Le Chinois Chinese Afternoon Tea, Knightsbridge

I was recently invited down by the lovely people at Joe Blogs to a bloggers’ afternoon tea at the Millennium Hotel in Knightsbridge. Those who know me well know that I’m not particularly a fan of cake, but when I was informed that Le Chinois at the Millennium Hotel offers a dim sum afternoon tea I was ridiculously excited. All the excitement of afternoon tea combined with my endless love for dim sum – what could be better?

The concept of the Chinese afternoon tea is a new one, but for £25 per person, the offering at Le Chinois is value for money especially given it’s location.

2015-01-19 15.12.35Upon arrival, I was given a glass of champagne while we were busy mingling with the other bloggers, both new friends and old!

Once seated, we were given some jasmine tea as our dim sum began to arrive. I was sat next to the lovely Olivia, who I’d met previously on my Zombie Run, and Emma from Emmainks.

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The first dish to arrive was minced chicken wrapped in lettuce. I loved the mixture of flavours and textures of this – they were really moreish, satisfying while feeling light.

Chinese lettuce wraps, le chinois

For the event, we were served everything separately, but if you pop in for the afternoon tea the dishes are all served at once, presented beautifully on a tray.

Le ChinoisLe Chinois

Highlights of the meal for me were the crispy shredded duck spring rolls, the sauteed prawns coated with wasabi cream (which I’ll be sure to recreate soon), crispy scallop rolls and steamed siu mai. Those with a sweet tooth shouldn’t fret – a delicious pink and green mochi cake (a sweet rice cake filled with red bean paste) is sure to keep you satisfied!

Le Chinois duck rollsLe Chinois ShumaiLe Chinois Butterflies

Other items on the menu included crispy scallop rolls, chai siu pork buns, dip-fried prawns with passionfruit coulis and fresh sliced mango, along with pepper and beef skewers.

Le Chinois KnightsbridgeLe Chinois Beef SkewersLe Chinois Rice Rolls

The items that I tried were beautifully presented, light and appetising – a really nice alternative to a traditional afternoon tea. Having just come back from Hong Kong, and having a mother who makes the most incredible siu mai in the world, I can’t honestly claim that the dim sum was the best I’ve ever had, or particularly revolutionary, but the dim sum was pleasant and tasty.

Dim Sum Siu Mai Afternoon Tea Le Chinois

We were lucky enough to be shown how to carve a traditional Peking duck – though I was too fixated on taking pictures to try any myself, a massive error on my part!

Le Chinois Peking DuckLe Chinois Peking Duck

I am completely enamoured of the dim sum afternoon tea concept, and I think the Millennium Hotel provide a beautifully presented option which is great value for Knightsbridge. Dim sum traditionalists might not take to Le Chinois’ offering, but for £25 the Chinese afternoon tea is a safe bet for an unusual London afternoon tea experience.

Thanks so much to Joe Blogs for hosting such a fun event! Although my meal was comp’d, all opinions are completely my own.

Le Chinois Joe Bloggers

Le Chinois is located within the Millennium Hotel Knightsbridge, at 17-25 Sloane Street, London, SW1X 9NU. The Chinese Afternoon Tea is available at £25 per person.

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

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Friends the Restaurant, Phnom Penh

I arrived in Phnom Penh on Monday. It’s the second time I’ve been here in 2014 and I am so glad to be back! After a fairly uneventful journey (the only blip being Cathay Pacific serving regular bread with the on flight gluten-free meal, which was not ideal – never trust the bread!), I’ve been spending my first week unwinding by the pool, going for walks with the family and catching up on some last-minute Christmas shopping.

Friends the Restaurant, Phnom Penh

One of my favourite things about Phnom Penh is the great boutique hotel and restaurant scene. Sure, you get some of the same chains here that you do everywhere else, but there are so many options for going out – great bars, independent restaurants, shops and galleries that I can’t wait to cover this trip! The cocktails here are also incredible – and for about an eighth of London prices too. It’s safe to say that so far, I’m having a pretty incredible Christmas.

One of the first places I went for lunch here was Friends the Restaurant, #215 Street 13 in Phnom Penh. It came highly recommended by my friends, not just due to the menu – a selection of Asian and Western-inspired tapas – but because of the restaurants’ work with the local community. Friends is a TREE restaurant, providing on-the-job training and skills for marginalized street youth, giving them valuable skills to help secure their futures. I love this idea, and there are several places throughout Cambodia that have initiatives like these, which are absolutely great as you can really see the programs at work. Last time I was here, I went to Dine in the Dark, another great experience that I thoroughly enjoyed, and a great social initiative.

Friends the Restaurant, Phnom Penh

We sat in the outside area, guided there by a member of staff in a ‘student’ t-shirt. The students and the teachers of the program can be told apart in this way – often the students would be waiting on tables with the watchful eye of the teachers nearby.

I loved the concept for this restaurant, and for this reason I hadn’t particularly set the bar high regarding the food. I was really pleasantly surprised after being presented with a simple but charming and imaginative tapas menu, with locally sourced ingredients and flavours.

pineapple and chilli margarita Friends the Restaurant, Phnom Penh

I had a pineapple and chilli margarita with my meal, and really liked the combination (I’ll have chilli in anything given half a chance), but it’s certainly not for everyone. The drinks menu was extensive, with lots of variety, which is always a plus.

zucchini cheddar fritters Friends the Restaurant, Phnom Penh zucchini cheddar fritters Friends the Restaurant, Phnom Penh

2-3 plates per person are recommended, between $4.50 – $8 per plate, with some dishes (like the 3B burger) slightly more, around $15. We went for the crispy zucchini and cheddar fritters, baby squid with Kampot pepper and rice wine, a grilled beef fillet with daikon and chive flowers served with a wasabi mirin vinaigrette and the sun-dried tomato hummus with crispy wonton wrappers.

hummus and wonton wrappers Friends the Restaurant, Phnom Penh beef with kampot pepper and daikon Friends the Restaurant, Phnom Penh

The vegetarian options were my definite favourite – I loved the fritters, which were served with a chilli mayonnaise sauce, and the hummus, tomato and basil-topped wonton wrappers were lovely.

The squid and beef fillet were also tasty – I love daikon, but the whole Kampot peppercorns were a slight surprise and biting into them was not a particularly pleasant experience, despite the fact that I love the stuff.

Baby squid with kampot pepper, Friends the Restaurant, Phnom PenhFriends the Restaurant, Phnom Penh

Besides the fritters, the dessert was my favourite part of the meal. I clearly hadn’t had enough pineapple or chilli with my margarita, as I went straight for the caramelised pineapple with chilli ice cream. The warm caramel and pineapple combined with the cold ice cream was a real treat for the senses. I loved the ice cream – it seemed to be warm and cool at the same time, really unusual and something I’d definitely try again.

caramelised pineapple, chilli icecream Friends the Restaurant, Phnom Penhcaramelised pineapple and chilli icecream Friends the Restaurant, Phnom Penh

At some points there seemed to be a lull in service, despite Friends the restaurant not being particularly packed, but that might be due to the fact that we missed the lunchtime rush. I really enjoyed my Friends dining experience – a nice, interesting meal for a worthy cause.

Friends the restaurant is located at : #215 Street 13, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
+855 12 802 072

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

The Chai Party

Chai Party

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of going along to the home of Nisha, the blogger behind My Kitchen Antics for an Indian-inspired afternoon Chai party. Nisha’s beautiful blog features some incredible recipes so I was thrilled to be invited – especially when I was presented with the Chai Party menu!

ChaipartyMenu

Nisha, with the help of some other lovely bloggers created a menu to die for. We started the afternoon off with some kamsin kali cocktails. I’m a fan of chai tea, but I never would have thought to include it in a cocktail. The kamsin kali was lovely – the vanilla chai, combined with plum and bubbly is definitely something I’ll be recreating soon.

Chai Party

Other items on the menu were inspired by Indian spices and flavours, like the idhar udhar – a fusion focaccia, or the aam ras macarons, which were my personal favourite. The macarons were delicately flavoured with indian mango and were an absolute delight.

I was given a special plate with some gluten-free options – a plate of the chickpea and coconut salad, which were served in the ice cream cones for the others, as well as the london desi prawns, which I had top some gluten-free oatcakes. I also had some of the Hyderabad 65 – a dish of spicy, succulent chicken which was divine.

Chai Party Chai Party

The whole event really inspired me, and has made me want to go to India more than ever before. The flavours were so incredible, and I’d love to  experience more! It was also so much fun and really exciting to get to know and meet some incredible food bloggers.

The chai party also gave me the opportunity to dress up – I’d borrowed a sari, but needed the help of Gayathri to get it on properly! The afternoon was a great way to get to know some really lovely ladies, and talk about our shared passion for food, as well as play some games. I was really pleased with my prize of a beautiful teapot, as you can see below:

Chai Party Chai Party Chai Party Chai PartyDSC010012Chai Party chaiparty food Indian prawns

I’m off to Cambodia on the 15th, and I’ve been inspired by the chai party to do a bit more fusion recipe development and I really can’t wait to get started.

Chai Party

The event was an absolute success and I can’t thank Nisha and everyone enough for including me. I’ve met some really lovely and talented people!

DSC01028Check out the fabulous ladies and their wonderful food blogs below:

Kitchen Karma

My Kitchen Antics

Mummy & Me

The Veggie Indian

Ruchi

A Girl has to Eat

Sliceoffme

Food Porn Nation

Siri’s Food

DSC01024 DSC01023

The event was sponsored in part by Tea India, who provided the lovely teas. My personal favourite was the Masala Chai.

Chai Party

The event was a great way to experience and share new flavours, and talk about culture. Who knows, maybe 2015 is the year I host a Japanese-themed matcha tea party? Watch this space…

The Poor Girl’s Guide to Yakisoba

I cannot wait for February to end.

Mainly because it means that it will be March, and I will be on holiday,  but also because I’ve just looked at my bank account to see that my balance is horribly depleted (mostly due to my frivolous spending). Mercifully, payday is close by, but as I scour the kitchen shelves to feed myself this feeling brought me back to my days as a student, and what I used to cook at university.

My idea of fast food growing up was my mom making me yakisoba, or fried Japanese noodles. I always seem to have the ingredients for my cobbled-together, frugal version of this meal to hand. It is by no means the proper, traditional recipe (so please don’t tell my old-school Japanese grandmother), but it is cheap, healthy and tasty which is fine by me.

The first time I cooked for Mr. A, I attempted to impress him by making yakisoba. Unfortunately it’s not one of those dishes you can just leave on the stove and come back to – it needs constant supervision. At the time, I was too busy paying attention to him instead and all the noodles clumped together to make one super noodle. It was seriously embarrassing and Mr. A referred to it as ‘noodle surprise’. Luckily he lived above a chip shop in Manchester at the time so neither of us were subjected to this monstrosity.

However, I like to think that I have learned many things since my time at university and how to cook noodles properly is one of them. For this recipe, you will need:

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What you’ll need:
Packet of udon or rice noodles
Spring onions
1 tbsp of oil (I used sesame)
4 tbsp soy sauce
Dash of Worcester sauce
Egg
Mayonnaise
Dried seaweed, nori
Peas
Garlic

If you have bought dried noodles, start to boil them in a saucepan. Ready to cook noodles can go in towards the end. Once the pan has come to a boil, strain the noodles and the rinse the noodles with cold water. This will keep them from clumping up (and becoming Super Noodle, or Noodle Surprise). They will be heated through again once they are fried.

IMG_7514

In a frying pan or wok, fry the spring onions and garlic in a wok on a high heat with a dash of pepper until they are lightly toasted. Add the soy and worcester sauce, then turn down the heat.

IMG_7518Pour the noodles into the pan with the sauce and vegetables.

IMG_7521Stir through until each noodle is coated in the sauce, and add the peas. As you would with a carbonara, crack an egg into the noodle mixture and stir it through so that the egg is incorporated into the mixture. (If you are vegan, you can leave the egg out, it will not make much difference). Once the egg has cooked, dish out the noodles.

IMG_7523Once served, add a little mayonnaise and sprinkle the nori seaweed on top. The nori will give it a crunchy texture. I love nori. So much that I named my cat after it.

And there you have it! This dish is pretty versatile – it is easily vegan friendly (just leave out the egg and mayo), and if you’re one of those people who can’t accept a meal without meat in it then this is a great meal to have with bacon. Just use sparingly, if you insist on keeping the mayo in, too.

 

Eye-watering Chicken Satay Noodles

Some say that the key to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Others advise you to treat ’em mean to keep them keen. I like to incorporate both schools of thought in this recipe, just in time for Valentine’s day. It’s also a great test for weeding out potential mates – never trust anyone who can’t handle the heat!

I adapted this recipe from the Indonesian Chicken Satay offered at Rice in Manchester. It’s also a great way to sweat out a hangover.

What you'll need: 1 tablespoon of soy sauce 4 tablespoons of concentrated satay sauce 2 tablespoons of sriracha chilli sauce green chillies sesame oil udon noodles (or thick rice noodles) chicken (veggie substitute: firm tofu) onions

What you’ll need:
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
4 tablespoons of concentrated satay sauce
2 tablespoons of sriracha chilli sauce
green chillies
sesame oil
udon noodles (or thick rice noodles)
chicken (veggie substitute: firm tofu)
onions

In a saucepan or wok, heat up some sesame oil on a high heat. Add the chopped onions, frying until they are clear. Turn down the heat, and add the chillies and diced chicken. If necessary, start to boil the noodles – certain varieties can be popped in straight from the packet towards the end.

Fry chicken, chillies and onions

For this recipe, I used four green chillies. My objective, however, was to make my boyfriend shed a single tear with his first bite – I recommend one or two chillies to give the dish a nice kick for normal, caring human beings.

As the chicken starts to brown, add the soy sauce, satay sauce and the most important part – sriracha. The spicyness of the sriracha really complements the sweet peanut in the satay sauce – if you aren’t a fan of the heat, however, use sriracha sparingly. Remember to add half a cup of water if you are using a concentrated satay sauce, as I did for this recipe.

SRIRACHA! Nectar of the Gods.

SRIRACHA! Nectar of the Gods.

Thoroughly coat each piece of chicken with the sauce, and keep adding soy and satay to taste. Cook on a low heat for 10 minutes.

Adding noodles to satay sauce

Once the noodles are done, take the chicken off of the heat and stir in the noodles, coating each strand with the sauce.

Noodle Heart

Serve with a cold beer or a glass of milk. This dish is approximately 425 calories per serving.