28/12/2010

Food Blogger meet ups: No 1

The 16th December dawned icy, snowy, sleety and cold. Not the best weather for a meet up but I donned many layers, sensible boots (like I own any other kind) a hoodie and my bestest red fraggle skin coat. I was on a mission and nothing was going to put me off it.

I had a date with destiny. My destiny being entirely full of the lure of dim sum. I managed to get through the morning at work, but all I could think of was small parcels of loveliness, served with tea and chopsticks.

My partner in crime for this mission - and we'd both chosen willingly to accept it - was Kavita of Kavey Eats. The only self-destruct that was going to happen was us being too full of dim sum to walk back to the station.

I had forgotten just how close to Chinatown I work, so I was there early. I took refuge in the pagoda and watched Chinatown bustle around me. It bustles really well. Seconds before I took this photo there was so much steam coming out of the stall on the left that I couldn't actually see them. I am going to have to go back and find out what they were doing. I kept thinking that Jackie Chan would appear at any moment and chaos would ensue.


Kavita met me under the bandstand, (which is what I keep calling the pagoda) resplendent in her lovely purple hat and green coat. "TO THE CRISPY DUCK!" we cried. Well, okay, we didn't but we would have done if a) I had know where we were going and b) we not have been so cold our teeth were chattering. We did go to the Crispy Duck though. http://www.chinatownlondon.org/cuisine_restaurant.php?ID=47

The dim sum menu has pictures of each dish. This is extremely helpful but also tends to lead to the choosing method which consists of a stabbing of the finger on the menu with an accompanying dialogue of  "I'll have this and this and that and oooh look at that" . I think we had decided to try and eat our own weight in dim sum anyway, so nae bother. They have another menu too, and that seems to be full of meat. I will be going back, and I will be eating my way through crispy duck and large amounts of roasted pig.

We chose Thai Style baby octopus, (bottom left) Char Siu buns (on the right) because you just have to, Deep Fried Taro Cakes - a minced beef dumpling covered in shredded taro - and paper wrapped prawns, (both on the top left of the photo) cheung fan, which is a very tasty translucent rice flour pancake wrapped around a deep fried savoury doughnut, and deep fried prawn beancurd rolls. I didn't get photos of all of it as we were too busy talking up a storm and, well, eating.



We also ordered a main dish, because we're just like that. Peppers, tofu and aubergine stuffed with a delicious prawn paste and covered in black bean sauce. Quite tricksy to eat with chopsticks but oh so worth the effort. We had lots of oolong tea to wash it all down.


The octopus was very nice, extremely flavourful but just a little too spicy for me. Yes, yes, I am a wuss. I left most of that to Kavey. The taro cakes were exquisite. Oddly reminiscent of a very grown up Findus crispy pancake to be truthful! The shredded taro covering is most odd, but in a good way. It's almost feather light and does get everywhere if you aren't careful when you eat it. I suspect we made quite a mess. I have a recipe for taro pastry somewhere so I shall be trying that out at some point, now that I know I like the taste of taro.

Paper wrapped prawns are pretty much what they say. Whole prawns wrapped up in rice paper squares, twisted to close and then deep fried. Very yummy indeed.

Char Siu buns are old favourites of mine. The soft wheat flour bun conceals a chopped mix of sweet barbecue pork filling. So very easy to eat. These also come in a puff pastry version. Seriously addictive.

Cheung Fan is another dish that is tricky to eat with chopsticks as the pancake covering is slippery, but oh it is worth the effort. The mix of slippery pancake covering, and deep fried crispy filling is a bit of a texture shock, but a very appealing one.

I really liked the prawn stuffed vegetables, even if they were quite hard to eat. The prawn paste is very flavourful, and the peppers still retained their shape and bite. The aubergine was soft enough to cut with chopsticks and had soaked up lots of black bean flavour.

I can say without a doubt that I will most definitely be going back. All that food plus copious buckets of tea came to just over £30. I can also say without a doubt that I will most definitely be meeting up with Kavey again. She's ace! Hurrah for food bloggers I say.

(Oh and yes, we made it back to the station. Via the Chinese bakery...)

5 comments:

tealynx said...

The dish you called "Char Siu buns" is sold as Humbow here in the states, and it comes both like the steamed ones you have here and in a baked version brushed with a little sweet glaze on the top. It's one of my favorites. There is also a close cousin that they made in Hawaii that we can get here on the west coast that has everything from chicken to a veggie mix of taro root and other bits in the steamed buns. I highly recommend all of them.

Also the Taro root balls you had tend to come with a steamed pork in them here and they are divine. We had them for the first time the last time we went (largely because Z cannot resist anything on a try that he hasn't tried and looks weird). I highly suggest something called "silver noodles" if you can find it, a hand rolled rice noodle, or a bit of rice and meat rolled in a banana leaf and steamed. Both are dimsum favorites in this household.

Kavey said...

Twas ever so lovely.
:)

Lisa said...

Tealynx - First, hello Mistress of Tea!

The taro cakes did have a meat filling, which tasted beefy but was in all probability pork. It was very savoury and comforting. Would the silver noodles be these? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_needle_noodles

One of my bosses loves Asian food and is always bringing in the things he cooks. We had steamed rice and coconut cakes once, wrapped in banana leaves and OMG they were divine. Like honey cakes.

I'm going to buy some taro and have a go myself.

Lisa said...

Kavey - yes it was. That place is going to be my new Go To Lunch place I think!

tealynx said...

Yes, those are a version of them. Really, getting a hold of any handmade asian style noodle is worth the effort, imho, but the Singapore style ones that you can get with dim sum are divine. Also, the banana (or sometimes other types of leaf) wrapped around rice and steamed comes lots of ways, both savory and sweet. :)