Food Run: We Found Love

I’m acquainted with gammon steak and black pudding *PAUSE*. I know the bagel shop very well, and bubble ‘n’ squeak is not a shoe shine product.

London, England has been the forefront for Asian immigration to its shores since the early 1800s, with an increase in coastal cruisers post the independence of India from British rule. It’s nothing new for Asian immigrants to move to a frontier Western country, in pursuit of better education and untapped economy.

In London though, the interpretation of “Asian” may be lost in translation for other Western counterparts:

” … “Asian” is often used to refer to those of South Asian ancestry, particularly Indians, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. The term generally excludes people of East Asian (such as Chinese, Korean or Japanese) or Southeast Asian origin; they are more likely to be defined by their country of origin. This is reflected in the “ethnic group” section of UK census forms and other government paperwork, which treat “Asian” and “Chinese” as separate categories.”

Lies, any chance to tap dat sweet economy.

chinese_london_2011_stall_7743

*Side note: I get the use of the ethnic group field in the UK, for the sake of diversity in employment, benefits scheme, EEO, etc. I generally feel that the perception amongst ethnic minorities is, “why does it matter what the answer is?” There is the good, and the questionable elements to this. After a year of living here, I haven’t quite made up my mind yet. Just saying, I’m not screaming V for Vendetta yet, rather simply ticking M for “Mixed Other” — because it’s the most on-the-fence answer.

17, 000 odd kms away in Sydney, Australia, one gets use to a noodle bar, sushi hawker, soup bowl wrapped around just about every corner off George/Sussex street. This is the city I grew up in, and I’d consider it a western city where a lot of East/South/North/West Asians grew up in as well. It’s relative to the South Asian migration in Europe, and no, neither is shaded in ignorance despite the Wiki-assertions (people in London don’t ask me what part of India I’m from when I tell them I’m Asian)

So what’s the issue? I could overrun this post with vitriol about the food scene contrasts between here and home. Straight up, I like home better. But respectfully, “Home 2” still nails it if you’re in the know.

We found love.

After a year of overpriced Chinois cuisine found anywhere between Tottenham Court Rd and Leicester Square tube stations, I recently relocated domestically to the East-er end of London’s East/North, somewhere between Bethnal Green and the borough of Hackney. Along a strip of local grocers, butchers, grease mongers and Pound World cliches, lives, thrives and flash fries the Eastwood that exists in every city, no matter how deeply buried.

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“Top Taste”

The name speaks for most of what on is always searching for when putting something into their mouths…

And, as is the Chinese tradition when food adjectives/pro nouns are translated to English, it’s pretty much very literal. I rolled in gully and fairly unforgiving as I was not prepared to be gypo’d again. Inherently I had to admit, I knew I could trust a place with a menu that had skewers ranging from cumin lamb to an Ashfield butcher’s variety of offal.

My heart beats for the charred, beat-less heart of a chicken. My nuts buzz for the processed flesh of fish. Holy shit rainbow beef and MSG-heavy egg noodles. Food that essentially gets me purple.

Not to mention it’s light on the wallet, which is not an up sell, but within context should be the norm. These ingredients after all are inexpensive, and from point of origin, are selling for a sixth of the price. So paying up to £1 for a snack and south of £5 for a full dish is super reasonable.

I anticipate Chinese cuisine will spread and grow in London (outside Zone 1-2) with time. Food networks/VICE will see to that. What I do hope for is retention of some of the basic principles: cheap, delicious, authentic and diverse. Messy and unpretentious. But wanking that dopamine high all the same.

Top Taste is completely unassuming, as it should be for London’s best Chinese restaurant.

Peep a sample of the menu here.

Top Taste
129 Roman Rd
London E2 0QN
7 nights, around 5pm till late

*Also see Kingsland Road, London’s much touted “Little Vietnam” for copping some more of this legitimacy.  

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