Time for some seafood

Staying overnight in Cambridge, well over in Madingley, which is just outside the city. I was wondering where I could get something to eat. In Madingley there is a really nice looking gastropub, but was out of my budget, so I looked into the heart of Cambridge. Yes the Midsummer House was a possibility, if I had loads of spare money and no budget, but I didn’t, so no that wasn’t a possibility…

I had downloaded a Zizzi voucher, quick and easy I thought. Checking where it was, I saw on the map the Loch Fyne. I have been curious about the place for a while now, there are branches in Bath and Bristol, but I have never been, mainly as it was usually quite pricey from memory. I thought I would look at the menu and see what I could be missing. Accessing the website I saw that they had a January offer, 50% off mains. Looking over the menu, I saw lots of things I liked the look of, so that was the place.

The restaurant is on Trumpington Street quite close to the impressive Fitzwilliam Museum. It’s an older building and inside there are lots of wooden beams and low ceilings.

I initially thought, well it’s January, cold and a Tuesday, it wouldn’t be very busy, boy was I wrong. The place was packed. I was left waiting for a while, and then asked to sit in the foyer style area, until a table was free. I waited some more. At this point I nearly left.

In the end I went with Loch Fyne Seafood Mixed Grill. The dish as described consists of Scottish salmon, Scottish king scallop, golden shell Hebridean mussels, squid, sea bass fillet, samphire, wilted spinach, lobster butter, and a side of sautéed new potatoes.

I knew the place was busy, so didn’t worry too much about the speed of service, but in the end it was quite quick. The plate looked delicious. There was a huge prawn in the dish, which was nice, as that wasn’t on the dish description.

As I tried the salmon, I realised that the king scallop was missing. Considering how busy it was, I didn’t think I would be able to get the attention of the waiting staff, but I was lucky. He was very apologetic and took the dish and returned shortly with the added scallop, well two scallops.

The dish was well cooked, I enjoyed the salmon and the bass as well as the scallops. The squid was nice, as were the mussels. I couldn’t really taste the lobster butter, but there was a richness there I enjoyed. It comes with a side of sautéed potatoes, which were smooth, buttery and rather tasty.

I was surprised by how busy the place was, but I did quite like the environment. The service wasn’t perfect, but I put that down to the number of people in the place.

I wasn’t sure what I was in the mood for…

Sometimes having too much choice can be a bad thing. I was up in Sheffield for an event and aiming for a quick meal I popped to the dining quarter of Meadowhall within there are a range of eating options.

The lower level is mainly fast food chains, but I was intrigued by Yangtze, a Chinese takeaway, but the queue was quite long and I really fancied taking my time being waited upon. On the upper level I did like the idea of the Spanish Tapas place, but felt it was quite expensive for what was on offer. There was also Las Iguanas which I don’t think I’ve been to, but looked tempting.

In the end I decided to go with Wagamama. I wanted to try out the Tama Squid, crispy fried squid balls, drizzled with okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise. finished with aonori and bonito flakes. I thought to myself I wouldn’t also mind trying Wagamama’s hirata steam buns to see if they are as good as the ones from She Sells Sushi. For the main course I thought Yakisoba would be a good choice.

As I queued for Wagamama, which seemed to be taking a long time, I thought about it, well of the three dishes I wanted, I could get the same three , well three similar, dishes at YO! Sushi as part of their blue plate Monday offer. So reflecting, I turned away and headed off to YO! Sushi.

As I arrived I could see how busy YO! Sushi was, but was given a warm welcome and they found me a seat very quickly (which was simplified because I was on my own).

The thing about YO! Sushi is you can look at the menu or just take things from the conveyor belt.

While I perused the menu I took a plate of avocado maki.

I then ordered some hot dishes, which took a little time to arrive, but I was expecting that so didn’t mind.

The maki were nice and fresh and was a great start to my meal.

Whilst the ordered dishes arrived I took another dish from the belt, the Beef Tataki Sashimi, which is pepper-seared rare beef and a tangy coriander pesto.

Beef Tataki Sashimi

I’ve wanted to try this dish for a while and it matched my expectations. The beef was nice and tender and I did like the tangy coriander pesto which enhanced both the beef and the grated mooli on the dish.

The next dish was the Vegetable Yakisoba, described as yakisoba noodles in a tangy sauce served with crunchy, fresh vegetables.

Vegetable Yakisoba

I wasn’t impressed with this dish, the tangy sauce wasn’t to my taste and I didn’t like the texture of the noodles so much. I think I should have gone with a rice dish instead. I did wonder if the Wagamama version would be better?

I really like the Spicy Pepper Squid from YO! Sushi.

Spicy Pepper Squid

The spicy marinated squid, fried until crisp was garnished with red chilli and spring onions. I really like the texture and taste of this dish and it did not fail to impress.

When I was placing my order, the server recommended the Cod Nanbanzuke, which though not on the blue plate menu was part of the blue plate deal. The menu describes it as “Japan’s answer to sweet and sour! Crispy fried cod bites in a sweet and sour sauce.”

Cod Nanbanzuke

Though I did think it could have been a little more crispier than it was, I really did enjoy this dish. The cod was tasty and the sweet and sour sauce didn’t overpower the taste of the fish. This was quite a big portion as well.

A little later the final of my four hot dishes I had ordered arrived, a portion of Takoyaki.

Takoyaki

The menu says that this is Osaka’s number one street food! Lightly battered dough balls with octopus, topped with mayo, bonito and lots more.

I thought this was a really nice concept, but wasn’t too hot on the execution of it. It was too much dough and to little octopus.

My final dish was fish. Salmon Sashimi Our freshest cuts of thick-sliced Scottish salmon, with mooli and lemon.

I hadn’t planned to take this dish, but seeing the chef preparing them and thought if there’s any left on the conveyor belt then I will have one. It was a nice clean refreshing dish to finish the meal off with.

Overall I had a really nice meal and the blue plate offer made a difference to the value for money.




Time for some more tacos

Another lunch and another visit to Wahaca. This time a return visit to the branch on the South Bank. This was the first Wahaca I visited and it is one of my favourites. I like how the whole place is just made from shipping containers, and the great views across the Thames.

This time I went with three dishes from the street food market (as I normally do).

I do like the grilled steak tacos, I have had these quite a few times now. These tacos come with flash-grilled skirt steak with chipotle & tomatillo salsas.

Grilled British steak Tacos Flash-grilled skirt steak with chipotle & tomatillo salsas #wahaca

These were very nice, most of the steak was tender and tasty, one bit was a bit chewy, but apart from that they were delicious.

For my two other choices I went with new dishes. I do like chicken wings, so was intrigued by the hibiscus glazed wings.

Hibiscus glazed wings Crisp & juicy chicken wings tossed in a sticky hibiscus & pasilla chilli glaze #wahaca

These were described as crisp & juicy chicken wings tossed in a sticky hibiscus & pasilla chilli glaze.

The chicken wings had been cooked in the deep fat fryer and were lightly tossed in the glaze. I had quite a high expectations for this dish, but in the end it was slightly disappointing. The chicken was slightly dry, however the sauce was nice.

My final choice was the Mexico City style salmon sashimi tostadas. Made from sustainably-sourced raw salmon with a squeeze of fresh lime & soy, tobacco onions, chipotle salt, avocado & chipotle mayo.

Mexico City style salmon sashimi. Sustainably-sourced raw salmon with a squeeze of fresh lime & soy, tobacco onions, chipotle salt, avocado & chipotle mayo #wahaca

I really liked these. A nice combination of fresh tasting salmon combined with crunchy corn tortillas and a nice spicy zing.

I have found that I have enjoyed every meal at Wahaca and will most certainly be visiting again.

Yo! more takeaway

Salmon and Tuna Box

I do like sushi and if possible I prefer to eat at Yo! Sushi, but sometimes needs must and I get a takeaway. Yes you can buy sushi from Marks and Spencers or Tesco, but this isn’t the same. For one they use smoked or cooked fish over raw fish, secondly the sushi from Yo! Sushi is much fresher and as a result much tastier.

I bought three boxes (for the two of us) and it came to £20. Obviously this is more expensive than buying takeaway from a fish and chips shop, but about the same if I was going to a Chinese takeaway.

The Mixed Box contains 3 sashimi: salmon, tuna, coriander seared tuna.3 nigiri: salmon, prawn, tamago. 2 iso: crunchy prawn & avocado, YO! roll. 2 cucumber maki

This is a nice selection and if I was eating on my own, say I wanted sushi for lunch then I probably would go for a mixed box. I enjoyed the sashimi.

The Maki box 3 salmon maki, 3 cucumber maki, 3 tuna maki,
3 avocado maki, 3 prawn & chive maki. This is simple sushi in many respects, but the simplicity is what makes it really nice.

The Meaty Box doesn’t contain fish, but has 2 crispy duck futomaki. 2 spicy chicken katsu iso. 2 seared beef nigiri. 1 spicy chicken salad. I actually was quite looking forward to it, but was a little disappointed. The spicy chicken salad was good, but in a takeaway box though there was a fair bit of chicken, but lacked enough salad for me. I thought the seared beef nigiri would be tasty, but the beef lacked flavour and was a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be. The futomaki and iso were nice, but the duck and the chicken was a little dry. Overall this box was a disappointment and I don’t think I will get it again. Maybe I should read my own blog now and again, I actually thought this was the first time I had a Meaty Box, but according to my own blog I had one in March 2012 and back then I said:

I don’t usually have meat when I have sushi, favouring the fish, so this was a first for me. I though the seared beef nigiri was interesting, but lacked the depth of flavour I was expecting. Whereas the spicy chicken katsu iso was a wonderful combination of tastes and textures. There was also a lot of flavour in the crispy duck futomaki. Though I enjoyed the spicy chicken salad I do think we needed more of it.

A very similar experience…

Seafood Platter

For New Year’s Eve we decided to have a fish and seafood platter. It was an opportunity to cook and eat some great food. However one problem, as you may recall New Year’s Eve is not only part of Christmas, it’s also a Monday. As a result it was virtually impossible to find any fresh fish or seafood. Generally the fishing fleets don’t go out at weekends and I suspect that they certainly wouldn’t go out over a weekend during the festive season. As a result we went with frozen seafood, not my first choice, but with what we wanted it was better than nothing.

We got some frozen king prawns, scallops and squid from Sainsbury’s as part of their Taste the Difference range. One of the key things to do when using frozen seafood is to defrost and defrost safely. If you cook frozen seafood from frozen, generally what happens is that you overcook it and it becomes very rubbery. You need to take care when defrosting to avoid food poisoning. The best way to defost is in the fridge, but this takes time. If you do defrost at room temperature, make sure you move the seafood to the fridge once it has defrosted.

The prawns I cooked on my griddle, whilst the scallops were cooked very quickly on a hot flat frying pan, as were the squid rings.

scallops, prawns and squid rings

The scallops were perfect and I was really pleased with how I cooked them. They were browned on each side, but were only just done on the inside. As a result they were melt in the mouth tender, and full of flavour. The prawns were very good, and served with some lemon were delicious. I was less impressed with the squid rings. In the past when I have cooked squid, I have bought frozen whole squid from Tesco and cut it into pieces of squid. I much prefer using this way of preparing squid, usually scoring one side to ensure even cooking and browing of the edges. The squid from Sainsbury’s comes ready sliced into rings. It cooked fine, but it lacked the depth of flavour I have had in the past with squid from Tesco. Why didn’t I get my squid from Tesco, well they’ve seemed to have stopped selling it.

Alongside this plate of seafood I also grilled some giant tiger prawns in their shells. These were placed under a really hot grill, after they were fully defrosted and brushed with some olive oil. The main reason for these prawns is twofold, one is the visual impact, secondly was flavour. They were delicious, though of course were quite messy to peel.

Taste the Difference Whole Giant King Tiger Prawns

We also had some dressed crab, these were small crab shells filled with a crab pate and white crab meat. They looked really nice, but lacked the depth of flavour I would liked to have. This was served with some fresh crusty bread.

Dressed Crab


Another successful dish was some clams. I got a pack of frozen Big and Juicy clams from the Big Prawn Company which I mananged to buy at Waitrose.

Big and Juicy clams from the Big Prawn Company

Again the key was to ensue they were properly defrosted before cooking, well they’re cooked already, all they really needed was heating up. I did this in a pan with some freshly chopped garlic and parsley. I thought they were delicious and very good value at £3.29. I think they would also work with linguine if wanted pasta and seafood.

We also cooked some salmon, this was roasted in the oven with a little olive oil.

Overall this was a delicious meal, we served it with some fresh salad and I also made a paella.

Airport Sushi

Wanting more than just a snack, but not wanting a huge plate of food, on a recent fleeting visit to Edinburgh Airport, I decided to take a seat at Yo! Sushi.

One of the disadvantages of this branch of Yo! Sushi is the limited menu compared to a typical branch on the high street or in the shopping mall. However once you’ve gone through security, not much you can do about that. In many ways though, Yo! Sushi is perfect airport food, no need to wait for the food, eat as much or as little as you want and paying the bill was quick and easy.

I went with three dishes, chicken teriyaki, a vegetable noodle dish, yakisoba, and later went with a mixed salmon dish. I had to order the noodles and chicken as hot dishes.

I’ve had chicken teriyaki before, and this version was similar, but certainly not the same dish. Previously when I’ve had this dish, the chicken was griddled and then covered with teriyaki sauce.

Chicken Teriyaki Grilled chicken in a sweet, sticky soy based sauce.

Here at the airport, the chicken was taken from a hot plate and covered in sauce. It was very nice though, and was full of flavour.

Similarly the noodle dish, pan fried Japanese noodles in a mildly spiced tangy sauce with vegetables, was from the hot plate, but again was tasty, full of flavour.

Vegetable Yakisoba Pan fried Japanese noodles in a mildly spiced tangy sauce with vegetables.

The vegetables were crisp and the noodles were certainly not sticky. I liked this dish, and added the remains of the teriyaki sauce towards the end of the dish.

Having finished those two dishes off, I still felt hungry, so took from the conveyor a mixed dish of salmon, comprising three slices of premium Scottish salmon sashimi, two salmon nigiri and two salmon maki.

Salmon Selection Three slices of premium Scottish salmon sashimi, two salmon nigiri and two salmon maki.

This was delicious, the salmon was fresh and full of flavour and I really enjoyed it.

Overall I really enjoyed my quick meal and I thought (for an airport) it was pretty good value for money.

Crayfish & Salmon Salad

The other week I was lucky enough to have dinner at the Mustard Seed Restaurant in Inverness.

For my starter I had what the menu described as the Crayfish tail, smoked salmon and vegetable egg noodle salad with an oriental dressing and roasted sesame seeds.

Now though I think the sesame seeds were missing, it was an interesting combination of oriental and Scottish, the noodles with smoked salmon. The salmon was great, the crayfish tails were okay though the noodle salad was somewhat bland, even with the oriental dressing.

Overall it was nice starter, refreshing and some nice ingredients, but I think it could have been better, though I don’t think that the missing sesame seeds would have been the solution.

Grilled Trio

This was a really interesting dish comprising a trio of grilled fish.

It was like having three separare main courses, which was the reason I chose  it as it was difficult to make one choice from the menu.

The three fish were from left to right.

Kingfish, with lemon potato, chorizo and a chermoula butter sauce.

Salmon with spice avocado and salmorejo sauce.

Hapuku served with hummus, pomegranate syrup and crisp onions.

Yo Sushi

I have had Yo Sushi before, I had some time to wait before my train so decided to sit down and eat rather than buy the takeway that I normally buy.

The concept of Yo Sushi may be familiar to anyone who has been to Japan it certainly is a weird concept for many in the UK.

Sit down and watch as little bowls of sushi pass you by on a conveyor belt. Help yourself to the ones that you want. After you have eaten they count the bowls you have eaten and charge you accordingly. Not all the bowls are the same price and range from £1.70 to £5.00. The price depends on how much is in the bowl and what ingredients are used.

As well as the cold dishes on the conveyor belt you can order soup and hot dishes from the waiting staff.

I looked at the menu and the first two items I chose were not available. So I ordered Chicken Yakitori, char-grilled chicken skewers with a soy-mirin glaze and Prawn Katsu, crispy fried prawns in Japanese bread crumbs, with a fruity sauce. I had wanted to order Prawn Tempura and Chicken Teriyaki .

While I was waiting for the hot food I started off with a crayfish salad which was very pleasant. The hot food then arrived (quicker than anticipated). The prawns were good and the chicken skewers were sticky.

I then picked a Salmon Nigri from the belt. The salmon lacked flavour but the rice was okay.

My final dish was Spicy Pepper Squid which was very nice and a good finish to my meal.

Still think it was cheeky that they charge £1 for water!

I will go again.

Roasted Salmon Fillets

Nice and simple dish.

Take some good quality salmon fillets, remove the skin. You don’t need to remove the skin, but I prefer to do so.

Place in a roasting tray. Add some finely chopped parsley and place a knob of unsalted butter on each fillet.

Roast in a hot oven for about ten minutes.

Serve with steamed new potatoes and a side salad.