A secret supper club is always going to be a cool concept and I love the anticipation of where you’ll be eating and what the dishes will be that evening. I tend to build these type of nights up with schoolgirl excitement, it’s my new take on Christmas now that I know ‘Santa’ won’t be coming down the chimney.
I couldn’t wait to arrive at the location, we were told the night before to meet at Hackney Wick station. Although it’s the other side of London for me, I was hoping it would be worth the slep across town. I know … I’m very lazy and have the Londonite mantra,’that I do not cross London at the weekend’ … however, with the promise of great Malaysian delights it didn’t take much persuasion.
We arrive to be greeted by Chef Norman’s excellent staff and a special little helper one of the staff’s sons, offering us a tray of amuse bouche Malayasian treats, all very cute. The venue is Chef Norman’s private residence when he’s in London and it looks directly out onto the Olympic Park, uber cool.
There were a few different groups of people but everybody takes a seat and we start to mix in together as the first dish of the evening arrives. The menu is extensive with 7 different dishes of Malaysian noodles, the first, dish 1 is a Glass Noodle salad with shredded chicken, chilli, spring onions and soy sauce served cold. It’s completely delicious, so good I’m hard-pressed not to eat more .. but with 6 more dishes to come I’d better pace myself, right?
Next the ubiquitous spring rolls, ‘Popiah’ with glass noodles and shitake mushrooms, ok but not amazing, they quickly clear these two appetisers and start to bring the first of the Laksas. The apartment is a huge warehouse style open space – and we can happily watch Chef Norman chop, stir and talk through the dishes to his guests.
Dish 3 is a ‘Penang Assam Laksa’ Sour fish-based soup with thick rice noodles, shredded fish, finely sliced vegetables, cucumber, red chillies, pineapple, mint, lettuce and ginger and it’s soo very tasty. I tuck in and conversation stops around the table while we in-hale the delightful flavours. Moving swiftly on the dish gets taken away and dish 4 is placed in front of us, a coconut-based curry ‘Laksa Johor’, with toasted coconut, dried prawns, lemongrass, galangal, spices, vietnamese coriander, cucumber and freshly squeezed lime juice. I’m in food heaven so far.. some of my favourite ingredients in one dish!
Next on the menu dish 5 ‘Char Kuey Teow with Prawns’ this menu really is a marathon of noodles and laksas and I’m still trying to pace myself and not get too full too quickly, as I know the best is still to come. Thick rice noodles wok-fried with soy sauce, chilli sauce, beansprouts and King prawns – delish! I’m beginning to wilt but as dish 6 arrives I get my second wind, at the sight of some devine looking ‘Bihun Goreng Satay with chicken’ served in cool little takeaway boxes. This is a wok fried dish of vermicelli rice noodles cooked with Malay satay paste, egg, vegetables and chicken, a subtle taste with a peanut flavour it’s nice and light. Chef Norman talks us through the dish and the traditional Malayasian cooking style he uses, it’s good to know that he and his team are planning the launch of a new restaurant in London in 2014, Ning London. It will be launching off the back of these secret supper nights in London and their already successful venture in Manchester with Ning Manchester.
Our final Laksa of the evening dish 7 is a ‘Kari Laksa with chicken’ a coconut-based soup with vermicelli noodles, bean curd puffs, beansprouts and chicken. It a challenge but so tasty I just had to have seconds! Thankfully dessert dish 8 was light and cool – a ‘cendol’ which is a delicious sweet iced dessert made with lots of crushed ice in a glass, coconut milk, palm syrup and red beans with a ‘famous’ pandan-flavoured strands of green rice flour. Ah.. The End.
It’s all good and we roll home to South London with my girls – dreaming of the new Ning London and our next Laksa.