On the Bab: A Review

Korean food is becoming more and more popular where I’m from, and for very good reason. I first tried Korean BBQ some years ago with friends. It was a nice and modern restaurant with grills built into the tables. Back then, when I used to eat meat, Korean BBQ was always a great option.

Now that I only go for veggie or fish dishes, it’s a good challenge finding new places to eat. On this occasion, the Korean food spot I went to was called On the Bab.

I visited On the Bab after recommendation from my brother. It’s a Korean restaurant for casual dining. I went there with two friends from university – I hadn’t seen one of them in two years, so it was essentially a reunion. We went to the branch in Old Street, London, around 3pm.

Although this branch does not do table bookings, we were seated straight away, which was quite lucky. It was a small restaurant with tables placed quite close together, typical of a lot of restaurants in this area. I ordered the Gimari Salad, Toppoki and ‘On the Buns’.

Gimari Salad

Price: £4.50

The Gimari Salad is a fried seaweed roll salad. Each roll was nice and crispy and the salad underneath made this starter refreshing. If I could eat these little seaweed rolls all day, I would!

Rating: 5/5

Toppoki

Price: £4.90

My friends swear by Korean rice cakes, and I can see where they’re coming from. This was my first time trying these and I was not disappointed. I had no expectations of the Toppoki, so just went in blind. It was served with a boiled quail egg and a sweet and spicy sauce.

Rating: 4/5

On the Buns – Mushroom Fritter

Price: £8

Two fluffy buns with large mushroom fritters. I had to tackle these with my hands and eat them like burgers. These were so tasty and the textures of soft buns, crispy batter and meaty mushrooms made the experience even better.

Rating: 5/5

On the Bab is a great Korean street food spot and I recommend you visit. I will have to go again to try other vegetarian and pescatarian options. If you’re a meat eater, definitely try their their Korean Fried Chicken, I’ve heard fantastic things about it.

There are four locations all in London: Shoreditch, Covent Garden, St Paul’s and Soho. There will be one opening soon in Paris too!

Overall Rating: 5/5

Location: On the Bab, 305 Old Street, EC1V 9LA

Website: http://onthebab.com/shoreditch/#3rdPage

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Red Velvet Cake

I remember first trying the red velvet cake from Costco, maybe seven or eight years ago. I was in food heaven.

These days, however, the sweetness is a little too much. The solution? Make my own! On this occasion, it was my brother’s birthday, so I decided to make this cake for him. He’s a big fan of red velvet too.

The cake recipe in this post was inspired by The Hummingbird Bakery’s Red Velvet Cupcakes. The recipe below uses two 15 cm round cake tins to make it a two-layer cake.

I levelled out each cake before stacking them. I broke down some of the cut off pieces of cake to make into crumbs, and used these to decorate the top. The leftovers were eaten (It’s never good to waste food in my household, and who doesn’t like extra cake?).

Serves 8

Ingredients

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 300g icing sugar, sifted
  • 50g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 130g full fat cream cheese, cold
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Method

  1. In a bowl, cream together the butter and icing sugar with an electric whisk or free-standing mixer, until a sandy texture is achieved.
  2. Add in the cream cheese and the lemon juice, then whisk for about 1 minute until light and fluffy.

For the cake

  • 150g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 300g plain flour, sifted
  • 25g cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 tsp red food colouring paste, mixed with 4 tsp water ( I prefer Sugarflair Maximum Concentrated Paste Red Extra)
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 240 ml buttermilk
  • 3 tbsp vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
  • 1 tsp salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan)/ gas mark 4. Grease two 15 cm cake tins with butter and lightly flour.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk or free-standing mixer, until well combined and paler in colour. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
  3. In a smaller bowl, mix together the food colouring, vanilla extract and cocoa powder until you get a thick paste. Add more water a teaspoon at a time if necessary to get the required consistency. Add this to the cake batter and mix in, until you get an even colour throughout.
  4. Add half of the buttermilk and mix until combined fully, then add half of the flour and mix.
  5. Gradually beat in half of the buttermilk and flour, mixing until well-incorporated. Repeat this step once more until you have added all of the buttermilk and flour
  6. Add the bicarbonate of soda, vinegar and salt, mixing well.
  7. Separate the batter into the two cake tins. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until the cake springs back when tapped gently.
  8. Once the cakes have cooled down completely, decorate them as you wish using the cream cheese frosting.
  9. Grab a knife and cut yourself a slice!

Dutch Pancakes and the Best Fries Ever

To celebrate the end of university, a friend and I took a quick day trip to the Netherlands.

Just for some background, I started my degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2014. It’s now 2019 and I’ve completely the four-year Integrated Masters along with a one-year placement. Five years later and I’m free of education!

For now.

We have suffered long enough, so it’s time to treat ourselves!

The return flight cost just £49 which was great for our pockets. We landed in Amsterdam before noon and took the typical tourist photographs by the ‘I Amsterdam’ sign outside the airport.

The first place we ate was at a pancake restaurant called Pancakes Amsterdam. The branch we were at was in Amsterdam Centraal.

They have options of traditional Dutch pancakes – sweet or savoury – American style pancakes and Poffertjes (mini pancakes). What’s great is that they have gluten-free and lactose-free options for their Dutch pancakes!

I decided to go for the traditional Dutch pancake with apple crumble, cinnamon and ice cream.

The Dutch pancake alone was fantastic, but topping it off with apple crumble pie? Next level!

Rating: 5/5

The second food spot we went to was a place called Manneken Pis. One of my brother’s suggested I go try these fries and I was not disappointed at all.

The logo may be of a child taking a piss, but don’t be put off. I went for the small portion of fries with ‘Samurai sauce’ – a mayonnaise and ketchup combination with a spicy kick.

The fries were thick-cut (my favourite kind), hot, and very crispy. They reminded me of Kettle Chips in the form of fries, and I love Kettle Chips. I wish they had something on par here in London, because I can’t stop thinking about those fries!

Rating: 5/5

My friend and I managed to do a lot in the space of eight hours including visiting:

  • I Amsterdam sign
  • Pancakes Amsterdam
  • Tropenmuseum
  • Windmills at Zaanse Schans
  • Manneken Pis
  • Gluten-free McDonald’s
  • Exploring the city

Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands will definitely need to be visited again – there is so much more to experience. However, my next stop will be Barcelona in July, after graduation!

Spicy Vegan Stir-Fry

My posts have been a bit scattered recently, but, there’s good news: I’ve finally finished university! So, while I’m job hunting, I’ll have more time to tend to this blog. I’ve also booked a cheeky day trip to Amsterdam, so expect some posts about the experience soon.

Now, for this week’s recipe…

If you’re looking for a quick mid-week meal, a stir-fry is the way to go. You can prepare your vegetables ahead of time and store them in the fridge for even less hassle.

This stir-fry includes bell peppers, onions, spinach, mushrooms, tofu and of course, chillies for heat. To get the tofu crispy, I made sure to flatten the tofu block with something heavy overnight. This helps to remove the moisture from the tofu.

Enjoy this stir-fry on top of some brown rice, or have it as a starter. Whatever works for you!

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 bird’s eye chillies, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced
  • Half a block of tofu, drained and cut into cubes
  • 125g shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp season-all

Method

  1. In a wok or large frying pan, heat the sesame oil over a medium heat.
  2. Fry off the garlic, ginger and chillies for 1 minute.
  3. Turn the heat to high, then add the tofu. Fry until crisp and golden brown all over, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the onions, peppers and mushrooms and fry for about 3 minutes, until tender.
  5. Add the spinach, soy sauce and season all. Stir until the spinach has wilted, then remove from the heat. Enjoy!

Bulgur Wheat Jollof

The first time I had bulgur wheat was in Kervan Sofrasi two or three years ago – a Turkish restaurant in North London. The way they had cooked it reminded me of jollof rice, since it was orange in colour. It was a great alternative to eating rice.

As some of you may know, making jollof rice takes a good two or three hours. Making the switch to bulgur wheat will reduce your cooking time by half, guaranteed! When I want to cook something in bulk that will last me a week, bulgur jollof is definitely in my top five choices.

You can experiment with the seasoning as it is all to taste. Feel free to include vegetables, meat or fish to your stew to add even more flavours and textures.

Serves 5

Ingredients

  • 500g bulgur wheat, washed and drained
  • 400g tinned plum tomatoes
  • 200ml water
  • 4 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper (optional)
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into large chunks
  • 1 large onion, 1 half thinly sliced, the other half cut into large chunks
  • 2x chicken stock cubes
  • 1x shrimp stock cube
  • 2 tsp season all
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp paprika

Method

  1. In a blender, blend the plum tomatoes, onions chunks, bell pepper chunks and the scotch bonnet until smooth.
  2. Heat a large pot with the oil on a medium heat. Once hot, fry the sliced onions and minced garlic, until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the tomato puree to the pot and fry for about a minute, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the blended tomato mix into the pot and stir. Add the chicken stock cubes, shrimp stock cube, season all, ginger and paprika. The stew will start to bubble and pop at this point, so be mindful!
  4. Add the water to the pot, stir and cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally and seasoning to taste.
  5. Once the stew has been cooked, add in the bulgur wheat. Reduce the heat to low and stir, ensuring all grains have been covered by the stew.
  6. Cover the pot with foil (shiny side facing the inside of the pot), then cover the pot with its lid.
  7. The bulgur wheat will cook in about 20 mins, during this period of time, be sure to stir frequently or else your bulgur will burn.
  8. Once the bulgur wheat has completely absorbed all of the stew and fully cooked, turn off the heat and leave to stand for 15 minutes. After this time, use a fork to separate the grains, then serve.

Lemon Cupcakes

Lemon cupcakes are a great alternative to the classic vanilla and chocolate flavours. Lemon desserts in general are always a solid option in my opinion. They offer not only sweetness, but a tangy citrus to cut through your taste buds.

After vanilla cupcakes, I’d say that lemon cupcakes are the easiest to make. If you’re new to baking, I definitely recommend trying this as a start if vanilla isn’t your thing.

These cupcakes are light, fluffy and quite addictive, so try to eat in moderation! I gifted these to someone for their birthday, and they revealed that they had eaten three for breakfast!

Makes 12 Cupcakes

Ingredients

For the lemon buttercream

  • 150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 350g icing sugar, sifted
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 2 lemons

Method

  1. In a bowl, cream together the butter and icing sugar with an electric whisk for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add in the lemon juice and zest and continue to whisk for another 2 minutes until light and smooth.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 180g self-raising flour, sieved
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder, sieved
  • 3 large eggs
  • Juice and zest of 3 lemons
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan)/ gas mark 4. Line a 12 hole cupcake tray with paper cases.
  2. In a bowl, cream together the butter and the caster sugar with a wooden spoon or whisk until well combined and pale.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then fold in the flour and baking powder.
  4. Add in the vanilla extract, lemon juice and zest, then mix together until you have a smooth, light cupcake batter.
  5. Spoon the batter into each case until half to two-thirds full.
  6. Place in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the cupcakes spring back when tapped gently. Leave to cool.
  7. When the cupcakes have cooled, spoon the lemon buttercream into a piping bag with a nozzle of your choice. Pipe in a spiral motion.

HAZ: A Review

I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like Mediterranean food and it is definitely in my top three types of cuisine.

Turkish food specifically is always a solid choice for me when it comes it eating out or ordering in. Borek, lahmacun, moussaka and more, the ingredients are simple, yet the flavours are fresh and bold.

I visited HAZ in St. Paul’s, London, for a birthday dinner back in January; seven of us in total. I had booked a table in advance.

The atmosphere was modern and slick, with a great bar and plenty of dining space. I ordered a bottle of Haz Rose Çal Karasi, Kalamari to start and the Steamed Atlantic Cod for the main. While we waited for out orders to come in, we were served with a basket of Turkish bread.

Haz Rose Çal Karasi

Rose

Price: £5.50/glass or £19.95/bottle

The house rose is described as having ‘fresh red fruits, cherry and raspberry with a fruity and vivid palate.’ This was a fresh and dry rose, not too sweet. The bottle lasted the majority of the evening between myself and a friend. The server gave us a bucket of ice to keep the wine chilled which was great.

Rating: 4/5

Kalamari

Calamari

Price: £6.45

If I see calamari on a menu, I’ll order it straight away. It is one of my favourite things to eat. I was surprised at how large the calamari was at HAZ – and only £6.45? A bargain compared to other places. They were served with a yoghurt tartar and a wedge of lemon. These were the best calamari I’ve ever tasted, honestly.

Rating: 5/5 (If I could give more points, I would)

Steamed Atlantic Cod

Cod

Price: £15.95

The cod was steamed with ginger and shallots. It was served with baby new potatoes and a plum tomato and pepper sauce. This was such a flavourful dish and the new potatoes on my plate were a bonus as they were not mentioned on the menu. This main was a great end to the evening – I was stuffed by the end of it!

Rating: 5/5

HAZ will definitely be seeing me again when I’m back in London. It might be my new regular spot as the food was fantastic and the service was brilliant. I can’t wait to try out the other menu items and some of their desserts (if there’s enough space in my stomach!).

There are six branches of HAZ in the City of London: Bishopsgate, Finsbury Square, Houndsditch, Plantation Place, Premier Place and St. Paul’s.

HAZ is available for delivery too!

Overall Rating: 5/5

Location: HAZ, 34 Foster Lane, St Paul’s, London EC2V 6HD
Website: https://www.hazrestaurant.co.uk/