Seafood Laksa – Yanwo (Golden Fish Noodles), Farringdon

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See, told you I’m addicted! Yes, it’s laksa for lunch today. Was feeling a tad hungover and was head down bum up at work, non-stop till way past 1 o’clock. Thought I give myself a treat and went to checkout this joint just across the road from where I work.

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Golden Fish Noodles is located along Farringdon Road, across from Mount Pleasant and just next to Exmouth Market. I was intending to grab something from the food trucks in the market but most of the trucks had a long queue of customers and Junk just could not be arsed queueing up today.

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As you can see from the menu, definitely not as budget as Chop Chop but it won’t break the bank either. I really should force myself to try other stuff apart from laksa. Perhaps the Beef Ho Fun in a sauce or the Belachan Chicken Fried Rice can be my next target.

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Seeing I’m feeling a tad hungover, decided to be health and have tea instead of a soft drink. Ordered the “Iron” Guanyin tea. Also asked for a glass of ice on the side so I can make my own ice tea.

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At £7.80 which is close to £3 more than the Chop Chop version, one would expect more ingredients in this Seafood Laksa. So there was 2 big deep fried prawn wonton, 3 fish balls (don’t laugh!), 4 big slices of squid, quite a few cubed fried tofu, loads of green beans and bean sprouts in a thick and satisfying gravy laced with curry leaves.

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I’m glad they use thick egg noodles here instead of the more common rice vermicelli. Though the noodles felt mushy, they were actually very well cooked with still a slice bounce. The only complain I have is I could do with more gravy and the spoon had a massive bowl which makes scooping out the gravy awkward.

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Empty bowl, satisfied tummy.

Hmmm… did not notice there was service charge added to the bill till later. I would not have tipped as generously as I had if I’d known. Then again, the service was very good. Both the waitresses were attentive and efficient. They really should reprogram the till to show the right business name soon.

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Golden Fish Noodles
102-104 Farringdon Road
London EC1R 3EA
0207 7837 5293

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*Update: It would seem that my point about the restaurant reprogramming the till to match the restaurant’s name was partially accurate. Walked by the joint today and noticed that it was no longer Golden Fish Noodles but Yanwo instead! Would seem like I visited in midst of a transition. Makes me feel like a revolutionary!

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Yanwo Restaurant
102-104 Farringdon Road
London EC1R 3EA
0207 7837 5293

Singapore Laksa and Kway Teow – Chop Chop Noodle Bar, Kings Cross

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Oh no! Not laksa again I hear you say? Yes, Junk is almost addicted to the stuff and this post and next will be about one of my all time fav dishes.

So one day last week towards the end of the working day, I found myself a tad hungry and could not get the ideal of having a big steaming bowl of laksa out of my head. Started looking around on Google maps for any potential to appease my craving. Lo and behold! Found both Chop Chop and Hare and Tortoise outlets within walking distance from the office.

chopchopshopfrontChop Chop is a budget place serving a range of Asian/Chinese dishes. By budget, I really mean budget. One can have a starter, a drink and a main course easily under £10. Quality is not fantastic but portions are always generous.What the Boom might call, a reliable “Chew and Spew” joint. Apart from the outlet in Kings Cross, I know of one in Shepherd’s Bush and another near Fulham Broadway. There are many reviews complaining of rude or bad service which I have never encountered and I have visited all 3 outlets.

chopchopmenuOnce you are seated, you will be given a pen and a marking sheet with numbers representing dishes on the menu. Simply indicate the number of portion of the selected dish on the marking sheet.

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Of the umpteenth times I have eaten at Chop Chop, I have always told myself to try out some of their other dishes. But I could never tear myself away from their Singapore Laksa, it’s simply one of my comfort dishes.

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A bowl of Singapore Laksa at £4.90 (this have increased their prices over the years. I still remember when a bowl was only £3.90) will contain 3 good size prawns, maybe 5 thick slices of fish cake and a handful of fried tofu. The small plate of chilli oil in the first picture cost 50p more.

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They use thin rice vermicelli here and believe me, the portion is huge! The rice noodles are accompanied by crunchy bean sprouts all drench in a spicy, rich coconut milk based sauce.

Slurp, slurp, chew, slurp, there, all done!

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Also got a takeaway portion of Boom’s fav dish, the Kway Teow. This also cost £4.90 and I was intending to have it for lunch the next day as it was my WFH (work from home) day. Came the next morning, thought better of it and gave it to Boom for his dinner instead. What a nice person I am huh?

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So the Kway Teow is quite rightly made with thick rice noodles, prawns, char siew, fish cake, bean sprouts all stir fried with dark soya sauce. Boom told me the next day that the Kway Teow was a perfect cure to his after drinks cravings and boy was the portion big he said. The Boom don’t lie.

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Chop Chop Noodle Bar
1 Euston Road
London NW1 2SA
0207 833 1773

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Chicken Ramen and Hosomaki Set – Deli Mama, Eastcheap

IMG-20130412-delimama_lunchA colleague from the US office was in town this week for work and I was asked to take a walk with him for lunch today. He had a couple of things he wanted to buy which took us across the river. Seeing we have made the trek, decided to go by my regular haunt when I was based out in Monument.

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Deli Mama is located around the corner from the Monument and is an independent Japanese/Korea takeaway joint ran by a team of Korean staff. There is a range of hot dishes which you can have with either rice or noodles at the steam tray counter.

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Or you can also pickup tubs of udon, ramen and a selection of bento boxes and sushi set from the fridge units. As you can see, the selection is pretty good and all pretty affordable.

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I decided on my old favourite which is the Chicken Ramen where I got the spicy broth added when paying at the counter. Also added a small box of Hosomaki Set. The ramen was £5.80 while the Hosomaki Set was £3.75.

IMG-20130412-delimama_chickenramenAs you can see, the noodles is not exactly ramen but more like the korean ramyun style instant noodles. Other condiments in the noodles includes bean sprouts, shredded carrot, big bunches of coriander and sliced up fried chicken breast. I highly recommend you top up the container to the brim with extra hot water as the spicy broth has a tendency to be pretty salty. perfect comfort food on cold wet days.

IMG-20130412-delimama_hosomakisetI really enjoyed the Hosomaki Set. There are 2 Gunkan style sushi, one topped with chopped salmon and mixed pickles while the other is with a smoked mackerel salad and fresh cucumber. The one in the middle is a inari pocket with tuna mayo and pickled ginger. The last two are normal nigiri with cooked prawn and fresh salmon. Strictly speaking, these are not Hosomaki as they are the small skinny rolls but I will let that rest since they were really fresh and tasty.

When the weather gets better, I will be sure to visit Deli Mama more often. The quality and price of the offering is worth the trek!

Deli Mama
2 Eastcheap
London EC3M 1AA

Bun Bo Hue and Banh Mi Dac Biet – Pho, Spitalfields

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Had a team Xmas booze up last night and you can imagine how I feel today. Well, at least I managed to get to the office on time. Did bring my leftover mutton curry for lunch but need some comforting as I’m feeling rather fragile. Weird that seeing I’m such a big soup noodle fan, I only went to Pho at Spitalfields once.

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Instead of ordering my usual pho, I decided to order a bun instead, the Bun bo Hue to be exact . Not bun as in a bread bun silly, it’s Vietnamese and refers to the cylindrical rice noodles used in the dish as compared to the flat rice noodles used in pho. Also ordered a banh mi in case I still feel hungry after the noodles. The bun cost £6.45 while the banh mi was £5.50. Not a cheap lunch but the Junk needed some soothing.

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Like the pho, the Bun bo Hue came deconstructed, almost all components are packed separately to ensure freshness but can be a pain if you are starving. I guess it makes putting together a takeaway order easier as well as I bet the kitchen would have packed some containers beforehand. The bun was a nice change from the usual pho, the broth was spicy but still has a deep beefy taste. The lean beef was thinly sliced which is good and the plethora of herbs added freshness to the dish. Only complain would be that the portion seems to be rather small, much smaller than I recalled.

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There was 2 options for the prepacked banh mi, a chicken and a grilled pork. I went with the grilled pork and was pleasantly surprised that it’s says Banh Mi dac Biet on the receipt. if I’m not wrong, dac Biet means special in Vietnamese. You will be asked whether you want to add some Sriracha sauce (thai chili sauce) to be added while the Maggi seasoning sauce is added by default. The baguette is nice and light, pretty close to the ones I had when I was in Ho Chi Minh with slices of roasted lean pork, a smearing of pate and stuffed with picked mooli, carrots, coriander and spring onions. Perhaps I waited too long to have it, the baguette went a big soggy on me. How I wished I had more banh mi when I was in Vietnam, the £5.50 I paid could have bought me probably 10!

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In all, a good lunch. But food can’t rid hangovers, only time and loads of liquid will 😦

Pho
48 Brushfield Street
London E1 6AG
0207 377 6436

Malaysian Curry Laksa – Momo’wich, Commercial Street

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Finally pulled my finger out today and took the walk to Momo’wich to get their version of laksa. I have blogged about Momo’wich’s Beef Rendang baguette before and have always wanted to try their laksa. On their menu, they mentioned 2 versions, a chicken and a prawn version with the chicken version at 50p cheaper. But when I walked to their fridge area holding the noodle tubs, there was only one type labelled “laksa” with no mention whether it is chicken or prawn. Feels a bit like a lucky dip!

As you can see from the picture of the laksa above, the soup base certainly looks the part. The colour of the laksa broth varies from a light yellow to a bright orange and except for Asam Laksa, all have a milky consistency from the coconut milk used. But the most important thing for me is the oil floating on top of the broth. The oil is from frying the rempah, the spice paste which forms the base of most Malaysian and Indonesian cuisine. Frying the rempah releases the fragrant oils from the spices and takes away some of its rawness. The rempah is ready when the oil used for frying separates from the paste. That’s the source of the oil in a laksa broth.

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Got back to the office, opened the tub and found a couple of prawns swimming in the tub. So I got the prawn version today thus the server charged me £6 which was the correct price according to the menu. Other ingredients includes a quarter of a hard boiled egg, a few slices of fish cake, rice noodles, bean sprouts and julienned carrots, cabbage and daikon. The soup base taste pretty much like a curry laksa should be, cream and spicy. Perhaps too spicy for those of you who can’t handle the chilli kick. The rice noodles were abundant and the crunch of the veggies was a nice touch. My main complain would be the prawns. Only 2 were included and they were not huge ones. For £6, I expected more prawns, even more hard boiled egg in its place would be appreciated.

Verdict: Taste wise, it’s pretty ok but don’t think it’s value for money. Keke is safe as my go-to laksa joint for the moment.

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Managed to take a picture of their wall with beef rendang recipe. If you look carefully, you can also see a laksa recipe after.

Momo’wich
75 Commerical Street
London E1 6BD
0207 377 6409

Chicken Laksa Reblog – Keke, Spitalfields

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Finally, the inevitable has arrived! I’m eating something I’ve blogged about before. Gave myself several reasons for this:
1. The weather is turning cooler and it’s perfect for a warm spicy noodle
2. I intend to do a laksa off with the version from Momo’wich
3. It is one of my favourite lunch to have around the area
4. It was my first post and I did not get the chance to include pictures of the joint
Blah, blah, blah…

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Darn it! It’s my mouth, I get to eat what I like with no need for excuses! So it’s Chicken Laksa from Keke in Spitalfields again today. Before I talk about the laksa, some pictures of how Keke look like. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Chinese food and can’t picture how the dish will look like just by reading the menu, Keke has kindly displayed sample of some dishes in their glass display case.

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Amongst the other dishes mentioned in my previous post, Keke also serves Dim Sum. The selection is not as varied as what is available in most Chinese restaurants but it gives a taster to what Dim Sum is like for those uninitiated. The steamed Dim Sums are in the steamer frame while there is also a selection of fried ones on the menu.

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Back to the laksa. Unlike the last time where I asked to replace the rice noodles with egg noodles, I stuck with the rice noodles this time. As before, the gravy is creamy and not too spicy, tender chicken thigh meat is used instead of breast and with the bean sprouts and fried tofu, makes for a very satisfying meal. The price is still £5.80, no change from last time.

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Can’t wait to try the version at Momo’wich for a proper laksa off!

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Keke
Old Spitalfields Market
10 Horner Square
London E1 6EW
0207 375 2002