Friday 23 October 2009

Champor Champor (Guest Post)


(Anna's on the left and that's Edwin on the right)

Anna, has been a key part of the Paunch ever since it first started. She's been with us through the good times such as our amazing camping trips to Devon and "cottaging" in the Peak District but also through the low times such as the horrific Essex Serpent and near fatal catastrophe of the exploding fondue. She's also been a keen participant in sushi parties and pancake competitions. O. And she makes a mean mousakka.

Many moons ago I promised my dear friend Browny that I would contribute to his eminently impressive paunch as a special birthday present. So here goes… actually before I proceed, a quick warning… I am more of a ‘moodie’ than a ‘foodie’, which means that although I enjoy great food, I enjoy great atmosphere more, which is the very reason I have chosen Champor Champor as my first foray.

“Champor- Champor” is a Malay expression which loosely means ‘mix and match’ (not a lot of people know that!) and that is a perfect way to summarise the bohemian riot that welcomes you here (and it is really does welcome you, especially on a cold winters night, after a bit of trek under the arches at London Bridge).I would not be writing home based on the exterior or local environment but once inside the décor is sumptuous, hippy without being sleazy or seedy and every possible surface is scattered with artefacts or candles. The walls are covered in somewhat erotic artwork - one particular highlight adorns the toilet but I won’t spoil the surprise!

I was eating with a gaggle of girls on a Hen-do, and as we strutted in, I saw the relief of the fellow dinners, as we were lead to the private dining room downstairs. It was brilliant and entirely perfect for the occasion but next time I’m looking forward to eating in the main restaurant.

As I alluded to at the start I’m no foodie but in summary, the menu was striking and creative…... fusing traditional Malay village cooking with other eastern influences (apparently!) and I would say the result was immaculate. I wasn’t expecting to review and so didn’t make specific notes or photos, but the for starters - the hen, who opted for the crisp fried mackerel fillet on a nest lemongrass, was waxing lyrical, although I was a little disappointed with festive roast beef with Borneo green pepper; tamarind and chilli dip, the meat was a tad too tough for my liking.

My main course made up for it though, lotus root and aubergine koorma, tofu and young mango rojak with red pepper rice, it was rich with incredible flavours and depth and was quiet frankly fascinating!

Pud wise, they were all very tempting I didn’t try it on the night but would definitely look to try the black rice pudding on return.

The waiters were polite and unassuming and brought interesting extras such as the bread ‘offering’- which included a reassuringly dense banana loaf and tofu-skin bread (wafer thin and sprinkled with cumin).

The menus are, in my opinion, very reasonably priced, excellent value for money and fixed at two or three courses but also include optional ‘inter courses’ (cue hen party singgers) which we opted out of but in fact I would have welcomed something that cleansed my pallet.

Champor Champor may miss a trick or too and for some the décor may be more brothel than bohemia and detract from the food, I don’t know, but for me, it was truly unique and very memorable…. p.s. If there’s two of you, try to bag the mezzanine table when booking.

Thank you so much for my birthday present Anna. I'm looking forward to seeing something special from Edwin in due course.

This was a special guest post by Anna "Moodie not a Foodie" Railton.


Hollow Legs said...

I had a really forgettable meal at Champor-Champor but I agree, the decor is pretty.

Browners said...

@Lizzie - Glad you agree about the pretty decor. I've read some decent things about Champor-Champor, but other than Anna, haven't heard anyone say anything nice about their food.

Helen said...

I have to be honest - I had a terrible meal at Champor Champor. I remember a main of catfish which was mushy and insipid and a dessert which was cream cheese and basil (seriously) - in a martini glass. It was so bad I couldn't eat it. To top it all one of the waiters was so rude to the other members of staff we actually cringed and considered complaining. I do agree about the decor though, it does look lovely; I remember a particularly spectacular goat.

Browners said...

@Helen - It sounds terrible! Like someone getting run over. That cream cheese and basil pudding sounds awful.

But this is Anna's review and, she's far more interested in the atmosphere than the food. And I think she did a great job of dramatising her experience. But given the experience that you and Lizzie had, I think there are many more places I'd rather take Cowie than Champor-Champor!


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