Pork Tonkotsu Ramen and Chicken Teriyaki Donburi – Japanese Canteen, Middlesex Street

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Junk is capable of healthy activities apart from those conducted in pubs. Yesterday’s outing was case in point. Bought a couple of vouchers for African Drumming class after work and had to look for something quick to eat for dinner. Most of the dinner places around the Spitalfields area are sit down, big menu, slightly long drawn out affairs unless one resorts to pub grub. Luckily, I found this place.

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Japanese Canteen is another Jap food chain catering mostly to the lunch crowd. But this branch at Middlesex Street, a stone throw away from Spitalfields also serves dinner. It was rather empty when we were there and it’s perfect for a quick eat and run dinner. I think this branch is rather new as it was not there when I was working in the area less then a year back.

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The menu is extensive and one can chose between donburi, bento box, ramen, sushi with a couple of non Japanese options like bibimbapgua bao and even Dan Dan noodles. Prices are very reasonable and definitely won’t break the bank!

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As expected, I could not resist any soupy noodles on a menu and seeing that the ramen is freshly made and they have a tonkotsu soup base, I’m sold! The Tweet being his usual boring self, went with the mundane option of Chicken Teriyaki Donburi. *Yawn* To each his own I guess. Total bill came to £11.40, good deal on paper.

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So is the deal as good taste wise? The Tweet was not impressed by his Chicken Teriyaki Donburi and neither am I. The chicken pieces according to the menu were supposed to be grilled but we could not see scorched marks nor taste any smokiness. Worse yet, the chook was tough and dry! The teriyaki sauce was typical, sweet, savoury and sticky while Tweet thinks the rice is too mushy. With just a sprinkling of spring onion as garnish, we both think this dish needs some other taste sensation. I had to donate all of my bok choy to Tweet to make his meal more enjoyable.

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What about the more complicated ramen dish? At £5.95, I was not expecting much from the Pork Tonkotsu Ramen especially when I was disappointing by the much hyped Tonkotsu in Soho at more than double the price. One should not underestimate chain outlets I’d say, like the offering at Wagamama, I was impressed!

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The toppings were generous with beansprouts, half a boiled egg, menma, nori, bok choy, spinach and 2 cuts of pork. The thinly sliced pork belly was tender but would be better if they were grilled while the shredded slow cooked pork was great soaked in a slight sweet and smoky sauce. The freshly made ramen could be cooked less but I’ve always prefer my noodles with bite. The star of the dish has to be the broth! Rich, milky with a slight hint of porkiness, just right and not too overpowering. The slight sheen of pork fat with a slight sweet and savoury taste complimented everything exceptionally well. The Tweet asked whether it was a 2 thumbs up and I violently nodded my head.

I have tried another branch of Japanese Canteen awhile back and I was not impressed. After this experience, I will definitely locate another branch near me to be my staple for lunch!

Japanese Canteen
100 Middlesex Street
London E1 7EZ

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Chicken Katsu Curry – Japanika, Hanbury Street

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Was a victim of lack of time today which drove me to get the Chicken Katsu Curry rice from Japanika. This is the one Mr CSS is still addicted to. In fact, he broke form this week by having his fix on Tues instead of Thurs. Who knows, maybe he will have it again this Thurs. Proper Katsu Curry junkie is our Mr CSS.

I have blogged about Japanika once a while back and that time, I had their udon soup which is another staple of mine. I have been resisting their Chicken Katsu Curry purely out of stubbornness. Also, it is a tad pricey at £6.80. I added a Spinach and Shitake Mushroom Miso soup to my order and the total came up to £9.30. Whoa! Close to breaking the ten pound mark which I try to avoid.

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I enjoyed the miso soup, the bits of spinach and the smooth slices of shitake mushroom went down well on a cold and windy day. The soup base was a bit on the strong side, could have taken a water down with some hot water but I did not bother. At £2.50, a bit expensive I would say.

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So is the katsu curry as good as Mr CSS say it will be? I have to say he is right. The curry sauce here is rich and thick with bits of beef dispersed throughout. I think the sauce is made from beef stock which give it it’s rich body. Surprisingly, it is spicy. Not the burn the roof of your mouth type, but you can feel it and it gave the sauce another facet taste wise. The chunks of potatoes and carrots soaked up the beefy taste of the sauce and was a nice accompaniment. The katsu slices were a bit of a let down though, on the dry side and soggy. In all, enjoyable but I would not pay £6.80 for it.

There is a new Wasabi branch opposite Liverpool Street station and their Chicken Katsu Curry is at a special price of just £4.45 I believe. Hmmm…. I see a Katsu Off in the near future.

Japanika
10 Hanbury Street
London E1 6QR
0207 247 9911

Saag Daal and Buffalo Chicken Wings – Junk’s Manor

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Today’s lunch is a bit of a mishmash but definitely cheaper than my normal lunches. Bought a bag of spinach on the weekend and was wondering what to do with it. I hate that spinach always come in big bags. I know they shrink when cooked but 1 bag last at least 4 meals for me. There were some lentils languishing in my pantry and thought why don’t I give Saag Daal a try? So I’m having the leftovers from dinner last night with a few added extras.

Consulted a few recipes for Saag Daal online and they are variants along the same theme. Basically, you soak or boil the lentils till they are tender, fry up some onions and spices, bunk in the lentils with enough liquid and continue to boil, add the chopped up spinach and you are done! For my version, I added tomatoes, ginger and garlic and for the spices, I went with tumeric, coriander, cumin, fennel seeds, chilli powder and a bit of all spice. Turned out pretty good I think!

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Waitrose currently have a 1/3 off all chilled ready meals and I was tempted by the Hot and Spicy Buffalo Wings. I believe after discount, it was £1.99 for 12 wings which I thought was a good deal. Since it’s from Waitrose and need to cater for the mass market, I knew it will never be that spicy but was quietly hopeful. Alas, my instinct was right, it’s not spicy at all and to add insult to injury, it’s sweet. Decided to use it to bulk up my lunch as the wings are too depressing to eat on it’s own. Will need to go back to the Orange Buffalo for my wing kicks soon.

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For the carb portion of my lunch, I went digging into my trusty pantry and found the last bag of Tilda’s microwave basmati rice. This time, it’s Coconut Basmati and I knew it will match my Saag Daal well as it says on the package “Perfect for curries”!

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In all, a very satisfying lunch. The Saag Daal brewed up overnight and I can taste the fennel and all spice coming thru the sweetness of the tomatoes and onions. The buffalo wings were ok after generous lashings of Tabasco sauce. As for the rice, not the best in the Tilda’s range but pleasant enough with quite a bit of shredded coconut scattered amongst the rice grains. I will definitely cook Saag Daal again in the near future.

Junk’s Manor
Somewhere in West London
Open 365 days a year (except leap years)
No dinner party plans as yet

Homemade Fried Rice and stuff from Tesco – Junk’s Manor and Tesco Canary Wharf

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It’s “flied lice” time! Ok, I know it’s nasty of me to make fun of English accents of different racial groups. But being a Chinese, I think I have the right to laugh at myself! Anyway, today’s lunch is a mashup of leftovers and additions from Tesco.

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Spent about 15 minutes wondering the aisles of Tesco trying to decide what will go well with my leftover fried rice. Decided on the Saag Aloo and the Spicy Fried Chicken Filet. The Saag Aloo was £0.75 which I thought was a bargain while the chicken was £3. So in all, quite a cheap lunch by my standards.

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The Saag Aloo was mildly spiced and had a tangy taste which was rather appetising. Definitely different from the other versions I had from other Indian takeaways. The chicken filet was indeed spicy, you can see the specks of chillies from the crumb coating. Would have been better reheated in an oven to crisp up the crumb coating but I had to settle with the microwave in my office.

As for my fried rice, I added eggs, minced chicken, sliced green beans and garnished it with crispy fried shallots. Not my best rendition of fried rice, but it’s ok. I think I still prefer my version with Spam. I’ll be sure to blog it the next time I make my special Spam Fried Rice.

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To make fried rice is relatively straight forward, but to make a good fried rice takes a bit more effort. Just Google “perfect fried rice” and see the number of hits returned! There is a even a musical about the famed fried rice.

Junk’s Manor
Opens 365 days a year (apart from leap year)
Somewhere in West London
Still no dinner party planned