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Friday, 31 March 2017

Cheering gyoza at Eatchu

When Jess at work decided she was up for a trip to St Nicks for lunch it was just the thing I needed to pick myself up out of the doldrums I’d been feeling for most of last week. We had the idea of popping our heads into Eatchu and seeing what was available and then passing through the glass arcade to find something to munch on for lunch. Well we didn’t get any further than the little premises of Eatchu, it smelled so good we decide to grab some gyoza to take back to the office.

Bristol has a great turn around of street food businesses setting up with permanent premises in a fairly short time.  Eatchu is another one of those success stories. Specialising in Japanese gyoza, or jiaozi if you are in a Chinese restaurant. These little dumplings can be filled with whatever your imagination can think of however the most common filling is pork and chive. These can be steamed, fried or both.  Eatchu have upgraded these snacks to make them into more of a meal. They have a selection of 5 different fillings, three meat and two vegan.

Eatchu has occupied a little space down Exchange Avenue diagonally opposite Trailfinders. It’s a small space but there’s enough room for a handful of people to sit in and chomp their way through their dumplings of choice. Plus the walls are decorated with kitsch Kawaii pictures which just add to the welcoming atmosphere. Plagued by indecision I asked for a recommendation. Chicken and nori butter gyoza with a portion of rice was what was suggested and it sounded delicious so I went with that. You can have as many sauces or toppings as you like. You can choose from chilli sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, enoki mushrooms and spring onions, to name a few. I adore Japanese mayo so this and chilli oil were the choices for me and Jess and I waited patiently for our gyoza to be cooked, all the while being tortured by the wonderful smells wafting over from the pans. 

After short wait we were handed some boxes of food, with the idea of taking them back to the office. Jess and I were overwhelmed by hunger and desire to taste the aroma that had been swirling around us whilst we waited. So we sampled just one for the road. Wow. It melted in the mouth it was sublime. The butter made it extra rich and flavoursome, I was in love. Rushing back to the office so we could properly get stuck in I discovered my rice was topped with a hefty amount of pickled ginger, nigella seeds, mayo and chilli sauce. I can honestly say that this lunch had me bouncing round the office, my mood was officially lifted. Fluffy rice with superb gyoza and toppings made for a heart soaring experience. Eatchu is getting a lot of recognition at the moment and with good reason, they offer something a little different for lunch and people should grab it with both hands. 

Six gyoza will set you back about £5-6 with £1.50 extra for rice. I just wish I was able to get my hands on these at dinner time, it's the perfect post work snack with a drink or two. To find out more visit their website.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Celebratory lunch at Pasta Loco

Pasta Loco hasn’t been open a year yet and it has already become one of Bristol’s most talked about and lusted after restaurants. The carbonara alone has become the stuff of local legend. To fully extend my birthday celebrations I decided to take two days off after the day itself to indulge in eating and spending time with Rich, cats and friends. I had earmarked Tuesday for a lunch trip to Pasta Loco. For £10 you can have two courses, or for £13 you can go the whole hog and have all three. An exceptional deal such as this required company, so when I saw Charlie was looking to celebrate news of her own we joined forces and she kindly booked a table of four. 

 The restaurant is small, but charming, so booking is definitely advised for the evening. However if you find yourself passing by on a lunch time you will probably be lucky to pop in and find a free table. Lunchtimes offer a simple 3 choices per course on the menu which keeps indecision to a minimum. We were welcomed in very warmly from the rain and swiftly set about choosing our lunches, after ordering a round of drinks of course. Birthdays call for Prosecco so naturally I indulged. A selection of local beers are available such as Wiper & True and Lost and Grounded so you will be in good company when it comes to hops.


My choices from the menu were easy to make, starting with something fairly light I opted for the roasted beetroot with goats curd and rocket. I also ordered some of the focaccia which I was informed, was still warm from the oven. My main was the option that had me particularly excited. Fettuccine with tomato, mascarpone and n’duja. N’duja is a little bit of an obsession of Rich and mine. This smoky and spicy salami is often found in the form of a spreadable pasta often stored in oil, great on pizza or in pasta. However it’s not often on many menus so as soon as I find a dish that has it in, I am there.


 My starter was simple but tasty. The creamy curd worked wonderfully with the earthy beetroot. Having said that it only made me more hungry for my fettuccine that was on route. My will power was strong enough to leave some of that springy focaccia to mop up any leftover sauce.  Not too long after were were brought steaming bowls of pasta. All of us, bar Chris who went for the linguine with mussels, had ordered the fettuccine. A nice sizable heap of pasta sat in front of me with a healthy grating of Parmesan on the top. The smell was intoxicating, although that could have had something to do with the Prosecco. Pasta has long been a source of comfort for me, there is never a time when it won’t perk me up at least by 25-50%. 


 Fork in hand I stabbed a chunk of n’duja and started twirling the nearest orphaned strand of pasta. I don’t really have enough superlatives in which to describe how much I enjoyed this bowl of fettuccine. Creamy, tangy and spicy. It was perfection that’s all I can say really. I am still thinking about it now almost two weeks later, already thinking about when I can take a week day off just to get a fix of their pasta. I had some good news this week at work and I think this calls for booking up an evening here to celebrate. 


To find out more about Pasta Loco visit their website

Friday, 3 March 2017

Time for Pho

Pho is a dish that originated in Vietnam traditionally consisting of an aromatic beef or chicken broth with rice noodles, meat, beansprouts and fresh herbs. Usually you’ll find a selection of sauces to mix into your pho for extra flavour and spice. Pho is the healthier relative of ramen. It’s not something I’ve had regular contact with partly because of the expected presence of a great deal of coriander and also the availability of Vietnamese food in Bristol is quite small, but having walked passed Pho a number of times and heard mostly positive things I decided to take a punt.  Kym and I were well over due a catch up so we picked this spot for lunch. Pho is a chain of just over 20, mainly London based, restaurants providing an entirely gluten free menu or options to make gluten free. Most bowls are under £10 so it’s a good place to go on a budget of an evening. 

The tables are populated with lots of Pho paraphernalia, fish sauce, pickled chillis, sriracha hot sauce and chilli oil so you can season your Pho to however hot or not you wish.  Wanting to get started on the eating part we made up our minds fairly swiftly I opted for a  Phở tái chín; steak and brisket pho with a starter of crispy squid. Kym meanwhile went for the Phở đặc biệt; prawn, steak and tofu in garlic beef broth plus a starter of spring rolls, with your dip of choice, which in Kym’s case, was satay.
Our starters arrived fairly promptly, which was just as well because we were tipping over into hanger. I was advised to squeeze my lime wedge into a pot of flavoured salt and fresh chilli with a quick mix this was a delightfully fresh dip for the small bites of crispy tempura squid.  Spring rolls are often something that is denied to the gluten free but not at Pho. Crispy rice paper rolls stuffed full of pork and veggies, and a creamy nutty satay dip to compliment them, these were some of the best spring rolls I’ve had in a long time. The portion is generous and will satisfy any craving, gluten free or otherwise.


Our Pho arrived after a bit of a wait and two large steaming bowls were set in front of our widening eyes. The herbs, chilli and beansprouts are thoughtfully placed on a plate so you can add as much or as little to your pho as you wish.   As we both like fairly spicy food we added all the chilli and set about sampling most of the aforementioned pho accoutrements so each of our bowls had a delightful kick. I was particularly impressed with the brisket, it was tender and melted in the mouth. The steak wasn’t as full flavoured as the brisket but with the additions I had made to my bowl it didn’t matter too much. I was hugely impressed with the food at Pho. The service was a touch slow and inattentive at times but it wasn’t bad enough to stop me from returning, which I did the following week with Jane after work. 

Pho offers something a little different for lunch in the centre. I would hesitate to recommend going in a lunch hour if you have a deadline but if you have enough time to while a way a lazy lunch it’s an excellent option  and I am looking forward to slurping up my next bowl. To find out more about Pho visit their website.