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.

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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

Novikov

Novikov is located in Green Park, right in the heart of classy Mayfair. I recalled walking past many times whilst heading to the shops and have always wondered what it is like in there. Novikov serves both Italian and Asian cuisine in two separate rooms and underneath these restaurants is their fashionable lounge bar.

On this occasion, I had the opportunity to check out their aperitivo drinks menu at their lounge bar. From one of my conversations with Federica (The Daily Out), aperitivo originated from Milan. It is the pre-dinner drinks which comes along with some complimentary nibbles. Similar to the complimentary tapas served when you have a drink in Andalucia but perhaps the Italians might dispute this.

There was a good selection of drinks including Negroni and Aperol Spritz but I went with a prosecco to kick the night off. We were then served little bites (cichetti) which came in large platters. There was a good selection which included mushroom and truffle bruschetta, marinated olives and mortadella. This was followed by cold cut meats and a delicious board of cheese. Out of the lot, I was addicted to the crispy bread which I was told was Sardinian crispy bread. There were lovely rosemary sprinkled on top and it was so thin and crunchy to the bite, I couldn’t stop reaching for it!

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If you are in Green Park and seeking a trendy lounge bar to head to, Novikov is a good option. Their aperitivo menu is served Monday through to Friday, from 5.30pm until 7.30pm. Like the Milanese, you could pop by for a pre-dinner drink and get served some complimentary cichetti!

Novikov Restaurant & Bar
50 Berkeley Street
London W1J 8HA

*I was a guest of Jori White PR & Novikov 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

Eating at Meet & 3Veg

On Thursday evening, we headed to No. 67 in Peckham where Meet & 3 Veg had their first ever vegan supperclub. Our friend, Richard is the brain child behind this new project. As mentioned previously, Richard works in the hospitality industry and those who have visited his restaurant, or perhaps dined at his house, would be familiar with his great attentiveness. The level of finesse that Richard brings to the menu and wine selection is top notch.

I have attended a couple of supper clubs so knew what I was getting into. The common share plates, sitting beside strangers and getting positively stuffed by the end of it all. Meet & 3Veg delivered all that in an amazing setting, and proved that the healthy and sustainable way of vegan food can also be delicious.

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We started with canapés which included ajo blanco, chicory with mustard and toasted peanuts and spiced sweet potato with tahini dressing. My favourite of the lot was the chicory where the slight bitterness was well balanced out by the toasted nuttiness.

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By the time we sat down, we were welcomed by candy beetroot, fennel, celeriac with a chilli and orange dressing for starters. This dish reminded me of a thai papaya salad dressed with fish sauce. However, there is definitely NO fish sauce in this dish. I am not much of a fennel fan but this starter was something else. I loved the acidity from the orange with the slight spiciness of the chilli.

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Our mains consisted of crunchy cumin cauliflower, toasted almonds, pomegranate salad, spiced beetroot and coconut cream, cardamom pilaf and date fudge as well as smoked aubergine and roasted garlic sabzi. For some of the meat eaters in the crowd, the spiced beetroot and coconut cream reminded them of a lamb curry. My favourite was the cardamom pilaf rice which was so fragrant, a reminder of my favourite ‘hainanese chicken rice’. I am normally not a fan of sweets in mains but the date fudge was a great complement to the pilaf rice. Out of the lot, I didn’t quite enjoy the smoked aubergine as it turned out a little too bitter for my liking.

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The evening ended with chocolate sorbet, blackberry syrup accompanied by candied pecans. It was a strong finish and even though people complained that they could not finish it all, everyone was seen slurping the last of the sorbet.

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We left Peckham full and extremely satisfied. The stomach was beyond holding any more food. It is amazing the difference one feels after consuming a big meat heavy meal compared to a vegan meal. There was no bloating sensation. It was a very successful evening and I definitely hope that Meet & 3Veg will continue on with this project.

Cookery school – advanced pastry class

I have always considered myself as quite the baker. I enjoy baking and have taught myself a few tricks in the last few years. Perhaps the tricks were picked up when my mum asked me to fold in some flour whenever she bakes. One of my favourites is tart au citron. Making both the pastry shell and curd from scratch gives me a lot of satisfaction.

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When Cookery School at little Portland Street mentioned their advanced pastry course, I knew I had to go. The other half of Dishpiglets, Celia, had previously raved about her time there when she took up one of their intermediate cooking course. This was my first ever experience at a cooking class outside of school. The last time I was 13 and being taught how to cook during Home Economics class back in Singapore.

When I arrived at the Cookery School, there was a plate of delicious smelling gruyere cheese puffs waiting for the attendees. The gruyere puffs were light and had a slight tinge of saltiness to them. We were definitely off to a great start!

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The advanced pastry class was about exploring the use of puff pastry in both sweet and savoury recipes. Our tutor for the day was Ghalid, a pastry chef who was trained in France and has worked at many famous kitchens before deciding to switch to teaching. We were shown how to make a sweet short crust pastry to start with. The technique he taught was very different to the ‘shortcut‘ way which I normally used to make a lemon tart base. The key to a good sweet short crust pastry was the handling technique. There were many great tips given along the way and you could see all the students writing down ‘secrets of the trade‘.

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What intrigued me most was the making of puff pastry. Ghalid showed us the massive chunk of butter used in the making of a delicious puff pastry from scratch. Puff pastry is essentially BUTTER. The amount of time and strength used to roll the layers of butter and dough together to create all the layers requires patience and tenacity.

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There were a lot of hands on sessions with guidance from Ghalid when we were split into two groups of 3 to execute the provencal tomato tart and apple tarte tartin. As I was in quite the savoury mood, I headed to the provencal tomato tart group and tried to roll out a pre-prepared puff pastry. The handling of the puff pastry needs to be quick and precise. Manoeuvring of the pastry is crucial, with flour being regularly dusted onto both sides as you slowly roll it out. Ghalid gave a few pointers and we managed to roll out a decent length of puff pastry ready for our provencal tomato tart toppings.

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The other group prepared their apple tarte tartan and we were shown by the chef how to put it together. He then proceeded to show us other uses for puff pastry including the making of chicken sausage rolls and parmesan cheese straws.

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At the end of the class, we sat down together to enjoy our 3 hours of hard work, paired with wine. It was a ‘pastry’ themed dinner where we devoured our fruits of labour. The tomato provencal tart, apple tarte tartan and the parmesan cheese straws were the stand outs. This was a truly enjoyable class and I went away with a determination to make my own puff pastry soon! It was a wonderful way to spend a weekend afternoon, learning how to make pastry.

*The Cookery School participates in the Sustainable Restaurant Association Sustainability Rating and was rated as a Three Star Sustainability Champion in March 2012. They “have implemented numerous commendable sustainability practices, not only sourcing much produce locally and purchasing high welfare, organic food, but also sourcing most seafood from UK fisheries and stocking UK organic craft beers and some UK wines.

Cookery School
15b Little Portland Street
London W1W 8BW
Tel: 0207 631 4590

*Disclaimer: I attended the advanced pastry class as a guest of the Cookery School. All views are my own.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

Foxey’s Hangout

Spring seems to be finally here in London. The smell of sunshine when I am outdoors brings a smile to my face. With the summer months ahead, there seems to be so much on already!

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The sunshine transported me back to our Australia trip in December last year. After our wedding in Melbourne, we took a two days ‘mini-moon’ trip down Mornington Peninsula to enjoy the sunshine which London lacks. One of the highlights was a visit to Foxey’s Hangout, a local winery in Red Hill. In the five years that I have lived in Melbourne, I have heard friends talk about this winery but never managed to get round to it.

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We decided to pop in for lunch on a Saturday as the cellar door is open only on weekends and public holidays. As mentioned in Broadsheet (one of my favourite Melbourne lifestyle websites), the food is central to the offering at Foxey’s. I love the fact that it was relatively small and cosy with an outdoor area which looks out onto a gorgeous view of vines.

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As the weather was divine, we chose to sit outside on the terrace under the sun (in hope of a tan!). There was a selection of share plates, and given that it was our first time there, the waitress said we could have a tasting menu of the lot. It worked out well for us! We opted for the chilled rose to accompany our tasting plates. The tones of strawberry and a slight tinge of spice were perfect for the afternoon.

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The selection of plates we had were amazing. The sweetness of the roasted capsicum with the vinegary white anchovies was a delight on white sourdough bread. Then there was the plate of crunchy tasty zucchini fritters.

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The green asparagus with blood orange and a local parmesan cheese was refreshing with a crunch.

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One of my favourite was this simple Flinders tomato plate with feta and mint.
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The quail, no fuss, just with a tad of lemon juice simply added tang to the juicy morsels in our mouth.
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Inspired by the Mediterranean, the philosophy of the food at Foxey’s Hangout is to let the produce speak for itself. Even though the quantity of food was small, the number of plates we had was enough to fill us up and in fact, we left with very happy stomachs. We were really taken by the honest food, a great showing of the local fresh produce as well as the wine we had.

Foxey’s Hangout
795 White Hill Road
Red Hill, Vic, 3937
Australia

+61 3 5989 2022

A venture to the East…

The last time I was out at Broadway Market on a Saturday, I was there for Ben Spalding’s Stripped Back. I remembered walking pass Netil Market but didn’t manage to pop in.

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Out the front, there’s always some gorgeous pieces of vintage furniture from G Plan but if you delve into the small market, you will find mostly food stalls – Lucky Chip, Terrone, Italian kitchen and so on. As the dude hasn’t been to the area before, we decided to venture to the east to check out Netil Market one wintry Saturday.

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There was a queue in front of Lucky Chip when we got there. It is clearly popular amongst the market goers. The long line of people did deter the dude a little but I was determined to try it given the recommendation which I got from fellow food bloggers. When we finally got in line, we were told that we were the last people that they were going to serve as they were nearly out of patties!!!

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Whilst waiting for our burgers (20 minutes wait!), we did a mini lap of the market, going through vinyls, checking out second hand bikes at the cycle pit shop before we settled on a coffee at Terrone.

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Terrone‘s coffee beans are hand roasted in small batches in Italy “using a restored 50’s Vittoria“. Their Terrone Ciclista Blend received gold star status at Great Taste Award 2012. Both of us tried their ‘bianco piatto’ aka flat white and were sold. It is always great to discover new coffee places in London and we hope that Terrone is one to stay for the long haul.

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We managed to get a seat and were getting a little too cold for comfort before our Lucky Chip orders came. Our order of the Clint Eastwood veggie burger, Royale with cheese and fries was well worth the wait. Considering that I have tried tons of veggie burgers, given my inability to consume beef… this is one veggie burger not to be missed. Although it was a tad oily to look at, the crunch from the patty to the portobello mushroom mixed with the sweet chilli aioli, this veggie burger is definitely not an afterthought. The flavours were just divine and I inhaled the burger in a couple of minutes. I had the best veggie burger of my life and I can’t stop thinking about it. As for the Royale with cheese, the dude said it was one of the best he has ever had.

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With the weather getting better as we see ‘the start of Spring’ this weekend, I am sure Netil Market is going to be bustling as we get to the summer season. I definitely recommend you checking Netil Market out next Saturday as I am thinking of revisiting rather soon.

Netil Market
every Saturday – from 11-6pm
13 – 23 Westgate street
London Fields
E8 3RL

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)