Town House Coffee & Brew Bar – Preston

Walking down Preston’s Friargate with my shopping buddy (mum), I was surprised to find this place amidst local take aways and other small shops. On it’s own, this little unique cafe just stood out, it also has a 5 star rating on Trip Advisor, so that convinced me to try something from the menu (we were also very hungry :p).

We chose to sit by the window, the place is small, although there are more seats upstairs which I didn’t go and check. There was quite a selection from breakfast, brunch, smoothies, coffees and teas. Vegan and vegetarian friendly too! I chose the ‘Bennie’s Brunch’ whilst mum opted for the ‘Tofu Shakshuka’.

The Bennie’s is made of sourdough ciabatta, spinach, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. I paid extra for the bacon so it comes to £8.75. The Shakshuka is a vegetarian/vegan friendly option so it was served with tofu, sourdough toast and a slice of lemon, for the price of £7. I think the portion of the shakshuka is good, mine was a little small for my liking though. However, it was tasty. The sauce was creamy, it goes really well with the bacon and egg. Nothing was overcooked, and the shakshuka was tangy with all the peppers, tomatoes, mixed with the spices, herbs and tofu, it was a healthy brunch choice.

Lastly, the coffee is good! I’m not a fan of super strong coffee and the Cappuccino I ordered was of medium strength. They also have a selection of lovely looking pastry and cakes, again vegan friendly. I ordered the chocolate orange cake, the taste is nice, not too sweet however it was slightly dry. Overall, lovely experience with some very nice and welcoming staff.

Recipe: Banana & Walnut Muffins

Sunday bake day. I love to combine leftovers and experiment with food. Today, I have 2 very ripe bananas, half a packet of walnuts and some yoghurt in the fridge. Not enough to make a loaf but enough to make some muffins. I find muffins easy to make, quick and you can mix quite a few ingredients to make wonderful things with them. So here goes.

Ingredients (makes 6 muffins):

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup soft brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

How to make:

  • Mash the bananas, set aside.
  • Combine all the dry ingredients together (but the walnuts), set aside.
  • Whisk egg and sugar until it becomes lighter in colour and have creamy consistency.
  • Add butter, yoghurt, vanilla and bananas. Whisk until combined.
  • Mix the dry and wet ingredients together (don’t over mix). I use a spatula for this.
  • Add 2/3rd of the walnuts, mix.
  • Separate the ingredients into 6 muffin cases in a muffin tray.

To make the toppings:

  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar to the remaining walnuts. Mix well. You can also just add the walnuts if you don’t fancy adding more sugar.
  • Sprinkle the mix on top of the wet muffin mixture.

Put the mixture in a pre-heated oven, 180 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes. Always make sure to check the inside is cooked by pricking the muffin with a tooth pick and no wet mixture is sticking to it.

The muffins should rise, they should be soft, light and slightly springy when pressed. Let them cool off and enjoy!

Baohouse at Mackie Mayor

Mackie Mayor, an 1858 Grade II listed market building located in Northern Quarter Manchester. Refurbished and transformed by the team behind Altrincham Market, into a buzzing venue which houses some of the finest food and drink vendors in Manchester.

I hate to say that I am so late to jump in the bandwagon. Like it’s sister market in Altrincham, it is always busy there and sometimes that put me off going in since I can never find seats (or it may just be my luck). Lately, I’m on a small mission to find good places that serves Bao buns, and Mackie Mayor has Baohouse. They serve Taiwanese steamed buns. So there I was, determined even if I had to eat standing I was going to try that Bao.

I love the interior, glass ceiling, wooden decor with low hanging lights are just some of the features in this place that welcomes you in. Take a seat first, note your table number, then you can take a pick at which food and drink you want from one of the many vendors available there.

I chose the Hoisin Pork belly from Baohouse with sides which came to £12.50, then a Cappuccino from Wolf House Coffee £2.90, totalling at £15.40. So, it is quite pricey and the size isn’t very big. The sides, which was portions of spiced potatoes, coleslaw and broccoli made the price worth it, I think as they filled me up more. The pork itself is very tender with sticky and sweet hoisin sauce served with pickled cucumber and topped with spring onions. It was really tasty.

The coffee was also very enjoyable and there were plenty of cakes and cookies to choose from the Wolf House Coffee counter. The banana scone they had caught my attention as I’ve never had one before… but perhaps… it’s for another visit. Right now, mission accomplished.

Mackie Mayor NQ, 1 Eagle St, Manchester M4 5BU.

Understanding Fermented Food For Your Diet

Fermented foods contain live microorganisms, and provide a vital dose of diversity to your gut. Studies have linked fermented foods and increased microbial diversity to improved immunity, better weight management, cardiovascular health, glucose metabolism, and even cognitive function. [1]

Growing up in Bandung, my birthland… Tempe (or tempeh) is a staple food for our diet. Originated in Indonesia, Tempe is a source of protein and is available in markets everywhere usually wrapped in banana leaves, or frozen. Over there, they have many traditional fermented products such as Peuyeum (fermented cassava), Oncom Merah (soy and fungi), Tape Ketan (glutinous rice and yeast) to name a few. So, growing up, I was always exposed to fermented products. Now, fermented food has become a trend, people make fermented foods and drinks in their own homes with the help of YouTube and Google, also, Doctors, researchers and health gurus can’t recommend them enough! Not to mention the availability of products such as Kefir and Kombucha now in supermarkets. All good, right?


Not entirely. I watched some reviews about how people have had bad reactions to eating fermented food. We’ve been advised a lot on these channels (YouTube, TED talks etc) to have fermented food to heal our gut and how important it is in supporting the digestive system, even as far as helping with our mental health. In reality though it’s not for everyone. People with leaky gut, histamine intolerance etc will probably feel worse after eating/drinking them. I’m no doctor nor am I a nutritionist, but, Eric Bakker (naturopath) explained in the video below about how people must be careful about the microbe balance in the gut and be cautious about how much they are putting in their diet, because the gut can’t tolerate a massive amount of microbial onslaught if you are not used to taking fermented food.

Personally, I’ve never had a problem with having both kefir and yoghurt in the same day. They don’t affect me negatively, and a large number of people I know also include fermented food in their diet and they never have any issues but positive results. Now, I am exposed to a few more in the forms of Kefir and Kombucha. Adding fermented food to my daily diet is a bonus and I always like the challenge of creating tasty lunches which includes this beneficial food.

My personal favourites are:

  1. Tempe – fermented soybean (Indonesia)
  2. Sauerkraut – fermented raw white cabbage (Germany)
  3. Kimchi – fermented vegetables (Korea)
  4. Kefir – fermented milk (Caucasus Mountains)
  5. Kombucha – fermented tea (unknown origin)

The video below explains the health benefits of some of the food listed above. Have a look 🙂

Some of the recipes online have made me really curious about making my own, especially when they are laced in spices like the kimchi in this video, it looks delicious.

Making your own is also beneficial since you can control what goes in there and can make sure that it is a ‘living’ product, otherwise, you have to look for certain things in the food label. For example, things you should be aware of when buying sauerkraut are:

  • Raw
  • No vinegar
  • Not pasteurized
  • Ingredients – cabbage, salt, seasoning

Read more on how to buy, make and ways to eat fermented food on the ultimate guide here.

I like fermented food, even with the odd disgusted look from people sometimes, but hey, some people can’t process the idea of eating ‘rotting food’ or bacteria, even though… they consume beer and eat cheese and some have eaten kimchi without fully realising that is it fermented. Without going into too many scientific details (I’m not a scientist) let’s just see it the simple way, fermentation creates something that tastes good, and rot produces something that tastes bad and smells bad.

So… Which fermented food is your favourite?



Shoryu: Authentic Ramen & Japanese Street Food

Located in Manchester’s Picadilly Gardens, Shoryu Ramen specialises in Hakata tonkotsu ramen, street food side dishes and Japanese inspired cocktails. The ramen, specifically is a style of ramen originated from the Hakata district in Japan. What makes this place unique, is the 12-hour pork broth. I’m a big fan of bone broth so I was looking forward to trying it. This is the first Shoryu ramen bar outside of London and I’m actually surprised I’ve not tried the food here until a friend of mine recommended it last night.

We went straight for the ramen. I chose the Piri Piri Tonkotsu 12.90 (char siu barbecue pork belly,  nitamago egg, kikurage mushroom, spring onion, sesame, ginger, nori seaweed with spicy gochujang sauce and jalapeños) whilst my friend ordered the Red Miso Ramen 12.50 (barbecue pork, sweet corn, bamboo shoot, spring onion, kikurage mushroom, nitamago egg). The taste was very good. The broth is flavourful and on top of that, mine had jalapeños in it so that added a kick to the dish. The portion was also good, you can choose the firmness of your noodle, I chose the standard one as I don’t like my noodles too hard or soft.

They have a range of matcha dessert which I love!! Also, yuzu type dessert (lemon, citrus), mochi ice cream, and kakigori (shaved ice). We both chose the Matcha Chocolate Sundae 5.90. In the sundae, you get soft serve matcha with matcha brownies, thin milk cookie, strawberry and 2 chocolate sticks (like Mikado). At the bottom of the glass, you have the chocolate sauce and some crispy flakes which we assumed were corn flakes. It was a nice finish to a good hot meal.

Do they do vegetarian option? Yes, although not extensive. Really enjoyed the food here and the staff were also friendly, I noticed they say things in Japanese before proceeding to ask in English like “Sumimasen (excuse me), how was everything with your food?”. The chef also did the same, and it just made the experience a little more authentic.


Recipe: Pandan & Yogurt Steamed Cake with Coconut & Sugar Cane Sprinkles

I like making steamed cakes. Today I had leftover yoghurt in the fridge and really fancied something sweet. I also happen to have some pandan extract and some desiccated coconut. Pandan and coconut always make a good combo, they are commonly used in South East Asian dessert. Unlike the Banana & Chocolate steamed cake recipe, the yogurt makes the cake texture more moist, and a small amount of pandan extract turns the mixture into a fragrant cake with a lovely green colour. This is also very easy and fast to make.


Ingredients (makes 4 steamed cakes):

  • 60g plain flour
  • 3 tablespoons yogurt (no added flavour)
  • 2 tablespoons golden caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rice bran oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon pandan extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

To sprinkle:

  • Desiccated coconut
  • Soft sugar cane

How to make:

  • Whisk egg and oil.
  • Add sugar, mix well.
  • Add yoghurt, mix well.
  • Add pandan extract, mix and then add flour and baking powder. Mix thoroughly.
  • Pour the batter into muffin cases (I use paper cases inside a cupcake mould, otherwise, the mixture would fall apart from the steam).
  • Sprinkle the desiccated coconut on top.
  • Steam the mixture for 20 minutes.

Once they are done, take them out of the mould and let them cool. If you like, you can add more sweetness by sprinkling soft cane sugar on top (this is optional and depends on your sweetness preference).

Tips: Firstly, you want to make sure no water droplets fall on the cake. So, wrap the top of the pan with a cloth. Secondly, don’t open the top before the 20-minute mark is up since the cold air can deflate the cake. Thirdly, as soon as they are done, make sure you take them out from the pan and the mould, to cool at room temperature, making sure any moisture is dried from under the cases.

pandan steamed cakes with cane sugar and coconut

New Market Square & Shack – Altrincham

Altrincham Market, always a pleasure to visit for good food. Yesterday, I brought my lovely parents with me to enjoy something a little different. The Market has 3 sections, an indoor food hall, and outdoor covered market and then the New Market Square. I love the food choices in the food hall but unfortunately, it’s always full and it’s always a case of who gets there first and get in any spaces available. My parents liked the look of the New Market Square, with its unique food choices and a covered outdoor seating area. There they have vegan, pickled, fermented, artisan bread and fish food choices and more.

Altrincham New Market and Shack Board

The weather here in the UK is getting cold. The Shack had a fire going inside, so we went there to sit and ordered some coffees £3.00. We waited for food for about 10 minutes and sat next to very friendly people. I really like the atmosphere there.

I chose the Brunch menu from Plucky Pickle with crispy pork belly, hash brown, fried egg, kimchi and kimchi mayo £8.50. Mum went for the Special of the day from there as well, it was rose harissa lamb and pearl barley stew with red pickled cabbage £9.00. Dad wanted the classic burger from Gud Vegan, it has black bean patty, fried onions, tomato, gherkins and toasted bun plus a side of polenta fries £8.00. We then finished off with a warm scone to share, complete with clotted cream, butter and strawberry jam £3 from Bread and Fishes. The artisan bread is quite pricey but worth it to take home. You pay for quality after all.

This area is just getting better and better every time, new developments and more food restaurants are being built when we walked through. Also, still plenty of food to try from inside the hall and here at the New Market. Next time 🙂

Lunch At Canto – Modern Portuguese Restaurant

Ancoats in Manchester City Centre is quickly becoming one of my favourite places to go to for food. A lot of development is happening at the moment with new apartment buildings, townhouses and specialist food retailers emerging in the area. Yesterday I parked there and went for a walk to find somewhere to eat with my food buddy (just see what we can find type of thing). We were in an area called Cotton Square and noticed there was a new restaurant there and decided to give it a try. It’s called Canto – Modern Portuguese.

The interior is lovely, wood furniture, ivy plant decorating the back wall’s open kitchen, you can see the chefs cooking up the food. I also like the soft green decor and mosaic artwork. They have a brunch menu, main menu and specials, the friendly waitress told us what they were when she introduced herself. We choose from the main menu which includes a selection of tapas and desserts. The waitress recommended 3-4 tapas per person so we opted for 3 each and share them between us.

We ordered:

  • Spicy chicken wings £6
  • Octopus Lagareiro – Octopus, roasted potatoes, garlic, pickled baby onions £10
  • Pork belly ‘Bairrada’ £10
  • Braised pig’s cheeks, chestnuts and Jerusalem artichoke purée £10.50
  • Grilled aubergine, piso, cottage cheese and sea lettuce £6
  • Roasted peppers, baby artichokes and runner beans £6

Every dish was tasty. The only thing I didn’t really like, was the amount of waiting time in between dishes. Maybe that’s how they serve tapas in Portugal I’m unsure but… the wait was almost 10 minutes in between. We shared our dishes and every time a new dish was served, it only took us a few minutes to eat them before having to wait for another. After we were done with the tapas, we ordered some dessert. Of course, I had to taste the custard tart… Portugal is known for that right?

We ordered:

  • Pastel de nata £2.50
  • Almond tart and mascarpone mousse £6

They didn’t disappoint. The custard tart was delicious, crispy thin pastry, sweet creamy custard centre with a hint of orange (I think… there’s a slight citrus in there, not 100% what type but I’m leaning towards orange). I didn’t try the almond tart, but the feedback was that it was dense, sweet and perfectly complimented with the light mascarpone mousse.

The total bill came to £63, with 2 Cappuccinos and a bottle of sparkling water. Really enjoyed the food and the service overall. I also read that the menu will be changing quite often, so that will be something to look forward to!

Angkor Soul: A Cambodian Gem In Altrincham

Cambodian food?? Never tried one before! I was intrigued when I saw a review on Facebook about a Cambodian restaurant located in Altrincham. The market in Altrincham has lots of good food, drinks and just unique things in general. Love that place, so I don’t mind going all the way there (or close to the area) to find different food to try. I was thinking in my head what would Cambodian food be like? A quick look at Angkor Soul menu, made me think about Vietnamese and Thai food combined. They serve noodle bowls, summer rolls, rice dishes, salads and more.

After a 30 minute drive from Manchester city centre, looking for parking wasn’t hard. There was plenty of side road parking and it was cheap to park. The first thing I saw walking up towards the restaurant was orange. Bright orange. You can’t miss the place. Combined with wall art, wooden seats and tables inside, the place is small, humble and have that homely feeling about it.

On to the food…

I had my food buddy with me, and he likes to eat big… it’s a good thing really so I can see what the food is like. Here’s what we ordered.


A consistent taste from most of the order today is sweet. Spicy and sweet, or sour and sweet or just… sweet. But, in general, very good food. The broth for Kuthiew was made with oxtail, packed with noodles, brisket and meatballs in a bowl sprinkled with fresh red onions and spring onions. The size was big even though I ordered the small bowl. I love spicy food and herbs, this dish comes with fresh chillies, herbs, bean sprouts and a slice of lemon. The beef… deserve a special mention. Tender and flavourful. From the brisket to the steak in the sandwich, they were well marinated and was just a delight to eat.

angkor soul noodle-square

The salad starter I had was a vegetarian option with tofu. In fact, this place is Vegetarian and Vegan-friendly. I do appreciate a place that can cater to specific food choices. The lunch menu has quite a variety you can choose from, but the dessert… not so much, there were only 4 options available. But still, the Indonesian in me is always up for eating a black rice pudding, especially when it’s served hot! The sweet palm sugar with black rice, combine with savoury coconut milk, don’t you just enjoy a good sweet dessert after a spicy meal? Black rice pudding is a common dessert in south-east Asia, so I was looking forward to trying what this one would be like in comparison.

angkor soul black rice dessert_square

Not the best-looking dessert I would say, but delicious and filling. Very sticky in consistency though, more so than what I normally would make/eat. The Cambodian fruit salad looked refreshing with exotic fruits like lychee and jackfruit but, they’re from cans and not fresh.

Overall, definitely a place I would come back to, to have another 3-course meal. Good value for money especially if you want to try something a little different.

Recipe: Banana & Chocolate Steamed Cake

What do you do when you’re suffering from DOMS and taking a break from the gym? Treat yourself to sweet things (me, that is). Chocolate especially. Isn’t it a thing anyway if we’re sad or stressed we eat chocolate? Well, according to researchers, eating dark chocolate with cacao content over 70% can improve stress and inflammation (yey). Here’s an article by the Independent with the facts.

My mum has some very ripe bananas in the fruit basket. They won’t be nice to eat (for me anyway) but they are perfect for making cakes. This steamed cake recipe is easy to make, with little ingredients and they go nicely with a cup of tea. You don’t even need an electric mixer!


Ingredients (makes 8 steamed cakes):

  • 2 eggs
  • 100g fruit sugar
  • 2 medium size ripe bananas
  • 125g plain flour
  • 2 tablespoon cocoa powder (100%)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 85ml rice bran oil

How to make:

  • Mash the bananas. Set aside.
  • Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a container. I used a hand whisk for this.
  • After the sugar and egg are mixed well, put in the mashed bananas.
  • Put all the dry ingredients in. Those are flour, baking soda, baking powder and cocoa powder. Mix well.
  • Pour in the oil and vanilla extract, mix thoroughly.
  • Pour the batter into muffin cases (I use paper cases inside a cupcake mould, otherwise, the mixture would fall apart from the steam).
  • Steam the mixture for 20 minutes.

Tips: Firstly, you want to make sure no water droplets fall on the cake. So, wrap the top of the pan with a cloth. Secondly, don’t open the top before the 20-minute mark is up since the cold air can deflate the cake. Thirdly, as soon as they are done, make sure you take them out from the pan and the mould, to cool at room temperature, making sure any moisture is dried from under the cases.

banana chocolate steamed cake

You should have something like the pictures above. Slightly sweet, soft, steamed banana chocolate cakes with raised domes 🙂

Satay: The Popular Indonesian Street Food


Originated in Java, Indonesia, Satay is a popular street food that has become a national dish. Diced/sliced pieces of meat are seasoned and then skewered with bamboo sticks. This street vendor sells chicken and goat, although Satay can have many meat variations from rabbit, to seafood or even organs such as intestines or liver.

grilled satay

Grilled goat satay

The meat is cut thinly here and they are mixed with a chunk of fat in the middle of the skewer. This is how you typically get goat satay, also, some can have 3 or 4 pieces of meat on each skewer. The ingredients to marinating satay are turmeric and savoury seasoning. The cook simply puts a little bit of sweet soy on the raw satay, mixed them up before putting them on the charcoal grill, and fanning the meat with a hand-held bamboo fan. The meat is very well marinated and was very tasty and tender.


You can have this dish served with lontong (rice cake wrapped in banana leaf), then topped with a combination of regular or spicy peanut sauce and sweet soy. Even better, with a little bit of squeezed lime, some dried shallots and acar (pickle).



Chilango: Mexican Flavours In Manchester City


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Very tasty Mexican cuisine inspired restaurant. Chilango serves burritos, nachos, nudos, tacos and salads. I’m in love with the hot box from this place. Served with rice, and your choice of beans, meat, salad, sauce, cheese and guacamole. The food components are all laid out in hot containers in front of you so you can pick and choose what you want, and they serve it right there before you pay.


If you like your sauce spicy, their refreshing lemonade is a good drink choice to have 🙂

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