Umami Street Food is the latest addition to Elm Grove’s often struggling eating scene. Having spent the better part of a year in work, an opening date didn’t always seem guaranteed. But lo and behold, Umami is here and is promising both “street food” and being able to experience “the 5th taste”. Mysterious and different! So on one whimsical evening we decided to give it a go; I thought at worst it could just be a very polished kebab house, or at best a genuinely exciting establishment offering Southsea something completely new?
Unfortunately it was more the former, Umami has pretty much nothing to do with the Japanese concept of Umami or street food. What we have is a contemporary fast food eatery, serving your piri chicken, your burgers, your wraps and your shakes now that traditional kebabs and crap pizza are going out of fashion. Street food? In that case where is my Mexican ceviche at?
Having said all this, their Umami burger was very passable, it’s pretty decent value for money and there were some interesting looking Lebanese options on the menu. It’s just that it is simply not “street food”. Unless you eat your burger on the pavement.
Oh Umami, you are kinda fun but confuse me on so many levels!
I have two major character traits: I love Asian food of all descriptions and I am indecisive. Which for a place like Wagamamas works pretty well. If you have never visited this chain before, Wagamamas deals with fusion (a dirty word, I know) Asiatic cuisine. It borrows styles and influences from China, Japan, Malayasia. And this is reflected in their dishes: ramen, teppanyaki, donburis and many more. Whilst I don’t eat in Gunwharf that often, I’ve always considered Wagamamas as one of its better eating establishments (perhaps up there with Brasserie Blanc. Not only does it have a great view to the mouth of the harbour, the minimalist layout and brushed concrete ticks many of my awful hipster boxes. The food itself is nicely varied and the descriptions alone wet the appetite, as sides we ordered the Asiatic veg (fantastic, if lacking slightly in portion size), the excellent veggie steamed buns, veggie gyoza (just right) and not half bad crispy squid. The mains were a sweet and coconutty yasai surendra curry and a slightly underwhelming yasai chan hai donbury for the vegetarian other half, which were both fine but were outshone by the sides at the start of the meal. To sum it up, Wagamamas is fun, quick, tasty and hip. But perhaps this is the kind of place where it ordering a load of sides to share works out better than individual meals? A massive mention also has to go out to the staff, who were mega friendly and helpful. So big up to them, I hope those tips do actually go to you.
Big shouts to Wagamamas Portsmouth for inviting us round to work our way through their menu.
Now its not often I stray into enemy territory, however I do have friends there and let’s face it, Southampton has got some decent joints these days (Brewdog, when are you coming here???). This occasion was for a long overdue visit to dear friends of ours, and all I knew was that he had us a table at somewhere called “Lakaz Maman“. Being the obsessive I am, I quickly got my phone out and to my complete delight found out it was a Mauritian restaurant. Now I’ve never been to Mauritius, but I do have friends who are form there, and I am aware of what melting pot of an island it is; Africans, Indians, Chinese and everything in-between, sharing this small island near Madagascar. With that comes some serious fusion cuisine bursting with flavour and colour.
This is exactly what Lakaz Mammon drums up. Each dish we ordered was simply outstanding; you could tell that everything is made from fresh, right down to the sweet and spicy home-made sauces that adorn each tables. I’m actually find it kind of hard to find words to pin down what kind of style this Indian / Creole / Asiatic meal was, but perhaps that is the beauty of Mauritian food? It clearly takes the best out of so many styles of cooking and adds it’s own twist. The meal we experienced was quite easily the best I have had in a long while, and with Lakaz Maman being BYOB, washing it down with a couple of inexpensive yet flavourful Punk IPAs made from a great combo in the mouth and on the wallet.
To book a table here you do have to stump up a £20 deposit, however it is 100% worth it.
Lakaz Maman, I salute you.
I love a bargain. If i’m food shopping and see discounted meat, i’ll normally snap it, put it in the freezer and promptly forget about it. Until H starts complaining about the lack of freezer space and forces me to do something with it. That was this weekend. Roughly eight chicken legs and thighs to be dealt with. Normally I would marinate something like this but on this occasion I was feeling a little bit American and opted for the good old fashion southern fried option.
Chicken thighs and legs
Whatever seasoning you have in the cupboard
Soak the chicken in a the milk and onions for at least 4 hours or overnight. This really goes a long way to make the chicken as soft as possible. In the meanwhile create your flour mix, in mine went salt, pepper, garlic powder, hot paprika, smoked paprika and coriander powder. Mix thoroughly by hand. Next up is the egg wash. Crack 6 eggs in a bowl and then add any kind of spicy sauce you may kicking around, the more the merrier. Whisk until mixed.
Drain the chicken from the milk and begin the following process: coat liberally in flour, then dunk in the egg wash, followed by a second liberal coating of flour. Carry this out on all pieces of chicken. Once completed, find a suitably large vessel and heat up the vegetable oil. Give the oil time enough to heat properly, what you don’t want is for the chicken to just soggily boil in under-heated oil. You can check on this by adding a small doughey piece of flour from the chicken and keeping an eye on it. Fry all chicken until golden brown, leave to cool down on kitchen roll, crack open a beer and enjoy.