Archive of ‘Reviews’ category

Review: Karamay Western China Cuisine

Humbly situated on one of Leicester’s busiest roads, Karamay boasts authentic halal (western) Chinese cuisine. If you’re looking for something other than steaks, burgers or your usual Indian food, you’d be silly to not visit this place. Unless of course, you don’t like the taste of China (let’s face it, who doesn’t?).

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London Road has a variety of restaurants and cuisines to offer, but if you’re looking for a new dining experience, Kara – may just give you that. See what I did there? Moving swiftly on to the review…

I visited the restaurant just over 2 months back, when it wasn’t so high up on the foodie radar. It was a Saturday night, accompanied by two other friends. We went without a reservation because they said they were small and didn’t take bookings.

On arrival the last table had just been taken, which meant that we’d have had to wait around half an hour at least until we got a place. This was pretty annoying, but understandable due to the limited space available. The staff were kind enough to keep the upcoming space for us as we waited in the car.

Once seated and nearly in the state of death due to hunger, we chose our starters and decided on our mains too. Knowing that they served halal duck, I already knew I wanted to try this. I asked the neighbouring table who had ordered the duck whether it was nice. Their only commented was that the sauce was a bit tangy and not for them, but I went with my guts and got me some crispy duck.

karamaydump

For starters we had fried dumplings and chicken pastry. The dumplings were decent, I personally feel like they weren’t authentic enough, but I’ve never been to China so I could be wrong. They reminded me of the ones you get in Wok in and Wok out. The pastry was again decent, similar to an Indian style chicken pastry. Perhaps not the best of decisions for starters?

Moving on to the mains, we ordered were steak and noodles, sweet and sour soup and of course China’s infamous dishes, the crispy duck with a plum sauce.

The steak was saucy beef strips with a hell of a load of peppers. Pieces doused in a hot and soy saucy dressing with egg noodles. A nice little dish, not too overpowering with flavours, yet didn’t quite have that umph. It needed more beef.

beef

Next up the soup. It was more (spicy) hot and sour than sweet and sour if that makes sense? I didn’t find any hint of sweetness whatsoever. I don’t mind spicy, but I really like Chinese styled sweet and sour soup and this was not that. A friend who doesn’t like sweet soup actually tried it and really enjoyed it. It needs a name change me thinks – apart from that it was nice.

soup

Onto the final dish. The strips of duck came with a side of tarte plum sauce and a basket of uber thin Chinese savoury pancakes, about 9 in total. I placed the pieces in the middle of a pancake and dressed it very lightly in some dollops of the plum sauce.) One mouthful and I could definitely confirm that they were crispy. I can’t quite explain what duck tastes like. It has the texture of chicken, but more closer to the taste of well-cooked lamb with a ‘duck aftertaste’? The plum sauce was quite tarte so added a bit of sweet tang to it which gave it more flavour. My friends weren’t too keen on the sauce, however they did like the duck dish in general. I think that if you went overboard with the sauce, it would be a bit too overpowering for some to handle. I was rather impressed with the dish and it was my favourite out of them all.

karamayduck

The atmosphere was busy and we were tight for space, with three against a table of two. The staff were very friendly and helpful, but I felt that they needed another waiter/waitress, because it was so busy on a Saturday night. Needless to say the food was good, some dishes weren’t amazing as hoped, but good. I just like the fact that it offered some different items you wouldn’t usually get. I definitely would pay another visit and try out some of their other dishes.

Atmosphere: *** 3/5

Service: **** 4/5 (short staffed and slow in my opinion)

Food: **** 4/5

Overall: 7/10

Chocolate and Truffles by The Chocolatier.

Another lovely stall I visited this summer at the BBC Good Food Show was The Chocolatier. Upon seeing these chocolates I gasped and had the biggest smile on my face. Even the lady behind the exhibit commented on my excitement! I was truly a big kid in a candy store.

What I really loved about this, was that they had a really big range of chocolates and that they were completely diverse. As mentioned in my previous post, as much as I love my cocoa copines, I easily grow tired of the usual ones you get in your corner shop or supermarket shelf. Sometimes you just want something different. Or even peculiar.

The Chocolatier, a niche by Aneesh, delivers just that. Flavours from Cola Popping Candy, to Pineapple and Cardamom, they’re aren’t like your normal Nestlé brand. Now to be perfectly honest, when I saw all the flavours, I thought they wouldn’t be as good as they looked or wouldn’t really have much flavour. So I popped in a piece of Mango spice chocolate in my mouth and can I just say, my tongue was literally bombarded with spice and mangoeyness – was NOT expecting that. Personally, sweet and ‘savoury’ flavours mixed together isn’t really my thing (my friend on the other hand loves that mix) and there were many that had that kind of combination, so I was left slightly disappointed at the minimal amount of ‘sweeter’ options available.

And then I met the truffles.

There were so many to choose from and many had unusual flavours. I liked that a lot. They looked very chic and smelt amazinggg!

I picked chilli and lime, Salt and Pepper, Raspberry Gel x2 (I love raspberry and choc) and salted caramel. I had to watch out for how many I got, as we all know that Truffles don’t come cheap, especially of such a niche.

Chilli and Lime was interesting, you could taste the lemon as you bit into it, lasting with a pleasant chilli kick at the end. Nice, but not something you could have a lot of. Salt and pepper was okay, different, and that’s what intrigued me. Salted caramel was yummy as expected, really flavoursome and I just fell in love with the raspberry gel. The raspberry just oozes out as you take a bite and mixes well with the dark chocolate. I’ve always believed that the two flavours are a match made in heaven and it worked extremely well in the truffle.

I also got the sesame praline, which was sweet and crunchy and just so NOM!

I really was left flabbergasted with the varieties of flavours that they had and…wait for it…wait for it…They contained no gelatine, no cream, no butter and no eggs! They are only made from a water based ganache, I have no idea how they make them taste so good without any of these ingredients. Great for vegetarians and for those who have specific dietary limits!

For more information on The Chocolatiers chocolates or if you wanna check out their clever combinations created by Aneesh Popat, you can visit them at http://www.the-chocolatier.co.uk. I do warn you, these do eat into your wallet, though where else will you ever get to try a pumpkin pie flavoured truffle!?

Lovely for an occasional treat. Give ’em a go. They get my official stamp of approval and trust me, I can be a fussy one.

And if you don’t have enough pounds in your pocket, you can always try out my chocolate truffle recipe :)


The Dainty Cook x

More, More, More! Macarons by Macarons and More.

I stumbled upon Macarons and More at the BBC Good Food Show this summer. The first thing I saw was the Macaron tower. My eyes lit up and I was drawn closer. The meringue beauties were stacked in a tall prism like structure and decorated with ribbon. They looked very elegant and perfect for a special occasion.

Next to them however, was what really caught the attention of my heart. There was a wide range available such as lemon, salt caramel, chocolate orange, praline, rose, crème brûlée, dark chocolate and mint, pistachio, passionfruit and dark chocolate and violet and blackcurrant, however some were already sold out by the time I got there!


The Orange Chocolate macarons.


These are all (I assume so anyway) designed by Tim Kinnaird who appeared in BBC’s Masterchef in 2010 and was a runner up in the finals. He’s done a really great job getting this far, particularly coming from a medicinal background and not food!


Couldn’t resist and had to eat them before I took a photo. One got smashed :(


Anyway, I wanted to try all of them, but priced at £1.60 each, I had to be weary of how much money I had in my purse and pick a few only. I opted for the chocolate orange, praline, salt caramel and crème brûlée (one of my fave desserts!) And boy did they taste as well as they looked.

The best one was the Chocolate orange, it was just right, not too much orange and the chocolate was of a good quality. Praline followed behind, it was like nutella in a meringue but a hundred times better and of a high standard. The crème brûlée was nice and so was the salt caramel, however for me in a Macaron, it wasn’t my cup of tea. 

They sold them in boxes of 6, 9 and 12 and a box of 12 can be purchased online, (http://www.macaronsandmore.com), which I will definitely do when my next craving kicks in! 

Overall I was left very impressed by my purchase and wanted more! Yes the price is high, but I guess you’re paying for quality. Sometimes you can just tell by looking at the Macaron whether they’ll be amazing or just plain ordinary and with these, I just knew they would be amazing!


Raspberry and Chocolate macaroons from Patisserie Valerie.


I bought some from Pat Val just the other day and as nice as they were, once you’ve had better you won’t really like the standard ones you get. I mean they were good, but not wow. I only bought chocolate and raspberry, because I wasn’t too keen on the other normal flavours you get.

Laduree I am a hugee fan of. Just so so good with a nice pot of vanilla tea. They had a special flavour on when I went , I think it was lemon and dark chocolate, mmmmmmmmmm. Died and went to heaven! The flavours just married so so well. Ah, I’m drooling now so I better stop. But if you want some impressive macrons, do check out Macarons and More

You won’t be disheartened.

The Dainty Cook x