From the bustling streets of Bangkok to Malaysian markets, street food in Asia has always been considered such an everyday existence. However, when it comes to pan Asian food in the UK, which is now a huge part of the London restaurant scene, its street food concept is neglected bringing elegance to an everyday trade.
Tootoomoo in Crouch End is a prime example of this where its founder, Philip McGuinness, set it up with the aim of bringing fresh pan Asian street food to the suburban market to be enjoyed within the comforts of their modern restaurant. They do however offer a takeaway service, retaining the convenience factor of street food. To my delight, I discovered they even have a deadly offering of a cocktail delivery service.
Our exotic culinary journey began in the bar but it wasn’t long before the smells from the open kitchen wafted our way and stimulated the taste buds. We delved further into the venue to discover a vibrant, stylish, brightly lit interior with a backdrop of foliage. The warm environment was so inviting and reminiscent of the dishes, which were full of colour and even more delectable when presented on such a decorative table. The ever-changing menu was impressive with influences from Thailand, Malaysia, China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Japan where they’re known for fusing styles of both contemporary and traditional dishes.
The starters were promptly delivered, featuring a selection of Tiger Prawn Tempura, Edamame and Chicken Gyoza, which all whet the appetite for the mains. The dumplings were plump and luscious, laden in a black rice vinaigrette and the prawns were served with spicy mayo for bite.
It was however the Grilled Salmon with Pickled Beetroot and Mustard Miso that prompted me to find out there and then if they delivered in my area. The Mustard Miso comprised of a harmonious blend of acidic and sweet flavours, which complemented the salmon. The Steamed Seabass was a restaurant favourite where its fusion of ginger, chilli and mushrooms worked well together. Our side dish involved The Duck & Watermelon salad, which was seasoned with herbs and chilli flakes, combining well with the spicy flavours of the mains. My passion fruit Tootoomojito brought a sweet alternative and was a delicious end to a stunning meal.
My visit was however incomplete without the taste of an Asian beer so on strict instructions from my hosts, I was given the Tsingtao to taste. It had such a refreshing, floral taste and I was interested to hear its production methods of using spring water from Laoshan, a mountainous area famous throughout China for the purity of its water. It therefore didn’t come as a surprise to discover that it’s the second biggest beer brand globally and China’s most widely exported beer.
Tootoomoo certainly exceeded my expectations but it wasn’t just the food and elegant setting that did it for me, the service was impeccable. There were lots of customers coming and going where the staff knew many regulars on first name terms. It was really warming to see such a strong community spirit, especially in London where the service can often be impersonal and scripted…and if that’s not enough convincing to visit, James Bay is a regular.