it's no secret that i love pan-asian food, and i've featured chi kitchen on the blog here a few times already too, so when an invite to executive chef's (masterchef 2014 winner!) ping coombes' march breakfast club last sunday came along, i was in no position to say no. the idea of breakfast club is pretty simple: you come, you sit down at long tables with friends and strangers, and you share a malaysian-inspired breakfast and bottomless cups of malaysian tea and coffee. sounds pretty good, right?
milly and i headed down on sunday, nice and early, and took our seats. most of the tables had already been taken by folk who seemed to be regulars, and then there was us. the odd ones out. which, when there's food coming my way, i don't really mind. after a brief introduction from the woman of the hour, it was time for tea and coffee, and the first dish: kari puff.
ping introduced these as a childhood favourite, and the go-to snack for entertaining, or quickly feeding friends who pop 'round for a chat. they're a puff pastry snack with a spicy potato filling, and they were incredibly moreish. and, not really spicy, actually, more peppery than anything. the one thing both milly and i agreed on was that a dipping sauce wouldn't have gone astray, as the puff pastry and dense filling made them a little dry. nevertheless, of the six we were presented, we ate them all because they were still tasty as hell.
after another round of delicious malaysian coffee (served with condensed milk and no sugar, and simply sweet and creamy), we were served a bowl of mee rebus. a bowl of yellow noodles, served with gravy made from sweet potatoes and pumpkin. the gravy is sweet and spicy and is served along with a number of special fillings like egg, prawn crackers, tofu, and fresh salad. with this dish, ping's direction was to squeeze the lemon over the top and then mix it all together. we didn't argue, and did what we were told.
and, though delicious, it was a weird thing to be eating at 11am with coffee. i'm not sure if i'm just conditioned to eat cereal or toast or more western breakfast fare, but i would definitely have preferred to have that dish for lunch or dinner. the gravy was sweet but spicy, and the potato and pumpkin combo made it oh so fulling, but yeah, just a weird dish for me to be eating before midday. i genuinely really enjoyed this dish, and would absolutely order it again.. for dinner.
the last course on the menu was a coconut-based sweet (cold) soup of sweet potatoes, taro and sago. i had to google the sago, but it's basically the bubbles from bubble tea. although it's commonly served as a dessert, apparently it's also a great way to start a breakfast, and is often served with random textures and flavours hiding in the soup. well. let me tell you something about secret and hiding textures: they're not for me. i had a mouthful of what could have been banana, could have been sweet potato, could have been.. anything. i don't like not knowing what i'm eating, or what texture is coming next, so i wasn't a fan of this dish. i liked the coconut soup very much - it was more like a bubble smoothie you drink with a spoon, but i didn't eat too much as i was truly full from the previous dishes anyway.
and then came the revitalising shot. shots before midday? well, i never. this one though was carrot, ginger and orange, and is supposed to help aid digestion. i was dreading it - those are not flavours i respond well to, but it was actually really tasty, and super refreshing! the ginger danced around the back of my tongue and throat long after the drink was gone, and - whether all in my mind or not, i actually felt more revitalised by that than i did the many, many coffees i'd had previously.
all in all though, it was a really wonderful experience. ping holds her breakfast club once a month on a sunday, for anyone who wants to come along. for three courses and unlimited tea and coffee it's £20 per person, and if you want a glass of prosexy with your breakfast (and of course, you do), it's another fiver. i definitely think that's excellent value for money, and it's what i'd normally spend on a brunch with the girls, but the whole concept of the breakfast club makes it a bit more special. it's a really great way to meet new people in the city while satisfying needs at the same time, and really, you can't begrudge anyone that.
*we were guests of chi kitchen, but all words are my own*