KaoSarn, Battersea

The “South East Asia in London” tour in London continues, and this time at an understated, family run restaurant called KaoSarn serving up the best Thai food. Where meals could be straight from a Thai kitchen, every dish is wholesome, flavoursome and generous.  Rosanna and I went for the Kauy Tiew Gai-Toon… that’s a Bangkok style noodle soup with bean sprouts, minced pork, fish balls and fried king prawns to you and me. And my oh my was it tasty.
image1 2The soup was packed full of flavour with just the right amount of spice – the waitress checked how hot we wanted it and we went for mild which was perfect for our British tongues.

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Sarah went for the Pad Thai which came with vegetables and tofu. All round top reviews from her too.
KaoSarn is Bring Your Own Booze – so don’t expect to to break the bank with a visit here with main dishes around £10. For real Thai food from the heart, head to KaoSarn (Battersea or Brixton).
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Laos Cafe by Saiphin, Victoria

I always thought of Victoria as a place with very little in the way of great food. Well, those days are over… enter Laos Cafe! I decided it would be a good idea to meet here with a few friends to reminisce over travels long ago; any excuse to eat. The pop up is sticking around until the end of Feb when it will then close for refurbishment and open again in March, bringing with it a flavour of Rosa’s Thai Cafe – what’s not to like? I’ll tell you more…
The cafe in its current state is basic but cosey – as you walk in you see chefs in full action and get wafts of delicious things to come. We started with a few nibbles…
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On the left, spicy pork patties (laab tod) which were (as described) spicy, meaty and they certainly whetted our appetite for things to come. On the right, isaan sausages (saigrok-isaan) which were really juicy and tender and probably my favourite of the two.
The Laos Cafe serves sharing dishes, the idea being you get a mixture of meats, salad and rice/noodles to share with people you like (or people you don’t like, who cares, as long as there’s plenty of food). We went for a papaya salad which had a delicious nutty dressing. We also had spicy minced duck which sure was spicy and very nearly caused tears at the table, char-grilled chicken which was beautifully simple and served with a spicy dipping sauce and finally sticky white and brown rice. My favourites were the chicken as well as the sticky rice. I probably wouldn’t have the duck again, purely because I’m pathetic and couldn’t handle the spice, but it was really tasty when wrapped with the lettuce served with it.
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Overall, a top evening packed with great food. The drinks menu is small but varied – a good selection of wines as well as Chang beer and iced teas. The service was friendly and the food arrived quickly. So if you want to remember times gone by or just want a taste of Laotian food, get yourself to the Laos Cafe quick – or put it on the list for when it returns!

Amsterdam – food finds

I spent last weekend in Amsterdam. It rained and it rained and then rained a little bit more. Trekking from one food spot to the next was a damp experience, but worth it on every count. Here is a chronological account of the noteworthy things I ate in Amsterdam…
The Ice Bakery by Nutella

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image 6If you like Nutella paired with more sweet, sugary goodness then the Ice Bakery is a must. I had the ‘Nutellone’ which was like a doughnut, crammed full of the chocolatey goodness. I also had a Nutella hot chocolate which was so good and something I will try to replicate ASAP. My friends had waffles topped with whipped cream/bananas/Nutella (of course). This is certainly a must for an afternoon snack, they even have Nutella macaroons!

 

 

Frites
image 7We got our humungous pile of chips from Chipsy King; there are three dotted around Amsterdam. There are plenty of places to find these delicious chips, just looks for ‘frites’ or ‘patats’. I got mine slathered in Dutch mayo which is pretty much mayo but has more of a sour cream taste. If you love your sauce then you’ll get your fair share with a portion of these…

 

 

The Pancake Bakery
image 11 image 2image 10       The Pancake Bakery was one of my favourite places that we visited. We had to queue for a little while but it was worth the wait. The cosy interior is full to the brim with tables. Each table has a selection of syrups to accompany your choice of pancake. We started with the poffertjes which are like mini, thick pancakes. We ordered them with butter and icing sugar. They were hot and sweet and tasted amazing. A perfect sweet starter. Next I had a banana and bacon pancake which I topped with syrup. It was cold and wet outside but after this meal we left feeling cosy and warm.
Brasserie Harkema
image 8We stumbled across this place whilst exploring. The menu was more fine dining than any of the other places we ate. My friends had burgers which were nice but a little odd as they had meatball-style tomato sauce in them. I went for the cod which came with fresh gnocchi, tomatoes, spinach and courgette. It was a light lunch which was packed with flavour. Until this point, and afterwards we ate a lot of sweet, heavy dishes so this was a welcome change.

 

 

Van Stapele Koekmakerij

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Make sure you locate this amazing place. A bakery that only sells one type of biscuit – a chocolate cookie which a gooey, white chocolate centre. We queued for a little while to put in our order. We then had to wait for the fresh batch to cool down before they were dished out. If you want a large amount it is worth calling ahead as they will put some aside. They are around €2 each.
 The Lobby
image 13A place great for brunch, it was a lovely vibe. It feels like you’re sat in someones cosey, but decadent sitting room. Make sure you book ahead, especially on the weekends as they get very busy. I had the Flammkuchen which is a special pizza with a super thin base and covered with an even thinner layer of creme fraiche. On top was goats cheese, honey, thyme and pecans. It was light and flavoursome, a truly unique pizza.
Amsterdam is full of tasty treats. For my next trip I would like to go The Butcher and Burgerlijk. I would also like to try to stroopwaffles which are sold on the street. Overall, if you’re after a food filled few days then Amsterdam is the perfect destination. Be prepared to queue for places where you can’t book but try to book ahead if possible.

Phât Phúc Noodle Bar, Chelsea

It’s a tough life; shopping, eating, sitting around drinking coffee… so when we stumbled across Phât Phúc Noodle Bar in Chelsea we came to the quick conclusion that we deserved a nice bowl of noodles. Whilst the noodle bar is outdoors it’s warm and cosy. A note of warning: there’s a real danger of reminiscing of travels to far away places – the two Sarah’s and me were left with travelling blues with a particular focus on Thailand. And so we were left grumpy… grumpy and hungry, what a terrible combination…
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But the food arrived quickly and we were soon left full to the brim and full of smiles…

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*Phew*. Myself and Sarah had the prawn laksa which had 4-5 big juicy prawns in it. The other Sarah had the vegetable laksa which featured mange tout, broccoli, mushrooms and tofu among other goodies.

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And so we left happy. Of course we had a good giggle at the whole “Phât Phúc” thin which we learnt actually means Happy Buddha (thank goodness).

Thailand

Thailand was the first stop during my year out. I spent 10 weeks with 2 others travelling around South East Asia, eating my way from place to place, seeing a temple here and there. I had so many delicious meals, I’d be here all day if I were to tell you about each and every one. So, I have whittled it down to me top five… in no particular order (because it was hard enough picking 5, never mind ranking them)!

1. Food from the Street Festival, Chang Mai

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We were spoilt for choice. So many sizzling woks cooking up sensational treats at every corner. The food vendors pitched up outside temples off the main street. On the main street, people selling a variety of nonfood goods set up. The street was packed! Not just with tourists but locals. We opted for: two types of spring roll, deep fried battered prawns, fried rice and of course, your typical Thai dish, a potato spiral. This was some of the best food we had become it was freshly made and true authentic Thai food (apart from the potato spiral). I dream about these dishes when I have a craving for Asian food.

 

 

 

2. Thai green curry noodles

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I didn’t come across these again after having them in a Northern area of Thailand, Pai (pronounced Bai). The combo of potato and noodles made for carb heaven and I love the green curry flavour so there was not one thing wrong with this dish. This picture was taken on my birthday so I was a happy chappy.

 

 

 

3. Deep fried spring rolls with sweet chilli dipping sauce

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The pastry (I think it was pastry) coating this spring roll was thick and crispy and wonderful. We found ourselves in need of an afternoon snack so popped back to this bar for a spring roll or two on several occasions. Again, another dish in Pai. An area known for it’s slow-paced, chilled atmosphere.

 

 

 

4. Massaman Curry

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A creamy sauce with peanuts, chicken and onion. The rice came moulded into a cute heart and the love for this dish continued from there. I haven’t had this since coming home but have some Massman curry paste in the cupboard and I hope it’s nearly as good as this one. We had this in Phuket and on Koh Phi Phi, both times, incredible.

 

 

 

5. Cooking lesson dishes – Thai Green Curry and Pad Thai

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Ok, so I cheated and put two dishes in one ranking. But what can I do… there’s too many to choose from! I’d also add Chicken Noodle Soup to this because it is this and the two dishes pictured above that we learnt to cook in Bangkok. We had these three dishes multiple times throughout the ten weeks and so we decided to learn to cook them in the last few days we had in Bangkok before flying home. Doing a cookery class was so much fun, we did one off the Khao San Road with a few other travellers. The lady teaching us was really entertaining and made it a day to remember.

So look out for these dishes on your travels. Other, less Thai snacks we had which are worth a try at least once include pancakes, corn on the cob and all the bits and bobs you can get on the evening of the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan. Also, make sure you head to the beach to enjoy delicious seafood whilst lounging at the table. We did this in Koh Samui… you can select the very fish you want to eat and hey presto, eat up. Wonderfully fresh in a great, relaxing atmosphere…

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