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

Curry Laksa – Hare and Tortoise, Blackfriars

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After spending a couple of years in the Continent and getting my fill of the various types of European cuisine, I find myself starting to crave for the common fare readily available in my home country. Laksa was a much craved after item. When I moved to London, was ecstatic when the Asian restaurant around the corner from me have a version of Curry Laksa! From that day onwards, I order nothing else but Curry Laksa whenever I visit Hare and Tortoise. The Boom might tease me for this but I don’t care! To me, nothing else in the menu interest me.

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I have since moved away from where I first lived in London but am glad there is a Hare and Tortoise branch just across the river from where I’m working. The Boom gladly came along as though he is not addicted to the Curry Laksa like yours truly, he has another dish which he can’t help but ordering. Pot and kettle…

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If you are intending to pay the Blackfriars branch a visit for lunch, do go before 1pm and try to avoid Fridays as they tend to be pretty crowded. Having said that, we never had to wait long for a seat even when there is a queue. Some pictures of the menu above and below. Nice pictures to give you an idea of what you are ordering.

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The menu is mostly filled with Japanese options with sushi, tempura and donburi. But they also have some South East Asian options like my Curry Laksa, Char Kuey Tiew and Curry Chicken with Rice. The Curry Laksa is £7.10 which I believe have gone up in price since I first tried it back in the day. Not surprising I guess.

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The topping and noodles of the laksa as always is more than generous. You get 3 big slices each of chicken breast, prawns, squid, naruto and fried beancurd. Big bunch of beansprouts and sliced cucumber adds crunch to the thin rice noodles. The all important gravy made with the typical spices and heavy on coconut milk is rich and creamy. Scattered throughout were curry leaves which somehow I don’t think adds much but perhaps their taste have been leeched into the gravy.

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I think the portion and ingredients is well worth the £7.10. Another dish I would highly recommend is the Miso Ramen while Boom swears by the Char Kuey Tiew as well as the Curry Chicken with Rice.

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Hare and Tortoise
90 New Bridge Road
London EC4V 6JJ
0207 651 0266

*Chinese New Year Special – Steamboat, Chez Boom

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恭禧發財! Happy Chinese New Year to all the Chinese readers out there. It is a tradition to have reunion dinner on the eve of the first day of the Chinese New Year and seeing I don’t have family here in the UK, reunion dinner will have to be just Boom and me. Steamboat or hotpot is a typical dish served for reunion dinner and I thought it is a good idea especially when the weather is on the chilly side.

The Boom and I made a trip to a close by Asian supermarket to stock up on in ingredients on Saturday morning and as expected, the shop was busier than usual. Hoo Hing is a smaller Asia supermarket compared to Wing Yip and it caters more towards the trade business than individual shoppers like me. But it is substantially closer than Wing Yip and it has all the things I need for a steamboat dinner.

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Run down of what we had to cook in the steamboat. On the protein side, we had thinly sliced beef and lamb and they take less than a minute to cook in the hot broth. These are pre-sliced, frozen and comes in deep plastic trays. The portion you can see is just half of each box and they are about £4.95 per box.

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For seafood, prawns are a must while the clams are from Waitrose. Wanted to get fresh prawns but they were not available so frozen ones will have to do. If I recall, the box of frozen prawns were about £6.80 while the clams were around £4. Prawns on the shell is a must as the shell helps to impart flavour to the broth.

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Other must have items for steamboat are an assortment of balls! No, not that sort. These are balls made from fish paste or meat paste. We have 2 variety this time, pork and fish balls. Fried bead curd and knotted bean curd skins are also good for steamboat and a couple of noodles to end the meal if one is still hungry.

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As for greens, we have chinese leaf and water morning glory. I also got some enoki and buna shimeji mushroom which adds some texture to the spread.

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Steamboat is never complete without dipping sauces. Decided to be luxurious and we have 3 different sauces. A homemade chili sauce made with chilies, garlic, shallots, ginger, lime peel and fermented prawn paste, this is the one in the big orange bowl. The creamy looking sauce is made with tahini and fermented bean curd and the last one is a Cantonese Suki dipping sauce from the Asia supermarket.

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As for the broth, the fiery looking one is from a soup base used in Chongqing hotpots while the plain looking one is made from juice from the clams and a fish stock pot. Both the Boom and I thought the fiery one is tastier.

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Finally, steamboat in action! In all, a very enjoyable meal and for once, there was minimum leftovers which was a good thing.

Hoo Hing
A406 North Circular Road
Park Royal
London NW10 7UB
0208 838 3388

Chez Boom
Somewhere in West London
Open 24/7
Strictly by invitation
Only for the worthy

Thai Green Chicken & Seafood Curry – Furness Food Stop, Borough Market

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It’s Thursday today and Borough Market is in full swing, compared to other weekdays, the atmosphere is much better. I know I will have choices galore and rather then wandering around undecided, I set my mind on something warm and preferably with rice. The first few stalls I came across were hogging pies and sausage rolls which I will file for the future. Then I came across this place.

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Furness Fish & Game sells fresh seafood, poultry and game. They also portion off a part of their stall to sell takeaway for punters like me. Not a bad idea seeing most of the ingredients in the ready made food is from their produce stall.

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On offer today was a Seafood Paella, Thai Green Chicken & Seafood Curry and a Vietnamese Chicken Curry. Was tempted by the paella but peeling prawns and shelling mussels at my desk while blogging sounds too messy even for me. I might be able to multi-task but I’m not an octopus!

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Decided to go half way and went with the Thai Green Chicken & Seafood Curry. While waiting for my food, spotted the soup kettle and had a portion of Fish Soup as well. Handed over a £20 note and only got £10.50 back. Told you Borough Market can be expensive! The curry probably cost £6 while the soup is £3.50. There was no price posted and I did not bother to ask.

The Fish Soup is like a bisque, smooth and creamy and you can still taste small flakes of fish in it. But it does smell pretty fishy and I think it’s a tad too salty. I liked it though. The curry also fared pretty well. The sauce was rich with coconut cream and there was plenty of normal and shitake mushroom, capsicum, baby potatoes. A bit mean on the chicken and I only spotted 3 small shell on prawns as the token seafood. Surprisingly, the rich made the dish! Not too sure what rice it is, definitely not basmati or jasmine. Probably the bomba rice they used in the paella.The grains are plump, slightly sticky and it was nicely seasoned with salt. The combination of salty rice and the slightly sweet curry was magic.

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See, I was so excited with my food that I forgot to take a closeup pic till I was almost done. Tsk, tsk, Junk, what are you like eh?

Furness Fish & Game
Borough Market Middle Market Area
8 Southwark Street
London SE1 1TL

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