Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Birthday Surprise

Archipelago at Whitfield Street is the place to go for a completely new and exotic dining experience...

There are just so many things that make this place stand out. I'd have walked passed it thinking it was a pub if I was not brought here. Upon entering the tiny entrance with a mini rock pavement, its as if you're immediately brought back to the Indiana Jones era, with a dark and calm ambiance, with an eclectic mix of Indian,Thai and Chinese influences in their decor. Of course, it's the menu that bags that extra surprise for a special occasion :) THEY SERVE CROCODILE, KANGAROO, ZEBRA meat ... and even chocolate coated scorpion for desserts!

Talk about being adventurous with your palate! Dinner started off with some cocktail and champagne (sprinkled with gold dust), courtesy of recommendation from Z. The cocktail was named after the restaurant, and I can't recall what it exactly contains (it served its purpose), but I know that it's something sweet and citrus-y which disguises the alcohol content, until it was too late... :P

That was Z's champagne with gold dust sprinkles, pretty good to get one bubbly and chatty ...

Starters was a selection of nibbles: Parsnip chips with sweet chili dipping, mini duck quiche and mini grilled pepper canapes. Parsnip chips were awesome, though slight thicker slices would be amazing. Canapes were my favorite since quiche wasn't my thing really. But they were delicious in small amounts :)

The highlight of the meal was the second starter to share: Crocodile fillet seared in vine leaves with a plum dipping sauce. The dish was freshly prepared, seasoned with some fragrant spices, wrapped with the leaves before deep fried. Yet, the white crocodile meat was succulent and springy, flavors accentuated with a little bit of plum sauce dipping. It was also served in a unique porcelain 'plate', seems like a (squarish) cross section of a tree.

When you come to places like these, wimp-y choices like chicken, lamb or fish are out of the question. Either you close your eyes/nose or both, one's gotta try something out of the ordinary, like gnu, zebra, or even lovebug salads, LOL

For mains, Z had Sliced wildebeest (gnu) fillet in a hot and sour sauce with nutty soba noodles. The waitress was really keen and patient in explaining the menu, which I think they are used to anyway given the amount of foreign meats/exotic names in it! Gnu, according to Wikipedia, is " an antelope of the genus Connochaetes. It is a hooved ungulate mammal. And you know what, that sentence doesn't help either. So from the picture search online, ignorant me would just say it looks like a member of the bull/ox/cow family... simple (indeed)! Z enjoyed this dish thoroughly, as the gnu was pan fried nicely for the crunchy edge and matched well with the soba noodles which was lightly dressed in the sauce.

I, on the other hand, had Zhug marinated kangaroo fillet with water spinach, pak choi and crushed chilli potatoes. Apologies to all Australians or kangaroo lovers before hand though.

Now you know what I mean when I say this is also an educational dining experience! Zhug, according to the host, is a hot sauce marinade from Yemen, containing ground fresh hot peppers seasoned with coriander, garlic and various spices. Kangaroo meat, actually tastes pretty similar to chicken, contrary to my expectation of it being tougher like turkey. Unfortunately, I found the dish way TOO salty, especially the vegetables having too much soy sauce on them. But other than that, it was a surprising dining experience, good to give it a go for something authentic and different for a change!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Misato Mania

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we'll see
No, I won't be afraid
No, I won't be afraid
Just as long as you have,

Well, I could go on and on singing about this place, but nothing beats value for money if you can stomach a plate of Chicken Curry Katsu so BIG, on a cold winter night... :P

We were walking around London Chinatown one weekend and the craving hit us, fitting the criteria of having something wholesome, big, crunchy, warm and fast. Z ordered Pork Katsu Curry, which is about £6, and basically larger than life.

I had Chicken Teriyaki with Rice instead, and it was crisp and crunchy, just perfect. I think it'd be better if it was less salty though. I guess I'm not that large a fan of Japanese curry as they are just not the real ones, seems to have this strange sweet after taste for me. Nevertheless, it was a simple happy giant meal in a overcrowded student-y place in Chinatown on a cold Saturday night. You'd be amazed how guys can eat after you visit this place.

Of Breakfast and Brunch

There's nothing like Wednesdays, when the weekend is almost in sight, and the feeling is best on Friday night when you know you've got 2 alarm-clock-free days coming up, before Monday Blues set in, and the cycle repeats again.

Don't get me wrong though, I do like what I'm doing now at work. It has been enjoyable so far, each day you learn new things, or get better at your tasks. With a nice team of colleagues, working life isn't as bad as some make it out to be. In fact, I much prefer working to the student life. One big advantage is definitely the ability to switch yourself off after work, knowing that you can forget about things until the next day, unlike student life with exams in sight a few months in advance. Pressures you face are definitely different...

Yet I still do look forward to weekends for obvious reasons, as much as I like working :P After my usual Saturday morning routine of cleaning and tidying up the place, it's about brunch time and here's an 'artistic' version of the traditional English breakie ... I got some rolled eyes from Z for repositioning the sausages before taking the photos ;P

Alternatively, another approach to a nice' savoury brunch is a giant salmon and cream cheese pancake, definitely a hearty start to the weekend!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Funghi Season

All you need is mushroom soup, turkey breast cutlets, onions, and corn! And 15 minutes (in total). No kidding. Terribly sorry for the super short post, but my Internet connection screwed up last week and it did not save my entry at all, hence my long post was wiped out :S Look forward to the weekend for more exciting posts on birthday celebrations!