Far be it from me to suggest you’re the type to resort to petty chicanery and pass another’s work off as your own. But you could do a lot worse than bring a K + K lamprais or two to the table, unwrapping it and soaking up the praise.
We’ll come back to that.
Recently, a conversation about my worst ever review meals reminded me of a much-hyped chain in Cardiff which promised much and delivered only disappointment and bewilderment. It made all the wrong impressions. Try the Sri Lankan deliveries from K + K, said my friend. It’ll restore your faith.
I’m glad I listened.
That lamprais is from the ‘limited editions’ section of a compact menu which also features short-eats (snacks), street food, karis, rotis and drinks. Nationwide delivery comes from their home at Croydon’s Box Park. Compact yes, but with plenty of choice here for vegans too.
From that short-eats menu come mutton rolls. Hopes are high: it’s such an underappreciated meat here and it stands up very well to spicing. A dozen seems about right: they need only a few minutes in the fryer, crisp and hot and even better left to cool for a few minutes, with just tamarind sauce or ketchup ramped up with sambol. They are very like the lamb rolls served at Anand George’s Keralan heavyweight Tukka Tuk. Since I described those at the time as one of the city’s downright essential street food dishes, you can probably imagine how happy I was with these in my own kitchen. That tangle of mutton and curry leaf and green chilli is nothing short of a joy.
Nasi goreng impresses, too, one of those great comfort food rice dishes which have made their way around the world. Here it is done very well indeed. a hearty bowl of chicken, prawns and mixed vegetables and what better to do with the eggs from a kind friend’s chickens, laid just the previous day, than top this off? Here’s where the prawn balchan shines, bringing heat and a sturdy umami whack to a lovely sustaining bowl of good things.
That balchan is a revelation and my new condiment addiction. A potent sambol of dried red and green chillies, garlic and dried shrimp it’s hugely compelling stuff used as a condiment or a garnish, though you’ll want to work in in wherever you can. Though you might stop just short of dabbing it on a lover’s pulse points.
From an extensive vegan menu come pol roti- flaky, buttery-without-butter breads, aromatic with grated coconut and curry leaf and a tickle of green chilli. Crisped up in a pan a touch, they make a memorable breakfast- with fried eggs perhaps, and more of that sheer heft of the balchan, though by this point I’m so taken with it I’m wondering if I can stir it into my coffee.
Tuna gets a robust coating in the ambul thiyal, a dry dish from the south coast of Sri Lanka which apparently uses a traditional method of pickling fish. Tamarind-sour, the aromatic mixture of black pepper, cardamom, garlic, mustard seeds, chilli and ginger and others cling to thick slices of tuna, emphasising the meatiness of the fish. With red rice, nutty and cardamom-perfumed, it’s another memorable bowl.
That lamprais (also variously known as lampreys and lumprice) is a culinary hangover from the Dutch rule of 17th and 18th centuries, the name coming from the Dutch lomprijst and loosely translating to ‘packet’.
It lives up to its name, wrapped in printed brown paper, tied with string and weighing in at a sturdy two and a half pounds.
Twenty minutes later it emerges as something rather special. It smells fantastic, filling the air with garlic and cardamom and cinnamon and much more. This is the must-order, something you owe yourself. For £17 it’s more fun per pound than most things I can remember.
You gently unwrap the enfolding banana leaves and you find a mound of yellow rice loaded (and no other word will do here) with (deep breath…) aromatic rice, spicy-sweet seeni sambol caramelised onions, pickled aubergine,
‘twice cooked’ egg, fried chicken (on the bone), plantain, polos cutlet (balls filled with a warming jackfruit and potato mixture). And that’s before you arrive at the chicken and mutton.
Teased apart and coaxed back together for serving it’s undeniably impressive. A feast, and with that prawn blachan stirred through there’s a huge amount going on here. A substantial share for two: and what says sharing, togetherness and a shared moment at the table more than a big bowl of rice, rife with surprises?
And yes, 12th century history fans (a small, but vocal, subset of this blog’s readers) will doubtless manage to work in some jokes about a ‘surfeit of lamprais’ but I can’t. So knock yourself out.
I have been very lucky with my finds over the last year. This food is, quite simply, great fun. It puts heat in your belly and a smile on your face. I hope it does the same for you.
K+K Street Food at Unit 34-35, Boxpark Croydon
By 12 on Weds for Friday delivery
By 12 on Sunday for Tuesday delivery
If you order here you can use this code for a 5% discount.
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This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.