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

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Chicken Noodle Supersoup – Chop’d, Old Spitalfield Market

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The healthy trend continues today at Junk4lunch but I promise my gluttonious self will return soon. As the weather turns colder, keep finding myself craving for soupy noodles. I have tried most of the soupy stuff from the independent as well as chain stalls around the area with one exception. So thought why not?

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Chop’d is one of those what I would call DIY salad places that have sprung up in recent years. The idea is simple, they categorized the salad ingredients into groups, then you get to pick a number of items from each group to create your own salad for a fix price. You may add more from each group at an additional cost obviously. I find the concept pretty fun but for those of you who are undecisive, it can be a nightmare trying to figure out what goes with what with the queue forming behind you. To solve this problem, Chop’d also have pre-made salads ready to go. Most of these are tried and tested combination so they can’t go wrong.

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Apart from salads, Chop’d also has a variety of hot stews, noodle soup, wraps and sweet treats. To satiate my craving, I grabbed the Chicken Noodle Supersoup tub from the fridge section and got it topped up with Thai Spicy broth. Other broth options include a vegetable and a chicken broth. The soup tubs come in 2 sizes, the small at £3.50 and the large is £5.50. With the large soup coming in at only 271 kcal, perhaps I can have some toast and Marmite later!

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I was surprised, that I was only given a spoon and suspect the noodles will be all cut up thus you’d only need a spoon. I was right (as usual) also, the proportion of noodle to other ingredient is surprisingly low. I think the thin rice noodles only took up 10% of the entire tub. No wonder they can keep the calories down. Apart from the rice noodles, the other ingredients are shredded roast chicken, brocoli, savoy cabbage, carrot, mushrooms, green beans, lemongrass, edamame and some onion confit (sliced onions that has been sweat down).

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Did I enjoy it? Well, the broth was light and strongly fragrant with lemongrass but could with more salt. All the crunchy veggies were a joy to chew, realised I did not really missed the noodles while the shredded chicken was moist and tender. I enjoyed it but somehow, it did not hit my taste buds the way Crussh did yesterday. Perhaps I’m really hungry today, I think this is best suited for a hangover day.

Chop’d
2 Horner Square
Old Spitalfields Market
London E1 6EW
0207 247 8757