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Ngam

8 Aug

My interest in Ngam began when I was living in the East Village only one block away. My old housemate had ordered from there and had a huge box of ‘Chiang Mai Fries.’ He offered me one. Everything changed. This was a game changer.

After ordering take away from them many a time, but really not branching out with dishes (I have no idea why) a group of six of us decided to go on a busy summer night. As packed as it was, magically they had room for us. It’s owned by Chef Hong Thaimee who featured on Food Network’s Iron Chef America, she’s also worked in some of New York’s finest restaurants including Jean George’s Spice Market.

We of course started off with the splendourous Chiang Mai Fries – Kabocha pumpkin, sweet potato, homemade red curry mayo, sweet and sour peanut relish. Crispy to bite, a curried flavour, comfort food interior and without a doubt the most delicious dish you’ll have tasted all year. And for only $8!
Chaing Mai FriesI tried everyone’s dishes, don’t you just love that? When people are excited about what they’re eating, so much so that they want you to experience it too, food truly brings people together.

Here’s a few of the dishes we had:

“Pad See Ewe” Smokey Wok Charred Noodles with Black Soy Sauce with chicken. This is comfort food on true form. The noodles taste so smokey they’re almost barbecued. A really incredibly fresh taste, salty and with a mix of crunchy broccoli and cauliflower too. This is a dish that takes the staple Pad Thai and goes one up. It’s got all your favourite characteristics and flavours, only it does it better.

Pad See EweThe Lobster Dumpling “Kao Soy” – Maine lobster, homemade lobster dumplings, homemade had rolled egg noodles, homemade kao soy curry, pickled mustard, shallots, cilantro. I can hear your mouth watering! This dish was very special, it has an elite quality to it that takes it above the comfort food level, even though it embodies all the characteristics of comfort. It is creamy, so creamy, flavoured to perfection and the lobster dumplings are infused with cilantro (coriander) with just the right hit of it, not so much so that it’s overwhelming. The reason it steps into the realm of the elite is for one, the presentation, it’s spectacular and two, it’s the quality of the lobster, the flavour that comes through, the mix of textures (from crunch, to creamy, to melt in your mouth) this dish has it all. Absolutely flawless.

Lobster DumplingUp next was “The Dark Knight” – Housemade black squid ink “bah mee” noodle, fried calamari, black pepper sauce, brussel sprouts, Thai long chili. This looked amazing, the black noodles are so intriguing and then the flashes of red and green from the chili and sprouts make this a stand out dish. What struck me with this dish was the spice, there’s a big kick to it, but it just makes you want more and more. The noodles are delicious and the calamari is battered to perfection.

The Dark NightWe of course tried other dishes too, including the Cutie Duckling “Ghang Ped Bhed Yang” – Roasted Long Island duck, homemade “ghang ped” curry, lychee, heirloom tomatoes, Thai basil sauce. The duck was as crispy as can be on the outside with the most delectable, fall of the bone, meat. This is food to be reckoned with.

The atmosphere in the restaurant is buzzing without being too loud, it’s constantly busy – a testament to how good the food is. You’re provided with wonderful service and it embodies what you want from a dining out experience.

Noticing the sign that is painted on their wall it really sums it all up.

Ngam SignTry this place, don’t go there unless you’re having the Chiang Mai Fries and eat to your heart’s content. It’s guilt free too because not only do they source all their produce from local farms but they only serve hormone-free beef, chicken and pork as well as use organic and cage free eggs and dairy products in their dishes. They also only use seafood not on the endangered sea food list. You’re in for a real treat.

Rate: 5

Ngam – 99 3rd Avenue (between 12th & 13th Street) New York, NY 10003

Tel: (212) 777-8424

http://www.ngamnyc.com/

Follow them on Twitter – @ngamnyc
NGam on Urbanspoon

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Dozo Soho

17 Jun

Working in Soho I am spoilt for choice when it comes to food and with new places popping up so often there’s an abundance of restaurants to take your pick from. I’ve been burned before in getting too attached to places however, so I try to spread the love around. My lost loves include Mooli’s and Mangosteen. I literally cried when I realised they weren’t coming back.

After mixing it up and trying everywhere and anywhere, there is one place in particular that not only do I keep coming back to, but it actually gets me a bit excited because it really is a treasure trove. I love this place and its food is exquisite. It’s in the heart of Soho on Old Compton Street and although the tables are a little hard to sit at, the hollowed out ground that you have to crouch your way into, definitely not a good idea to wear a skirt to this establishment, it’s worth the unladylike wrench to get yourself in there.

I love that this place is packed with Japanese people, proving that if the cuisine’s own approve, then it really is the real thing, the service is simple, quick and a no fuss kind of approach. And the menu; well that is to die for.

I’ve ordered many things from here, but will give you a run down of a select few.

Salmon and Avocado Cut Roll is always a staple when I go to a sushi place, it’s the base of a good place. So much can go right and equally it can all go wrong. This however is spot on. The rice is soft and a touch warm. The avocado is ripe and unbelievably soft, it’s perfection. And the salmon is fresh and cut into a perfect, tender chunk.

The Crunchy Spicy Tuna Roll. Beautifully presented, this has been rolled in crispy tempura flakes to give a dusting over the outside. The drizzle over the top is an incredibly delicious, spicy mayo that really sparks a contrast with the shredded cucumber in the roll. The tuna is succulent, the whole dish is well put together and has not only strong flavours but is a truly artistic design. more spicy tunaChilli Chicken Ramen. Holy crap this is good. I had previously been across to Bone Daddies that has all the culinary finesse of a 16 year old Saturday jobber at Burger King, but with a queue of hyped up trendy idiots out the door and down the stinky street. Let me tell you, scrap the bum numbing stools at Bone Daddies and try this ramen out for size as it is incredible. It’s spicy, it’s salty, it’s got all the ingredients you want and more. It’s comforting and yet also feels healthy. Incredible ramen and a portion to match.

ramenThe Volcano Maki – Eel, leeks, bonito flakes, eel sauce, avocado & mayonnaise. This is a little pricier at £15.80 but if I’m honest I would pay three times that just to lick the bowl. THIS IS IT. This is the dish you dream of, you think it doesn’t exist with most of the tasteless, nondescript dishes that are out there and then this comes along, swoops you off your feet, butters you up and makes you realise that actually nothing else matters more than the mouthful you are about to witness. Witness it you will, and savour it as you don’t get a taste like this often. Stacked up and presented like a sculpture comes this roll, smothered in a sauce that can only be made of magic as it tastes so good. The sauce is creamy, mayonnaise like, with a sweet soy drizzle and a smoky flair to it that becomes all-encompassing.

volcanoDozo has a second branch along Old Brompton Road which I’ve yet to visit, but will and if it’s anything like its Soho sister, I know I’ll be in for a treat. There’s very few sushi places that are worth going to in London…I say this because I’ve lived in New York and Sydney and my taste buds know the best there is. A food snob yes, but at least it makes me give the best recommendations.

Try Dozo and don’t leave without trying the Volcano Maki. That’s an order.

Rate: 5

Dozo – 32 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 4TP

Tel: 020 7434 3219

http://www.dozosushi.co.uk

Follow them on Twitter @DozoLondon
Dozo Soho on Urbanspoon
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La Noisette

19 Feb

When being enchanted by the glorious taste of a La Noisette cake, I felt as though someone had let me past the velvet rope and in on a secret that right now only few are privy to.

The beautiful and talented Barbara Werber has honed an old family recipe and made these undeniably perfect hazelnut creations. All cakes are gluten-free and for some reason when you magically demolish one of these in less than a few seconds, you just don’t feel that guilty. They taste as though you’re eating something healthy, but with all the mouth-watering stealth of indulgence.

I tried the Orange Drizzle which was heavenly. The consistency and flavour, so delicate and fresh I forgot there was anyone else in the room. I also had the fortune of trying the Classic Hazelnut and that is one of those rare cakes that you just never forget.

download download-1The presentation is meticulous and cakes are packaged with an acute attention to detail, very classically. Both a collection of small cakes or simply a large one would make a wonderful gift.

If you’re near one of La Noisette‘s stockists then trust me you need to get one of these. They are exceptional.

Rate: 5

La Noisette is currently stocked at:

Finch Cafe – 384 Mentmore Terrrace, London, E8 3PH
Tel: 07944 371 211

Street Coffee- Brick Lane157 Brick Lane, London, E1 6SB
Tel: 02077 292 667

Milk Bar- Flat White3 Bateman Street, Soho, London, W1D 4AG
Tel: 02072 874 796

http://www.la-noisette.co.uk/

Follow on Twitter @lanoisette_

Bleecker Street Burger

31 Dec

I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing a Bleecker Street Burger a few times. At the formidable Truck Stop and at the incredible Kerb at Kings Cross. It’s been one of the few burgers, and there is now a heap to choose from, that not only incorporates fine ingredients and a solid statement, but tastes exceptional.

It is the only beef burger, this side of the Atlantic, I feel has the essence of one you would find on the other side. Fault America for many things, but the burger is not one of them. A finely tuned product that understands the ‘grab and go’ mentality, without sacrificing satisfaction. Americans understand that service is vital and that sometimes having a smile or a brief conversation of pleasantries during what would otherwise be a mundane, humdrum experience can lift a person’s spirits more than one cares to realise. It really is the small things and the care taken to gain eye contact, show an interest and most of all, smile, makes it an experience. And isn’t that what we set out for? It can’t just be about the food, or the social interaction. We have to know that the proprietor has set out to bring a little happiness into their customer’s life. That thought has truly been the one true ingredient in their process.

I recently ventured over to Harringay Market and as I hopped off the tube at 2:54 pm at Manor House, roughly a 20 minute walk to the market, knowing that it closed at 3 pm, taking a chance, I tweeted Bleecker Street the following:

‘@bleeckerburger @HarringayMarket we’re 5 mins away (cutting it fine) please please please please save us 2 burgers!!! Will love you forever!’

As we sprinted though the roads and alleyways, I frantically checked my phone, hoping for some clue into whether they had packed up and gone for the year…they replied:

‘@laymytable @HarringayMarket move your ass!’

With glee we turned the final corner to see the black truck, in all it’s beauty, waiting patiently for us. They happily served us and noted that we were the very last customers of 2013 for Bleecker Street Burger. An accolade I am extremely fond of.

I had a single and Aky a double, plus fries and a coke. After a sprint that I didn’t know I had in me, it was the ultimate prize. Speaking to the owner and her colleague about how Bleecker Burger began, it wasn’t surprising to learn that the owner was a New Yorker and therefore understood what it took to make a burger worthy of the New York tag. There’s no need for anymore description, it’s just that good.

Bleecker Street BurgerYou can have your amateur imitations, there are definitely plenty of them, there’s only one burger in Britain and that’s Bleecker Street Burger.

Love, your last customer of 2013.

Rate: 5

Bleecker Street Burger

http://bleeckerburger.co.uk/

Follow them on Twitter – @bleeckerburger
Bleecker St. Burger on Urbanspoon

Earlham Street Clubhouse

14 Nov

If I’m totally honest, having been disappointed by places with a bit of a gimmick, or several, I arrived at Earlham Street Clubhouse very skeptical.

It was described as ’90s American pop culture (think Clueless, Fugees) meets East Coast chic (preppy, tartan shirts, slacks, pleated skirts à la Upper East Side school girl intertwined with Abercrombie). The decor features an eclectic (‘you plug your box in the wall and you get power, stupid.’ ‘Not electric, eclectic. Stupid.’) mix of reclaimed wood panelling contributing to beachside Hamptons boardwalk glamour, vintage tin signs, high school yearbook photos of celebs and imported Coney Island fairground lights crossed with battered suede seating. There’s a main area, styled with exposed brick, framed varsity flags, a jukebox, a beautiful copper topped Victorian mahogany long bar and a wonderfully open kitchen, which features a wood-fired stone pizza oven.downloaddownload-1download-1At the back and the side there are secret passages down to cave like booths that seem a bit edgier than the main restaurant, oozing cool to make you really feel part of the A group. Cher and Dionne have gone to get your ‘Rolling With The Homies’ cocktail and the nostalgia provided by great song after great song will keep the excitement coming. How other places have picked car crash prap from the CD pile, so you cringe while you chew, these guys have taken the very best the ’90s had to offer. There doesn’t need to be any irony, as it’s still the music you listen to and if you don’t, you should be. Listening to The Score is something that never gets old.download-2There are a few other novelties. For example, drinks menus are attached to pulleys on the ceiling, thus canceling out damp menus and not enough at the bar. A brilliant idea. You can request songs via an app. I spotted a Hamburger phone, which just reminded me of The Diner in Home &  Away and some of the booths even have taps where you can pour ice-cold beer straight at your table. They also have Coors Light…on tap!download-3downloadKnowing most of this before I arrived, I thought this was too much. Too many thoughts, too much to execute in one place. After all, they are just doing pizza. New York pizza. I practically spat in my smug ‘I know New York pizza and the Brits can’t do it’ way that makes me extremely unattractive. Homeslice, just round the corner from here had tried it the simple way. Pizza, no frills, which I found so foul, I couldn’t even waste time writing a post on it, as it would have simply said ‘Don’t go.’ With this though, I was totally wrong. It has been executed immaculately. Every detail, every thought has really been carried through, without seeming like they were trying too hard. I’m amazed. It’s just brilliant. The feel of the place takes you to a realm you would have died for aged fifteen, wanting this to be the place you would hang out at, come adulthood. Imagine the essence of The Diner, The Coffee Shop, Bayside Diner, The Moon Beach Cafe to name a few (props if you get where the last one is from) and take these, turn them into something grown up, keeping the skeleton, and that is a meeting place. Somewhere that doesn’t feel like you’ve got to dine and dash, somewhere that although the food is great, you can catch up with people whilst not having to worry about ‘small sharing plates’ or the queue of people forming around you.

Now don’t think I’ve got caught up in all the hullabaloo and forgotten what this blog is about. I know why I was there and that was the menu. The pizza was thin, crispy and boy did it deliver (no pun intended). I tried three different pizzas.

1) The Plain Jane – Tomato, Buffalo Mozzarella, Fresh Basil & Olive Oil.

cutplain2) Screech – Tomato, Mozzarella, Salami Piccante, Fresh Chillies & Oregano

salami3) The Fresh Prince – Tomato, Cheese, Spicy Sausage, Brocoli, Red Onions & Chillies

brocYou can also pick ‘The Ross & Rachel’ where you can choose half and half of any pizza.

download-2Each had its own unique strengths but all were equally as good. ‘Screech’ was really spicy, but in a way that just made you want more (funnily enough, nothing like the real Screech). The Plain Jane, just good old cheese and tomato, which is the one I always go for, by the slice, in NY, hit me big time! I was bowled over. It reminded me of times I would stroll back after a long day at work (man the Yanks work hard) and stop off for a dollar slice at The Crispy Pizza Cafe on 14th. The Fresh Prince was delicious, with garlic coming through, it was mouth-wateringly good. You can have them by the slice or in 12″ and 20″ sized pies.mainFor me this place encapsulates my childhood, my passion, the music I grew up on as a ’90s child, great food and beyond awesome cocktails. They even have red cups and a cocktail called Dawson’s Creek.red cupsAs an extra (like these guys needed anything else) they have a food residency, yup, they’ve caught on quick and added the mother of all street food vendors. None other than Anna Mae’s. I wrote about her Mac ‘n’ Cheese earlier in the summer when I went to Truck Stop. It’s a very clever addition. It’s simple, American cool. The food you always wanted, but knew you shouldn’t, but when you did it just tasted so good! Needless to say I tucked into a Kanye Western, it’s served with barbecue sauce, chopped up Frankfurter and crispy onions. Herman would be proud.macIf you want somewhere to go, with excellent food, a chilled out place that still feels like there’s an exclusivity to it, then please go here. It’s great for just a drink (or 6) as the cocktails are a steal (starting at £7) and there’s a lot to choose from. I tried a few (ahem). A couple of them were:

The Clubhouse Lagerita – El Jimador blanco, agave syrup and fresh lime, served frozen, topped with beer.

Rolling With The Homies – Ketel 1 Vodka, peach and strawberry puree, fresh lemon and sugar, served long, topped with fizz (my favourite).

I also spotted a flavoured Ketel 1 square of shooters in different colours, designed to look like a game of Twister, complete with the arrowboard and everything.drinksThe only complaint I have is make the slices bigger. If you want to do this like a real New Yorker you need to be able to fold that slice in half. If that’s my only piece of criticism, then you know we’re onto something.

Trust me when I say you need to join the club. I’ll see you there.

Rate: 5

The Earlham Street Clubhouse

http://www.esclubhouse.com/

35 Earlham Street, London WC2H 9LD

020 7240 5142

Follow them on Twitter @esclubhouse
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Burrito Mama

12 Nov

Hot off the press is the new offshoot from the Wahaca team and it’s called Burrito Mama. Co-founder and previous Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers has created this as it appeals to the people who want a quick meal and who don’t necessarily want to take a seat. With the influx of chains like Chipotle and Benito’s Hat, to name a couple, there’s definitely been a stronger demand for the Americanised version of this Mexican favourite in recent years. That isn’t to say that Mama’s is rehashing something we’ve seen before. On the contrary. It’s opened in One New Change and so will definitely be one that the city workers frequent.

front mamaI love burritos. They’re an indulgence, a comfort and will fill you with sleepy hollow before you know it. I’ve limited myself to half of one at lunchtime, otherwise it’s as though someone has slipped a tranquiliser into my guacamole and no one wants to see that!

Burrito Mama is wonderful. There’s something quite wholesome about the experience. It’s fully decked out with  a corrugated walled, 1950s style shack and a sleek twist of self-service computers in the foreground. It’s colourful, upbeat, bright and fresh.

mama signBehind the counters I saw the open plan kitchen, where the all female preparers were making up the burritos. They were adorned in deep, red bandanas tied like a 1950s pin-up. They looked fabulous.

bandanaI chose a baby burrito (nothing small about it) with grilled chicken. Their chicken is chargrilled and described as ‘higher welfare’. A plus point for me. I ventured to ask for guacamole and was told that it comes as standard. Refreshing. There’s a choice of mild, medium or hot when it comes to picking your salsa too. Along with that I decided to try their Mexican beer – Pacifico.

downloadIt was explained to me that the difference with their burritos is they toast the tortilla first and then sprinkle the cheese in, a nice alternate as it means the cheese is melted and more of a base to the burrito, locking in the other ingredients. One thing that is definitely note worthy is everything is evenly distributed. So often you wind up with rice, rice, rice and then a big dollop of sour cream. This was well made and thoughtfully constructed. The chicken was soft and smokey; a nice, gentle taste to it. The rice was good, but the black beans were a touch undercooked. The blend of the sauces was fantastic, enough of the creamy avocado and tang of the salsa to suffice, but the real twist and the best element of all is the slaw. An unorthodox twist, but right there, in my burrito was a lightly dressed, crunchy, fresh, spicy slaw. It was the essence of this whole experience and what sets it apart. This gives it a wholesome feeling, one that doesn’t make you feel so dirty afterwards.

burrito biteThe beer was good, not as light as a Corona, but certainly not as pungent as a Peroni, it was refreshing and something different, but feel as though I’ve tried better.

beerOnto the very cheap, sweet, Mama’s Treats. I tried the Chocolate Tres Leches Cake – ‘a little pot of dense chocolate cake soaked in a mixture of three milks and topped with crunchy peanut candy’. I couldn’t have described it better myself! For only £1 this is a bite size chaser, all you should be able to handle after a burrito, and it’s the perfect amount. It’s exactly what is needed, not too rich and the milks blend with the sponge of the cake so well, with the peanut adding a little je ne sais quoi.

dessertdessert labelI also sampled the Chilli Chocolate Crunchy Cake. The base is a cross between a crunchy digestive and an oaty flapjack. The thick, hard layer of chocolate on top is fragrant and decadent. The chilli only hits you when you’ve swallowed. It’s actually not as spicy as you would think, it’s a welcome difference that’s for sure.

download-2So, all in all, a welcome treat filled with spice, warmth and good, hearty ingredients. I think it’s definitely one to keep an eye on and I bet there will be more of them opening soon and my hope…that they will branch into the street food scene next summer. Fingers crossed. Mama definitely knows best.

download-1Rate: 4.3

Burrito Mama

http://www.burritomama.co.uk/

One New Change, London, EC4M 9AF

020 3375 2374

Herman Ze German

29 Oct

The first time I noticed Herman Ze German was when my boyfriend spotted E! presenter Giuliana Rancic long leggedly walking out of the Villiers Street branch clutching a sausage. If someone that weight conscious was tucking into one of these, then it must be worth it.

hermanHerman has recently opened on Old Compton Street, conveniently near my office, so I decided to give it a go. I have a strange fondness for sausages (sounds weird, go with me) because, although I myself didn’t eat a lot of them growing up, my mother owned a sausage shop in Sydney before I was born. It sounded fantastic. It was called The Sydney Sausage Company and had every flavour possible and even had a write up in Vogue Living. So, with that and my Austrian roots in mind, there’s something about the wurst that gets me. Everytime.

I have been many, many times to Herman in the last month. Call it research if you like. I will get the negative out of the way fast; I didn’t like the chicken schnitzel. It was chewy, a little overcooked and just not a good blend. Phew, that was hard. I feel like I’m bitching about a good friend! I want to overlook this because I’m trying to see this in a similar way to when you order pasta in a pizza place. It’s not going to be as good as the pizza. Pizza is why you are there. So, with Herman, the reason you are there is for the wurst.

signI chose the chilli beef wurst. This is a mixture of beef and pork, with a little heat too. All of the wursts are grilled to retain flavour. I would also like to add that all the meat is imported from a village in The Black Forest in Germany and is ALL free range. Their sausages are all gluten free too. Asked if I wanted to add sauerkraut and onions (crispy ones) I said yes, clearly! A little ketchup too. I have to warn you though, once you start eating these, you will not be able to stop. They are bloody amazing. The sausage is cooked to perfection, the taste is just incredible and what they have really got right on the money is the bread. It’s not a hot dog bun, it’s not french bread, but it’s somewhere in between. It’s perfection. There’s a slight crunch when you pierce through the sausage skin and your mouth will then flood with taste, then a little spice, it’s pure genius. The sauerkraut adds a touch of sour and the crispy onions, a dash of sweet. It’s the recipe for success and I shall now start working my way down the entire menu from here on out.

wurstI also tried the potato salad and the fries. The former is good, easy to eat, mildly creamy, but not out of this world (remember I grew up on the stuff and am also a food snob) and the fries are really spot on. They don’t steal the glory but they complement the main attraction instead, kind of like Jennifer Garner at this year’s Oscars, she couldn’t steal the limelight from Ben, but had to be good enough to be on his arm. You get me.

potato saladfriesYou can eat in or takeaway and really, if you’re hungry and don’t want to wait too long, then this is the place for you. They serve beer and a mix of Fritz soft drinks that are just wonderful.

drinksTheir wurst really is ze best.

Rate: 5

http://www.herman-ze-german.co.uk/

33 Old Compton Street, London, W1D 5JU

&

19 Villiers Street, London, WC2N 6NE
Herman Ze German on Urbanspoon
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