Tag Archives: chicken

Wild Serai at King & Co: Clapham

Since working for a pan-Asian restaurant in the past I’ve always been a fan of Malaysian cuisine – a reflection of the multi-ethnic population of the country but heavily influenced by Indian and Chinese. The restaurant I worked for was in Harrods, so the majority of my Malaysian eating experience has been pretty high quality with top notch ingredients and incredibly talented chefs. So I may have had fairly high expectations before visiting Wild Serai, and I’m pleased to say they were surpassed on pretty much every dish.

I was invited to join the lovely Jason and Chiara from Goan to London for lunch on Sunday to check out the new pop-up at the King & Co – I hadn’t seen them for months, hadn’t had Malaysian food for even longer and the pub is almost on my doorstep; winner!

Wild Serai have had great success in the last couple of years with various supperclubs in London, and are currently enjoying pop-up status in the newly refurbished King & Co – a stone’s throw from Clapham Common.

The King & Co
The King & Co

After much gossiping (probably to our lovely waiter Anthony’s frustration..) we finally ordered a selection of dishes to share. Mixed satay is standard Malaysian fare and this one was tender and perfectly chargrilled with just the right amount of spicy peanut sauce. Even the dribble of dressing on the cucumber garnish was lovely. We also had pork belly with little gem boats – you could just pick out the star anise in the soy dressing, it was delightful.

Mixed satay
Mixed satay
Pork belly
Pork belly

Nasi lemak is Malaysia’s national dish and Wild Serai’s is gorgeous – coconut rice garnished with spicy peanuts, cucumber and egg, with prawn sambal on the side and a crispy chicken wing (main pic).  We also had oxtail stew – the meat wasn’t overly meaty (high bone to meat ratio), but it tasted slow-cooked and the flavours were delicious.

Oxtail stew
Oxtail stew

For me the highlight was the soft-shelled crab with mantou buns. I love seafood and will always choose it, and this was crispy from the fryer without being greasy and the meat was fresh and fishy, not bland and soggy like it sometimes gets. You can taste the lemongrass and chilli in the sauce, and the sweet, soft little bun is the ideal vessel to shovel more of it in. I also adore the banana leaf plates and want some for home.

Soft shell crab
Soft shell crab

To drink we went for the recommended Cote du Rhone which was smooth and mellow, and complimented everything perfectly.

I’m not a huge fan of Asian desserts and unfortunately these didn’t change my mind! We had both the desserts on the menu, bubur cha cha was like a coconut soup with sago balls, banana and sweet potato – a bit too sweet for me, and cengkodok was deep fried banana balls. The two dishes were nicer combined, but still not as good as the mains.

Desserts
Desserts

Wild Serai is at The King & Co until 31st January 2015 – definitely get down there, it’s well worth a try.

http://thekingandco.uk/events/wild-serai/

New restaurant! The Ivy Market Grill: Covent Garden

Having waited a week since the opening, and with it very close to where I work, the urge to check out Caprice Holdings’ new baby was practically overwhelming. And so to Covent Garden’s The Ivy Market Grill we went, with a booking for dinner on the Tuesday of its second week.

Little brother of dining stalwart The Ivy, it feels more accessible than the mother ship, with much of the menu pretty reasonably priced,  and half the tables reserved for walk-ins. This almost makes it feel more casual, but the menu is fabulous and the décor stunning, all dark wood panels and mosaic floor tiles.

Ivy3

It was super busy on a Tuesday, nearly full. We ordered wine and Prosecco and got stuck in to the huge menu – it’s all British classics, simple and delicious. There were about 18 things I wanted to order but felt one should exercise a bit of restraint in these situations. I generally try and stick with two courses to avoid actually being a house, and this time took the risky decision to have a main and dessert (good choice – more on that later).

Ivy1

We ordered the shepherd’s pie and half a Banham chicken, which came with French fries, along with extra greens. The pie was delicious, chunks of lamb rather than mince with creamy potato and cheese. My other half found it slightly underseasoned, but it should be noted he like things salty.  The chicken was juicy and full of flavour, covered in a lovely herby marinade/rub, and the veg was crunchy which I love.

ivy6

ivy5

The dessert was actually the highlight for me, which is rare – I normally prefer a few slabs of cheese and/or more wine, but this was incredible. It was a ‘chocolate bombe’, a sphere of dark chocolate encasing vanilla ice cream, surrounded by milk foam and with hot salted caramel sauce poured over at the table to melt the ball and expose the middle. I love salted caramel but this was something else, so rich and perfect with the milk foam, which stayed foamy even with the sauce poured on it, and not a hint of resemblance to spit. The post-melting pic obviously doesn’t do it justice at all but you get the idea..

Ivy2They also have their own branded gin and  Champagne, which coincidently is something I aspire to.

The service and atmosphere were great, if I had to highlight small niggles they would be that I asked to swap fries for beef dripping chips but they didn’t materialise, also it was extremely hot in there – to the point that we went elsewhere rather than have another drink. I’d still go back, there’s loads on the menu I’d like to try, it’s pretty reasonable and still feels like somewhere special.

www.theivymarketgrill.com/

Square Meal

Bird is the word

I hate pickles. Horrible, sour, slimy, alien-looking monstrosities, on a constant mission to ruin burgers, fish and chips, the Pret salmon salad and a wealth of other perfectly good meals. The General Manager of Bird suggested I try one of the deep fried variety, and not only did I see off most of the bowl, it was actually a highlight of the meal – no mean feat seeing as Bird produced some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had.

Nestled by a railway bridge on the Shoreditch end of Kingsland Road, Bird is a relatively new venture, working under the premise that the restaurant industry has elevated the burger to dizzy heights of quality and creativity, so why not do the same for chicken? And the result is delightful.

Their motto is ‘free range and fried’, and they source quality British ingredients that are delivered daily, so no stresses about what you’re actually putting in your mouth (unlike dubious battered anomalies at other chicken establishments I may have visited). I kept it simple with two fried chicken pieces, a mixture of light and dark meat (they give you the choice) and a couple of sides. Now the chicken is perfect, juicy and tender with very crunchy, flavoursome batter – but the sides are where Bird shines. Creamy, crisp coleslaw, aforementioned lovely pickles and jalapeno corn pudding, a creamy, yellow concoction of sweetcorn, chillies and cheese topped with breadcrumbs. Heaven.

Bird is definitley the word

We also had a huge chicken burger and a portion of seasoned fries – salty and slightly spicy, they were delicious.

Mix and match glazes and sauces are designed to complement each other so get advice on which ones to pick, staff are happy to make recommendations. The buffalo glaze and buttermilk ranch sauce were the perfect tangy, creamy combination. We rounded things off with an iced doughnut ice cream sandwich – totally unnecessary, but when in Rome and all that..

Having been firmly south of the river in recent years, I hadn’t ventured to Shoreditch in a while before Bird. With its top notch food, reasonable prices, nice relaxed atmosphere and great service, it’s a solid reason to cross the river. Roll on next time.

First published on Foodepedia