elb's hovel of thoughts

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Godiva Chocolixir

Nothing better to have on a relatively chilly spring day (well okay, we wanted the ice-blended version, but the blender was broken.

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It was not too bad I suppose, with a 'chewable' bit at the bottom (or did the server just not stir hard enough when making it?) 7/10.

141 Regent Street


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Turkish Meze @ Cafe Gallipoli

Three of us went to discover the Turkish food at one of a 'set' of three Turkish restaurants (all called Gallipoli) along Upper Street. One of them was supposed to be the best of the lot, however we just entered the first one we came across at #102, on which this post is based.

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The interior decor was atypical of Turkish eateries:
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We called for: Turkish Meze (think of it as the Turkish equivalent of dian xin/ tapas), deep fried calamari, and a lamb dish.

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The food. Clockwise from bottom left: Calamari, hummus, borek, falafel, something, something, dolma, grossly oversweet apple tea, potato salad, something, zeytinyagli bakla, something, cacik. Cumulative rating: 6.5/10.

The iskender, "A special preparation of finely chopped cubes of lamb, laid on a pitta bread and yoghurt, covered with secret recipe sauce".
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Best dish of the day! 7.5/10

The overpriced baklava.
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More than £3 for three pieces?! The only consolation was that this was not too sweet. 6.5/10

Cafe Gallipoli
102, Upper Street
N1 1QP


Sunday, April 15, 2007

How to a tell Malaysian Chinese apart from other Chinese (and a restaurant review)

Simple. Visit a Sichuan restaurant, and order in English (or a Chinese dialect without a Chinese accent), and inform the waiter that you want everything to be 'Sichuan spicy'. It is almost inevitable that the waiter's curiosity gets the better of him, and he would ask you and your friend:

'Excuse me, can I ask you if you are Malaysian?'

Cue the nods, and chomp down on full chilli strength Sichuan food upon arrival. Which unfortunately isn't that spicy to begin with. And which prompts thoughts of whether the chilli-hotness of Sichuan food is simply overrated (or perhaps we didn't order the 'hottest' dish), or maybe, just maybe, certain Malaysian foods have the potential to go head to head with Sichuan cuisine* in terms of spiciness.

The remainder of this post continues the initial review of the Red n' Hot Sichuan Restaurant, Charing Cross Road.

We called for green tea, with a difference.

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We found the green tea unique as it came out as fresh green tea leaves! The tea had a nice summery taste, with a pleasant bitterness about it (please stir your glass somehow to get the flavour about!). 7/10. Plus, the leaves can be eaten if you so desire (no idea if you're recommended to, but hey). Most fascinating, and I will be trying to hunt this down at Harrods (one of the waiters was kind to provide us with some sample).

I called for the lamb belly again, and it did not let us down. Arguably one of the star dishes, and a must have. 8/10.

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Picture taken from previous post.

We tried a pork dish. It was not too bad, but was outshone by the above mentioned lamb dish. 6/10.
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*The hottest dish I've ever had so far was a dish of Xacutti (that's Goanese Indian cuisine) style-lamb. Tongue numbing with lots of water needed! But, managed to down even more than my Indian friend, heh.

Original review:


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

My Cheeseboard Selection

Presenting two of the cheese that I had in a recent cheese binge:

So, what have I discovered?

I know now that I don't particularly fancy hard, dry cheese unless they're grated into pasta (i.e. parmesan). Neither do I fancy crumbly cheeses (i.e. certain feta cheese, certain goat cheese), or sourish cheese, nor do I like blue cheese (too salty, but some blue cheese go very well in sandwiches!). Soft cheese are okay, but there are too few of them! Firmer cheese are probably the best of the lot.

Oh, the cheese known as Stinking Bishop (the name comes from a pear - the cheese is washed in fermented Stinking Bishop pear juice) tastes utterly divine! The smell, on the other hand, is too strong for me and gave the palatte an overall pungent feeling. Shame, because it would have been fantastic.....

Anyway, here are two of the more photogenic cheese which I eventually took home:

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Pecorino Truffle = Pecorino cheese with black truffle pieces. Very nice, earthy flavour. From Italy.

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Innes Buttons = Goats cheese, with a mousse texture that melts in the mouth. With crushed pink peppercorn. From England.

Other cheeses that made it to my (makeshift) cheese board:

Le Vully (Switzerland)
Brie de Meaux Donge (France)
Beaufort Chalet D Alpage (France)

Cheeses obtained at both Harvey Nichols and Harrods. Bread (not shown) purchased freshly baked from the French bakery Paul's. Till the next cheese binge (EF! Where are you?!?!).


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Iranian Food @ Hatam

Okay, this is slightly overdue, but anyway.

Located at the China Court of the Ibn Battuta Mall (which at that time was hosting the Cirque du Soleil's Quidam show, for a mind boggling 800Dhs for the best seats (that's somewhere around £120 for you. In contrast, the Cirque du Soliel's Alegria show in London had the most expensive tickets at less than £60.)), is an Iranian restaurant.

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Feeling hungry, I happily took a seat. I called for a lamb dish, as well as a pomegranate juice. I was first of all served what appeared to be a traditional pre-appetizer dish:

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Top left: Cheese and walnuts (starters), Bottom left: Vegetables and olives, Right: Herbs. Above top the bread.

According to my Persian friend, in Iran the herbs would be eaten together with the main meal. No rating for this because I have had no prior knowledge of how to deal with this sort of food!

The pomegranate juice soon arrived. It was delicious, a bit sweet and not astringent, and I give it an 7/10.

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Delicious stuff!

Soon enough, the Baghalah Polo-Ba-Machicheh (leg of lamb cooked in its own juices over slow fire and served with green rice mixed with fresh broad beans).

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Sounds delicious, but in reality I found this a tad too dry for my liking. 6/10.

The Persian friend believes that this restaurant is part of a very old chain of similar restaurants found in Iran itself. When asked how she would have rated the food (based on her experiences in Iran), she gave it a 3/5.

All in all, if I remember correctly the bill came to around 40Dhs.

Hatam Restaurant (Iranian cuisine)
207 China Court,
Ibn Battuta Mall
Sheikh Zayed Road


Friday, April 06, 2007


Many thanks to R and his family, who treated me to a traditional Jewish Passover meal. I didn't expect it at all when I went over to R's place to discuss some stuff! We had a great time, loved the matzo, the matzo dumplings in chicken soup, the coffee with ice cream, and the chit chat was stimulating as well! Sorry E, will make it up with you very soon!

Most interestingly, we drew parallels between the Jews in general, and the Chinese in Malaysia, but that's for another time. Watch this space.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Sichuan Meal

A new Sichuan (四川) restaurant opened recently along Charing Cross Road, just a few doors from Cafe de Hong Kong. I forgot its name It is called Red n' Hot Restaurant. Me and K and F went there to sample some of the delights.

Straight to the food, they offer a wide variety of Sichuan dishes, but no alcohol yet as they are awaiting a license. We ordered three dishes, at a 'not so spicy' level to accommodate F's weaker Shanghainese tastebuds.

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A view of the three dishes, clock wise from bottom: Mapo Toufu (麻婆豆腐) (I give it a 5/10 because I'm never a fan of mapo toufu); Lamb (红烧样), and some fish which I cannot remember.

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A closer look at the lamb swimming in chilli oil. This really is a reddish-coloured roast (in comparison with the typical soya sauce roast)!! 8/10, really tender.

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A closer look at the fish, grazing in even more chilli oil. 7/10.

The food was not bad, but it could have been spicier! Then again, as we mentioned earlier, the hotness was toned down. Next time, F, we're going to have it proper!

Update: Expanded review of Hot and Spicy Restaurant