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

Chicken Pho and Rainbow Side Salad – EAT, Bankside

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The HR department where I work always give out freebies or offer vouchers as long as you make an afford to pay them a visit and collect the freebies in person. Last week I scored 2 free bottles of anti dandruff shampoo (no, I do not have dandruff!) while this week was £1 off when you spend £6 voucher from EAT. Seeing the voucher is from EAT, reckon there must be one nearby so I went on the hunt.

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This is the first time I’m exploring this stretch of Bankside as it is a bit out of the way from my office entrance. Apart from EAT, there is a Zizzi, Pizza Express as well as The Real Greek and the omnipresent Starbucks.

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Feel a tad under the weather today and needed some comforting, I got the Chicken Pho at £4.99 and the Rainbow Side Salad at £2.59 to take the bill over £6 so I can use the discount voucher from HR. Boom is correct, £6 is not a figure plucked out from thin air, you need to at least purchase 2 products to enjoy the discount and I got suckered into it. Total bill after discount came up to £6.58.

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I used to have the noodle pots from EAT all the time and though I do make it a point to try their limited edition noodles when available, the Chicken Pho is my staple as it is light, refreshing and the cheapest of the noodle pots. I always appreciate the high ratio of veg vs noodles, it almost makes you feel healthy eating it. Don’t forget to get the server to add chopped chili to your noodle pot and a hard squeeze from the lime wedge will give your noodles a slight wicked edge.

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Over the years, I have noticed that EAT has been tweaking the recipe for their Chicken Pho. If I recall correctly, egg noodles was used when they first started serving this. Then there was a period when they swap to thin rice noodles or bee hoon for those in the know. It has been awhile since I had the Chicken Pho and I’m glad they now used the correct rice noodles, the broader kind known as kway teow or guo tiao depending on which chinese dialect you speak.

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Continuing with the healthy theme, the Rainbow Side Salad was made up of muki beans, pomegranate seeds, lentils, barley, cranberry, melon seeds, capsicum, shredded carrots and chives. I hope I did not miss anything. The zingy and tart mint dressing compliments the sweet components of the salad very well while the beans and pulses puts your jaws on a workout.

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I know, some people might think EAT is boring and I guess it can be. But when you need some comforting, nothing is better than trial and tested food that you know will not let you down.

EAT
Unit 3 Riverside House
2A Southwark Bridge Road
Bankside
London SE1 9HA
0207 636 8309

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

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

Singapore Fried Noodle & Soup – Marks & Spencer Simply Food, Liverpool Street Station

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Thought I do something different today. Got some ready meals from Marks & Spencer Simply Food and heated them up in the office microwave. I used to do this quite often when I was based in Monument as the food options are not as plentiful compared to where I am now. Still remember queuing up to use the office microwave which can be a pain. A few of us even considered creating a Outlook calendar for the microwave so everyone can book a slot to use it. What geeks we are!

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I’m always tempted by deals when I shop and today was no different. The soup was buy one and get another for half price so I got a Chicken Mushroom and Rice Soup and another was the Pulled Pork and Chipotle Chili Soup. For the main, I broke the taboo and got the Singapore Fried Noodles. I did mention in my previous blogs that there is no such thing as Singapore Noodles in Singapore and I’m surprised by the prevalence of it here in the UK and many other countries I have visited. All revolves around thin rice noodles stir fried with a touch of curry powder, wonder who invented the recipe. Seeing I’m having the Singapore Fried Noodles which I think will be spicy, went with the milder Chicken Mushroom and Rice Soup for a contrast. Total cost me £7.96 which is not bad seeing I have a leftover soup for tomorrow.

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After 5 minutes on high in the microwave, the soup is ready. Quite like it, mild and creamy with plenty of mushroom bits, rice, carrots and chicken. Was rather surprised that I find no need to add salt to the soup as M&S food has always been on the bland side for me. I’m curious to see how the Pulled Pork and Chipotle Chili Soup will be like.

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The Singapore Fried Noodles was ok but on the dry side and this is after I have added some water half way through while warming it up in the microwave. The crunchy kale, julienne carrots and bean sprouts help lift the texture seeing the noodles were dry. The seasoned chicken and pork slices did nothing much for me, I would have preferred more prawns.

Marks & Spencer Simply Food
Unit 22 & 23
The Walkway Level
Liverpool St Main Line
London EC2M 7PY
0207 247 2190

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