A Traditional Taiwanese Breakfast: Yong He Dou Jiang Da Wang 永和豆浆大王



Yong He Dou Jiang Da Wang / Yong He Soy Milk King / 永和豆浆大王

I know I may have written that I want to be Italian, but there is one other country I would happily claim some culture from – and that’s Taiwan. It all began with a fantastically fun trip to Taipei back in 2012, which was then followed by encountering someone who would become one my closest friends – and even get me into trouble for laughing too loudly. And that someone happens to be Taiwanese. We would joke that we were twins separated at birth. Except when I fervently photographed my food – at those times, she would sigh and say, “Why are you more Asian than me?!”

But if there were another a reason that I should be Taiwanese, it’s the fact that they take breakfast very seriously. There is a culture of crowding round street vendors or restaurants with street seating, buying all kinds of freshly fried and steamed treats. The news that I can stuff my face for under 80元 (~260 yen) whilst sitting on the street surrounded by all the sights and smells of breakfasting was a clear signal that Taiwan is a place where my stomach belongs. At least, in the mornings. Continue reading “A Traditional Taiwanese Breakfast: Yong He Dou Jiang Da Wang 永和豆浆大王”

Bacon Fat Sizzle Time: Making Brunch in Tokyo – UK-Style!

BRUNCH. And wooden crocodile.
BRUNCH. And wooden crocodile.

There comes a point where a Japanese breakfast doesn’t quite cut it. Grabbing a rice ball from the convenience store. Or raw egg and fermented soy beans on rice. Or that dubious pastry from a dubiously named ‘German’ bakery stocked with even more dubious ‘French items’,  such as Croque Monsieurs.

Or maybe, it’s just the point where you want sausages. Proper, meaty sausages. Or you’re craving bacon so badly that you’d happily wear its scent as perfume.

Despite the rarity of these items, a lack of affordable quality bread, and even more ridiculously priced butter, my friend Luke and I set out to make the ultimate brunch. Watch and salivate.

It’s bacon fat sizzle time!

Cooking… sort of: a Japanese-style breakfast

Breakfast for one!
Breakfast for one!

As you may have read in my last post, I got a little carried away with buying goodies from the Hobby Cook Show. So of course I have compelled myself to make some delicious food. And we all know how much I love breakfast! Yet I prepared all of the above without doing any cooking at all… Continue reading “Cooking… sort of: a Japanese-style breakfast”

The Breakfast Club’s Pancake Day Challenge 2014

Pancake Pheebz
Pancake Pheebz

It’s Pancake Day! Rejoice! Finally, we can give these simple floury, eggy, milky creations the full appreciation they deserve.

Why then, am I looking so anxious at the giant stack of pancakes in front of me? Because I had to eat them ALL in 15 minutes – that’s why.

Every Mardi Gras, The Breakfast Club really does take the day at it’s literal meaning – ‘Fat Tuesday’ – and presents customers with an ego-massaging, or ego-destroying, Man V Food eating competition. The rules are as simple as the ingredients: eat all the pancakes within the time limit and pay nothing; fail and pay £17.50 to Rays of Sunshine children’s charity (so basically, it’s a win-win situation).

Last year, I wolfed down 12 pancakes in 20 minutes, earning myself some applause and this wonderful footage of me gagging bravely struggling.

This year, the challenge was tougher: just 15 minutes for 12 pancakes. And they were definitely bigger and eggier than before.

The monster portion
The monster portion

I knew before I started that defeat lay ahead of me, but how much did I enjoy getting dirty?!

Concentrating on chewing
Concentrating on chewing
Kissing the cream
Kissing the cream

By ten minutes in, I settled for defeat. Quantity was not the problem so much as sweetness and dryness, and swallowing pancakes mixed with water was not agreeing with my stomach. By taking the sensible decision to quit, I a) didn’t feel ill all afternoon and b) got to take away what I didn’t finish – win! Pancake Day is lasting that bit longer for me and I’m looking forward to breakfast!

Apparently, there is no such thing as too many pancakes…

The Breakfast Club, Spitalfields (revisited)

Boston beans
Boston beans

For the uninitiated, The Breakfast Club is a trendy breakfast chain, which will not only sort you out with good and proper breakfast/brunch items until 5pm, but it will also fix you up with cocktails and drinks when it gets too late for bacon and eggs (although, in my humble opinion, it is never too late for bacon and eggs).

I previously enjoyed their Full Monty, but this post is a shout out for their Boston Beans (£8.30). These are some deliciously smoky pulled pork and beans with a mild sweetness, topped with a fried egg and served with eggs breads. It’s a gloriously rich, gooey and filling breakfast. Convince any friends with small appetites to order this, and then take home their leftovers for breakfast the next day. #winning

Alternatively, eat everyone’s breakfast at once.

Leftovers? Pfft. I don't understand the meaning of that word!
Leftovers? Pfft. I don’t understand the meaning of that word!

Website: http://www.thebreakfastclubcafes.com/ (check this out for an awesome, retro gaming theme. Super Mario land anyone?)
Where: Angel, Hoxton, Spitalfields, Soho, Battersea Rise
When: Various. See website.

Review: The Pavilion Café, Victoria Park

Breakfast with a view
Breakfast with a view

What is better than a hearty, good quality brunch?

One with gorgeous view and a whole host of wildlife.

And when I say wildlife, I mean all the animals from moorhens and Canadian geese to the denim-fur clad hipsters and their prized petits pooches. This is Victoria Park; this is the epitome of gentrification. 

The Pavilion Café on the edge of the lake has nestled right in on the edge of the lake. And it’s perfect for a glorious weekend brunch.

Admire the hipsters whilst sipping a very fresh apple and beetroot juice.

Apple and beetroot juice, modelled by two geese
Apple and beetroot juice, modelled by two geese

Reminisce over last night’s party with Monmouth coffee cappuccino.

Monmouth coffee
Pretty cappuccino

And let’s not forget the  sausage and bacon sourced from the outstanding Ginger Pig butchers. In fact, I could never forget Ginger Pig bacon. I think I would go crazy become even crazier if I were told I could never eat it again (vegetarians: beware – it will turn you).

The Full English - isn't it beautiful?
The Full English – isn’t it beautiful?

The Full English (~£9?) is great. Everything is cooked to perfection. The sourdough toast is moreish and not too dry. The only slightly strange item is the home-made beans, which contain fennel and are just plain peculiar.  

Veggies – there are terats for you too. The veggie breakfast comes with spinach and halloumi as well as all the usual items.

The veggie breakfast
The Veggie Breakfast

 The Pavilion Café 4/5 – Breakfast, brunch, lunch? It doesn’t matter. Get your Full English here and enjoy the view.

Website: http://www.the-pavilion-cafe.com/
Where: Victoria Park, Crown Gate West, E9 7DE.
When: Summer – Mon 8am – 4pm, Tues – Sun 8am – 8pm; Winter – daily 8am-4pm

Review: Caravan, King’s Cross


Breakfast or brunch is my all time favourite meal. After having spent the past 3 years travelling a fair bit, I know I can eat anything for breakfast. In fact, I ate a 6-course breakfast every day when I was in Kuala Lumpur last summer. “Course” might not be the right choice of word as it was a buffet – the most delicious hotel buffet I’ve ever had! I’d start with Chinese, move onto Malay and Indian, hit the fruit and yoghurt, then the pastries, breads and cakes, before finishing off with skewered grapes at the chocolate fountain. (I risk dribbling on my keyboard just remembering this!)

So I was on a brunch quest in London and the name ‘Caravan’  kept popping up. And with this menu, how could I resist?

OK, so it’s obviously trendy, which is why I’d heard its name so many times and which is why it was seriously busy. However, it’s huge  so we didn’t have to wait too long. Set 5 minutes walk from King’s Cross next to Central St Martins art college, inside is full of long  tables, a semi-visible kitchen to one-side and an array of tasty-looking cakes sitting on one side.

Inside Caravan
Inside Caravan
Cakes ahoy!
Cakes ahoy!

First up, there was absolutely no question about what I would be drinking. Did I see a salt caramel hot chocolate on the menu? Why yes, I think I did!

Salt caramel hot choc
Salt caramel hot choc

At £3.50, it was most definitely over-priced for its size, but it was delicious and not too sweet. It probably could have been a bit heavier on the chocolate but I was satisfied (even if my wallet cried out in protest).

I was with my reliable dining partner Mimi, who ordered the Asian-inspired ‘Hangtown Fry’ – a bacon and oyster omelette.  I sampled a small bit and can attest to the fact that the omelette was pleasingly soft (no-one like rubbery eggs!) and very flavoursome.

Hangtown Fry - Bacon and Oyster Omelette
Hangtown Fry – bacon and oyster omelette

My brunch choice was a tough decision, but I settled on the baked eggs, tomato pepper ragout, Greek yoghurt, and toast (£7.50) with chorizo sausage (+ £2). The ragout was rich and slightly tangy, without too much acidity from the tomatoes. The chorizo was fantastic and the whole dish was topped with fresh parsley  which brought it alive. Two small criticisms  1) I would have a preferred a bit more yoghurt; 2) the eggs were overwhelmed by the chorizo and ragout, and so I could hardly taste them at all! Not that it matters because all the flavours worked, but I would have happily swapped the eggs for some more chorizo. I admit the dish should probably change its name from “baked eggs” if that were the case!

Baked eggs with chorizo, ragout, yoghurt and parsley
Baked eggs with chorizo, ragout, yoghurt and parsley

Unfortunately, we’d spied an affogato (£4.50) on the menu for pudding and somehow we ordered it. Oh it was a heavenly coffee and vanilla mix.

Vanilla ice-cream topped with expresso
Vanilla ice-cream topped with expresso

Caravan’s menu is very exciting, and I’m itching to go back and try the salt beef bubble. And the poached eggs with aubergine puree. Or the corn and morcilla fritters. Or…. You get the idea.

Caravan 4/5 – Want a delicious and unusual brunch in a bustling atmosphere? Yes? Thought so. 

Food 4/5 – Delicious, great quality. Portions could be a little larger.
Value 3/5 – I’m *sort of* getting used to London prices now. But £3.50 for a tiny hot choc? Salted caramel or no, that’s just too much.
Service 5/5 – Prompt and friendly.
Atmosphere 5/5 – It’s a giant busy room but it doesn’t get chaotic. It’s got exactly the right kind of buzz to accompany a tasty brunch.

Where: The Granary Building, 1 Granary Square, King’s Cross, London, N1C 4AA



Website: http://www.caravankingscross.co.uk/

Review: Breakfast at Dishoom (Covent Garden)

Dishoom bacon naan

Firstly, I need to apologise for the poor quality of the photos in this post. I promise that Dishoom’s bacon naan roll looks a lot more appetising than depicted here. In general, I’m not a very capable person before I’ve eaten in the morning. I barely managed to cycle to the restaurant without fainting. I’m going to blame it on that. Definitely.

Dishoom calls itself an old Bombay café and I’d heard good things about its breakfast. As my friend was in London town for an interview afternoon, it was the perfect opportunity to meet for a cheap, tasty and slightly unusual brekky to set her up a challenging day.

Having had dinner at Dishoom before, I knew exactly what I’d be drinking – Chocolate Chai (£2.70). To those who are now thinking, “I like chocolate, and I like chai, but together?!“, please trust me on this one. I thought the same but I love it lots – they very skillfully navigate and carve out a perfect middle route between the flavours.

Chocolate chai
Chocolate chai (from my dinner visit)

To eat, all three of us ordered the  Bacan Naan Roll (£3.70) which comes with chilli tomato jam, cream cheese and coriander. I met this with some scepticism –  I firmly believe bacon is one of those things that doesn’t need any extra flavours because I want to enjoy all of its salty goodness without interruption. However, Dishoom have really pulled this one off. The chilli jam isn’t too sweet, the coriander provides a tantalising contrast and…well, it’s just awesome.

Bacon naan roll with chilli jam (£3.70)
Bacon naan roll with chilli tomato jam (£3.70)

There was one small problem – my friends and I were less than impressed with its size. Please Dishoom – I think you could fit another rasher of bacon into that naan roll. At £3.70, one could just order two, but I’m going to resent paying £7.40 for bacon and bread, even in London.

Overall though, Dishoom makes for an unsual – and delicious – breakfast.

Dishoom Covent Garden

Where: 12 Upper St Martin’s Ln, London WC2H 9FB
When: Monday – Thursday 8am – 11pm; Friday 8am – 12am Saturday 10am – 12am Sunday 10am – 10pm
Website: http://www.dishoom.com/covent-garden/ 

Also in Shoreditch: http://www.dishoom.com/shoreditch/

Review: The Gallery Café (Vegan/Vegetarian)

The Gallery Café

I may have a reputation as a fearsome meat devourer, lover of all things beef, especially STEAK. And burgers. And roast beef. (Oh shut up, Pheebz, and get on with the review!) Well, just because I am a devoted carnivore does not mean that I am unable to appreciate vegetarian and vegan food. In fact, I recently went to The Gallery Café, where most dishes are completely vegan.

OK, so the truth is… I didn’t go there knowing it was a vegan/vegetarian café, but I liked it so much that I’ll go back!

My friend recently moved to East London and she’d heard very good things about The Gallery Café. So we set off to Bethnal Green and stopped by to find a bustling room with mismatched furniture, and rather tasty-looking home-made cakes lining a wooden-top counter.

More muffins


We eyed up the sandwiches to one side. That’s funny, we thought. The sausage sandwich looks like it has vegetarian sausage in it.

We eyed up the menu. Mmm. Nice big breakfasts. That’s funny, we thought. They serve scrambled tofu. Where are the eggs?

The menu

It wasn’t until half-way through our munching that the penny dropped. After which, we laughed quite a lot at how slow our brains were to engage.

My friend took the scrambled tofu on  sourdough toast (£4) with garlic mushrooms (plus £1.50). I was VERY sceptical as I’ve never eaten tofu outside of Asia that I’ve actually enjoyed. But actually, this was great! Seasoned well, mixed with spring onions – it was really tasty and I actually want to go and order it. The garlic mushrooms were also superb, again to my surprise.

Scramble tofu and garlic mushrooms with sourdough toast
Scramble tofu and garlic mushrooms with sourdough toast

Now, I wasn’t especially hungry due to eating a lot beforehand, so I just took a bowl of chips (£1). Look at these beauties. Just £1 for this large portion. They were crispy on the outside, soft in the middle and really, really good. And they were £1. Wow.


I also had a chocolate brownie with walnuts. It wasn’t as dense or gooey as brownies tend to be served, but it was pleasingly moist with a rich, warm flavour.


I didn’t have anything to drink but they offer a lot of speciality teas. 

I obviously can’t comment on the rest of the menu, but I’ll be sure to update you when I head there again. I want to test some of the dishes. Can they persuade me to order more vegan food? We shall see…

The Gallery Café 4/5 – OK, so it’s in East London, it’s vegan and it offers fancy teas. Yes, it sounds a little hipster. But really it’s just a casual, laid-back place. And come on – who can refuse a bowl of chips for £1? Or garlic mushrooms on sourdough toast for £3? This place is cheap and yummy. 

Where: The Gallery Cafe, St. Margaret’s House, 21 Old Ford Road, Bethnal Green, London E2 9PL

When: Monday-Friday 8am-9pm; Sat: 9am – 9pm; Sun: 9am – 9pm

Website: http://www.stmargaretshouse.org.uk/gallery-cafe/gallery-cafe