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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

Starting again… with one of the best meals of my life.

It’s hard to know where to start. I have not written in three months as the wordpress platform was not available in Shanghai where I was posted for work. It was a busy end to 2012 and I found myself travelling around Asia for the first quarter of 2014. I am not sure where Dishpiglets is going but the focus for this year is going to be on my photography.

I have been wanting to write about one of my most memorable meals of my life.

Whilst we were on our honeymoon in Andalucia last year, we were treated* to a fabulous dinner at Calima, a two Michelin star restaurant located in Marbella, opened by famous Spanish chef Dani Garcia. Located at the luxurious Hotel Gran Melia Don Pepe, we didn’t know what to expect when we arrived and headed down a flight of stairs into the restaurant. When we were greeted by a fabulous view of the beach as the sun sets, we knew we were in for a treat.

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The tasting menu – cocinacontradicion consisted of 20 dishes. What ensued after we ordered was an amazing display of precise service by the waiters and waitresses dressed in black. It is difficult to describe the whole experience but you have to see it to believe it. We have never seen such a performance.

Our Pic-nic at Calima started with little bites in a three part tiffin carrier displaying corn with kimchi, brava potato and Iberian rustic bread. The brava potato was so light and crunchy and sets us off to an amazing start.
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Next up was caviar with dates. Never quite thought of this combination before but this was absolutely delicious!
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The “empanadilla” of my mum was the third dish which we were told to eat using our hands. I recalled reading about chef Dani Garcia’s three key words when working in the kitchen – memory, flavours and high technical excellence. The empanadilla which we tasted, melted in our mouth.
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Iced almond and foie
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Oyster, tomato, beet and orange
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What impressed us the most in terms of detail was the rocky seabed. Crunchy and with smells of the sea, this was like prawn cracker on a ‘godly’ level.
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Scallops in orange/ lemon was next.
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The suckling pig was nowhere near what we imagined given the portion. It was different- served in a wet base but the combination was well executed. I just wished we had a bit more of it.
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Our desserts came in three different course and the banana magu was the most impressive.
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Petit fours
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The restaurant was full that evening. It was clear that people have travelled from all around to visit Calima. Out of the twenty dishes we had, they thrilled, surprised and fulfilled our tummies.

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Being able to meet the talented chef Dani Garcia at the end of the night was such an honour. We had such a great time at Calima – the food, the setting and the service. It was definitely a night to remember.

*Big thank you to our family friends, Andrew & Lisa Smith who kindly bought this dinner as a gift for our wedding.

Brunch in the east

Mr Buckleys has been very much talked about amongst my foodie friends. Located along Hackney Road, I have been there once prior to my return visit today. They serve brunch all day and have cocktails for day time drinking if you fancy it. The space itself is very simple and is a fantastic place to catch up with friends over breakfast.

Having been disappointed with my breakfast choice on my previous visit, I decided to go for a crowd favourite today. I ordered their potato & courgette rosti, bacon, avocado & poached eggs. My friends decided to go with the minute steak with poached eggs, spinach and béarnaise on sourdough and they thoroughly enjoyed it. As for me, I preferred my eggs a little bit more well done and the whole breakfast ended up being a little too dry for me. The potato and courgette rosti was not crispy on the surface and fell apart when I cut through it. It was not as seasoned as I wish it was but the bacon did the job.

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On this occasion, the service was a little slow with only three people servicing the floor. It came up to about £15 for my breakfast with a coffee and tea. Given that this was my second shot, I am not quite sure I will be back again anytime soon.

Dishpiglets’ rating: 6/10

Mr Buckley's on Urbanspoon

A Very British cookbook – Roast

Three years ago, I did not own a single cookbook. Fast forward to today, my shelf is now home to a couple of beautiful cookbooks in addition to my architecture collection. Inside one of them, the recent Plusixfive cookbook has a full page spread of a photo I took! It is such a pleasure to browse through these cookbooks when out of ideas on what to cook for dinner. My latest addition is Roast – a Very British cookbook by Marcus Verberne.

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Roast restaurant opened in 2005 with a mantra that is “to use produce from the nation’s farmers and fishermen to bring a new level of energy to British cooking.” Located in Borough Market, on the mezzanine level of the Floral Hall, one needs to look up to admire this jewel directly above Brindisa and the Ginger Pig stall off Stoney Street. Its elegant white interiors and amazing high ceiling space offers diners another perspective into Borough Market and gorgeous views out towards the Shard and St Paul’s.

Last week, I was invited to Roast for the launch of their first cookbook written by their head chef. I have never been to Roast but have heard good things about the breakfast which they serve.

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Shortly after we were seated, Marcus Verberne, Roast restaurant’s head chef came out to our table to welcome us to the restaurant. He gave us an introduction to his first cookbook and how he went about writing it. Originally from New Zealand, Marcus has been living in the UK for the past 12 years. His career in food began in Wellington before he moved to Melbourne and finally London. It was a pleasure to listen to the passionate chef talk about the thought process behind the cookbook and his love for British produce.

The cookbook’s recipes are written to be accessible for home cooks. It is filled with gorgeous photos by Lara Holmes whom Marcus spent quite some with during the documentation of the cookbook. Besides recipes, the cookbook has step-by-step photos from how to fillet fish to carving meat. You can even scan the QR codes in the cookbook to watch a video for further information! Amazing!

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Prior to us ordering our dinner, Marcus took the opportunity to explain to us about their menu and where they have sourced their produce from. It was featuring some of the recipes from the cookbook and we were given recommendations on what to order. As it was Thursday, Marcus mentioned that they had roasted a whole rare breed suckling pig which was their Thursday daily special. What I really enjoyed during the evening was listening to Marcus whilst flipping through the visual cookbook and there it was, a slightly charred roasted suckling pig on the third page of the cookbook.

However, I did not end up ordering the roast suckling pig but instead went with the chef’s recommendation of roast breast of Yorkshire cock pheasant with sprout top hearts, chestnuts and wild boar bacon for mains. It definitely did not disappoint! The roast pheasant breast was so tender and well complemented by the sweet chestnuts and saltiness of the wild boar bacon. Giulia and I both had the same and loved it! For starters, I had the seared Isle of Mull hand-dived scallops with whipped apple mash and smoked black pudding which was delicious.

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When it came to dessert, I chose the sea buckthorn berry pousset to end the evening. I was extremely intrigued by Marcus’ explanation on how they picked this berry as the branches of this shrub are thick, dense and thorny. The dessert which came was an amazing orange, almost fluorescent and was delightful to taste. Federica had the poached pear with ginger shortbread, walnut and honey ice cream whilst Giulia chose the sticky date pudding with toffee sauce and Neal’s Yard creme fraiche which all looked amazing.

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It was a pleasure to have met Roast’s passionate head chef, Marcus and tasted the outstanding dishes of Roast restaurant. I cannot wait to try out some of the recipes in the cookbook. Stay tune!

Roast – a Very British cookbook is now available from all good retailers, online and in store, for £25 (RRP).

*There is a twitter prize draw going on now for the month of November held by Roast Restaurant where you could win a signed copy of the Roast cookbook!

Roast Restaurant
The Floral Hall, Borough Market
Stoney Street, London SE1 1TL

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

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!

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Dishpiglets’ rating: 9/10

Dishoom Shoreditch
7 Boundary Street
London E2 7JE.

Dishoom Shoreditch on Urbanspoon

Visiting the UNESCO world heritage listed Amsterdam (Part 1)

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A couple of weekends ago, the dude and I headed to Amsterdam to celebrate his birthday. It was his first trip to this beautiful city but a second for me. Whenever you tell people of your trip to Amsterdam, they speak about the red light district and the coffeeshops. However, there is so much more to Amsterdam than that. 

We managed to rent bikes for two days and peddled our way through tiny streets in search of tasty pastries, dutch pancakes, macaroons, rijstafel and okonomiyaki! 

The amazing design sensibility of the people makes this city such a beautiful one. 

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We checked out BurgerMeester on our first day there. The hake burger I had was a treat and even though the dude was very skeptical about a fish burger, it turned out much better than expected. The last time I was in Amsterdam, I had tried a raw herring in a bun at one of the stalls by the canal. I remembered taking a bite and handing it over to my friend straight away. This time round, we didn’t manage to have it but this hake burger tasted really good as compared to my herring experience.

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The dude gave his beef burger royaal a thumbs up but did mention that it was a little too complicated as compared to the Royale with cheese at Lucky Chip, back in London. It was quite a strange experience sitting in the burger shop with photos of moo cows all around us. Fortunately for me, I wasn’t guilty of eating cow.

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That evening, I booked us in for a rice table meal (aka Rijsttafel) at Tempo Doeloe as recommended by a fellow food blogger, Eat Noodles Love. As I don’t eat beef, it proved difficult for the waitress to serve us the full rijsttafel menu and she suggested the mini rice table menu instead so that she could replace some of the beef dishes.

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When we got our food, we were pleased with the quantity though there seemed to be a bit of repetition. We were told to start with the mild dishes and finish at the spicy end as they were placed in order of spiciness. The meal was good but it was a little too ‘meek’ for my taste palette.

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Perhaps it was because we didn’t get the beef rendang, or maybe it was the vegetable dishes that were too similar in taste, that made the meal pleasant but without anything that really stood out. The poor service didn’t help, and we were told that they don’t serve tap water. They also overcharged us on the bill which they quickly amended, when questioned. It’s a pity that we were left disappointed. There are lots of good reviews nevertheless, and if you ever go, let me know if you had a better experience than us!

Tempo Doeloe
Utrechtsestraat 75
1017 VJ Amsterdam
020 625 6718 (booking required)

Bone Daddies – the new ramen joint in town

On a cold winter’s day/night like today, a hot bowl of slurping delicious ramen makes me a really happy person. After being in London for a whole year, my search for a good bowl of ramen was futile… that was until Bone Daddies came to town. Fellow food bloggers have gone on about Bone Daddies when it opened about late 2012. Determined to check it out, we got there about 6pm and went into a near empty restaurant.

Ross Shonhan, a former head chef at Zuma and Nobu, is the Australian chef behind Bone Daddies. Since the launch of Tonkotsu, then Bone Daddies and now places like Shoryu Ramen, Londoners are in for a treat. Don’t trust Wagamama’s ramen and please head to places like Bone Daddies to try what ramen is all about!

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Of course, the dude and I had to try the tonkotsu ramen. The menu describes the 20 hour broth so you do have to check out where all the hard work has gone to. Although I haven’t been to Japan, I have been to a few superb ramen places in Singapore and I know (in my own mind) how good a bowl of ramen can be. We all have slightly different taste palettes, and I can only tell you what I tried and tasted, so you be the judge!

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What we had was an extremely porky bowl of tonkotsu… a little too thick in my own opinion but still tasty. The egg was cooked perfectly – the yolk so creamy and delightful. The pork slices were tender and the fat just melts in your mouth. The dude thought it was extremely tasty although our favourite is still Ippudo back in Singapore. For a London ramen joint, this is definitely one that we will return to.

*Apologies for the poor lit photos as they were taken on the iPhone due to the unplanned visit!

Dishpiglets’ rating: 8/10

Bone Daddies
30-31 Peter Street W1F 0AR

Bone Daddies on Urbanspoon

Baby Pizza…

After being told it would be an hours’ wait for a table, we stood in the doorway deciding where to go instead.  You see, it was 9pm and we didn’t want to wait until 10pm for pizza.  As luck would have it, while we deliberated where to go next there must have been a cancellation as the maitre’d came barralling up to us and said there was a table available.  Baby Pizza had only been open 11 days, and it was clear that Chris Lucas’ latest restaurant was proving just as popular as it’s sister restaurant, Chin Chin.

Inhabiting the old space of Pearl on Church Street Richmond, Baby Pizza seems to be tapping into what Melbourne wants.  This no-bookings restaurant is another example of the trend in casual dining.  The days of fine dining, white table cloths and stuffy waiters are been taken over by restaurants where waiters are relaxed and friendly, and sharing of meals in encouraged.  Baby Pizza is on-trend in every way – fashionably and casually decked-out in neutral colours with the exception of a few neon signs here and there, timber tables with sunken baskets of cutlery and paper napkins enhance the casual feel.  A large bar dominates half the restaurant in which cured meats and cacti hang above the bar stools.  The open kitchen on display showcased the busy chefs at work (remaining surprisingly calm despite being less than two weeks in).

One side of the menu is devoted to pizzas (all under $20) and the other side covers pastas, meats, salads, sides and desserts.  Sticking with the name of the restaurant, we rightfully honed in on the pizzas.  The Salumi pizza with fior di latte, prosciutto cotto, spiced sausage, borgo hot salami, pancetta, oregano and san marzano tomatoes was the most dignified take on a ‘meat lovers’ I’ve ever had.  The quality of the meat and cheese made this pizza stand out.

The Fior di Zucca pizza with fior di latte, zucchini flowers, chilli, parmesan and fresh mint was made extra special with studs of salty anchovies.  The anchovies and the mint gave the pizza edge and this was easily my favourite on the night.

Always a sucker for pizzas with rocket, I ordered the San Daniele Prosciutto with fior di latte, parmigiano, san daniele dop prosciutto, rocket and san marzano tomatoes.  What is usually my favourite turned out to be rather bland in comparison to the delicious Salumi and Fior di Zucca.

All the pizzas were erring on the small side but made up for the lack of size with the fillingness of the dough.  Instead of having chewy yet crunchy crusts like the pizzas at Ladro in Melbourne, or Franco Manca and Pizza East in London, the bases at Baby Pizza were much more solid and almost ‘dampa’ like with very few of those big ‘air bubbles’ that I love.  The wine list has a heavy Italian influence with an impressive selection of cocktails also available.  The staff throughout the night were friendly, attentive and knowledgeable (not to mention, cool).

With the flurry of new pizza places opening in Melbourne, my bet is on Baby Pizza.  If the first 11 days of a restaurants life is anything to go by, it’s clear that Chris Lucas’ newest venture is here to stay.  If you’re willing to wait for a table, want to sample fresh and tasty pizza with other Melbourne foodie lovers, then get yourself down to Church Street Richmond.  Oh, and if you can’t get a table for lunch or dinner, they do breakfast from 7am.

Our meal with wine came to $100.

Dish Piglets’ Rating: 7.5/10

Baby Pizza
631-633 Church Street, Richmond
Tel:  (03) 9421 4599

A lunch at Bread Street Kitchen

With only less than two months away before my weddings in Singapore and Australia, it is getting busy and is partly the reason why this blog has been put on the back burner at the moment. The other Dishpiglet has just returned from her two months long trip and will soon be blogging from the other side of the world… i.e. Australia as she is heading back home.

Recently, we celebrated my friend’s 29th birthday and as a surprise, we decided to take her for a nice lunch at Bread Street Kitchen. Situated at One New Change, across St Paul’s Cathedral, it was a short walk from where we work. I have never been to a Gordon Ramsay joint… besides the Warrington in Maida Vale for a few pints. Bread Street Kitchen was a delight when we walked in… The decor was immaculate. Walking up the three flights or so of stairs, the concept of ‘industrial glamour’ came through with the black and gold. For those who are interested, BSK is designed by Emulsion architects alongside interior designer Russell Sage Studios.

When we walked into the restaurant area, the high ceiling and the well decked out restaurant area oozes appeal. The massive area which seats about 300 is broken down into smaller areas to reduce the sheer scale of the space. We were seated near the bar area and quickly got into deciding what to have for our lunch. Having read Guan’s BSK post, I was keen to try the slow-roasted pork belly with apple sauce. Priced at £17, it does not come with a side dish and I ordered a side of runner beans with rosemary.

Warm bread was served before our lunch arrived and it was quite a delight with the butter.

As I didn’t try my friends’ dishes, I can only comment on my main. The pork belly was crispy albeit a little too tough and chewy on the thicker edges. The meat was soft and tender but it was a shame that the apple sauce was quite plain and didn’t deliver. Definitely not the best pork belly that I have tried. I did not like my side as it tasted a little bitter. Overall, it was still a pleasant lunch but I was expecting a little more.

The bill came up to about £90 for four of us and we only had mains and shared half a carafe of white wine amongst us. I have been back since to have drinks with a friend and the atmosphere of the bar is great. I am sure that I will be back to try other dishes but it will not be a regular lunch out at BSK for me as it’s a little hefty on the price tag.

Dishpiglets’ rating: 7.5/10

Bread Street Kitchen
10 Bread Street
London, EC4M 9AJ
+4420 3030 4050

Bread Street Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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