All posts filed under “Street Food

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Naamyaa Cafe: Urban Thai Treats in North London

Enter the new chain..

Collaboration usually brings about awesomeness and when I heard of highly acclaimed restaurateur Alan Yau’s recent partnering with internationally lauded Thai chef David Thompson I couldn’t have been more excited. The lovechild is Naamya Cafe – a large-scale, well-funky and tactically conceived *urban Thai restaurant* in Islington. Its menu, featuring a friendly, photographically documented selection of one-plate dishes that middle-class Thai urbanites would eat in Bangkok – think, Cheeseburger and Salad Nicoise – as opposed to what Londoners stereotypically imagine as Thai food – think, Pad Thai and Green Chicken Curry, is quite a departure from the imaginative exotic stuff Yau is known for at Busaba Eathai. The price is set at around £9 per dish. The portion is generous. The result is.. well, I think.. not more spectacular than a chain restaurant but will promise, in UK’s immigration term, a somewhat indefinite leave to remain surely.

Thai and western modern

The offerings at Naamya Cafe don’t quite fall into the categories of starters, mains, sides and desserts but are grouped into various kinds of “set” menus, including “small plate”, “burger&sandwich”, “noodle&pasta” and of course “Naamya” (a variation of Thai rice vermicelli eaten with watery curry and assorted vegetables. My Pan-Fried Turnip Cake (£.6.50) was huge and while being billed “small plate” could itself have been a meal. The turnip cake, though floury, contained some distinguishable bites of turnip and was nicely sauteed with egg, beansprouts and Chinese chives. The seasoning cried for richer and more feisty soy-based sweetness. Naamya Gai (£9) – rice vermicelli with a base of finger-root ginger curry and shredded chicken – was probably the most authentic I’ve had in the UK. (That said, Naamya Cafe is also the only place that sells it). The curry blend, from David Thompson’s factory, was aromatic and revitalisingly hot, and the consistency of the curry was right – loose and watery as opposed to thick and creamy. This was traditionally served with a boiled egg and both fresh and pickled vegetables. The uninspiring element, however, was the bland, scent-less, slightly-too-wet rice vermicelli. Also likable was Naamya’s take on the signature Thai street food favourite of Stir Fried Minced Beef with Chilli (£8.90), which arrived complete with steamed rice, a fried egg and a mooli soup. The stir fry was dry, correctly musty (because of fish sauce), and had Thompson’s salt-prone style of seasoning stamped all over it. Personally it could have been spicier; the rice tasted a bit tired and could have been a touch softer; and the fried egg could do with a better crispy skin.

Naamya Cafe isn’t the place to go an adrenaline-fueled Thai fix. But, given my three okay dishes that could feed three people and came just under £30, it was satisfactory..



407 St John Street

Tel. 020 3122 0988


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London Round Up: The Burgers


I have a preference for clean-tasting, not so greasy burgers and used to be on the hunt for them. But, ever since the arrival of much trusted Burgerac and Burgerapp! I just eat according to their rating.

But for this post.. I ate for you, for my own indulgence point of view. Please enjoy and feel for my wobbling calories.


Patty and Bun on Urbanspoon


Roast alumnus Joe Grossman has made the name for Patty and Bun from various pop-ups and finally decided to go stationary next to Selfridges. The burger menu here is more extensive – 3 kinds of beef, 1 chicken, 1 lamb and 1 veggie – with the prices fluctuating between £7 and £8. (The Ari Gold Cheeseburger is the most talked about). Chips (with rosemary salt) aren’t included.

I opted for Jose Jose Chilli Burger (£8) – beef patty, chilli chorizo relish, pickled onion, smokey P&B sauce, and the usual. It was GOOD!! Apparently… it took a while for the burger to be transported between the kitchen and the dining room, and the lost minutes did result in my lettuce being so cooked and my otherwise gorgeously light brioche bun to be a little too wet. Still, I loved the smokey and paprika-scented taste that glazed the perfectly pink and loose patty. The chilli heat was detectable but not strong. Lamb Shank Redemption (£8) was also GOOD!! The inspiration was quite Turkish for me. The lamb patty boast strong taste and zingy infusion but was balanced off by refreshing cumin aioli and cooling feta. The braised red cabbage provided a crunchy contrast. Despite the messy look, both of the burgers had quite a gourmet charm about them. Not so much greasy aftertaste <3 <3 <3



Tommi's Burger Joint on Urbanspoon

RATING: 3.5/5

It is now universally acknowledged that despite its shack-like American decor Tommi’s Burger Joint does not have much to do with America. Rather, it is a small chain from Iceland (country, not supermarket -___-” ). The menu isn’t big but there are 2 different beef patties to choose from. The regular burger starts at £5.30; the cheeseburger at £5.80. For a better quality of the patty, there is Steak Burger at £7.95. You can add £1 extra for cheese and Bearnaise dipping sauce. The price above is exclusive of fries.

My Steak Burger with Cheese was quite neat and okay. The patty – a concoction of rump, rib-eye and fillet – was lean and robust; the garnish – lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup and mustard – was downright basic and didn’t do much; the glazed bun was pillow-y. I found the accompanying Bearnaise sauce a little too processed in taste. I also tried Tommi’s regular burger, which was not bad but you could find much better burgers elsewhere in London.

(The ventilation isn’t great so if you don’t want to be as smoky as your burgers, don’t go during busy hours).


Slider Bar on Urbanspoon

RATING: 3.5/5

Slider Bar is a collaboration between the ex-truck, much raved Lucky Chip and the convincingly hip Player (cocktail bar). The good ‘n messy burgers, correspondingly, become trendily sized, and you can choose any two of the sliders at £10 (including fries). (When I visited, there were 4 beef variations, 1 veggie and 1 seasonal special). Also, exclusive at lunch hours is the option of a normal-size burger of any on the menu (£not sure how much). For dinner, aim for a cool scene with things to nibble but it’s not ideal as a sitting down kinda meal.

I went for El Chappo – aged beef patty, blue cheese, roasted jalapenos, smoked bacon and aioli in a sesame-studded bun. The chilli and the stinking blue combo was remarkably delicious; but I found the patty a little too cooked (to about medium well) and dry for my liking. The bun was quite forgettable. Cheeseburger – think a mini-MacDonald Cheeseburger!! – was more of a success story. The bun was nicely steamed for a cushion-y, pleasantly chewy softness; the pickle was crunchy and tangy; the cheese meltingly good; but the patty (again) was a little too cooked. Very good but there was quite a greasy aftertaste.



Honest Burgers (Soho) on Urbanspoon

RATING: 3.5/5

Honest Burger has branched out to Soho but the decor – a strictly organic wooden look – reminds me of its original outpost in Brixton Village. There are 5 variations on the menu: “Chicken” (£8.5), “Beef” (£7.5), “Cheese” (£8), “Honest” (£9), and “Fritter” (£6.5). All orders come with chips.

I went for the Honest, which was just nice. The quality dry-aged beef patty from Ginger Pig was macho and carefully seared for medium rare pinkness; the glazed bun was lovingly toasted; but, I was not keen on their signature sweet onion relish, which not only failed to create a good texture contrast in the burger but also oozed a rather odd fragrance of either herbs or spices. Also I found the chips with rosemary salt so strong in aroma that it offset my appetite for the burger.




54 James Street

Tel. 020 7487 3188



58 Marylebone Lane

Tel. 020 7935 5275



8 Broadwick Street

Tel. 020 7065 6841



4a Meard Street

Tel. 020 3609 9524


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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!??


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 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 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 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 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.





Unit 18, Brixton Village
Coldharbour Lane


Unit 39, Brixton Village
[same as above]


Unit 79, Brixton Village
[same as above]


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


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Burnt Enz + Rita’s Dining: The Cool New Breed(s) of East London Pop Up

East.. of London

East London is home to many cool people and happenings. In Elizabethan England actor-entrepreneur James Burbage found success in The Theatre (before dismantling it and moving on to inaugurating what is now known as Shakespeare’s Globe). In Victorian England, Jack the Ripper found whores to murder in the environ of The 10 Bells. Emily Pankhurst, in the early 20th century, found an office in Bow to put into actions her suffragist ideals. After WWII, multinational immigrants found home in London’s East. A few decades later, thanks to those immigrants, artists Gilbert & George found a restaurant that has ever since become their daily dining spot. Most recently we found the inconvenience of London 2012. And I have found joy in Eastenders and two cool spots to eat..



Burnt Enz is a grill restaurant that pops it up at the uniquely laid back Climpson & Sons Roastery, and it has, by now, won raves from London’s food enthusiasts and prompted wicked collaborations with UK’s best young talents (i.e. Junya Yamasaki of Koya, James Knappett of Bubbledogs& and Ben Spalding formerly of Roganic). The project itself is manned by Dave Pynt, who comes from Australia, via the internationally acclaimed kitchen of Asador Extebarri, off San Sebastian (Spain), and has been instrumental in the setup of Nuno Mendes’s The Loft Project.

At Burnt Enz, Dave does nothing but grill. (Well, he may, allegedly, help clean up). You may expect very little grilled things (say, scallops) to very massive grilled things (say, a whole turbot or a suckling pig). And Dave’s philosophy is to stay true to Spanish “asador” spirit, where the grill is done over charcoal fire and the flame is masterly adjusted according to the ingredients.

Burnt Enz operates an a la carte menu at weekends and/or pre-paid “Thirty Thursday Feast” dinners. (My meal below – £45 & BYO – was part of the latter system). The dishes on offer change regularly, on the basis of best available British produce. I was greeted with fresh oysters and lime, and once seated, a platter of charred fennel bulbs was served alongside torn burrata and orange-infused oil. The fennel was gently grilled in low heat and achieved tender but biteful texture. The aroma from the applewood char and the fennel’s very mild aniseed-y taste married pleasingly with the citric orange essence. The burrata, loosened up by the heat, was melting-ly gorgeous. Then came the huge stack of bone marrow with watercress salad and lightly toasted bread. This was a testament to Dave’s highly commendable grilling skills. The bone was well encased by heat but not to the point that the marrow melted. The results were the perfect wobble (when the marrow was forked out) and the delightfully burnt gelatinous skin. The beefy grease from the marrow was nicely countered by the peppery leaves.

Sea breams were also grilled to divinity, boasting the crispy skin that separated and the meat that flaked beautifully. The salsa verde provided herbal acidity that elevated the breams’s natural juicy sweetness. The side of courgettes – also grilled – came with fragrant burnt enz (pun intended). Watery. Sweet. And explosive. They cleansed the palate well. The parade of savoury dishes concluded with lamb shoulders that were as big and buffed as Louise Smith’s. (Sorry I can’t find as fitting a comparison. And sorry for having no photo of either). The heat-blasted skin and trimmed fat (of the lamb, not the gymnast) was crackling. The meat within was robust and moist. It found finishing touches in a comfortingly good mint sauce, lamb jus and broan beans.

Burnt Enz may be finishing its pop-up period at The Climpsons’ Roastery very soon. (Dates here). But Dave and his flame will still be the ONE to watch!


Rita's Bar and Dining on Urbanspoon

RATING: 2.5/5

Rita’s Dining, currently taking residence at Birthdays in Dalston, is a collaborative food-and-drink project by REAL GOLD, Jackson Boxer of Brunswick Cafe, Gabriel Pryce and Missy Flynn. This venue is an industrial sort of bar. Think a cluster of low tables and a mismatch of metallic and vintage school chairs. (To feel comfortable when sandwiched between those two items, you will need either flaccid thighs or small balls). No air-con. Raging degrees of hipsters, really. It was a fun crowd, nonetheless.

The food served was redone South American – fried chicken rolls, tacos, beans and some patty melt. The price range was kind, between £4-£6.50. After a lengthy wait I settled for Patty Melt (£5), Ox Heart Taco (£5), Fried Chicken Roll (£6.50), Green Chilli Mac&Cheese (£5), and Pulled Pork & Duck Heart Baked Beans (£5). The Patty Melt filling of minced beef laced with bone marrow and finished with cheese and onion jam could have made a lovely foil against toasted bread. The patty, in my case, was lacking in quantity and therefore did not have much of a melting effect. For the taco, I enjoyed the zingy dressing, but the ox heart was overcooked and the homemade tortilla wrap (authentic tasting) was quite thick and doughy. The chicken roll, arriving in a Rita’s-stamped paper bag, was SUBLIME. The chicken was expertly coated and even more expertly fried. The crumb-y coating was grease-free, crispy and toothsome, while the meat inside oozed heat but retained perfect moisture and tenderness. It was served encased by a white crusty, with a smearing of cayenne pepper infused mayo and shredded iceberg lettuce, to taunt my palate with filthy, saliva-induced piquancy. UTTER BRILLIANCE. Sadly, this redemptive moment did not last long. The kitchen seemed to have missed chilli and cheese in my Mac&Cheese. The result was dry macaroni with quite a bit of oil. The baked bean dish was also left in the oven for far too long, and all the elements landed in front of us dry and overcooked. TOB fiddled with them a little, and we agreed to order one more round of the fried chicken roll. Overall, Rita’s showed promises, but the execution during my visit was flawed.




The Climpsons’ Roastery
Arch 374
Helmsley Place
E8 3SB



33-35 Stoke Newington Road
N16 8BJ

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41° Experience, Barcelona

41° Experience

There is so much brilliance I can recall about this meal, but I have decided not to put all into writing. Lazy blogger, no. Necessity, yes. The “elements of surprise” are crucial, according to FAQ. When it was first launched, 41° Experience (or 41 Grados) by El Bulli-famed Ferran and Albert Adria was meant to be just a cocktail bar for the annexed Tickets. But it has morphed.. into a 16-seat, tasting-menu-only restaurant, most recently alleged as one of the most difficult to get reservations in the world.

Briefly. There is no reservation line. The booking is made via their website and partially requires payment. There are some drinks included in the €200-per-head tasting menu. You can order a separate alcoholic pairing at €45. Blah. Blah. The venue is a decent-sized bar space, dimmed and dark. There were more FOHs than diners. Above me was a nebula of eclectic images – a kind of modern pop art featuring disparate cultural items around the world – being played in slow motion. And soothing trance-like music..

Not so briefly. The fun at 41° Experience kicked off with a stubbornly square, neatly crafted “41°” ice cube which chilled a smoky liquid substance. Along came a jar containing drops of green olive, preserved in oil. Just your typical jar of olive – but the molecularised EL BULLI style. The liquid olive essence was entrapped in a gelatinous skin. Fragile, it rolled for an escape on the tongue and burst into a taste of what would have been like if I stuffed my mouth with 10 olives in one go. I have never made enough effort to be at El Bulli and I am – or was – never convinced by molecular gastronomy. BUT. That was some alchemy that I highly recommend.

Through my first 3-4 courses, I departed from Barcelona – the 41° latitude as the name of the restaurant portends- wandered through Italy, France, Russia, Asia and many more. Ferran and Albert Adria not only know so much about cuisines but also cultures, wherein lies humourous anecdotes and stereotypes. All these are re-interpreted into all the 41 dishes served at 41° Experience. Some were more successful than others. Some got me to physically interact and/or contemplate intellectually; others made me LAUGH OUT LOUD. (Something about France, of course. And Rene Redzepi might be on the menu). That said, as the concept of the menu relies very heavily on the elements of surprise, of not knowing what comes next and which country where you will end up, it is best not to do so much telling (or display any sharp and clear images). The cooking was exquisite but a complement to the concept. SO.. if you are a global character, know a lot about cuisines and cultures, you will be having a very good time at 41° Experience. If you are averse to internationalism, there is a high risk that you might not get the “jokes”, which are the best part of the meal.

Life-changing? No. But this meal reversed my eagerness in life and I felt happy, giggly.. as if I became a child again :-D


(Sorry. Can’t help not telling you of my most favourite dish – a re-constructed Peruvian “causa”. A thick slice of super fresh and firm yellowtail/hamachi marinated in lime, chilli and garlic was served nigiri-style on a velvety ball of spiced-infused mashed potatoes. The dish paid homage to the Japanese influences in Peruvian culinary tradition and taste-wise it was a bomb of citric umami).

PS Don’t hate me for doing this >_<





Avinguda Paral-lel, 164
08015, Barcelona

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MEATmarket: London’s Institution Burgers Arrive at Tourist-land

MEAT in a touristy market..

MEATmarket – the newborn sibling of London’s famed #Meateasy and MEATliquor – is where one can enjoy a very clatteringly touristy view from the Deck of Jubilee Hall Market (AKA the other market in Covent Garden Piazza that Londoners don’t go to) 7 days a week. There are two entrances – one next to Wagamama on Tavistock Street and the other from within the Jubilee Hall Market (albeit with no sign and accessible only when the market is opened). Bright and airy, this burger place is a pretty “speedy” caff that offers both eat-in and takeaway options. The slightly uncomfortably high chairs/stools ensure a quick turnover, and despite the super friendly staff, I always perch, eat and leave. (I assumed others did the same as during a few “peak” times that I went MEATmarket was nowhere as busy as MEATliquor).

The menu, following the same ethos of naughty burgers as MEATliquor, was brief and divided distinctly between burgers and hotdogs, approximately priced around £7.50. There was barely any booze, apart from the now infamous Jagermeister Shake (£5); soft drinks were served bottomless. I loved Poppaz (£4 for 4 pieces) – double-sized, thumb-shaped croquettes filled with cheese and chopped Jalapenos. Pretty much a mother-f**king of heat, cheese and pickle-y tang. A trip to MEATmarket would not be complete without them. Corn Puppies (£4 for 4 pieces) were juicy miniature sausages coated in chilli-infused cornmeal batter and deep fried. Ideal for those with sweet teeth but still enjoying a whorish hint of heat (moi!). The new bigger stuff did not impress me as much. I found the construction of MEATmarket’s exclusive Black Palace – two patties, caramelised onions, American cheese, ketchup and mustard – nicely done but too sweet for my liking. The inclusive pickles failed to cut through. The Ripper – a hot dog featuring a deep-fried, bacon-wrapped sausage, generously toppled with pickles, chopped raw onions and shredded deep fried onions – appeared uncircumcised and was too big to go comfortably into one’s mouth. The sausage itself was juicy but verged on being too garlic-y and salty (for me); the bun (on two occasions that I visited MM) was dry. That said, the signature MEATliquor staples of The Dead Hippie and The Philli Cheesesteak are still as reliable as usual. Given no queue (so far), MEATmarket could be a great alternative for those seeking the glory of MEATliquor.


RATING: 3.5/5


The Deck
Jubilee Hall Market
Tavistock Street

MEATmarket on Urbanspoon