Zumbura, Clapham Common

Summer this year has been awesome. Besides the fact that I work long hours as an architect, I have been eating and drinking all summer through the Cyclades, Athens, Copenhagen and London. The backlog of photos and food adventures are piling up, but I am living life and trying to find inspiration once more through my lens.

Just over two months ago, we were invited to Zumbura, an Indian restaurant down south in Clapham. Since we moved to London three years ago, we have only been to a couple of Indian restaurants. Apart from Dishoom and the usual brick lane stretch, we have never ventured far.

When we got to Zumbura that summer evening, we were welcomed by vibrant shades of colour and beautiful furniture, a delightful modern setting which set a scene for our dinner meal. It was no wonder that Aamir Ahmad, Sean Galligan and David Garrett, co-founders of Zumbura, used to own the contemporary furniture store, Dwell.

20140625-DSC_1319

20140625-DSC_1321

Zumbura’s menu features “authentic homemade food from the Purab region of North West India”. We were encouraged to order 2-3 small plates each to share for our main meals. The selection on the menu catered well for vegetarians as well as meat lovers. It featured curries like and a salon (an egg curry in light home-style sauce) to flat lamb kebabs “twice cooked for a velvety smooth texture”.

For our starters, we ordered the pakora, which were spinach and onion chick pea flour fritters. Accompanied with chutney, the pakora went down a treat.

20140625-DSC_1333

20140625-DSC_1335

Next up were the main dishes. We selected khullia (lamb and turnip stew), machli ka salan (pollock fish curry), kharela, a bread selection and braised rice. The khullia was delicious and the lamb was stewed to perfection. It was a pity that there wasn’t much lamb in the portion but every mouthful combined with the braised rice was a delight. The karela is a bitter gourd dish, cooked very differently to the Chinese-style dishes I have tried before. It complemented our fish and meat choices well. Our only disappointment was the bread selection.

20140625-DSC_1339

20140625-DSC_1342

20140625-DSC_1355

For desserts, we ordered the warm creamed carrot pudding (gajjar ka halwa) which came recommended by the waiter. The warmth and sweetness of the pudding was something we had never tasted before and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
We also got the home made pistachio ice cream as it has always been a weakness of mine and when I saw it on the dessert menu, I knew I had to have it too. I dare say that it was one of the best pistachio ice creams I have ever had!

20140625-DSC_1360

20140625-DSC_1362

We really enjoyed our meal at Zumbura and there were still lots of dishes on the menu like the meat grills which we didn’t order. We will definitely be back to try out the rest!

Zumbura
36a Old Town
Clapham, London SW4 0LB

*I was a guest of Jori White PR & Zumbura but all views here are my own.

Advertisements

Dishoom

Dishoom is probably old news in the food blogging world but today was my first time at the Shoreditch branch. I have only ever been to the one in Covent Garden but this morning, we found ourselves on Boundary Road ready for breakfast.

When we stepped in, it was really quiet except for a few early birds. The interior is simply amazing. I felt like I was stepping into colonial times. The interiors were designed by Russell Sage Studio who also did the Zetter Town House. As there were not many around, we got to choose where we sat and headed to the verandah area which was heated.

The breakfast menu at Dishoom is so full of delight. If you head there, order the house chai! I normally have two cups. It is fragrant and simply delicious! As there were three of us, we decided to be greedy and ordered the fresh fruit and yoghurt, bacon naan, egg naan and the bombay omelette. We were extremely satisfied by the end and nearly licked our plates! This place comes highly recommended by many and with breakfast prices like that, I would have a bacon naan every day!

20131102-DSC_5180

20131102-DSC_5186

20131102-DSC_5194

20131102-DSC_5201

20131102-DSC_5203

20131102-DSC_5195

20131102-DSC_5197

20131102-DSC_5199

20131102-DSC_5200

Dishpiglets’ rating: 9/10

Dishoom Shoreditch
7 Boundary Street
London E2 7JE.

Dishoom Shoreditch on Urbanspoon

It’s all about bao 包…

Just over a month ago, I heard about bao london from a few food bloggers but none have supposedly tried it. After numerous google searches and twitter follows, I managed to track their next few street food appearances and headed down to Kerb one Thursday afternoon in search of 包.

dpvisits

lunchmen

What exactly is 包 = bao? In mandarin, Bao is a steamed and filled bun. The texture is ‘pillow-y’ or even ‘fluffy’. There are many types of 包 bao which I have had, having grown up in Singapore. We always have 包bao as our tea time snack or even a breakfast item. One of the most common 包 bao which most people have come across is most likely char siew bun i.e. the barbeque pork bun.

What Bao London serves and specialises in is their gua bao 刈包. Gua Bao is a traditional taiwanese street food snack which comprise of slow braised pork belly, home pickled vegetables, coriander and peanut powder (which they grate themselves!!!). Having queued and tried one of these little babies, I commend them for bringing their bao to London.

filling bao

guabao

baowork

My heart did a flip when I bit into the soft milk bun. The juices and tenderness of the braised pork belly together with the slight saltiness of the home pickles and dryness of the peanut powder in the tender milk bun calls for a standing ovation. I loved every bite of the 刈包 gua bao. It was that good. My only criticism was the size of bun and the overflowing juices of the braised pork belly which made the bao soggy real fast.

I also tried their pomelo crunch salad and soya milk fried chicken which they fry only upon orders. The soya milk fried chicken was tender and juicy in contrast to the crispy coating which I enjoyed with some chilli sauce on offer.

soyachic

As for the pomelo crunch salad, it was a nice end to the flavoursome bun and chicken. I liked the subtleness of the vegetable salad tossed with some crunchy fried pastry and pomelo which added some acidity and a little bit of sour/bitterness to it all.

pomcrunch

You can find out where Bao london is at next if you follow their Facebook or twitter.

baopack

Also check out the Skinny Bib’s review of bao, yum bun and A Wong.

Dishpiglets’ rating: 9.5/10

*On a side note, I love the design of Bao London, from the stall to the paper bag as well as their ‘anatomy of the bun’ info board. It’s just so aesthetically pleasing.

We are not all perfect…

It’s been a few weeks since Chinese New Year and I have been wanting to make these almond cookies which I have had whilst visiting relatives during the festive season. Since finding out the recipe from Peaches & Donuts’ blog, I bought the ingredients straight away.

Almond Cookies that melts in your mouth
Recipe from Peaches and Donuts

Ingredients:
(Makes about 40)

100g ground almonds
150g plain flour
70g light brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
approx. 100ml light olive oil (adjust accordingly to pastry)
1 egg yolk, beaten

1. Sieve the flour, light brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into your food processor.
2. Add the ground almonds to the above mixture.
3. Slowly trickle in the oil while pulsing, until a cohesive dough is formed.
Adjust the amount of olive oil depending on the humidity/moisture levels – the aim is to achieve a dough which is just able to hold it’s shape (and doesn’t crumble) when you attempt to roll it into a ball. .
4. Heat the oven to 180degC.
5. Roll the dough into 2.5cm balls, and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Repeat until all the dough is used up.
6. Using a pastry brush, lightly glaze the tops of the cookie balls with the beaten egg yolk.
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cookies become slightly golden.
8. Cool on wire rack.

notallperfect

notallperfect1

notallperfect2a

notallperfect3

notallperfect4

Do keep an eye on your cookies as they cook. For my two batches which were in the same oven, the top batch came out brown. They still taste good but the golden ones are the ones which stand out.

Mama Lan at Brixton

The gorgeous weather saw us travelling down south to Brixton. It was my third trip there and we didn’t really have an agenda. The bright sun had many out on the streets and once we emerged from the Brixton tube, it was the usual craziness. I love the markets here, the people and the music. It feels like I’m transported to another place.

As we were a little early for dinner, we headed to a local pub called Hootananny.
Everyone was sitting in the big courtyard enjoying the sunshine and beer. A rather cool place to hang out on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

When dinner time came, we headed to Brixton village market. A part of me knew that I wanted to have Kao Sarn. Afterall, we did travel from up north down to south of the river! The other part of me wanted to try some dumplings out at Mama Lan’s. We walked around and there were just way too many choices. In the end, we decided to go with Mama Lan.

After browsing through the simple menu, We ordered spicy chicken noodle (ban mein), boiled prawn dumplings and pork and chinese leaf fried dumplings aka Guo tie 鍋貼… I also got the Mama Lan’s specially brewed tea of chrysanthemum and goji berries.

When the dumplings came, it wasn’t the usual big huge plate of greasy oily dumplings we often get back in Melbourne…
Instead, there were only 5 moderate sized dumplings per plate. We knew that we were getting only 5 from the menu so we shouldn’t be complaining. Afterall, it’s London! I did hear that at Mama Lan’s, they source their meat from The Ginger Pig.

What we tasted were juicy meat fillings when we bit into them. I only wished that they were slightly more generous with their fillings. Between the boiled and the fried dumplings, I prefered the fried option. The contrasting texture of the slightly charred dumpling skin and the well-steamed dumpling was the perfect combination.

The spicy chicken noodles was really well presented and nicely spiced. It was not too spicy for my tastebuds though it was lacking a little in the flavour.

The bill came up to about £20++ for two of us including a beer. It was a cheap dinner but a part of me was left a little unsatisfied.

Dishpiglets’ rating: 7/10

Mama Lan
Unit 18
Brixton Village Market
SW9

Mama Lan Supper Club on Urbanspoon

Wat Dan Hor otherwise known as Rice Noodles With Silky Smooth Egg Sauce

I remembered when I was in my teens, my parents would often ask if my brother and I wanted supper at about 9.30pm at night. Wat Dan Hor (also known as rice noodles with egg sauce) was something they often get from the local hawker store and we often gulp down the delicious rice noodles before bed time.

When I first moved to Australia, I often miss this dish but managed to try a home made version that was really delicious. This dish is in my repertoire and it is something that I cook once every fortnight/ month.

(Serves 4-5)
Ingredients:
1kg Kuey teow/flat rice noodles
300g chicken breast
200g prawns
Fish cake(Optional)
Cai Xin (Sawi/Chinese Mustard)
4 cloves of garlic
Dark soy sauce

To make the egg sauce base:
2-3 eggs lightly beaten
2 tsp chicken powder/ chicken stock (Approx. 800ml)
6-8 shiitake mushrooms
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp soya sauce
A pinch of white pepper
Water
Corn starch (mixed with water)

To start, blanch the flat rice noodles in hot water to loosen the noodles up. Drain when ready.

Heat sunflower oil in wok and when the oil is hot, throw in the flat rice noodles and pour dark soy sauce (just enough to coat all the rice noodles) and lightly fry. Remove noodles and set aside.

Next, heat some sunflower oil in the heated wok, add the shiitake mushrooms, minced garlic and chicken. Stir fry the chicken until cooked. Add the chicken stock next. If you prefer more egg sauce on your noodles, use more chicken stock.

When the stock is boiling, add the shrimp and fish cakes, cook for around 2 minutes before adding the vegetables (cai xin).

Add the corn starch slowly whilst stirring. The stock will slowly thicken. Stir in the lightly beaten egg.

Serve the flat rice noodles in bowls, then pour the ready egg sauce onto it. If you like chilli, this dish is best served with pickled green chillies or red chillies.

A new gem… Sushi Tetsu

I am a huge fan of sushi. If you ask my colleague at work, I am always wanting sushi for lunch… Back in Melbourne, there are quite a number of good sushi places down Flinders Lane where I could have lunch. Over here in London, it’s the usual itsu lunch take out place but nothing quite above and beyond until I moved into my new office in Farringdon.

About a month ago, Eric, Cherry from Feed the Tang, Giulia from Mondomulia and I decided to get together and check out Sushi Tetsu for lunch. Sushi Tetsu opened in June this year in the vicinity of Farringdon where some of us work. I have heard about Sushi Tetsu prior as there was quite a bit of hype in the blogger/twitter-sphere… Eric could not stop ranting about it and you can also read about the Skinny Bib’s review of Sushi Tetsu here.

We got to sit by the bar and saw Chef Toru’s every move. It’s a pity that I did not bring my camera with me but I had my trustworthy iPhone to document the amazing lunch. You have to check out Giulia’s photos and blog post here.

I sampled the salmon, tuna, shrimp and sweet shrimp nigiri which Chef Toru prepared with precision and poise. They were impeccable and delicate to the taste.
I had high expectations when I arrived and needless to say, my expectation was met. It was THAT good. I kid you not.

I spent slightly under £20 for lunch but be prepared to fork out a bit more if you want more than a taster. It is definitely worth the money as I know some people who swear by the sushi and visit every other day!

I highly recommend that you check it out soon. If you love good sashimi/ sushi, it’s a place NOT TO BE MISSED. Booking is highly advised as I believe that their book is filling up fast.

DishPiglets‘ rating: 10/10

Sushi Tetsu
12 Jerusalem Passage
London EC1V 4JP
020 3217 0090

Sushi Tetsu on Urbanspoon

The Bah Kut Teh Challenge – Wild Serai vs Plusixfive

Just over two weeks ago, we headed to “The Battle of the Bak Kut Tehs – For Action Against Hunger” – it was a Singapore vs Malaysia Bah Kut Teh challenge. For those who don’t know what Bah Kut Teh is, it is a Chinese soup dish and it directly translate to ‘meat bone tea’. This dish is widely know in Singapore and Malaysia and it usually consists of meaty pork ribs simmered in a complex broth of herbs and spices for hours.

My mum makes an excellent Bah Kut Teh, according to my best friend, my brother and my dude. As for me, I am never a big fan of the peppery soup which my mum makes. I much prefer the Malaysian version which I often have whenever I head over to Johor Bahru.

The “Olympigs” challenge was held at the Singapore pop up house near Marylebone. When we were walking along the street looking for the place, we followed a strong smell of pork and got to the doorstep easy. We were greeted by Wen of Edible Experiences and after a quick chat with Goz, we were seated and given our first bowl of Bah Kut Teh.

We were told that Goz has been boiling the Bah Kut Teh for weeks. Obviously Singaporean (kiasu huh! hehe) but boy it was worth it!

After having our first bowl of Bah Kut Teh by the Plusixfive, the dude and I were pretty impressed. The pork meat just melted in our mouths and I must say that it tasted better than my mum’s Bah Kut Teh! My only criticism was that I got a really ultra small bowl of soup and the dough stick wasn’t the best.

All around, you could hear people dissecting the two bowls of soup and hungry for more!

The Malaysian bowl of Bah Kut Teh by Wild Serai came next and we gulped it down in no time. The soup had the herbal touch albeit a little too light for me.

I came with the thought that I would much prefer the Malaysian version but was surprised by Goz’s version.
So guess who won in the end? Gozgozgoz from Plusixfive! I think both Wild Serai and Plusixfive put up a great culinary experience for just £5. Voting was also done via our donation to Action Against Hunger. Quite a nice afternoon lunch I must say!

Hakkasan

Having lived in London for a few years, when new friends come to town they often ask for restaurant suggestions.  I have a list – a long one – which covers cheap and cheerful gems, middle of the range must-visits, and high-end budget blowing destinations.  I recently scribbled down a list for a fellow foodie, and a few days later I was invited to join her, her mum and a few other friends for a feast at Hakkasan.  Oooh, what an unexpected treat.

We arrived at the restaurant a dash early so decided to prop the bar for a quick cocktail.  One pink mojito later (delicious) we descended the stairs to the basement dining room.  The room had an undeniable nightclubby feel to it – albeit a classy nightclub.  Decor of dark wood, dim lights and a big sleek bar seemed slightly dated, and not entirely my style, but still incredibly luxurious.  We settled in our big corner table and I couldn’t help but realise how full the restaurant was – impressive for a Monday night.

There are many benefits of dining in groups.  Apart from the obvious – catching up with multiple friends at once – another huge drawcard is how much more one can sample from the menu.  We decided to share everything and must have had in excess of 10 dishes.

The dim sum platter consisted of eight delicately steamed and bursting with flavour dumplings – scallop, har gau, prawn and chive, and mushroom.

The salt and pepper squid was so lightly fried, it almost tasted healthy!  Super thin batter, with succulent and juicy squid.  Often this dish is completely butchered with thick batter and chewy squid.  This however was exactly how it should be with tender squid and the perfect amount of salt and pepper.  The best S&P squid I’ve had.

The duck spring rolls were a hit.  Thin and flaky pastry formed a capsule around the richly marinated duck.  The cucumber gave the roll a refreshing and light crunch.

Vegetarian gyoza with a lightly fried base came with a lovely dipping sauce.

The king prawns were the biggest king prawns I’ve seen since living in the UK.  I’m so sick of those tiny, little, shrimpy shrimps that keep appearing on my plate in other restaurants!  The fresh prawns had been butterflied and wok-tossed with a spicy yellow bean sauce.

The pan-fried Wagyu beef was a succulent success.  Fat chunks of tender beef coated in sticky Szechuan sauce put to shame all the other Szechuan beef dishes I’ve sampled in my time.

Zingy and fresh stir-fried asparagus, lotus root and lily bulb in black pepper.

Crispy skinned duck with black truffle and mushroom sauce was rich and beautiful, and had a great depth of flavour.  So rich was the dish, I was happy to be sharing with five others as despite being a lover of truffles, eating the whole dish to myself would have been a big ask!

A claypot filled with homemade tofu, aubergine and mushrooms in a chilli and black bean sauce made a good argument for becoming vegetarian.  The silky tofu was the smoothest I’ve tasted – if tofu was always this good, I’d eat it every day!

Hakkasan lived up to the reviews.  It’s a special occasion restaurant and is certainly the best Chinese food I’ve had. The highlight was the food – which, considering it’s a restaurant, is a good thing.  Its downfalls – the decor resembles a slightly dated nightclub or hotel bar, service was a little shady in patches (when you’re paying that much, it should be nothing but seamless) and the prices (yikes!).  Come for the food.  And come with a full wallet.

Dish Piglets’ Rating:  8.5/10.

Hakkasan
17 Bruton Street, Mayfair, London. W1J 6QB.
Tel: 020 7907 1888.

Hakkasan Hanway Place on Urbanspoon

The first of the supper clubs…

Having only been in London for eleven months, it wasn’t long before I went looking for authentic Asian food. The usual Asian buffets that lined chinatown definitely did not fool the Singaporean in me. I actively read up on London food blogs, in hope of finding an authentic plate of hainanese chicken rice, a reliable Sunday yumcha restaurant and perhaps even a good bowl of heart warming pho. I needed to locate the MUST-TRY places in London in search of that familiar taste in my mouth. The key was to find a few reliable food blogs who have the same taste palette as me.

Having never heard of supper clubs, I was intrigued when I came across Plusixfive. Gozgozgoz, the guy behind Plusixfive (dialling code for Singapore actually…) holds a supper club at his home in Islington serving:

“badass Singaporean street food cooked the good ol’ way, presented with minimum fuss and maximum taste.”

It didn’t take me long to make a booking after I heard about the “FISH HEAD CURRY” that he was wanting to serve. My fellow Dishpiglet, Celia, was a little intimidated by the fish head namesake so I took the dude along instead.

We were amongst the first few to arrive. We exchanged a few awkward “hellos” to several others who were behind us and found ourselves in a living room filled with 2 tables (of about 8 seats each). Our eyes wandered to the cleverly set tables with old school milk bottles and chinese calendar paper folded into boats – filled with bitternut crackers and spicy tapioca chips. The memories of my 12 year old childhood flooded back when I bit into the spicy tapioca chips. Gone were the good ol’ days when I was able to share a packet with a few friends in the school canteen and savour this as an afternoon snack.

Shortly after 7.30pm, most of the guests arrived and we shared a few more hellos with those who mustered the courage to accept the challenge of the fish head curry. Funnily enough, there weren’t many Singaporeans/ Malaysians in the crowd and I was quite impressed. We proceeded to take our seats and were served our first course of deep fried fish skins and bones. The crunch of the fish bones was pretty impressive and extremely tasty. Goz presented it with a tangy kaffir lime mayo-like sauce to go with the fish bones and it was quite a good match. As for the fish skin, I found mine quite chewy but still tasty all the same. It was interesting to hear the others on the table describing it as pork scratchings. As for the dude, he couldn’t get enough. (Note: This was his first time trying the fish bones & skin)

Next up, we had spicy sardine puffs served to us by Shuhan (MummyIcancook), a special guest for the evening. The buttery puff pastry melted in my mouth only to reveal a spicy sardine filling inside. The only criticism I had was that there wasn’t enough around for seconds! Totally digged the sardine puffs… Recipe please????

The dude’s favourite ‘chwee kueh’ came served a la Singapore brown paper hawker style complete with toothpicks. It was finger lickin’ good ‘rice cake’ with substantial oil and preserved turnip toppings. A little chilli accompaniment would be great but who’s complaining? Everything was spot on so far and the corner where we were seated polished the food off faster than everyone else. It clearly showed that we were a hungry bunch with an appetite for more of Goz’s creations!

Having lived in Australia for ten years and now, London… I never understood the curry powdered vermicelli which they call Singapore fried noodles… To tell you the truth, there is no such thing as Singapore fried noodles! The fried vermicelli we have back home is pictured below and as served by Goz, complete with spam, belachan chilli and fish cake. None of the curry powder stuff!

The main dish – Fish head curry was served next, complete with free flow steamed rice. The aroma of the curry was a delight to my senses. By this time, you could hear the room go quiet. It is always a good sign when people stop chatting and get on with their eating. It tells you simply that everyone was enjoying their authentic fish head curry. I was practically stuffing my face by this time… and I am hoping that no one took a photo of me.

Shuhan from Mummyicancook served her ‘spicy deep fried sambal eggs‘ soon after the fish head curry. I advised the dude to scrape the sambal clean from the bowl as it was extremely delicious and little did I know… that it packed a PUNCH! The dude’s mouth was flamin’ but he thought that the eggs brought out the flavours of the fish head curry. (Realised that I didn’t have any photos of the eggs!!! I was so engrossed with the curry and the eggs that I didn’t even take my camera out!)

Just when we thought we couldn’t eat anymore… the crunchy cereal prawns were placed in front of us, served on authentic banana leaf. The nestum cereal and curry leaves complemented the prawns and gave it crunch and fragrance, fulfilling both the sensation of bite and smell. We couldn’t ask for more, really.

As for those who haven’t heard of milo ‘dinosaur’, it is a simple milo drink which we get from our local 24 hour mamak store back in Asia, topped with a whole lot of milo powder, to give the drink some crunch. Goz presented his version in ice-cream form, complete with condensed milk and a surprise element of corn flakes. When I finished the last of the dishes, I wanted to stand up and give a standing ovation but I kept my cool and continued chatting with fellow food bloggers and lovers.

The night was a roaring success and we had the best time. We came not knowing what to expect and left with happy and extremely full tummies, stuffed with the night’s goodness. Not forgetting our doggy bag with the leftover fish head curry, courtesy of Goz…

If you are Singaporean and missing out on some home cooked food, you HAVE to get yourself down to Plusixfive‘s supper club. Even if you aren’t but have a love for Asian delights, forget about Chinatown and just come along for a night of great cuisine with fellow food lovers. It is an experience not to be missed.

We will be back!

To get yourself a seat at the next Plusixfive supper club, you can sign yourself up at Goz’s website.


Read more about Fish Head Curry Supper on Edible Experiences