As previously, here’s a roundup of interesting things I ate in London in May 2019. Would love to hear others’ opinions on these places, or recommendations for any under-discussed or out-of-the-way places I should try.
Sanxia, 36 Deptford Broadway, SE8 4PQ (website)
I’ve now been to all three branches of this small chain (and indeed discussed the Bromley one in my October 2018 roundup). This time I was on my own so just had one dish: sea spiced aubergine with minced pork (photo). The aubergine was rich without being greasy, and the proportions of pork and aubergine were just right. The sauce had a decent balance between sweet, salty, and spicy, with a good hit of ginger too.
Atesh, 235–241 Croydon High Street, CR0 1QR (website)
Again a simple lunch for one, consisting of falafel with hummus and broad beans with yogurt (photo of both). The falafel were crisp on the outside with a soft interior, and the hummus had good texture and flavour. The broad beans had been podded and mixed with dill and chopped peppers. None of this was complicated but it was done very well.
Plumstead Pantry, 16 Warwick Terrace, Plumstead, SE18 1QJ (website)
Here I had slow roast tomatoes with feta, basil, and a slow-cooked egg on sourdough toast (photo). The tomatoes had an excellent flavour and very thin skins, which is a good choice if you’re roasting them. The egg was similar to an onsen egg, with runny yolk and wobbly white. All was seasoned just right.
Kailash Momo, 79 Woolwich New Road, SE18 6ED (website
Behind the PVC-framed shopfront and decal-covered windows is a small but unexpectedly comfortable and ornately-decorated dining room. Gol gappa (photo) had fresh, crisp, and entirely leak-free shells (you’d think this should be a given, but in my experience it’s fairly rare). Steamed pork momo (photo) were made with good-quality well-seasoned pork, and steamed exactly right, neither too chewy nor falling-apart. Perhaps the star of the meal though was the side dish of spinach in garlic sauce (photo) — again perfectly seasoned, and with a lovely smoky taste that I suspect came from tempering cumin seeds in oil.
Casa Morita, Unit 9, Market Row, Brixton, SW9 8LB (website)
Very good tortillas enclosing the tacos here (photo); just the right amount of roughness in the texture, and soft enough to easily bite through while robust enough to maintain structural integrity despite juicy fillings. The fillings themselves were a little disappointing; the vegetables in chipotle were a little dull, while the pulled pork included fat and skin (good) but also hairs remaining in the skin (not good). "La torta" made up for it — black beans, queso fresco, spinach, tomato, onion, and avocado inside a great bread roll, light without being insubstantial (photo).
Little Coffee Shop, 107 Sanderstead Road, South Croydon, CR2 0PJ
Another visit to this out-of-the-way cafe previously discussed in my April/May 2018 roundup. I keep coming here because it’s good, even if it is in the middle of nowhere. The bread they make their sandwiches from is excellent, structurally sound even when sliced thinly, and with a lovely chewy crust and soft interior. This time I had their version of a Reuben (photo), with pastrami, a nice sharp cheese, and sliced gherkins instead of the sauerkraut. Everything was in proportion to everything else, with no one flavour dominating (I really am not a fan of sandwiches where they pile in a ridiculously huge amount of meat.) All their tea is loose-leaf, including a decent lapsang souchong.
Singapore Orchid, 17 Chipstead Valley Road, Coulsdon, CR5 2RB (website)
I was intrigued to see a vegetarian nasi lemak on the menu, so had to try it (photo). Subtly coconutty rice came with vegetarian sambal chicken, two begedil (potato croquettes), and some fairly uninteresting (albeit perfectly fresh) salad. The vegetarian chicken was surprisingly decent, with a good umami flavour and gently warming chilli heat. The begedil were very nicely seasoned and rich without being oily; a minor execution issue led to one of them being a little chewy on one side, but I’d definitely order these again (they’re also available separately on the menu).
Wine Gallery, 12 Purley High Street, CR8 2AA (website)
The service here is bordering on comical, but it’s all very well-intentioned and sweet. The owner was very keen to tell us about the specials of the day, including the ones he’d already eaten the last of, and at the end of the evening they seemed quite baffled by us wanting to leave a tip.
But the tapas were good, and extremely well-priced. We enjoyed a “big plate” of cheese and meat (photo), and some interestingly-textured chicken pate (photo). Sardines (photo) and squid (photo) were from tins, but good quality, and served on romaine lettuce, dressed with olive oil and red onions. Morcilla (photo) had a great texture and good flavour, and came in a very generous portion.
I was here with @ds, whose recommendation it was. (It was also Dean who recommended I try the Little Coffee Shop and Singapore Orchid, discussed above.) I would also recommend it if you’re in the area — maybe not worth travelling across London, but for me it’s certainly a good reason to go to Purley.