Monday, 10 August 2015

Gaggan, Bangkok

Before we booked our plane tickets to Bangkok I made sure I secured tables at both Nahm and Gaggan. Nahm being the former number 1 restaurant in the San Pellogrino Asia's Top 50 restaurants list before being toppled by Gaggan in the current list. Luckily for us I had reserved a table at Gaggan before the 2015 list was announced.

My first awareness of chef-proprietor Gaggan Anand was during Obsession 2015 at Northcote where he was a featured chef during one of the nights of the illustrious parade of worldwide chefs. The style of Gaggan exudes influences of chefs time at el Bulli with molecular gastronomy playing a heavy part in the menu along with more traditional Indian cooking methods. It was this mix of modern and old school take on Indian fine dining or progressive Indian as termed by Chef which peaked our interest as our experience of Indian food involved hearty, homely large sharing dishes. Perfect for families and satisfying meals but we wanted to explore the other end of the spectrum and to experience how humble Indian food could be elevated to another level.

At the time of our visit a choice of three set menus were available with varying lengths. We were allowed to pick different menus which we found refreshing as we have different appetites and could experience more dishes. A multitude of influences from Japan, Portugal, Spain and France amongst others play a part in the menu, the presentation of the dishes was exquisite and certainly opened our eyes as to how beautiful Indian food could be presented given a little imagination. The meal began with a fast and furious selection of street eat bites before leading into the main dishes. 

Burnt mango panna
Yoghurt explosion
Edible plastic spiced nuts
Chocolate panu puri
Potato a-some-crispy and liquid
Bengali mustard and noori pakoda
Papadam and tomato chutney
Keema pao
Explosion - Golgappa: herb injection, cumin potato and yoghurt
Alchemist cake - Dhokla: lentil flour cake with curry leaves, mustard, chutney and coconut ice cream
Say cheese - hot souffle of 4 cheeses and crispy rice cereals, green chilly oil
Sandwich - foiegras mousse, onion water baguette, onion chutney and hazelnut candy
Down to Earth - summer vegetables, asparagus, morels, mushrooms, artichokes with a 62C egg yolk and truffle chili air
Charcoal - no description was given when the dome was lifted to reveal the charcoal. We were left to guest the ingredients and were later informed that it contained dehydrated vegetables for the black crust and stuffed with spiced sea bass paste.
Treasure shells - Norwegian diver scallop, coriander herb oil gel, young coconut curry
Portuguese connection - Joselito Iberian pork belly stir-fired with vindaloo curry and sweet potato. This was one of the standout dishes of the night.
Fusion called confusion - white asparagus, yuzu chutney, chili miso curry, false green beans, sesame miso chips
Best memory - lamb chops sous-vide, grilled and finihsed with almond saffron oil
Land of Lungi - Atlantic lobster cooked in chameen style, malabari coconut curry
River king - fresh water prawns grilled in tandoor with a curry leaf infusion and mango chutney
Angry bird - slow cooked country Thai chicken in a spiced Chettinad style curry
Made in Japan - matcha tea cake, mascarpone cream, vanilla salt and fresh wasabi
Poor mans porridge - firni-jasmine ice cream, pistachio crisps, rose room freshener
Magnum - inspired by the famous ice cream
Petit fours - Turkish delight, lemon sour gel and crispy chocolate

Friday, 31 July 2015

Som Tam Nua, Bangkok

During the research for our Bangkok trip it seemed that all recommendations for somtam (papaya salad) led to Somtam Nua, an institution of the Bangkok dining scene. With three sites we visited the original restaurant on Soi Siam Square next to the Siam Square One complex with no wait for an early dinner. We were lucky as queues soon started to form outside.

The interior is a simple no frills affair and locals were in and out rapidly. We ordered a selection of dishes from the English version of the menu and by observing what the locals were eating. 

The restaurants speciality is somtam and we ordered the original and a variant with pork sausage and rind. Both versions lived up to the billing with fresh papaya salad full of life with satisfying bite and complemented by a well balanced dose of palm sugar, chilli and fish sauce. Unlike anything we've tried back home and much better.
Somtam with dry shrimp and peanut
Somtam with Thai pork sausage and crispy pork rind

A deep fried local fish that we didn't get the name of as it was explained in Thai was fearsome looking and extremely crisp. So much so that the flesh was quite tough and despite being quite large there was a limited amount of meat to be picked at. We probably should have ordered a fish with sauce but Mrs Nom was worried about the chilli levels.
Crispy fried fish

It seemed everyone had a basket of fried chicken so we followed suit and we were rewarded with excellent crunchy chicken with additive fried garlic chips adding to the strong flavour.
Fried chicken
Naam Tok - chargrilled sliced pork shoulder

This was our first sit down meal in Bangkok and with beer and fresh coconut juice to drink cost approximately £10. We can see why this is an institution in Bangkok and is ideal for a quick meal and introduction to Thai food.

392/14 Soi Siam Square 5, Rama 1 RoadBangkok,Thailand

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Brasserie Zédel, London

Brasserie Zédel is a French bistro that has been on our to do list for quite some time. Conveniently located by the tourist hot spot of Piccadilly Circus we found our chance as Mrs Nom could do no further walking when we hit the area. The brasserie is located in the basement and is deceptively big and spacious similar to Mash on Brewer Street. For a basement space the ceiling is unusually high. Just as well as there is a natural buzz in the restaurant which would become too much if the space was smaller.

The menu is filled with classic French fare and we settled for a mix of a la carte and the extremely great value prix fixe menu of 2 courses for £9.75. Of which there is a set starter of grated carrots with a mustard vinaigrette which was surprisingly appetising and a main of chopped steak with peppercorn sauce and French fries, essentially a burger without the bun. 

From the a la carte we ordered snails with parsley butter which we duly polished off with bread. Zédel offer a dish of the day and on the Saturday that we visited it was rabbit with cider and fresh pasta, cooked on the bone leaving it nice and moist.

To finish, Mrs Nom was excited to spot floating island which she has wanted for a while. The poached meringue on top of the creme anglais was arguably the dish of the meal.

Zédel offers a range of dishes to suit different budgets and offers quick and fuss free classic French cuisine. The only point that we picked up on was the automatic discretionary service charge of 15%, hopefully something that the rest of the London industry will not adopt anytime soon.

Six Escargots au Beurre Persillé - Six Snails with Parsley Butter
Carottes Rapées - Grated carrots
Lapin au Cidre et Pâtes Fraîches - Rabbit with Cider and Fresh Pasta
Steak Haché, sauce au Poivre et Frites - Chopped steak, peppercorn sauce and French fries
Ile Flottante - Floating island
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Thursday, 4 June 2015

The Woodstock Kushiyaki Bar, London

The Woodstock Kushiyaki Bar bills itself as bringing the feel of Japanese Izakaya to the capital. Situated on Woodstock Street off the busy Oxford Street, it is ideal for a drink and bite for shoppers or after work drinks. Infact the website states the concept is based on the pubs and bars found in Japan, acting as a ‘pit-stop’ for a ‘pint and skewer’ before heading home after work.

Kirin Ichinban lager is served with a frozen top (but sadly without the Mr Whippy effect) and acts as an refreshing thirst quencher.
We ordered a range of yakitori to wash down our drinks including:
Chicken gizzards 
Chicken heart
Beef fillet
King prawn with lime and chilli

The gizzards and hearts were the pick of the yakitori, although we maybe biased as we are fans of the innards. The prawns could of been grilled more and the beef fillet lacked any real flavour.
Wagyu beef slider with spiced cherry tomato chutney - for some reason I'm always drawn to sliders on menus and then regret it when they come. These appeared a little too charred with the patty being overcooked.
Pork tonkatsu kushi age - the execution of the frying of the panko breaded pork was commendable, light and grease free with a good colour. The pork was moist and just about cooked and slightly pink. My favourite dish overall.

For the location the prices ranged from being value at £2.50 for the gizzards and chicken hearts to £6 for the slider, pork and beef fillet skewers. For a pint and skewer the Woodstock does the job competently.

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Square Meal

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Picture, London

Picture is a low key restaurant in Fitzrovia, a short stroll from the manic Oxford Circus. The interior is quite basic with wooden tables and chairs which remind me of being back in school canteens. The main focus here is clearly the food and the most popular attraction is the tasting menu with aperitif for a very reasonable price of £35. I don’t think any other tables ordered off the a la carte from what I saw which runs alongside the 6 course tasting menu.
The dishes as expected were of a tasting portion and the first course of baked onion and cauliflower soup set the tone for the rest of the meal.  A good start which packed bags of flavour.
Roast new season carrots, spring onion, goat's curd and lemon was next and showcased the careful sourcing of ingredients.
Pork cheek, apricot, turnips and radish – the pork cheek and apricot worked well with the remaining garnish appearing to complete the picture on the plate.
Pollock brandade, Provencal vegetables, smoked olives, sourdough – I enjoyed the classic salted brandade with the olives. A clever dish to introduce a cost effective fish within the budget of the menu price.
28 day aged beef, white onion, young beetroot and greens – the dish with the most appeal from the menu was slightly overcooked but enjoyable none the less.
Chocolate mousse, Williams pear, honeycomb - a safe and light end to the meal. 
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Square Meal