Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Myung Ga

I'm a sucker for a gimmick. And although this Korean restaurant isn't being deliberately gimmicky, the idea of having your food cooked on hot-plates installed in to your table is something I had to try! I actually went here for the first time on a work night out and knew I had to experience it again. Based on Kingly Street in London, Myung Ga is slap bang in the middle of alleyways and back streets which run between Oxford Street, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. 

When inside, it doesn't try to be anything it's not. It's not sleek or modern in any way but it still draws the crowds in consistently. As I said, the main feature of this is the fact that food is cooked on your own hot-plates. We had our waitress do it for us but I was aware of other tables doing it themselves (maybe they're regulars and could be trusted not to burn the place down?!). 

The drinks menu is lacking unless you're really into Sake of any kind (which I can safely say I'm not). Only the house wine is sold by the glass which, lets be honest, is always going to taste like vinegar. Put it this way: don't come here for the booze. 
The food menu on the other hand is totally different from what I might normally stumble across. Again, it doesn't try to be glamorous. It is simple, traditional Korean food which features a wide range of meat, seafood and pancake-style dishes. 

We decided to order a bunch of stuff to come together so that we could mix and match. However, we ended up with a selection of cold vegetable dishes as a "starter" which kind of defeated the point but they were nice all the same. These assorted vegetable dishes included the traditional kimchee (pickled cabbage), marinated cucumber, radish and beansprout. On their own, they don't consist of much but they are awesome when added to the main attraction (more on that later!)

We also got some of the panfried dumplings stuffed with beef and vegetables and some of the panfried courgette. Both were nice although you could've had the same items anywhere else.  

Now to the hot-plate. You get to choose from a selection of meat cuts or seafood (or both), which have been prepared and marinaded differently depending on what you order. For example, you could have beef ribs marinated in soy, onions and garlic sauce, or even sliced ox tongue marinated in lemon juice. Being a seafood lover, we went for the assorted seafood BBQ which included prawn, squid, scallops and mussels. Whatever you decide, it gets prepared in front of you and served with large lettuce leaves which you use as your "wrap". 

Now comes the bit to get creative! Using the lettuce leaves, you can construct your own little beaut of a wrap using the sauces they automatically provide, vegetables and whatever your protein you opted for. Think of it as REALLY low-carb burger. Having said that, we ordered a side of rice so you can easily bulk it out a bit with that. 

And there you have it! Each bite can be filled with pride at knowing you (kind of) made it yourself. You get plenty of stuff to put together about 4 wraps each but, if not enough, just order more!

Overall, I would 100% recommend this place, even if just for the fact it's something a little bit different. The only downside though is that, due to ordering all items separately, the cost can very quickly add up. We were definitely left wondering how we'd spent so much money considering we didn't really eat that much. So yeh...have a calculator to hand!


Thursday, 16 October 2014

Coconut Garlic Kale Chips

Being a bit of a foodie, I like to not only try new foods when I'm eating out but also experiment with more "unusual" ingredients when trialing recipes at home. Although it's nothing new, coconut oil is still a far cry from being classed as a kitchen cupboard staple item. Possibly to do with the higher cost; possibly to do with people not knowing how they can use it. Unlike most cooking oils, coconut oil comes in a solid form so obviously requires heating gently before use. What may put people off is that it is officially classed as being a saturated fat. However, the fatty acids in coconut oil are medium-chain triglycerides which are metabolised differently by the liver and used as a quick source of energy. Those that aren't used for energy are turned into ketone bodies which have a hugely positive effect on brain health, including therapeutic effects on diseases like Alzheimer's. Put it this could never compare the saturated fats in coconut oil to those in a lump of cheese or a fatty steak!

Anyway, whilst I'm sure you all found that highly interesting, I should move on to the actual recipe. These Coconut Garlic Kale Chips are so easy to prepare and ridiculously addictive. However, I won't lie. It took two attempts for me to get these right... a few seconds too long in the oven means something nicely crisp and green turns into a charred, burnt mess!

You will need:
-1 large bunch kale
-40g unsweetened coconut flakes
-2 tbsp. coconut oil
-1 garlic clove, crushed
-120ml coconut milk
-sea salt

Preheat your oven to 170C/ 150 fan/ gas mark 4 and line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper. Wash the kale and cut out any large stems. Tear into about 2 inch pieces (really no need to be accurate at this point!) and dry as thoroughly as possible. Combine the coconut oil, garlic and coconut milk in a small bowl and microwave for approx. 45 seconds until the oil has completed melted. 

Pour the melted mixture over the kale and mix thoroughly to get each piece of kale coated in oil. It's easiest to use your hands when doing this. 

Spread out the kale on the baking sheets, making sure it is just a single layer. For once large bunch of kale, you'll probably need 2 - 3 baking sheets. Bake for 25 minutes, flipping the kale half-way through. Easy!