Tooting Market

Koi Ramen Bar (Tooting)

 

We love Gyoza after discovering them at Tootopia last December and sampling the little pillows of heaven cooked up by the Gyoza Guys. These tasty morsels are reason in themselves to visit the Koi Ramen Bar in Tooting Market, although the rest of the food on the menu is also pretty tasty.

Koi Ramen bar has been open for a while now, and it’s proving to be a popular food stop in the market, and it’s easy to see the reasons for this; the food is very tasty, reasonably priced and super quick. The menu is simple. They offer 4 types of ramen: Toukostu, miso tofu, miso pork and shoyu. Alongside this are the aforementioned gyoza and ice-cream for dessert. What could be simpler?

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Having sunk a few glasses of wine earlier in the evening we were looking for something to soak up the alcohol and quiet our grumbling tummies, and were lucky enough to find seats at the counter allowing us to watch our food being prepared.

Rather than ramen, we ended up choosing the summer special of abura soba (a combination of noodles, shredded pork/tofu, crispy fried shallot, bean sprouts and spring onion)  along with a mixed portion of chicken and pork gyoza (vegetable option also available).

The gyoza arrived first and were perfect; soft delicate dumplings topped with soy sauce and spring onions. Yum!

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Our main dishes arrived pretty quickly after that. One of us had chosen the pork and the other the tofu option. Both smelt amazing and, after following the instructions to mix everything together, we tucked in. It was the perfect meal to soak up some of the alcohol, and it certainly filled us up.

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The dishes tasted as good as they looked and smelt. A perfect combination of soft meat/ tofu and noodles with crunchy veg and seasoning.

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As we said earlier, it’s a quick and tasty meal and really worth a visit. The service was really friendly and it’s also available through Deliveroo if you don’t fancy a trip to Tooting.

@koiramenbar

Sunday Suppers @ Tooting Market

Sundays can often be dreary evenings spent feeling blue about work the following morning, and channel hopping through the mediocre television on offer. So, when we heard about the Sunday Supper collaborations happening in Tooting Market it seemed like just the thing to beat the Sunday blues.

Over the summer months, a range of businesses based in Tooting Market are offering a 3 course meal with drinks. The first event took place on the last Sunday of  June and the final one will be in August. July’s theme was Street food and saw Unwined, Graveney Gin, The Joint, Boom Bap Burger and Nuvolo bakery collaborating.

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Seating is at the communal tables in the middle of the market which creates a sociable and laid-back atmosphere. Having said that, we were sharing a table with another couple and had plenty of space without feeling like we were encroaching on each other’s conversations.

On arrival we were treated to a Cocktail from Graveney Gin. If you’ve read our previous reviews you will know that we love Graveney Gin and it was lovely to see Victoria, who always serves her gin with passion. The cocktail was called a Graveney Street and was a blend of gin, fresh grapefruit, sugar syrup and soda, served in a tall glass. It was lovely and refreshing and the perfect way to start the evening.

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Next up came the chicken wings from The Joint. These were described as spicy and they certainly ticked that box. They were delicious with a lovely heat and flavour and the meat was tender and just fell off the bone. There were 3 each, and I couldn’t resist eating one before taking the pic below.

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This was matched with a Holzer ‘Wagram’ Rose: Zweigelt 2016 from Austria. As always from Unwined, we were given the background to the wine which is always interesting. I’ve had several lovely red Zweigelt wines but this was a rose, and it was a really good refreshing match for the chicken wings, not easy given the flavours.

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We haven’t tried Boom Bap Burger before so were looking forward to what came next which was a Ricky Martin Burger, described as a 28 day aged beef patty, brindisa chorizo, manchego cheese and smokey mayo in a potato brioche. When it arrived it looked great and was accompanied by a portion of fries. The burger was great; well cooked with a tasty, toasted bun and the combination of the patty, the chorizo, the cheese and the mayo was enjoyable. The fries were also really good, they were perfectly seasoned.

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To wash the burger down we were treated to a Patrick Sullivan ‘Samurai’ shiraz from Australia. It was a good match, with berry fruitiness complimenting the flavours in the burger well.

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Finally, dessert came from the Nuvola Little bakery and was a limoncello tiramisu. This was very clever and came served in a plastic glass with a shot of limoncello in a straw. Sometimes lemon desserts can be either too tart or too sweet but this was perfectly lemony and creamy.  Licking out the glass wasn’t really an option but if we could have, we would have.

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This was served with a favourite tipple of ours, the Suck it and See frizzante by The Rude Mechanicals. A perfect wine to accompany the limocello as it didn’t battle with the flavours and instead was just delicious, refreshing and incredibly drinkable.

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The relaxed atmosphere, friendly service and great food and wine combination made this a great way to spend our Sunday evening. There is only one more left in the series, so if you fancy an evening of good food and wine in a relaxing environment, hurry and book your tickets!

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/sunday-suppers-tooting-market-sundaysuppers-tickets-35698554337?aff=erelexpmlt

UnWined – A new pop-up

With the arrival of a new pop up kitchen, we decided to spend our Saturday evening at Unwined in Tooting Market. For the next few weeks Rustica Kitchen are in residence serving up Sicillian dishes which have been paired with wines that have a rock star theme.

It was a warm evening and the market, as always, had a buzzing atmosphere. We were seated at a table for 2 and quickly started salivating over the menu.

We decided on some mozzarella arancini balls to start. These were served with a tomato and pesto sauce. Served piping hot, they had a soft, gooey filling and a crispy outer shell. The sauce and pesto also added a nice depth of flavour.

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The wine to accompany them was an unusual sparkling red wine from the Loire region of France. Made from gamay grapes, it was light and full of red berry fruitiness.

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The starters on offer were 3 different types of bruschetta, something we are both big fans of. We opted for the nduja and mascarpone bruschetta and a portion of the Parma ham and fig bruschetta. These were served on boards and were delicious.  The Parma ham and fig was drizzled with sweet honey which bought out the flavours of the other ingredients.

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The nduja provided a lovely bit of heat, with the creamy mascarpone helping to take the edge off it.

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The wines to accompany these were a Patrick Sullivan wine called ‘Bonkers’ from Australia and a BK Wines ‘Ovum’, a pinot gris, also from Australia.  The Ovum was full of pear and honey, and well balanced. The Bonkers, made with a blend of red and white wine grapes from 3 vintages, was quite unusual. Light and fresh like you’d expect from a white wine, with citrus fruit to start but then red fruits taking over. Strange, but quite drinkable.

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For our main dishes we chose the pesto risotto stuffed peppers and the crispy pork belly strips. The stuffed peppers were delicious. The risotto was perfectly cooked and had a nice depth of flavour.

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The crispy pork belly strips were also a hit. The pork was perfectly cooked, with lovely soft meat and juicy fat. The lentils had an earthy touch to the dish.

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The accompanying wines were both reds. For the stuffed peppers, we had a glass of Papegaai cinsault from the fantastic Adi Badenhorst of South Africa. Lovely cherry and red fruit, smooth and a nice finish. To go with the pork, we had a Bodegas Arraez Mala Vida from Spain. A blend primarily of tempranillo and shiraz, it had bramble fruits with a hint of oak and vanilla from the 8 months aged in French and American oak barrels, and a subtle touch of spice to the finish. Lovely.

Finally, to finish things off, we shared a 3 cheese, cheese board. The cheese here is always good and tonight was no exception. A nice hard cheese, a perfectly salty blue and a soft. These were washed down with a glass of Suck It and See frizzante from The Rude Mechanicals, Australia. This is such an easy drinking wine; light and fruity with a great hint of elderberry, it’s a perfect summer drink. We have had it here before and when we saw it on the menu, just had to have a glass before going home. Others on tables around us appeared to agree, with some buying a bottle to take with them.

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Again, we had a really lovely time here. The food was great and served piping hot. The wines were unique and surprising, in a good way.

Rustica Kitchen are at Unwined for the next 4 weeks so if you are looking for somewhere to eat over the next month or to enjoy a glass or two of interesting wines, we recommend you give it a try.

The Tapas Room

We were very excited when we heard that The Tapas Room was opening in Broadway Market, Tooting. We love tapas and wine so this promised to be a winning combination for us. The Tapas Room is located just along from Craft Tooting and opposite Hi-Ki. The unit has been nicely decorated and a classy and cosy atmosphere has been created. Seating is available at 2 long wooden bars on both sides. Wooden crates are used as shelves and the food is prepared in the open kitchen in the corner.

We settled in at one of the tables and perused the menu. The food menu included nibbles, cheese, meat and plates. We opted for some padron peppers, a cheese and meat plate, some chicken liver parfait and some morcilla with quails eggs.

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The wine menu contains all Spanish wines and they are available by the glass or bottle. We selected a glass of the Finca Manzanos Rioja Blanco and the Montevannos Roble from the Ribera del Duero region. The wine was served quickly and in really nice, long stemmed glasses (I’m a sucker for nice glassware).

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The Rioja was lovely. Perfectly chilled and with a nice smooth flavour. It was incredibly drinkable but I was on a one glass limit. The Montevannos Roble was nice, with good dark fruit and subtle oakiness to it. It had a dry finish with slight chewy tannins, but it went quite nicely with the food. A glass of the Familia Pacheco Roble was also enjoyed later in the meal, slightly lighter than the Montevannos although not a light red wine, it had more red fruit characteristics with a hint of spice.

Pretty quickly the food started arriving. The chicken parfait was served on a board with slices of toasted crostini and a fig. It was lovely and smooth with a good depth of flavour. The fig cut nicely through the richness of the parfait and complimented it really well.

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The padron peppers were next and we are big fans of these. We have had them plain as well as in batter, and these came plain sprinkled with rock salt. They were yummy and cooked perfectly so that the flesh of the pepper came easily away from the stalk.

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Next came a very impressive cheese and meat board. This was fantastic. There were 5 different cheeses, all of which were explained to us, as was the plentiful slices of Spanish chaucuterie (I believe this included some Catalonian fuet, an Iberico salsichon and Basque chorizo). The board came with slices of baguette, some quince paste and some fig and almond wedge. Not only did this look incredible, it tasted fantastic too.

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The cheeses were lovely and came from their daily selection. There were 2 goat cheeses, one soft and gooey which tasted like a really good camembert and one harder which wasn’t overly chalky, as some goat cheeses can be. There was a lovely blue cheese which strangely, was quite meaty in texture and flavour. All in all, this was accompanied by many appreciate noises from us.

Finally, the morcilla and quails eggs was fantastic. Lovely quails eggs sitting on top of Spanish black pudding, resting on soft sweet peppers, finally on top of lightly toasted baguette. It was great!

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Now, because we were going to be writing a review we gave into the temptation of the dessert on the menu which was a chocolate brownie (not made in-house) with strawberries. This was decidedly wicked. It was quite dense in texture but rich and very chocolatey. The strawberries were sweet and cut through this perfectly.

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As we said, we love tapas and everything we tried at the Tapas Room was delicious. We now have two great Tapas places in Tooting we will not hesitate to visit, but they are both quite different. The Tapas Room, being in a marketplace, has a more relaxed social atmosphere and the more focused menu means it is the perfect place for nibbles or a light dinner. It would be the perfect place to spend an afternoon, grazing on the tapas and working your way through the wine menu.

@thetapasroom

Loved Up – Tooting Market Valentine’s Event

 

We usually avoid going out for Valentine’s as most restaurants tend to offer a limited Valentine’s menu and up their prices so that we always feel like we‘ve been “had”. But, when we saw on Twitter that some of our favourite Tooting haunts were collaborating for the evening, we thought we would give it a go.

Hosted in Tooting Market, the Loved Up event saw Graveney Gin, Unwined, The Joint, Franco Manca, Nuvola Bakery and Harrys Chocolate Emporium team up for a romantic night of food and drink. Tables were set up in the middle area of the market, covered in brown paper table cloths and candles. It was much nicer than it sounds – plus they gave you pens so you could write (romantic!) messages on them. We booked an early table at 18.30 and had been asked a few days before to select our food from a menu which consisted of 2 starters, 2 mains and 2 desserts. On arrival we were shown to our table, given our own personalised menu (a nice touch!) and quickly provided with a choice of cocktails (a Knot my Cherry or a Sparkling Kiss) from Graveney Gin. We both chose a sparkling kiss which was Sloe gin and Prosecco, with a heart shaped strawberry. A good way to start the evening.

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A short while later our first course arrived. Strategically, we had each chosen different starters so that we could share them, and these were smoked beef cheek croquettes and deep fried mac & cheese bites.

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We were each presented with 3 perfectly sized parcels which may have looked the same on the outside but were very different on the inside. The mac & cheese bites were really creamy and cheesy whilst the beef cheek croquettes were smoky, flavoursome and rich. The beef cheeks were accompanied by a portion of sriracha mayo, and this was fresh and cut through the richness of the meat nicely.  The wine to accompany this course was a glass of Amano Rosato, a lovely Italian Rose which, unlike some of the sickly sweet rose’s we’ve had in the past, was dry and robust enough to match both the mac & cheese and the beef.

The main course for the evening was provided by Franco Manca.

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We have enjoyed their pizzas in the past and had both chosen a meat special which has mozzarella, organic tomato, Gloucester Old Spot Sausage, Colston Bassett Stilton and radicchio trevisano. They were playfully shaped as hearts and as always, tasted really good with that soft chewy fermented sourdough base, and a good combination of toppings. They were also very generously sized and quite filling. The wine for this course was a Gran Passione Rosso, again from Italy, and it had a rich berry flavour, soft tannins and good acidity, which matched the meat and cheese of the pizza.

Finally, dessert was provided by Nuvola Little Bakery.

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We hadn’t tried the delights from this bakery before and had chosen one of each of the available desserts: a red velvet cake and a Persian love cake. Both were lovely. Sometimes the cream cheese frosting on cakes can overpower the actual cake but in this case it was well balanced and not too sweet. The passion cake was moist and well flavoured and it was hard to believe it was gluten free. The wine with this course was a real surprise, a Contero, again from Italy. It was sweet and fizzy, a bit like Cherryade to be honest. I loved it. The perfect way to end the meal and to partner the cakes.

 

To finish the evening off, each guest was given a bag of chocolate goodies to take away from Harry’s Emporium. We were given a choice of either milk, dark, white or dark without nuts, and we selected a bag of white chocolate and a bag of milk chocolate.

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Inside were some chocolate buttons, 2 truffles and a chocolate heart. The chocolate was delicious. creamy and tasted really good quality. I am a bit of a chocolate button connoisseur and these were among some of the best I have had. The truffles had a soft gooey centre.

 

With 6 different businesses working together it could have been a bit of a muddle, but with everyone pitching in to help, it all appeared to go quite smoothly. We had a lovely evening and really enjoyed the laid back atmosphere of the market. All of the tables were full for the first sitting, and there was a second sitting arriving as we finished so it appears to have been a popular event. We will be keeping an eye out for future collaborations like this in the market, and suggest that you do too!

Tooting Market

Tooting Market

If someone had told us a year ago that Tooting, and Tooting Market in particular, would become one of our favourite weekend hangouts, we would have laughed. But, the truth is, Tooting Market has lots to offer and has become a bit of a hub for good food and drink. In the evenings, it transforms from a bustling and eclectic mix of stalls to a social hangout with something to suit everyone’s tastes. In the last 6 months we have seen it increase in popularity to the point where we need to book a table at Unwined (our favourite wine bar) in order to ensure they can fit us in, even when it’s been close to freezing outside. So what better way to start off our blogging, than with a bit of a back story as to why we are frequent visitors to the market, and an introduction to a few of our favourite hangouts. So for those who are feeling a bit sceptical at the thought of spending their evenings in a market, let us try to convince you.

 

Unwined

This was the place that first encouraged us to venture into the market. We had lived in Tooting for 9 years without contemplating crossing the threshold so this was a big step for us. Located almost opposite Franco Manca (see below), Unwined is a friendly little wine bar offering a good selection of interesting wines to drink in or takeaway. This alone is good enough for us, but on top of that, every six weeks or so, a pop-up kitchen takes over the food offering in the compact little kitchen area, serving some very tasty dishes. The team at Unwined do a great job matching wines to the food on offer, and there is always a theme to the wine with an interesting back story as to why it has been chosen. I think this month’s theme is Survivors, so the story of one of the wines was about how the wine maker had survived cancer and how it had affected his ability to make his wine.

They also run frequent wine classes on a Wednesday, offering an informal and friendly way to learn a bit more about the grapes used to make the wine you’re drinking. On the evening we attended, this involved sampling 6 different wines from 2 different grape types and ended with a delicious cheese board. All for £15 which we thought was good value.

Kiki and Laura run the show and they’re passionate about what they do, and along with the rest of their team, they’re keen to encourage you to try wine that may not be your usual choice. Put simply, we think it’s great! Since March last year we have visited at least once a month and have always had a lovely time. In fact, it feels a bit like our local.

https://agrapenightin.co.uk

 

Graveney Gin

Graveney gin is a tiny but classy bar at the back of Tooting Market. Victoria makes and sells her gin from the (large) cupboard sized stall and you can see the gin still she uses behind the bar. When you meet her, her passion for what she does is obvious and it is the perfect ingredient for delicious gin. There isn’t a great deal of space in the stall, but thanks to its increasing popularity, tables are available in the middle of the market area in the evenings for you to sit at. This also allows you the opportunity to enjoy a pizza from Franco Manca along with your G&T!

One evening last year, after food and wine at Unwined and discussing the fact the neither of us really like Gin, we decided to pop over and see what all the fuss was about having heard a lot about this small batch gin craze that was in the midst of happening. ‘We don’t like gin!’ were the words we greeted Victoria with, not sure what sort of response we’d get. Fortunately this was a phrase she had heard before, so she simply smiled and set about changing our minds. In fact, it only took one drink, as a couple of measures of Graveney Gin over ice in a copper mug, some Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic water and a slice of pink grapefruit had us converted. This combination really brings out the botanicals in the gin which are complimented well by the grapefruit. They also offer a range of gin based cocktails, and the gin fizz is another favourite.

www.graveneygin.co.uk

 

Franco Manca

We like pizza! I’m not talking about Pizza Hut deep pan pizza, I’m talking about good pizza with a chewy sourdough base cooked in a wood-fired oven, that’s got just the right amount of toppings and not loaded with tomato stuff and layers of cheese. Franco Manca serve these pizzas and we really enjoy them. You won’t find your usual margherita or Hawaiian here but you will find something even more tasty, and probably for less money too! Franco Manca opened in the middle of 2016, and there was some concern that a bigger name restaurant may take away some of the charm of the market, but thankfully this hasn’t happened. They pulled off some good planning and have actually managed to include an upper seating level, so they can fit in quite a few diners in one go. It’s handy as it is a popular place to eat in the evenings with queues often forming. Of course, once you’ve finished, you can pop over to Unwined for a glass or two of the good stuff.

http://www.francomanca.co.uk

 

The Joint

The Joint already have one location in Brixton, and have decided to join the growing food scene in Tooting market. This new addition sits closer to the main market entrance and when we visited one chilly Saturday evening in January, it was suffering from this a bit as the temperature outside was around freezing. Luckily though, they had set out a range of snuggly blankets to wrap yourself up in.

We’re big fans of slow and low BBQ cooked meat, and we’d wandered past The Joint a couple of times on our way to Unwined (can you see a theme to our visits to Tooting Market yet?), and having glanced at the menu, we knew we should stop for some food. American BBQ has been a bit of a trend over the last few years, with plenty of restaurants serving BBQ meat popping up, and we’ve had some really good slow cooked meat, so the menu which included pulled pork, beef brisket and shredded chicken, really appealed.

We sat at benches and ordered beef brisket, a BBQ pulled pork bun, cheesy fries and chicken wings. It was yummy. The beef brisket was served in a bap with lettuce, tomato and horseradish. The beef was perfectly cooked and full of flavour and the portion  was huge. I couldn’t actually get my mouth around it. The cheesy fries were also a hit. The cheese had just the right amount of flavour and the chips remained crispy. The pulled pork, served in a potato bun with lettuce creamy crunchy slaw, was piled high, this was a generous helping of juicy succulent meat. I couldn’t help but spill some of the meat out whilst eating it, but it didn’t get too messy. The BBQ wings were as big as I’ve had for some time – great! Smothered in a lovely smoky sweet sauce, I didn’t mind getting messy fingers whilst enjoying the tender meat. We’re looking forward to going back when it isn’t quite so cold, to try some more of their menu.

http://the-joint.co

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief roundup of a few of our favourite places in Tooting Market, and perhaps it’s helped you decide to pay it a visit. There will be more blogs about each one when we visit them in the near future, along with some photos which will hopefully give you a better impression of what we’re trying to write about.