I love eating breakfast in Southeast Asia simply because there’s no particularly recognised dish for it. Save for the fact that we go beyond toast/patisserie/cereal/porridge, anything goes. From last night’s leftovers to steaming congee, spicy laksa, pho, stir-fried noodles, fresh fruit… brekky is a heavy power start to the day.
Growing up, I absolutely loved waking up to the smells of a proper cooked meal before heading off to school. Before going to work/school, my family would be served garlic fried rice with cured beef/pork, fried fish, or pan de sal with cheese or savoury meats, or eggs and firetruck red hotdogs (SERIOUSLY). When I moved to the UK, I couldn’t cook and didn’t have time to have proper brekky. Suffice to say, I’m used to having toast or air in the mornings now… but oh how I would daydream of eating a proper meal.
So when I got invited to Ping Coombes’ Breakfast Club at Chi Kitchen, I was absolutely excited.
We started with some teh tarik and banana smoothies. Lemme tell you – these drinks aren’t for the fainthearted. The brew and banana flavours were lost to the sweetness of the condensed milk. This may may be off-putting for some, but I welcomed each taste like a long lost brother. I woke up many mornings in Singapore having hot and cold teh tarik.
They also gave us some bread with a mint raita. I didn’t think this fit as well into the menu as others.
Next up were some Malaysian karipaps or curry puffs. I loved eating these as a mid-morning snack in the Philippines when I was younger. And in Singapore, I would buy these from hawker centres or food courts for a quick mid-shop snack. The encased potato curry was nicely balanced. I liked it okay.
Next up the list was soup kambing. The word kambing translates to goat in Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia so when I saw this on the menu I got a bit scared as I don’t like goat. Ping’s version was made with lamb, which was a relief. I’m not usually a fan of clear soup dishes unless they come with noodles but I thought the taste was quite nice and rather clean. The lamb was tender and there was no greasy aftertaste.
My favourite course was the chicken char siu noodles. I didn’t care much for the wonton itself but the noodles and the chicken transported me back to Hong Kong (not Southeast Asia, I know) and the Philippines, when my family would feast on Chinese food on Sundays. This was my favourite of the day (and I wish there was more of it).
We washed it down with the universal brekky drink… bubbly. Lol!
I love it when these celebrity chefs develop their brands through dishes inspired by their humble beginnings. I’m in awe of Ping Coombes’ ability to embrace her roots and roll with it, introducing another facet of South East Asian cuisine to London dining. In a world where foodism is relatively a new and safe concept (let’s be real), I salute those who dare try something different.
So if you want to try something rather unusual for brekky, Ping hosts her Breakfast Club at Chi Kitchen Oxford Street every second Sunday of the month. There’s an ever-changing set menu, exploring traditional dishes of Southeast Asia, all inspired by her Malaysian roots with a personal twist. Try it, you might be inspired to travel to Southeast Asia to try the real thing!
Next Brekky Club is this Sunday, 15 January – you can buy tickets are available here.
My meal was complimentary but all opinions are my own.
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What do you eat for brekky?