Monthly Archives

January 2015


Rasa Sayang, Chinatown

January 26, 2015

We’re at that age where we sometimes go to the theatre on a Saturday night. But not quite old enough to start believing that a pre-dinner menu in Leicester Square is a smashing idea. Maybe in 20 years time you’ll see my shadowy figure behind the glass of the Piccadilly Circus flagship of Angus Steak House. After literally having the door slammed in my face at Leong’s Legend next door and with only an hour to spare before we had to be in our seats, we slunk over to Rasa Sayang, a Malaysian Singaporean restaurant in Chinatown that was also at full capacity.

I live for ho fun (stir fried flat rice noodles) and this looked like the closest thing on the menu. All of their dishes have a helpful, full-colour photo next to an actual description. Very considerate. This was the char kuay teow (wok-fried flat noodles in superior dark sauce and fresh seafood). Yum. Nothing to write poetry about but tasty just the same.

Keeping in mind that we had an hour before we had to be in our seats, we ordered Singapore Chilli Crab (fresh crab wok-fried in signature spices and chilli, topped off with velvety beaten eggs). By the time it actually arrived we had 40 minutes to go. I nearly broke a tooth on that crab as the elderly couple at the next table looked on in utter horror. With 15 minutes to go I was shovelling the delicious sauce into my mouth and mainlining clumps of steamed rice like they were tic tacs. Mmm. No time to savour.

Now the wings were a little disappointing. The sauce was sickeningly sweet. At this point there were still about 4 wings left and I had precious little time to spare. So I went for it. But even my best efforts could not overcome the cloying sweetness of the sauce. During the entire play I could smell chicken wing sauce wafting around my general area. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Rasa Sayang
5 Macclesfield Street
London W1D 6AY

Rasa Sayang on Urbanspoon


Hong Kong Street Snacking

January 12, 2015

Didn’t even eat here, but just had to take a photo because of the glorious Street Fighter II reference.

Hot Hong Kong egg tarts, crumbly pastry and hot hot (ow, ow) custard.

Woman making egg tarts, pouring hot custard into the pastry shells.

Ubiquitous fish balls. Supposedly 4 million of these are eaten each day in HK. They’re cheap, absolutely everywhere, springy, definitely fishy, and are usually boiled in a strong curry sauce.

Basic deep fried crab claw


Tim Ho Wan Dim Sum, Hong Kong

January 11, 2015

I am not a morning person. But arriving in Hong Kong at 5am had its advantages. After dropping off our luggage at the hotel and prowling the streets like vagrants, we got in the queue for Tim Ho Wan (which means “to add good luck” in Cantonese) at 9:30am, Hong Kong’s Michelin Star dim sum. As you can see, there was already a pretty sizeable posse forming outside. Making polite conversation with each other until the 10am opening time was excruciating. JUST LET US IN.

About 10 minutes before opening time we were handed little order forms by a woman who looked upon the lot of us in serious disdain. Excitement was rising.

At 10am on the dot the doors were opened and since we had arrived so early we immediately got seated. Jostling with locals to find a table we were hustled into a window seat and our pink order slip taken. I’ve read some reviews that have mentioned the brusque manner of the staff but haven’t they ever eaten in a real Chinese restaurant? I didn’t find it that unusual. I mean if I want to be mollycoddled, I’ll go to Nandos.

One of their signature dishes, the Baked Buns with BBQ Pork came out first. This is how addictions are born. OMG. Perfectly flaky pastry crust that tasted incredibly light and airy. The pork was the classic char siu so was pretty sweet. By far my favourite dish.

Another signature dish, the Pan-Fried Turnip Cake was unlike every turnip cake I’ve ever eaten, which is a sizeable amount. The texture again was light, flaky and not at all stodgy – it melted in your mouth. Served with a chilli sauce.

Vermicelli Roll with Pig’s Liver was another famed specialty that H really enjoyed. I’m no fan of liver so just had one tiny bite. The consensus – not too “livery” and had a subtle porky flavour. I prefer the prawn version of this.

Steamed dumplings Chiu Chow style, which refers to the transparent dumpling skins named after a region around Shantou in Southeast China. Peanuts, vegetables, dried shrimp and some pork – so tasty.

I could never go for dim sum and not order the classic Har Gau prawn dumplings. These were moreish as usual, and again I marvelled at the dumpling casing. How do they get it so light and perfectly cooked? Stodgy dumplings are the worst. Also, this way you can eat more of them.

Deep fried pork dumplings – again the best part of these was the perfectly cooked, crispy shell and of course the delicious minced pork filling.

Total bill came to only about £10! Tim Ho Wan was started by the former dim sum chef at Lung King Heen (a three-star Michelin restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel) who opened his own restaurant to offer people high-quality dim sum at affordable prices. We were out of there by 10:30am and there was a huge crowd forming outside to put their names down for the next available table, with one tiny Asian woman manning the booth and handing out numbers. Sometimes it pays to be an early riser. If only we lived in Hong Kong – it might be the only thing that could make me leave the house before noon on a Sunday.

Tim Ho Wan
Shop 72, G/F, Olympian City 2, 18 Hoi Ting Road, Tai Kok Tsui
Olympian City Mall
Hong Kong (Mong Kok)

Clooneys, Auckland

January 7, 2015

Clooney opened in 2006 and I’ve been there once before for a meal but this time was a present from the family. We were going all in on their 7 course tasting menu with matching wines.

The dining area is really one big space. But it’s expertly divided up with banquettes and 20 foot tall black fringe curtains. Combined with the very dark lighting and individual spots shining on each table it gives a sense of privacy to each one. It’s industrial, dark, private, and intimate. Think 90’s vampire flick.

It’s a pleasant place to settle in for the long haul, and the tasting menu is an extended experience. 3+ hours of amazing food and wine would follow.

Flakey crackers with a delicate lemon curd.

First starter. A sashimi/ceviche hybrid. Raw kingfish with chamomile sorbet, freeze dried gooseberry, and grape. Sweet, tart, refreshing and crunchy. Matched with a glass of champagne.

Not on the official menu, but definitely one of the highlights of the meal. Bread and butter. The catch being that the butter tasted like caramel. Combined with the salty sourdough it transformed into salted caramel in your mouth.

Another delicate seafood dish. Scampi with an intense green pea juice, and pork crackling.

An amazing duck dish. Perfectly pink all the way through served with a ball of morcilla (Spanish blood sausage), and crisped cabbage. Great combination.

Final meat course, lamb, eggplant, date, olive, farro.

Jen’s not a big lamb fan. So the happily swapped her main course out for this fish dish. Which I was delicious but I can’t remember anything else about.

Onto the cheese, a 30 month aged comte with black garlic sauce and a sweet bread. A different take on cheese and relish.

1st proper dessert. Green tomato ice cream, verjus foam, sorrel, lychee, and pollen. Interesting dish. Very intense tart tomato flavour.

Some more traditional flavours, lavender mousse, with violet petals, freeze dried strawberry, and a pomegranate honeycomb

And a final piece of salty ganache to put us over the edge.

The wine matching with each course was fantastic. Especially a sparkling orange muscat which we had with the second dessert. I wish I had a bottle right now!

33 Sale Street
Freemans Bay
Auckland, NZ

Clooney on Urbanspoon