CHAMPOR CHAMPOR: MIX & MATCH AT LONDON BRIDGE
That area around London Bridge is rapidly becoming a little foodie enclave, isn't it?
There's The Garrison ( which, on one experience, I found actively grim ) The Bermondsey Kitchen and the newly opened Magdalen to name but a few.
Alongside these British offerings is Champor Champor. I had never been but, whenever I see requests on food boards for places to eat in this area, this small Malaysian restaurant always seems to come highly recommended.
So, when I was pondering on somewhere to have supper with my dear chum, Monina last night, it seemed like a decent choice.
It's a tiny room and, as you walk in from the joys of Weston St, you are hit by a fug of incense that could bring a rampaging elephant to his knees.
Still, by the time we were shown to a perfectly pleasant table for two, I had become accustomed to the acrid smell and was able to concentrate on the small, unusual but interesting menu while eating some crispy tofu skin.
They offer two courses for £23.50 and three for £27.90 on top of which they add a whopping 15% service charge.
While predominately Malay in nature the menu is influenced by all areas of Asia. This kind of culinary Esparanto normally brings me out in hives, but here, the food was, on the whole pretty well done and, from my limited knowledge, echt.
Monina began with a Javanese Oxtail soup which she said reminded her of the soups she used to have as a child in the Philippines apart from the fact that this had no bones in it which she thought was shameful as she wanted to suck out the marrow. My kinda girl, Monina and this was my kind of soup. Slow cooked chunks of oxtail in a fresh, clean broth infused with herbs. The dish was spiced up by a side of fiery sambal kichap which on its own took the roof off your mouth but imbued each spoonful of the soup with a pleasing backnote.
Not quite so pleasing was my starter which comprised five deep fried frog legs with a shitake mushroom and truffle oil sauce. The little bits of something that once hopped were harmless enough and offered a nice crunch as I chomped through the bone, but the tiny portion meant I was finished before Monina had even imagined considering to dip the first spoon.
Before the main course, one of the charming waiters came and offered us intercourse. I was disappointed, being vain enough to thing that even guys dig me the most too, to find out that this was a little, er inter-course, of Granita for a supplement of £2.80. We passed.
A bit of role reversal for main courses. I forwent my usual search for meaty goodness and chose a south Indian thali which was a huge disappointment. Some thin dahl, a tired looking pineapple and cucumber achar, a dry coconut sambar and a non descript mooli yellow curry. I chose badly.
Monina did not. She chose well. Very well. A veal chop crusted with crushed corriander seeds and served with a peanut sauce and taro crisps. Excellent soft veal with lots of added flavours and sauce so good I cleaned the bowl with my fingers.
Desserts? Well desserts were horrible. A dry as a bone chocolate cake and a parfait that wasn't.
I was being treated to supper ( did I mention that Monina was my kinda girl?) so I have no idea what the bill came too. I am guessing, with the bottle of wine she chose because it had a "pretty" name (ahem) around the £100 which is about average for London these days.
An agreeable if flawed supper and definitely worth another visit