Review: Opium

When it comes to going out for dinner or getting a takeaway, Chinese or Oriental food is not my first choice. This is mainly because I’m always so underwhelmed by the food & feel I could make it just as well at home. It’s surprising given where we stay in the West End of Glasgow which has so many different Chinese/Oriental places on hand.

On my husband’s actual birthday, my parent’s present for him was a meal & all he had to do was pick a restaurant. He narrowed it down to Opium & an Italian restaurant & he gave me the task of choosing one. I opted for Opium since it had been on my list of places to go from recommendations from work colleagues.

When we arrived at Opium, it was relatively quiet for a Thursday evening but it worked in our favour as we had the choice of where we wanted to sit. We opted for a table near the back of the restaurant which gave me the perfect view of seeing what other diners were having!

On the table I was delighted to see the cutlery was a spoon & a pair of chopsticks with no fork in sight. This instantly reminded me of restaurants on our holiday last year in Hong Kong & Thailand. The menu in Opium is not Chinese but of Oriental fusion, which as you can imagine, leads to an extensive menu! It also boasts a large dim sum offering which got a big thumbs up from me!

dim sum

As we’d only really eaten breakfast that day, we decided to order 3 dim sum to share for our starter . The crab & chive dumplings were presented in a traditional Chinese steamer & accompanied by a vinegar dipping sauce. The dumplings were melt in the mouth, with the lovely tang of the vinegar accompanying it perfectly. Our second dim sum was chilli salt squid, which I was apprehensive about. This was partly due to having made squid at home a couple of weeks before & it put me off a bit as it didn’t turn out well at all. I had nothing to worry about with this beautiful pile of squid as it was tender & had such a moreish chilli & salt coating to it. I could have honestly eaten a big plate of this on its own! Our final dim sum was satay won ton – chicken & king prawn won ton dumpling covered in a satay sauce. This was probably my least favourite as the texture, for me, was a bit slimy. I’m not sure if this was maybe the different in wrapping compared with the dumplings as I’ve never had won ton before.

With the starters being so good, the mains had a hard act to follow! We shared a portion of thai chilli beef & malay spicy tiger prawn. The beef came with okra (my new favourite vegetable), pepper in a chilli & basil sauce. The meat was lovely & tender but the sauce was a bit disappointing as it lacked a strong chilli flavour. I was expecting more heat like the chilli & basil sauces I’ve eaten in Thai restaurants in both Thailand & here in the UK.

mains

The tiger prawn dish had a lovely fragrant curry sauce, which again was not too hot but neither too sweet. The accompanying vegetables in the dish were cooked perfectly, with a good crunch to them. Our eyes were bigger than our bellies with our side dishes. We opted for steamed jasmine rice & also fried egg noodles as the waitress asked both of us if we wanted a side so we threw caution to the wind! The rice was so fluffy & light, while the noodles had an almost chow mein like taste to them. Needless to say, we didn’t finish all of the sides as we focussed more on the main dishes!

sides

I will take my hat off to Opium as they have opened my eyes to the fact that not all Oriental restaurants are a disappointment. The ferrero rocher given with the bill may have also helped sway me!! I will definitely be back as soon as I can, even if it is only to sample more of the extensive dim sum on offer!!

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Get Stuffed Chronicles – Getting Back on Track

I know, I know, I started a weekly roundup post last year & only ever did one post. I’m a bad blogger but the festive period came into full swing & it’s safe to say the blog was neglected for a while. More recently, I fractured my elbow which limited my typing but it’s on the mend so I have no excuses now.

As a result of the fracture, I’ve not been able to do any cooking or baking with the Mr having to make the dinner under my supervision! This week, however, I FINALLY was back in the kitchen. It was a special week as my dad turned the big 5-0. He had a special request for his birthday cake – a simple victoria sponge with raspberry jam & buttercream topped with water icing. I’ll admit I was a bit disheartened with the request as I wanted to do something extravagant but in all honesty, the cake was gorgeous & went down a storm! I did also sneak in a big cookies & cream cake to satisfy my desire to bake a big cake. It was taken from one of my Hummingbird bakery books & was delicious, albeit a bit too sweet for my own taste!

cake

With big birthday’s come good meals out too & we visited my most favourite restaurant, Bibi’s Cantina (see my previous review here). As usual, the meal was trememendous – I opted for veg chilli nachos which were overflowing followed by spicy shredded chipolte pork with all the trimmings. I couldn’t finish it all & ended up with a doggy bag!

bibi

On Sunday we had a free day & I had the urge to go to Seewoo, a massive Chinese supermarket in the North of Glasgow. I’ve never been before but had been told it’s a bit of an experience & I was not disappointed. As soon as we walked in, both of us said to each other “This smells like Hong Kong!” & we were instantly transported back to our holiday last year! Seewoo is amazing, full of weird & wonderful veg, all manner of frozen goodies, “pot” noodles as well as an array of cooking equipment. I managed to restrain myself & only pick up a few goodies – snacking seaweed (it’s much nicer than it sounds!), concentrate paste for chinese curry, sriracha & pickled chillies that I fell in love with in Thailand. We will be back soon though to pick up a steamer for making dim sum (my favourite!).

seewoo

A foodie bargain was had this week from Lidl where we picked up a waffle maker for £10!! I can’t wait to get experimenting & make some breakfast waffles this weekend as normal service resumes in the Get Stuffed kitchen 😀

Waffle Maker

Hong Kong Delights

We recently visited Hong Kong & Thailand on our (very belated) Honeymoon & Asia was the foodie delight I’d hoped for! Our first stop was Hong Kong where we spent 3 nights & 4 days, staying on Hong Kong Island. When I stayed in America, I totally fell in love with Dim Sum so knew I had to seek some out when we arrived.

On our first night, we got to know our surroundings & ended up a Times Square (not a patch on NY). We’d passed lots of restaurants on the way but at Time Square there is a massive shopping centre with 3 floors dedicated to food outlets. As it was our first night, and first time in Asia, we thought we would play it safe & eat there.

We ended up in a restaurant Shanghai Min which had a bustling but civilised tea room feel to it. Traditional tea rooms involve a fight for your food at trolleys whereas this restaurant had table service. The menu was extensive with dishes from shark fin soup to stir fry to dim sum (yay!). We ordered a selection of dishes between us – Dan Dan Noodles, two types of Pork dim sum, spicy chilli chicken & beef spare ribs.

Dim SumDim SumDan Dan Noodles

It was a bit hit & miss the dishes. The dan dan noodles & dim sum were fantastic! The noodles were really spicy yet full of flavour from the pork & sauce. The dim sum were not slimy, you could taste the pork & had really nice traditional style Chinese dipping sauces with them. The beef spare ribs appeared but it was more like deep fried bits of meat that didn’t have much flavour to them. I actually think it was pork we were given, not beef. And the chicken, well that was an experience. There were 2 types of chicken, what looked like breast then smaller bits. The “breast” was actually really fatty bits of chicken & the smaller bits were mainly bone. It was pretty much inedible.

Beef or Pork?Spicy Chicken

One thing that did disappoint me about Hong Kong was the lack of street food. I was expecting to see stalls lined up & down the streets bit this wasn’t the case. We did find one stall near the hotel & it served some weird items but the chicken & squid we got were pretty tasty. It turns out that street food in HK is in fact small restaurants dotted down lanes off the main drag. On our second night, we found such a place & it was so good we ate there both nights.

Street Food Menu

The staff only spoke minimal English so it was a case of pointing at the menu & using sign language. These places contained some of your traditional black bean & salt/pepper type sauces as well as some unusual cuts of meat (tongue & different types of fish we don’t get). Some of the dishes we tasted were prawns with cashew nuts & squid & cuttlefish black bean sauce. The food was cooked to order so was really fresh & there’s something quite cool about sitting amongst the locals at their normal eatery that most tourists wouldn’t know about.

Chicken black beanSquid & Cuttlefish Black Bean

In Hong Kong, breakfast isn’t usually served at hotels so we were staying room only. On our first morning, I had a quick Google for breakfast places & found an American style diner-esque place that was opened 24 hours. It was famed for its breakfast so we ventured there. I opted for an omlette filled with various green veg & you got to choose 2 sides (at breakfast?!) as well as toast & fruit juice. It was a lot of food for breakfast but definitely kept us going all day!

Omlette

The other breakfast we had, we went to a chain restaurant around the corner from the hotel & they have a self service option, serving more traditional Chinese dishes such as fish, noodles & chicken dishes. I opted for the haddock with scrambled eggs which cost around £2 and tasted really good!

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On our last day, we took the ferry to another island, Sok Kwu Wan, to go to the Rainbow Seafood Restaurant I had read about. The restaurant has many tanks filled with all different types of food from lobster to grippa to clams. As it’s on an island, if you book with them for an evening meal, they have a free ferry service from Hong Kong Island & Kowloon which saves a bit of money. As it was our last day & we had money to burn, we had a bit of a feast. We opted for garlic prawns, clams with glass noodles & garlic, special fried rice and salt & pepper shrippa (I think that’s what they’re called but I can’t find them on the internet). All of the food was exceptionally cooked & the portions were fantastic. We got 10 prawns, halved & filled with garlic for under a fiver. A dish like that would cost a fortune in the UK, especially for so many prawns! The shrippas (or whatever they’re called) were pretty tasteless though, especially as they were the priciest dish we received!

Garlic PrawnscClams Special Fried RiceShrippa

I wish we had had more time in Hong Kong as I’m sure there are 100 other restaurants that are worth trying but given our few days, I’m glad we experience the restaurants we did. I also doubt I’m going to find dim sum better anywhere else!!