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

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

Singapore Laksa – Mudmee, Artillery Passage Bishopsgate

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Managed to find some free time today so decided to have an eat-in lunch rather than takeaway. Passed by this small Thai restaurant Mudmee if I snake my way from Liverpool Street Station to Brick Lane via the small passageways and decided to give it a try.

As I was pretty early, managed to get seated as soon as I walked in. Dare not take too much photos of the restaurant and food as I was given a couple of dirty looks by one of the waiters while I was taking pictures of the restaurant’s facade. Looks like apart from the regular menu, they also have an Express Takeaway lunch menu.

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Unfortunately, nothing on the Express Takeaway lunch menu took my fancy so I went with my numero uno comfort food, Singapore Laksa! Sacrilegious to order Singaporean food in a Thai restaurant but I need some TLC today. To make it a 2 course lunch, I also ordered Peek Gad Yud Sai which is deep fried stuffed boneless chicken wings. The laksa was £7.90 while the chook wings was £4.90 which takes the total to £12.80. Not exactly cheap, let’s see whether it can live up to my fav from Keke’s.

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Both my orders came within 5 minutes and I’m glad the laksa looked the part. Gave it a stir and was pleasantly surprised that they used both rice vermicelli as well as thick egg noodles. There was generous slices of fish cake, squid and prawns all in a coconut milk and spiced based soup. Taste wise, pretty good, 2 thumbs up! Well, it’s not exactly Singapore Laksa, more like a Thai rendition with strong hints of lemon grass and slightly on the sweet side like a Thai Red Curry. There was quite a few curry leaves scattered throughout I guess to replace laksa leaves and my only complain would be it’s missing some crunch, some bean sprouts would be nice.

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What about the stuffed chicken wings? Looks wise, it fits the bill but was sorely lacking taste wise. Both the wings and stuffing lacked seasoning and requires furious dunking in the plum sauce provided. They have also been over fried, though crispy is tough and dry. Really disappointed.

If you intend to lunch here, be early. It was jammed packed with queues snaking out the door by the time I’m halfway through my lunch.

Mudmee
12a Artillery Passage
Bishopsgate
London E1 7LJ
0207 247 0772

Laksa Off! Keke vs Momo’wich

Having tried Momo’wich’s laksa, I’m now finally able to complete the Laksa Off! which I have mentioned many times in my previous posts. On with the fight!

Our first contestant, occupying a takeaway stall in the corner of Spitalfields Market, meals cooked to order but with no website of their own, we have Keke!

Our second contestant, located along Commercial Street, tagging themselves with the “Pan-Asian Bites” moniker and all social media up, we have Momo’wich!

Round One – If looks could kill…

In my post about the laksa from Momo’wich, I waxed lyrical about the concept of the rempah and how vital the film of oil is to the appearance of a laksa’s gravy. Comparing the gravy of both Momo’wich and Keke’s laksa, I would say Momo’wich’s version looks more appealing, the film of red oil will stir all laksa addict’s appetite. Keke’s version looks anemic in comparison.

Momo’wich’s Laksa

Keke’s Laksa

Round Two – Only when the price is right…

There is not much of a price difference between Momo’wich and Keke. Momo’wich’s laksa was £6 while Keke’s was £5.80. I think I can afford a 20p difference anytime. Unfortunately, at £6, I was expecting more prawns in the Momo’wich laska. Felt a tad cheated by the few small shrimps.

Round Three – The proof is in the pudding…

Taste wise, how do they compare? I would say Momo’wich’s version is a more accurate rendition of a typical laksa. The colour, the taste fits the bill. Perhaps I my expectation was too high but after eating it, I was still felt somewhat lacking.

Momo’wich’s Laksa

I think I’m a tad biased when it comes to Keke’s Laksa. It’s my go to laksa afterall! Though it’s not entirely authentic, it’s more along the lines of a curry noodle but it always manage to more than satisfy my laksa craving. Keke’s still get my vote.

Keke’s Laksa

Verdict

Afraid to say, the slightly cheaper, less authentic but definitely fulfills my craving laksa from Keke gets my vote!

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

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

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 with Egg Noodles – EAT, Canary Wharf

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Junk is currently plagued with a bout of IT equipment issue and is stuck in her Canaryland office. Purely though no fault of her own, blame it on moronic human nature. So the laksa off between Momo’wich and Keke will have to wait. Anyway, the noodle soup range from EAT has always been one of my comfort foods while I was working in the Square Mile. Followers of my blog will know that I’m a bit of a Noodle Queen and the closest I can come to spritual cleansing is downing a bowl (or tub) of piping hot, fragrant broth and feeling the warm feeling in your tum while busy blowing your nose after! Too much information as usual…

Of all the High Street chain eateries, EAT is my fav as there is always one a stone throw away and unlike the other chains, they will gladly serve their noodle tubs first thing in the morning. I usually get their Chicken Pho but today, there was a limited edition Chicken Laksa and thought I give it a try. If it’s up to mark, was thinking perhaps we can have a 3 way laksa off.

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When you enter EAT, you walk up to the fridge section, select your tub (I always weigh a few tubs looking for the heavier one!), go to the counter and the server will top your tub up with their generic broth. What makes it laksa or tom yum is the spice paste added to the tub. At £5.35, slightly more than the Chicken Pho (£4.99) but I think I can afford it.

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I try not to judge books by their cover but was not enthused when I lifted the cover of the noodle tub. There were globules of the laksa paste floating around the clear broth while I was expecting a uniform creamy soup base, not very pretty. After giving it a good stir, things got better. The laksa paste amalgamated into the generic broth forming a pleasant, slightly creamy and spicy soup. It will be a stretch to call it a laksa but for what it is, it’s pretty yummy. Other condiments apart from the chicken breast and egg noodles are chinese leaf, bean sprouts, spinach and a melange of chopped up veg.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this will be a fair contender for the laksa off but do give it a try if you have a chance and if you like things spicy, get the server to add in a dollop of chilli paste to your tub.

EAT
Canary Wharf
Canada Place
London E14
(and all the various other outlets around town)

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