By: Mr Robot
We've been Twitterchums with them for a few years so I'm not going to pretend to be objective here - best consider this more an extended gloat than a review - but while it was lovely to meet up with them, I can honestly say with hand on internal fluid-pump that the food alone was worth the trek.
And it's fair trek at that - from darkest Wiltshire to the big city, out into Zone 3, past Olympic Stratford (and what a corporate hell-hole that looks) to the charming Coffee7 at Forest Gate. Hosted, incidentally, by Masterchef hero Michael Sanders, who turns out to be jolly nice indeed.
Having sufficiently disrupted Emily & Amy's preparations, we settled down with very fine lemongrass-infused G&T's, and gently thudded the table in anticipation, in the manner of spoilt schoolchildren, which we basically are.
First up by way of an amuse, we had some delightful Shan tofu: essentially a chickpea batter that's been set and deep fried, and served with tamarind dipping sauce. This was great because when Mrs R attempted it she completely destroyed the fryer, so we've been waiting years to try the stuff. Unlike her basket-o-goop, these were light and crisp, mildly nutty and went very well with the tamarind. They disappeared in seconds amid the first of my many curses at being forced to share.
|What is this "sharing plate" of which you speak?|
The first course proper was Nangyi Thoke, a spiced chicken noodle salad with squillions of accompaniments (as is the Burmese wont) that I've had a go at making in the past. Not only was it absolutely delicious, it was gratifyingly close to my own efforts. 10 points to me.
More importantly it set us straight to reminiscing about the food we'd had in Burma: the little cafe on Sule Pagoda Road in Yangon; the breakfast curry in Pyin Oo Lwin; street food at a festival in Mandalay... Now you may say "I should hope so - that's kind of the point" but this was the most familiar dish of the evening and these are such happy memories for us it was wonderful to have them brought back so powerfully.
|Nangyi Thoke - humbly suggesting you rethink your idea of chicken salad|
In any case, the other guests around us - not familiar with Burmese food - loved it too, so there.
Main course was a three-pronged affair of smoked aubergine, the traditional pickled-tea salad (Laphet Thoke) and a fabulous deep, rich shin of beef curry called Amehnat we'd never had before - heavy with (I think) ginger and turmeric and which I WILL have the recipe for, or we shall have words. It was stunning. I know the photo's dreadful but if you could smell it you'd understand - you don't mess around with that in front of you.
|Yes, yes - how could I be so mean to one so lovely?|
The tea salad was a proper treat since it's uniquely Burmese and not easily found. To my mind this well exceeded the one we had in Burma (a tourist trap in Bagan - the guide let us down that day), though Mrs Robot managed to get bonus shrimp so struggled a bit. Frankly that just meant one less competitor for me.
|More tea, vicar? Laphet Thoke|
Pudding isn't really a thing in Burma but we weren't let down with a pavlova riffing on the Burmese favourites of mango and coconut, and the most extraordinary jaggery praline that's now top of my list of Swank Things To Put On Things. Pick any sense you like, it was as beautiful as it looks.
Amy and Emily popped out from the kitchen afterwards (along with their respective husbands who'd been on waiter duty) so it was great to be able to chat a bit afterwards. If I was a touch over-gushy in my praise, well what are you going to do? Anyway, there had been Wine.
All too soon we had to brave the TfL line and head back to the relative comforts of Zone 1, but given my way I'd still be there now.
I understand the next supperclub is planned for some time in September so keep an eye on their website - if you're even vaguely nearby, it's well worth it. Even in Zone 3.
*Mrs Robot insisted I did that in the hope it would make people watch The Goonies, which seems cruel and unusual. Besides, for all I know "die" could be something really sweary in Burmese, in which case they may well say it quite a lot.
All images (c) PP Gettins