Crispy Squid

One dish I eat on a regular basis at restaurants is crispy squid.

I’ve recently eaten crispy squid at Las Iguanas, though the squid in my opinion was rather overcooked. 

I also had chilli squid at Wagamama.

That time I was expecting to have soft tender squid in a crispy batter. What I actually got was rubbery squid in a hard crunchy batter.

The second time I had calamari from La Lola at the St Nicholas Market in Bristol it was excellent.

calamari

The squid was freshly cooked, nice crisp batter, tender squid and was delicious, served with a slice of lemon.

Alas the calamari from Kingfin from the street food markets in Bristol was one of my favourite lunch dishes. You got a decent portion of squid. It was quite tasty, you could certainly taste the difference with the fact they cooked the squid from fresh.

However they have changed their menu recently so you can’t get it anyore.

As well as eating crispy squid I also make it at home. This is a recipe for making my own gluten free crispy squid.

I take some squid, sometimes I use fresh squid, I score the squid and slice into chunks. Other times I use defrosted squid rings that I cut so I get strips of squid rather than rings.

I coat the squid in seasoned gluten free plain flour. This I leave for at least fifteen minutes and check that all the squid is coated in the flour.

I then deep fry the squid in hot oil. Season and serve.

Time for Las Iguanas

I have been tempted many times by Las Iguanas, but have never actually got there until recently when I was in Birmingham.

Looking for a place to eat the choice available was a decision maker for the group of friends I was with. Las Iguanas as they have a large menu covering Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Cuba, and beyond.

The place was really busy, but despite not booking they found us a table.

I looked over the extensive menu and thought about what I wanted.  For my starter I went with the Calamares, crispy squid served with creamy aioli.

The squid was certainly crispy, overcooked in my opinion, but this was more than just squid rings, this was squid in batter with a rather garlicky aioli.

For my main course I went with the Xinxim. A classic recipe from North Brazil. Chicken and crayfish in our creamy lime and peanut sauce. Served with spring onion rice, shredded greens, coconut farofa and sweet plantain.

This arrived in two dishes, the spring onion rice, shredded greens, coconut farofa and sweet plantain on one plate, and a bowl with the Xinxim. 

Here is the plate with the rice and the plantain.

At first I didn’t think there was any crayfish in the dish, but it was hidden at the bottom. I added the bowl of Xinxim to the plate of rice. I did quite like creamy lime and peanut sauce and there was plenty of chicken. I would like to have seen more and bigger crayfish in the dish.

The rice didn’t seem to have much spring onion in it and the shredded greens were okay. I have to say I didn’t really like the sweet plantain, but having never had it before I couldn’t tell if this was representative of plantain or not. Something I might try again when I next visit the Caribbean Wrap in Bristol.

Overall I was a little disappointed. I think this was more down I had quite high expectations about the food, and it was just okay. I don’t think I will be going out of my way to visit Las Iguanas anytime soon.

No time for waiting

I was staying in Birmingham and was looking for somewhere for lunch. My original plan was to go to Pierre Bistrot, as I did quite fancy some French food.

I went in, there was the usual “please wait to be seated” sign. So I waited, then I waited a little more. Finally someone saw I was waiting and I asked for a table.

I sat down and looked at the menu. Then I waited, I waited and I waited.

I knew I had a meeting in my diary in less than an hour, but looking around seeing other people waiting for food and others waiting to order. I realised that there was no way I was going to order, get my food, eat the food, and pay my bill in the hour I had for lunch. So instead of waiting, I left my table and exited the restaurant, which was a pity as I did like the idea of eating French.

Still knowing I needed lunch (and that I was going to eat late that day) I headed off to Wagamama at Brindley Place.

Much better service. 

I went upstairs and there was no queue and I was quickly shown to a table I looked over the menu and chose to have some chilli squid, which I hadn’t had for a while and yasai yaki soba, which I had had more recently.

I didn’t have to wait too long before the food arrived. The yasai yaki soba arrived first and looked like the dish I had before and on the menu.

This was soba noodles with mushroom and vegetables, egg, peppers, beansprouts, white and spring onions. garnished with fried shallots, pickled ginger and sesame seeds.

Though I enjoyed the dish, I don’t think it was as good as the last I had it, which surprised me a little.

The chilli squid arrived and I liked the look of the dish.

This was crispy fried squid dusted with shichimi served with a chilli coriander dipping sauce.

I was though disappointed with my squid. I was expecting to have soft tender squid in a crispy batter. What I actually got was rubbery squid in hard crunchy batter. I think it could have been so much better. I think I should have had the bao buns instead, maybe next time.

I used the QR code process to pay the bill, so I didn’t need to wait for that, and left feeling I had a nice lunch.

Fritto Misto

I have always enjoyed the calamari from the Kingfin. My introduction to Kingfin was back in the summer of 2019 on a visit to the Finzel Reach Market. Kingfin have recently revamped their menu. They have lost their calamari, but you can now have a softshell crab burger, a cod goujon wrap or fritto misto.

Since I found out about the new menu I was tempted by both the softshell crab and the fritto misto.

So when I was in Bristol one Thursday, this meant that for lunch I could visit the Temple Quay Market. It was nice to have the opportunity to get some tasty street food and I was pleased to see Kingfin at the market.

 A few weeks back when I was in Bristol, I had intended to pay a visit to Kingfin at the Finzel Reach Market to try out their new menu. However upon visiting the market they weren’t there, so went to La Lola at the St Nicholas market.

So I joined the queue and ordered the fritto misto. There was a bit of a wait as they had a bit of backlog, a sign the stall was popular. They had already sold out of the cod goujons and their kedgeree scotch egg.

Whereas the calamari came with rosemary chips and salad, the fritto misto was just fritto misto. I could have ordered chips for another £3 but I wasn’t that hungry.

The dish contained calamari, prawns, whitebait, small pieces of cod, and some courgette slices. It was served with a slice of lemon and some bright yellow garlic aioli.

Overall, if I am honest, though I enjoyed the dish, I was a little disappointed. The calamari was great, but the rest of the fish was a little soggy, despite having just being deep fried. There were two prawns in the dish, one peeled prawn and one whole prawn. The courgette was floppy and was quite greasy.

I really loved the calamari special I’ve had in the past from Kingfin and would be happy to order that again. Would I order the fritto misto again, probably not.

Time again for La Lola

Bristol Bridge

I was working in Bristol and had intended to pay a visit to Kingfin at the Finzel Reach Market to try out their new menu. However upon visiting the market they weren’t there. There wasn’t a stall that I did fancy getting my lunch from, mainly as I did quite fancy seafood or dish. Then I thought I know where I could go.

Back in December I paid a visit to the St Nicholas Market in Bristol and had some excellent calamari from the new(ish) Spanish staff in the market, La Lola.

La Lola took over the stall, Pure Pasta, an Italian pasta place.

I had enjoyed the calamari last time, so decided to head over there for lunch. It was a short walk over Bristol Bridge to the St Nicholas Market

They had a much wider menu this time, but as I was in the mood for seafood I went for the calamari. I placed my order and took a seat. It wasn’t very long before my food arrived. The squid was served with “chipped” potatoes, salad and aioli.

calamari

The squid as before was  freshly cooked, nice crisp batter, tender squid and was delicious, served with a slice of lemon. 

Like last time, I really enjoyed the squid. The “chips” were also really good, they used fresh potatoes. They were more like thick crisps, as they had cut the potatoes into slices (and cut the bigger slices in half). The aioli was light with a good taste of garlic. As before the salad could have been better, but was fresh.

Overall I did enjoy the dish and I am already looking forward to my next visit to La Lola.

Time for some Seafood Ramen

Cooked a ramen dish this time last year. I based my ramen on the ramen dishes I have had at Wagamama.

In a bowl I added some cooked rice noodles. On top of this I added some sliced shiitake mushrooms, spring onions, pak choi and sliced red pepper. I then added some homemade ramen broth.

On top of the ramen I added scallops, prawns, squid and a tea-stained hard boiled egg. I also added some gyoza dumplings as well.

Time for a Fish Supper

Sometimes for special occasions we have a fish supper. This one comprised over baked salmon with lemon, pan fried scallops, pan fried prawns and squid strips.

The fish supper was served with salad and chunks of lemon.

Time for La Lola

It was a Monday and I was in Bristol looking for a place to eat. I had planned to visit The Real Greek, but they were full and had no free tables. I then decided to head over to the St Nicholas Market Glass Arcade, there would be plenty of choice there. I was thinking that Portuguese Tastes would be an option. As it was late I knew that Low and Slow would have virtually sold out (they had).

Alas Portuguese Tastes was closed, though on the other side of the market was the (new) Spanish place, La Lola

La Lola has taken over the stall, Pure Pasta, an Italian pasta place. Despite my many visits to St Nicholas Market Glass Arcade over the years, I never actually ever managed to get lunch from Pure Pasta. I had seen them fitting out the La Lola stall a few weeks back and liked the look of the menu, but had forgotten to check them out when they opened. 

La Lola have quite a limited menu, which I actually think is a good thing. Two variations of paella, eggs with chorizo or ham, and what I liked the sound of, crispy squid.

Waiting to be served was a little slow, as the couple in front of me were having a long chat (in Spanish) with the member of staff. You know me I hate queuing. However it was getting late for lunch, I was hungry and I did like the sound of the menu. Eventually I was served, maybe I was a little inpatient, I asked for the squid and wanted to eat in.

They have a couple of tables and some benches. One of the tables was free so I took that one.

It wasn’t long before my food arrived.

In a cardboard carton.

I kind of expected and hoped that it would come on a plate. Portuguese Tastes, Caribbean Wrap and The Moorish Cafe all serve their “eating in” food on plates. I was a little disappointed, I think my expectations that there would be plates was based on the display at the front of the stall which showed the (actual) dishes available served on plates.

The squid was served with “chipped” potatoes, salad and aioli.

The squid was freshly cooked, nice crisp batter, tender squid and was delicious, served with a slice of lemon. I really enjoyed the squid and it was certainly what I was expecting. The “chips” were also really good, they used fresh potatoes, I saw them peeling and cutting them up. They were more like thick crisps, as they had cut the potatoes into slices (and cut the bigger slices in half). Again cooked to order. The aioli was light with a good taste of garlic. The only part of the dish I was disappointed with was the salad. Shredded iceberg lettuce, slices of tomato, grated carrot and sweetcorn. All nice and refreshing, however no flavour. I did think that this part of the dish let the rest of the plate (sorry carton) down. I think something like a Pipirrana salad would have been nice. Pipirrana is based on four ingredients: tomatoes, peppers, onions and cucumber, dressed with  olive oil, vinegar and garlic. Now that would have been a nice Spanish option. 

Apart from the salad the dish was excellent. Service (well apart from the slow start) was great, warm, friendly. The chef checked I was happy with my meal for example.

Overall I really did enjoy the food and I look forward to returning to try out the paella, or the eggs. Hmmm choices.

Time for Thai at the Thai Canteen

I was staying in London again and popped out to Ealing in the car to get something to eat. I wasn’t sure what I wanted. The tapas place was full (and a good meal would be a little pricey). I did initially think about Bill’s but wasn’t 100% sure. Next door was the Thai Canteen, the menu looked interesting. I walked down to Cote, but didn’t really fancy anything on the menu. So I walked back to the Thai Canteen and decided I must stop walking and go somewhere to eat. So, I looked over the menu. It was a little difficult to read outside, so I went in and was given a nice warm welcome.

The menu was quite extensive, some reminded me of my local Chinese takeaway, so I decided that I would try and have something from the Thai end of the menu.

However for my starter I went with what I have quite a lot eating out which was squid, the starter I chose was the crispy baby squid with wasabi mayonnaise.

This was a good portion of freshly cooked squid. I liked the wasabi mayonnaise, but the squid for me was too much crispy batter and not enough squid. Well it was “crispy squid” what did I expect?

For my main course I had the Yen-ta-Fore, fat rice noodles with seafood, morning glory and crispy wonton.

This was a huge bowl of food. There was a selection of seafood, and I’ll be honest I am not sure what was what. There were prawns, these I did recognise. But there was also some fish balls and some deep fried cubes of something! The broth was nice and spicy. The wontons were crispy, but quickly became soggy as they sank into the broth. It was all very tasty though.

Overall I did struggle to finish the dish, there was a lot of food, and I think if I went back I would not have had a starter.

The service was excellent and I enjoyed the food.

Some delicious Calamari

I was working in Bristol on a Thursday again, which meant that for lunch I could visit the Temple Quay Market. Having been off work for a while it was nice to be back in Bristol and having the opportunity to get some tasty street food.

My introduction to Kingfin was back in the summer of 2019 on a visit to the Finzel Reach Market. 

Kingfin who sell fish wraps and chips, they also do specials, and the one they were selling this time was calamari once more. I did think about getting the mackerel wrap, but in the end defaulted as one does to the calamari.

The squid rings were coated in a flour mix and then deep fried. They were served with aioli, some salad and rosemary fries.

This was quite a substantial meal not just a snack. I really like this dish and I found it just as tasty as on previous occasions. There was quite a decent portion of squid. It was quite tasty, you could certainly taste the difference with the fact they cooked the squid from fresh, rather than heating up or second cooking pre-cooked squid. 

The food was absolutely delicious.