We needed something to do to make lockdown a bit more bearable. So, after the takeaway from Kuma, see here, and some hints from Nigella, we embarked on a Korean week. Lots of dishes seem to come with a fried egg and heavy doses of gochuchang, but that’s no hardship. Gochujang is Korean food’s hallmark red chili paste made from chili powder, glutinous rice, fermented soybean and salt.
All the food comes from local Brixton supermarkets, especially Wing Tai, the chinese supermarket in Electric Avenue, or the market. You do need tofu, chickpeas, spinach, bean sprouts, radish, rice and a bit of salad, together with a secret ingredient, fish fingers. We added some relishes – kinchi (Wing Tai on this occasion but you can make your own) and cucumber pickle – made in house. All are really simple to make. Here are the dishes:
Tofu and peanut Bibimbap
Fish finger sandwich with Gochuchang mayonnaise and salad
We also had a rice dish with fish fingers, but we were so hungry that we ate it all before we remembered to take a photo.
We were lost for a new kind of takeaway having exhausted the more usual ones recently – Indian, Chinese, Japanese and definitely all the Italian ones. So we rang a friend who lives in Kennington – so thanks Richard for the recommendation of something new – Korean. We know there is one in Brixton but the menu is limited and we visited not that long ago. We have never eaten at this new one, but they do have a long menu and are clearly very popular, especially on a Saturday night.
There are “appetisers like tempura, gyoza, Kokkoke (mashed potato with chopped vegetables fried and served with a tangy sauce – now wish I had ordered that one), different Kimchis and many, many more. More substantial offerings come in the form of Bibimbap with different accompaniments (beef, chicken, tofu etc), Noodles – soba, udon etc – with delicious descriptions, stir-fried rice, Donburi and then you get to the Korean Barbecue, curry, Teriyaki …… and now I am bored. The problem is the overwhelming choice and the number of changes made to the order. In the end, as usual, we ordered too much.
Our meal consisted of Gim (Crispy dried seaweed squares coated in sesame oil & salt), Kimchi Jeon (Kimchi pancake served with soy dip), Nasu Dengaku (aubergine topped with sweet and savoury miso), Gul Twigim (Deep fried oysters served with Japanese brown sauce) , Yang Yum Chicken, (Medium size Korean crispy fried chicken in sticky gochichang sauce), Prawn Bokkumbap (spicy stir fried rice with king prawns) … too much of course for two people. If it hadn’t been for the helpful friend’s suggestions we would have ordered more.
Despite having to travel all the way to Brixton, the food arrived hot enough to eat, although, as we ate in waves, we ended up putting the rice in the microwave. It was all really interesting – even the fried oysters which were covered in well-seasoned crumbs and batter (and I am not that much of a fan of fried oysters).
We loved the kimchi pancake and will certainly try a version at home – the added crunch made you feel like you might be a vegan some time. Although for kimchi it was pretty mild. The aubergine (sorry no photograph) is what I would eat every day – sweet and sticky and a bit slimy, but in a good way, and not too much so that you would need to chew.
The rice kept giving little surprises like the odd tasty spice and sometimes a hot burst of chili. Prawns can get a little overcooked in this sort of dish, but you have to go with the flow. If they were under-cooked when they left the restaurant they would be steamed by the time they reach us – so will remember that next time.
The Korean fried chicken was covered – as they said – in sticky sauce and fingers are required and a lot of kitchen paper and races to wash your hands.
Then we were left with the Gim – it is the sort of packet seaweed that we buy from the Chinese shop in Electric Avenue, or from Tesco for that matter. It was good to have that salty boost in between courses and went really well with the drink we ordered.
Last on the list was alcohol and they have a large variety (beer, sake, soju, Korean wine etc). You need ID to buy it, but I expect the sight of greying hair appeased the delivery guy. The one we ordered was 300ml of Nigori Creme De Sake (descibed as aromas of melon, marshmallow and fresh white cream with a smooth wholesome texture and noted of vanilla ice cream). It was really a sort of Sake flavoured Baileys – there is still some in the fridge.
We did order too much, so had rice and chicken left over for another day. The bill came to £57.20 including a service charge but the sake was £14.50 of that bill. We will order again – in fact we may have another go at ordering this coming week which is being devoted to Korean food. You have to have something to aim for in Lockdown 3.0.
A new place in Brixton offering Jamaican goodies from Market Row. This is part of a small chain in Shoreditch, Fulham, Canary Wharf, Borough Market and now in Brixton. If you are fed up with traditional fare then this is a lovely Afro-Caribbean alternative. The menu has four main sections – Likkle, Real Jerk, Yard Classics and Wraps. For the sweet tooth they have one offering – Rum cake and cream.
We ordered Jerked Chicken Wings with a sweet sauce, Rice and peas, and Ackee and Saltfish all from the Likkle menu and from the Real Jerk menu, we ordered Jerk Chicken (medium) which comes with rude sauce (very spicy) and jerk gravy.
Despite being described as Likkle – it wasn’t and the ackee and saltfish came with the best festival (sweet corn fritter) I have ever eaten. We have eaten a lot of ackee and saltfish and this was good….really good. Well seasoned with an occasional piece of chili, not too mushy and no fish bones – delightful.
Rice and peas were also up there with the best tasting ones and we will certainly order it again. The jerked chicken wings were hot but not enough to make you blow your nose until you had finished and they were spicy, savoury and sweet not quite in equal measure.
The jerk chicken was excellent as well and the choice of medium was right for us. Others might want it hotter to get that Scotch bonnet high, but still enough to make it special. The cole slaw was fresh and crunchy, providing a good complement to the jerk flavours.
There was enough to save for lunch the next day – definitely microwaveable and a feast on these cold, rainy days. We drank beer (not ordered with the meal although you can) and the bill, including fees and a tip for the rider, came to a few pence short of £40. Given that this, in effect, provided two meals, it offers great value.
We have been in-person to Silk Road and loved it, so we thought we would try a delivery. It’s a well-known Sichuan restaurant in Camberwell, where in normal life you have to book to share a table. We went with a takeaway via Deliveroo.
There are hot, cold and Xinjiang Style Dishes, as well as dumplings and side dishes. We avoided the tripe and the gizzards which appear several times – we were just a bit squeamish. There is a very good guide on heat and whether it is vegetarian. We mostly chose slightly hot, which is the right level for us. Hot and very hot are also available.
First there were the dumplings – egg leek and shrimp filled, then we ordered Special cooked lamb noodle (Lamb, onion, cabbage and chili with hand-pulled noodle), Xinjiang Lamb Shish (lamb pieces and fat roasted over charcoal, seasoned with salt, cumin and chili – described as a traditional street food popular throughout China), Homestyle Aubergine (stir-fried aubergine with tomato and green chili) and a box of boiled white rice.
The dumplings were warm and after adding some soy sauce were yummy. There were 10 of them so some were saved for the next day. We can definitely say that the heat is described well, as the Shish lamb described as “hot” was definitely a level up from the other dishes. But the heat was just right for this barbecued dish and barbecuing the fat meant that there was plenty of juice and it was really tasty.
The noodles were great as well. A bit on the soft side, but packed with flavour as well as a gentle heat. Finally, the aubergine dish was slippy and a great complement to the lamb and the rice. It had a bit of bite but not much and was “slightly hot”.
The meal for two (with one meal leftover) was about £31.00. It was more in total, as it involved a service fee, a delivery fee and a rider tip. We drank it all with Brixton IPA beer.
We have written in the past about how to shop locally at Christmas (see here and here). But Brixton has changed so much in recent years, so we thought we would give you an update. This is just a few ideas, as there are now so many great shops to choose from – although we would like Lidl back for their German biscuits and Stollen. It is the time to invest in a little something special, but of course it is also a hard time for many people. You can buy a child a toy by going to Kids Out (See here), or donate to the Brixton and Norwood Foodbank (link here) with money, or put items into their boxes in local supermarkets.
[STOP PRESS: Lidl Acre Lane now due to open after refit on 17th December.]
Pudding – well you can go for some interesting ones in M&S, now that Lidl in Acre Lane is closed until January (or go to the one in Stockwell). [See STOP PRESS above.]
Vegetables – why not go for a box from En Root (see here) £25.00’s worth of surprises (although we will let you into a secret – there’s always a pineapple). There’s also Nour, of course.
Cake – indulgent in the L’Atelier Patisserie, providing chocolate logs (see here) as well as proper french patisserie in Market Row. We still haven’t found the best rum cake. so if anyone knows where to buy one please send us the recommendation.
Fruit – well, for tangerines/mandarins, custard apples and persimmons (my personal favourite), we recommend the My Village shop at the corner of Electric Avenue and Atlantic Road. They also have some small bananas, but they are quite expensive. Note that anywhere you buy mandarins, it’s buyer beware – sometimes they look good but taste awful. Even the same stall can’t be relied on every week.
Alcohol – well there are the little cans of made-up cocktails in M&S or you buy a bottle in The Wine Parlour (89 Brixton Village), or from Salon Wine Store. Our favourite recommendation is a bottle of Palo Cortado – a nutty dry, but dark, sherry – a great accompaniment to opening your Christmas stocking.
Where to get yourDecorations
We have lost many of the shops selling decorations, but there is still the Brixton Party Shop in Brixton Village that sells paper plates, balloons and lots of other paper items you can use for Christmas. The Arts and Crafts shop upstairs at 387 Brixton Rd (over Kingshield Chemists) is great for coloured paper, so you can make your own paper chains. Please use it, as it’s an underused resource.
Tinsel is sold in all those hardware shops along Atlantic Road that sell large pans and colourful plastic bowls – just look up and it will be hanging there.
Red paper napkins from Tesco.
Tablecloth from Morleys, or a Table runner and napkins with silver reindeer.
From Poundshop there are the stick-on snowflakes – £1 for a set of 6. They are plastic, but ours have lasted for 5 years and are coming out again this year.
And some ideas for presents
Granville Arcade (Brixton Village)
If you want some really colourful fabric shopping bags (£5.00), or a dress or a headband, then go to African Queen Fabric shop in Third Avenue (aka little Africa).
The same alleyway has lots basketware for the table and for your laundry. Another shop there sells blue and white enamel plates and bowls that are often sold at a higher price in expensive kitchen shops.
For children’s books stop off in Roundtable Books (see link here) – only one customer at a time in the shop, but we are told they are very helpful.
Soap and Candles – always a good choice – then go to Cornercopia – Soap is only £2.00 so good for a Christmas stocking. Soap dishes can come from Artisan Stories (£12)
Of course there is the Jewelry shop (Rose and Thorne), the clothes (we can’t keep up as the open and close frequently) and the delicatessens (like Guzzl) selling everything you might want and consumables are definitely a plus this year.
I have always wondered if there was something I could buy from the Voodoo shop – but it would be ironic and I don’t have any friends who would understand the joke. There is also a shop on the corner of Electric Lane selling incense and smelly candles, which has a good range.
There are Toys, headbands again, hats, leather satchels and little gifts all along this Arcade. But you can also buy someone delicious food from the Salon Delicatessen.
Pop Brixton: There’s Japanese knives (with instructions) from Kataba Japanese Knifeshop ( see link here). Or some wine from the (mainly) New Zealand wine shop, Specialist Cellars – they do delivery (see link here).
Loved Again Limited is a secondhand shop 140 Stockwell Road SW9 9TQ for some beautiful secondhand vases or decorative objects or treat yourself to a turn of the century desk or dining chairs.
Top floor of Morleys sells Charbonnell and Walker chocolates at a 20% discount (I’ve hinted at the egg nog ones). Lower floors also sell make-up of course and the kitchen department has almost everything you might need to prepare a slap up Christmas dinner.
Quirky vintage and artisan or vintage clothes, and decorative pieces for the house can be found at 61 Acre Lane. Choose from an upcycled sari sun dress or shirt or a timeless set of cocktail glasses. See https://www.quirkydovetail.co.uk/
Given the current Covid restriction of Tier 2, we are still having takeaways and were really pleased that Franzina Trattoria in Coldharbour Lane had click and collect, and delivery options. Despite it being relatively close, we still ordered through Deliveroo (Uber Eats also available). See our earlier eat-in review here.
This is a Sicilian restaurant and the menu consists of Piattini (small plates – you can actually buy the sicilian plates on the website), salads, fresh made tagliatelle with sauces and doci – puds. The Delivery menu is a little different to the eat-in version, but had plenty of options. For starters we chose Crocche – fried vegetable balls and caponata Siciliana. The menu promised two crocche each of three types – “potato, lemon, mint and basil. Aubergine, caciocavallo cheese and mint. Zucchini, pecorino cheese and basil”. The Caponata Siciliana is described as sweet and sour aubergine salad with tomatoes, nocellara olives, capers, celery and onions.
We ended up with eight crocche but there were only two sorts and, to be honest, it wasn’t clear to us which ones. One was just a chip and the other was pretty anonymous. So, these were a little disappointing. But this was definitely a starter in two halves, as the Caponata was fabulous. We could have eaten this by the bucket full and will definitely order again. It really does need some bread and luckily we had some, but next time we will also order some proper Italian bread with this meal.
This was followed by two types of pasta – Conchiglie con Salsiccia (described as conchiglie with with wild fennel sausage in a peppery tomoato sauce with pecorino cheese). Google describes the pasta as seashells. We also ordered Orecchiette al Pesto Trapanese (with fresh datterino tomatoes, basil, mint, pistachios, almonds, chili and lemon zest, topped with salty ricotta cheese). This pasta is sort of like little ears.
The Orecchiette were crunchy and spicy and a warm chili and nutty delight. The Conchiglie was also wonderful with a peppery warmth. The pictures shows them as quite distinct and they arrived not too steamed, so not al dente which pleased me as I’m not keen on any pasta crunch. However, we did have a lot leftover and microwaved it the next day. It was still wonderful to taste, but unfortunately over-cooked and we actually had a hard job distinguishing them. So our advice for the best experience is to wolf it all down in one sitting.
Finally – again eyes bigger than stomach moment – we ordered one portion of Baba al Masala con Panna. It was sweet and sticky, and we were glad that we only ordered one. We could have done with more “panna” and a little bit more marsala. But there was no crumb left at the end of the meal.
What did we think – we liked much of it, but not all (mainly the vegetable balls). That may be our fault. The best traveled dishes were the cold ones, but the pasta certainly managed the distance from their kitchen to our door without moving too far beyound the ‘al dente’ stage.
We are now beginning to understand the science of delivered food. Chips are soggy, no matter how brief the trip from the restaurant, unless of course they are the thin, very crispy type. Many dishes that were taken out of the oven just in time, arrive just a little overdone. We will definitely order from Franzina again with a very large serving of Caponata. Cost of the meal for two (with enough pasta leftovers for a meal the following day, but no alcohol) was £42, including Deliveroo fees and a tip for the rider.
UPDATE: We are now reliably informed that microwaving pasta is not the best way of reheating it – on top of the stove and lightly fry or put it in the oven.
This Thai restaurant is named after the bustling street in Bangkok and has attracted a lot of interest over the years, including a review by us back in 2011 (see here). How time flies.
Choose during lock-down from Deliveroo or UberEats and, although the menu is short, most of the dishes are not your usual standard Thai – although there is a green curry. There are not many vegetarian meals – fish, chicken or lamb seem to be in most dishes. The romantic names of each dish are explained, thankfully, in detail so you don’t need to guess. The meal was delivered promptly from the Brixton premises – watching the progress of the meal on the app is fun in itself.
We reviewed Kricket when it was in Pop Brixton and when it moved to larger premises (reviews here and here). We liked both incarnations and decided that we should have a delivery to celebrate Diwali in our household bubble. As this is a celebration we pushed the boat out. Note that the delivery is via Deliveroo and comes from a kitchen in Clapham, rather than the Brixton restaurant in Atlantic Road.
The menu on Deliveroo is not as extensive as it was in the restaurant, but we know kulfi probably doesn’t travel. There are four starters and we ordered the Keralan chicken (2 portions – what were we thinking) and the Bhel Puri. For mains we ordered one for each member of the party – Welsh Lamb Korma, Hyderbadi Aubergine and Butternut Squash. We also added aubergine bharta, tarka dal, steamed rice, a couple of malabar parathas (we should have ordered more), and some condiments (sweet raita, mooli pickles, and tamarind and date). We supplemented the condiments with some of our own bought from Tooting when we went to buy sweets.
Clearly even at this point we knew we had over-ordered. But we know we can put the rest in the fridge for lunch the next day.
The Bhel Puri (crispy bits, raw mango, tamarind, yoghurt), was a favourite for all three of us. The crispy Keralan chicken is best eaten quickly as it dries out, but two portions was one and a half too many. Think KFC with more than a touch of salt and you have it. It was lovely which is good, because it is for Monday night’s tea.
The mains were fantastic in terms of the flavours. Often Indian takeaways seem to be one sauce with bits added but these were all distinct. The Butternut Squash comes with a makhani sauce, paneer, hazelnut, puffed wild rice. We would have liked a bit more butternut squash but the sauce was fragrant and silky smooth as it should be. The Hyderabadi Aubergine coconut, curry leaf, peanuts masala is soft and nutty. The warmth of this dish just increases with each mouthful, but never overwhelms. The Welsh Lamb Korma is so well cooked and so unlike many dry, chewy dishes we have eaten from other restaurants. We can recommend all three.
The sides we very important -we should have ordered more especially the parathas as they were just right for scooping up the sauces. The aubergine bharta was also a favourite – it comes with real heat but not the type of heat to make you sweat. All the condiments were interesting and we have some of the tamarind and date to go with tonight’s Keralan chicken.
We will definitely order again but perhaps not so much of the Keralan Chicken. This is an expensive meal if you are not planning to use it up for lunches – at £82.00 plus a tip. This was for three of us without the beer – Cobra and Kingfisher – bought from a local shop. We completed the blow-out with the Indian sweets from Tooting, as there is always space for a small dessert.
Tonight is Diwali, the festival of light for Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, but we can all join in. So here’s a short round-up of the local south Asian restaurants that we’ve reviewed, where you can order food for delivery. Then just light some candles.
Salon now offers a timed delivery service. We have reviewed this restaurant, which offers a tasting menu several times ( here and here and here) It is a past winner of our @eatinbrixton public vote for Brixton’s favourite, so we were really enthusiastic to try their takeaway service on the first Saturday in Lockdown 2.0.
There are a meat and vegetarian three course meals on offer, both for two to share. We chose the meat one. The starter and dessert need little preparation, but the main course needs cooking. But, very helpfully, everything was labelled and there was a handy set of instructions to guide you through the meal – it made sure that we could eat the starter without worrying about the oven.
First came a pork terrine, luxuriously covered in salty ham/bacon with an accompaniment of mustard mayonnaise and bitter leaves. The other starter was a beetroot salad, caraway crackers with goats curd. Both were great and we just shared. All come with warm bread, whipped butter and cheese custard. Yum…. and honestly this would have been enough food for the evening.
Next course was hispi cabbage and braised venison pie with potato topping. There was plenty for two (in fact I had seconds the next day). The meat was soft and succulent and we served it with a hefty red wine to make it a real celebration.
Finally – and we did then move to a comfy sofa and the TV – we had the dessert and each one is enough for two. It was a coffee panna cotta (although actually more of a fluffy mouse) with a chocolate ganache top and some crumbs to sprinkle over it. This was also when the top trouser button was undone – fantastically delicious end to the meal.
This is a delivery that requires a table, candles and good wine – as good as a dinner out. It cost £59.00 for two and we thought it was excellent value. We have got into the habit of watching the 7.00 pm news during the week with our meal (lunchtime it is Bargain Hunt), but this as enjoyable as dining out and broke the spell. Great offering and we would certainly do it again.