Archive | February, 2012

Pork Belly Bun at Yum Bun, King’s X

19 Feb

LOCATION: Eat.St at King’s Cross, King’s Boulevard, N1 – see Eat.St website for location, opening times and stalls.

PRICE: £3 for 1, £5 for 2.

BREAD: Chinese steamed bun.

FILLING: Pork belly, cucumber slices, spring onion, hoisin sauce, Sriracha chilli sauce.

PROS: Oh sweet, sweet happy joy! This is a stunning sandwich. The main event is a thick slice of tender pork belly, including a very important strip of wibbly wobbly silken fat. I think the pork belly is pre-simmered with aromatics (e.g. star anise and Chinese cinnamon), then re-heated in the steamer to serve. Whatever, it’s lush. The richness of the soft meat and gleaming fat is offset by discs of crunchy cuke and the punch of shredded spring onion. A drizzle of sticky hoisin provides sweet n’ spice, and Sriracha sauce, gentle heat. And the textures! That bun is a cloud-like bundle of pure pillowy heaven; the fluffiest example I’ve eaten. My friend declared it better than any he’s tried in New York, including the Momofuku version. I wouldn’t know because I haven’t been. What I can say however is that I went back for a second, despite that fact I’d demolished the first one plus another sandwich from another stall (I was very hungry), because I couldn’t take my mind off the thing the whole way back to the station.

CONS: None. Will I ever give anyone a perfect 10/10? It’s possible, but something incredible needs to happen. This bun is faultless nonetheless. Yum Bun, indeed.

SCORE: 9/10

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Madras Chicken at Blackbird Bakery, East Dulwich

15 Feb

LOCATION: Blackbird Bakery, 46 Grove Vale, East Dulwich, SE22 8DH [map]

PRICE: £3.50

BREAD: A good quality white (baked by Blackbird).

FILLING: Chicken mixed with madras curry mayo, lettuce, sliced tomato and finely diced red onion.

PROS: This is basically coronation chicken in disguise but my goodness, it’s delicious. The large, juicy chunks of chicken are plentiful, bound in a borderline indecent amount of curried mayo. Although this is made with a curry powder blend, it miraculously  swerves any danger of tasting like something one might find chilling in a motorway service station and instead plants itself firmly in the camp of luxurious; silky soft and dreamy. The sweet little nubs of red onion are the perfect garnish too, adding just the right amount of allium bite. For £3.50, it’s extremely good value, because this sandwich is an absolute giant. At the halfway point I almost considered saving the other half for later. I didn’t, of course. Blackbird are trying to revive a British classic and are doing so with style and taste.

CONS: The insipid tomato needs to go. Also, the second time I bought it there was no red onion, which upset me a lot; I’ll mention it next time I go in. Speaking of return visits, I almost didn’t make one after a particularly irritating morning about 6 months ago when I popped in to pick up a sandwich on my way to work. I asked if there were any sandwiches available and the lady there told me that no, they don’t make them until 10am. “Oh, you don’t have the ingredients yet?” I asked her. “Oh yes, we just don’t make them yet” she replied. That’s fine, but I took a quick look around, and considered the fact that there was only one other person in the cafe and two members of staff. I then asked very nicely if they’d mind putting one together, a request which was met with a flat ‘no’ delivered in what was, frankly, a truly arsey tone. Is it really too much trouble to make a sandwich when you’re not doing anything else and I’m a regular customer? Really? Hacked me off for months, that did.

Anyway, the sandwiches are good so I return. Sigh.

SCORE: 7/10

Smoked Eel and Horseradish at Quo Vadis, Soho

3 Feb

LOCATION: Quo Vadis, 26 Dean Street, London, W1D 3LL [map]

PRICE: £6.50

BREAD: Sourdough (I think), toasted

FILLING: Smoked eel and creamed horseradish

PROS: Two little squares of charred sourdough sported just the right amount of bitter char. A peek inside revealed a generous slice of rich, oily, delicately smoked eel, smothered with freshly grated, properly nostril-searing creamed horseradish. Is there a more perfect flavour combination than that pungent horseradish and luscious, creamy-fleshed eel? Not when you’re eating this sandwich there isn’t. The overall richness was countered admirably by a dainty wee pile of pink, lightly picked onions and it took every ounce of my strength not to shove them in the sandwich too, pick the whole thing up and make a right old mess. Quo Vadis is a proper restaurant though, and it’s such a glorious and smart little ‘wich that I didn’t mind eating it with a knife and fork, thus saving my companions the embarrassment of dining with a woman sporting a fishy face mask. The sandwich is small but to be honest, due to the richness I wouldn’t want it any bigger (lies, lies).

CONS: The splendour of the sandwich was offset by a couple of mistakes with the meal. It’s perhaps a little unfair of me to mention it considering this is a review of a sandwich and not the restaurant in general but it left a slightly bad taste in the mouth and so I’m knocking a point off.

SCORE: 9/10