Posts Tagged With: Warmth in your belly

Rock ‘n’ Roll Ramen: An evening in with Bone Daddies

Copyright of Bone Daddies. Sourced from Bone Daddies website

Copyright of Bone Daddies. Sourced from Bone Daddies website

Cuisine: Japanese

Address: 31 Peter Street, W1F 0AR

Area: Soho

Nearest Station: Piccadilly Circus/Leicester Square

Tel.: 020 7287 8581

Website: http://bonedaddiesramen.com/

Pricing: Medium

Good for: Filling meal, Buzzing atmosphere, Warmth in your belly, All about the flavour

It was with great sadness that I heard that Melati on Peter Street (not to be mistaken for Melati on Great Windmill Street *shudder*), my favourite place in all of London to get nasi goreng, was closing down. Many was a post-interview lunchtime spent comforting myself with that stunning plate of hot, tasty and spicy Indonesian fried rice with all the trimmings; now, all gone, like tears in the rain.

But it was with great curiosity that I heard that it was to be replaced by Bone Daddies, one of burgeoning crowd of new ramen houses now serving London’s lucky denizens. I could only hope that they could do justice to the site, and judging from the initial feedback, it looked like it would.

And so, I found myself a willing companion to share the experience with me. It was a horrifically cold day and even colder night, and so she lapped up the suggestion of a steaming hot soup of ramen to warm us both up. Speaking of the cold, I hope that Bone Daddies get their door sorted out – it doesn’t close automatically, meaning that I feel sorry for those sat closest to it. Thankfully, my companion and I were sat some distance away, by the far wall.

It is a busy place. They’ve managed to squeeze in quite a fair few tables (too high for short people like my companion and I – dangling legs is not a cool look), more so than Melati ever did – it gives the place a buzz, but it also made it a bit of a struggle to navigate our way around other diners. Being tucked up at one end of the table, we were both unaware of the condiments that were on the other side of a very lovey-dovey couple, whose intertwined hands would have probably made it very awkward to request pickled garlic, the chilli oil etc. We didn’t particularly need them (the condiments, and possibly the PDA next to us too), but it would have been nice to have actively made the choice not to need them.

We ordered the soft-shelled crab and the tender-stem broccoli as starters. The former dish was wonderful – subtly-spiced crispy pieces of deep-fried crab that imparted a certain je ne sais quoi, something akin to smoky flouryness, when I think about it; probably not the most appropriate description, but I guess that just means you’ll have to try it! As for the latter dish, it was pleasing enough – the tender-stem broccoli had that right level of crunch as well as tenderness – but my companion felt (and I agree) that it could have been significantly enhanced with just a bit of a light stir-fry with onions and garlic. Perhaps that’s just our Hong Kong taste buds getting in the way.

Just as we were finishing the crab and broccoli, our ramen arrived with great flourish – her with the tonkotsu, me with the tantanmen. If I were to judge our dishes just by looks alone, then Bone Daddies has done its job extremely well. Just look at the picture of my tantanmen below.

The tantanmen: rich, creamy, brothy goodness

The tantanmen: rich, creamy, brothy goodness

How can that not be appealing? My companion was struck by extreme food envy, which was only sharpened when I let her try some. That first slurp of that thick, creamy soup from the tantanmen is a real eye-opener, what with the spice hitting you, followed by that sweet and nutty sesame flavour, with everything wrapped up in oily warmth. It was delightfully rich and soothing: the perfect antidote to winter chills.

That tantanmen soup really nailed it for me that night. But let’s not forget the other components of the dish. The noodles were well-cooked and added good carby weight to the bowl. The pork mince was lovely in that it just went everywhere, so that nearly every spoonful of soup had chunks of meat in it (alongside the tender slices of pork floating around in there too), giving real texture and bite to the tantanmen. But no review could be complete without a special mention of the slow-cooked egg, with its gooey and golden yolk just begging to be slurped up. And unlike Tonkotsu, you do get a whole egg (result!). I could have probably done with another piece of bok choy, but just having the one piece doesn’t diminish the tantanmen.

As for the tonkotsu, from what I did try, the broth was surprisingly earthy and deep, signalling to me that yes, Bone Daddies probably did boil some pork bones for a good twenty hours. But, as good as that tasted, I think that the mix of flavours in the tantanmen makes it my outright winner for the night.

Bone Daddies provided me and my companion with a wonderful, absolutely filling meal, and armed us with enough warmth in our bellies to protect us from the cold outside. They did their job well, and I hope that they continue to impress.

VERDICT – Highly recommended. It was good enough for my brother and his girlfriend. It was good enough for me and my companion. It was even good enough for my mother. Perhaps – just maybe – it will be good enough for you too.

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A slice of Bangkok in London: Heat and spice at Naamyaa Café

Elephant-tastic

Welcome to the jungle

Cuisine: Thai

Address: 407 St John Street, EC1V 4AB

Area: Angel

Nearest Station: Angel

Tel.: 020 3122 0988

Website: http://www.naamyaa.com/

Pricing: Medium

Good For: Smart-casual dining, Spice, Filling meal, Fresh ingredients, Buzzing atmosphere, Warmth in your belly

“Did you come because of the magazine?”

The place had become rather busy not too long after we’d arrived at just after 6:30pm. After some impressive reviews in both the Evening Standard and Time Out, perhaps this shouldn’t be so surprising. However, because of these glowing reviews as well as all the hype circulating around town, I was just a bit sceptical as to how good Naamyaa was actually going to be.

As a take on the sort of modern café you would find in Bangkok, it does stand out a bit in straying away from the standard dishes and in offering dishes more attuned to quotidian Thai tastes, but at the same time, I do question how many people are going to order the burgers and/or things like the salad Niçoise, as popular as they would be in Bangkok.

As my friends and I found, the dishes that we really wanted – namely the turnip cake starter and the tom yam goong hotpot for two – were the over-subscribed and hence missing options of the night. Our server promised not to break our hearts with further bad news, and she managed to keep her vow.

So, to snack, we had cashew nuts lightly fried with garlic, chilli and herbs, which was quite revelatory for all of us in terms of flavour combination. And of course, any dish with crunchy garlic and chilli bits has got to be good. It’s a definite must-have snack whilst browsing the rest of the menu.

Just be careful though – if you are not on the ball, they will take the bowl away even if the bottom is carpeted with the delicious crunchy bits. We successfully batted away our overly-eager waitress, but it did become a bit of a running joke that she was constantly eyeing up our empty plates. On the other hand, she has to be commended for her attentiveness.

As for the starters, we ordered the jasmine tea-smoked baby back pork ribs, the Thai baby calamari, and the chicken wings. The ribs were delectable – falling off the bone, tender, sweet and juicy, though my taste buds aren’t well-trained in picking out tea-smoked flavours. The calamari had what I would call a husky flavour, warmth imparted by the mix of spices coating each squiggly piece, all delivered without the customary crunchy batter (which I usually prefer, but in this instance I can forego). The chicken wings, I think though, were the best of the lot, having a real crisp skin overlaying soft and well-cooked meat.

We also ordered the green papaya salad to accompany our starters as our token healthiness for the night. Alas, I was not particularly wowed by it – I felt that it lacked real tartness and bite, and although we were offered and promised spice, it was a bit of a mild affair. Overall, it added little to the meal.

Isaan chicken - delectable grilled chicken

Isaan chicken – delectable grilled chicken

But not so for the main courses that we had. I tried some of Friend A’s beef laksa, and was pleased with its grainy coconut curry sauce; however, though both he and I enjoyed the flavours, I would suggest that if you’ve come to Naamyaa for Thai food, then laksa (being of Malaysian origin) shouldn’t really feature on your radar. The Isaan chicken, on the other hand, should. A bit more of a unknown dish from northeast Thailand (at least when compared to usual Thai restaurant fare), Naamyaa’s version was succulent and fully infused with charcoal flavours – I would have ordered this if Friend B had not gotten to it first (we were operating a policy of trying as many dishes as possible), and I always defer to ladies.

Curried stir-fried soft shell crab - not pulling any punches

Curried stir-fried soft shell crab – not pulling any punches

So, onto my dish – the curried stir-fried soft shell crab rice set. Ignoring the fact that the rice seemed a bit dry and hard (I’m not just saying this because I love my rice soft and sticky), this was a wonderful dish. The lumps of soft-shell crab were distinctly-flavoured, and the meat softly textured – it was a bonus that there was plenty of it mixed up in the thick and highly-spiced curry sauce, amidst the copious amount of chillies and fried spring onion pieces (I looove those). The heat was tempered by a generous side salad that included cucumber, and so I was able to clean everything out of my bowl. It’s fair to say I had a good time with the soft shell crab rice.

Black tapioca pearls in coconut cream, topped with pomegranate seeds and toasted sesame seeds. A bit of a (tasty) mouthful

Black tapioca pearls in coconut cream, topped with pomegranate seeds and toasted sesame seeds. A bit of a (tasty) mouthful

I similarly had a good time with dessert, too. After an impassioned recommendation from our waitress, I changed my original choice of pandan and coconut agar-agar and instead opted for the black tapioca pearls in coconut cream, and was well-rewarded with a very fetching dessert. The pearls were chewy bordering on the too-soft, but the coconut cream was lusciously smooth and superbly enhanced by the crunch of pomegranate seeds and the striking toasted sesame seeds that formed the topping. An imaginative and fun dessert, I felt that that it was far superior to Friend A’s balsamic strawberries with yoghurt ice cream and Friend B’s mascarpone ice cream with strawberries, both of which looked very much like each other once subjected to mixing.

We left that night, warm of belly and content of heart. Naamyaa’s performance that night, in our eyes, justified those glowing reviews and all that hype. Although we did miss out on our tom yam goong and our turnip cake, I guess it means that we’ll just have to return for a second visit… *sigh*

VERDICT – A good place. Naamyaa was a fun experience and we did enjoy our meals, but there’s just something nagging away at the back of mind about the place. Maybe the decorations make it look too slick, maybe it was the dry rice, maybe it was missing out on the turnip cake; I don’t quite know. Just don’t let that get in the way of you going along and giving it a good shot.

Currently listening to: A Day to Remember – The Downfall of us All

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