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London Round Up: The Brixton

Where else in London can you find a display of salmon-fed shark and big cardboard boxes where dwell gigantic and still creeping snails. Or? Many shelves of stamina conquering root tonic!??

IT IS BRIXTON!

But, if you’re not into that sort of things, there is still a wide selection of Supermalt (which my cat has grown to love).

And, if you’re still not into this sort of things, there is a great, casual, unpretentious neighbourhood of quirky shops and independent restaurants. Kaosarn has already won me over. So did the vibe of multicultural eclecticism of Brixton itself. The market here is full of exotic ingredients, while stall merchants are willing to share ideas of what to do with them.

(Enough convincing).

 


MAMA LAN

Mama Lan Supper Club on Urbanspoon

Rating 3.5/5

Mama Lan occupies a little corner in Brixton Village market and prides itself in turning out well-done, home-made Beijing dumplings (£4.50-6 for 5 pieces), its own brew of tea and a small selection of street delicacies. This makes the menu ideal for snacks and grazing, rather than a proper *big* meal.

I sampled Pork and Chinese Leaf (£4.50) and Beef and Spring Onions (£4.50), both of which were served with crunchy, mildly pickled vegetable bites. Both were good. The casing of the dumplings was pleasantly chewy and fried for light crispy-ness. My preference, however, was the Pork and Chinese Leaf, which had a clearer taste. The filling of Beef and Spring Onions was a little too rich in soy sauce infusion and I couldn’t taste much of the beef itself. My other criticism would be that the dumplings I had weren’t very deep-filled, though for the value and taste satisfaction I could overlook that.

 

 

OKAN

Okan on Urbanspoon

Rating 3/5

Okan serves up Osaka-style okonomiyaki (that is, a Japanese cabbage-based pancake with whatever-you-like toppings) and yakisoba (that is, egg noodle stir fried with okonomiyaki sauce). There are 11 toppings available for okonomiyaki (£6.50-8.25) and 4 variations of yakisoba (£6.75-7.25). The restaurant itself is small and very canteen-like – wooden tables and benches – and you can observe the chefs in action from the hot plate adjacent to the entrance.

I opted for Kimchee and Pork (£7.95) which was fine but not spectacularly brilliant. The pancake itself was not round and rough around the edge; the cabbage was slightly wet; the sauce, which is usually the key of a great okonomiyaki + yakisoba, was loose and could have done with more zing and sweetness. My Squid Yakisoba (£7.25) also turned out wet. The noodle, though not overdone, would merit less cooking time for better texture. The squid was perfectly sauteed.


FISH, WINGS & TINGS

Fish, Wings & Tings on Urbanspoon

Rating 2.5/5

I am not a great connoisseur of Jamaican cuisine and Fish, Wings & Tings with its popular Jamaican offerings – say, goat curry and jerk chicken – did not quite do it for me. The menu, consisting of “Small Tings” (£4.50-6) and “Big Tings” (£6-9), is a good orientation to Jamaican spirits. But, I walked into the place on one of its busiest days. The operation was suffering from high demands and I from a very slow service.

Goat Roti (£7) was an adequately filled parcel of goat curry, chickpeas, potatoes, pumpkins and beans. The roti which was made in house was rustic and tasty enough; the filling contained too much vegetables and too little goat; the base of the curry itself lacked punches of spices. Jerk Chicken (£7.50) was served with tamarind BBQ sauce, pineapple & mango chutney, coleslaw and rice. I found the chicken also lacking in dimension and application of jerk seasoning. The tamarind BBQ sauce was cloyingly sweet, which became even sweeter when taken with the fruity chutney. The kitchen ran out of rice and supplemented it with roti instead.

 

EL RANCHO DE LALO

El Rancho de Lalo on Urbanspoon

RATING: 3.5/5

I am also not a great connoisseur of Colombian cuisine but El Rancho de Lalo did it all for me. The restaurant in comparison with its trendy neighbours, boasts an authentic, albeit *un-cool* look. Peeping in, you’ll see a row of hanging sausages, an open kitchen and many friendly faces. The menu itself is vast and meat-oriented. The starters cost between £3.50-5; the mains (served with rice and salad) £9-12; and the sides £1-3.50. There is also a good variety of Colombian juices and drinks.

The portion size at El Rancho was humongous. Empanada (£4.30) was stuffed to the brink of explosion. The beef and potato filling was full of flavours; the ratio was pro-beef; and the result was moreish robustness. The casing also crackled! Moving on to Tamal (£9) – a corn dough mixture with chicken, pork and veg wrapped in banana leaves and steamed – I found it too much of a delicacy to instantaneously fall in love with. That said, the tamal itself was skilfully steamed and the kitchen was generous with the meaty bits, but overall, the taste of starchy corn dough and the scent of banana leaf was too dominant for my liking. Picada (£10) – a mountain of grilled beef steak, pork steak, pork sausages and deep fried pork belly, with corn bread, plantain and salad (!!!) – was a heaven for meat lovers. The meat was moist; the pork belly crunchy; the sausages containing herbs and porky chunks was nicely charred for a perfectly crispy snap. Monumental satisfaction. I moped it down with El Rancho’s fresh, home-made salsa. (This was a killer for those loving feisty chilli heat)!! There were desserts but I had no more room.

 

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MAMA LAN

Unit 18, Brixton Village
Coldharbour Lane
London
SW9 8PR

www.mamalan.co.uk

OKAN

Unit 39, Brixton Village
[same as above]

www.okanbrixtonvillage.com

FISH, WINGS & TINGS

Unit 79, Brixton Village
[same as above]

www.facebook.com/fishwingstings

EL RANCHO DE LALO

Unit 94-95, Brixton Village
[same as above]

www.facebook.com/El-Rancho-De-Lalo

 

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