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 – Improving Each Day

Every month, I get a wonderful fish box from Coast & Glen that always has a good variety of fish. This helps when trying to do meals plans & experimenting with new recipes as you have to get your thinking cap on. This month’s box contained some squid which was a no brainer what to do with it – salt & pepper squid.

Handily, I had been given Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food for my Christmas which featured a relatively simple recipe for salt & pepper squid. I have no idea what I did wrong but instead of lovely golden & aromatic squid, I was left with some chewy, anaemic squid. It was edible but let’s just say I won’t be in a rush to make this again!

squid

I had better success later in the week with Red Thai Pork that I made for the first time. It was a bit of a mish mash of a recipe as I had some red thai paste left. It all came together to make a lovely dinner, which I will post the recipe for later this week.

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This week coming is my sister’s birthday & she absolutely loves macarons. I had heard nothing but good things about Mademoiselle Macaron & her wonderful macarons. There was a slight problem with my plan of getting some for my sister in that I live in Glasgow & the shop is based in Edinburgh. A bit of a jaunt to go through just for some cakes. Then Billington’s in Lenzie came to my rescue as luck would have it, they started stocking the macarons last week!

Billington’s has been awarded best deli in Scotland by the BBC Good Food Show 2 years running & I met the lovely Mark & Sue at the show last year. When we entered the shop, I could see exactly why they had been awarded the prestige – it’s like an aladdin’s cave for foodies! They stock lots of small suppliers I have come across at shows but never seen their stock anywhere to buy. Aside from the macarons, I managed to contain myself & pick up some other goodies including Poporopo popcorn, some craft beers & possibly the best brownie I’ve ever tasted in my life from Woods. Honestly, this was a fudgey, salty, caramely piece of heaven (and I only had a couple of bites!!). I did state that I had to walk out with blinkers on so I didn’t buy more stuff! Definitely worth a trip out to Lenzie to see what they have in store.

billingtons

After my sunday dinner of goulash & tempranillo, the waffle maker broke its cherry & produced some half decent waffles! It was the first time I’ve ever made them so I knew they wouldn’t be up to belgian waffle standard but it is the goal!

sunday

PS if you haven’t seen my foodie bucketlist post, then why not?! Check it out here.

 

Thai Treats in Bangkok

On our recent holiday, we also visited Bangkok & Koh Samui. I’ll be honest in that I’m not the biggest fan of Thai food with any I’ve had in the UK being either too lemony or having too much coconut. Given that, I was a big apprehensive going to Thailand as I thought the food would be of a similar taste. How wrong was I?! The food in Thailand is much much better, with lots of different flavours & nowhere near as much overpowering flavours as what is passed as Thai food in the UK.

We only really had 2 nights in Bangkok as we arrived after midnight on our first time. We were unfortunately caught up in the Thai Coup which meant we could only stay out til 10pm at night so it was a bit restrictive as to where we could go at night. The first night, we went to Issaya Siamese Club which had been recommended to me. The menu takes a twist on Thai food but with keeping traditional Thai flavours & cooking methods at heart. We picked a selection of dishes including tender beef, papaya salad, soft shell crab yellow curry & soft spicy chicken summer roll. The food was fabulous, full of flavour & also really well presented. My favourites were the tender beef which was served cold but was quite spicy & the soft shell crab yellow curry. There was so much crab on the plate & the yellow curry was a more creamier curry than the red or green but not too creamy that it was a heavy curry.

Tender BeefSoft Shell Crab Yellow CurrySoft Spicy Chicken Soft Roll

Whilst in Bangkok, we also sampled some tropical fruits & street food. On a riverboat cruise we were on, there was a fresh fruit platter with loads of fruits I hadn’t come across such as sour fruit, queen fruit, lychee, guava & pomello. There was also mango & sticky rice which is a popular traditional Thai dessert. The rice is cooked with coconut milk to make it sticky but not too coconutty & it just so moreish!! Some of the fruit, such as dragon fruit & guava, I found to be quite tasteless but others such as the sour fruit, were delicious!

Fruit BuffetSour Fruit

The next day, we went to Bangkok’s biggest market & I had hoped to try some weird street food (including insects). I was a bit disappointed to find that the food area didn’t offer anything from the norm. We decided to sit down & have some food & opted for pad thai (when in Rome & that) & a shrimp fried rice. Both dishes were full of flavour & the one thing I like about the Pad Thai was that the peanuts & chillies with it are optional, you have to mix it in. Another thing I love about Thai restaurants/eateries, is the condiments. As standard, you get 4 pots, 1 with dried chillies, 1 with chilli fish sauce & 1 with chilli vinegar (my favourite). The fourth is either empty or filled with a soy/fish sauce.

Pad ThaiShrimp Fried Rice

On our last night, we opted to dine at the street food stalls we had seen at the end of the street where our hotel was. There were a couple of stands with some tables & chairs along with a couple of mini kitchens. We ordered a few different dishes including sweetened grilled pork, spicy hot beef curry & spicy hot pork soup. I honestly do not think I’ll taste pork nicer than the sweetened grilled pork! It was so tender, sweet but not sickly sweet & just so moreish. There was a mixup with the order as both the pork & the beef tasted the same so I think they gave us the hot & spicy soup for both. The soup was the type of food I had been dreading. Yes it was spicy but it was also full of lemongrass. So much so, that’s all I could taste  & I couldn’t really eat any of it.

Sweetened Grilled PorkHot & Spicy Pork Soup

Bangkok was a good starter for an indication of what authentic Thai food is but when we went to Koh Samui, that’s when we tasted some really good dishes. Blog to follow shortly!!