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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Food Shopping & Dining in London: Part 2

In this post, I'm going to share my experience with Asian food, including our visits to Chinatown. Like any Chinatown, there are ducks hanging in the window. Also chickens, pork belly, and large squid. I just love Chinatowns. London's isn't as large as Toronto's, or San Francisco's but it's a good one. From a restaurant point of view, it's overwhelmingly Chinese, but the markets run all over Asia. You have to look pretty hard to find non-Chinese produce in the San Francisco Chinatown. I know because we were on the hunt there for rambutans last August and we found them in one market. We looked in every single market on and just off Grant. But, in London, there was a large, multi-storied market right in the middle of Chinatown and they had everything. Here are the rambutans, my daughter's favorite fruit:

In the background, there is a  large chunk of jackfruit (the light green thing to the right) and finally, the unforgettable durian (those brownish-green spiny things in the upper right corner). I have seen frozen durian before but never fresh (no doubt because of its pungent nature). When we walked by, it kind of smelled of sewer but it wasn't totally off-putting. Of course, I didn't get really close and sniff. It didn't smell that good!

This market had every kind of condiment, sauce, and what-not. Much of it was unintelligible since the labels weren't particularly descriptive:

Not sure what one does with all-purpose sauce - anything, I guess. Then there were these jars of Burmese, well, I'm not sure what! If you needed something Asian in London, this is the place to come. Certainly, it was interesting wandering through this place.

We enjoyed some Chinese pastries. One of the odd things about Chinese pastry is it's not easy to tell what is sweet and what is savory. Even the sweet things aren't that sweet. I really enjoyed the coconut buns: soft white bread stuffed with slightly sweetened coconut.

We had dim sum, because that is one of Pamela's favorite things. It was OK, not as good as Toronto. I expect there is great dim sum in Chinatown somewhere but I can't help you with that one! It was far more expensive than the usual dim sum experience. But, so was nearly all the food in London.

We did find very good and reasonably priced Chinese food in Earl's Court at Dragon Palace. It was a tiny place, about 8 tables and a small bar. All the food was really delicious and lovely. They do dim sum there but we went for dinner. The dumplings we had as an appetizer were first-rate so I imagine the dim sum is excellent.

We also enjoyed Malaysian food in Chinatown at Rasa Sayang. It was cheap and fantastic - big flavors. I had Beef Rendang, which is full of complex spices with some heat. Wish I could have eaten there a few more times, especially for the Singapore Chili Crabs.  So much food, so little time. Sigh.

Next time I'll finish up with the rest of our dining which includes Indian (yes, I'm aware that is Asian as well), British, Spanish, and BBQ/Steakhouse.

The specifics:

New Loon Moon Supermarket, 9A Gerrard St in the heart of Chinatown

Chuen Cheng Ku, 17 Wardour St, Chinatown: OK but not exceptional dim sum

Dragon Palace, 201 Earl's Court Rd, Earl's Court: excellent Chinese food and reasonably priced

Rasa Sayang, 5 Macclesfield St, Chinatown: tasty, cheap Malaysian and Singaporean food