By now if you’ve read my blog long enough you’ll know my favourite ramen chain in London is Tonkotsu. This year they are celebrating their 10th anniversary of their founding. As part of the celebrations they have partnered with Anglo Thai chef John Chantarasak to offer a Thai Curry Tonkotsu. The dish, available at all Tonkotsu restaurants from the 8th to 30th of June, features their signature 18-hour pork broth enriched with lardo and a spicy northern Thai curry paste. It’s topped with thin-cut homemade noodles, braised pork belly, pickled mustard greens, spring onion, coriander, a lime wedge, seasoned egg and crispy fried noodles. I tried it yesterday and it was very good. Not too spicy, some really interesting flavours and the crispy noodles added a lovely texture contrast.
When my friend Rup first suggested Sunday lunch at the Gun, I assumed he meant the Gun pub in Canary Wharf which I’d been to many times before and is well known for its excellent Sunday roasts. However turns out he actually meant the Gun in Hackney. I didn’t know this pub, but apparently he’d heard good things. The Sunday lunch is a collaboration with pop up Ling Ling and is an asian fusion Sunday lunch. I ordered the Korean mirror glazed chicken and my friend the char sui pork belly. It came with a sesame Yorkshire pudding, panko breaded carrot and wasabi. It looked good, but what is it with restaurants serving Sunday roasts with the gravy already poured on the plate. I do really prefer a jug of gravy to pour myself. It was all perfectly pleasant, but didn’t exactly blow me away. For pudding they only had one thing on the menu, a white chocolate and matcha tiramisu which sounded delicious, so we both ordered. What arrived didn’t particularly taste much of either white chocolate or matcha, however it was creamy and substantial. No artfully presented, delicate dessert here, a great big wedge of tiramisu dolloped in a bowl and all the better for it. Lunch was pleasant and the company as always great, however I couldn’t help but feel they were trying to shoehorn asian flavours into a Sunday roast, that one wasn’t needed and also two not particularly successfully done. I enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t rush back.
Nanban is the ramen restaurant from former Masterchef UK 2011 champion Tim Anderson. When it comes to ramen he really knows his stuff having lived for a time in Fukuoka aka the Japanese home of ramen. I’d been wanting to check out his place for a while, so as soon as lockdown restrictions on restaurant lifted I headed straight down to Brixton. I went for the Lazy goat ragù-men ramen. This is one of Nanban’s signature dishes and is inspired by Brixton’s West Indian history and culture. Several years ago now it won the Evening Standard dish of the year, so I was keen to try it out and my expectations were high. The ramen consists of slow-cooked boneless goat leg and noodles in a spicy Indo-Caribbean curry sauce, topped with seafood sawdust, fried shallots, scotch bonnet bamboo shoots and a tea pickled egg. An innovate twist on the traditional ramen, but it worked. The goat was beautifully tender and tasty. It sat in what was definitely more of a sauce than a broth and had a good spicy heat to it, without being blow your head off hot.
On Friday after a bit of a late start due to quite a boozy first night we made our way to the nearby Camel Valley Vineyard to do a tour of the estate and most excitingly do some wine tasting. We sat on a beautiful terrace overlooking the vineyard. We started with a selection of five sparkling wines and before moving onto five of their white wines. Each selection came with details of the particular wines and tasting notes. It was really interesting seeing and tasting the differences between them all. Collectively as a group our favourites were almost all the same. Our favourites were the Sparking Brut Rose and our favourite white wine was the Atlantic Dry.
Finding a good authentic laksa in London is not easy, but I’d heard good things about this place and with the Eat Out to Help Out scheme I felt it was as good time as time as any to give it a try. What with it being named after the namesake dish I had high expectations. I started with a honey duck bao bun. While the filling was pleasant enough, the bun was a bit hard in places and certainly not the soft pillowy bun one would expect. It was also torn, to be honest if I was the chef I wouldn’t have served it, but they did. Not a great start. For the main dish I of course also ordered a laksa. There was several different options but I went for the classic Singapore-style curry laksa. This dish was better, as one would hope for a restaurant literally named after the dish. Was it the best Laksa I’ve ever had no, not the worst either, pretty average overall though. Also afterwards I had quite a nasty stomach ache, which I’m not certain but may or may not have been from the meal. Either way don’t think I’ll be going back. My search for a decent Laksa in London continues.