Soya, Woking

Last weekend I was back down south with a couple of aims; to catch up with loved ones, but also to run myself stupid in the Bath half marathon. The other half had plans of his own Friday evening, so as far as eating out went I had to settle for dining alone, this idea of solo dining may not be to everyone’s liking, but it suits me down to the ground and I enjoy it. On my to-visit list were a couple of spots which were closed last weekend, such as the Asian restaurant Soya. The plan was to slowly carb-up in readiness for trudging around the streets of Bath so something noodle or rice based would be ideal!

Soya specialises in Korean and Japanese food in Woking, its diverse menu includes sushi in various guises whether it be sashimi, sushi rolls….I’m sure you know the drill. Also on the Japanese side were katsu dishes and starters such as edamame or tempura, but what really caught my eye were the things I hadn’t tried before.

Instead veering towards the Korean dishes, in particular the bibimbap, I’d missed out when Trinity Kitchen had street food trader Yogiyo selling them, and I’m yet to visit the Bulgogi Grill (which needs rectifying soon), so this was the perfect opportunity! I could take as many photos as I wanted without getting the death stare and enjoy it in my own time!

image

image

Now drinks-wise normally I’d be the first to order wine, but I was frankly knackered so a soothing green tea would have to do the trick. Arriving a couple of minutes later, I was actually glad I’d gone for a hot drink, as outside was a tad on the chilly side.

image

Recently I’ve been enjoying a bit of dumpling fetish, so even though quite a few starters could have made the cut, such as Okonomiyaki I was after more dumpling action. With this in the back of mind, my eyes were drawn to fried prawn mandu dumplings (£6.50).

To start with a bowl of salad came my way, simply made with lettuce, tomato, peppers and an unusual dressing which I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but it had a sweet and sour taste. This was perfect for grazing through the meal and acted as a bit of a palate cleanser.

image

Shortly after came the mandu, pan fried and made with juicy prawns and some sort of greens, I think it may’ve been cabbage. Lightly fried leaving the wrappers crisp and golden on two sides and soft on one, a light soy was an obvious choice as an accompaniment but for good reason; perfect to season without overpowering.  It made for an excellent opening gambit. 

image

At Soya you can do the whole bulgogi thing, which would’ve been incredible if I’d been with other people, to do the whole cook your own!! Even though I love eating out solo, it may’ve been a step too far, so instead I went down the Bibimbap route. I’d heard loads about them and after a bit of research, good old Wikipedia told me its name translates as ‘mixed rice’ giving me a basic idea of the dish. The lady serving me explained that the dish is brought to the table with ingredients being placed on top of rice in a hot stone bowl, this is then mixed together with the addition of chilli paste. Here the chilli paste is added at the table, maybe so, for people like me who are a bit feeble they can try it first! I found it fiery so I chickened out and only asked for a small amount.

The Beef Dolsot Bibimbap (£8.50) came sizzling across, surely a clear sign of how hot its bowl was, with all the main ingredients topped with a perfectly fried egg! The bowls intense heat made the bottom of the rice become lovely, crisp and gnarly. The beef was tender, other main elements were thinly sliced courgettes, carrot, cabbage and cucumber, then bean sprouts and a spicy chilli paste. When mixed it was surprising how all the ingredients were still identifiable, but also married together well. The whole thing was a really enjoyable belly full of food, I loved each mouthful and the bowl was left clean!

image

Having never had it before, I could eat it again very easily, and knowing how spicy the chilli paste is when mixed, I’d probably be more liberal next time!

From a first visit I’d say that Soya is a great choice for dinner if you’re in the area; the service was everything you’d want – friendly without being overboard, efficient, helpful and they advised on the menu where needed. The food was incredibly tasty and there’s something to be said when you know you could eat a second portion of a dish immediately after the first! 

Soya

5 Goldsworth Road

Woking

Surrey

GU21 6JY

https://soyauk.wordpress.com

Advertisements

Dorshi supper club @ Northern Monk Refectory

Dorshi, the street food traders who hail from Dorset’s Bridport, even though I think of them as Leeds’ very own now, held a two day supper club at Northern Monk Rectory earlier this week. Much to the popularity of this duo, what originally was a one night only affair, quickly became a two-dayer.

Dorshi are certainly no strangers to Leeds, the past year or so they’ve garnered a loyal fan base who’ve fallen hook, line and sinker for their food, especially their dumplings, all due to their first residency at Trinity Kitchen. They’d been back up North in between Trinity Kitchen stints for Veg Out and Beacons festival too, it’s like they were keeping people on a metaphorical leash – carrot and stick come to mind; I should know I’m one of them! 

So during their six week turn in Trinity this month, Dorshi held a pop up showcasing their take on Asian cuisine using local, sustainable ingredients where possible. We were to be treated to a five course experience (£30), from the menu their pearl barley sushi stood out as this is what Dorshi first became known for, and also their hand-torn noodles, with lots of elements in the mix it would be interesting to see how it would all come together.

Start – Fresh catch of the day ceviche (cod), lime, garlic tempura flakes, pickled chilli strands, crispy purple kale.

Sushi – Vinegared pearl barley, oak smoked rainbow trout, dill-caper puree, spicy salad leaves.

Noodles – Hand- torn spelt noodles, braised chashu, crispy juniper-bacon squares, pickled shiitake mushroom, charred sprouting leaves, kale crisps, slow-poached egg, slow cooked dried chilli, grated black garlic, accompanied with a bowl of bacon-mirin dashi.

Jelly – Bergamot & Black Cow Vodka Jelly.

Tea – Birdhouse Sencha Tea and Black Sesame & Almond Squares.

image image image image image image image image image

It was a great evening with lots of chat, one thing I love about supper clubs is that everyone who goes has bothered to buy a ticket, because they’re really into good food!

A real labour of love for Dorshi, after all the meticulous preparation, during service some dishes came to fruition just before serving, e.g. sushi rolls were assembled just before they were brought out!

I enjoyed every course, they were interesting and each had their own talking points. The hand-torn noodles was the star of the night, every element had its own place and identity in the dish, coming with diverse tastes, textures and temperatures. The accompanying bacon-mirin dashi was a winner too, the Japanese staple providing a savoury umami hit. Dorshi’s take on sushi, I loved! For me, the barley makes it really light and a great alternative, I may even have a go at making some at home with barley instead of rice now.

Also all of this was in the lovely Northern Monk Refectory, usually the stomping ground of The Grub & Grog Shop, it’s a great space and came with the perfect ambience and atmosphere for this type of event. I must add, just because I love them, it’s excellent any time of day because the The Grub & Grog Shop team do should a fantastic job too, and as I type I really want one of their bacon breakfast buns!!

http://dorshi.co.uk

http://www.grubandgrog.co.uk

http://www.northernmonkbrewco.com/the-refectory

Bullwinkles pop up @ Belgrave

Ok, do you remember earlier this year, I’d put out a snippet on ‘What would you like to eat in Leeds in 2015?’ – my thoughts made a bee-line for Poutine, the Canadian dish that’s a heady concoction of chips, cheese curds and gravy. Trying it for the first time on holiday last year, I’d really built up a craving for the stuff and had hankered for our next encounter. So reading that Belgrave’s development team Food Lab were trying their hand at Poutine I very nearly rejoiced, I’m not quite that way inclined, but I definitely whooped for joy at the mere thought! Ben Davy’s Food Lab’s last outing was many months ago I think, I maybe wrong, please correct me if I am! I remember the early days in Belgrave Feast they sold fish tacos to Leeds folk, so I guess this was an opportunity to try new things, develop their repertoire, as well as get punters in!

Rocking up on Wednesday at 6pm, it seemed many others all had the same craving, as the Belgrave seemed busier than normal; I suppose that was partly the point?!

image

image

Expecting a queue to quickly form, I slid into the front of the queue, a quick squiz at the board gave three options, their classic take on poutine, which could be pimped up with extras in the form of tea-brined fried chicken and smoked bacon. Being a complete glutton and easily swayed I went for everything, it would’ve been rude not too, don’t you think?!

Now, speaking to those who maybe unfamiliar with Poutine, it can have a number of different toppings, e.g. chicken, but primarily it has three core elements. One of them, the cheese curds had been substituted with mozzarella though as cheese curds couldn’t be sourced.

image

image

So, how was it…..?

Chips – basically awesome, Belgrave regulars know how good they are, I’ve used many minutes of my life banging on about them!

Cheese – ah, now for me, it’s the cheese curds that really do it, so it was a shame they were absent, as the characteristic saltiness and squeakiness was missing, but on taste it was still good, you know who doesn’t like stringy cheesy chips with gravy?!

Gravy – peppery and tasty, lighter in appearance and looser in viscosity than traditional poutine gravy, but I liked that it wasn’t as heavy.

The addition of fried chicken that was juicy, golden, perfectly crisp, and a generous sprinkle of smoked, salty bacon the combination, albeit minus the cheese curds was still a winner! (£6) Considering it was their first outing, it was pretty damn tasty, hey it may not have been an authentic poutine, but as always Ben Davy always works wonders with his own twist.

Food Lab are bringing out special pop ups fortnightly, with the likes of the humble lobster roll, steak and chips, and Fu-Schnikens Ramen, which I’m determined to get my hands on this time after missing out a couple of weeks ago! I’m hoping the broth is awesome so I can slurp away with the best of them!

Belgrave Music Hall

1A Cross Belgrave Street
Leeds
West Yorkshire
LS2 8JP
 
0113 234 6160

Caravanserai, Leeds

You may have read a couple of weeks ago when my lame attempt at trying out Caravanserai was thwarted by Friends of Ham and that tasty Raclette!! Well it was still on my to visit list, so I made it my mission to go, this time with no diversions!!!

As a member of the Grubstakers I was invited to visit Caravanserai one evening and get the whole experience. I’d seen from street level the transformation of the building over the last few months, from its previous guise as Kitschen to its new look as an Ottoman street food venue. Its name inspired by the Caravanserai which would serve passers-by, travellers who were need of food and watering whilst on their travels.

image

Now many people know of Cafe Moor in Kirkgate Market and Moorish in Hyde Park, fallen in love with food like their chicken shawarma and falafel, well this is owner Kada’s newest venture. Found just off the main drag, around the side of the Corn Exchange, its hard to imagine being right in the middle of the city centre as it really seemed a world away. The downstairs kitchen can be seen from its street level hatch making it ideal for takeaways, but with the added extra of its upstairs private function room, it’s a great space for meetings. 

image

image

image

We were treated to lots of refreshing mint tea, then brought a mini feast to work our way through –  their popular sandwiches, made with their delicious Lebanese bread, a falafel option for vegetarians and a delicious marinated lamb for meat lovers. There were dips, tabbouleh salad and that gorgeous Lebanese bread to mop it all up with. If that wasn’t enough a generous platter of chargrilled marinated chicken and other delights also came our way. All was spot on and mouthwateringly good!!

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

It’s a great place to relax, to meet friends for business or pleasure and enjoy fantastic food that’s perfect for sharing! With a menu that more than caters for both meat lovers and vegetarians, it has the same charm as Cafe Moor in Kirkgate Market, but with the bonus of its upstairs dining area. It’s definitely well worth a visit to two!!

Caravanserai

1 Crown Street

Leeds

LS2 7DA

0113 234 1999

https://www.facebook.com/CaravanseraiLeeds?fref=ts

Dumpling Making Workshop!

Dumplings!!! Dumplings feature in so many different cuisines around the world and certainly take up a prominent place in Chinese food. Made in virtually every household, as a child I was taught by my mother to make them and it’s something I still do as it’s pretty straight forward and within a short space of time a tasty snack (or meal if you’re hungry) can be prepared, cooked and eaten!     

So when my friend mentioned a dumpling making workshop to coincide with Chinese New Year at Leeds University, I booked my place and turned up on Wednesday evening with lots of other dumpling fans. Organised by The Business Confucius Institute a non-profit public institution, the event was fully booked and a fun way of meeting new people with a common interest. 

We were there to make Jiaozi, the classic dumpling, which common dim sum staple and definitely eaten during Chinese New Year. 2015 is the Year of the Sheep, beginning on the 19th February, the first day of the Lunar calendar and ending with the Lantern festival on the 15th day.

I’d never made my own wrappers using flour and water for Jiaozi before, the dumplings we made at home were more like ha gau, the steamed translucent dumplings using wheat starch. After a quick tutorial and a few tips and hints we were given the task of making our dumplings by either rolling out fresh wrappers or using pre-made gyoza wrappers.

image

image

image

image

image

image

I thought I’d have a go at rolling some fresh ones, out, my mother would probably have chuckled watching me have a go at it. The rolling and folding was so skilful, but they made it look so easy. I was definitely out of practise and my first few attempts looked shocking! 

image

I kept at it, and slowly improved with help from the assistants, and with the whole class getting to work we quickly made enough for the first few batches to be cooked up, and then came the best bit; we could try out the fruits of our labour. Cooked two ways; steamed fried (pot sticker style) or boiled. My favourite were probably the fried ones, but they were both pretty tasty.

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

We’d made so many we were able to leave with takeaway! It was such a great way of meeting new people, all with the same love of dumplings! With Chinese New Year starting on the 19th, I have no excuse not to make dumplings now!