What did our reviewer make of Norwich's newest street food restaurant?
- Credit: Lauren Cope
As we moved from Tier 4 into another lockdown at the start of January, I think we were all after a little something to brighten up a gloomy start to 2021.
I've always turned to food for comfort - be it a warming plate of sausage and mash, a day of cooking to distract the mind or the ease of a takeaway after work.
Last week, it was the latter and, fearing a rush in demand from like-minded folk, I prebooked with Oishii Street Kitchen on its app.
A new Asian street food venture, it is a joint operation between the teams at Hen House Kitchen and Moco Kitchen and opened at Chambers Cocktails Company on Wensum Street in Norwich in November.
Its menu is packed with ingredients promising big flavours - Korean chilli paste gochujang, miso glaze, pickled ginger and satay sauce pop up often.
With the new year focus on healthy eating feeling pointless and little else to look forward to, we greedily ordered a spread across the board, missing out only its rice box options.
We took on the topped fries section, choosing the Korean variety (£5), which include gochujang mayonnaise, crispy onions and toasted black sesame, and the Thai variety (£5), with satay sauce, red chilli and crushed peanuts. Both come with the mystery Oishii seasoning.
For £5 they were big portions (we had leftovers for the next day) and didn't skimp on toppings. My partner preferred the heat and nuttiness of Thailand, while I was drawn to the spicy sweetness of Korean gochujang. The chips in both, despite being packed up in containers and driven 10 minutes home, stayed crispy and fresh.
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We ordered both dishes in the chicken section - satay popcorn chicken, with chilli, spring onion and toasted black sesame (£6), and buffalo wings with house ranch dip and spring onion (£6).
The popcorn chicken was excellent - the coating was crunchy and clean, mildly spicy and generously nutty. There was plenty there for the price, but I could have eaten it all again.
The wings had the promised heat of buffalo and the meat was tender, though they were the only part of the meal which seemed to have suffered from the journey home. The skin had lost a bit of bite, but I'm sure freshly served and in-house they'd be delicious.
We chose both fried chicken burgers - the Hot Chick (£9), which came with habanero and honey buffalo glaze, shredded iceberg, pickles and ranch dressing, and the Godzilla (£9), with katsu chicken, pickled ginger, shredded iceberg and Kewpie mayonnaise (a rich Japanese variety made with a mixture of apple and malt vinegars). Both can be made vegan with deep-fried seitan and vegan mayonnaise.
My burger pet peeve is a floury bun which goes doughy and falls apart in your hands, but these held their form and had a slight sweetness. At the risk of offending the excellent Oishii chefs, the combination of the seeded buns and the shredded iceberg reminded me of trips out for takeaway burgers as a child, with, of course, a more sophisticated filling.
My favourite of the two was definitely the Godzilla - I love the flavours of katsu and ginger, and the sweet tang of the Kewpie mayonnaise was great.
My partner's favourite, though, was the Hot Chick, which was loaded with spice, despite the cooling intentions of ranch dressing. Ashamed to admit at one point we drafted in an emergency glass of milk. Lovely.
It's worth ordering one of the pots of sauces on the side - we had katsu (£1.50), in which we dunked all of the above.
Their dessert is a chocolate brownie with miso salted caramel (£4), which we halved. The caramel is certainly saltier, and more savoury, than your usual salted caramel and might be too much for some, but I loved the extreme contrast between salty and sweet.
In normal times, you'd be able to enjoy your food inside Chambers Cocktails, with a no doubt livelier atmosphere than that of my lockdown living room.
Good value - for just over £45 we had two burgers, two loaded fries, two chicken boxes, an extra pot of sauce and one dessert. You'd pay more when adding drinks on, but the food certainly felt worth that cost.
If you're eating in, it's a big space with plenty of tables downstairs. Most menu options can be altered to make them vegan and they ask customers to tell them of allergies before ordering.
Friendly and efficient. I rang a doorbell outside to collect the order, someone came to let me in and I waited inside a (very empty) Chambers Cocktails. Delivery slots are every 10 minutes, and I didn't see another person.
Big flavours. My favourites were the Godzilla burger and the satay popcorn chicken.
If you like that, try these
Moco Kitchen, Norwich - If you're tempted by Oishii's menu, it makes sense to try Moco too. It's currently offering taco Tuesdays and bao bun Wednesdays at the Black Horse, with takeaway and delivery available.
Jive Kitchen, Norwich - I've probably mentioned Mexican eatery Jive in this section before, but it's the first place that comes to mind when I think of big flavours. Every dish at Jive is packed with heat and flavour.
Bann Thai, Cromer - It might not be burgers, but if you're craving authentic flavours from Thailand, Bann Thai won't let you down.
How you can support your favourite restaurant in lockdown
Takeaways - While more places have opted to stay closed for the next few weeks, plenty are still open and offering takeaway meals for delivery or collection.
Vouchers - A valuable way to help businesses, you can buy yourself - or a loved one, as a gift - a voucher now to enjoy when it's safe to do so down the line.
Shop local - Make sure to support restaurant and pub suppliers, including beer, cheese and fruit and vegetables, by shopping local.
Social media - It's not an easy time for many people financially. A simple like on Facebook or follow on Instagram shows support for traders, though, and can help them build exposure.
Don't forget them when they reopen - It might feel like it, but this lockdown isn't forever, and our support should be consistent.
Our food reviews are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience of the venue when they visited. The establishment is not aware of our visit, is not informed we intend to write a review and bills are paid by the reviewer. The choice of places reviewed is also independent and is not based on venues which do or do not advertise in our publications.