Sharmila on Food

26/04/2011

I’ve moved…

…over to Wordpress. You can now find my food-based ramblings over at http://www.riceandpickle.com

Hopefully see you on the other side!

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31/03/2011

Girl and the Goat, Chicago

I’ve been off on my work travels yet again, this time to Chicago.  I was very excited about all of the eating opportunities and I wasn’t disappointed.  I think my body may be disappointed in me now though.  No person should probably eat that many fried potatoes for breakfast consistently over five days.

Beyond all the American fare and lardy breakfasts though, one place I did want to try out was Girl and the Goat, which I had read about at Passport Delicious and also at Meemalee’s Kitchen.  Sadly, it appeared I wasn’t the only one - no tables available until July, and a no reservations bar seating policy that managed to stress me out as I hovered, eyeballing other parties waiting to swoop on any available bar stool.  Yes, this is a restaurant with buzz, and lots of it.  We stopped by one night - no chance of any food action, and wandered over the road to eat vaguely disappointing Italian food.  However, we pledged to swoop by the night after early (like, 6pm early) and see if we could bag a spot at the bar.

Bizarrely enough, we managed to get more than that - more in the fact of a free table for 3 at 7pm on a Thursday night. I’ve never seen my colleague move so fast as when he was told they actually had a table.

So, for all the waiting and bar stool vulture stress, was it worth it?  I can safely say, yes.  The concept is small plates of the “throw as many different ingredients of different cultures into a dish and see what happens” school, but in the main, it worked, and for some dishes, this worked brilliantly.  This Stephanie Izard definitely knows her flavours, and it’s also this kind of playful, not-too-serious style of food that I generally love about the American eating scene.

My only key issue with Girl and the Goat would be…too big wine glasses, nay, wine goblets.


Just look at this glass/goblet thing.  It’s bloody massive. Some of you may not see this as a bad thing (big glasses of wine - brilliant). For someone like me though, who happens to have some of the tiniest hands known to man, this is a very bad thing.  I had to grasp this wine goblet in both hands in order to drink out of it, in the manner of a small child. I can safely say you cannot feel or appear sophisticated if you are drinking wine as if you are gulping it out of a beaker.

Anyway.

Food.  The highlights:

Shisito peppers with miso, sesame and parmesan. You want the ultimate snacky food to eat with booze? Well, here it is.  Totally savoury, totally works.  I so want to re-create these at home.


Wood fired chicken, fried pickles, shredded sprouts, naan bread and yuzu harissa. This may sound like a culinary crime. All I see are FRIED PICKLES! Amazing. And if I had the chance, I would have yuzu harissa on hand for every meal. I would even bathe in the stuff. It’s that good. Again, something I immediately wanted to re-create at home as soon as I tried it.  Naan bread was a bit duff though.

A little loaf of sourdough with beer cheese. Yes, that’s beer cheese. You’re basically dipping bread into liquid Welsh rarebit topping.  That is a very, very good thing.

Beets, green beans, crunchy things, white beans and anchovies. Fresh, tasty, great variety of textures. Felt virtuous but delicious at the same time. I liked this a lot.

The chickpea fritters with feta, hazelnut hummus and romesco was also pretty good too. I think I would have preferred a bit more romesco to cut through the more comforting textures of the hummus and fritter though.

Goat masala pizza. I’m not joking. It worked. Imagine the most tender, lamby lamb, topped with really rich but sharp yoghurt, zingy herbs and cooked down onions. Seriously rich, but very nice. I only wish we had ordered a few less dishes so I could have properly enjoyed this, rather than feeling like I was about to explode.

There was also some pork shank with truffles and apple, and calamari stuffed with lamb sausage - I have to admit, I could hardly eat any.  Way too much food. We should have followed the servers advice.


Alongside this, we also had a really fabulous red - a Spanish Barabazul - which was wonderfully fruity, but also lingered on the palate and had a good level of depth. I really want to seek this out so I can drink it again.

So, you probably get the gist. I really liked Girl and the Goat. It’s buzzy, the interiors are nice, it’s laidback, but most importantly, the food is really really good. If you find yourself in Chicago, do what you can to bag a spot.

Details:

Girl and the Goat

809 West Randolph St

 West Loop

Chicago
IL 60607

Price range: mid-level to pricey (you could definitely get away with ordering a couple of dishes less than what we ordered for three people)

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27/03/2011

Apple and hazelnut cake, with butterscotch sauce

Yes, butterscotch sauce.  That was probably enough to prompt me to make this recipe, which is an adaptation of one kindly given to me by Elisabeth who is one half of the duo who have created the fab My Cookie Heaven app.

This is a really fabulous cake.  The original called for pears and walnuts. Having neither to hand, I opted for apples and hazelnuts. Regardless, the end result was still wonderful - moistness from the apples, crunch from the hazelnuts, and a hit of booze to round everything off.  The butterscotch sauce is no mere after thought - if you’re going to make this cake, make the sauce.  It brings all these flavours together wonderfully, and then you also have a stash of butterscotch sauce in the fridge to eat in whichever way you want (probably straight out of the fridge with a spoon/fingers).

Apple and hazelnut cake with butterscotch sauce

(I apologise for the measurements in cups - I have them to hand, but realise not everyone does)

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup softened butter
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
3 large eggs
1 tbsp brandy (optional)
1/3 cup milk
2 ripe apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup of toasted, chopped hazelnuts

1. Preheat oven to 175 C and grease and flour a 23cm round cake tin.

2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

3. Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer or using an electric handheld mixer until the mixture is fluffy and well combined. Leaving the mixer on, beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl every so often. Stir in the brandy.

 4. Stir in 1/3 of the flour mixture until everything is just combined, then half the milk. Stir in the remaining flour mixture. Then add the milk and mix until just combined. Gently fold in the hazelnuts, raisins and apple.

5. Scrape the batter into the cake tin and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 40-45 until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 5 mins, then invert cake onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

Butterscotch sauce

3/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp heavy cream
5 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp fleur de sel or maldon

1. Combine the water and sugar in a small heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, and continue to boil until it turns a light amber colour. Do not stir. If the syrup darkens unevenly, gently tilt the pan to distribute the caramel. 
2. When the syrup is uniformly amber (make sure it does not turn too dark), turn off the heat and stir in the cream with a wooden spoon. The mixture will bubble quite a lot, but it will then calm down. Keep stirring. Once the bubbling has subsided completely, stir in the butter and salt. Allow to cool to warm before serving it spooned over the cake, with cream, ice cream, or whatever you want.


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15/03/2011

Ruby Murrays and all that jazz

I’ve currently been reading a really great book all about the history and emergence of many of the dishes we recognise as curry house classics in wee Blighty - Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors by Lizzie Collingham.  Thoroughly researched, I definitely left knowing a lot more than I did before.  Who would have thought it was the Brits who entrenched tea drinking in India, and not the other way round?  And the chapters focusing on colonial rule are just fascinating - the image of stiff collared Brits dressed up in their English clothes, trying to enjoy insipid boiled and roast meats and hot custard amidst the stifling heat and buzzing insects of rural India is one that made me chuckle a great deal.

Now, whilst I may be British Indian, the world of the British curry house was as new to me as many other British people when I first “went for an Indian” as a teenager.  Coming from a Tamil family, with a vegetarian mum, meant the rich, meaty, saucy dishes of the curry house felt a world away from the stuff I used to eat at home.  I always found it highly amusing at uni when friends would ask me to decipher the menu and make recommendations down the curry mile in Manchester.  Er, you’re probably asking the wrong person!

Many of the dishes we think of as curry house classics (the madrases, kormas and vindaloos we see on tired looking menus up and down the country) are either almost complete British inventions, or so far removed from their roots as to not really bear relation to what you would find back in India.  However, many of these dishes have a warmth and familiarity about them that can’t be denied.  And anyway, the concept of a proper cooked chicken tikka masala (smoky, charred, marinated chicken in a rich sauce) should be one that ends up being supremely tasty, even if it rarely is.

Anyhow, this got me thinking about trying to cook proper, authentic versions of many of these curry house “classics”.  So, count this as first in a “series”.  I’ve done a proper vindaloo before (which was lip smackingly tasty), but have never really attempted a proper, regal Persian korma, or a heady, oniony rich dopiaza.  One dish that a recipe is included for in Curry (insert book title) is for an authentic dhansak.  Now, this often pops up on curry house menus as some odd mild, sweet curry dish, usually involving pineapple (bleurgh) and a few lentils - I had never tried it.  Sounds pretty horrible.  However, I knew this was a classic Parsee dish, and from reading a few Rohinton Mistry books (and I would implore anyone to read A Fine Balance), it became clear that the proper rendering of this dish has nothing to do with the over sweetness of tinned fruit.

Having now made it, I would definitely recommend it.  The classic dish involves four different types of lentils.  I had two to hand, and as I was in going-on-holiday-clear-out-the-cupboards mode, I was in no mood to jam more packets of pulses into my kitchen.  It has a rich, caramel hint of sweetness from the jaggery (which is well worth seeking out), and a sharpness from the lemon.  Yes, sweet and sour, but not a piece of tinned pineapple in sight.  I added chicken, but next time I wouldn’t bother.  It is wonderful as it is as a fine vegetarian dish.

However, the biggest revelation for me was the caramelised brown onion rice you are meant to eat on the side.  I make no claims for health on this - yes, it does contain caramelised sugar, fried onions and ghee.  But, god it is good! I quite happily ate this up on its own.

So, I’ve now attempted a proper dhansak and it’s pretty damn fine.  What next?  I’m hankering after a proper chicken tikka masala.  Something tells me there won’t be a can of Heinz tinned tomato soup involved in the making.

Dhansak - adapted from Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors by Lizzie Collingham

Serves 6

75g red split lentils

75g moong dhal

75g chana dhal

75g toor dhal

(I used double the amount of red lentils and chana dhal instead, as that is what I had to hand)

2 onions, finely sliced

2 whole garlic cloves and 6 garlic cloves, crushed

1cm piece of ginger, finely chopped and 2cm piece of ginger, grated

1/2 tsp turmeric

500g veg of your choice (I used chopped aubergines)

a bunch of coriander leaves, chopped

1tsp cumin powder

1tsp coriander powder

1/2tsp chilli powder

2 brown cardamoms

1 small piece of cinnamon stick

1tsp black mustard seeds

1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds

3 tomatoes, chopped

2 green chillies, finely chopped

1-2tsps of jaggery, or soft brown sugar (if you can get jaggery, I would recommend it)

Juice of 1 lemon or lime

2-3 tbsps of groundnut or vegetable oil

Optional: chicken, cut into pieces.  I say optional, as I don’t think it needs it

1. Wash your lentils and soak in water for a few hours or overnight.  Drain and place in a large pan with the onions and turmeric and cover with water to cover by a 3cms or so.  Bring to the boil and simmer for around 25 minutes, or when starting to become tender.

2. Add the vegetables of your choice (but not the tomatoes) and the 1cm chopped ginger, and whole garlic cloves, and the majority of the fresh coriander (keeping some back for garnish).  SImmer until everything is soft and pulpy.  Take off the heat and mash a bit with a potato masher.

3. Heat the oil in a pan, and when hot, add the ginger and garlic.  Fry for 5 minutes, but make sure they don’t burn. Add the cumin, coriander, chilli powder, brown caradamom, cinnamon, mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds and fry for a minute. 

4. Add the tomatoes and green chillies. Fry for another 3 minutes or so, until the tomatoes are starting to soften slightly.  If you are using meat, add it at this point and fry the pieces until browned.

5. Add this spice mixture to the lentils with salt to taste.  Add 300ml of water (if you are using chicken you can use chicken stock), the jaggery/brown sugar, and lemon or lime at this point.  Simmer until everything is cooked through Garnish with the coriander.

Caramelised brown onion rice.

I found this recipe online, but stupidly can’t find it again.  My approximate is underneath.  I would implore anyone to try it.

1. Finely slice two onions.  Heat 2tbsp of oil in a wide frying pan. When hot, slowly fry the onions until they are nicely browned (not burnt!) and crispy.  Drain and lay on kitchen roll.

2. Place 2tsp of sugar over the base of a small saucepan.  Heat until it melts and starts to brown to a caramel colour (keep a close eye on this, you don’t want it to burn).  

3. When the sugar has melted to a nice deep brown, add around 200ml water and take off the heat immediately.  It will bubble.  Stir well until the sugar is dissolved into the water.  Keep to one side.

4. Get another saucepan, heat some 2tsp of ghee.  When melted, add a couple of green cardamoms, 3 cloves, a small piece of cinnamon and a bay leaf.  When aromatic, add 2/3 of the onion (reserve the rest for garnish) and basmati rice.

5. Fry until the rice is well coated in the ghee and onions.  Add water to cover by 1cm or so (I use the absorption method to cook rice).  Bring to the boil, cover with a tight fitting lid, and turn the heat down to low.

6. Cook until the rice has absorbed all the water and is cooked through and fluffy. Garnish with the remaining onions.

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10/03/2011

A piece of cookie heaven

Cookies vs. biscuits.  Ooh, a dilemma.  I’m sure most Brits would fall very much in to the biscuit camp (this must surely be the land of biscuits).  Not me though.  Never been a fan (I’m sure some people would view this as heresy).  Cookies, however - a different matter entirely.  Squidgy, crunchy, loaded with treaty size pieces of tasty stuff.  Yes, cookies I can definitely go for.

As you can probably tell, this is not one of my photographs...

I’m obviously not alone, judging by the fab My Cookie Heaven app two very talented acquaintances have made.  Aside from having impeccable taste in music, Rob and Elisabeth have now created their own cookie app for the iPhone - it has 15 very easy but tasty looking recipes on there, some useful hints and tips, as well as some very beautiful photography.  Having glanced through, I fell upon the Ultimate Choc Chip Cookies, and had to give them a whirl.

They were supremely easy to make, but more importantly, damn tasty (I’m glad I went with the recommendation on the recipe to put chopped walnuts in).

If you’re also a cookie fan and have an iPhone, I would definitely recommend you give it a whirl.  I’m currently eyeing up the peanut butter cookie recipe (the fact there is a peanutty cookie recipe in itself ensures My Cookie Heaven has a firm fan in me).  I’m sure our Mr Monster at the top would most definitely approve

More details can be found here 

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08/03/2011

We interrupt this transmission…

Yes, a post not about food.  Who woulda thought it?

Anyway, I’ll keep it brief.  Many of you may be aware that today is International Women’s Day (8th March 2011), and also the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.  Now I think that’s something to celebrate.  And it’s also a time to get us thinking about all of the progress we still need to make whether it is on equal pay, or the staggering levels of death in childbirth that occur for so many women in the developing world.  There’s still a long way to go, and that is something we should always be mindful of.

I feel incredibly lucky and fortunate, as a woman, to have grown up in the circumstances I have.  The fact that I can write this blog, have my voice heard and not worry about the repurcussions is something that sadly, cannot be said for many women in the world.

There are many organisations out there doing brilliant work to help women across the world on a number of fronts.  One such organisation is Women for Women International, who do sterling work for female victims of war by helping them rebuild their lives, moving from a position of crisis and instability to one of security and self sufficiency.  I’m not going to go into great detail about all of the amazing things they do, but please take a look at their website http://www.womenforwomen.org/index.php. 

On April 3rd, I am going to don a pair of stupid looking running leggings, and take part in the Run for Congo Women 10k, which is organised by Women for Women International.  Democratic Republic of Congo has been torn apart by war, with women being significant victims.  Sexual violence and rape is a ubiquitous tool of war, and leaves women damaged, both physically and emotionally, in a way that I can’t even begin to comprehend.  By running this 10k, I hope to raise some money that can go towards helping female victims of war and sexual violence rebuild their lives.

I hope you’ll agree this is a very worthy cause.  If would like to donate some money to my running this 10k, I would seriously appreciate it.  You can donate here:

http://www.justgiving.com/Sharmila-Subramanian

Right, normal service resumed.

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23/02/2011

3 Little Pigs - great coffee down Warren St

I’ve worked in Fitzrovia now for one and a half years.  It’s a massive improvement on working in Hammersmith for three and a half years, where my workmates and I would often get excited about the occasional visit to Pret (I’m not joking - when you work just far enough away from the main drag to make you think twice about doing the walk, these things become significant).  There are lots of options for food round here, and I always feel pretty grateful that I’m so close to Rasa Express and the Indian YMCA (masala dosa for lunch? Yes please).  However, the coffee options are pretty poor.  Whilst there is Lantana and Kaffeine further South, they are just that little bit too far away to make them convenient stop offs for my daily pick me up.  Instead, we have an abundance of Starbucks’, Pret (my, how things are all relative) and your Nero’s and the like.  

So, I was pretty happy when I stumbled across 3 Little Pigs - a brand new coffee place that has set up shop inside Black Truffle, a little shoe shop on Warren St (which also has another branch on Broadway Market).  They’ve only been going for a little while, but I’m already a fan, and have popped down quite a few times for my caffeine dose.  They use Nude coffee beans, which I drink at home anyway, so another plus in my book.  And the owner (who I can’t believe I haven’t got the name of) is incredibly friendly and always greets me a smile.  I’m currently alternating between lattes and flat whites, but will attempt to work my way through the different types over time.  They also have a mighty fine looking selection of pastries and biscuits, but as I’m not a sweet breakfast person, I haven’t partaken just yet.

If you work in the area and like your coffee, I would definitely recommend you to go.  It’s a very welcome addition to the neighbourhood.

Details:

The Three Little Pigs at Black Truffle

52 Warren Street

Nearest transport: Warren St tube

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20/02/2011

Oodles of noodles at Qin Tang Fu, Beijing

Yes, it’s been ages since I’ve got back from Beijing now.  I’m a rubbish blogger.  But I didn’t want to leave this post to drift off into the ether, because Qin Tang Fu is just too damn good for that.

Qin Tang Fu specialises in noodles and, more generally, Shaanxi food.  My very kind hosts picked this place our for lunch on an exceedingly cold day, and I am very grateful to them for that.

Up first (alongside a bowl of noodle water), was a biscuity unleavened bread full of braised fatty pork.  What can I say - if you love braised pork, you would definitely love this.  It was immensely comforting.  Alas, I had to leave some of it, otherwise there would have been no way I could have got through the feast of noodles to come.

I won’t go through everything we ate, but these were some of the highlights:

Cold, chewy noodles dressed in oil and vinegar.  Shockingly cold, but very refreshing. I’m assuming they were made from some form of pea starch. I had to keep on turning that lazy susan round to get another few bites of this.

Spinach noodles in a vegetable and beef broth.  This was almost akin to a traditional British meat soup.  It was pretty much all you could ask for on an exceedingly cold day

Chewy wheat noodles with simple cooked green vegetables.  That might sound boring, but it really wasn’t.  Wholesome and nourishing, this was pretty welcome after that fatty pork

Gorgeous scrambled egg.  You might be thinking “scrambled egg - whatevs”  But I’ve found the Chinese generally know how to whip up some pretty delectable scrambled eggs.  This was chock full of tomato and sharp spring onion, and redolent with the smokiness of good wok cooking

Some of the best damn dry fried green beans I’ve ever eaten.  And this wasn’t even a Sichuan place.  Again, a dish that smacked of good wok cooking - perfectly puckered, smoky beans and crisp bits of pork.

And then some crispy, intensely savoury fried chicken.  Amazing.  However, by this point I was ready to be rolled out of the restaurant, so I wasn’t able to partake in the fried chicken as much as I would have wanted to.  A shame.  I’m kicking myself now just thinking about it.  I must acquire some cow-like second stomach soon.

And this was all at lunchtime.  And everything came to £19, with more than enough food for eight people.  Yes, that’s eight people.  A supreme bargain for some amazing food.  This was one of my highlights of all the food I had in Beijing.  And I had a lot of great food in Beijing.  If you find yourself there, go.  I can be sure you won’t be disappointed.

Details:

Qin Tang Fu (there appear to be multiple locations - I haven’t worked out which one I ate at, but below is the address for the original location)

Cháoyángmén Nán Xiǎo Jiē 69 Hào

ChaoYangMen 

Price range: cheap

Comments

02/02/2011

Green mango pickle

I love pickles.  I mean I really do love them.  Any forms of pickles are great, but my true love will always lie with Indian pickles. Sour, savoury, hot - I will pretty much take any Indian pickle and love it very very much.  I usually eat pickles alongside curd rice (rice mixed with plain yoghurt).  The first time I ate this, my husband looked at me like I was mental.  But curd rice and pickle is truly one of my favourite comfort foods.  We always had a bit of this after dinner when I was growing up - apparently it’s meant to help cool your mouth and stomach down, but considering most pickles involved were very spicy, I’m not sure how much good it did. Whenever I’m too lazy to cook, or need a bit of comfort, I will invariably end up eating curd rice and pickle.

Most people will be familiar with the range of ready jarred pickles you can pick up pretty much anywhere in most supermarkets - the mangos, limes and aubergine pickles.  However, a particular favourite of mine is fresh green mango pickle.  This is not a pickle with a long shelf life - it’s not really preserved, as such, but it will last around a week in the fridge.  I spied some unripe green mangoes in SMBS in East Dulwich - one of those stores that stocks pretty much everything. I knew I had to make this pickle.

This is very very easy to make, as long as you can get hold of some unripe green mangoes - Indian food shops are your best bet.

Green mango pickle - I used one mango to trial this, which yielded enough pickle for a good 7 or so dishes

1 firm, green mango

150ml groundnut oil

1tsp mustard seeds

2 good pinches of asafoetida (sometimes also called hing)

1tsp turmeric

1tsp chilli powder

1/4 tsp fenugreek powder (basically toast some fenugreek seeds in a small pan until fragrant (a couple of minutes), leave to cool and grind to a fine powder)

3/4 tbsp salt (it seems a lot, but it is to help it keep as well as flavour)

1. Cut the mango up into very small pieces, around 1.5cm long, and discard the core.  Keep the skin on.  Place in a bowl.

2. Add the turmeric, chilli powder and fenugreek to the mango

3. Heat the oil in a small pan and when hot, add the mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, add the asafoetida and take off the heat.  Pour this mixture over your pile of mango and spices.  Add the salt and stir everything really well, until it’s all evenly combined.

4. When cool, put the pickle in an airtight container, and it should keep in the fridge for a week or so.

I love it with curd rice, but try it out as you would any Indian pickle - with poppadums, with breads.  I would pretty much eat it with anything.

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31/01/2011

Good eats in Hong Kong

Rather than plough through a load of blog posts focusing on specific places, I thought I’d take the slightly more lazy, but probably also less boring (for my dear readers) route, and do a little round up of some of the things I really enjoyed eating whilst in Hong Kong recently.

I barely scratched the surface in the 4 days I was there, and some of these places will be nothing new for many.  But these were all very tasty morsels that anyone would enjoy, however well known some of these places are.

First place I hotfooted it to after flying into HK was Mak’s (77 Wellington St, Central).  This place is famous for its won ton noodle.  Everyone knows about it, it’s meant to be the best blah blah blah.  But I make no apology for talking about it, because it’s great.  I have been to Hong Kong three times and I have been here every time. I’m sure you can get bigger and cheaper won ton and brisket noodles elsewhere in Hong Kong, but I love Mak’s.  If you want great broth, great won tons and truly springy tasty noodles, go here.  This time around, I plumped for the beef brisket noodles rather than the won ton ones.  Just as tasty.

Much has been written about Din Tai Fung.  Famous for its xiao long bao, it has branches across East/SE Asia.  I’ve been to the one in Shanghai already.  I have to admit, their xiao long bao were not akin to the Second Coming for me.  However, I ended up going back to the branch in HK, primarily because it was opposite my hotel, and I wanted an easy lunch (Din Tai Fung, ground floor, Shop 3-9, 68 Yee Wo St, Causeway Bay) .

I ordered a serving of the pork xiao long bao, and alongside a cold dish of shredded “wild vegetable” (I have no clue what this vegetable was) with diced beancurd.  The xiao long bao were good, definitely better than the ones I had at the Shanghai outpost.  However, the revelation for me was that dish of cold wild vegetable and beancurd.  It was so fresh and delicate, I couldn’t help gobbling it up.  When people think Chinese food is just crude, strong, gloopy flavours, they should get a spoonful of this. Order this if you go to Din Tai Fung.

Another small, but no less tasty eat were the delectable green tea mochi from Mochi Cream, which is located in the basement of Sogo in Causeway Bay.  I love mochi anyway.  Inject a centre of beautifully chilled cream and green tea, and I will love mochi even more. So good, I went back more than once.  I would love to be able to get these in London.

Finally, I had a lovely meal with Tom and Jen of http://www.tomeatsjencooks.com/, who kindly met up with me, rather than leaving me to another evening of watching BBC World in my hotel room.  It had to be Sichuan food, so Tom and Jen took me to a place out in North Point, called Little Chilli (33 North Point Road, North Point).  Aside from having probably the most friendly waitress in a Chinese place I have ever come across, some great dishes included:

The gong bao chicken.  You get it everywhere, but when it’s done really well, it’s so moreish.  I want to know how they get those peanuts that crispy. Alongside, the spring onion pancake was also pretty top too.

I also loved the garlic shoots with Chinese sausage.  That was a seriously good specimen of Chinese sausage.

We also gorged on boiled beef in spicy water, some good ma po dofu, and some aubergine that we probably could have done without.

It was a fun meal, and it was refreshing to get some proper ma la action, which is so hard to really come by in London.  Thanks Tom and Jen!

So, that was Hong Kong.  A great eating city, and one I always enjoy coming back to.  Then it was on to Beijing - more gluttony, more great food.  I’m definitely going on some kind of fast pretty soon…

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