Saturday, 24 September 2011

Eating Spree!

I went to visit my friends in London, well, Kingston Upon Thames to be exact, over the weekend.

As soon as I arrived, we went out looking for food and did not stop until late evening when we headed back to the flat!

We started by heading into Camden Town. My friend brought us to a stall in one of the many markets, run by Malaysian, selling authentic Malaysian food. No photos taken as we were starving and could not wait to tuck in! We ordered the Kari Laksa, rice noodles in thick egg sauce (滑蛋河粉), meat sauce noodles (肉酱面) and a bowl of Wonton Soup.

The rice noodles were quite fragrant and tasted nice with lots of squids and prawns on it. Passable as authentic Malaysian dish but there are nicer ones in other places in London. The Kari Laksa was very authentic as we could taste rather strong curry (and other spices) flavour to it, would have been nice with a squeeze of lime juice though!

The meat sauce noodle was very hot and spicy, we thought it looked and tasted more like a different Chinese dish (tomato aubergine in fish sauce dish) rather than a proper meat sauce noodle dish. However, the most shocking thing was the amount of chicken stock (most possibly made from chicken stock powder) put into the Wonton soup. It was incredibly salty and we could feel our thirst getting worse and worse by each mouthful!

After walking around a few more markets in Camden, we headed towards an ice-cream shop selling rather unique ice-creams. Unique in the way they were made rather than the tastes or looks of the ice creams as they looked exactly the same as any other ice creams. Chin Chin Laboratorists, as mentioned in Time Out London, uses very raw material to make ice cream right in front of customers! The place looks like a laboratory with liquid nitrogen tanks, test tubes, glass flasks, people in lab coats and so on.

You might have already guessed, yes, they use liquid nitrogen to freeze flavoured cream immediately to make ice creams!

One can choose from three different flavoured ice-cream, then choose a syrup before choosing the toppings!

Coffee Popcorn Ice Cream with toffee syrup and hazelnuts
Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Dark choc syrup and hazelnuts
Vanilla Ice cream with dark choc syrup and roasted white chocs

The ice-creams were silky and creamy like any other good ice-creams. Very nice flavour combinations. For the price of each cup, we could have bought a big tub of Haagen Dazs or Ben & Jerry, but the experience of it all was well worth it.

Dessert done, you thought we would have stopped there and headed home? No, no, no...we still needed to complete our day with dinner!

So we headed to Hoxton, London for Vietnamese food! On the bus, we saw several Vietnamese restaurants along the street, some with very long queues, some with minimal customers inside.

So we went into one highly recommended by my friend (which of course had a really long queue out the door!) - Song Que. This place was voted TimeOut London Hot 50 restaurants to visit!

For starters, we ordered, prawn goi cuon (prawn spring rolls), char-grilled quails and fried soft-shelled crabs.

Prawn gỏi cuốn

Goi Cuon is a traditional Vietnamese spring roll made of prawns (pork, sometimes chicken or tofu), fresh herbs, lettuce and rice vermicelli wrapped in moistened rice paper.

It has the freshness of salad wrapped in cool rice paper which makes it a rather summery dish. I loved the combination of ingredients used which makes it so refreshing, tasty and bursting out with flavours of South-east Asia!

Deep Fried Soft-shelled Crabs

The  deep fried soft-shelled crabs were also absolutely delicious! It was deep fried in salted batter which reminded me so much of the the 'Big Fried Chicken' I had in Taipei last September.

It was very tasty with very balanced seasoning of the batter, seafoody taste of the crab, with a hint of spiciness from the red chilies.

Char-grilled Quails

The char-grilled quails, although may sound un-appetising to some, is a must-try! It has such amazing smoky flavour to it, and very well seasoned. Dipped into the nice home-made sauce, it was totally 'finger-licking-good'!

It had the texture of chicken, and tastes like chicken, so those of you who are still a bit apprehensive about eating it, do give it a try, trust me, it is good!

Grilled Pork, Shredded Pork, Spring roll with Rice Vermicelli

Then came the main course. One of my very favourite Vietnamese dish - rice vermicelli, served cold with fish sauce! The dish came very neatly presented, a splash of the accompanying sweet chilli sauce and mix the ingredients together then it's ready to be consumed.

Each ingredient on its own was very tasty but the combination of them makes it an even more delightful and mouth-watering dish!

The smoky grilled pork was full of flavours and the spring rolls (this time deep fried) had a really nice crunch to it and very tasty too! The deep fried chopped oninos, shredded carrots, daikon and cucumber just add another dimension to the many different textures in the dish and was very refreshing!

Even though I was getting very full from a whole day of feasting, I had to finish the rice vermicelli as it was just simply delicious!

Of course, my trip to Kingston will not be complete without a proper English afternoon tea!

So we headed to John Lewis departmental store, and what drew my attention was the name of the restaurant, as it was simply called 'The Place to Eat' - how very appropriate.

Banoffee Tart

We had a lovely looking banoffee tart that looked rather pretty and appetising. I found the cream a bit too light, the toffee not sweet enough and there was not enough bananas, but I must say that the tart pastry was well made.

Cheese Scone with clotted cream and jam

Then we had a rather unique cheesy scone, my first time having a savoury scone. We put lots and lots of clotted cream and raspberry jam on it and it was not that bad afterall!

Now that my stomach was filled up, I was ready for the 3 hours drive back to Cardiff.

A very interesting weekend with lots of food and it was absolutely nice to see my friends!

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