Piri Piri Tonkotsu Ramen – Shoryu, Soho

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A couple of weeks back, had the opportunity to run some errands before having to fly up north for work. Seeing I’m in the Soho area, thought I pop by Shoryu to check out their tonkotsu ramen.

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Shoryu is the sister ramen bar of the Japan Centre which recently relocated to Piccadilly Circus, just round the corner from the Shoryu on Denman Street. In fact, after having my ramen, I pop by Japan Centre to check things out and was very impressed by their range of sushi available for takeaway. Dragged the Boom the very same week to grab some for dinner. That pig out is a story for another day 🙂

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I was very tempted to crush some garlic onto my ramen but got lazy as the entire bulb is still intact. Didn’t want to stink up my fellow passenger on the flight.

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Apart from ramen, Shoryu offers various other items from yakitori, yakimono, sushi, sashimi and a huge selection of sides and drinks. Was torn between the singature Shoryu Ganso or the Piri Piri Tonkotsu but ultimately settled on the spicy option.

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Overall, I was not really impressed by this ramen. The broth though creamy is not as rich and porky as I would like it to be. The noodles had a good bite initially but turned soft when I got to the bottom of the bowl. I could not discern much Piri Piri apart from the few slices of jalapeno peppers garnish. Being not a big fan of ginger in general, I should have pushed aside the generous sprinkling of pickled ginger as crunching on slivers of piquant ginger with every noodle bite was rather jarring.

An average and forgettable bowl at £11.90, perhaps I should give it another try before I pass the final verdict.

Shoryu
3 Denman Street
London W1D 7HA
* They don’t do reservations, walk-ins only

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15 Course Tasting Menu – HKK, Liverpool Street

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The Boom decided to splash out and took me to HKK for their 15 course tasting menu yesterday night. The location of HKK is rather obscure, on the edge of Shoreditch and the City. Also, the facade is unassuming, no name of the restaurant, just frosted glass and cool blue lights.

Finally something worth blogging about. Won’t write much since there are so many pictures!

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See! 15 course tasting menu at £95! You can check out their menu online.
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Cripsy taro puff with Canadian scallop. This is the upmarket version of your typical dim sum taro puff. Instead of minced pork, it’s filled with diced scallop. I could happily have a few more puffs. The Boom liked this as well though he thought the mushy taro “dirtied” the fresh taste of the scallop.

wpid-wp-1391865598542.jpeg Cold jumbo crab. Chunky piece of crab meat on a leaf of chicory with a Shao Xing rice wine sauce. We thought the bitterness of the chicory leaf will overpower the delicate taste of the crab but luckily, the inner tender leaf of chicory was used so our fear was moot! Apart from Shao Xing wine, we both think some wasabi was used. Nice and refreshing with a tad of bite.

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Cherry wood roasted Peking duck. This was the highlight of the night! A slice of duck skin, a thick slice of duck breast with skin and a wrap with duck meat, skin and slivers of cucumber and spring onion.

We were instructed (yes, instructed!) to dip the skin in the sugar and hoi sin sauce and eat that first, followed by the breast meat with skin and lastly the wrap. Boy! This was some good stuff. Simply the best Peking duck I have ever tasted. The skin is crispy with a bit of duck fat that just melts in your mouth. The slice of duck breast was juicy and moist, simply delightful! The Boom wanted more and was waxing lyrical about how his life will be complete if he can have a whole duck with a bottle of nice red wine. The Boom and his duck craze, don’t blame him, this duck is top quack!

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The yummy duck roasting away in the kitchen.

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Truffled seafood soup with Osmanthus flower. We were once again instructed to lower the spoon filled with sea bass and scallop into the soup to warm the seafood up slightly before drinking the soup. We were expecting a light bodied soup and thus was surprised this was more like a chowder. Rich and totally umami.

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Dim sum trilogy. We both loved the deep fried dumpling that is wrapped in vermicelli and topped with caviar. The skin of the white dumpling is far too thick and the mouth feel was gummy and not pleasant. The red spicy dumpling fared slightly better, thinner skin but still too thick but have an interesting filling. Ginger, five spice and Szechuan peppercorn. Disappointing overall.

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Braised organic Duke of Berkshire pork with Mantou. I was expecting a white fluffy bun stuffed with the braised pork and so was very surprised by the 50p size bun. Taste wise, the bun was just bad! Slightly crispy on the outside with texture of wholemeal bread on the inside. Totally out of character. The moist and tender braised pork saved this dish to be let down once again by the overly sweet sauce. Even the Boom thought the sauce to be too sweet.

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Sugar snap, lotus root and water chestnut in XO sauce. This dish showcase the different texture of the vegetables. Nice, but nothing spectacular.

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Hawberry red bean cake and glutinous sesame ball served with white peony tea. Junk has done it again! I ate my portion of this dish without taking a pic so had to hijack the same dish from the neighboring table for a snap.

We both thought the the proportion of the hawberry jelly could be more to better balance the coconut red bean cake.

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Wok fried lobster in garlic sesame sauce. The Boom thought the lobster was slightly on the tough side. The sauce was just meh.

wpid-wp-1391865909137.jpeg Char grilled Chilean sea bass. This dish we both love. The smoky char taste contrasted wonderfully with the naturally sweet taste of the sea bass.
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Seared Wagyu beef in VSOP sauce. The Boom say this is like pulled pork which I can understand. There is a slight moo to the beef but could not discern the fatty marbling I would expect from a Wagyu. Perhaps because the cut has been braised?

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Seared Rhug Farm organic lamb with pan mee. This was average. I was expecting handmade pan mee noodles. Instead, the noodles tasted more like pad thai. The lamb pieces was way too salty I thought.

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Lemon cream, citrus sable and yogurt sorbet. Most of the other reviews I’ve read of HKK all said the dessert was a let down. I thought otherwise which is rare as I’m not a big dessert fan. We both loved this dish. The tart of the lemon cream and sorbet balanced the rich butter biscuit base. Only thing I would say is though well executed, this is not a typical Chinese dessert.

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Chocolate velvet, roast banana and five spice crouton. Another non Chinese dessert but utterly delicious! After the tartness of the last dish, this was rich and warming. The roast banana goes so well with the rich chocolate mousse. Slightly let down by the crouton. Way too hard and tough.
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Selection of petits fours. This reminds me of Pick and Mix from Woolworths… meh!
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The final verdict! Not cheap, won’t be repeating it again soon but a worthwhile experience.

HKK
Broadgate West
88 Worship Street
London EC2A 2BE
020 3535 1888

Homemade Savoury Rice Dumpling (Bak Chang) – West London

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Junk is always up for a challenge when it comes to replicating food from my childhood days. Previous endeavours include yam cake, radish cake, samosas, laksa and various other dishes my Mom would make. With time on my hands and a pair of spare hands from Boom, decided to up the ante and try something more daunting.

Bak chang or zongzi is a Chinese bamboo leaf wrapped snack made from glutinous rice stuffed with various ingredients. Depending on the stuffing, it can either be savoury or sweet. There is even a Nonya version which is a hybrid of the two with a slightly sweet minced pork stuffing. I went for the traditional version with pork, dried mushroom, chestnuts, dried shrimp and other bits and pieces with five spice seasoning.

Won’t bore you with the ingredient list and detailed instructions. You can refer to other blogs for that. I know you are only interested in the pics!

The most important ingredient – Glutinous Rice, in original packing. after an overnight soak and fried with seasoning

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The wrapper – Bamboo leaves, in original packing and also after a soak.

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Stuffing – Chinese wax sausage and Salted Duck Egg. Note, you only need the egg yolk and it does not need to be cooked as the salting process solidifies the yolk

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More stuffing – Dried Shrimp, Dried Mushroom and Chestnuts. The dried stuff needs to soaked before frying.

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Shallots – Skinned, thinly sliced and fry till golden. See the amount of steam released while frying the shallots. Dreamy…

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Junk’s bunch – Proudly supported by Boom

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Boom’s bunch – Not bad an effort from the big clumsy cheese!

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The horde – After slow boiling in water for 2.5 hours.

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What we had for dinner! 2 bak chang each and some homemade samosas.

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What I had for breakfast this morning. Reheat in microwave on medium for 2 minutes.

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Best served with Lao Gan Ma’s Flavoured Chilli Oil or Maggi Garlic Chilli Sauce. I had a mixture of both!

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If anyone of you are interested and located in London, I have frozen the reminder of the horde and will be more than happy to share. Just drop me a comment!
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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

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

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