Imperial China – Sunday Dim Sum

While Wouter was visiting London, we went for a Dim Sum Sunday Brunch at Imperial China in China Town. You walk through an alley way and over a pond to get to the restaurant. It has a very Hong-Kong-feel to it with the wonderful smells of freshly cooked dim sum, the decor and the Cantonese speaking waiters and waitresses.

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We were seated straight away at we got there right at 12noon and we ordered a number of dishes and a pot of some lovely Chinese tea.

It was not long before our order came out in steaming hot baskets of goodness.

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20131013_122240We had the classics. Some Har Kau, which is a thin rice wrap with a prawn filling (this is my favourite) and some Siew Mai, which is a pork and prawn dumping with crab eggs sprinkled over the top.

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Cheung Fun is basically a flattened out rice noodle which is wrapped around bbq pork, prawns, scallops, etc. We got the prawns.

20131013_122531Cha Siew Bau is a sweet fluffy bun filled with a bbq pork mixture which was lovely and light.

20131013_122640And finally we had the sticky rice in a lotus leaf which is filled with mushrooms, prawns, pork, and a salty duck egg. Together with the glutenous rice, it is wrapped in a lotus leaf and steamed.

It was all delicious and, as a half Chinese foodie, I would definitely recommend for a Sunday brunch!

http://www.imperialchina-london.com/

Bone Daddies – The Battle of the Soho Ramen Bars – London

One drizzly Thursday evening (they say Thursday is the new Friday) Emma Susan Dodd and I decided on a casual ramen dinner at Bone Daddies in Soho. Ramen bars have been popping up all over London’s trendy Soho since this summer. Ramen and cocktails are definitely what all the cool kids are consuming- which means I must try them all too!

We arrived there just before 8pm and were surprised at how long the queue was already. It took us just under 30minutes to get a table and we had to wait in line – BUT we did get a couple shots of warm sake as we waited and we did get in a good catch up gossip session as well.

Before we knew it, we were inside and waiting for our table as we sipped on refreshingly cold Asahi beers.

When we were seated we discovered a number of exciting things on the table. There was a jar of hair ties (girls, you don’t want that hair getting in your soup), ridiculously large bibs (just to make sure you don’t get any splashes), fresh garlic and garlic crushers, sesame oil, chili, sesame seeds… all very exciting, but even more exciting than wearing our bibs and taking posed photos of ourselves, was the menu.

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Everything looked so good, it was hard to choose what we wanted. In the end we chose to share the Soft Shell Crab (£8) as a starter and we both got a Kim Chi Ramen (£11), which I believe is new because I didn’t see it on their menu online.

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I am a big soft shell crab fan. In fact, I would even go as far as saying that it is my favourite type of tempura (Bold statement, I know). It was very meaty and the claws were quite big for a soft shell crab and the ginger sauce on the side gave a kick to it and went very well.

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The kim chi ramen was exactly what I needed. It was very spicy and had a slight pickle taste to it just like kim chi does (Emma and I love our kim chi). The soup had ramen at the bottom and was decorated with goodness on the top (in Japan food is like an art and everything is made to look as beautiful as it tastes).

It came with the usual boiled egg with soft yolk, some bbq corn, Chinese cabbage, bamboo shoots, mussells, and some squid. I love spicy food and I love seafood so this was heavenly. I would definitely come back on a freezing wintery evening to warm my belly with this.

It was very filling, but when we paid our bill, the lovely waitress gave us a complimentary black sesame gelato (because we sat right by a rowdy group that were waiting in the queue), which was divine.

A very cool vibe, with the fashionable waiters and waitresses, loud rock music, great food and exciting cocktail menu. I definitely recommend for a fun dinner out!

http://bonedaddiesramen.com/menu/

Needoo -The Tradition of the East London Pakistani Grill Houses

Forget about the touristy Curry Houses of Brick Lane that lack flavour and have been Westernised. If you go just down the road to Aldgate east and you walk down the side streets you can smell the smoky grilling of spiced meats wafting out the famous Tayyabs – a Pakistani restaurant known for its incredible grilled lamb chops and its Bring Your Own Booze policy.

A couple blocks down from this East London institution, the ex-head chef from Tayyabs started his own little baby – Needoo. Also a family-run business and also supporting the BYOB policy, they pride themselves in their grilled dishes and curries. Renata and I decided to check this little gem out one Wednesday evening for a mid-week treat.

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As we stepped in, we were seated straight away and out came our own bottle of wine (of course) from Renata’s bag and the waiter brought us a couple of wine glasses, as well as some salad, popadoms and sauces to nibble on as we studied the menu. The sauces were the usual; a mango jam type sauce, a mint yogurt type sauce and a sweet and spicy (but more spicy than sweet) sauce – all for the dipping of the popadoms which came as one plain and one spicy.

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We decided on some grilled dishes and ordered the lamb chops, the tandoori chicken and the paneer.

The grilled dishes come sizzling away on hot platters. The tandoori chicken came as four whole chicken legs – red and orange in colour from all the spices and they were laid across a bed of onions that cooked themselves on the hot plate. The chicken was not dry what-so-ever (no one likes a dry piece of chicken). Instead it was juicy and had a delicious smoky flavour to it.

Paneer is a home-made cheese from fresh cow’s milk and has the texture of hallumi and the flavour of mozzarella. These cubes of cheese were also red and orange in colour from the spices and as you cut through this coloured exterior you were greeted with a fluffy white middle. The spices did not overpower the cheese at all and instead it was a great compliment to the sweet, milky flavour of the inside.

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The lamb, I must admit, was a little bit tough for my liking in terms of texture; however, the flavours were divine. Lamb already has quite a strong flavour as a meat on its own but the spices added to it gave it a spicy kick to it and was very aromatic.

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We also ordered a portion of tandoori naan, pilau rice and a yellow lentil dahl. The dahl had a creamy texture to it but you could still taste the bits of lentils and it had a wonderfully subtle curry flavour and was a great companion to the rest of the very strong flavoured dishes.

The bill came to about £15.00 per person and we definitely over ate.

If you have not tried Pakistani curries and grilled dishes, then I would definitely give Needoo a try!

http://www.needoogrill.co.uk