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Saturday, January 30, 2016

London: Chicken Briyani @ Masala Zone, SOHO

Our cravings for Indian deepened as we finished our breakfast.  As day turned to the night, we finally succumbed to our cravings and decided once more to have an Indian meal.  After a good hour of painstaking search and trying to make bookings, we ended up at a food chain called Masala Zone in SOHO.  Despite coming at 8pm, there was still a queue to be seated which tells a lot about the love affair between the English people and Indian food.  Speaking to the ladies queuing ahead of us, they spoke of how the really enjoyed Masala Zone and found its price to be relatively cheap for London standards.  I was sold. The turnover is quick and it took no longer than 20 minutes to clear the crowd of 15 people in front of us.

Tonight, the whole table ordered Chicken Briyani with a Curry Vegetable to share.

The Chicken Briyani (£12.50)

The meticulously cooked grains of rice with perfectly spiced chicken curry was lovely to look at.  Served with two little “bowls” of sauces, I was ready to dig in.  Masala Zone’s approach to the traditional Briyani was different as the curry chicken was not mixed in consistently through the rice.  But flavour wise, the curry definitely had the right heat, spices and seasoning to match.  However, one thing I would definitely put forward is that the Chicken Briyani definitely did not fill me up!  It was small as lol.  Its rare that I say food serves are small and this is one of those instances.

The curry vegetable (£10) 

This dish was decent, but the sauce could be richer.  It felt as though the vegetables were bleeding its liquid into the sauce.  In essence, nothing special.

Over all, Masala Zone was a decent Indian experience.  Would I come back on a normal day?  Probably not without a huge craving for Indian food as I have access to amazing Indian food in the Hague, Australia and Malaysia.  The food served to us was not bad and definitely above average.  But the whole experience including Masala Zone’s rather petite serves of food made it rather undesirable.  When I think Indian I am more used to home generous servings where you eat till you drop.  Unfortunately this was not one of those instances.  Also note that my visit to Masala Zone stretches awhile back so the prices indicated might be a little off.

Masala Zone Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, January 7, 2016

London: An Indian Breakfast @ Dishoom, Shoreditch

Indian food.  Ember red appearance and melting pot of flavours where meat & spices fuse into a full bodied pleasure.  While lunch and dinner are the common meals one might have Indian food for, there are people in the UK who thought “Why not bring it to the breakfast table too?”.  This is the story of the highly successful Dishoom line of restaurants scattered over London city.

The entrance of its Shoreditch branch from the back brings you through a lush garden into a wooden accented indoor dining area.  The setting makes it feel as if you are taking a step back in time.  Dishoom’s menu is predominantly Indian classic as you might expect.  The only problem is that nothing on their menu seems familiar.  In saying that, nothing was to risky to try and this is some of the food we had.

A Chocolate Chai to start the day.

A creamy, and chocolaty delight with a punch of chai.  The whiff of cinnamon is unmistakable and the acidity of the drink paired with a mild spice keeps the usually rich chocolate drink  light for the morning.  If you like chai, you will like this!

My breakfast is the Kejriwal  £5.50.  

What is it?  A chilli cheese toast with fried eggs.  I was skeptical of the size when it hit the table.  Do not be fooled!  It was actually enough to be decently full but not overly filled.  The perfectly fried cheese on the sandwich with a mildly runny egg is so simple but so good.  I was expecting a chunky chilli topping but there was nothing I could see.  Just a mild burn from a spread underneath the cheese.  Very yummy!

My friends had a Bacon Naan Roll and a Sausage Naan Roll £5.50 each.

They are quite similar in appearance.  Taste wise, they were not too dissimilar. Each had fried eggs, chunky cut sausages or smoked bacon, and tangy chutney wrapped in naan bread.  I tried the sausage one and reckon that made a better breakfast because the sausages were still juicy.  This was because my colleague felt that the naan was a little dry and I agreed because it looked over toasted.  For this reason along, the sausage gets my pick! Pair  award winning sausages, mildly runny yolk and naan along with some delicious chutney.  How good does that sound?  Superb I would say!

Dishoom was an interesting brunch for me.  Who is to say that the brunch scene in London is boring?!  Well I guess I did and not I have to bite my tongue for it.  With the Riding House and Dishoom done, London actually has some decent brunch spots no kidding!  The prices and sizes are decent too.  Even more so when you put creativity on a plate into the equation.  Will I return to Dishoom?  Hell yeah.

Dishoom Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, January 2, 2016

London: Delicious Steak @ Hawksmoor, Spitalfields

Everyone tell’s a story about a good steak they had or at least they thought they had.  But what is a good steak.  Is it that thumb thick cut that you got from your butcher?  Or perhaps that $89.99 price per kg for a grade 5. Well, those are simply just the beginning.  From the ageing process, to the thickness of the pan and even the temperature of the steak prior to cooking, making the perfect steak is an art that can only be improved and never be mastered.

During my trip to London, I decided to take a little trip to Hawksmoor Spitalfields which was a short walk from the Liverpool Street Station. This establishment known for their steak caught my attention with its rave reviews.  So what do I eat?  All of their beefy offerings!  To start was a roasted bone marrow with caramelised onions.

A simple dish that is so easy to mess up.  At Hawksmoor the marrow was  creamy and the caramelised onions sweet.  The mixture spread like butter on the toasted sourdough.  While it was tasty, I felt like the marrow could do with more basic seasoning to avoid it tasting “raw”.

After that comes the highlight.  The steaks at Hawksmoor are not what one would call cheap and definitely is a place reserved for special occasions.  Starting from £8 per kg up to £14, Hawksmoor specialises in large cut steaks.  The best cuts of steak to cook!   This was the 1kg cut.

The steaks at Hawksmoor are specially selected from their butcher before they are aged to maturity.  One can tell that Hawksmoor does it well just by looking at the intensity of colour of the meat.   Pair that visual pleasure with the robust bovine kick really made it a sensational meat.  The high heat used also produced a consistent char on the surface giving it a nice “frying” that resonates beautiful smokiness.  Over all,  this was a seriously good steak.

For our sides we ordered some shrooms, triple cooked chips and mac & cheese.  Oozy unhealthy goodness!

While the mac & cheese really tasted good, I cannot help but feel that Rockpool makes a better one.  Then comes  the triple cooked chips, which Hawksmoor superbly well.  The crispness of the chips were unquestionable and dipping them in Heinz ketchup brought back childhood memories! 

Hawksmoor was a nice eat but was it the best steak?  Definitely not.  But like what Rockpool is to Australia, that is what Hawksmoor is to England.  When it comes to dollar value, service and ambience, I feel like the upmarket feel and service quality I receive at Rockpool trumped the one at Hawksmoor.  Putting both steaks side by side, thing then gets a little complicated.  While both had intense flavours, I felt that Hawksmoor charred their steaks better!  So which will I return for?  Hah, I am a glutton so I will return to both any day for a good bite!

Hawksmoor Spitalfields Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato