Posts for the 'London' Category


School of Wok – Woking with Jeremy Pang

SCHOOL OF WOK

School of Wok in Covent Garden has been doing some fine work in recent years. Founded by Jeremy Pang who comes from a long line of Chinese restaurateurs, School of Wok has been running for about 4 years and is one of the few Chinese Cookery Schools in the UK. Before opening School of Wok, Jeremy was already teaching students Chinese cookery at homes, trying to share with them the true essence of Chinese cooking. His enthusiasm of the subject matter is striking and is a testament to why School of Wok has seen such success.

School of Wok - London Food Blog - Woking with Jeremy Pang

School of Wok – Woking with Jeremy Pang

Last week I attended an event at the School of Wok to learn some wok skills from Jeremy. The class was called “Understanding the Wok” and was to showcase the new Dexam School of Wok wok range, made by Dexam in consultation with Jeremy. The woks are made with carbon steel to heat up quickly and bamboo handles for easy handling. What’s more, the woks are light, to enable the cook to lift the wok and easily toss the food!

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Cha Chaan Teng

CHA CHAAN TENG

Note: KK from Russian Revels and I (Agirlhastoeat) attended a bloggers dinner at Cha Chaan Teng together. This is a guest blog post written predominantly by KK, with input from myself.

Meet Jeremy Pang, the man behind School of Wok, a British Chinese guy with generations before him who have cooked and worked in Chinese restaurants. Chinese cookery is in his blood, and having opened his own Chinese cookery school, he is now also the consultant chef of Cha Chaan Teng, an unashamedly ‘inauthentic playful’ take on the popular Hong Kong tea houses (cha chaan teng translates literally as ‘tea restaurant’) which began springing up in Hong Kong in the 1950s. Effectively ‘Chinese-style Western food’ (and not Westernised Chinese food), they are a Hong Kong institution in themselves, serving a form of fast food that where diners can eat quickly and leave. Given its popularity in Hong Kong, surprisingly, this is the first ‘cha chaan teng’ of its kind in London.

Housed discretely in the basement of the never-quite-upcoming Holborn, Cha Chaan Teng is a glitzy affair, combining the comforts of booth seating with glamour of the huge mirrored bar and white lanterns. Style-wise, it is a far cry from the cha chaan tengs you get in Hong Kong. You’re not just going to be drinking tea here, darling! Already in the second week of opening, there was a buzz with an eclectic mix of people in crowd. What a great start to a new restaurant opening.

We attended a bloggers dinner, dining on a banquet chosen by Jeremy himself, around a tall round table with two lazy susans in the middle (which were a bit too lazy as they almost didn’t move too well!) Generosity and sharing are part of a traditional Chinese meal, no matter how far the recipes have travelled. There’s a huge disclaimer on the menu that the menu at Cha Chaan Teng isn’t intended to be authentic (whatever authentic ‘Chinese-style Western food’ is), and so we tried not to compare to the food might have tasted like in Hong Kong. Even so, it was fun to think back to Agirlhastoeat’s childhood years spent back in Hong Kong when she use to eat in a cha chaan teng as a child. However nostalgia can play a part in defining one’s connectedness to the food eaten. As for the menu itself, it draws inspiration from some classic cha chaan teng staples such as French toast and macaroni soup, as well as a smattering of other Chinese dishes.

Before we began stuffing our faces, Jeremy gathered us up to show how bao buns, the steamed rice buns that have been so trendy in London lately, are made. We prodded, sniffed and stretched the brilliant white dough, to get the feel for this all-important base food. Special, super fine, flour is often used (often bleached back in Hong Kong, a technique which is banned in the UK). Jeremy’s team had spent weeks perfecting that one skill of making bao. In themselves the buns are rather bland, all the better for carrying fillings with strong flavours.

We were ‘allowed’ to choose our little appetizers, either bao or a crusty roll. Our duck bao with hoisin sauce, cucumber and carrot pickle (£5.50) was a lovely mini manifestation of the classic high street staple of crispy duck. It was a good flavour, if a bit too dry.

Cha Chaan Teng - London Food Blog - Crispy duck bao

Cha Chaan Teng – London Food Blog – Crispy duck bao

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Hakkasan – Chinese New Year Menu

Several months ago I visited Hakkasan Hanway Place to try their delightful Dim Sum Sundays menu. The experience was really enjoyable. Not only was the food good, but there was also plenty of booze to go with the food which made it a really fun way to spend Sunday afternoon. And now, with Chinese New Year upon us, Hakkasan have brought out a Chinese New Year Menu to celebrate the year of the monkey.

As some of you may know, the number 8 is the luckiest number in the Chinese culture as it has a similar pronunciation to the word wealth. Accordingly, this Chinese New Year menu is priced at an auspicious £88.88. The menu begins with a soup, several starters, followed by a selection of mains to share.

The soup was ginseng and chicken with bamboo pith and wolfberries which was really delicious. The broth was clear with a beautiful flavour, and it showed off a wonderfully authentic, masterful touch, with both its choice of traditional Chinese ingredients and also in how it had been prepared.

Hakkasan - London Food Blog - Double boiled fresh Ginseng and chicken soup with bamboo pith and wolfberry

Hakkasan – Double boiled fresh Ginseng and chicken soup with bamboo pith and wolfberry

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Hakkasan Hanway Place – Dim Sum Sundays

HAKKASAN HANWAY PLACE

Hakkasan Hanway Place needs little introduction and is the first of the Hakkasan restaurants to open. Hakkasan was designed by famed interior designer Christian Liaigre and embodies the height of sensuality with its wooden screens intertwined with black and gold traditionally-drawn panels. Opening in 2001, in 2003 Hakkasan was awarded a Michelin star, which it has retained to this day.

Hakkasan offers both an a la carte menu as well as a dim sum menu. On Sundays, it has a special ‘Dim Sum Sundays’ menu which is priced at £58 per person (with a minimum of two people sharing) and which I thought to be really good value. The menu included a selection of dim sum as well as cooked dishes. Moreover, the menu included a choice of a starter cocktail, half a bottle of Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV Champagne each, and a choice of after dinner cocktail. We all agreed it was a great way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon, enjoying some good food with good company and with lots of booze.

Hakkasan - London Food Blog - Louis Roederer champagne

Hakkasan – Louis Roederer champagne

The menu begins with a crispy duck salad with pomelo, pine nut and shallot. The salad was really lovely. The duck was, as the menu suggested, nice and crispy, and it worked well with the sweetness of the pomelo.

Hakkasan - London Food Blog - Crispy duck salad

Hakkasan – Crispy duck salad

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The Duck and Rice

THE DUCK AND RICE

The Duck and Rice is the latest outlet by design supremo and superstar restaurateur Alan Yau who is best known for the Michelin starred Chinese restaurants Hakkasan and Yauatcha, and the high street dining chains Wagamamas and Busaba Eathai. With The Duck and Rice, Yau pays “homage to the ‘holy’ [sic] British drinking establishment” by converting what was once the rather shabby Endurance Pub into a modern day boozer on the ground floor and a funky Chinese restaurant on the first. It’s an interesting new approach to Chinese eating, and it certainly adds a new twist to the concept of east meets west.

I went to The Duck and Rice with Krista from Passportdelicious.com and we both agreed that we loved the ambience of the restaurant. It was very COOL with a dynamic energy that made it a great dining venue. Krista was happy for me to order and so I did my best to order as much food as I could with the £50 that I received for writing about the UNCOVER app.

We started with some sesame prawn toast (£6.50) which had been recommended in many reviews. These proved to be really enjoyable and had been expertly prepared with a generous spread of tasty and well-seasoned minced prawn topping. The sesame seeds worked well to complement the flavour of the prawns, and the toast was crispy and admirably did not taste oily.

The Duck and Rice - London Food Blog - Sesame prawn toast

The Duck and Rice – Sesame prawn toast

Venison puffs (£4.80) are a take on another dim sum classic, the char sui (BBQ pork) puff, and here they were delicious, packing in lots of great flavour. The sauce in the filling had the right level of consistency and sweetness and was very authentic tasting. However the pastry was ever so slightly underdone and not quite flaky enough. A few more minutes of cooking time and these could have been perfect.

The Duck and Rice - London Food Blog - Venison puffs

The Duck and Rice – Venison puffs

Jasmine smoked pork ribs (£14) were sublimely tender with a great flavour. But the ribs needed more sauce, and the sauce needed more spicing. Nevertheless, we really enjoyed the ribs. We both agreed it was better to have good quality ribs that were well cooked with not enough sauce, rather than badly cooked ribs with too much sauce.

The Duck and Rice - London Food Blog - Jasmine smoked ribs

The Duck and Rice – Jasmine smoked ribs

A dish of wasabi prawns (£10.50) contained some good quality battered prawns that were sweet and meaty. But we didn’t enjoy the wasabi mayonnaise that came with the prawns as it was too rich and a little sickly. Serving the mayonnaise as a dipping sauce would probably have worked better. This would have also meant that the batter on the prawns would have stayed crunchier for longer.

Our final dish was the No23 (a reference to how in some Chinese restaurants you order by the number). The No23 was a chicken chow mein (£9.50) which we both found a little disappointing as it tasted flat. The dish lacked for that fragrant (香), almost slightly caramelised effect that you normally get with really well cooked Chinese wok noodles, and this usually comes from having the right level of work heat.

The Duck and Rice - London Food Blog - No23 Chicken chow mein

The Duck and Rice – No23 Chicken chow mein

We both enjoyed The Duck and Rice, especially for its great ambience and funky vibe. As for the food, notwithstanding some weak spots in the cooking, this was fairly tasty with the occasional glimpses of authenticity. The service was pleasant and friendly, and far better than what you would get in a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. Price wise, we were rather impressed with ourselves that we managed to as much as we did for about £50. That said we found the 13% service charge (rather than the standard 12.5%) to be quite cheeky.

SUMMARY INFORMATION:
Likes:

1. The sesame prawn toast.
2. The pastry on the venison puffs was admittedly underdone, but the flavour was otherwise excellent.

Dislikes:
1. The No.23 Chicken chow mein tasted flat.
2. The 13% rather than the standard 12.5% service charge.

Food rating: 3.5/5
Service rating: 3.5/5

Prices:
About £25 to £45 per head, excludes drinks and service.

Website: http://www.theduckandrice.com/

Square Meal

Duck & Rice Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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