Tuesday, 26 April 2016


After months of wanting to attend one of Guan's amazing supperclubs, I finally made it (!)
It wasn't too long ago since my last trip back home to Malaysia in February, but I will always have a certain craving for good comforting Malaysian cuisine, and this was the perfect way to satisfy it.  
Nyonya cuisine is a blend of Chinese and Malays cooking styles that originate from Peranakans or Baba and Nyonya, typically found in Penang (my hometown!), the Northern part of Peninsular Malaysia, Melaka and Singapore.

The first of our starters was a fragrant and crispy dish of lemongrass and belacan wings. I do love belacan, which is a dried shrimp paste traditionally used in Malaysian cooking - it makes stuff like sambal taste so much better, but probably best utilized in a kitchen with good ventilation...
But I digress. This belacan chicken was definitely finger-licking good and a strong start to the feast that lay ahead.

Next up was one of my favourite dishes from home, made with a twist. A vibrant and refreshing Malaysian Nyonya-style salad, Guan used pineapple, watermelon and samphire which was a unique but delicious combination. Plenty of aromatic herbs and a nice level of acidity and sweetness - can I 'tapao' two portions of this home with me please...?

This was followed by fried 'assam' (tamarind) prawns - plump juicy prawns coated in a sticky sweet and sour sauce. I usually have them cooked with the shells, but this tasted just as good, and also less fidgety (!)
And don't forget to suck on the head, that's where all the flavour is... mmm...

Having finished our first round of starters, a large bowl of rice was passed round the table as we heaped them on to our plates in preparation for the mains. First up was a hearty portion of 'Daging Pongteh', which was beef flank braised in fermented soy bean paste. The meat was so tender and the stew was really flavourful that I scooped generous spoonfuls of it onto my rice. This dish is typically cooked with pork or chicken, but either way a comforting and mouth-watering dish.

The goose-fat roasted cauliflower with sambal belacan was another firm favourite around the table. I do love cauliflower and this was cooked through really well, and I particularly liked the sambal belacan which was sweeter than usual but went well with the dish, and everything else on my plate. Sambal just goes well with everything...

Next were two fish dishes, one of them the skate and pineapple curry which had really soft and silky skate meat, and the other a surprise off-menu dish - I was clearly too distracted by the food to remember the species of fish, but it was good (!)
My belly was also quite stuffed by this point - crazy, I know.

There was obviously still room for dessert.
Guan chose to steer away from typical Nyonya desserts which are usually quite heavy - a good idea after all the starters and mains...
 The first was a frozen coconut parfait, topped with a sweet caramelised banana with a sprinkle of crunchy nestum crumble - and yes, it tasted as good as it looked.

Another surprise dish of the evening were these sweet horlicks and gula melaka choux puffs - Guan really does know how to spoil us!

And just before we all rolled ourselves out of his flat to head home, we nibbled on some freshly baked mini pandan madeleines - so moreish that I also smuggled some leftovers home to take home with me...

 Overall it was a great evening filled with an amazing array of dishes that was a nice taste of home. It's no wonder that his supperclubs book out so quickly! There is a minimum donation of £35 (a bargain), with 10 spaces per session, and you can check the latest availability via this link - or just subscribe to his newsletter on the website.
I would definitely book myself in again.

The Cheekster, signing out x

Tuesday, 12 April 2016


It has been a while since I visited Pachamama, a Peruvian-inspired bar and restaurant in Marylebone, back in the early days when they first opened (2-ish years ago?)- it was not the most memorable experience, but I was convinced that things had improved since then. 
 We booked in for a relaxing Sunday brunch and were seated at a nice table towards the back where natural light shone through from above.

The cocktail menu looked rather tempting, and the three of us ordered the Miraflores from the list of 'Mama's Cocktails', a sweet and fruity cocktail named after their favourite area in Lima where you sip cocktails by the beach. Now if only there was some way to transport ourselves to somewhere exotic, if only just for the weekend...

We started with a selection of snacks to share which included the sweet and tender pork belly chicharrones and brown crab and yuca churros which were really light and moreish.
I could never miss out on padron peppers that I could happily snack on all day, and I also liked the crisp peruvian fried chicken with a side of hot sauce.

We also had a selection from the Lunch Plates category, which included a couple of ceviche dishes: house sea bass and samphire ceviche, and salmon tiradito with beetroot and avocado, both of which were tasty and refreshing, as well as being vibrant and appealing to the eye.
This was followed by a couple of meatier dishes: quinoa waffles with yacon syrup and bacon, and 'Duck on Rice' which was one of my favourite dishes (I do have a certain affinity for rice dishes...must be an Asian thing!). I was not too fond of the crispy lamb belly which was a bit on the dry side.

I would also recommend ordering some sides, from which we ordered the aubergine with smoked yoghurt and pecans, and the plantain with feta, black olive and yacon syrup.

To finish off, we ordered coffee and couple of desserts to share: a refreshing blackberry and sorrel 'Suspiro de Limena' and a contrastingly rich and delicious torta de lucuma and peach.

Overall it was a pleasant and satisfying brunch, and a much better experience compared to the first.
The place was not particularly busy which I prefer especially if you're looking for somewhere to relax on a weekend.

The Cheekster, signing out x

Square MealPachamama Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, 5 April 2016


For those of you who missed out on Sambal Shiok's past, sell-out residencies at Newman Arms and Salvation in Noodles, cheer up, as they have just recently started their new residency at The Sun & 13 Cantons in Soho - for a whole THREE MONTHS (!)
So there's definitely plenty of time to seize this opportunity to sample Sambal Shiok's delicious take on modern Malaysian food.

Like the past residency, the menu showcases a selection of Spicy Laksa Soup Noodles that are sure to get your tastebuds tingling. The spicy coconut chicken and prawn broths have a great kick to them and are greatly comforting especially when the weather is chilly. But not to worry, for those of you who can't handle that much spice, you may order an extra portion of coconut milk to tone it down - nobody will judge you (!)

I'm sure most of you would be familiar with the ever popular signature Malaysian dish, Nasi Lemak - a dish consisting of fragrant coconut pandan rice, spicy sambal chilli, cucumber, sweet pickled red onions, peanuts, deep fried anchovies and egg, that you can also choose to have it plain, with ayam goreng (fried chicken), beef rendang, or the vegetarian dahl version.
Furthermore, you can order some small dishes/bar snacks on the side to share, such as the Hainan Dumplings ('pot-sticker' dumplings with Hainanese ginger chilli sauce, that I would highly recommend!), Ayam Goreng (Malaysian fried chicken) or Vadai Kerepek (lentil fritters). For those with larger appetites, there are plenty of extras to add on if you wish to do so.

For those with a sweet-tooth like myself, there are some Malaysian-inspired desserts available to order, such as the Malaysian peanut pancake and bubur cha cha.
To quench your thirst, there is hot teh tarik which is one of my favourite Malaysian drinks, as well as cincau and limau ais.

And if all that mentioned above hasn't gotten you salivating and craving for some Maaysian food already, then I'm sure that the photos below will...

Centrally located in a renowned Soho institution, the residency runs from 29th March 2016 until 1st July 2016 - Lunch is available from Tuesday to Saturday (12pm - 3pm), and dinner on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays (5.30pm - 9.30pm).
Walk-ins and takeaways are also available at all times.

If you fancy a taste of Sambal Shiok's hearty burgers and mouth-watering rice-boxes with a Malaysian twist, you can also find them trading at Street Food Union (Fridays) and Southbank Centre Market (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) - check out the website for full details on trading hours. 

The Cheekster, signing out x

Sun & 13 Cantons Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato