Intimes: First meal in Berlin & amazing bread | Berlin

When I was told that my birthday present is a trip to Berlin two days before departure, I was so psyched about it that I forgot to look up on what’s usually on top of my travel list, places to eat! Oh well, guess we’ll leave this to chance. It’ll be a way to test our good ol’ instincts!

Intimes | The Trishaw

Luckily we have a friend who recently moved to Berlin so we have someone who has more clue than us. He to took us to the east side of Berlin on our first night of arrival as he thinks I might like the area. Well, he was right. Although late and dark on a week night, I quite like the expressive culture of the area.

Intimes Outdoor | The Trishaw

We weren't sure where to eat but we finally settled on Intimes, located somewhere in between Franfurter Tor and Samariterstraße. It looked chilled and lovely with many outdoor tables, decorated with little pots of flower and candles. It was charming and quite intimate even though a part of the wall is covered in graffiti. I quite like the feel of it. It was about 11pm by the time we sat down but luckily the kitchen opens till midnight so we were lucky we won’t be starving through the night.

Roter Oktober Beer | The Trishaw

The staff was very friendly and when I asked to recommend a good local beer, Roter Oktober was recommended. TIck.
Bread | The TrishawThe very memorable bread, now one of my favourites. It was freshly baked, warm, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. It was perfect with my light dinner of soup.

Carrot GInger Mint Soup | The Trishaw

I ordered the carrot, ginger and mint soup which has sweetness for the carrot, a punch from the ginger and freshness from the mint. I was initially unsure about the combination but after tasting it, I must say I really liked it.

The guys ordered tagliatelle and chicken with rice which was really tasty. This very first meal actually gave us a good impression of quality food we will be encountering soon. A pretty positive start.
Intimes Candle | The TrishawI like how they wrap paper bags around candle holder for a dimmer light

U Bahn | The TrishawSamariterstraße U Bahn


Smile..

Good and friendly service. Amazing bread.
Frown..

It's making me miss the bread!
Will I return?

Of course I will, if I live there. Apparently it's a cinema too! WIll have to check that out next time.

Intimes

Boxhagener Strasse 107
(Friedrichshain)
10245 Berlin, Germany
Tel: +49 30 29666457

Closest station:  Samariterstraße (U Bahn), Frankfurter Tor (U Bahn)

A Dunking Discovery

I am quite fond of the dunking concept. It is an art! You have to get the technique and the pairing of drink and biscuit right. And yes, I mentioned technique. Because every drink has a different temperature and every dunking medium has different properties, the dunking timing differs to factors involved. When dunking is concerned, it is usually biscuit with tea or cookies with milk. Frequently, some sort of biscuit is dunked into a drink.

This will be my regular dunking pairing:

  • McVitie’s digestive with Milo (a chocolate flavoured malt drink)

  • Rich Tea biscuit with tea

  • Biscotti with coffee

  • Cookies and Oreos with milk

Surprisingly, having most of the common dunking combination in the pantry, I used none of them. That is because I had a morning struck of brilliance!! With the availability of my day old brioche, which would usually be toasted and spread with some butter, I dunked the plainly toasted slice of brioche in orange juice!! It works! It is a lovely combination; brioche soaked in orange juice with a light crisp of the toast is heavenly!!

Try it and let me know how you like it. What's your dunking discovery? Do share.
Toasted brioche cut into a decent dunking size with a cup of orange juice

Toasted brioche soaked up with orange juice

Ayam Pongteh (Nyonya Chicken and Potato Stew)


Ayam pongteh is a very popular nyonya / peranakan dish from Malacca. It uses basic ingredients and is easy to cook compared to the normally labour intensive nyonya cooking.

Ayam pongteh 1 | The Trishaw
AYAM PONGTEH RECIPE 
(CHICKEN AND POTATO STEW) 
adapted from Simple Dish Online
serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 800g chicken, cut into bite-size
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into wedges
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 shallots
  • 1 inch of ginger, sliced
  • 1 tbsp bean paste (taucheo)
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 500ml water
  • Oil
  • White ground pepper to taste

Method:

1. Blend or pound the garlic and onions with a pestle and mortar.
2. Saute the garlic and onion paste until fragrant.
3. Add in bean paste, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce and ginger. Stir until slightly thickened then add the chicken, potatoes, carrots and water.
4. Add palm sugar, soy sauce and dark soy sauce and let it boil.
5. Bring the heat down and simmer for about an hour.
6. Season with sugar, soy sauce and pepper to taste. Let it simmer for another minute.
7. Serve with with steamed rice.

Ayam pongteh 2 | The Trishaw

Sedap, authentic Malaysian food in London

Malaysian food which has a multicultural influence of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Thai and Indonesian food, is undoubtedly one of the most interesting. I might be biased here but so far, everyone I know who's been on holiday in Malaysia came back raving about the food so I think it's not just me. For those of you missing your tropical holiday and its exciting cuisine, you'll be glad to know there is a restaurant worth your visit when the craving kicks in.

Sedap (means delicious in English) is a family run restaurant that does very well prepared and delectable home cooking, mainly peranakan / nyonya food. This restaurant is run by the same people behind my once favourite restaurant named Nyonya which was based at Nottinghill Gate. It closed down many years back and then Sedap sprang up on Old Street.
Interior of Sedap | The TrishawThe rather plain interior but has a few peranakan decoration, like the rattan weaved basket and tiffin carrier.

Spring roll | The TrishawThe tiny crispy spring rolls

Char Koay Teow | The TrishawPenang Char Koay Teow , a must have.

One of the most popular street food in Penang is its Char Koay Teow. People from ashore will track all the way to the island for this tummy loving plate of satisfaction. Also, majority of my friends from home who lived abroad will never miss out on their dose of char koay teow when in Penang. A plate of a simple looking fried flat rice noodles cooked with beansprouts, chives, prawns, lap cheong (chinese sausage) and blood cockles is actually possible to make one salivate just by hearing a whisper of its name. The main characteristics of this dish is its slightly charred aroma cooked over a very hot wok on charcoal fire. The ultimate secret to the best Char Koay Teow is fresh ingredients and the ability to control the perfect heat and cooking time.  The authentic CKT uses lard and fried crispy lardons.

So far, the best Char Koay Teow in London, comparable to the authentic version in Penang is from Sedap. Although two ingredients were missing; blood cockles (not my favourite so it's okay) and lap cheong (chinese sausage) which I personally think is a must have in Char Koay Teow, this is still where London-based Char Koay Teow lovers come for their craving fix. They used to make this with lap cheong but it seems they have stopped serving pork!! Even their very tasty Tau Eu Bak (soy sauce braised pork) served with sambal (chilli paste) has been removed from the menu.

Hainanese Chicken Rice | The TrishawHainanese Chicken Rice (rice cooked in chicken stock)

Chicken rice is another popular hawker / street food in Malaysia and is easily found. Many are pretty tasty so its not difficult to find decent Chicken Rice. Some food stalls serve with roast chicken but the Hainanese version is made by poaching the chicken in chicken stock with ginger to infuse more intense flavour and also keep it moist and tender. The rice and chicken is usually served with chicken broth or kiam chai buoy (a spicy and sour soup where it is simmered with lots of the chicken and duck bones, dried chilli, mustard green) and garlic chilli sauce on the side.

Cury Tumis Fish | The Trishaw
Curry Tumis Fish is a nyonya sweet and sour fish dish. As a picky Penangite, I would prefer it to be more sour ad spicy for a more intense flavour. Saying that, I thoroughly enjoyed it as all the flavours were still there. The okra in this curry was surprisingly well cooked. No slime whatsoever.

Sambal Brinjal | The TrishawSambal Brinjal needs a little more punch from the chilli

Assortment of kuih | The TrishawAssortment of nyonya kuih

Kuih is a type of dessert or snack, which can be sweet or savoury. The baba and nyonyas / peranakan usually have them as a tea time snack in between meals. It is usually made with rice flour or glutinous rice flour.

The yellow coloured soft and slightly chewy kuih is kuih bingka, my mum's favourite kuih. It is made out of tapioca and coconut milk then baked in the oven to give it the dark top layer. The pink and orange diamond kuih is the kuih lapis, literally means layered kuih. As a child, I used to like this kuih as I get to peel it off layer by layer. It just makes eating kuih a lot more fun. The green coloured one is kuih talam. Talam means tray in Malay and is reflected to how the kuih is usually steamed on a large tray. Don't be put off by the green colour. It is a natural colouring made from the juice of pandan (screwpine) leaves. It has a very fragrant smell and is commonly used in South East Asian cooking.


Smile..

Very tasty home cooked Malaysian and Nyonya food. I especially like the Char Koay Teow and kuih.
Frown..

Tiny portions. Slightly bigger portions would have been more satisfactory.
Will I return?

Definitely. Been back many times.

Sedap

102 Old Street
EC1V 9AY London, UK.
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7490 0200

Closest station: Old Street (northern line)

Sedap on Urbanspoon

Hurwundeki Cafe and Hair Salon | London

Hurwundeki used to be a shop based on the trendy Commercial Street selling vintage clothes . The clothes they had there was really interesting, perfect for the location. The Korean owner also opened up his hair salon at the same premise. But as the recession hits, business went downhill and it was impossible to sustain the shop at the pricey location so the shop at Commercial Street was closed down and this cafe at Cambridge Heath was born. He has been quite versatile and changed to fit his business to the ever changing times. Since this cafe first opened, it has become quite a popular spot for morning coffee especially when the weather is good as there are lots of seating outside with very interesting decor. Even the inside of the cafe seems to look like everything was either hand made or recycled yet keeping its original form. A very unique space, I must say.


View from inside the cafe

Hurwundeki Interior | The Trishaw

Hurwundeki Menu | The Trishaw

Their new menu

When I was here about a year ago, they had limited food on the menu and the main was twice the price than it is now. They have even added a new deal of £10 for 1 main + 1 side dish + gim (roasted seaweed). Be aware that all korean restaurants and cafes always serve Banchan ahead of your meals. And these are free so in actual fact, even ordering a main on its own per person, is enough for a simple meal.

Water bottle | The Trishaw

Water with mint in the bottle

Soup | The Trishaw

Banchan (means side dish in English) is served prior to the food you ordered. The banchan served here was korean miso soup, kimchi and beansprouts.

Kimchi jeon | The Trishaw

Kimchi Jeon, a spicy korean kimchi and spring onion pancake

Bibimbap | The Trishaw

I quite like the Bibimbap in hot stone pot. It's spicy, with lots of vegetables, egg and beef; one of my favourite simple korean food. It is one of those everything in a bowl sort of food that you could easily make at home. The best thing about this dish is that you get to add as much chilli sauce as you like and mix it all up into a messy pot of deliciousness while it's still cooking itself in the hot stone pot.

Bulgogi | The Trishaw

The spicy pork bulgogi  marinated in spicy chilli pepper sauce, served on a hot plate was quite good although I would like it to be spicier. It's just me, being brought up with mountains of chilli.

Hurwundeki sign | The Trishaw

They also have a hair salon next to the cafe with very affordable quick haircuts. The women's hair stylist is the owner of Hurwundeki, a very experienced and creative man who used to train at Vidal Sassoon and used to style the hair of Korean celebrities. As my hair was in dire need of haircut and did not have time to go all the way to my usual stylist in Soho, I braved myself for this haircut for convenience sake. I must say, I was pretty happy with the result and this is probably the cheapest haircut I have had in London! What a find. Will probably come back for a cut again.

Hurwundeki Cafe & Hair Salon

298 - 299 Cambridge Heath Road
E2 9HA London, United Kingdom.
Tel: +44 7969 537871

Closest station: Cambridge Heath (rail), Bethnal Green (central line)

Cod with Tomato and Feta

For a healthy and easy to cook meal fit for summer, try this dish. The tomato and mint in this dish makes it vibrant and the crumbled feta gives it a Greek flavour. Do add less feta if you like it more tomato-ey.

Cod with Tomato and Feta 2 | The Trishaw

COD WITH TOMATO AND FETA

adapted from Saveur
Serves 4

Ingredients:
  • 4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 scallions, minced
  • 1 tbsp. tomato sauce
  • 1 cup fish stock (1 bouillon)
  • 2 dried chilli (crushed into flakes)
  • 4 large tomatoes, grated
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 350g cod fish
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 100g feta
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
Methods:
  1. Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Place cod skin side down on the hot pan and cook until crisp. Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. Using the same pan, sauté garlic and scallions until soft and fragrant.
  3. Stir in the chilli flakes, grated tomatoes and tomato sauce. Reduce heat until slightly thickened.
  4. Crumble feta over the top then stir in chopped mint and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Place the cod skin side up on the bed of tomatoes. Let the the sauce simmer and until the cod is cooked.
  6. Squeeze lemon juice over the top, plate and garnish with parsley or mint.

Tips:
  • If you don't have fresh tomatoes, you can always use canned tomatoes.
  • This dish can be served with rice, potatoes or steamed vegetables for a lighter option.


Banana Tree followed by Upperfield

About 4 weeks ago, we were at the London Emergenza Showcase Competition. The final 16 unsigned International bands had to compete for one spot to perform at Taubertal Festival in Rothenburg with the likes of Biffy Clyro and Editor. The bands played their original best songs and the panel of judges selected the best based on criteria such as Stage Presence and Song-writing skills. Before heading to The Garage to support these unsigned bands, we made sure we fill ourselves up with some proper meal at Banana Tree so we have enough energy to enjoy the night.
Upperfield  aiphengUpperfield at Emergenza

I must say that I immediately liked Banana Tree from the first time I visited at Angel. This time, we were at the Soho branch. The interior is filled with bare concrete long tables and wooden benches, no fuss décor that exudes warmth. Even the service complements. It was mid afternoon when we got there so everyone was really hungry. It was not surprising we all had a combo up. With an extra £3.25 each, we get Sesame Glass Noodle Salad, Sweet Corn Cakes, Spicy Crackers and Steamed Jasmine Rice in addition to our main course. What a good deal! Who would miss out on that. If you are not as hungry, I suggest ordering mains and rice separately so you can have less rice and more dishes. That's what we would normally do but not when the tummy's growling like crazy.
Rendang  The TrishawBeef Rendang with Special Combo was very flavourful

Tamarind Chicken  The TrishawCrispy chicken with mango and sweet lime sauce.

Tamarind fish  The TrishawI ordered the tamarind crispy fish with Thai basil glaze. Everything on the plate was delicious, except the sweet corn cakes. The salad was nutty; the fish, crispy with a tang from tamarind and fragrance of the basil. The vegetarian dish of Spicy Tamarind Aubergine was also very tasty. 

I will definitely be back again to try more of their food. The most tempting dish is the Kajang Chicken Satay. Kajang is a town in Malaysia that is renowned for its satay. I have had them in Kajang and gosh, it was GOOD! I'll also recommend trying a typical Malaysian drink, the spiced Malay 'pull' tea. Will write more after my next visit.


Smile..


Good service, good food and portion big enough for hungry diners.

Frown..


Nothing to frown about.

Will I return?


Will definitely return for some simple and tasty South East Asian food.

BANANA TREE


103 Wardour Street
W1F 0UQ London
(Soho Branch)
Tel: +44 (0)20 7437 1351

Other branches at: Angel, Bayswater, Clapham Junction, Maida Vale and West Hampstead

Banana Tree on Urbanspoon


Back to the Emergenza Showcase


Now that I'm done telling you about Banana Tree, lets get back to the Emergenza Showcase. The 16 bands who played, some were some really good and some, I would say not our cup of tea. Although Black Orchid Empire won, Upperfield was one of our favourites of the night. Even though Upperfield did not make it to Taubertal Festival, they won the best guitarist of the night, taking home a valve amplifier, now an add on to their studio.

Here's my personal Upperfield favourites: 'Hello' and 'Rainbow'. Hope you like them as much and do let me know what you think.

Upperfield Vocal  aipheng
Upperfield Guitarist  aiphengVoted as the best guitarist of the night by the panel of judges. The prize was a valve amplifier from Marshall Amplification.

Upperfield Bass  aipheng

Upperfield Drummer  aipheng
Upperfield with usThat's us with the friendly Upperfield