Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Sinfully Good Sorbets - Gelupo, Soho

Chocolate and Espresso Sorbets - Gelupo, Soho

How could Gelupo not make another appearence? It's a practically a hop, skip and a jump from Maoz and it would be rude not to drop by ... really. On this visit I got a double scoop on a cone - chocolate and espresso sorbets. Rich, dark and so good!

7 Archer Street, London W1D 7AU

Monday, 20 September 2010

Falafel Sandwiches and Belgian Fries - Maoz, Soho

Maoz Falafel Sandwich - Maoz, Soho

A late appointment in Soho a few weeks ago led me to Maoz for a bite to eat. Despite having walked past on numerous occasions I've never been in. There's always somewhere I would have preferred to eat like ... well, Chinatown. Think of all those yummy crisp skin roasted ducks, wobbly soft braised pork belly, crunchy sautéed greens coated in minced garlic ... This time I wanted cheap and fast and NOT McDonald's so Maoz it was.

Maoz Falafel Sandwich - Maoz, Soho

The Maoz Sandwich combo meal is priced pretty decently (around the 5 or 6 quid mark or thereabouts) and it consisted of a falafel sandwich with houmous and grilled aubergine, a side of Belgian fries and a drink. There's also a free reign of the salad bar. To be honest I'm not sure what they mean by a free salad bar ... would I be whacked on the hand if I went back for more? I wasn't about to find out so I made just that one sweep at the bar. It's not so much fun since they cunningly stuff the pita pretty full in the first place. But no worries ... Woolworth's (in the days of old) pick and mix taught me valuable lessons on how to get as much sweeties into a tiny little bag and not having to upgrade to a bigger bag. But under the eagle egg of the girl behind the counter and the guy next to me at the salad bar who kept getting in my way, I didn't pile on as much as I would have liked. I managed a few pickles, red cabbage, lots of fried cauliflower and a great big splat of garlic sauce. Verdict? All the top bits were yum but the bread was dry and just got in the way of the serious eating. On a scale of 5 it was probably a 2.5-3.

Belgian Fries - Maoz, Soho

I'd been looking forward to the Belgian fries (yup, that's what it's called on the menu) but they were seriously disappointing. I've always salivated when I saw photos of the fries from Maoz - crunchy golden nuggets of deliciousness. They were instead the exact opposite of how I imagined them to be. A solid fry with a limp-ish exterior. Also, drinks wise don't bother with the fresh lemonade with mint. It unfortunately sounds and looks better than it tastes. I'm a big fan of ice and Maoz doesn't do ice or chilled either it seems. The lemonade was lukewarm and incredibly sour.

Maoz, Soho

Maoz is actually pretty decent. The food's not bad for the price and the next time I stop by I'm definitely going for the salad box. I've worked out that the salad container is sturdier (better) for the purpose of fried cauliflower and garlic sauce overload. And minus the whimsy bit of pita. Happy days!

43 Old Compton St, London W1D 6HG

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Cupcakes - Bea's of Bloomsbury, London

Cupcakes - Bea's of Bloomsbury, Holborn

I've been in a right old state over the last few weeks. Nothing more than what I call my annual bout of autumn blues. But I think I'm being particularly dramatic this year. Come tomorrow I can officially say that I have called London home for the last 10 years. It's a pretty big milestone and it's throwing up more questions than I have answers for.

Ultimate Chocolate Fudge - Bea's of Bloomsbury, Holborn

And all this while I have been craving cake but not any old rag pile but a particularly fine Victoria sponge. Trawling through the net I found an entry for Bea's of Bloomsbury's. A mere stone's throw from my office too. But being the overly dramatic queen I'm turning out to be, I moaned to a colleague about my hankering for cake but refused to walk out to get myself some. The next day when I got to my desk I found a box sitting on my desk with these little babies sitting inside. My lovely colleague, TN, whom I was moaning my life's ills away to the day before had stopped by Bea's on his way to work to pick me up some cake. No Victoria sponge but a lovely chocolate cupcake with chocolate fudge ganache icing topped with a sliced strawberry and very pretty another chocolate cupcake with raspberry buttercream icing topped with a raspberry. It certainly put a smile back on my face. Thank you, TN!

Raspberry Cupcake - Bea's of Bloomsbury, Holborn

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Malaysia Eats

I thought I should finally sort out my photos tonight, starting with those of Istanbul taken all those months ago back in April. But ... there's always a but ... bloody Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Live Photo Gallery keep crashing my computer so I've given up. I'm too tired to faff around trying to troubleshoot something I haven't a clue about. So I've turned my attention to some of the stuff that never made it to my posts about my last trip home. Just a few photos from various meals. Oh hush my grumbling tummy .........! Enjoy :)

Marco Polo Restaurant
1st Floor, Wisma Lim Foo Yong, Jalan Raja Chulan, 50200 Kuala Lumpur

This used to be one of the places to hold a Chinese wedding banquet when I was a kid. I haven't been back in years. The dim sum is decent - think a step up from your local coffee shop on a Sunday morning and not quite as fancy as the Chinese restaurant at your favourite downtown 5* hotel.

Steamed Black Pepper Chicken Balls - Marco Polo, Wisma Lim Foo Yung
Steamed black pepper chicken balls

Glutinous Rice - Marco Polo, Wisma Lim Foo Yung
Lor mai kai (steamed sticky glutinous rice with chicken, mushrooms and various other bits)

Din Tai Fung
Lot LG-207, Lower Ground Floor, The Gardens, Mid Valley City

Famous for their xiao long bau (Shanghainese soup dumplings) and very popular with my family. The food is pretty good and seems pretty consistent from the two occasions that I've been here. The one thing that grates on me is their insistence of the waiting staff to only speak Mandarin to their customers. Correct me if I'm wrong but Cantonese is the accepted Chinese dialect spoken in KL, so why insist on Mandarin? The waitress is only giving herself more work since she'll have to repeat everything she just said to me in English anyway. Yes, I sound like a spoilt brat and I refuse to apologise for it ..... making me sound even more brattish :)

Xiao Long Bao - Din Tai Fung, The Gardens
Xiao long bau ... yum yum yum! Good splurt of hot broth but eat too many and you'll start to notice how fatty each little dumpling is.

Ginger in Black Vinegar - Din Tai Fung, The Gardens
Thin slithers of ginger in black vinegar, the traditional accompaniment to xiao long bau.

Stir Fried Baby Green Beans With Minced Pork - Din Tai Fung, The Gardens
Deep fried beans with mince. I always thought of this as a Sichuanese dish but apparently it's Shanghainese too.

Braised Tofu with Seaweed - Din Tai Fung, The Gardens
Braised seaweed topped tofu with Chinese mushrooms

Beard Papa
Lot LG007, Lower Ground Floor, Mid Valley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur

I haven't had a Beard Papa custard puff in years and it seems like my mum had never had one ever so I bought us one to share. It's still good. And I still not a huge fan of choux pastry.

Vanilla Cream Puffs - Papa Beard, MidValley Kuala Lumpur

Cream Puffs - Papa Beard, MidValley Kuala Lumpur

Ampang Yong Tau Foo (shop next to Foong Foong)
Jalan Besar Ampang, 68000 Ampang

Foong Foong is the family stall of choice when we want Ampang yong tau foo (like so many other families I suspect) but mum broke some rather sad news when I insisted we cross town in mid day traffic to eat here ... Foong Foong is closed. Seriously? Surely not ... it's been there since.... well, since I remember eating yong tau foo. We went anyway and sure enough the shutters were down and the gates firmly padlocked. I hope we went on a day they decided to close for the day or I shall be very upset. So we went to the stall next door. Usually sad and so in need of custom, they were doing a good trade with Foong Foong closed (I don't even know its name ... dearie me). To be fair the yong tau foo tastes (dare I say it .... ) almost the same as Foong Foong but years ago they cocked out and started selling other dishes to entice customers. Imagine ... assam fish with yong tau foo ... impossible!

Ampang Yong Tau Foo
Our miserly looking 15 piece yong tau foo plate for 4 people ... it just can't compare to my dad's order of 40 pieces for 4 people when I last ate at Foong Foong's in January 2009. This order was definitely enough considering our 4 this time included my 90 year old grandmother who now eats like a bird.

Deep Fried Sui Kau
Deep fried sui kow (like wontons but better!)

Sui Kau in Soup
This is really what I come for ... the soup sui kow. This has got to be one of my all time favourite foods.

Restoran SS2 Murni
Jalan SS2/75, Petaling Jaya

Murni has got to be one of the coolest mamaks around. Run by a Chinese owner (*eyebrow raised .... "really?"), it's frequented by a truely muhibah crowd ... we sat next to a large Indian family finishing their dinner, a Malay couple eating roti and sipping teh ais whilst talking quietly to each other, a young Chinese couple sharing an extra large juice and a maggie goreng as they busily texted friends and practically ignoring each other, a large group of friends who were very possibly in college together. And there was me and my sister busy stuffing our faces, nudging each other and cackling out loud as we watched out our neighbours. I've been coming here for years and it's still as busy as it was when I was in college. The food is insane ... the menu combination is like no other mamak - there's your traditional rotis and rotis with a new twist -
roti hawaii, roti seafood, roti salad. There's also the steak and chips, loh shu fun, spaghetti marinara. Brilliant!

Watermelon Juice Special Medium Size - Murni SS2
The juices are also another reason to drop by Murni. We both got the medium watermelon juice special. Fresh watermelon juice blended with lots of ice, topped with lychee, chopped watermelon and nata de coco. So damn good on a muggy evening.

Fried Chicken - Murni SS2
Candice had a hankering for fried chicken so we got fried chicken. The waiter gave us a choice which was - batter or not batter? Errr .... no batter please. Batterless fried chicken .. almost pointless. It was quite nice though. A whole chicken leg marinated in soy and served with chili sauce.

Maggie Goreng - Murni SS2
My must have dish when I'm back in KL - Maggie goreng. Probably not as good as other mamak stalls but it'll do.

Roti Jepun - Murni SS2
Roti Jepun - we're still not entirely sure what was in this but we think it was egg, cheese and condensed milk (or the Malaysian version of dairy free condensed milk anyway). Not sure how this is in anyway Japanese and it wasn't particularly great.

Roti Hawaii - Murni SS2
Roti Hawaii - a new twist on the traditional murtabak. Filled with mince beef, sliced frankfurters, tinned pineapple and cheese. Topped with a generous squeeze of the mayonnaise bottle. Served with a blob of red sauce (chili or ketchup?), dhal and curry. What a combination. I oddly liked this. Give me frankfurters and ketchup and I can be very forgiving.

Penang Teochew Cendul
Lebuh Keng Kwee, Off Penang Road, Penang

Part of our search for good Penang char kway teow included a cendul stop (see post here). There was apparently a very good stall that we just had to try. Personally I wasn't too bothered to get to this stall. It was a horridly hot day, I was stuffed from too much lunch and it was too comfortable in the air conditioned car to tempt me out. But hey I was on holiday and it would be mighty unsociable to continue snoozing in the car, which would get baking hot the moment the engine was stopped. So we trudged along Penang Road, not quite sure where we were going until we found it. A dingy little stall down a side street with a crowd of people holding plastic bowls. The sign proudly proclaimed it as the famous Penang Road Teochew cendol. So how is Teochew cendol different from ... let's say the Indian guy who sells it? No idea. This stall does however add red beans to their concoctions. Ergh! Hate red beans.

Cendul - Penang Road, Penang

Marinated Worms - Penang Road, Penang

Cendul - Penang Road, Penang
I just had to be difficult - my special order of no red beans. Good cendol? It was ok cendol.Less sweet than many other I have tried. My mother who has a particularly sweet tooth would have complained they were too light on the gula melaka. Ahhh each to his own I suppose :)

Friday, 3 September 2010

Mangal Ocakbaşı - Grilled Lamb Dreams Do Come True!

Grilling Meat - Mangal Ocakbaşı, Dalston

Meat - Mangal Ocakbaşı, Dalston

My visit to Istanbul was all about the consumption of lamb .... all the delicious dripping goodness of the revered baby sheep. But by the time our 5 day stay was over, lamb ... and mutton was definitely off my menu for awhile. Ok... so Istanbul was months ago (end of April ... and still no posts from that trip up yet) and even then I surprised myself when I suggested trudging up to Dalston/Stoke Newington over the weekend for some grilled meat ... some Turkish grilled meat to be precise. It is a long way to trudge, something of which SM constantly reminded me of as we made our way there through Saturday evening traffic, but what's a few miles and a bit of light London traffic when there's such promise of good food? I think some true Malaysian colours are shinning bright from me :) Anything for a bit of delicious chow.

Grilling Meat - Mangal Ocakbaşı, Dalston

I had done my bit of research and was set on Mangal Ocakbaşı with its very decent online reviews. Not even a Saturday evening with queues of diners and rumbling tummies was going to deter me from this restaurant. Thank heavens the queue was short and we got a table within 10 minutes of arriving. As we waited we watched the man behind the grill work his magic - meat on, wait, turn meat, wait, turn meat, wait, meat off the grill - all this behind a huge plume of smoke. I take my hat off to him. He must go home stinking of grilled meat at the end of the night.

Ezme Salata and Bread - Mangal Ocakbaşı, Dalston

Ezme Salata - Mangal Ocakbaşı, Dalston

As soon as we sat down, a basket of bread was set down on the table. Judging from the other tables, this was the bread we were going to have to work with throughout the meal. Soft yet chewy at the same time it .... brilliant on an empty stomach and even more delicious with our order of ezme salata - finely chopped tomatoes, onions, parsley, chili and lemon juice. I absolutely adored this (remember my love for tomatoes?) ... tangy, refreshing .... what's not to like? Oooh .. maybe the the raw onions. What a strong lingering after taste.

Lahmacun - Mangal Ocakbaşı, Dalston

I was pretty insistent on getting the lahmacun, which came thin,crip and topped with a right amount of minced lamb, onion and peppers. Very nice indeed but (shake your head if you must) even better with a nice big dollop of ezme salata. Perfect portions for a starter but not enough for me. I wanted more!

Mixed Grill - Mangal Ocakbaşı, Dalston

For a bit of everything, the mixed grill is a pretty good choice. For £13 there's a minced lamb kebab,a piece of lamb chop on the bone,a piece of lamb chop off the bone, cubed lamb and a chicken wing (fortunately/unfortunately you don't get the other boring chicken bits like chicken breast kebab). Served with a grilled tomato, grilled green chili and a mixed salad. For a couple of extra quid, the quail could be added to the mix. he lamb chops on the bone was probably the best of the mix, tender with just the right amount of fat and of course that bone to gnaw on. I found the chop off the bone had a little too much fat and the lamb cubes were cut just too small. The chicken wing was tender and juicy and oh so good. I sometimes forget how much I enjoy barbecued chicken on the bone.

Lamb Chops - Mangal Ocakbaşı, Dalston

Adding to our lamb fest, I ordered a portion of lamb chops on the bone (£9). The three large juicy pieces of lamb were served with the usual grilled tomato, grilled green chili and a mixed salad.

Lamb Chops and Mixed Grill - Mangal Ocakbaşı, Dalston

Mangal Ocakbaşı is not the sort of place that seduces you into staying too long. Space is tight, noise levels are high and there's almost always a group waiting eagerly for a table by the entrance. Here you eat, you drink (it's BYO if you want anything alcoholic) and then you make way for the next lot of diners. The service was brisk but not unfriendly. Some old timers have complained that Mangal Ocakbaşı has lost some of its charm since its popularity has soared over the last few years - heaven forbid,they have even introduced a menu! :) The food is wonderful and so worth the visit.

Mangal Ocakbaşı
10 Arcola Street, London E8 2DJ
Mangal Ocakbasi on Urbanspoon