Korean food done quickly, done well & done deliciously at Mee Market…

Mee Market is one of London’s newest and shiniest hidden gems in both the fast-casual lunching landscape and the delicious Korean food scene. Opened earlier this year and tucked away behind ‘Les Miserables’ on Shaftesbury Avenue, it’s the sort of place you bookmark for a return visit while you’re still finishing the rice bowl in front of you.

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It isn’t big, although there’s room to sit & dine in downstairs, but it is gorgeously unpretentious with beautifully clean lines of white marble counters, wooden crates of rainbow produce and shelves of Korean groceries & homeware that will make you want to fill one of the linen tote bags with things you’ve never heard of before to take away. Mee Market can also lay claim to some of the sweetest & loveliest staff in the capital; smiley, a tiny bit shy and a little bit giggly, they are absolutely delightful and happy to both explain what things are and to offer quietly honest opinions.

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Freshly made to order rice & noodle bowls & boxes are generously sized so go hungry and in need of spicy flavours & layered textures. Prices run from £6.90 – £8.90 for the bowls and sides start at £3 and whilst you could definitely share, I’d suggest getting two different things and rotating halfway through because really, isn’t that the whole point of having a dining with a friend?

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We did just that with the Mee Bowl and the BBQ Bowl, both with spicy chicken. There are plenty of different gorgeously flavoured component parts to choose when assembling your dish; everything from egg to bean sprouts and kimchi to edamame is fresh, colourful & delicious and with different sauces, proteins & rice and noodles to select from, I guarantee anyone will be able to piece together a lunch they’ll love.

Korean food is big right now but while a lot of places start and focus on fried chicken and beef bulgogi, both of which totally have their place in life and my belly, Mee Market offers something a little bit lighter, fresher and crisper and if you love the complex flavours & spices of Korea, you’ll find yourself one very happy person eating here.

Comfort food at its finest with Nigella’s Gochujang Beef & Rice Bowls…

When I’m cold, I want comfort food. I want thick, stodgy and satisfying and I wanna be warmed up from the inside out. I don’t know about where you are right now – and honestly, I’ll be delighted and only marginally excessively jealous if you’re somewhere that isn’t making you toy with the idea of smuggling a hot water bottle down your jumper – but it’s absolutely freezing here in London at the moment and I am having to resist the urge to go out in my fricking duvet.

It. Is. Bitter.

Those baby blue skies have seduced me into thinking it’s a lovely mild autumnal day. Well it’s not. I’m cold and I want my comfort food.

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Many pretenders to the Queen-of-the-Kitchen crown have appeared over the past few years but my heart still lies with Nigella. I reckon if I turned up on her doorstep wrapped in my 10.5 tog comfort blanket, she’d have me in some cashmere lounge wear sipping boozy hot chocolate in front of her fire in her fairylight lit kitchen faster than you can say ‘can I have some Bailey’s in that please?’ Until that day arrives, I’ll have to make do with this dish of praise-be-to-the-heavens simplicity from ‘Simply Nigella’ and if you need something to get your inner central heating going, this slow cooked rice & beef gochujang bowl will do just that. Nigella bills this as a dish to make in your slow cooker but if you don’t have one, as indeed I do not, then the oven made version she gives is just as lazily fabulous.

As well as being ridiculously easy – I almost feel bad for actually numbering the steps below – the filling and comforting textures are a perfect vehicle for soaking up the gorgeous ripe tomato & gochujang flavours. Gochujang is a spicy Korean bean paste that might sound a bit scary but hey, you can buy it in Waitrose which means it’s thoroughly middle class and mainstream now I’m happy to tell you/afraid to say. It won’t blow your head off but it will lend everything a gorgeous rich colour and warm full flavour.

I love the added crunch of the bean sprouts and am always looking for something to throw a poached egg or grated cheese on top of which is why my version of this comes with both those very things; I promise you when that egg breaks and golden silky yolk spills onto everything else, you’ll understand. Chuck it in the oven, put your pyjamas on, watch something cosy – I won’t even hold it against you if the title contains the word ‘santa’ – and get ready for some serious comforting.

SLOW COOKED KOREAN BEEF & RICE BOWL (serves 6 small portions or 3 greedy people)

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g beef mince
  • 200g short grain brown rice
  • 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes (or plum tomatoes broken up)
  • 4 tbsp. gochujang paste
  • 4 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 300g beansprouts

Optional topping: grated cheddar cheese, poached free range egg

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METHOD

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.
  2. In a heavy based pot with a lid – a ceramic casserole dish is perfect – mix together your beef mince, brown rice, tin of choppd (or broken plum) tomatoes, gochujang paste, soy sauce and 125 ml of warm water; try not too mash everything together – you want to keep those textures nice and separate.
  3. With the lid on, cook your dish for roughly 2-2.5 hours; your rice should be tender but still possess a little bite and the water will have fully absorbed though you can top your liquid up slightly if you feel there’s a risk it will cook away to nothing while the rice still needs a bit more time.
  4. Turn your oven off and plunge your beansprouts into boiling water for a minute before draining and mixing then to the pot.
  5. Keeping the lid on your pot, poach your eggs and grate your cheese if using.
  6. Spoon the rice-mince mixture into serving bowls, top with the eggs & cheese and serve immediately.

Try a bunny with a difference this Easter…

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Hollowed out bread filled with gorgeous stuff.

That, in a deliciously carb-laden nutshell, is the essence of Bunnychow, an awesome place that fully delivers when your dietary requirements are food that’s fast but great, cheap but quality and served with the sort of laid back vibe that provides a welcomely chilled respite from the frantic Soho streets outside.  Read More