Posts Tagged With: Takeaway

Lunchtime fun time in Croydon: Part 1

Nearest Station: East Croydon/West Croydon

My team got moved down to Croydon in January this year – let me tell you this, it is a very different place from Canary Wharf. But whilst there aren’t that many suits and ties down there, there is still a Waitrose!!

Image

This isn’t Croydon…

However, unlike a few of my colleagues, I was rather okay with the transition: I was rather familiar with shopping and eating in Croydon from my days living in Surrey, and my commute is now hella easy and crowd-free… and I suppose I was getting a bit tired of the samey-chainey food options in the Wharf (WASABI I HATE YOU SO MUCH).

Sure, I would miss the lunchtime window-shopping, the glass-steel-marble skyscrapers, the preppy hot girls in their finest office wear, the… erm, prestige I guess of working in Canary Wharf? But hey, I love (re)discovering different parts of London; Croydon lunchtimes would therefore be fun times.

Over the past few months I have therefore taken it upon myself to discover the best in lunchtime dining in Croydon – not just for my stomach’s sake, but also maybe for my career’s sake: I think I’m well on my way to becoming my team’s (hopefully indispensable) Food Guy. See below for the results of my exhaustive, scientific and completely objective study.

 

Uncle Lim’s Malaysian Kitchen

Cuisine: Malaysian

Address: Whitgift Centre, CR0 1RZ

Tel.: 020 8688 8378

Website: N/A

Pricing: Cheap-Medium

Good For: Cheap and cheerful, Filling meal

Ah yes, good old Uncle Lim’s; I’ve known you for a long time.

Cheap and cheerful Malaysian canteen that can whip up dishes fresh from the kitchen or, the more usual option for me, a selection of food from their hot counter, packaged into a Medium Meal Deal (rice/noodles, one meat, one veg, one drink) or their Large Meal Deal (rice/noodles, two meat, one veg, one drink).

Portions are hearty (the Large will put you into a food coma. You have been warned), the prices are cheap, the turnover of the food is fast enough, and the quality itself decent for what it is.

The Malaysian lamb curry may be a bit too bony and the salt and pepper squid a bit chewy, so I would go for the beef rendang (rich and flavourful but not too spicy) and the sambal aubergines – they are both delightful. The rice is soft and fluffy, whilst the noodles are a bit plain but more-ish in that “fried food tastes so good” way.

I also recently had the char kway teow; very generous portion and again very tasty. Rather surprisingly, the prawns were not the piddly kind you get in the supermarket, but more properly-sized beasts. Not bad for a canteen in Croydon!

Char kway teow = warmth in my belly

Char kway teow = warmth in my belly

It certainly does not stack up against Satay House or Melur, my two favourite Malaysian restaurants in London, but then again Uncle Lim’s has no pretensions (and certainly not the prices) to be like them. This is a place for a filling and hearty lunch that delivers flavour, if not sophistication.

I took my team’s business analysts here for lunch once; several have been back, including very recently for a colleague’s leaving lunch. If it’s good enough for them, surely it’s good enough for you?

VERDICT – A good place. Let me make clear that this is not the height of fine Malaysian dining in the capital, but it’s not trying to be like that, and so cannot be rated in the same way. You want something different in Croydon? You want teh tarik? You want a hearty meal that delivers on flavour for a good price? Then Uncle Lim can feed you, and he will feed you well.

 

Chai Corner and Chilli Chutney

Copyright of Chai Corner. Sourced from Chai Corner website

Copyright of Chai Corner. Sourced from Chai Corner website

Cuisine: Indian/Pakistani

Address: North End Mall, CR0 1UB

Tel.: 020 8633 1779

Website: http://www.chai-corner.com/

Pricing: Cheap

Good For: Cheap and cheerful, Takeaway

I was rather surprised to spot these guys in the Allders mall: Indian street food in Croydon? Seems a bit too hipster for the area… but the more important question is – how do they square off against the currently on-trend Dosa Deli and Everybody Lovelove Jhal Muri Express (as if that’s even a legitimate question)?

The reason I group Chai Corner and Chilli Chutney together is because a cursory internet search and first-hand experience shows them to be owned by the same people – and funnily enough, they do seem to cook each other’s food, with the ladies at Chilli Chutney producing the wraps for the lads at Chai Corner. Interesting business plan…

Regardless of who is making the wraps, they are tasty enough for lunch. The first time I went, I had the paneer tikka wrap: adequate amount of paneer filling bulked out by salad and a flavourful if mild tikka marinade/sauce/spice. I have since followed this up with other wraps, but the meat options present a rather unremarkable dining experience.

I hid away in the corner to eat this. THE SHAME (or rather the smell)

I hid away in the corner to eat this. THE SHAME (or rather the smell)

The pakora were good and crisp and nicely savoury, if rather oily, but the samosa is a nice and fresh little parcel of deep-fried goodness (just about superseding my love of cold 85p samosas from the corner shops, the height of gastronomic experience). A further visit for a sit-down meal with mia madre saw us having the tandoori chicken – a succulent and juicy affair – whilst the lamb seekh kebab salad was… interesting in its combination of olives and sun-dried tomatoes with lamb seekh.

At least the tikka was the right colour

At least the tandoori was the right colour

Are those... sun-dried tomatoes and olives? YES :-(

Are those… sun-dried tomatoes and olives in an ‘Indian’ salad? YES 😦

The output is quick, the prices are low and the food is adequate. It certainly makes for a change from the normal wrap experience, not that there are many in Croydon.

VERDICT – An okay experience. Dished out from the rough-and-ready stalls lining the passageway in the rather tired Allders mall, Chai Corner and Chilli Chutney’s food do an admirable job of bringing a different kind of Indian experience to town. It’s not particularly polished, but it ticks all the boxes for a decent and quick lunch.

 

Roti Masters

Copyright of Roti Masters. Sourced from Roti Masters website

Copyright of Roti Masters. Sourced from Roti Masters website

Cuisine: Caribbean

Address: 26a St George’s Walk, CR0 1YG

Tel.: 020 8760 0999

Website: http://rotimasters.com/

Pricing: Cheap

Good For: Cheap and cheerful, Filling meal, Friendly conversation, Spice

We’re getting into some serious lunch territory here. I’d initially spotted this little bad boy of a café back in December, on our team away day and Christmas lunch outing, and made a mental note to myself to check it out. Further research revealed some very promising reviews; Roti Masters moved high up my hit list.

And who wouldn’t want to try a bit of Trinidadian roti wrap? For the uninitiated, these are a true fusion food from the Caribbean: Indian-inspired flatbreads (roti) filled with Indian-inspired curries using Caribbean meats, spices and ingredients… it’s a recipe for success, one that I hoped that Roti Masters would, well, have mastered (ha!).

The proof of their ability is clear in the number of times I’ve been back: the man with the plan behind the counter now recognises me and has met my colleagues and even my dad and my mum – he now asks how the parents are doing! This is certainly one friendship I am happy to cultivate.

The Curry Goat Roti is a delight – succulent and tender pieces of goat in a highly-spiced and rich sauce, packed into a light and fluffy roti along with a myriad of other delicious fillings inside the light and chewy roti skin. Although it looks small on the plate, first impressions can be deceptive; this bad boy will fill you up.

It may not be the prettiest thing to look at it, but just remember: it used to look like a goat

It may not be the prettiest thing to look at it, but just remember: it used to look like a goat

The saltfish version of the roti is also very tasty and savoury, but I do understand that saltfish can be divisive – however, this is not too salty, so it’s definitely worth a spin.

The least comfortable lunch I had there was when I rather stupidly ordered the Buss Up Shot (the roti skins by themselves – oh so very more-ish in their fluffy doughiness) alongside a Hot Double (roti filled with mushy and hot chana chickpeas) and some palori (chickpea fritters that are ever-so-slightly crunchy on the outside but all chewiness on the inside) – as you can imagine, I ate myself into a food coma, albeit a delicious one. Have those things on separate occasions, not at the same time, or you’ll be falling asleep at work, as I did. But was it worth it? Oh yes…

VERDICT – A good place. Friendly, delicious, wholesome and tasty, Roti Masters is a no-frills café with some banging food at affordable prices. Not sure there’s much more to say oth- oh wait: “Suck it Canary Wharf!! You may have Roka and Le Relais de Venise, but Croydon has Roti Masters! BOOM”

Currently listening to: Sonic Boom Six – For the Kids of the Multiculture

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Categories: Caribbean, Indian, Malaysian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Things have gotten a bit fishy in New Cross: Maddy’s Fish Bar sets up shop

Copyright of Maddy's FIsh Bar. Sourced from Maddy's Fish Bar Twitter

Copyright of Maddy’s FIsh Bar. Sourced from Maddy’s Fish Bar Twitter

Cuisine: British

Address: 397 New Cross Road, SE14 6LA

Area: New Cross

Nearest Station: New Cross

Tel.: N/A

Website: https://twitter.com/MaddysFishBar

Pricing: Medium

Good For: Takeaway, Casual dining, Comfort food, Fresh seafood, Friendly conversation, Seasonal menu

The past year has been pretty tough: sometime in May or June last year, our local chippie in New Cross closed up for renovation works and then never reopened.

Once patronised by Sir Paul McCartney (no, really), Sirius Fish & Chips was run by a lovely Filipino couple who knew me and my brother quite well – courtesy of our mum introducing us to them, without our knowing about it, not long after we moved into the area. Whilst the fish was not the best, it was decent enough to fill the fish-shaped hole that appeared in my life on the occasional evening, but certainly I enjoyed going there for the conversation and the friendliness.

So yes, with the loss of my favourite Filipino-run chippie, I think it’s fair to say that New Cross suffered heavily for it.

For where was one to go for good fish and chips from a proper chippy (I’m going to leave Sefa Kebab out of this discussion, and for argument’s sake the other places at the far, far end of New Cross that no one ever told me about)? The nearest one I could fathom then was Brockley’s Rock, but as the name suggests, that’s in Brockley, not New Cross and certainly not just down the road from us. The round-trip, including bus ride, ordering and waiting, and loitering at the bus stops at both ends, took at the very least a good 45 minutes, if I remember correctly.

Imagine carrying that on the bus home and not being able to eat it

Imagine carrying that on the bus home and not being able to eat it

The cod was absolutely delightful and crispy, the chips that perfect middle point between overly-crunchy and soggy and the mushy peas a great texture – but 45 minutes is too much effort for a ‘local’ chippy. Brockley’s Rock is a gem that neighbouring Brockleyites can keep to themselves – this New Cross boy needed something closer to home. Desperately.

And so, when the news appeared on the grapevine that the London Particular (brilliant café, FYI) would be backing their friend, Maddy Inoue, in opening a new fish bar venture in the empty shell that was Sirius, of course I was excited. There was even to be a Kickstarter campaign to help her purchase a state-of-the-art fryer. Although hesitant that a ‘fish bar’ might entail grossly-exaggerated prices, my cynical thoughts were over-ridden by a stomach desperate for some really good fish and chips. So my brother and I chipped in (haha!) and backed Maddy on Kickstarter.

That was in the last quarter of last year; Maddy’s Fish Bar officially opened a week ago Tuesday. Suffice to say, it has been a long and tortuous wait. One that was thankfully shortened by just a few days, thanks to our Kickstarter contribution and subsequent invitation to a ‘VIP’ tasting session (ballin’) during their soft launch. Over the course of an evening, set in their bright, clean-cut and rather utilitarian space, we were treated to a wide range of dishes from the proposed menu, which is meant to be a modern twist on British classics.

Look who's in the window!! Sourced from Maddy's Fish Bar Twitter

Look who’s in the window!!
Sourced from Maddy’s Fish Bar Twitter

So what is on offer from Maddy, and how does her fare hold up as a neighbourhood chippy?

Rock Oysters: Not your average chippy dish, but certainly what you’d expect from a fish bar. I’m no fan of oysters, so I’ll defer to my brother on this one: “fresh”. So there you go.

Rock Oysters!

Rock Oysters!

Chicken Nuggets: These were delightful. Moist and tender pieces of chicken in a substantial coating (which admittedly could have done with being just a bit crispier), served with a home-made mayonnaise that was very more-ish. I can foresee these being a rather guilty treat.

Chicken (not Mc)Nuggets!

Chicken (not Mc)Nuggets!

Selection of Pickles – Egg in pickling broth and radish: The aforementioned ex-Beatle was apparently a fan of the pickled eggs of Sirius (no, really), so I’d love to hear his opinion on Maddy’s take on this classic dish.

You call that a pickled egg?

You call that a pickled egg?

Sadly, he was unable to comment, so I’ll blunder on. What we got here was a gloriously warm and soft-boiled egg that spilt its yolk ever so generously into the savoury vinegar-dashi bath that the egg found itself in; it was a real treat, and I can imagine that having one of these alongside your fish would be rather eye-opening. The accompanying radishes, on the other hand, were rather under-powered as a pickle and didn’t really add much to this course. Something to work on, I guess.

Salt and Pepper Squid: Continuing with the injection of Asian influences into a British chippy, Maddy is turning her hand to that favourite Chinese staple of ours, salt and pepper squid. She wasn’t so successful on this one – yes, it was crisp, had great texture and did not feel greasy at all; unfortunately, it lacked real bite and flavour. All I think it needs is just an adjustment to the seasoning – a much easier thing to improve upon than trying to rescue dead and limp fried squid.

Salt and pepper squid... with not too much salt or pepper alas

Salt and pepper squid… with not too much salt or pepper alas

Fish and Chips with Maddy’s Slaw, mushy peas and curry sauce: And here we have the pièce de résistance, the whole reason why I welcomed Maddy to New Cross with wide open arms: crispy crisp fishy fish. You can just see from the photo alone how phenomenal that batter was – light, fluffy and crispy, it covered all the bases. It’s good to see our Kickstarter money was used well! The whiting fish itself was cooked just right and was juicy up to the point before fish starts to fall apart. When I went back on opening day, I was able to have the panko-breaded plaice, which again was delightful and crisp – the picture below does not represent a one-hit wonder.

Crispy crisp fishy fish

Crispy crisp fishy fish

As for the chips – although Maddy did say that she had to go through several iterations of her chip recipe, I was fairly happy with where she’d gotten to that evening, for the chips were, like Brockley’s Rock, hitting that right balance between overly-crunchy and soggy. Really good chippy chips then, perfect for soaking up the delicious curry sauce accompanying the dish.

Maddy’s Slaw was a standard sauced cabbage affair, which adds some freshness and vegetable bite to the dish, serving its purpose adequately as a side dish.

The mushy peas, however, I was not hugely wowed by. Whilst the flavours were perfectly fine (good level of mintiness, even if I don’t like mint with peas too much), when I want mushy peas I want, well, a complete mush. Yes, mixing in whole peas with some mushed ones creates a pleasing contrast of textures, but… I’m just a stickler for a real mush of peas that I can scoop up with a chip. No doubt other people will like these peas – they are welcome to them.

Cornflake Ice Cream: You know that pleasing state, right at the beginning of your bowl of Frosties, where the coldness of the milk really brings the sugary flavour and crunch to the fore? That’s what this ice cream is all about. A shot of freshness, first thing in the morning.

Cornflake ice cream. Inadvisable to add vinegar

Cornflake ice cream. Inadvisable to add vinegar

I was able to confirm this initial impression on opening day, and discovered that Maddy had gone the extra mile by putting actual cornflakes on the ice cream. Winner winner ice cream dinner!

 

So, it all looks good, no? But I am sure you are wondering, “A chippy this fancy don’t come cheap”. And you’d be right in that this is no Sirius Fish & Chips – the standard meal of fish, chips and Maddy’s Slaw comes in at £8.50, and the portions are smaller (healthier!?) – but at the same time it is no pricey Fish and Chip Shop in Islington, which is what I feared the most for the local area. So yes, I think Maddy’s has done just about alright bringing these prices to New Cross… it’s a step up from before, but at least it’s a measured step and in the right direction.

VERDICT – A good place. Maddy’s Fish Bar is a more than welcome addition to the neighbourhood, not just because it fulfils the criteria of existing and being an open business, but because it brings some genuinely good fish and chips to the area. Friday Fishdays are back on!

Currently listening to: Battlelore – Beneath the Waves

Categories: British | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Here it is!” Obikà brings some Neapolitanism to Canary Wharf

Copyright of Obikà. Sourced from Obikà website

Copyright of Obikà. Sourced from Obikà website

Cuisine: Italian

Address: Unit 1, West Wintergarden, 35 Bank Street, E14 5NW

Area: Canary Wharf

Nearest Station: Heron Quays/Canary Wharf

Tel.: 020 7719 1532

Website: http://obika.com/portal/GB/en/home/

Pricing: Cheap-Medium

Good For: Takeaway, Fresh ingredients, Leisurely lunching

“Obikà!” the cry did not go when we stepped into the restaurant. As a Neapolitan exclamation meaning “Here it is!” I was sort of hoping that mine and my friend’s arrival would warrant such an announcement.

I’d been to Obikà previously for takeaway lunches as their mozzarella bar offers up some good and hefty portions of focaccia, insalata caprese (tomato and mozzarella salad) and cannoli (Sicilian pastry tubes with sweet fillings) for quite decent prices, considering that we’re in the Canary Wharf Banker Land. Certainly, there were many days during our wonderfully scorching hot summer where all I felt like doing at lunch was sitting in a park somewhere, having some fresh tomatoes and mozzarella on springy and moist focaccia. Definitely beats getting your regular bog-standard sandwich from Pret or, God forbid, some pointless sushi from Wasabi. Probably healthier too.

I wish I had an office outdoors

I wish I had an office outdoors

But what was it like to go for a proper sit-down meal there? I was meeting my friend for our first catch-up lunch since my moving to Canary Wharf, and suggested with some caution that we may be able to get a table there. Turns out I make false promises – we didn’t get a table, but we did get placed atop some tall stools by the bar.

Obikà sits within an open space inside the West Wintergarden (any ideas on the name? Still trying to work out why the complex is called the Wintergarden), so it has a very corporate glass-and-steel feel to it; you could sit here with colleagues, possibly even clients and listen to a thousand-and-one conversations reverberating around you. It’s light and airy in summer, making it a bit of an uplifting and pleasant place to be dining.

We enjoyed the atmosphere as we swiftly made our choices; as feared, the lunchtime press did mean that our dishes and even our drinks were not as swift to arrive.

When it finally came, our starter of mozzarella di bufala affumicata went down a real treat: we treated ourselves to a lovely woody smokiness infused into such creamy mozzarella; it certainly got our appetites going. Accompanied by a simple basil garnish, it was a punchy start to the meal.

Our main courses soon followed (again, no shouts of “Obikà!” to announce any sort of arrival…), but we did have to wolf them down, being conscious of the impending end of our lunch hour. My friend’s parmigiana di melanzane (aubergine parmesan) looked quite enticing, even if the presentation did seem to emphasise the smallness, in my mind, of the portion. She tucked in heartily and with much enjoyment, so I didn’t quite have the will to steal a bit from her.

Mo' mozzarella please!

Mo’ mozzarella please!

As for my schiaffoni di Gragnano pasta with mozzarella di bufala and ‘La Motticella’ sauce, the flavours were good and warming, and the addition of torn mozzarella pieces really lifted the pasta with their bursts of creamy refreshment even if their numbers were not legion. It was a nice and simple dish – zing and juiciness from the tomatoes in the sauce, savouriness from the parmesan and creaminess from the mozzarella. However, what of the pasta there was on my plate was far too al dente and really needed a few more minutes’ cooking. Most likely they were trying to rush orders out to deal with the busy lunchtime trade – at least, that’s me giving them the benefit of the doubt. Which, considering that they seemed far too busy and rushed to even take our bill, seems to be quite likely.

Isn’t it funny how even if the service has been great throughout, if they tarry in doing the one thing you really need them to (you sort of, like, need to leave when you ask for the bill), it can potentially colour your opinion of the visit? Just a thought that’s struck me far too often in far too many places…

And so, at the end of that experience, what do I think of Obikà as a lunchtime option? I’m actively thinking of their focaccia now and planning my next lunch excursion there. A simple caprese on some soft and well-made bread for a decent price; how can you go wrong? As for a sit-down lunch? Only if you’re willing to spend a bit more, and you’ve got the time and patience – and maybe a very irregular lunch hour.

VERDICT – A good place for takeaway, an okay experience for a sit-down meal. If you work in Canary Wharf and want to mix things up a bit at lunch, I’d really recommend heading on over to Obikà to grab one of their focaccia sandwiches. Maybe don’t take it out to the park, as it’s not so warm any more. But if you are after a bit more of a formal dining experience, I’d imagine that Obikà would still deliver and meet your needs – you may just have to time it right and be prepared for a small meal.

Currently listening to: The Presidents of the United States of America – Peaches

Categories: Italian | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I want to break free: On the highway out of Canary Wharf to Noodle Street

Copyright of Noodle Street. Sourced from Noodle Street website

Copyright of Noodle Street. Sourced from Noodle Street website

Cuisine: Chinese

Address: 15-17 Pennyfields, E14 8HP

Area: West India Quay

Nearest Station: Westferry

Tel.: 020 7987 8688

Website: http://www.noodlestreet.co.uk/

Pricing: Cheap

Good For: Lunchtime fix, Filling meal, Cheap and cheerful, Smart-casual dining, Takeaway

It’s been over a month since I was placed with my client in Canary Wharf.

I find it an absolutely fascinating place, evoking as it does for me a real feel of Central in Hong Kong – the shopping malls, the high-end stores, the skyscrapers, the bankers… but alas, I have found it lacking in good options for Asian, and particularly Chinese, food.

For East Asian options, yes, there is a Royal China, and yes there is a floating restaurant somewhere, and yes there is Itsu, but there is also Wasabi (OH MY GOD WHY DOES THAT PLACE EXIST!?). And as far as I can determine, there is nothing else on the Canary Wharf estate that offers a quick, cheap and cheerful Chinese meal.

This proved rather problematic the other day, when I was struck by an almighty craving for char siu fan at lunchtime. Okay, problematic is an understatement – it was seriously bad. It was an itch that needed scratching, but it was seven long hours before I was able to stumble into one of the Chinese takeaways in New Cross and order some char siu; I think I got a momentary glimpse into the life of a crack addict.

Will someone put this poor sod out of his misery?

Will someone put this poor sod out of his misery?

The next day, I was pointed in the direction of one of the other business analysts who told me about a small place, called Noodle Street, that she quite rated some distance away from the office (‘some distance away’ as in “difficult to squeeze into a short lunch”). Hmm. I had some conflicting thoughts here: a) I had heard her rating Pizza Express as offering some of the best pizzas she’d ever had (I’m such a snob, right?), b) Noodle Street made it sound a bit generic and potentially like a bland pan-Asian restaurant, c) it could be just some cheap and tacky takeaway, and d) was their char siu any good?

It could do, but it did not seem to be the most promising of solutions.

Nevertheless, since last Friday was rather quiet, I decided to take my full lunch hour (and maybe a few minutes more…! Naughty me) and make the trek to check this place out. I hopped on the DLR at Canary Wharf and within minutes I was stepping off at Westferry, moments away from Noodle Street. “Not such a bad journey”, I thought to myself. “Maybe I won’t just get a takeaway – maybe I’ll have a sit down”.

And it’s a decent place for a sit down – cool interiors framed by sleek, clean and modern lines and a green colour code, with pretty awesome-looking bamboo holders for the chopsticks.

I'll just grow my own bamboo, okay? Sourced from Noodle Street website

I’ll just grow my own bamboo, okay? Sourced from Noodle Street website

I then browsed the menu – it was mostly Chinese (with some pan-Asian flourishes), and had some rather surprising entries: turnip cake, xiao long bao, grilled char siu bao, scallop siu mai, and sago pudding for dessert. And look! There it is! Char siu fan! Okay, this wasn’t just some cheap and tacky takeaway with a standard menu; there seemed to be some thought that had gone into this place. This was starting to look promising…

“But”, I hear you say, “crack on it with mate, how was the char siu fan??” Well, I’m sorry to disappoint, but I did not have any. Instead, I was tempted away by the salt and pepper pork chops with egg fried rice, as I had a fleeting vision of a similar dish that I had in Café de Coral back in Hong Kong some years back.

Salt and pepper pork chops with egg fried rice. So meaty.So eggy. So... ricey?

Salt and pepper pork chops with egg fried rice. So meaty.So eggy. So… ricey?

And I think I chose well. The egg fried rice was not greasy at all and had not been over-fried, allowing the rice to retain its fluffiness. The broccoli again was allowed to retain some of its natural crunchy characteristic and was not over-cooked.

And as for the pork: wow. It was amazingly flavourful, with a wonderful balance of the salt and the pepper, enhanced by sweet and spicy garlic-spring onion-chilli mix in which the pork had been fried. The meat itself was tender enough to be cut into by my spoon, and there was more than enough of it on the plate. For £6.80, it was a fairly sizeable portion with all the components in good proportions to each other.

What more can I say about this dish? It is full of comfort, flavour and happiness and evokes memories of Hong Kong. I am salivating just thinking about it. I need to go back, even if just for that dish. And having completed the 10-15 minute walk back, it is definitely doable in a normal lunch hour.

It's really not that far away from Banker-Land

It’s really not that far away from Banker Land

But of course, the original reason why I went there was for the char siu fan. Let’s hope that Noodle Street can similarly deliver on that dish too. And then I can move on to the beef ho fun, and then the dim sum… the temptations just keep on coming.

VERDICT – I may have been only once, and I may be lionising this place purely based on its local context and not the wider scene of Chinese food in London, but I don’t care. It provided an absolutely scrumptious meal, quick service, relief from the scorching sun, and most importantly of all, a fantastic alternative to the chains of Canary Wharf (j’accuse, Wasabi, j’accuse!). I will most definitely be going back for that char siu fan

Currently listening to: Coheed and Cambria – Number City

Categories: Chinese | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oom-pah-pah on Villiers Street: Meat me at Herman ze German

Copyright of Herman ze German. Sourced from Herman ze German website

Copyright of Herman ze German. Sourced from Herman ze German website

Cuisine: German

Address: 19 Villiers Street, WC2N 6NE

Area: Charing Cross

Nearest Station: Embankment/Charing Cross

Tel.: N/A

Website: http://www.herman-ze-german.co.uk/

Pricing: Cheap-Medium

Good For: Casual dining, Takeaway, Filling meal, Sinful snacks

It’s been a month since I was in Munich, on a holiday between projects. Whenever I told anyone of my plans, I was asked whether I was going to gorge myself on sausages and beer, and I would reply enthusiastically in the affirmative (if I said I was going to a party to gorge on sausage and beer, that would sound horrifically dodgy – ooh err).

Now it may surprise many people, but I only had sausage twice those four days in Munich – weiβwurst for a rather sluggish and hungover breakfast on the Sunday, and a currywurst snack during a daytrip to Schloss Neuschwanstein. Rather, I came to appreciate the other regional dishes, such as roast pork knuckle, obazda, leberkäse and, rather surprisingly, white asparagus.

And, instead of plying myself silly with litre steins of Münchener weiβbier (I did have some, mind), I instead discovered a strong liking for the sweet, cool, refreshing taste of the radler and the russ’n, aka the shandy.

But that’s all for another day. Now that I am back in London, I find myself dreaming of big, fat, juicy German sausages (oooh errr), and bitterly regretting that the drei paar of weiβwurst I brought home with me lasted only three days. And so, where would I go to, in order to fix this absolutely wurst problem?

Enter Herman ze German from stage right. Anyone wandering along that crammed stretch of Villiers Street between Embankment and Charing Cross stations is bound to have seen this place, and thought to themselves, “Hmm, I hope that Herman has good sausage” (ooooh errrr). The fact that it is almost opposite one of the exits from Charing Cross has meant that I, and I’m sure countless others, have popped across the road to grab a meaty snack as we waited for our trains home.

And now, actually having been to Germany, I can come to Herman for my fix of all things German: the place screams over-the-top Germaness, specifically of the Bavarian Alpine lodge variety. However, as my Bavarian friend did point out, our perception of Germaness is… rather narrow-minded, let’s just say. But then again, there are loads of pictures of her wearing a dirndl, eating bratwurst and drinking weiβbier out of litre steins, so why should Herman disappoint us by not offering these?

Okay, there is a distinct lack of girls in dirndls and guys in lederhosen, and I don’t think they sell beer any more (*sob*), but there is wurst.

That eventful first currywurst

That eventful first currywurst

They will leave you feeling satisfied and all filled up. They are well-cooked, juicy and have great flavours. The old classic bratwurst is a favourite. But the first time I was here, I had the currywurst. They overloaded mine with spice, which made it difficult to finish off without a cooling beer. The sauce is perhaps too ketchup-y for my liking, but it has a strong and distinct tang about it. I like the fried onions that you can request to sprinkle on your sausage, and the sauerkraut is up to the job too – some crunch and texture, and not packing too much sourness.

However, I would recommend going for something a little different from the average wurst – the leberkäse. This translates, literally, as liver cheese. Before you vomit at the thought of that, hear me out. It is, roughly-speaking, a sausage meatloaf, and so has nearly (but not quite) the same taste and texture as the bratwurst on offer. Herman’s example is a pretty good one, and they have been quite generous with their portions, cutting their under-used loaf into hefty slices for your enjoyment and smothering them in punchy mustard.

As for the all-important fries that accompany this cornucopia of sausage meat – they are thin, crisp, and delightful when dipped in either curry sauce or mayonnaise.

So, the next time you find yourself at a loose end whilst waiting for your train in Charing Cross, why not pop out, cross the road, and enter a little haven of Germany?

VERDICT – A good place. Portions are hearty, prices are good, flavours are tasty; it is simple food done well. Sometimes, all you need in life is meat, bread and potatoes. ‘Nuff said.

Currently listening to: Circa Survive – Dyed in the Wool

Categories: German | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments