A Bahraini Breakfast

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Feeling so fresh and so clean straight off the 7am flight to Bahrain this Eid, we headed for breakfast. Chai Cafe is a little place opposite Bahrain Mall (I got that off the website, not going to pretend I’ve got my Bahrain bearings), which as the name might suggest, has got a massive tea and coffee selection - but it’s also great for a quick, fresh, traditional breakfast.

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As you can see, the table was a carrom board! Carrom is a traditional Middle Eastern board game, popular with old guys who like to play while smoking shisha and shooting the shit, till the break of dawn! It’s kind of a forgotten game these days, though Kamal recently brought it back with a carrom night at The Magazine Shop.

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Chai karak called my name in what can only be described as dulcet tones. This is a smooth, milky tea, lightly spiced with cardomom, ginger and cinnamon. It originates from India, but tastes like Christmas to me, and goes down a comforting treat. And look how cute the teapot was!

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Avoiding the Balaleet (I’m not man enough for sweet, cold vermicelli noodles in the early morning), we went for Shakshuka, which is eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. In this case they were scrambled, and mega-spicy! I might have got a bit snotty.

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Then a simple egg dish cooked with tomatoes and cheese, which was basically a little omelette. Kamal’s dad always makes a version of this for us when we’re staying at their house, and I gotta say, I think his is better than Chai Cafe’s!

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With these we had fresh, crispy khobez, stuffed with satisfyingly mild and creamy Kraft cheese, hot from the clay oven. Apparently this plastic cheese is the traditional filling around here! Well, at least it’s been tradition for the past couple of decades. 

Stomachs lined, we were ready for a week of souk-wandering, music-watching and beer-drinking in Bahrain. There are worse places to start your day than a cute place like Chai Cafe. 

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'Get It Together At Burgerland'

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Words by Kamal.

Burgerland is very much a part of my childhood in Bahrain. That neon-lit heart shaped logo brings back memories of driving up to it with my family, sitting in the car and munching on shawarmas! 

I’m not sure about the rest of the Middle East, but in Bahrain, if a family wants to go eat shawarma, they order up and eat it in the car. It’s some sort of weird tradition that most Arab families do; you see rows of cars lined up outside the place, and at first you think it’s a queue - but NO! They all just love that shit. 

It feels kinda weird admitting to be a part of this shawarma-car-eating culture, but yes, I admit I did it! It wasn’t in my hands, I swear it! 

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Anyways, ‘Burgerland’ - where are the burgers, you might ask? You see, years ago, long before my existence, I was told stories of there being so little in Bahrain that It was hard to even come across a burger. So untouched by modernity, there was no McDonald’s, or KFC, or shopping malls, but rather markets, road trucks and independent, Bahraini branded joints like Burgerland.

The burgers here are shit. No two ways about it, they are just plain bad. At the time you didn’t have many choices for where to get a burger. But now people know better - you don’t get the burger at Burger Land, there are better places for that. They introduced shawarma’s in the late 90s and never looked back. 

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Burgerland’s shawarma’s are just the best; a concoction of chargrilled-on-the-spit hunks of meat, with sour sauce and flavours, that just comes together beautifully. Last time, we ordered the big shawarma plate in which you can fill up your own pitta, adding onions, tabbouleh, tahina, chilli sauce, fries, and of course the shawarma meat. It’s a joyous experience; that interaction of everyone going in for the shawarma and building the perfect wrap. 

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We also ordered the chicken wangs, we just had to. We’re currently tasting wings of all cultures - we’ll get back to you on that one (wings world tour). These wings were charred to perfection, squeeze a bit of lemon on and you got that perfect juicy bite. 

Top this all off with another specialty of theirs - fresh juices and you’ve got yourself a damn good dinner! I always go for the pomegranate juice, theirs is the best I’ve had, period. The perfect balance; sweet, sour, fresh, you got it Burger Land!!!  

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Their slogan: ‘Get It Together at Burger Land’ is also really great. It doesn’t really make sense in the context of the restaurant, but that makes me like it even more. As if to say, Burger Land can play a significant change to your lifestyle. Maybe not, but It can bring joy in the form of shawarma my friend, a very good shawarma.  

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Memories of Aappa Kadai’s coconut fried chicken <3

Memories of Aappa Kadai’s coconut fried chicken <3

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Rangoli, Meena Bazaar

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My chaat obsession has been growing at a rapid pace, ever since that first encounter at Bombay Chowpatty a few months back. I’ve frequented them a few times, and they never let me down, and Lassi King in Bur Dubai was equally satisfying. But it was time to venture out. 

After asking around for chaat recommendations, one name kept popping up time and again, more than any other - Rangoli, in Meena Bazaar. So we headed to the Indian district, all full of bright lights, shimmering saris for sale, and men offering perfume, watches, and handbags. A few turns into this dizzying little area was Rangoli.

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I love the bare-bones style of a place like Rangoli. You got your church cafeteria style seating, the massive fan placed centre-stage, the surprisingly ornate light features, and of course, the counters full of rows of Indian sweets. It’s full of loud families sharing all their food between them, and single men getting their chaat fix after work.

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Down to business. The prices at Rangoli are what I like to see. Around 8dhs per chaat dish, you can eat a banquet’s amount for next to nothing. The chaat menu is the longest I’ve seen yet, so there’s a ton of stuff I’ve yet to try out (yay), on this occasion we went for Mixed chaat, pani puri, dahi vada, and mixed pakoda.

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Loved the dahi vada, shoving a yogurty-crunchy-spicy ball in your mouth is so satisfying! They are just the right size to give you a massive mouthful without overwhelming. Haha that’s what she said. 

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Rangoli’s Mixed Chaat contained those saucy masala chickpeas I love, sev (fried noodle bits, you might know them from such addictive snacks as Bombay Mix), broken-up crispy, fried bread bits, chopped tomatoes and onions, swimming in tamarind chutney and yogurt, and sprinkled liberally with coriander. Obviously I loved it. Obviously. There was never any doubt that I would. This is a dish that contains all my favourite things on one plate. Though dare I say it, I might like Bombay Chowpatty’s better?! I don’t know if that’s allowed since BC love being in malls, I feel a bit dirty even thinking it.  

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Pani Puri are always fun. You smash a hole in the top of the hollow balls, scoop in some chickpeas and some sauce, then dunk it in the spicy water, and ram it in your mouth quickly before it goes soggy! 

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Mixed pakoda was basically a plate of deep-fried, battered vegetables, and that can never be a bad thing. The onions had my heart from the start, as did the tangy herby dipping sauce. But one of the fried things was full on chillis!! I broke one open and saw lots of seeds hanging out in there, so got scared and didn’t even bother trying it. I live to regret that pussiness.

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Anyway, I’ll be running back to Rangoli the first opportunity I get. It is now my life’s aim to try every dish on that chaat menu, and by God, I think I can do it. 

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Coca-Cola Wings

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My mum, always ahead of her times, has been making roast gammon in coca-cola for years. Everyone knows that pig goes best with a lil bit of sweetness, and why go for the relatively healthy version (apple, cranberry, etc), when you can full on slather that shit in sugar and additives??? Whatever’s in that mysterious brown beverage lends itself perfectly to making meat a tasty combination of sweet, sticky and savoury, so I’m certainly not complaining. 

And yet, while I knew this from years of gobbling down coca-cola gammon on Sunday lunchtimes (I think the recipe was originally a Nigella), and being vaguely aware of various coca-cola chicken wings recipes in Asian cuisines, I’d never actually cooked with it myself. 

All that changed when we spotted this recipe in the brilliant Belgian-based food and music magazine, Mood. We adapted the cooking method a little - slow cooking the sauce and pouring it over deep-fried wings, rather than cooking the wings actually in the sauce. You knows we like it crispy!

The sauce is made by frying up 3 cloves of garlic, some chopped red chilli, and a few slices of ginger, then pouring in a can of coke, a quarter cup of soy sauce, and a couple of tablespoons of Korean cooking vinegar. Cook it up for 20 mins or so till it starts getting sticky! 

The resulting flavours blew my mind. Adding the chilli totally kicks things up a notch, tempering the sugar; while the familiar flavours of garlic, ginger, and soy sauce made these wings feel like they’d be right at home on the menu at a Chinese restaurant. They have so much more depth than you’d expect from cooking with coke - though they’re just as addictive! 

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Foul w Hummus, Barsha

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Words by Kamal.

There’s something beautiful about falafel. How it’s origins are claimed from so many different countries; how it’s so versatile to fitting into a sandwich, wrap, salad, or shining alone; how it’s just about the best vegetarian option you could ask for; how the way it’s served holds such history.

The traditional way of serving falafel is to offer customers a piece, and to allow them to taste what you have made, while they wait for their full order to be ready. Almost like a passing on of wisdom through food, it’s a wonderful tradition that I enjoy a lot. I’ve seen it in falafel joints from London to the Middle East, and any custom that involves complimentary fresh falafel is just fine by me. 

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Foul W Hummus is one of the many restaurants me and Beth just happened to stumble upon. We like walking around and exploring, and often as a result find establishments which serve up great grub. With Foul W Hummus, we saw someone inside eating a great looking falafel wrap, so we went in.

Don’t let the name ‘fool’ you! Although the name of the restaurant draws emphasis on the falafel’s long lost pal foul (cooked and mashed fava beans, served with olive oil, chopped parsley, onion, garlic and lemon juice), it’s all about the falafel here. 

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This place knows how to cook falafel, the way I remember it as a kid. It needs to be shaped the right size, small enough so that every part of it can be cooked to golden perfection, with that thick crunchy crust. The insides are just the right texture - not too mushy, just dry and crumbly enough. And then there’s the way it’s dressed. Sprinkled with some somac, and dipped in their very own delicious, silky smooth, tahina-heavy hummus is the way to go.

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As soon as we walked in we were offered a free taster falafel, then asked what we would like to order - perfect. We ordered up a plate of falafel and to go with it -  hummus with pine nuts and shredded meat. 

Along the way, the server consistently filled our table with more falafel, as if to say, eat until you are satisfied. And we did, until we could eat no more. Did I mention this place was cheap? it’s only one dirham for three falafels here. ONE DIRHAM. I don’t know if I can think of anything that is that cheap in this country. 

Well done Foul W Hummus - you’re great. 

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Ibn Hamido, Barsha

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We just walked past this place in Barsha one night and thought it looked kind of outrageous, so just had to give it a shot. What’s the worst that could happen!

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This place is a seafood restaurant, and quite a traditionally Arabic style one. It’s pretty vast, it’s got TVs playing football on silent, the walls are covered in photos of old Arabic movie stars, and as with all great restaurants, it has a heavily moustached mascot, Ibn Hamido the fisherman. There are set dishes on the menu, but the best way to order is to look at what fresh fish they’ve got out on display that day, and decide how you want it cooked.

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We went for some massive grilled shrimps. Truly massive. Too massive!!! I think the texture of prawns/shrimps/whatever they are works best when somewhere in between massive and tiny. The garlic-herby marinade and the smokey grilled flavour was awesome, but I kind of couldn’t handle the size of this shit. Still you can’t help but be impressed by the sight of these monsters!

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Little crispy fried fish, which I think were called gishkal on the menu, were the best part of the meal for me, not least because they tasted just like anchovies. They looked just like anchovies too. Come to think of it, they were probably anchovies?? I hesitate to make that statement though, you never know. With a fresh squeeze of lemon, eating these babies whole was pretty damn satisfying, whatever they were. 

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Lastly, we went for some mullet. This looked really great. Covered in tomatoes, peppers, onions, and charcoal-grilled till crispy, it reminded me of this other extremely successful fish we had at Tabreez in Bahrain. But the reality disappointed, some kind of oomph was missing, and it didn’t live up to the sweet, beautiful memory of Tabreez’s sea bream… The juicy topping tasted almost cheesy, in a not unpleasant way. And those crispy charred bits went down a treat! Looks like I’ve talked myself round to approving of this one. 

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Ibn Hamido’s tabbouleh was lemony fresh, and the perfect accompaniment to the fish, but the bread on the other hand, was shit. Someone doesn’t have a clay oven!! Why even bother making Arabic flatbread without one, guys? Why.

Kamal thinks I’m being harsh on Ibn Hamido’s, but the thing is, it wasn’t bad at all! It was just averagely satisfying, and I suppose if I wasn’t such a diva that would be good enough. But it’s not!!!

Just kidding. Carry on, Ibn Hamido. You’re alright.

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Kimchi Burgers

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We’ve been very aware of all the kimchi fusion happenings the past few years (in London especially, see Kimchi Cult and Kimchinary for just two great examples of street food vendors doing that thang), but somehow we never got the chance to actually try out a legit kimchi burger! So we took it upon ourselves to make one instead.

Living near a Korean super market which stocks 3 varieties of kimchi is a rare luxury we know, and we fully take advantage of it! 1004 Mart in Barsha have got cabbage, radish and spring onion kimchi (our new favourite). Who knows how long we will be lucky enough to live next to a place that serves fresh, cheap, abundant kimchi. We live that shit up, and we add it to everything (to varying degrees of success). 

So for our version of a kimchi burger, we grilled up some a couple of all beef patties, melting cheese on top as we went. We embraced the Korean theme and put together a little bulgogi ketchup - made easily by mixing bulgogi sauce, ketchup, chopped chives, and sesame oil. And we topped that with pickled Korean carrots and spring onion kimchi.

The balance of all these flavours really do make for a beautiful concoction of a burger. You got the sweetness from the bulgogi, the sour taste from the pickled carrots, the spiciness from the kimchi and that melted cheese on a perfect meat patty, creating an alliance of excellence, you might say. 

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New Times, Deira

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One afternoon a couple of months ago, we found ourselves in an audience watching a filming of Talentadong Pinoy Worldwide Middle East, aka the talent search show with the longest name ever, aka basically Philippines’ Got Talent (on tour). A friend of ours was on the judging jury, and it was an afternoon filled with wonders and talent I will never forget. 

To the guy who sang a beautiful song, while creating a masterpiece with felt pens stuck on his fingers, I salute you. When you flipped the canvas around at the end, and it was a picture of Jesus? Wow. I never saw that coming. And to the firedancer - an honourable mention must indeed go to your self-customised leggings. Lindsay Lohan just lost her moniker ‘Firecrotch’ to a new worthy champion.

The Filipino belly dancers, the little girl singer who definitely wasn’t emotionally ready for such a manipulative game-show, the smart phone magician - you were all winners in your own way. Well, until you lost to that pretty teenage girl who murdered that Jessie J song. It really shakes your belief that talent is more meaningful than good looks, doesn’t it?

An afternoon of talent-watching builds a healthy appetite, so we headed for a nearby Chinese restaurant, New Times, lead by our friend Lee (who had got the recommendation from his mum). And the weirdness continued. We entered into a huge, extravagant hallway, a cold expanse of marble and chandeliers. It felt more like a hotel lobby than a restaurant. Somewhere in the distance, a woman sat at a monstrously big reception desk, taking important phone calls (probably from China), and making notes in a fat pad. 

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As we made our way into this glistening gold palace of a restaurant, it occurred to me that New Times was weirdly devoid of a) sound, and b) atmosphere. Just as  we were about to sit down in the main room, Lee told us “No! We’re not sitting here!” He lead us briskly through the dining room, past the kitchen, past the chef with his iphone placed riskily on his chopping board, past tanks of crabs, lobsters, fish.Those crabs had the fattest claws ever, and I dreamed longingly of all the meat inside them as I silently followed the group up a wide, winding staircase.

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Finally we made it into our private dining room. Entering through a heavy wooden door, my eyes were hit by silver shininess from every direction. More chandeliers, draped curtains, marble wainscoting. In the middle of the wide, round table lay a glittery Lazy Susan, and my bum was nestled into one of ten plush velvet devore seats. The room felt hushed. This was intense. 

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Just when I thought I couldn’t get anymore baffled, it appeared that the only menu that New Times had in English was a singular iPad. I HATE iPad menus - but that is a rant for another time. Kamal and I left it up to the others to order, minus one controversial dish of our own choosing.

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Within minutes, a waitress appeared with a big bowl of noodles, and dished us each up a small serving. The were unusually buttery, with not much interesting flavour to report on. 

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Beef buns came next, with grilled spring onions. These were soft and doughy with a perfectly crispy crust, the yummy meat stuffing keeping things juicy and flavoursome. I wanted more of these doughy pillows.

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Now for the controversy.Tripe. Oh yeah, we TOTALLY went there.  Cut into strips, served hot in a silky smooth soy and sesame sauce, this was much softer than expected, almost like eating warm, floppy chicken skin! If that description doesn’t get your saliva glands going, I don’t know what will. Get the stomach lining idea out of your head, and this was one of the best dishes of the day.

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Tofu with century eggs - these are eggs that are encased in a clay mixture for several weeks. Some kind of chemical fermenation shit happens, and they turn black, translucent, and jelly-like. They also taste weirdly pungently great. New Times’ century eggs melted in your mouth, while the accompanying tofu crumbled into slippery pieces at the merest poke of a chopstick. The combination was so foreign to me, but it tasted damn good!

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This quite nice beef and mushroom dish had a completely unnecessary spun sugar heart garnish. Totally uncalled for. But the madness of it was almost appealing. 

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And then for me, this dish was stranger than the tripe. Orange prawns. Deep-fried and crispy, coated in the gloopiest sauce known to man, and gum-rottingly sweet. I think this took that whole sweet/savoury juxtaposition a little too far. It was kind of unsettling. Yet I kind of liked it. No way was I touching that watermelon though.

And thus ended an extraordinary day. New Times?? More like, WEIRD Times!!

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Guest Post // Melissa Fu of Mei Mei’s Street Cart: Gourmet San

Here’s something that will get your heart-a-trembling, your belly-a-rumbling, and your mouth-a-chuckling: a guest post from the one and only Melissa Fu! Our good pal from Mei Mei’s Street Cart has a razor sharp wit and shares our love for great food of all kinds. We got her to fill us in on her favourite Chinese spot in London.

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The first time I set foot in Gourmet San, my expectations were admittedly low. I’d recently been to it’s sister restaurant (My Old Place, just down the road in Liverpool St) and found that the food lacked the kind of big flavours and eye-watering spice I expected from a Szechuan joint.  It seemed like our dishes had been dumbed down for a western palate and overall made for a disappointing meal and thus explains my reluctance to go to Gourmet San.

I soon concluded that  My Old Place is the evil twin sister.

I’m seriously addicted. I go every 3 weeks and Gourmet San  has yet to disappoint. A seriously unpretentious setting - the plates are all plastic, the interior is small and shabby with sticky PVC tablecloths and a few random Chinese decorations. The service is quick, and direct - the staff aren’t exactly what you’d call friendly but this is all forgotten as soon as you take the first bite. I’ve come to find their rudeness oddly comforting and look forward to an evening sitting down, ordering, eating and leaving without all that fake bullshit chit chat and hovering around making you feel like you’re the only one in the room blah blah blah (now leave me a fat tip asshole).

THE FOOD

I’ve boiled it down to the all-time greats. The ones that keep me awake at night in a hot, szechuan, sweat.

First is the Beef Belly and Beef Tendon with tomatoes in a hot pot. Tenner. Served in a big steaming hot pot, it continues bubbling away on the hot-plate. The Beef belly is soft and gelatinous - bite sized pieces dissolving  into the beefy, tomato-ey soup and melting in your mouth. Then the cubes of tendon, slow cooked to perfect tenderness and moist as hell.

Next, is the braised Aubergine. Arriving on a big round plate in a heap, the quarter-moons are soft and translucent but with a crispy edge, and braised in a sweet sauce with a perfect balance of sharpness. This is usually the first dish to disappear and I’ve had many chopstick wars over the last piece.

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The stir-fried green beans were crunchy with sweet nuttiness, accompanied by big dried chillies and small morsels of Pork which made for a really good texture with the tender beans.

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Now, usually I wouldn’t dream of ordering sweet and sour Pork and frown on those who do, knowing that they actually WANT to experience the feeling of cheap Pork bits dipped in  nuclear waste and sugar, rolling around in their half open trap. BUT Gourmet San is the exception and their sweet and sour Pork is the best I’ve ever had. Instead of balls, they slice the Pork thin so they resemble more of a small pig’s ear. The sauce is light and subtly sweet, but the best thing about it is the texture. Because it’s so thin,  it becomes satisfying crisp and tender. Eat it while it’s hot though because it tends to get a bit chewy when it’s cold.

Out of everything though, my favourite is the braised Pig’s Feet. My first experience with trotters and I haven’t looked back. They came cut up into small-ish pieces quite indiscernible as to what they are. It’s quite a battle though, trying to grasp a big piece of saucy trotter in your chopsticks whilst tearing the meat off with your teeth. Trying to eat them in any kind of dignifying way is impossible so just forget that. When you do succeed in getting the moist, gelatinous, tender flesh off it’s a revelation of sweet-saltiness and incredibly addictive.

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There’s also a Cold dishes section of the menu which, although doesn’t sound glamorous, is actually full of delicately flavoured and multi-textured dishes such as the Mixed Vermicelli - strands of vermicelli, dry tofu, firm jellyfish and preserved Pork in a garlicky sauce. Bliss.

I always get a few Cumin lamb skewers too, which are usually good but are no match for Silk Road’s spicy ones.

If you want good Szechuan food, this is the place. For me, Gourmet San is a safe haven - leave your troubles outside, guzzle a few Tsingtaos and dive face-first into a pile of trotters. There is still an anthology of dishes that I have yet to consume at Gourmet San, and quite frankly I cannot wait.

 

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Street Feast, London

As our summer comes to end, we can only look back to the things we experienced, places we went and the food we ate. Kamal’s band Flamingods went on tour in the UK this summer playing great festivals such as Latitude and Green Man. With a bunch of free guest tickets they were given, we were off, friends around us for the whole summer, staying in surprisingly sunny British weather and basking in all the street food that was on offer at such establishments. 

We had a LOT of street food over the summer, we all know it’s definitely something that’s blown up the past few years. Some great - Caribbean joint at Latitude HELLO! Some not so great - floppy bacon floury bap at Green Man, I’m talking to you.

A week before we left to go back to Dubai, we took the opportunity to finally head down to Street Feast, in Dalston Yard. We’ve heard a lot about this place from friends such as Melissa, who often runs Mei Mei’s Street Cart here. A sort of open space haven for street vendors and food enthusiasts. You can find anything from rum flavoured popsicles to smoked jerk and Korean tacos. 

Here are a few photos from our day, the highlight being the low and slow mesquite smoked beef rib w.squid ink kimchee and pickles from BBQ Whisky Beer - just beautiful.  

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Fiery Gochujang Wings

We’ve been trying to come up with a new wings recipe for a while now - in particular, one that’s not brown (so it looks different to photograph), and doesn’t include soy sauce.

It came to me a few weeks ago, around the same time I was entrenched in a world of bibimbap - a Korean wings sauce! That bibimbap sauce which is truly the nectar of the gods - couldn’t we use those ingredients and adapt it a little for wings?? Imagine it… well, I did imagine it, and I drooled, and I became certain that this would be to die for.

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So very simply, the sauce is based again on gochujang red pepper paste, mixed with sesame oil, sugar, water, garlic and Korean cooking vinegar. It’s slowly heated while the wings are deep frying (having been coated in flour), so it goes from runny to syrupy, the sugar gets things sticky, the garlic mellows out, and everything basically turns to GOLD.

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Toss the crispy fried wings in plenty of the sauce, and sprinkle sesame seeds all over. That sesame oil which I am so obsessed with is what makes this recipe so damn delicious - it’s so nutty, rich, smooth and deep. The red pepper paste by itself is pretty hot and harsh, but with the sesame oil, and the addition of sugar, it calms down into the perfect crispy meat coating. 

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I don’t know why we didn’t think of this before, but I sure damn am glad it’s a part of my life now. Long Live Gochujang. 

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Ceviche, London

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Ceviche - a Peruvian restaurant in Soho - has been totally hot on my radar lately somehow - I guess it’s all over the internet, magazines and newspapers now that they’ve released a cookbook. Which incidentally I am desperate to buy - even more so now we’ve eaten there.

As well as that, Peru is a country that Kamal and I really want to visit… Machu Picchu, Nazca Lines, and ceviche - what more could you want from a holiday?! Well, that’s not happening anytime soon, so here’s the next best thing. 

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I’m really big on the colour turquoise, so with it’s jewel-toned aqua colour scheme, Ceviche had a place in my heart from the moment I laid eyes on it. Inside, it feels cosy with old wooden furniture, brightly coloured posters, plants, tiles and a whole lotta character. I love a restaurant that puts real effort into transforming their space in the middle of a city into another world - and this has got a great atmosphere.

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We started with Yucas and Huancaina Sauce - aka fried cassava with a spicy sauce made with queso fresco. I had dreamy flashbacks of sweet potato fries and fried plantains drunk at festivals and thought this would be on the same lines. Sadly not. These were pointless, dry logs of nothing. Don’t bother - and with the quality of the rest of the food, you would think that they would know better. I did enjoy the sauce though.

Well, onto the good stuff - Don Ceviche (seabass) in tiger’s milk with red onion and a couple of sweet potato crisps - this was an absolute dream. Sour, fresh, tangy, acidic, and fantastic, all the elements were there to make us weep.

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Similarly, Alianza Lima - seabass, squid, and mussels - was just amazing. The super-soft squid was my favourite element of the whole meal. Cast all memories of chewy, rubbery squid aside - this is how God intended it. 

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Tiger’s milk - the marinade used in these dishes - sounds truly mental, but it was the stuff of gods. Made with fresh ginger, garlic, lime juice, chilli, and coriander, this is potent stuff. If you could buy it by the bottle i think a dangerous addiction would ensue. But the very nature of its beauty makes this impossible - apparently once made, it only keeps for four hours. Such fleeting freshness is but impossible to grasp.

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After much arguing from me about their pointlessness, Kamal ordered Peruvian marinated olives (in reality I just wasn’t in the mood for olives, and apparently if I don’t want something, no one else can have it either). I couldn’t deny that these were some juicy little babies, and were definitely in the best olive marinade I’ve had in a long time (Tesco’s, you’re outta here). 

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From the hot dishes, we went for the Corazon Mio - supposedly “tender” beef heart skewers. These went cold in a split second (despite being warned by the waiter this would happen, I was still shocked by just how quickly they cooled down), and didn’t have the same punch in the mouth fresh tang of the ceviche. In fact it tasted pretty much burnt, and not in that smokey charred way I love. Just not in a very pleasant way. 

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We also went for the Hot Ceviche - seabass and clams in spring onion, coriander, lime and chilli, grilled on a corn husk. I can’t deny that this is some beautiful presentaion, and it tasted better than the skewers, but again, lacked the vibrancy of the raw dishes. So next time we’d stick to the classic cold ceviche. And maybe get a few cocktails. Eh eh eh.

This of course, is an imaginary next time, as we are now back in Dubai for the foreseeable future.  

So long Ceviche! See you in another lifetime. 

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Barbecue pork belly skewers @ La Meza, Bahrain. La Meza is a Filipino joint we found in Bahrain which wholeheartedly do the best meat on a stick around. Ever since our friend introduced us to the beauty of Pinoy BBQ we&#8217;ve been obsessed! 

Barbecue pork belly skewers @ La Meza, Bahrain. La Meza is a Filipino joint we found in Bahrain which wholeheartedly do the best meat on a stick around. Ever since our friend introduced us to the beauty of Pinoy BBQ we’ve been obsessed! 

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Pakoras in Deira

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We recently came across this place in Deira, which promised an “Asian Food Bonanza”. Naturally, we were intrigued. We love a food bonanza, Asian or otherwise.

On the counter was this big fat pile of big fat, juicy, crispy vegetable pakoras, and at just 1 dirham for 2 (less than 20p), we couldn’t walk away empty handed. They turned out to be the best pakoras we’ve ever had!! My memories of the flaccid reheated M&S varieties in those party packs just got blown to pieces. This is the good stuff - the stuff you find for pennies in a badly-named restaurant on a nondescript road in Deira. I think we got through four each. It was a good day. 

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