Lamb Biryani and Hot Wings – Hot Munchies, Southwark

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Received some comments from a regular reader of my blog saying that my posts have gotten less “junky” recently. Looking at my recent entries, he might be right and decided to try harder to return to my usual gluttonous ways. Made an effort to track down some low brow food today and remembered this small little shop under the train track bridge on the way to work.

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Hot Munchies is located in the least expected place, under the bridge that trains travel into London Bridge Station. Unlike those posh restaurants, bars and galleries under the bridge near Waterloo Station, this is a small little shop selling run of the mill kebabs, burgers, fried chicken etc. The shop’s only neighbour is a private cab office.  I would usually give such places a miss but the poster with biryanis and curry rice caught my attention. At around the £4 mark, it’s pretty affordable for this area.

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Of the 2 biryanis and 4 curry rice on offer, I went with the Lamb Biryani at £4.30 and added 5 Hot Wings for £1.70. Alas, no longer in Brick Lane, no more 4 Hot Wings for £1.

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The Hot Wings were pretty ordinary, could be more crispy but at least they were not dry. Do help yourself to the various sauces available at the counter. My concoction of chilli and garlic sauce went very well with the wings.

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For £4.30, I was not expecting much from the biryani and thus I was pleasantly surprised that it was pretty tasty. There were quite a few tender lamb pieces which I thought was generous. The rice was spiced with the usual cardamon, black pepper pods and cloves and not too oily. The curry sauce with bits of carrots, peas and onions went very well with the biryani.

In all, I enjoyed my attempt to be more hardcore junk today. Perhaps I should try harder again next week!

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You’d thought they would notice the typo!

Hot Munchies
30 Southwark Street
London SE1 1TU
0207 4070691

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Lamb and Mixed Veg Tagine – Morrocan Food, Old Truman Brewery

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It’s raining cats and dogs today in Londonium so forgive me for not venturing far on my lunch forage. There were still quite a few food stalls at the F block area at Old Truman Brewery which I have yet to try and it is literally round the corner from me.

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Today, there was a Sri Lankan, a Mexican, a Singaporean, a Chinese, the Tibet Kitchen which I tried, a Morrocan and a bread stall. The Morrocan stall was just next to the entrance and the lady running it offered me a taste of the lamb kofta which was pretty yummy so thought why not?

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Of the many tagines available, I remember there was a chicken, lamb, spinach and chickpea, mixed veg, meatball and lamb kofta. All can be served with either rice or couscous. Regular serving for £5 and go large for £6. I went with the large lamb tagine with rice and as I was busy taking pictures, the nice lady prompted me to select another dish. Why didn’t I thought about that? I picked the mix veg as I had lamb meatballs just a couple of days ago for dinner and was hoping it will be the healthier option.

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There is a range of condiments like pickled chilies, jalapeno, coriander, pickled silver skin onions, fresh tomatoes which you can add to your box. The box I got was already full to the brim so I just got a couple of pickled chilies. Though it might look spicy, Morrocan food is usually rather mild from my point of view and this is no exception. The lamb pieces were tender and the profusion of curry leaves was a nice touch. I actually preferred the mix veg tagine to the lamb perhaps because I have an okra addiction, just simply love the slimy texture and the way it soaks up the flavour of whatever sauce it is cooked in. The other veg were also pretty cook if not a tad over done.

In all, good feed for £6 but not exactly titillating taste wise.

Morrocan Food
Old Truman Brewery F Block
91 Brick Lane
London E1 6QL

Classic plus veg crepe – Crepe Affaire, Old Spitalfields Market

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Slowly but surely, I’m wrapping up my tenure in the East End by lunching at places I have yet to try. At the rate I’m going, don’t think I will be able to cover everyone but such is life.

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I’m going slightly Continental today with Crepe Affaire, a shop selling both savory and sweet crepe somewhere in the middle of Old Spitalfields Market next to Chop’d. Reason why I have not tried it before is cos I was worried that the portion size might not be adequate for lunch. But seeing I have some leftover fried rice from dinner a couple of nights ago, I think a fusion of fried rice and crepe will be adequate for my growling tum.

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Looking at the menu, both savory and sweet crepes are well presented and there are also a few lunch deals. I went with the Classic plus veg with a bag of crisp and a canned drink for £4.25. For this part of town, that’s a pretty good deal.

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There is a machine in the shop that churns out the crepe skin on site and the crepe with fillings are assembled when ordered guaranteeing freshness. I’m glad I got to try this! The edge of the crepe skin without filling was light and crispy with a strong buttery taste. The combination of cheese, ham and mushroom (this is the plus veg with other choices being spinach or tomato) was rich but not cloyingly. As for portion size, it is a bit small for me but it will definitely make an ample snack.

Crepe Affaire
Old Spitalfields Market
London E1 6BG
0207 377 0200

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P/S: It must be the magical season, what do I see passing Brick Lane on the way to lunch?

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Yes! You got that right, it’s an unicorn!

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

Beef Curry with Noodles and Momos – Tibet Kitchen, Old Truman Brewery

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The Nigerian told me last week that a few food stalls has popped up in the F block area, one of various spaces in the Old Truman Brewery compound. Knowing that these temporary food stalls only operates Thursdays and Fridays, I went to check them out today.

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I counted around 6 – 7 food stalls selling food ranging from Asian, Mexican to Mediterranean and Caribbean. I was spoiled for choice and had a brief wobble. Luckily, one word on a stall’s banner caught my eye, Momo. From reading other food blogs, understand that momo is a type of dumpling not unlike gyoza or the dim sum dumplings. Well, they definitely look like the dumplings I know.

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Apart from different types of momo, Tibet Kitchen also offers a few dishes where you can have with either rice or noodles. I got a large order of Beef Curry with Noodles which was £6 and only had £4 left (lazy to bring my wallet so just stuffed a £10 note in my pocket). Looking at the menu, 6 momo cost £5 so I humbly asked whether it’s ok for me to get some momo with the £4 I have left. The stall owner gladly complied.

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I was expecting maybe just 4 momo since I was short. But I got the full 6 and the owner gave me a mixture of both steamed and fried ones. Taste wise, they are alright I guess. Can’t really tell the filling apart by taste. But looking at the colour, I think I got 2 beef, 2 pork and 2 chicken ones.
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Pastrami on Rye – Rough Trade East, Brick Lane

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Today’s lunch is from a rather unconventional place, a record shop! I walk by Rough Trade East almost everyday on my way to work and noticed there in a small cafe in the shop. Upon closer inspection, they serve a couple of hot sandwiches for lunch and a specific one caught my eye. The Pastrami on Rye.

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More specifically according to the menu, it’s pastrami, Emmental, gherkin, piccalilli on toasted rye bread and it’s made to order which ensure it’s freshness. At £4, it’s not bad but they have a lunch special which includes a sandwich, a cup of hot apple juice and a bag of pork crackling for £5. Obviously I went for the offer.

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Personally, I think the sandwich was excellent! The pastrami was tender, not too salty and quite generous. The amount of gherkin and piccalilli did not overpower the pastrami slices and the balance was just right. The toasted rye bread could be thicker (I like my bread thickly sliced) but it was nicely toasted and I simply loved the caraway seeds scattered throughout the bread. Apparently, not all rye bread have caraway seeds, only some does.

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While waiting for my sandwich to be made, I spotted a few other interesting things apart from records in the shop. Will have to pop by one of these days to see whether I can pickup some stocking fillers.

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Rough Trade East
‘Dray Walk’
Old Truman Brewery
91 Brick Lane
London E1 6QL
0207 392 7788

Dry Catfish Curry – Amar Gaon, Brick Lane

No rest for the wicked I say! Or at least for the greedy. Was tempted to take a break from blogging today so I don’t have to wreck my brain to find something new that I actually feel like eating. After making that monumental decision, went straight to Amar Gaon to get my lunch. Changed my mind as I thought what I ordered today is rather interesting so I’m back to square one.

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I have blogged about Amar Gaon a couple of times before. I have tried a few other similar shops along Brick Lane but somehow, I prefer Amar Gaon. I think it has something to do with the friendly service. I don’t feel threatened ordering things I know next to nothing about.

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I went with a Dry Catfish Curry, well it’s Boal which Wiki tells me is catfish. Also had what looks to be a mix veg curry with green beans and potato chunks. Threw in a meat samosa and with rice, total came to be £8. Slightly more expensive compared to previous times as the fish was bigger and had to be placed in a separate container.

Coming from Asia, we expect our fish to be fresh and thus no fishy taste. One of the reasons why we don’t really like freshwater fish which often have that muddy fishiness. I have since got used to fish having a fishy taste. Not that they are not fresh, it’s just different fish or different modes of preparation. Smoked fish is fishy and so are freshwater or oily ones. But there is only a certain level of fishiness I can take. Unfortunately, the catfish today pretty much hit my limit. Fishy taste combined with the slightly slimy skin, not enjoyable. I think I will avoid fish curry next time.

As for the mixed veg, I was quite surprised to find small shell on shrimp scattered throughout. Also what I thought was potato chunks, turned out to be taro. There also seem to be some form of gourd in the mix as well as I can see stringy, fibrous bits and gourd seeds in the mix. Taste wise, it was alright with the shell on shrimps providing some crunch.

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I was offered a spicy salad with my order today on the house and I never reject free food. The salad is simply made up of sliced tomatoes, onions, coriander and green chilies in a lime dressing. Simple but very refreshing and tasty. The meat samosa as usual is tightly packed with minced meat, onions and peas and heavily spiced with cumin. I think it’s one of the better samosa available in Brick Lane.

Amar Gaon
50 Brick Lane
London E1 6RF
0207 377 6688