Penang Top Eats – Penang Road Famous Cendol & Sisters Curry Mee

PENANG TOP EATS

Being the foodie capital of Malaysia, Penang resonates with many special signature dishes such as char kway teow, wok fried noodles with prawns; hokkien mee, a prawn noodle dish in a prawn broth; and assam laksa, a tangy and spicy fish broth noodle soup, but to name a few.

You need months to try the best that Penang has to offer, but if there are two things everyone must try at a minimum, then in my opinion these are the following:

1.Penang Road Famous Cendol

This cendol is legendary in Penang. All my research pointed to this being the best in Penang and every local I spoke to also agreed it was the best. Made with coconut milk, pandan jelly noodles, shaved ice, palm sugar and red beans, this was a deliciously refreshing, creamy and not too sweet. It was so delicious I kept going back for more. At MYR2.50 (about £0.42), I also thought it was great value (by Western standards).

Penang Road Famous Cendol - London Food Blog

Penang Road Famous Cendol

Penang Road Famous Cendol - London Food Blog - Cendol

Penang Road Famous Cendol – Cendol

Note that there is another cendol stall across Penang Road Famous Cendol, but just head to the one with the queues. You really can’t miss it.

Penang Road Famous Cendol - London Food Blog - The queues

Penang Road Famous Cendol – The queues

Penang Road Famous Cendol - London Food Blog - Locals eating cendol

Penang Road Famous Cendol – Locals eating cendol

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The Porchester

The Porchester is a gastropub located in the heart of Bayswater. Part of the Young’s Pub Group, it is a colourful local completed in warm autumnal colours. The interior skillfully strikes a balance between a modern and a traditional English pub. Similarly this concept carries through to the menu which is traditionally British but cooked with a modern flair.

To begin, we couldn’t resist ordering a few items from the bar snacks. The chicken wings (£4) fell off the bone and were slightly charred which gave them a lovely caramelisation. Cooked with chilli, they also offered up a light kick of spiciness. A ranch dressing was a nice accompaniment to these subtle yet spicy wings as it provided a deliciously cool and tangy contrast.

The Porchester - Chillied chicken wings

The Porchester – Chillied chicken wings

The chorizo and black pudding scotch eggs (£3.50) was the standout from the bar snacks. The black pudding and chorizo paste struck a great balance in the scotch egg as it was soft and subtle without undermining the delicate flavour of the runny egg. The textural contrast between the soft gooey interior of the egg against the crunchy crumb coating made it even more scrumptious.

The Porchester - Chorizo and black pudding scotch egg

The Porchester – Chorizo and black pudding scotch egg

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Pachamama

Pachamama is the latest addition to the Peruvian food scene in London, and a really exciting one at that. It serves innovative dishes by combining together an interesting array of quality ingredients, with fish from Cornwall and meats from Yorkshire. It is going up against other Peruvian heavy weights such as Michelin starred Lima, Coya and Ceviche. But Pachamama is as good as it gets, and holds its own with class.

The décor of Pachamama was unconventionally un-Peruvian and resembled the style of an old British colonial home with reclaimed antiques. But it was very tasteful and comfortable, with the restaurant stretching along an L-shape and backing onto the open kitchen. There is also a swanky cocktail bar serving Peruvian classics such as home-infused Piscos with seasonal berries, herbs and fruits, and other creative and reasonably priced cocktails such as The Curandero – a vodka, lime and chilli sherbet drink topped with ginger beer (£8).

We visited Pachamama for lunch, to try their special ‘Pick and Mix’ set lunch menu which features dishes from various categories – ceviche, robata grill, Josper oven, salad and dessert, all at a very reasonable £6 per dish. This special menu is only available during weekday lunchtimes, and in the evenings and weekends Pachamama offers an a la carte menu.

It wouldn’t do to not try ceviche at a Peruvian restaurant, and at Pachamama we had the chilled prawn and sea bass ceviches. Both were resounding fresh, with the bouncy prawns being paired with some fabulously crunch onions, squash, English mustard and tiger’s milk. It was refreshing and tangy, but a little too sharp on the palate. As for the sea bass ceviche with tiger’s milk, this was very pleasant, especially with the crunchy samphire, radish and luscious sweet potatoes.

Pachamama – Chilled prawn ceviche

Chilled prawn ceviche

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Franklin Barbecue – Austin, Texas

Franklin Barbecue

Franklin Barbecue

The next day, after my meaty dinner at Sullivan’s, I ventured to Franklin Barbecue for even more meat. Much has been written about Franklin Barbecue with some press publications alleging it to be the ‘best’ BBQ in the United States. Franklin also featured on Anthony Bourdain’ No Reservations series, and in the movie Chef, Chef Carl Casper stopped off at Franklin Barbecue in his food truck as he drives through Texas.

So what makes Franklin Barbecue so famous? There are many factors, one of which is the quality A-grade meat that they use. Franklin Barbecue also uses an especially dry Post Oak wood which has been cured for 9-12 months that helps to impart a special mild smoky BBQ flavour. Franklin also adopt a slow cooking technique, one that they have refined over the years. Depending on the meat, the cooking process can last for up to 18 hours, at cooking temperatures of between 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit (about 107c to 121c), to produce that incredible melt-in-the-mouth effect for which Franklin is so famed.

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Claude’s Kitchen

Claude Compton previously cooked at Petersham Nurseries and Club Gascon, and with his restaurant Claude’s Kitchen, he now combines his Michelin experience with beautifully fresh ingredients to produce a wholesome British menu. The fish is brought down daily from Cornwall, the meat is organic and free-range and he also makes wonderful use of seasonal greens throughout his dishes. Claude’s Kitchen is located on the first floor of the Amuse Bouche Champagne Bar in Parsons Green. It’s a cozy little outfit – uniquely comfortable and wonderfully relaxed.

The menu was not extensive but everything was wonderfully inventive and creative. There were touches of the fine dining to it with inclusion of elements such as dehydrated olives and parsnip foam. Yet the food was rustic and comforting and unpretentious. But best of all it tasted incredibly fresh. An inventive dish of raw beef fillet (£7) with blackberries, red onion, dandelion, chicory and horseradish was delectably interesting. The beef was meaty and tender and beautifully balanced against the sweetness of the berries and blackberry sauce. There was also an earthiness coming through from the dandelion and chicory and a gentle hint of heat from the horseradish that rounded off this refreshing dish.

Claude’s Kitchen - Beef fillet

Beef fillet

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The Five Fields

The Five Fields restaurant is so named as it is located in an area which was once known in the 18th century as The Five Fields. Chef-owner Taylor Bonnyman opened The Five Fields in May of 2013. It’s a charming restaurant set in a townhouse, and it has been sumptuously decorated in soft, soothing colours to give diners both a sense of comfort and elegance. The menu is modern British and focuses on seasonal ingredients, drawing on herbs and vegetables grown at the restaurant’s own East Sussex gardens. Taylor previously cooked at the two Michelin-starred Corton in New York and now works alongside head chef Marguerite Keogh who was previously at Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley.

There is a tasting menu which is priced at £75. Otherwise, three courses is a really reasonably priced £50 a head. There’s also flexibility to be had as the two of us decided to go with three starters and only one dessert rather than two of each. Our meal began with some petit looking canapés which consisted of a foie gras mousse on crispy gingerbread topped with a prune puree and a dash of orange powder. This was a tasty bite of creamy goodness meshed with gingery, orangey overtones. This was followed by a fresh crab tartlet topped with pickled golden beetroot and aromatic shiso. A refreshing amuse bouche of gazpacho with pickled watermelon and basil oil came next. We also nibbled on some warm and appetising breads including a selection of campaillou, black olive, soda bread and buttermilk.

The Five Fields - Canapés

Canapés

The Five Fields - Bread selection

Bread selection

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El Pirata de Tapas

El Pirata de Tapas in Notting Hill, sister restaurant to El Pirata de Tapas Mayfair, came to fame when Gordon Ramsay named it one of his ‘Best Spanish Restaurants in the UK’ in 2010 on his Ramsay’s Best Restaurant TV programme. That recognition belonged to a time when El Bulli trained Spanish chef Omar Allibhoy was still the head chef at El Pirata de Tapas (co-incidentally Allibhoy had also worked at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze restaurant under Jason Atherton prior to taking over the reins at El Pirata de Tapas). These days Allibhoy is busy with other ventures such as his books and Tapas Revolution with the current head chef at El Pirata de Tapas being a Julian Gil.

El Pirata de Tapas is a comfortable looking restaurant and is suitable casual in keeping with the many other casual eating options along Westbourne Grove. The restaurant serves a modern tapas menu, a throw back to the days of Allibhoy.

There was a great value set lunch menu at £9.95 for two tapas dishes including bread and wine, but we elected for the more adventurous offerings from the standard a la carte menu.

Seared scallops (£9) were nicely cooked and came with a sweet and delicious onion purée that worked well with the scallops and some pork roulade that was quite fatty. Overall this was a nice dish but it would have been better had it not come out cold.

El Pirata de Tapas - Seared scallops

Seared scallops

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Skip Garden by Global Generation

Skip Garden

Skip Garden

The Skip Garden was established in 2009 by Global Generation, a charity launched in 2004 whose core purpose is to inspire and empower young people to develop a living relationship with the natural world and to take a lead in generating positive environmental and social change in their communities.

The Skip Garden is the base for the Global Generation’s youth work programme and is located within the King’s Cross development site. It is a portable urban garden where a variety of organic vegetables, herbs and fruits are grown out of both skips and polytunnels made out of reused materials from the surrounding construction site. It is at the garden that the young people are trained in leadership and accredited vocational business and horticultural programmes, whether it be working on the garden or building furniture.

One of the skips in the Skip Garden

One of the skips in the Skip Garden

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