Beef Rendang Set Lunch – Sedap, Old Street

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Sorry folks! I have been on hiatus for a couple of weeks between jobs and also took a well earned holiday along the way. Now I’m back and I’m glad to say I’ve moved location and hopefully the better, newer and varied food available will give me the kick to eat and write more!

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Lunch today is just a trot down the road and I’m proud to say I steer cleared from the laksa on offer and opted for the set lunch. Sedap is a small restaurant along Old Street which I have visited awhile ago. My experience previously was not too bad though I thought the portion was a bit on the small side. Read other food blogs about the place and it would seem the standard and portion size has taken a plunge recently so I’m keen to verify my fellow blogger’s observation.

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For the set lunch, you select a main course from item 16 to 41 of the main menu with prawn, duck or fish dishes costing £1 more. I tried the Beef Rendang the last time I visited and if I recall, it was not perfect but totally serviceable. So I ordered the Beef Rendang as my main, the Kerabu Vegetable Salad as the starter and Egg Fried Rice as the protein. Total came up to £7.80.

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I think everything I’ve ordered was pre prepared as I was served within minutes of placing the order. Can’t complain as rendang needs a lot of stewing while the salad is more of a pickle. I was really looking forward to the Kerabu Vegetable Salad and thus was a tad disappointed at the minute portion. Taste wise, it was good though. Thin slices of cucumber and wood ear mushroom pickle in a sweet and slightly sour dressing which I think contains tamarind. Crunchy and refreshing, wished the portion was bigger.

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For those of you aficionados of Beef Rendang (Boom, I’m referring to you!), you would think that the colour of the rendang is slightly off. I thought so too as the version I’m accustomed to is usually dark brown and rather dry. This was green and had quite a good amount of gravy. Taste wise it was reasonable, the whiff of pandan leaves was prominent and the gravy went very well with the egg fried rice. Once again, portion size was my main gripe. 5 pieces of stamp sized beef which could be stewed more till tender was not worth the £7.80 price tag.

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The Egg Fried Rice was the surprise of the meal. Almost all rendition of Egg Fried Rice I have encountered is just rice fried with scrambled egg. One will be lucky to get some garlic and seasoning. As you can see, Sedap’s version added some dark soya sauce which adds an extra dimension to the otherwise easily boring rice dish. Simple, basic but I really enjoyed it. Could eat another big plateful with no problem!

In all, I think my fellow bloggers were correct. The portion and standard of Sedap has indeed took a nose dive since my last visit. But I will check out their laksa in the near future before I give my final verdict. Will be sure to report back!

Sedap Restaurant
102 Old Street
London EC1V 9AY
0207 4900200

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Indonesian Beef Curry – Kastner and Ovens, Spitalfields

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Brrr…. The weather really turned this week. Gone was the incessant rain and lingering clouds to be replaced with bright blue skies but also chilly winds and numbing cold. It’s getting hard to venture far for lunch forages but persist I shall!

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It has been awhile since I tried a new food joint so decided to check a rather curious place out which I noticed when I went to Mangiare awhile ago. Kastner and Ovens has no obvious signage apart from some minimalist decals on the glass facade and the menu is rather cryptic as well. But it is pretty obvious they serve food looking at the display and the number of people in the queue. Apart from food, the joint is also like a delicatessen selling freshly baked bread and some specialist groceries.

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Anyway, I joined the queue and when it came my turn, asked what they have on offer. There was a couple of pies, quiches, a beetroot and celeriac terrine (Boom, they copy you!) a choice of salads which you can mix and match and an Indonesian Beef Curry with rice. You don’t have to be a genius to guess what I went for.. Collected my order and went to pay at the cashier not knowing how much it cost since the curry was not on the menu. The cashier rung up £6 which was what I paid.

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By Indonesian Beef Curry, I think they meant beef rendang. Well it certainly looks like one and a few colleagues commented on the delicious smell from my box. Yes, it smells like one as well. Added 4 spicy wings to my lunch from some random fried chicken place along Brick Lane, the 4 wings for £1 deal.

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If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck, it is a duck? Unfortunately, the look and smell did not translate to the taste. Don’t get me wrong, it does not taste bad. The beef was cooked well, tender enough yet still has a bite. The potatoes were also well done having absorbed the taste of the sauce. But the dish just taste one dimensional, definitely missing lemon grass and pandan leaves.

Oh well, not being racist but what do you expect when a complex dish like rendang is cooked by non Asians? I should not be that harsh, at least the attempt was tasty enough. Or perhaps they were not after the rendang taste afterall?

Kastner and Ovens
13 Frying Pan Alley
London E1 7HS
0203 538 6992

Indonesian Platter – Kota Satay, Old Spitalfields Market

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I had comments this week from colleagues in the office saying by now, I must have exhausted the eateries around the area. They find it hard to imagine there are still places I have yet to blog about. Well, today’s place is one of those that is still in my “to blog” list. I still have quite a few left up my sleeves so watch this space.

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Kota Satay is another one of the takeaway stalls in Old Spitalfields Market, located along side Keke, Carribean Cafe and Misha. Most of the items on the menu are pre-made and can be seen in the steam table. The chefs in the small kitchen at the back of the shop cooks when there is a need to top up the steam table. I think the turnover is pretty quick especially during lunch time so the food can be considered freshly cooked.

Looking at the menu, there are only a few main dish options and most of the dishes can be combined with either fried rice or fried noodle which make life easier for those undecided. I went with the Indonesian Platter with noodles and handled over £6.50 for my choice. For £6.50, you get a heap of fried noodles with vegetables, 2 sticks of chicken satay and a big spring roll. Most of the other options cost either £5.50 or £6.

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I have always been dubious about pre-made dishes with noodles or rice combination places. Reminds me of all the similar stalls in Camden Lock market where though the food looks good, taste wise can be pretty foul. Luckily, Kota Satay more than lived up to my expectations, perhaps I was not expecting much in the first place. The noodles were nicely fried, still chewy with crunchy slices of cabbage and nicely seasoned as well. The curry sauce I chose instead of peanut sauce offered was tangy and on a sweet side but tasty nonetheless. The chicken satay has a mild but pleasant marinade, I have never really been a big satay fan so this will always be a meh for me. The spring rolls was crunchy and filled with bean sprouts and other julienned veg. For once, spring roll that is not just purely skin.

So not as bad a lunch as I thought it would be. Overall, pretty satisfied.

PS: Do add some chilli paste from the container under the counter. Adds some zing to your meal.

Kota Satay
Old Spitalfields Markets
Commercial Street
London E1 6BG