Koshari Street, London

would never have discovered this place if not for the groupon trawling that took place while boredom struck a while back. yes, i am an #aunty and proud of it heh ūüėČ
(for the non-singaporeans: “aunty” when used on a young lady -cough- like myself -cough- usually means she is behaving more like a middle-aged to old female, hence the activity of¬†online bargain hunting being labelled “aunty” behaviour) saw what seemed like a really good deal – ¬£9 for a large koshari and drink for 2, did a quick online search to check out what exactly this “egyptian street food” entailed, and with my curiosity piqued and impressed by the rave reviews, promptly made the groupon purchase. am still very pleased that i made that decision¬†because i was far from disappointed!

occupying a small but comfortable¬†shop space along st martin’s lane at the fringe of covent garden, koshari street serves just one main dish, a type of egyptian street food known as koshari. you’re probably staring at your computer screen with raised eyebrows wondering what on earth koshari is; i can totally relate because i was once in that position. but i am proud to say that i now not only know what koshari is but have also had the great pleasure of trying some, and it is absolutely delicious!

koshari is a vegetarian dish consisting of lentils, rice, vermicelli, topped with a spicy tomato sauce, chickpeas, and caramelised onions. does that not sound like a wonderfully wholesome and warming combination of ingredients? well, even if you think it doesn’t, i assure you now that it most definitely is ūüėÄ

koshari street prides itself on everything being freshly-made with the best ingredients and bringing naturally healthy egyptian meals to londontown. upon entering the shop, you are greeted by a long stainless steel counter with the koshari condiments all very neatly and systematically laid out. service was extremely friendly and the server took the time to explain to us what exactly goes into a koshari, even letting us try the different tomato sauces with varying spice levels (mild/hot/mad Рdespite my penchant for spicy food because its a taste of home, i got the hot because i thought a cupful of mad sauce might really be quite mad) before we decided on the ones we wanted for our kosharis.20141007_132809
the koshari was then assembled before us and served piping hot in a huge cup (perfect for takeaways).

the groupon deal was for a large koshari and a drink, so that’s what we got:20141007_133229
large koshari Р£6.50 / fresh juice Р£2 (regular non-groupon prices)
not sure if you can see how big this cup really was because of the lack of proper scale, but it was really a¬†very¬†generous serving. (almost the size of an ice cream tub if i’m not wrong?)¬†they also do small and medium sizes and as we were devouring our large cups, we noticed that almost nobody¬†(there was a steady stream of customers coming in throughout our meal) except the odd large and famished-looking man ordered the large.

you’re probably wondering what lies beneath the glorious bed of glistening golden-brown shallots, so here are more pictures that reveal¬†the amazing goodness contained in a cup:20141007_133419
and now with everything mixed in:20141007_133933
my midnight hunger pangs are getting stronger by the second as i type this post (will need to promptly get into bed after this so morning will come quick and i can demolish some breakfast :P)… just looking at the pictures, i can remember the great satisfaction i got from this extremely¬†flavourful concoction that really packed a punch. what struck and impressed my friend and i most about the koshari was how fresh and well-done every single component of the dish was – everything was cooked to perfection and served piping hot. the lentils, macaroni and rice retained a delicious bite, while the crispy vermicelli bits, chickpeas and shallots on top added layers of crunch. the tomato sauce was extremely fresh, tasty and flavourful. it tied everything together wonderfully and as we were making our way through our mega cups, we were already imagining how happy we’d be on the cold winters day when we’d return to warm our souls with this yummy comfort food¬†ūüôā the ingredients were added so generously and in such¬†perfect proportions that¬†every mouthful was a burst¬†of flavours and textures in our mouths!¬†i did mention earlier that the cup was huge but what i¬†failed to mention was that i finished it anyway; i enjoyed it that much ūüėõ left the shop feeling¬†extremely¬†full, but a healthy full, having loaded up on a cup full of wholesome goodness.

besides koshari, koshari street also offers¬†some simple salads, a soup option that changes daily and a handful of puddings for¬†dessert. order a mix of things to make for a really satisfying meal¬†or alternatively, they do combo meals where you can get a koshari, side and drink for a reasonable price. given the quality of the ingredients and how filling and wholesome the dish is, i would highly recommend this little cafe if you’re looking for a quick bite around the covent garden area. the space the shop occupies is small so its ideal for takeaways, but they do have some counter-type seating within the shop so there’s always the option of dining in as well.

if you’ve never had egyptian food, now’s the time to change that! you have even more reason to because the groupon deal doesn’t seem to have ended yet: check it out here!

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Koshari Street
56 St Martin’s Lane
London WC2N 4EA

Dishoom, London

got to know about this place via a friend’s instagram picture (yes i shamelessly confess – i am an instagram addict) and am really happy i made the trip down to their covent garden outlet to check it out!

dishoom is a bombay-inspired cafe that serves indian food throughout the day – indian breakfast, indian lunch and indian dinner! we went for the breakfast. my friend was surprised when he saw what it looked like – he was expecting more of a hole-in-the-wall/in-a-dank-basement kind of shop (typical stereotype of restaurants serving legit ethnic food…) when i described to him the idea of an “authentic indian breakfast”; dishoom is trendy, bright, clean and airy. i, on the other hand, was expecting exactly what i saw since i had visited their snazzy website many times before, inspecting the menu and deciding in advance what i was going to order lest i take a million years deciding at the restaurant itself (typical me).

Imageit was really empty when we arrived at 1030am (breakfast is only served until 11am) on a thursday morning so the staff were attentive and ordering was a breeze. food came fast and our hunger pangs were quelled in double-quick time (always a plus)!

i had the bacon naan roll and it is DEFINITELY something i will be going back for.

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the bacon was fried just nice (in my opinion, but opinions about how bacon should be done tend to differ) – crisp at the edges and not too soft in the middle; it was tasty and flavourful and went perfectly with the cream cheese and herbs that accompanied it. the proportion of cream cheese to bacon was also great – the cream cheese was not in such a copious amount that it left a “wet” feeling in your mouth. the naan (which they make on the spot – you can actually see them flipping the dough in the open-concept kitchen) was all fluffy and warm. the naan came with a chilli tomato jam which was also delicious – i was peeling off bits of my freshly-baked naan to dip into the jam, though the naan roll was yummy on its own already. and the best part of the dish? at an amazing affordable ¬£3.70!!! some might find the serving small (especially for hungry boys), but i thought it was fine and value-for-money.

my friend had the bombay omelette which came with tomatoes grilled on the vine and fire toast (bread that is buttered then grilled, according to the menu). it was a tasty and fluffy omelette that was filled with tomato, onion, green chilli and coriander. i wouldn’t rave about it, but it was still good. the tomatoes on the vine were perfectly grilled, sweet and juicy. he added a sausage to his dish and the sausage was very yummy – crisp on the outside and the texture of the meat inside was not too soft.

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i also ordered their house chai, which is supposed to be their specialty, while my friend got a coffee. the house chai was not bad – light and fragrant, though i would have preferred it to be a little thicker (was imagining something a bit frothier like teh tarik). loved the cupsthey served the drinks in – seemed very legitimately and traditionally bombay-ish ūüėČ i didn’t try the coffee but since my friend ordered a second cup, i suppose it was pretty good!20130321_105003

we sat and chatted till lunch hour came and my friend wasn’t full from his omelette so he decided to order something from the lunch menu. he decided on the pau bhaji since themenu said “no food is more bombay” – it was a bowl of spicy mashed vegetables with a nice soft bun to accompany it. i didn’t have much of it but i quite enjoyed it from what i tried, and my friend was satisfied. it was really rather spicy but delicious with the warm and soft bun that accompanied it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

who i would recommend this to: people looking for a casual place to have an affordable and relaxing breakfast/brunch. they open at 8am for breakfast apparently, so its great for early risers or people who need to be somewhere soon after breakfast. when we went at 1030, there were plenty of available tables and though the crowd started coming in closer to lunchtime, at no point in time did we feel rushed/pressurised to leave.

will i return? yes definitely for the bacon naan roll! at a great price of ¬£3.70 and dishoombeing conveniently located, i will definitely go back when i’m looking for a light breakfast/brunch that is something different from the usual morning fare.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADishoom

12 Upper St Martin’s Ln¬†¬†London WC2H 9FB, United Kingdom
+44 20 7420 9320

-rach

PS. back in singapore (the land of AMAZING/GLORIOUS/WONDROUS/DELECTABLE/OUT OF THIS WORLD food) for easter break now, so look out for some singapore eats on the blog soon!!! ūüėÄ