Xi’an Impression – Arsenal, London, UK

You would never have thought to go into this little restaurant across the street from the Arsenal Football Stadium. It is a little shabby and could definitely be mistaken from an average Westernised Chinese take out, but do not be mistaken, the food is amazing! It is real authentic Chinese street from from the Shan Xi region in China.

It is kind of BYOB except there is a corkage charge of £5 so it is not really, but at least there is that option.

If you are a fan of the traditional Chinese chewy noodles then you are in for an absolute treat! Definitely order the dumplings and the handmade noodles (I prefer the ones without the beef). I would also recommend the cucumbers that are ice cold in a watery peanut sauce which is a really refreshing addition to the meal.

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Pork Dumplings
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Pork Dumplings
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Cucumber in Peanut Sauce
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Cucumber is Peanut Sauce
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Sweet Potato Noodles in Spicy Sour Soup
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Sweet Potato Noodles in Spicy Sour Soup
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The Famous Handmade Noodles with Beef
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Handmade Noodles with Beef

http://xianimpression.co.uk

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Sambal Shiok (POP UP) – Green Lanes, Harringay, London

Dear Reader, This blog post is a little late as I came here about 3 weeks ago but don’t worry, Sambal Shiok has a couple more weeks in Harringay! Their last day is on the 29th April so go go go! And try their gorgeously authentic Malaysian food!

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After about a week of finding out about Mandy Yin’s Malaysian Street Food Pop Up Sambal Shiok on Instagram and just staring at their amazing dishes that kept coming up, I just HAD to go and try it. Growing up in South East Asia – I am always looking for a good authentic restaurant that will remind me of “home”.

Emma and I went after work one cold Thursday evening and as soon as we saw the menu we knew we needed to try EVERYTHING. So we decided we definitely two starters and a main each.

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We chose the fried chicken pieces and the dumplings to start.

The fried chicken was well seasoned on it’s own but also came with a peanut sauce, which was a little more watery than I was used to, but still had all the gorgeous flavours of home.

The handmade dumplings came with a fresh gingery sambal (chilli sauce) which gave a nice refreshing taste in contrast to the pan fried dumplings.

We didn’t want any of it to end and couldn’t wait for the main to come.

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It was so hard to choose between the Rendang and the Laksa, but my thought process to make my decision was: 1) I have some Indonesian Rendang in my freezer at home and 2) I never get to have Laksa and 3) it is the signature dish at Sambal Shiok – so, I went for the Laksa.

I got the Prawn Laksa, which came with tofu, vegetables, noodles and the warm, spicy, creamy laksa soup. As soon as that soup hit my mouth, I felt like I was back in Asia. It was absolutely what I needed, especially as it was cold outside and this definitely warmed me right up.

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Definitely go before it closes if you can, but if you have missed out – don’t worry, Mandy has let me know that she is planning on opening a permanent restaurant later on this year, so stay tuned!!

 

https://www.sambalshiok.co.uk/

Tonkotsu – Southwark, London

Keeping to the ramen theme (and the recent wintery, cold and rainy weather in London) – Another great ramen place to go is Tonkotsu. They have a couple of restaurants in London now, including one in Hackney which has over 60 different brands of whiskeys to offer and one inside Selfridges in case you are hungry during a shopping spree.

We went to the one in Southwark. We went there late on the Thursday night and it had a really calm, chilled out vibe.

They make their own noodles from scratch and they make their own broths etc, but what they are famous for making are their own brand “Eat The Bits” Chilli Oil that they serve in their restaurants.

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We started the meal with pork gyozas and fried squid which were both delicious. The gyoza had a tasty and juicy middle and I loved that the squid was not thickly battered and was instead lightly coated.20160413_211442

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For main we shared a chilli chicken ramen which was absolutely perfect to warm our bellies for the cold evening. The chili oil was delicious to pour over it as well.20160413_212524

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Lovely meal and well priced.

http://www.tonkotsu.co.uk/

Bone Daddies – Soho, London

The last time I did a blog post about Bone Daddies was a while ago. So it is time to give an updated one (with much better photos compared to the ones taken on my old phone – thank you technology evolution).

Come rain, snow, icy wind and cold English weather – this is the place I crave.

Jack and I went recently. Hidden away in a small side street in Soho, it’s got a cool, casual, light rock-type vibe, but not too in your face and I think their food, their service and their atmosphere is fantastic for a modern, big city, ramen bar.

We got a starter of wild soft shell crab tempura £9.40. If you haven’t tried this and you are a fan of seafood – well then you are most definitely missing out. I wasn’t a massive fan of the ginger sauce on the side but I dipped them into soya sauce instead and they tasted absolutely stunning. The crunch of the tempura coating on the outside and the softness of the crab on the inside is a gorgeous contrast.

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Then I got my Bone Daddies bib on ready for my ramen!IMG-20160525-WA0009

We got the Tonkotsu Ramen £11. Tonkotsu is a pork bone broth which is usually cooked for about 20 hours until the soup goes a milky white. Absolutely beautiful and it must have so much goodness in there.

Ramen is a particular type of Japanese wheat noodle that usually comes in a pork broth that has cooked for so long that it has become creamy and it is absolutely gorgeous. What makes a ramen dish exciting are all the little colourful parts of it – The spring onions, the meat that falls apart, the bamboo shoots that give a sweet crunch, the fresh beansprouts, the nori (seaweed) and those melt in your mouth, soya dipped, runny yolked eggs! ARGH GET IN MY MOUTH NOW! (Sorry I got a little carried away there).20150920_134959

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If you haven’t been to Bone Daddies yet – try and make it there for some gorgeous, feel-good, Japanese comfort food.

http://www.bonedaddies.com/peter-st-soho/

Bahn Mi Bay – A Vietnamese in Holborn

So, I am writing for a new food magazine called “Good Things”, which launches at the end of the year (so keep your eyes peeled for this!). We had a mini team meeting last month with just myself, Meena, Alice, and Courtney – obviously there was food and drink involved.20131016_213438We went to Bahn Mi Bay, which is a Vietnamese restaurant near Holborn and Chancery Lane. The restaurant had a very French rustic chic feel to it.

We decided on sharing a number of starters and a number of mains between us. I am a true believer of sharing dishes, maybe this comes from growing up in Indonesia and being half Chinese – we Asians love to share. It means we get to try more!

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We started with Banh Mi Thit Heo Nuong (£4.95) to share, which was the “in” thing this spring 2013 – popping up all over London from the very trendy Soho, the City for people to eat at lunch, and even in the sandwich francise EAT. The Banh Mi is a baguette that is filled with pickled carrot and mooli, sliced cucumber, coriander, fresh chilli and a choice of a main baguette filling – we chose the grilled pork. The bread was crisp of the outside and the Vietnamese flavours of BBQ meat and fish sauce on the inside went very well together.

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We obviously ordered the Summer Rolls, as it is my favourite. We tried out the Bi Cuon (£4.40), which is shredded caramel pork, rice vermicelli, lettuce and Vietnamese herbs wrapped in rice paper and served with nuoc mam (fish sauce with chili) dipping sauce. Very different from the usual prawn filling and hoi sin dipping sauce that I usually order. It had a different flavour to it and the pork very much over-powered it compared to what we were used to. I would definitely stick to the prawn summer rolls next time.

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We tried the Nem Nuong (£7), which are a grilled Vietnamese pork meat ball that is served with rice vermicelli noodles and salad and rice paper wraps for your to wrap up together yourself and dip in a peanut and hoi sin sauce. We didn’t do the wrapping, but we did eat the meatballs which tasted very much like the mediterranean kebab meatballs. Wonderfully flavoursome.

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And finally, we had Cha Gio (£4.50), a Vietnamese Sping Roll that is filled with fried pork and prawn and wrapped in a tofu based skin and there is lettuce to wrap up the roll and the nuoc mam sauce to dip. The outside was beautifully crisp and browned and the inside was soft and piping hot and again, full of flavour.

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Then the mains came. And yes, we did have pho (pronouced FUR). We had the original Bo Tai Pho (£7.50), which is the rare beef that is placed on the noodles right before the boiling hot beef broth is poured over to cook it. The broth of a pho is always my favourite bit – everyone makes theirs differently depending on what extra sauces and spices they decide to put into it. It is a great dish for the winter weather.
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And of course we had Bun (pronouced BOON) – we chose the Thit Heo Bun (£7.50), which is covered with a lovely chargrilled garlic pork. This had a wonderful taste of summer to it with the layers of salad on the bottom, then the vermicelli noodles and then the chargrilled pork on the top. You pour the chili and fish sauce mixture into the bowl and then mix it all up to make a delicious noodle salad and the chargrilled pork gives it a wonderful flavour of a summer bbq.
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The last noodle dish we got was a stir fried flat rice noodle with seasonal vegetables and chicken (£7), which is called Hu Tieu Xao and is very similar to the Chinese Ho Fun noodles.
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As Alice is more of a rice lover than a noodle lover, we also got some rice with chargrilled satay chicken – Ga Sate Nuong (£7.50). The chicken for the satay was cooked perfectly and not dry at all – which is what I worry about when I order chicken in restaurants.
The service was great and the waitress was very helpful and the food was good. I would definitely recommend for a dinner after work if you work around the area. And apparently they do great cocktails as well! Tables were filled up and it was a good atmosphere.
Watch out for the Good Things magazine!