Monday, 29 July 2013


 As with any other country-specific foods, I suppose, where there is a 'correct' taste to these dishes, it was the authenticity of the vibrant Malaysian flavours which I was eager to judge during my dining experience at C&R in Chinatown.

But aren't you from Singapore?

Singaporean cuisine consists of mainly Chinese, Malay and Indian food, and there is usually a fair amount of each type in hawker centres and local eateries.

Likewise, Malaysian cuisine includes lots of Chinese, Malay (duh) and Indian delicacies too. Southeast Asia has a great potpourri of local foods – it's like we had this unspoken selection process happening throughout the decades, and the survivors of gustatory judgement (i.e. dishes we all can't get enough of) have been accepted as ours.

Then there's Thailand who's up there adding crushed peanuts and lime juice into everything and having their own little party.

C&R boasts an extensive menu of all the Malaysian/Singaporean favourites, from *real* Singapore Fried Noodles to nasi lemak, from chendol to ice kacang. And they just had to, had to, had to throw in the Asian-dining-in-Europe quintessential: Pad Thai.

The portions are exceptionally huge for some reason, but it makes me feel alright about spending £6.50 on my mountain of mee siam which is SG$3.50 (£1.75) in Singapore for a more sensible portion.

It's a little unfair, but my mum makes the best mee siam in the world, (recipe up soon) so I can't say that this dish was brilliant. Unlike the version served in a milky, spicy soup back home, this is the original 'dry' version which is truly Malaysian. These noodles were surprisingly spicy for my standards, let alone for the poor tongues of the British. I downed the iced Milo in the background quickly, but the spiciness lingered. Before the chilli became torturous, I did enjoy the noodles, which were tasty enough with a fragrance of bean-paste, and came with prawns, tried tofu, beansprouts, fried egg and some veggies. If I'm not wrong, the lemon wedge should have been a lime instead.

Char kway teow is also another extremely popular dish of Malaysia and Singapore. It is described as 'broad rice noodles stir-fried with egg, prawn, fishcake and bean sprouts.' This dish was actually of the average Singaporean standard, but then again, with black sauce, everything usually comes out okay. I'm glad they added in the chives, which are necessary for a great taste and texture contrast, together with the crunchy bean sprouts, an added yay-factor.

I definitely recommend sharing one dish between two diners, (unless you're a big guy/not having dessert/skipped breakfast/trying to gain weight) or taking away the leftovers. (Additional cost of 50p) Singaporeans and Malaysians will rejoice at this eatery which serves all our authentic local favourites at a good value.

C&R Café
4 Rupert Court
London W1D 6DY

C & R Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Mikado White Chocolate

Mmm, chocolate-coated biscuit sticks. Pocky used to be my snack-of-happiness, (I just made that up... don't question me, I don't know either) and a box of strawberry-flavoured Pocky was unbeatable among all the other snacks sold in my old school's bookshop.

Mikado is actually the exact same thing, it's simply been renamed throughout Europe. I never get why they do this, it makes immigrants like me panic for a month or two, yelling, "They don't have Pocky here! They've got these other brands but no Pocky! It's not the sameee!!!" to anyone who would listen.

Since Strawberry and Chocolate were the only available flavours sold in the bookshop, (I didn't really do grocery shopping) so this was actually my first time trying the White Chocolate coating. (was on offer for £1 at WH Smith)

It's now my favourite flavour! The biscuit stick has that perfect snappability ('moreish' isn't a real word too. Deal with it.) that I know and love, and the smooth white chocolate coating is just delicious.

 A little bit of silliness – Mikado/Pocky is probably the closest I'll ever come to having a cigarette in my mouth!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Crunchy Nut Clusters with milk chocolate curls and honey

"Crunchy Nut is on offer!" my sister suddenly half-yelled as I was standing in the cereal aisle of Tesco deciding between the healthier Special K options or Cookie Crisp and sugar-coated things.

For £2 (U.P £2.69) we got a 450g box of cereal clusters and chocolate curls.

The clusters of puffed rice, peanuts, and oats were simply decadent! The honey coating was extremely yummy, and as always for Crunchy Nut, the peanut fragrance really came through, in a sweet rather than nutty way.

The clusters really stuck together, and didn't fall apart easily even when submerged in milk. The chocolate curls were not so significant, but provided the tiniest hint of taste and soft texture. The milk became quite sweet as a result of the honey, hooray!

A great cereal, I'm definitely getting it again some time. This cereal is basically for everyone – kids, granola-lovers, nut fans, chocoholics, sweet teeth, the whole lot!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Sushino En

I'm a major Japanese food fan, so I could easily appreciate both fast-food joints like Singapore's Yoshinoya, London's Wasabi, or fancy top-notch Sushisamba in Heron Tower, with main courses all above £10 which I can only dream of.

My sister brought me to a little gem in Whitechapel called Sushino EN, a humble Japanese restaurant with a great multi-level interior, complete with a faux-sit-on-the-floor set of tables on one side of the restaurant. There were very few diners during this off-peak time, so the soundtrack of our meal was the sounds of what seemed like a yoga/meditation album.

The prices are above average, with my bowl of  Sake Teriyaki (grilled salmon on rice) costing £8.95. The salmon with its sauce was superb, and the rice was fluffy and yummy.

My sister ordered a Chirashizushi at £14.90 which came with pickles, salad and ebi tempura. The rice was authentic and tasty with a great vinegar blend, topped with a variety of sashimi, which contributed to the eye-twitching price – the bowl was pretty small, even though the meal did come with little sides of salad and tempura.

The service also greatly sets Sushino EN apart from other Asian restaurants. coughchinatownshitservicecough The waiting staff and restaurant manager constantly returned to our table to ask us how the food was, and whether we needed anything else.

If you're in the Whitechapel area with a few bucks to spend, Sushino EN is a great place to sit down and enjoy lovely Japanese food and service, the latter probably very Japanese as well.

Sushino EN
2 White Church Lane
London, E1 7QR
Tel: 020 3645 6734

Sushino En on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Merba Cookies

After hearing good things from a friend about 'those cookies which come in aluminum foil-looking plastic with a brand name starts which with an M, I think, or maybe a C, I don't know', I've decided to keep an eye out for them. An import from USA, they are almost never on the shelves of a regular supermarket. The only way to find them is through scouring the off-license shops. (little corner shops selling snacks and essentials... but mostly snacks)

Like a ninja on a mission, I toured London and dashed through every off-license store in sight, before I finally found them.

In real life, I simply wandered into this random off-license shop one evening, which surprisingly existed on an uneventful street about 10 minutes from my house, while in search of a late-afternoon snack. I stumbled upon these 'Merba' cookies which were 'the famous American Chocolate Chip Cookies' and had an aluminum-y wrapping. Bingo!

The cookies were truly American in the way that they were sweet and they weren't afraid to let you know. Healthy eating is irrelevant when it comes to these cookies. Their only mission is to taste good and lure people back for seconds.

Aside from being delightfully sweet, they were generously chock-filled with milky chocolate chips. The cookie is slightly on the hard, crunchy side rather than being the the soft, gooey type, but not to the extent that it feels dry, especially since the multitude of chocolate chips serve to moisten up every bite. Salt can somewhat be tasted in the cookie, which makes it quite impactful on the tongue – quite overwhelming for those who aren't too used to rich sweets. However, if you are an a-chocolate-chip-cookie-is-a-god-damn-chocolate-chip-cookie-there-is-no-holding-back type of person, then these ones are for you.

You look at the picture on the front of the packet and you expect something great.

You definitely get something great with these Nougatelli Cookies, which are my favourite of the lot.

It is pure bliss as you sin your teeth into the cookie and meet the Nutella-like hazelnut filling!

White chocolate and red berries is a popular cookie flavour combination which I enjoy when it is done well. (Lizzie's Food Factory does a good one.) However, these cookies were filled with dried, chewy cranberries which had an over-tangy taste, and I didn't enjoy it. The white chocolate's fragrance was unfortunately killed somewhere in the rubbery, cranberry stampede.

The 'brownie cookies' were certainly appealing, but I was doubtful of 'crispy' as a description on the packet. Aren't the best part about brownies their fudgy, soft texture?

These had the texture of a regular crunchy cookie. The only 'brownie' aspect is probably their rectangular shape, but otherwise, it is no different from a same-old double chocolate cookie. The American sweetness is still there, and there is a satisfying chocolate taste which does the brownie justice.

Aside from that cranberry mess of a cookie, Merba has great cookies which any sweet tooth will definitely enjoy. I've seen them sold in places like Costcutters and several other off-license shops, so nobody really has to go on a ninja-hunt, really.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Tutti Frutti UK

It's a real blessing to find an eating place in Soho where you can sit down for as long as you like without feeling like you should get up and leave so that you can make room for the people in the queue and escape the accusing stares of the staff.

Tutti Frutti has an entire funky basement filled with sofas, chairs, tables, books and board games which is a huge appeal for people who have time to kill whilst in the Soho area, or those who fancy a lengthy sit-down with friends over yummy dessert which won't make you feel too guilty.

There are about ten dispensers of different-flavoured frozen yogurt lining a wall in the shop, and these flavours vary day-to-day. Some which I have seen are Red Velvet, Blueberry, Kiwi, Soy, Nutella, Peanut Butter, Watermelon, Chocolate, and many more. Peanut Butter has got to be my favourite so far. They've got the full list on their website, but not all of these flavours are always available in shops.

The prices go by the final weight of your cup, at £1.85 per 100g. There are two cups to choose from, and the smaller one has an average price of £3.50 while you could expect to pay an approximate £5.50 for filling your froyo in the bigger one. Students get a discount of 10%, or 15% if your bill is over £10. (That would have to be a big cup of froyo, and no, getting two cups in the same bill wouldn't be very smart if you're a student.)

You can mix and match flavours, and I tend to sway towards those which aren't related to fruit, because the toppings which I choose afterwards are cookies and chocolate – you've got chocolate chips, mini oreos, chocolate chip cookies, buttery shortbread biscuits, Cadbury Flake, coconut shavings, ground peanuts, gummies, and all sorts of other stuff, it's hard to be short of options. Not too far away, they also have a healthier selection of toppings which includes grapes, pineapples, kiwis, and cubes of different fruits in general. I've been apprehensive to try, say, Nutella froyo with a topping of kiwi cubes, but I'll try to be adventurous in my next visit.

There's an app on the app store called Kooki which has a few loyalty cards from various eating places in London, and Tutti Frutti has got a card on there, which enables you a 6th cup of free froyo.

The shop also sells bubble tea, brownies and Malaysian pancakes. It really is a gem in the middle of Soho and I do recommend it, as there is something for everyone!

I just wish that they had awesome topping variations which can be used to make epic froyo architecture like this one which my friend did in Tutti Frutti Canada:

Tutti Frutti
2 Bedford Street
Covent Garden
London WC2E 9HH
United Kingdom
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