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!

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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New Years Eve, Antwerp, Belgium

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So this year, or should I say last year, Antwerp was the destination for New Years Eve. I’ve never spent NYE out of the UK and I was unsure whether it was this fact that swayed me to go or the opportunity to gorge myself on frites and waffles. Both lived up to expectations so all in all, a successful trip spent with two great Sarahs.

NYE was, as you would expect full of fireworks, count downs (two- one for Belgium and one for the UK) and drinks so I won’t bore you with all the details.

The food was spot on. Naturally, as you do, I arrived looking for a typical Belgian meal and ended up with Asian… but I’m not complaining (well may be a small complaint, but that’s to come).

I spent the first day with Sarah #1 as Sarah #2 was at work (she was our host). We decided to go to Ghent, a city in the North of Belgium with beautiful architecture, but more importantly a market! We devoured frites (covered in mayo and what I think was a mix of salt and white pepper) and apple gluwein which warmed us through and left us satisfied with our trip.

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That evening we went to Lucy Chang, a restaurant in Marnixplaats, Antwerp. It was reasonably priced, may be a tad on the expensive end. The food came so quickly, it arrived before our drinks which wasn’t an issue other than the fact that my beef chow mein was so salty I was gasping for a drink. The meal was tasty but service on the drinks end was a tad slow and I was thirsty until the next morning! It almost felt like they wanted to get us English lot over and done with and out the way. Nonetheless, I did enjoy the meal and had some great company so I would go back. It was a bit dark in there so photos aren’t great!

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Other treats included a waffel covered in melted chocolate which was wonderful. I could only eat half though and that’s because I don’t really have a sweet tooth. I’m still yet to master the fork with a serrated side to cut the waffle. Cute but requires practice. Also, we had a moochie which isn’t particularly Belgian but it filled the spot. White chocolate and raspberries – what a great combo.

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Finally, New Years Day brought with it a fry up in a sandwich. It was needed and it did the job. The only thing I would say is I prefer British bacon, but everything else, the sausages, egg and bacon were spot on. Plus, when you get an egg like the one I had (in the pic below) you know, for a few short moments, all is right in the world because I HAVE A RUNNY EGG!

ImageSo all in all, I got what I needed from Belgium and I had a great started to 2014. Thank you Belgium, you have made one very hungry girl happy and I will no doubt be back again.

Travelling Blues

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As winter draws in and deadlines get closer procrastination becomes inevitable. Flicking through pictures of travelling is not a wise past time because:

1. It makes you hungry

2. It makes you cold

3. It makes you feel pale

4. You wonder why you ever decided to come home

Luckily for me and my fellow travellers, we went to a cookery class just before we forced ourselves to get on the plane home. We learnt to cook Thai Green Curry, Pad Thai and Chicken Noodle Soup. Three classics. Three things which I have never been able to properly replicate since returning home. My lack of a wok doesn’t help and living in the middle of nowhere means the supply of tamarind paste and lemongrass and so on is rather sparse. However, being at uni at Birmingham means every ingredient you could ever wish for is on your doorstep. OR there is every restaurant under the sun and therefore you can have a proper Pad Thai courtesy of ekachai noodle bar and plenty more! So looks like I’ve got the food covered but don’t think I’ll be getting a tan anytime soon or strolling down the streets in my flip flops.

I spent 4 months eating my way around Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Tanzania. Don’t worry, I did leave some food for the rest of you. Where do you suggest my stomach should take me next? Please tell me about any amazing dishes you’ve had on your travels!!