Love Norwich Food's 10 most exciting things to eat in the city
- Credit: The Kimchi
Ex-chef, food blogger, and cookery school owner Zena Leech-Calton of Love Norwich Food has what she calls a lifelong "compulsion, fascination, obsession and unhealthy passion" towards anything foodie.
She's constantly on the hunt for the 'next big thing' not just in Norwich, but throughout Norfolk. "Just the name of a dish can have me poised by the phone ready to book. A new opening, launch party, menu change or new Norfolk product has me standing up like a meerkat on watch," says Zena, who has compiled a list of the plates in Norwich "with flavours that make you go oh yeah!"
"These are dishes which make you want to go back for more."
Crab Doughnut, £10, The Last Wine Bar, St George Street
Chef Iain created this dish, filling a doughnut with brown crab mayo, lemon puree, garlic chive and radish, a few years ago. It almost went viral, with a mention in a national paper. A few years ago he created a veggie version with truffle and wild mushroom which admittedly tasted even better than the crab version. But imagine soft crab in a slightly sugared freshly fried brioche like doughnut dough – it simply tastes insanely good.
Mutton Chops, £15, Bricks & Bones, Gonzos, London Street
I went in a few weeks ago and ordered this dish of mutton loin chop with rhubarb butter. Two meaty, perfectly cooked over coal, chops arrived. They were so succulent and flavoursome andleft us wondering why mutton isn’t more readily available. It’s got so much more flavour than beef or lamb and, the rhubarb sauce only added to the perfection of the dish. A side of wagyu beef fat potatoes was very welcome too.
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Fried Chicken Doughnut, £12-£15, Jive, Exchange Street
This delectable dish features a buttermilk breaded and deep-fried tender chicken thigh, served up in a glazed doughnut with crispy bacon, crispy fried onions, chipotle butter, spicy sauce, and melted cheese with hundreds and thousands.
A fried chicken sandwich with sprinkles? I know what you're thinking. But the balance of hot, spicy, sweet and savoury is what makes this totally incredible to eat. In fact it’s almost impossible to eat – its drippier than a garden tap in winter. You should be given two marigold gloves and a plastic bib with turn ups so you don’t waste anything.
Red Wine Chocolate, £1 each, Saffire, Royal Arcade
Saffire lives in the Royal Arcade, run by third generation ladies and making over 20 types of chocolate box chocolates. When I first had the red wine flavoured one I was transported to flavour town (I’m not sure where that is). The funny thing is I don’t even like wine.
Chocolate Scones, £5 from the Cakeaway, The Assembly House, Theatre Street
Pastry chef Mark Mitson makes these rich triple chocolate scones, served with clotted cream and Nutella, daily now as they've become so popular. Find them at the 'cakeaway' to take home, or as an addition to afternoon tea. Since I tried them I've been yearning to go back for more. If you fancy making them the recipe is on Richard Hughes Cookery School Facebook page.
Chorizo Beignet, £4.50, Go Bifanas at The Yard Coffee, Orford Yard, Red Lion Street
Tasty spiced Spanish sausage in a light choux dough, deep fried to a crisp and served with creamy garlic aioli. This side dish will set you up for the day – unfortunately I had to share last time – I totally refuse to share ever again, next time they are all mine.
The Original Hispi Cabbage, £9, XO Kitchen, St George Street
This dish of wood-fired cabbage coated in secret XO sauce, XO butter, bonito flakes, ginger and crispy crumbs has the most incredible umami flavour. I must admit since they altered the dish the butter levels have reduced but it’s still darn tasty, just not dripping like it once used to. They cook over a very hot fire heat so you also get barbecue notes. Who knew cabbage could taste so good? I’ve asked Jimmy the chef and owner the recipe for that XO butter but he just won't tell me! The new version is with chilli black bean dressing, house made salad cream and XO seasoning.
Lychee Bubble Tea, £3.50-£4.60, Moya, Castle Quarter 1st Floor
The Lychee Mountain was a special a few summers ago, it was hot and it hit the spot. If you don’t know, bubbles are either the traditional black tapioca pearls cooked in a sugar stock syrup rendering them into Haribo-like balls of sweet chewy delights or you can choose popping pearls of fruit juice all sucked up through a thicker straw. They always serve lychee and always have seasonal specials on the menu.
Knafeh, £5, The Mediterranean, Magdalen Street
A sweet dessert of vermicelli pasta strands cooked in butter and filled in the middle with stringy mozzarella-like cheese, then soaked in sugar syrup.
True it doesn’t read well, but it is my favourite dessert. I always share in the fear I might go into cardiac arrest but believe me it ticks all the flavour boxes and doesn’t get more unusual than sweet pasta and cheese.
Toppoki, £8.50, The Kimchi, Brigg Street
This is a South Korean comfort style stew of red Korean chilli paste with rice noodle sticks and fish cakes.
It’s not everybody’s cup of tea but it’s my hubby's favourite and I always join him in eating a hot bowl of this whenever we're in the restaurant. I especially love the texture. The heat's on the turn of being too hot but I am a chilli wimp. It's moreish and satisfying and as I’ve said before it’s like a warming cuddle in a bowl.
Follow Zena's foodie adventures on Instagram and Twitter @love_norwich_food