Shoryu, London, UK by Joseph Polex Wolf

Ramen, glorious ramen!  

Was lucky enough to get my fix this week in Soho, escorted by the fabulous Dr. Chung.  If you think ramen is just cheap flavourless student food, stop that right now. I hope this post changes your mind for good!  I had my first proper ramen a few weeks ago at Butao in Hong Kong under Steph's recommendation (the place is incredible - check out her description).  Been hooked on the stuff ever since.

As this ramen outing coincided with our half birthdays, Chung and I decided that drinks were very much in order - hence our liquid starters included a lemongrass and ginger martini and a yuzu mojito, both nicely tangy if a bit sweet.  

Lemongrass and Ginger Martini w/ Shochu & Vermouth

Lemongrass and Ginger Martini w/ Shochu & Vermouth

Yuzu Mojito with White Rum and Yuzu Umeshu

Yuzu Mojito with White Rum and Yuzu Umeshu

Chung gave his strawberries an extra muddling

Chung gave his strawberries an extra muddling

Back on the solids, we shared some edamame, wakame seaweed salad, and tiger prawn tempura.  I'm a bit bored with edamame these days, but this one was actually quite interesting, covered in a generous amount of yuzu salt.  Yuzu is a type of orange/grapefruit with an intensely fresh citrus flavour - it worked well.  The wakame had the perfect amount of crunch and good a saltiness/sesame oil ratio, whilst the tempura prawns were light and crispy with no oily aftertaste.  The daikon alongside complemented them well.

Edamame with Hakata Yuzu and British Sea Salt

Edamame with Hakata Yuzu and British Sea Salt

Tempura Tiger Prawns

Tempura Tiger Prawns

Chuka Wakame Seaweed Salad

Chuka Wakame Seaweed Salad

Now for the thick and noodley of it - the ramen.  All of the ramen here have a lot going on, and as standard come with rich pork broth, bbq pork slices (char siu), nitamago egg (half-cooked in soy? and sake), kikurage mushrooms (think undulating chewy shreds with a nutty-like flavour), spring onions, ginger, sesame, nori sheets, and mayu (caramelised black garlic oil).  It must take hours of cooking to get all the components at their peak.  

On top of all that, you're presented with a further choice of flavour.  Having enjoyed the steady stream of yuzu tonight, I decided on the yuzu tonkotsu, a spicy ramen with a yuzu pepper chutney in place of the ginger for an added kick, along with a side of kimchi to really spice things up.  This really was scrumptious and the textures were spectacular- the richness of the broth, the juiciness of the char siu, the bite of the mushroom shreds all entwined in a delicious mesh of fresh ramen.  (ok - this is why I'm not a poet, but trust me, this was SO GOOD, and but possibly missed the incredibly high benchmark set by Butao in Hong Kong).  I wish the yuzu chutney was a bit more front and centre as I thought it could do with more spiciness, but the kimchi helped sort that out.

Yuzu Tonkotsu Ramen with Yuzu Pepper Chutney

Yuzu Tonkotsu Ramen with Yuzu Pepper Chutney

Side of Kimchi (fermented korean cabbage in chilli)

Side of Kimchi (fermented korean cabbage in chilli)

Chung went for the Kotteri Hakata Tonkotsu ramen, which featured a richer, thicker, fattier [sic] pork broth on top of the classic ingredients.  He found the broth very warming, as evidenced by his rosy cheeks.  His final verdict: eat this!

Kotteri Hakata Tonkotsu

Kotteri Hakata Tonkotsu

Stuffed with food, a liquid dessert came in the form of sake alongside a pint of draught Kirin.  Though fun, the sake was pretty tasteless and felt diluted (I even forgot the name of it), but the beer was refreshing.  

Kirin and Sake Bombs

Kirin and Sake Bombs

Not so memorable sake..

Not so memorable sake..

Come to Shoryu for the food, and get hooked on ramen!   Forget that an instant version exists.  I'd say leave the drinks though unless its a major occasion, i.e. two half birthdays! ;)  The drinks weren't great value nor that special.

Happy ramen hunting!

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Shoryu

9 Regent Street

London SW1Y 4LR

(with other locations around town)

website 





The Mill Pub, Cambridge, UK by Joseph Polex Wolf

Nothing like a bit of punting on a Sunday afternoon to get everyone in the mood for a proper Sunday Roast in the pub.  With Suvi's friend Elisa visiting from Stockholm, we decided to give her a taste of (edgy) tradition at The Mill, just steps away from the punt hire.

Having a larger group required some creative thinking - and super nice people moving tables - to find a spot in this small pub, but we managed to hunker down in the end and get eating.

So here's the rundown of thoughts from everyone.  If you're interested, this isn't easy to do when eating with group of epidemiologists and public health researchers - apparently I need more objective measures.  Well volunteered Felix for composing the next Galloping Ghrelin ratings questionnaire!

The Sunday Roasters: Felix, Katrin, Andrew

These looked incredible!  True mountains of food, and each came with honey glazed carrots, yorkshire puddings, duck fat roasted potatoes, cauliflower cheese, cabbage, broccoli and probably more that I'm forgetting.  The variation?  Roast type and sauce.  Katrin went for lamb with obligatory mint sauce (freshly made by the seems of it), whilst Andrew and Felix went for pork loin with apple sauce.

Sunday Roast: Lamb/Mint Edition

Sunday Roast: Lamb/Mint Edition

Sunday Roast: Pork Loin/Apple Edition

Sunday Roast: Pork Loin/Apple Edition

All managed to agree that portion size was fantastic and that the veg and yorkshire puddings were well-flavoured (plus the gravy was top notch!).  The one gripe was that as we were at the tail end of sunday roast time, the potatoes were quite overcooked.  Maybe an earlier meal would avoid the same fate?

The Saladiers: Suvi, Me

I'd seen some fabulous looking salads here before and had to give it a go, whilst Suvi wanted a lighter meal. My mackerel, watercress, squash, orange and chilli salad hit the spot.  This was beautifully dressed in a light vinaigrette, the mackerel was warm and its oily saltiness went beautifully with the chilli and orange, and finally the (butternut?) squash...perfectly peppered and with a delightful bite.  

Warm Mackerel, Watercress, Squash, Orange and and Chilli Salad 

Warm Mackerel, Watercress, Squash, Orange and and Chilli Salad 

Suvi's more classic chicken caesar looked wonderful, but Suvi thought it was over-salted due to dressing/anchovy overload (there were a lot of anchovies if that's your thing!).  If however you are up for hedonism rather than a light salad, I'd definitely recommend going for this with my American hat on.

Chicken Caesar Salad....Anchovy-Rich!

Chicken Caesar Salad....Anchovy-Rich!

Don't forget the side of chips!

The Burgerette: Elisa

And finally, Elisa couldn't resist the big mill steak burger, filled with pulled pork, fried onions, double cheese, and BBQ sauce.  Apart from finding the sweetness of her first brioche-style bun a bit strange (apparently these haven't hit Sweden or her native Italy), she enjoyed the lot.

The Big Mill Steak Burger, with Pulled Pork, Double Cheese, Fried Onions, and BBQ Sauce

The Big Mill Steak Burger, with Pulled Pork, Double Cheese, Fried Onions, and BBQ Sauce

In the most objective of measures, my final verdict is that this quaint little place is great!  Certainly satiated our post-punting hunger in style - just remember to think outside the box when searching for a seat in peak times. And stay for a beer as well.

 

The Mill Pub

14 Mill Lane 

Cambridge CB2 1RX

United Kingdom

Website

The Urban Shed, Cambridge, UK by Joseph Polex Wolf

Finally a post from home!  Went to check out the new(ish) addition to King Street this weekend - apparently they've been open since February and I've been blindly cycling past all these months. 

I'd say the relic-filled Shed (think giant doll heads, retro bikes and bits from old airplanes) is a decent place for some sandwiches if you're getting bored of the usual food haunts.   Sadly I do think there's room for improvement, especially on the quality of their bread....it's no Darwin's! Nor a replacement for Hot Numbers just yet. 

From an Olympic Airlines seat, I went for a scottish smoked salmon, watercress, poppy seed and orange mascarpone sandwich on ciabatta, which came nicely toasted.  But in all this was just OK in my opinion, the flavoured mascarpone didn't come through as much as I had hoped, and unfortunately my flat white wasn't very memorable either.  The salmon was fantastic though!

Scottish Smoked Salmon, Watercress, Poppy Seed and Orange Mascarpone Sandwich on Ciabatta

Scottish Smoked Salmon, Watercress, Poppy Seed and Orange Mascarpone Sandwich on Ciabatta

Andrew opted for the BBQ Aubergine, Swiss Cheese & Cashew Nut Butter on a multiseed roll. Again this underwhelmed, the flavours were good but the roll needed to be more robust and interesting.

BBQ Aubergine, Swiss Cheese & Cashew Nut Butter

BBQ Aubergine, Swiss Cheese & Cashew Nut Butter

But Raynes seemed to enjoy his Smoked Bacon, Brie & Balsamic Onion on gluten-free bread!

Smoked Bacon, Brie & Balsamic Onion on gluten-free bread

Smoked Bacon, Brie & Balsamic Onion on gluten-free bread

By this time, my in-flight entertainment were getting a bit unimpressed with the photo-taking...

I'm very keen to support new independent places here in Cambridge (we desperately need more in my opinion!), so I really hope this place succeeds.  Check the shed out.  Apparently they also do dinner parties which have nice sounding menus!  In the meantime I'll still be pining for my fix of Darwin's in Cambridge across the sea.

 

The Urban Shed

62-64 King Street

Cambridge CB1 1LN

United Kingdom

http://www.theurbanshed.com



Quan Nuong, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam by Joseph Polex Wolf

If you ever find yourself lost on the streets of Saigon, follow your nose up a creaky flight of stairs to this open-air rooftop BBQ joint.  The place works in DIY fashion: order away and then cook on the table, on a roof, in the heart of this whirlwind of a city.  It's a fantastic assault on your senses.

The first thing to note about Quan Nuong is that the food is FRESH.  So fresh that the prawns were actually moving (I'll spare you my videos).  Luckily, the waitress came over and dumped the entire wiggling bowlful right on the flames before I could as much as hesitate.  The machiavellian end product was spectacular!

Twitching Prawn Skewers in a Chilli, Lime and Fish Sauce Marinade

Twitching Prawn Skewers in a Chilli, Lime and Fish Sauce Marinade

The glorious result

The glorious result

Next on the menu were marinated squid and beef, at a more conventional level of freshness.  As a side dipping sauce, you often get a little mound of salt and pepper with a lime in Vietnam.  Squeeze the lime over this mound and mix well - it's so simple but really works wonders.  Or just dunk in some Vietnamese fish sauce for some salty heat.  All of this was accompanied with a beautiful side of lotus seed rice served up in a leafy parcel. 

Marinated Beef and Squid ready to hit the flames.  The squid is definitely the one to go for here!

Marinated Beef and Squid ready to hit the flames.  The squid is definitely the one to go for here!

Lotus Seed Rice with Pork (?) and Mixed Vegetables

Lotus Seed Rice with Pork (?) and Mixed Vegetables

At this point I was eyeing up a neighbouring table which was tucking into some incredible looking vietnamese spring rolls.  The food envy won over!  To start, you BBQ some smaller 'rolls' of pork covered in streaky pork fat.  Make sure to cook these really well.  Then, grab a sheet of rice paper and heap it up with herbs, rice noodles, and your BBQ'd pork glory.  Roll, dunk prodigiously, devour, repeat.

Pork Rolls laced in Pork Fat, ready for cooking

Pork Rolls laced in Pork Fat, ready for cooking

Vietnamese Herbs, Green Bananas and Cucumbers

Vietnamese Herbs, Green Bananas and Cucumbers

Roll it all up!

Roll it all up!

To top it all off, the lights suddenly went out, and an opera-like rendition of "happy birthday" came over the stereo as a cake was brought out to the local revellers on a nearby table.  This extravagnaza was repeated 4 times throughout the eve - I guess all of Ho Chi Minh celebrates their birthday here?

Don't forget to wash it down all down with a cold Saigon.  If you find it that is - look for a small entrance to take you above the Temple Club Restaurant.

 

Quan Nuong

29 Tôn Thất Thiệp

District 1

Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnam