Tuesday, 27 April 2010

May Sum, Liverpool

An all-you-can-eat treat to please even the fussiest diner!

I have always been a bit apprehensive about going to a buffet restaurant. First of all, there is the 'chav' stereotype. To be politically incorrect, I mean hordes of obese benefit claimants shovelling food in like pigs at a trough. Then there is the 'school canteen' image. And then my fear of the food being poor quality like that of all-inclusive hotels in Benidorm. However, today I decided to take the plunge.

May Sum has been a staple on the Liverpool Chinese scene since the beginning of the 21st century, the age of the buffet restaurant. Several people have recommended it to me and after much Googling of menus last night, I decided to give it a whirl. (Regular readers know that I am veggie, so a good choice of veggie dishes are important for me).

what a treat it was! To start, I had veggie hot and sour soup, followed by spring rolls and onion rings. Other starters included curried samosas, prawn toast and ribs. I then moved on to the main event-a generous portion of vegetable vermicelli, Szechuan bean curd, egg fried rice and salt 'n' pepper potatoes. At this point I was fit to burst but I managed to note the other dishes; egg foo yung, veggie chow mein, garlic broccoli and a generous beef and chicken selection. The salad bar looked interesting too, a crispy fresh selection of red onions, cherry tomatoes and a few prepared salads. I made room for a strawberry ice cream and pineapple dessert, but looking back, I wish I would have sampled the Banana Fritter!

For £6.50, this place is excellent value and the drinks weren't overpriced either. I digested my meal with a refreshing pot of Chinese tea. I visited midweek lunchtime and it was only a third full, but I don't think I'd chance queuing up for buffet of a night. I will definitely go back for a lunch feast though!

May Sum on Urbanspoon

Monday, 26 April 2010

Snax, Edinburgh

In my fight against boring chains like McDonalds and Starbucks, I like to visit independent local businesses as they are usually cheaper, friendlier and you don't leave hungry! My recent discovery is Snax in Edinburgh.

Snax is a greasy spoon and has 3 branches. Despite being a greasy spoon, it offers lovely healthy options like Lentil Soup and Jackets filled to burst with Meditteranean salad. I discovered this hidden gem by chance. I was walking along Princes St, refusing to go in a touristy cafe which charges 6 quid for a sarnie when suddenly, I saw the Snax menu advertised. I followed the signs to what looked like a derelict building and passed a few tramps drinking White Lightning. A wild goose chase, I thought. Then I saw it! It was cosy and friendly with a tasty, varied menu. It's the type of chippy/greasy spoon you can even bring your fussy friend on a diet too as they even do lovely fresh salads-technically, it's not such a greasy spoon! Tourists will love this place as it is conveniently located close to hotels and they can get a breakfast here for £3, as opposed to £15 in their hotel.

The one thing that spoils this place is that it is patronised by every motorist's worst enemy- the Traffic Warden. Don't let this sight put you off though!

Snax on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Türkisches Essen in Berlin

Ein Hauch vom Orient in Berlin...

Seit dem Vulkanausbruch kann man nicht so weit reisen. Die Flughäfen sind geschlossen, Urlauber müssen zuhause bleiben...ich habe die Lösung für Euch, meine Lieben! Eine kulinarische Reise nach Türkei!

Berlin ist als 'kleine Istanbul' bekannt und bietet eine große Auswahl an türkischem Essen an. Hier kann man so viele Köstlichkeiten ausprobieren, sowohl gesund als auch sündhaft! Türkisches Essen in Deutschland kann man mit indischem Essen in England vergleichen- überall zu finden, günstig, und das perfekte Bestandteil eines Samstagabends. Lass uns mit Frühstück anfangen:

Zwischen U-Bhf Kottbusser Tor und U-Bhf Hermannplatz ist die Straße KOTTBUSSER DAMM. Hier kann man ein reichhältiges Frühstück bekommen, es gibt viele türkische Bäckereien. Das typische Frühstück besteht aus Oliven, Schafskäse, Salat, Sesambrötchen, Honig, Marmelade und das Menemen. Menemen ist die türkische Variante von einem Omelett. Chilischoten, Tomaten und Paprika werden gebraten und Ei wird darüber gegossen. Himmlisch. Tee ist auch wichtig bei Frühstück, manchmal bekommt man ihn gratis, wenn nicht, er ist sowieso günstig.
MEINE EMPFEHLUNGEN: Simitçi, Kottbusser Tor; La Femme, Kottbusser Damm

Dienstags und Freitags findet der türkische Markt statt. Hier kann man feilschen, frisches Obst kaufen und orientalisches Schnickschnack kaufen.

Mittagsessen: Wie wär's mit Döner? Hier kann man Döner überall kaufen und zwar billig. Weil es hier so viel Konkurrenz gibt, kann man auch Döner für 80c finden! Es gibt viele Varianten- ich bin Vegetarierin und statt Fleisch esse ich mein Kebab mit Falafel, Schafskäse oder gebratene Gemüse.
Zur Abwechslung kann man Linsensuppe mit Zitrone als Mittagsessen probieren aber mein allerliebstes Gericht ist Gözleme. Es ist ein Teigfladen mit Gemüse,Käse oder Fleisch gefüllt. Meine Lieblingsfüllung ist eine Mischung aus Kartoffeln und Auberginen (es erinnert mich an Curry in England!)

MEINE EMPFEHLUNGEN: Bodrum, Kottbusser Damm; Gözleme, Karl-Marx-Strasse

Abends gibt es nicht so viele 'feine' Restaurants in Neukölln. Hasir in Kreuzberg ist bekannt aber es hat mir nicht gut gefallen, weil die Auswahl an vegetarischem Essen sehr gering war. Mein Lieblingsrestaurant ist Hadigari in Kreuzberg, die vegetarische Grillplatte ist riesig und bietet eine leckere Mischung aus Dips, Auberginen und Sesmabrot an. Wunderbar.

Die süße Versuchung...türkische Süßigkeiten!
Man kann türkische Desserts sowohl beim Bäcker als auch beim Dönerimbiss kaufen. Empfehlenswert sind:

Baklava- der Klassiker. Schwer zu verdauen, diese kleine Sattmacher sind mit Nüssen und Sirup prallgefüllt.

Sutlaç- Milchreis mit Zimt

Künefe- eine interessante Mischung aus warmen Teig, Sirup, Käse und Nüssen.

Seht Ihr, man muss nicht so weit reisen, um eine andere Kultur zu entdecken!

Afiyet olsun! (Guten Appetit auf türkisch)

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Imans, Edinburgh

Great food but watch your bill....

Imans is in my favourite part of the city, the area surrounding the King's Theatre. It comprises of a restaurant and an adjoining sweet centre, providing exotic Punjabi desserts. On Friday, I treated myself to a Kulfi and a huge box of cakes and was so impressed by the quality that I decided to go back for a meal.

Upon arrival, the restaurant looked bustling and was of the new wave of restaurants who are shunning the sticky carpet and flock wallpaper. The interior was done out like a cave but peculiarly had pebble dashing on it, looking less Punjabi and more like a 1960s council house. Carpets were stuck to the wall, giving it a cosy feel.

The menu was extremely impressive, the prices were surprisingly good for the capital and the menu very detailed and packed full of Indian staples like Bhajis and Madras. The menu also contained some regional variations of dishes too. I ordered an Onion Bhaji and veggie samosa and the quality was fantastic. The bhajis were huge and fluffy, the samosas full of chunky veg. They came with two dips, a yoghurt based one and a fresh chilli and tomato.

My main course was a veg madras and this was so hot, it could have passed for a vindaloo. It was a mixture of beautiful fresh potatoes and my old foe the frozen carrot. The pilau was my favourite colourful one and the peshwari naan has entered my top 5 of Naans! It was huge, even bigger than John Sargeant (the naan I had in Liverpool's UnI which resembled John S's face!)and was topped with sliced almonds.

The dessert, lemon sorbet, was poorly presented. Two forlorn-looking dollops in a bowl with absolutely no attention to detail or presentation. Mango Lassi was of superb quality but I thought the juices were misleading. On the menu it advertised fresh mango and guava juice-they were not fresh, but Rubicon juices out of a carton at 2 quid a pop.

The big sting came with the bill, the drinks were not itemised and just said 'bar £12.10'. this didn't make sense as we ordered 2 Lassis (2.95 each) a juice (1.95) and a water (1.50) We ordered a second water but they give us tap water. It still didn't add up to £12.10. No tip for them then! The staff were pleasant though apart from one gentleman, who I blame for messing up the bill. His impatient attitude when serving was despicable too. Shame, because I would have definitely went back to the restaurant too. Oh well, plenty more fish in the sea and plenty more restaurants in Edinburgh.

Iman's on Urbanspoon

Friday, 16 April 2010

Hamy, Hasenheide, Berlin

Entdecken Sie die vietnamesische Küche!

In Berlin-Kreuzkölln gibt es ein fantastisches Bistro, das unbedingt ein Besuch wert ist. Hamy Bistro stammt aus Vietnam und versteckt sich in den Schatten vom Kaufhaus Karstadt und die berühmten türkischen Imbissen. Die vietnamesische Küche bietet eine Mischung aus frischen Gemüse, riesigen Suppen und Duftreis an- ähnlich wie Thai, Chinesisch und Indisch!

Hamy ist unter den Naschkatzen und Schnäppchenjäger beliebt, weil es exotisch und sehr günstig ist. Man kann bei Hamy gesunde Gerichte bestellen und sündhaft süsse Desserts (hausgemacht natürlich!) wie Bananen-und Mangopudding naschen. Im Sommer war mein Lieblingsgetränk das Minz-Cocktail (Ananassaft und Minzblätter!)und gegen Müdigkeit ist der vietnamesische Kaffee perfekt-stärker als 'normalen' Kaffee aber nicht so bitter wie arabischer Kaffee.

Täglich gibt es eine Auswahl von 3 verschiedenen Gerichten und eins davon ist immer vegetarisch. Zum Beispiel gibt es leckere Bandnudeln mit Kokos-Cuury, Reis mit Auberginensatay und auch empfehlenswert sind die Riesensuppen. Die Suppen kosten ca. 4.50 Euro aber die sind so groß wie ein Hauptgericht. Die Suppen enthalten Won-Ton (asiatische Klößchen) prallgefüllt mit Gemüse und Fleisch -es gibt auch eine vegetarische Variante. Als ich erkältet war, habe ich immer wohl gefühlt nach einem Schüssel Zitronengras-und Nudelsuppe bei Hamy.

Das Essen hier ist so toll, schade, dass die Bedienung so unfreundlich ist. Die schimpfen in ihrer Muttersprache und sprechen schlecht über den Kunden. Nicht so schön, ohne die Kundschaft werden sie arbeitslos!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Jasmin Bistro, Hermannstr., Berlin

Günstig und gemütlich!

Jasmin Bistro ist ein versteckes Juwel zwischen Neukölln und Tempelhof. Ich habe es entdeckt im Sommer 2007 als ich meinen Lieblingsflughafen Tempelhof besucht habe. Wenn man Hermannstrasse erwähnt, denkt man sofort an Döner, Pide und andere türkischen Leckerbissen. Jasmin ist ein Thai-Lokal und bietet eine gemütliche Stimmung an. Die Preise sind sooo billig, man kann hier sehr günstig essen und wird pappsatt! Empfehlenswert ist der Penang Curry, prallgefüllt mit Auberginen und Tofu und die Suppen mit einem Chilli-Kick! Für die Touris ist die Speisekarte auch auf englisch.
Die Getränke sind exotisch-Litschi und Mangosäfte und Lassis aus Banane und Mango reichen als Dessert. Lecker!

Chilli Banana, Liverpool

The Chili Banana is a much hyped restaurant in South Liverpool, and considering there aren't may Thai restaurants in the city, I decided to give it a try. The name sounded tempting! However, I was very disappointed with my experience there....

The restaurant looks very modern inside, like a wine bar and not very 'Thai'. It was a bit crowded, the tables were extremely close together and the night I was there it was full of screaming brats and WAG wannabes. Lovely clientele....
I had a look at the menu, it looked delicious and there seemed to be a great selection. I chose Veggie Spring Rolls to start. At £5, I expected hand made ones but instead, they were my old enemy from the Cash and Carry. Covered in grease, they were very unappetising. I hoped my veggie satay curry for the main would be better. It got worse. The curry was cold,like it had been lying around all day and tasted as if half a tub of double cream had been poured into it. There were no vegetables present, just a few sorry looking lumps of tofu. My portion of rice was tiny as well and would just about feed a mouse! My carnivorous mate fared slightly better with her chicken satay starter and chicken red curry main, but in her words 'I should have gone to Tesco.'

Need I add that my friend was dying of thirst after waiting 30 min for her glass of wine? This meal was an awful experience and I shan't be going back. I have also posted a review on TripAdvisor and come under a lot of criticism for it, well I am sorry if you people feel offended that I had a cold meal and am complaining about it. I'm sure Gordon Ramsay would agree with me when I say, if you have a bad meal, complain about it!

The Chilli Banana on Urbanspoon

Shere Khan, Manchester

A once good quality Indian with a terrible reputation...I can see why!

Shere Khan was extremely popular about 10 years ago as a North-West English chain aiming to make Indian food trendy, bringing it into the 21st century away from its 'sticky carpets-flock wallpaper' image. However, after a run in with environmental health, a hefty fine and several cases of gastroenteritis later, the reputation of Shere Khan has gone downhill. The palatial Liverpool branch is boarded up, so I decided to try their trendy looking branch on the Curry Mile.

We were the only ones in there, the restaurant was stone empty but looked extremely clean (at this point I didn't realise it had been fined £40.000 for a rat infested kitchen) It had a holiday atmosphere about it, the decor was bright and airy in pastel colours and it could have easily been an Italian restaurant judging by the interior.

The popadoms arrived, they were satisfactory. Not fab, not awful either. Just...well, satisfactory. The peshwari naan was floppy and soaked in butter-it tasted as if it has once been a beautiful fluffy naan but left for a couple of days, an amateurish attempt to revitalise it.

Now for the main course. The vegetable madras looked decent, but the sauce tasted a bit as if it was straight from the shelf at Tesco's (or should I say the cash and carry?)Admittedly, the veg was fresh and plentiful. The pilau was a disaster,it was bright yellow and had 'supermarket' written all over it.

I escaped the restaurant as soon as possible. Shere Khan really needs to get its act together and step up its game. The Curry Mile is a highly competitive area and a bad reputation spreads like wildfire in the restaurant industry. Either they take note of the successful restaurants in the area and get a few tips from them, or they give up the restaurant and start again from scratch. I for one will never go back. The Curry Mile has so much more to offer. I've heard even the rats dine elsewhere these days.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Leven's, Edinburgh

On Saturday, I was off to the wonderful King's Theatre and what better to do before a play than have a pre-theatre dinner! A lot of the restuarants close to the theatre offer a pre-theatre dinner, and as much as I love Indian and Chinese, I decided to take the plunge and have curry....with a twist! I am not normally a fan of Thai, but Leven's stood out as a place where I absolutely had to go.
It is an opulent looking restaurant with beautiful lighting, chandeliers and crystals suspended in the glass; trendy but not pretentious. The staff were ever so friendly, immediately making everyone feel welcome without any of this snobbery that many 'trendy' places have. The concept of the restaurant is 'Thai Fusion', which means Thai combined with various international cuisines. You get the feel of this right away as you are given complimentary olives and tomato bread- very Italian! Other Italian influenced dishes include the curried lasagne and the satay wrapped in prosciutto.
The restaurant offers two menus, a pre-theatre menu for £12 and the normal menu, which only has a small selection of dishes but of a very high quality and carefully prepared. (My only complaint is that the selection for vegetarians isn't great, but the dish I got was a feast for the tastebuds!)
To start, I ordered Vegetarian Spring Rolls, fit to burst with glass noodles, aubergine and other fresh veg. They were handmade and coated in a plum sauce. For my main, I sampled the Vegetable Massaman Curry, a potent, spicy curry- thinner than Indian curry but with a lime and chilli kick! The selection of veg was beautiful, crunchy carrots, tender asparagus and caramelised onion. Now for the twist. The corry was not served with jasmine rice, but on a bed of mashed potato! The combination of the fluffy mash and the tangy curry was brilliant, a savoury experience to be repeated.
This restaurant is a perfect location for a celebratory meal, a pre-theatre treat or a classy summer evening out. I would highly recommend it and its staff are a credit to them. Next time, I promise I will make room for dessert though!

Leven's on Urbanspoon

Friday, 9 April 2010

Amrit, Berlin- (Nollendorfplatz, Oranienburger Str., Oranienstr)

Sieht schick aus aber das Essen ist furchtbar....

Wie ich schon erwähnt habe, sind die indischen Restaurants in Berlin mehr wie Cocktail Bars ausgestattet. Amrit sieht superschick aus- eine farbenfrohe Einrichtung direkt aus Bollywood, das Restaurant ist eine bunte Welt von Brunnen, kunterbunte Sonnenschirmen an der Wand und riesige Buddhas! Die Cocktailliste bietet wie auch immer ca.30 Sorten von Cocktail an, außerdem gibts auch leckere indische Lassis wie in England. Das Restaurant ist teuer für Berlin, ein einfacher Kaffee kostet über 2 Euro und man kriegt den Gefühl, sie wollen die Kunden verarschen- wenn man ein kleines Cola bestellt, bekommt man ein großes (und der Preis ist natürlich auch riesig).
Die Vorspeisen sind sowohl lecker als auch grottenschlecht. Hier sehen Onion Bhajis wie Zwiebelringe aus aber die Samosas und Pakoras sind frisch und knackig.
Die Hauptgerichte schmecken nach Wasser, Uncle Ben's Reisbeutel, Zwiebeln, Tomaten, Sahne und nochmal Zwiebeln. Bei alle 3 Restaurants schmeckt das Essen genauso schlecht. Obwohl man verschiedene Gerichte bestellt, sehen sie alle gleich aus- zum Beispiel bei einen Abschiedsfeier waren wir 8 Leute, haben verschiedene Gerichte bestellt und die alle sahen gleich aus-egal ob Gemüsecurry, Chicken Vindaloo oder Linsencurry.
Was ich auch nicht mag sind die schleimigen Männer, die bei Amrit Oranienburger Strasse arbeiten. Sie gucken die Frauen immer an und jedes Mal kommen die blöde Anmachssprüche 'lovely lady', 'willst du mich heiraten', 'ich liebe dich' 'schöööne Schnecke' usw. Endlich-etwas Billiges bei Amrit-diese Männer!
Nie wieder!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Arman, Mehringdamm, Berlin

Gute Cocktails, schlechtes Essen...

In Berlin sind die indischen Restaurants gleichzeitig Cocktail Bars, im Gegensatz zu England, wo man essen muss! Seit ich in Berlin wohne, habe ich herausgefunden, dass die Cocktails beim Inder wunderbar sind, der Kaffee ist stark und gute Qualität aber komischerweise ist das Essen durchschnittlich. Indisch essen in Deutschland bedeutet moderne Einrichtung, Holzboden, orange-pinke Beleuchtung und Tapete und eine gute Cocktailkarte. In England stammen die meisten indischen Restaurants aus den 70en Jahren, haben ein klebriges Teppich, Bollywood-Musik, eine eingeschränkte Auswahl an Getränken (überhaupt keine Cocktails) und tolles Essen.

Arman befindet sich mitten in Kreuzberg und bietet eine interessante Speisekarte an. Die Linsensuppe schmeckt wie Paket-Suppe, trotzdem sind die Gemüse-Samosas leckere Sattmacher! Prallgefüllt mit knackigen Gemüse, die sind perfekt. Als Hauptgericht gibt es Gemüsecurry (langweilig), Gemüse Jalfrezi (lecker, scharf aber zu viel Tofu und Zwiebeln, nicht genug Gemüse), Gemüsemadras (in England scharf, in Deutschland mild), Linsencurry (schwer zu verdauen) und Spinat-Kartoffelcury (wie Babybrei und kaum Kartoffeln zu finden).
Ich habe hier auch das Samstagsbuffett probiert- die Curryauswahl ist auch langweilig, es gibt keine Samosas sondern nur diese wässrige Suppe und die Dessert ist nur Joghurt mit Dosenobst- nicht indisch!

Besuchen Sie dieses Restaurant, nur wenn Sie auf Käffchen oder Cocktails Lust haben und nur ein Samosa knabbern möchten. Die Hauptgerichte schmecken alle gleich und es gibt Besseres in Berlin.

Friday, 2 April 2010

My Trip Advisor Article- The Neukölln (Berlin) culinary scene

Neukölln is a district in the former American sector of Berlin and is famous for its high immigrant population. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't dangerous, it's a hidden gem and there is plenty to see and do there.

Highly recommended is the culinary scene of Neukölln- it is cheap, cheerful and international. You can eat Turkish for breakfast, Italian for lunch and Vietnamese for dinner. The main focal point of Neukölln is Karl-Marx-Strasse. Start your culinary tour at Hermannplatz and get a rooftop breakfast at Karstadt department store, overlooking the city. Try a German cheese plate with lovely soft rolls.

Ignore Dunkin Donuts and Macdonalds, proceed down Karl-Marx and you will discover a taste of the Middle East and a little bit of sunshine in the Lebanese and Turkish bistros. Sit down on a cushion and try a Shisha in Barbar Aga, an Egyptian/Lebanese cafe, sip a mint tea and stuff your face on a platter of falafel and baabaganoush. On the same block is a wonderful cafe called Gözleme, which sells Turkish street food (also called Gözleme), a flatbread/pancake style dish with a beautiful selection of fresh fillings like curried potatoes, aubergine, peppers etc, and also beautiful salads, dips and Menemen, an egg based breakfast dish with a kick!

Taking a gentle stroll along KMS, there are a selection of shops and then you come to the cultural centre of Neukölln. The old cinema 'Passage Kino' and the Neukölln Theatre have adjoining cafes- Hofperle and Cafe Rix respectively. The clientele is arty, with local artists' paintings adorning the walls. Both cafes have plentiful breakfasts plus Hofperledoes a bargain business lunch around 5.50 Euro- 3 freshly made courses, a different option every day. If you slip out of the back of Hofperle, you find yourself on Richardstrasse, home to a 70s style Italian called Pulcinella. The prices are unbelievably cheap, main courses only 4 euro and the coffee potent.

Walking along the cobbled Richardstrasse, you will approach historic Neukölln and the square of Richardplatz. The square is home to the festive Xmas market, less commercial than the city centre markets and with better food/drink/entertainment. Shaan Indian Cocktail bar is the funkiest place on the street, plus for a more traditional evening meal, Villa Rixdorf offers German and Italian food in an opulent former mansion house.

Time for dessert- head for the Viennese Konditorei by Karl-Marx-Strasse underground station. You will be welcomed warmly and the cakes are to die for. Chocolate is also made on the premises.