pan frying. The bacon flavour of the noodles added a smoky taste overall and perhaps a better quality noodle odd to be used so it still retains the ramen identity.

The Boom was all carbed out after the burger and oven fries. He agreed with me that this was a fun experiment but overall just a fad.

Chez Boom
Somewhere in West London
Open 24/7
Strictly by invitation

Braised Chicken and Veg Mapo Tofu – Woolfson & Tay Cafe, Bankside

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Another great find thanks to Twitterverse! Came across a tweet about this South East Asain Food Market which leads me to this bookshop nearby that also serves homecooked South East Asian dishes for lunch. Since it’s just a short walk away, off I went!

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Woolfson & Tay is a small independent bookshop with a even smaller cafe which also doubles as the cashier. There are 2 dishes daily, veg and non veg, £5.50 if you eat in and a discount of 50p for takeaway. If you are greedy like me, you can also have the half and half (i.e., half portion of both dishes) at £6 if eating in. Same discount applies for the half and half for takeaway.

I discovered this quaint little place on Thursday which was when one of my all time favourites, laksa was on the menu! But I bought my own lunch for that day so had to put my appetite on hold. I was so excited the next day that I was at the bookshop before food was ready, the glut, the shame…

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The setup for lunch service was the epitome of simplicity. A food warmer holds one dish, an electric pot holding the other with a rice cooker by the side. Shows you don’t require complicated setup to run a food business. As you can guess, I went for the half and half to go which cost me £5.50. The 2 dishes available were Braised Chicken in Spicy Bean Sauce and Veg Mapo Tofu.

My first reaction when I took my first mouthful was “this is homecooking, like what Mom would make”. Humble, simple and heart warming.

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Chicken thigh was used to make the braised chicken which I highly approved. The umami of the slightly spicy bean paste was offset by the freshness of the chinese leaf which accompanies the chicken pieces. Not unlike what I would cooked at home.

The Veg Mapo Tofu was equally good. Instead of minced meat, finely sliced green beans, baby corn, carrots, wood ear fungus and other veg was used. I like the idea of mixing both silken and fried tofu. Gives the dish another dimension in mouth feel.

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Can’t wait to see what’s on the menu next week! You bet I will rush there and report back on either Nasi Lemak or Curry Laksa day.

Woolfson & Tay
39 Bear Lane
London SE1 0UH
0207 9286570

Beef and Stilton Pasties – Polperro, Cornwall

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A few weeks back while the weather was still balmy, we went on a short weekend break to Cornwall. The Tweet has not tried living in a static caravan, let alone a touring park so I thought it’s a worthwhile for him to experience something which I think is quintessentially English. Went the whole hog and based ourselves at The Lizard which contains the most southerly point of the British mainland while we toured around the area. On the drive back home, we did an impromptu stop at the small fishing village of Polperro.

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One of the biggest gripes we had while driving around the area was parking, specifically not having change for the parking machines. Just look at how much they charge at Polperro! Take my advice, bring loads of coinage if you are in the area.

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While walking around the village, realised that we did properly ate of Cornwall’s famous food, pasty. I have always preferred the Steak and Stilton version to the traditional pasty so I went on the hunt for a couple of Steak and Stilton pasty as blog fodder.

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First stop is Tin Miners Pasty Shop which is located on the tourist trail from the car park to the harbour. I had high hopes for this shop as the pasties are baked in small batches in the oven behind the counter thus ensuring it is as fresh as it gets.

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Besides Steak and Stilton, there are many other varieties to chose from including vegetarian options. They even have dessert pasties! So wrong….

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The Steak and Stilton cost £2.65 and weigh 281g. The pasty looked well stuffed and the crimp is not too thick.

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Taste wise, I found this too salty. I know stilton cheese can be pretty salty but I don’t think the cheese is the culprit. Probably a heavy handed baker. The veg were cooked just right, not too mushy and while the beef was on the chewy side, it made a good contrast with the soft veg. Overall, this pasty would be perfect if it was less salty and had more stilton cheese.

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Next victim please! The Polperro Pasty Shop is also located on the tourist trail from the carpark to the harbour, nestled in amongst the row of shops on the left. Compared to the Tin Miners Pasty Shop, this looked more like your typical high street chain bakeries.

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There are also a variety of flavour option available and luckily, no dessert pasties! Phew… I was assured by the lady who served me that all the pasties are baked in the premise though I could see no oven. Probably at the back of the shop.

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At £2.85 and 331g, this cost slightly more than the Steak and Stilton from the Tin Miners. The pasty does not look as plump though it is heavier and it has a thicker crimp.

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Once again, the Steak and Stilton Pasty from The Polperro Pasty Shop was way too salty and I’m pretty sure the salt did not come from the cheese! The veg here was under done as I had to crunch my way though some of the spud bits. The beef was also chewy but somehow, the texture does not feel like unadulterated beef. It feels like beef that has been coated with corn starch, what you get from Chinese takeaways? The only good thing about this pasty is the stilton, here I can taste the cheese.

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It would seem that though I was in Cornwall, the best Steak and Stilton Pasty is still from the West Cornwall Pasty Company!

Hamster Taxidermy Workshop – Last Tuesday Society, Hackney City Farm

*WARNING!* For those who are squirmish and find the idea of taxidermy morbid and disgusting, you better look away now….

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I’m a late adopter of Twitter but since I’ve joined, I found that Twitter opened up a whole new world of activities which I might be interested in. While looking through the tweets from those I’m following, saw a retweet to the Last Tuesday Society about an upcoming taxidermy workshop. I have always been an animal lover and also pretty crafty so I thought why not?

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I promptly signed up for the hamster taxidermy class which though is organised by the Last Tuesday Society, was held at Hackney City Farm instead. I had a hard time looking for the room hosting the workshop and had to ask 4 different staffs at the farm before I found the room. A tip, the room is next to the garden area of the cafe.

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A picture of the potential victim candidates for the day. I had a choice of attending a mouse or a hamster taxidermy class and I had difficulty deciding which. Mouse has a long tail which will help when posing anthropomorphically but hamster comes in an array of colours as you can see from the picture. Colours trump tail this time.

Candidate spreadeagled and ready for action.

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First incision.

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For those of you who thinks taxidermy involves blood and gore, you got it wrong! The idea is to remove and preserve the portion of the animal that defines it’s appearance. Next you recreate the structure of the animal with stuffing and some wires before draping the preserved skin over the created form.

So for a hamster, you try to pry the skin away from the body, keeping the paws, tail, ears and a small portion of the jaw. I’m lucky as I managed to complete this task leaving the body intact. A few of the others in the workshop perforated the thin skin of the hamster’s stomach wall and there were some gut spilling moments which was not exactly pleasant.

After skinning the hamster, you give it a wash, pin it up to get a blow dry.

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Hamster rug anyone?

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Finished product.

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The class was from 13:00 to 17:00 on a Sunday. I have to say time flew and before long, we were ushered out of the room as the farm closes at 17:00 and some of us had to finish our creation back home.

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My first reaction after the class was though I had fun, I don’t think I will attempt it again. I think the long session tired me out and the smell was pretty unpleasant. It’s not the smell of putrification, just the usual rodent smell.

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But after putting in the eyeballs, sewing the mouth shut to give it a cheeky grin and posing it into a standing position, I had a change of heart. I just might attend another workshop but  working on a different animal next time. I think there are a couple of guinea pig ones coming up…

The Last Tuesday Society
11 Mare Street
London E8 8RP

Hackney City Farm
1A Goldsmith’s Row
London E2 8QA