Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bou Tea

22 Wellington Street

Met up with J and D from school for a study break at Bou Tea. I had walked by here earlier in the week and it looked really cute inside. Teas are served in the adorable little pots you see in the picture, and most of them are only 2 quid for a pot (the list of teas is huge, by the way - several sheets of paper long). There are also little slices of cake for 2 quid, and some tasty looking sandwiches. I got a pot of Happy Valley tea and a slice of ginger loaf, which came with a giant knob of butter (why? I don't think butter goes with ginger cake...) It was nice and gingery, and they take a lot of care with the teas - in the menu, each one has the temperature it should be steeped at and for how many minutes written next to it, so when they make your tea they get the right temperature water and put a little timer on top so they know when it is ready to serve. Service was a little confused, probably because there were only two people handling all the ordering, tea making, serving and cashiering duties, but at least all their little mistakes were accompanied by a smile.

One other thing I like - each table has four legs, but one of the legs looks like a tree branch painted purple and it extends upwards through the table top (I should have taken a picture). The bit of branch that extends out of the table top has a fork in it, where they have propped up newspapers for you to read if you need something to entertain you. Anyway - great decor and lovely atmosphere for whiling away a couple of hours with new friends.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Cut Bar

Young Vic
66 The Cut

I could keep apologizing for the terrible photos of half-eaten food, or I could just accept that everyone reading this already knows me and knows how difficult I find it to stop myself from diving straight into food when it comes.

Conveniently, P's office is very close to my campus, so we met up for lunch at The Cut Bar, the restaurant inside the Young Vic. They do a special Monday-Wednesday from 12-5pm called the "Triple Cut" where you get a burger, chips and soda for 7.75. I got the organic beef burger (without mayo, BBQ sauce and relish - speaking of which, why would you want all three of those on one burger?!) and P got the jerk grilled chicken burger. There's also a portobello mushroom and cheese burger for vegetarians. The beef burger was ok - a little underseasoned, I think, and cooked more well-done than I would usually like, but the waitress didn't ask how I would like it cooked so I'm not sure if there are options. Maybe some cheese or bacon would have helped. Chips are crisp and chunky, and diet Coke comes in old fashioned glass bottles (weirdly, I think I prefer the stuff that comes in a can). I suppose it's decent for the price, but without the deal it would have been well over 10 quid, which doesn't seem worth it. Let's just say I had more fun talking to P than I had eating the burger.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Boulevard Brasserie

36 Wellington St
London, WC2E 7BD

Another day, another free Toptable meal. This time it was two courses at Boulevard Brasserie, near Covent Garden. A and I started with a goat's cheese and caramelized onion tart and a rocket and parmesan salad. A thought there was too much oil on the salad, but the parmesan was generously shaved on and the onions in the tart were delicately sweet in contrast to the sharp goat's cheese. For mains we had the minute steak with a gigantic bowl of frites, and the salad Nicoise pictured above. The steak was very well seasoned and managed to stay medium rare even though it was a thin cut, and the bowl of frites was delicious and it was hard to stop eating them. The salad Nicoise was good as well - fresh greens, a strongly flavored anchovy on top, briny black olives, firm new potatoes and perfectly boiled eggs. The menu we were allowed to choose off of is their daily lunch and pre-theater menu which is 11.95 for two courses - I think this would have been good value even if we had to pay. It's certainly better than a lot of the tourist traps around Covent Garden.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wild Rabbit Stew

I'm not really one to eat rabbits - I just don't come across them often and I have no idea how to cook them. However, Nigel Slater, a food writer that I love, has mentioned that wild rabbits are quite good to eat, both tastewise and farmwise (it helps out farmers who have difficulty dealing with the destruction they wreak on crops). So, while trying out this new farm food service in Islington, Farm Direct, I noticed they had whole wild rabbits for only 4 quid, and decided to give it a try.

Using the wonderful internet to learn how to cook rabbit, I started with this recipe and then heavily tweaked it with some of Nigel's ideas and also some things I had lying around the house that I thought might taste nice with the stew. It came out fabulously - really lovely flavors - and while the rabbit was tasty, I bet this cooking method would work with chicken or pork as well. A and I both soaked up the broth left in the bowl after eating the stew with pieces of toast so we didn't leave anything behind. Things I might do next time - coat the rabbit pieces with flour before frying so that the stew thickens up a bit, and possibly add another can of beans or even more veggies - I think I can play with this dish quite a lot. My recipe is below:

Wild Rabbit Stew

1 whole wild rabbit, jointed into smallish pieces
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 small onions, diced
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
500g of mushrooms, sliced in half (I used white plain button mushrooms but I would think other types would be delicious as well)
250g smoked streaky bacon, cut into lardons
400 ml white wine (I used some leftover sauvignon blanc)
2 cans of cannelini beans
few springs of thyme
small bunch of chives, chopped

1. Fry bacon lardons in large Dutch oven (or any other large cooking vessel that can go from stovetop to oven) until fat has rendered. Remove bacon but leave bacon fat in Dutch oven.

2. Add pieces of rabbit to Dutch oven and fry in the bacon fat until golden on all sides. Remove rabbit but leave remaining fat in Dutch oven.

3. Add onions and garlic to Dutch oven. Cook until translucent and just slightly golden brown around the edges. Take a deep sniff of the smells coming out of the Dutch oven and swoon. Add carrots and onions and saute for another few minutes. Add in mushrooms and wine, and then make sure you deglaze the pan by scraping all the delicious brown crust that has developed on the bottom of the Dutch oven into the wine.

4. Add 2 cans of beans (with their water). Add bacon and rabbit back into the Dutch oven and give it all a good stir. Top up the stew with some additional water if it doesn't look like there's enough liquid - there should be enough liquid so that everything in the pot is almost covered.

5. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add in the thyme leaves, stir again, and then pop into a preheated 120 degree Celsius oven for 2 hours (I had the pot covered for the first hour, uncovered for the second). Since the stew still looked quite watery, I cranked the oven up to 200 degrees Celsius for another 30 minutes, then turned off the oven and let the dish sit in there for another couple of hours to evaporate some of the liquid.

6. When stew is done, sprinkle the chopped chives on top and serve on its own or with some kind of starch - we had it with thick toast, but mashed potatoes, rice or some egg noodles would probably be delicious as well.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


105 - 107 Southgate Road
N1 3JS

Finally tried this restaurant that's close to home - Bavo does Mediterranean food and has a nice atmosphere (light green and white walls, low lighting, tables and chairs with clean, modern lines). Too bad this soft lighting resulted in terrible pictures of the food. The waiter quickly brought over warm flatbread and olives as soon as we were seated, which was a nice touch. We ordered the sea salad (squid and prawns over salad) and the mixed grill (lamb kebab, chicken kebab, lamb chop and quail). Nothing spectacular about the food here, but it's solid and all tastes fresh, though the sea salad came with a couple of fried flat dough things that were overly greasy. We didn't go for the special three course meal for 12.95 as we weren't that hungry, but that seems like a pretty good deal if you're able to fit in that much food. Not destination dining by any means but I'm happy it's in the neighborhood.


B and C had us over for brunch today where they served a really fabulous breakfast casserole (I think it had eggs, sun dried tomatoes, Italian sausage, cheese, parsley and loads of cream in it), tasty hashbrowns and toasted English muffins. Yum! Have to remember to try and get the recipe from them...

Bananas and Shrimps

OMG. I spotted this in a Spar shop last night and was so disgusted I had to take a picture and show everyone what horrors have been created in the name of candy. WHO EATS THIS?!

Tokyo Diner

2 Newport Place

A and I had tickets to see Prick Up Your Ears so decided to get dinner in the area beforehand. Tokyo Diner is one of those places I keep parking my bicycle in front of when I go to Chinatown but I hadn't eaten there yet, so we tried it out. We ordered miso soup, side dishes of edamame and broccoli, and a salmon set (2 salmon nigiri and 6 pieces of salmon maki) and a nigiri set (squid, snapper, egg, 2 salmon, and shrimp nigiri, with 3 cucumber and 3 salmon maki and a piece of california roll). A liked the miso - less salty than usual. Edamame was tasty as it normally is, and the broccoli was really good - cooked in a dashi broth with small pieces of fried tofu - it was served cold, which was surprisingly nice. The sushi was all fresh and the nigiri were a good size. They give you free green tea with your meal as well, and in Japanese fashion, they don't accept tips (anything extra you leave behind goes to a homeless charity). There's also no tuna on the sushi menu as they refuse to serve any unsustainable fish. This part of town is full of little Japanese restaurants but this is one of the best I've been to - it's not fancy inside but the service is friendly, fish is fresh and it's pretty moderately priced for sushi.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Green tomato and corn pancakes

So my little tomato plant in the backyard attempted to put out a bunch of cherry tomatoes right before it got really cold here and I couldn't make myself throw them out just because they were green and weren't ever going to ripen, so thank goodness for the internet. Looking at the recipes that came up when I searched for "green tomato recipes", it seems like the common usage for them is chutney. Unfortunately, I'm not a big fan of chutney and also can't be bothered to can things, so I settled on the only recipe that looked appetizing to me - one for tomato fritters. Now that I'm looking at the recipe again, there's nothing that says you're supposed to use green tomatoes, so hmm... whatever, they tasted fine - green tomatoes are just really tart, so it was nice to have the contrast of the sweet corn. I mostly wanted these to be vegetables bound together with the tiniest amount of batter, so I didn't really follow the recipe and made a lot of tweaks, and they turned out more like pancakes:

Chop green cherry tomatoes into small pieces. Put them in a large bowl and add an equal volume of frozen corn kernels (I probably had 3/4 cup of each). Add one beaten egg, 1/3 c of milk, and enough flour to turn the mixture into what looks like thin pancake batter. Salt and pepper the mixture to taste. Heat a pan over medium heat with a bit of oil (or non-stick cooking spray, in my case) and scoop in enough batter to make a small pancake. Flip when the underside is brown - it's ready when both sides have browned and it holds together well. I pressed down on the pancakes after I flipped them to make sure the other side got a nice crust as well. Makes a nice light dinner served with a salad on the side.

Roasted chickpeas

I was looking for a healthy crunchy snack and was inspired by this post - I then checked other recipes here and here to get some more ideas on what to do and it all looked super easy, so I jumped right in. This is actually the second time I made them - the first time I put them on a baking sheet like other people did but the chickpeas kept popping and flying off the sheet, which resulted in burnt chickpeas all over the oven. So today I reevaluated the baking vessel and went with a Dutch oven instead (without the lid) so that the high sides would prevent the chickpeas from making suicidal leaps into the oven. A couple of additional tweaks were the addition of paprika and lemon juice, and a much longer cooking time since I think the Dutch oven prevented the chickpeas from roasting as quickly as they did last time. Anyway, vague instructions below.

Open two cans of chickpeas and rinse and drain thoroughly. Put chickpeas in Dutch oven with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of cumin, 1/2 tablespoon of paprika, lemon juice from 1/2 a lemon and generous amounts of salt. Stir to coat chickpeas and then put in 250 degree oven. Let roast for 30 minutes, then check and stir every 5-10 minutes afterwards. Once the chickpeas are crunchy, they're done. Add more spices and salt if you'd like the taste to be stronger (I didn't bother). Completely addictive!

P.S. Has anyone noticed that chickpeas in cans here are much smaller than the ones in the U.S.? No idea why.

Dim t

32 Charlotte St
London, W1T

Thank goodness for Wednesday lunches with J or else I might not have much to blog about these days! Dim t is a chain of Asian restaurants - there's dim sum, noodle dishes, rice dishes and salads, and it seems to go from Chinese to Malaysian to Thai, so let's just call it pan-Asian. We went with their "Dine under 10" special which is a starter and a main for 9.95. To start with, I got the chicken satay and J got the chicken and asian greens steamed dumplings. I really liked the satay - nicely grilled, crispy chicken with a great savory satay sauce with a tiny bit of heat to give it a tiny kick. Thought the dumplings were ok (but would prefer my own potstickers, or better yet, my mom's...) I ordered the tom yum soup noodles with salmon which was deliciously lemongrassy and packed with bok choy, bean sprouts, red peppers, red onions and slippery wide flat rice noodles. That is probably way too much food for lunch but I was certainly full enough to skip dinner later that night. J had the Malaysian butternut squash curry which looked good (and I think she enjoyed). Nothing inspirational here but it's certainly a solid Asian restaurant.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Luardos (revisited)

Whitecross Street Market

I've been on a little hiatus from eating out, and while I'm eating well at home, nothing has been exciting enough to blog about, really. There was a pretty decent apple and summer fruits crisp, which I made before but still haven't taken a picture of, and a simple pasta dish with tomato sauce, quorn mince, mushrooms and courgettes (zucchinis!) - side note, I have noticed pasta sauce is way better if you have the time to cook it for a long time over low heat, letting it thicken and concentrating the flavors - but anyway, I just remembered that I had a burrito again with W last week at Luardos, but this time I got a different kind. Considering that the last 20 burritos I ate there were the same kind, this is actually quite exciting. So here's a picture of a Luardos burrito with SPICY BEEF rather than pork. Yummy, though I prefer the pork. Still, I wouldn't have known I prefer the pork had I not tried the beef at least once...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thai Thai

110 Old Street

Took A here for a free dinner from Toptable. Generally I don't have many expectations when I go for a free meal, but it was reassuring to see that the restaurant was full and bustling when I walked in - if there are a lot of people it should be ok, right? To start I ordered the tom yam gai (described on the menu as "The famous Thai spicy and sour chicken with lemon grass and fresh herbs soup") and A had the tom yam hed which was the vegetarian version of the same soup. I liked the soup - A and I are both feeling a little under the weather so a spicy soup was perfect. Also, the chicken in my soup was incredibly tender - often you get overcooked chicken in soups, but this tasted like it had been delicately poached and then added to the soup for serving. For the main I chose phad ke moe chicken, which is "stir fried flat rice noodles with holy basil leaves and chili" - it came packed with more chicken and veggies than noodles. Man, they were not kidding about the chili. The menu has two red chilies next to this dish, which means it is hot, but it was really making my whole mouth numb. Thankfully after the soup I wasn't too hungry so I packed a little over half of it away to take home. A had the beef in black pepper which tasted more like a Chinese stir-fry than a Thai dish, but it was also tasty and thankfully not as spicy. Nothing remarkable about this place but it does solid food in a nice atmosphere, so while I wouldn't go out of my way to eat there, I also wouldn't mind going back if it was convenient.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Red Chilli

70-72 Portland Street
M1 4GU

H & G planned a fantastic night out, which included karaoke at Lucky Voice and then dinner at what is apparently one of the UK's finest Chinese restaurants, Red Chilli. They specialize in Szechuan and Beijing cuisine, and since we were in a large group of eight, we went a little crazy when ordering. Half a crispy duck with pancakes, two orders of salt and pepper ribs, two orders of spring rolls and an order of Beijing dumplings were soon on the table and everyone dug in eagerly. The crispy (and not-at-all greasy tasting) spring rolls had what was maybe a charsiu pork filling which was delicious, though some of us burned our mouths on them as they were so piping hot. Duck was scrumptious and flavorful, and the ribs were amazing, to the point where I was left gnawing on the bone to try and get every last scrap of meat off of it. Then the mains started coming, and what you see pictured above is the spicy stir fried belly pork, baby pak choi with garlic sauce, and a spicy poached lamb dish. Some of the other things that were ordered include spicy fried prawns, spicy fried chicken, a meat and seafood hot pot, lemon chicken, and a noodle dish which A had to send back as it ended up being spicy even though she specifically asked for something that was not spicy at all. Aside from that, and the rather boring crispy noodles (stick to the steamed rice), everything else was fantastic and we finally had to quit once everyone started moaning about how full they were. All of this food, plus a couple of rounds of beer, came out to slightly under 20 quid a head (normal people that don't order like greedy nutters should be able to get out for half that). If you're ever in Manchester, make sure you go here.

The St Ann's Square Fine Food Village

St Ann's Square

While in Manchester, we decided to take advantage of the Food & Drink festival. A lot of stalls were set up, and of course I have managed to completely forget to take notes on where we ordered food from, but the pictures show a fine game pie (which if I recall correctly included pheasant, duck, venison and a few other choice meats, along with red wine and garlic) and a chorizo sausage roll. A also picked up some blackberry liqueur, though we haven't tried that yet. H enjoyed her paella which looked like it had lots of nice chicken chunks in it (including a tiny little wing drumstick) and G had a roll stuffed with lamb sausage, blue cheese and onion chutney, which he said was tasty. F's chicken breast in a bun was apparently quite spicy but he scarfed it down, and C picked out a beautiful mint chocolate cupcake with a nice green swirl of icing on top - I don't think there was a single dud in the bunch.

Teacup on Thomas Street (Cup)

53-55 Thomas Street
Northern Quarter
M4 1NA

This is a cute cafe started up by Mr. Scruff (the DJ) in a trendy, arty part of Manchester (apparently it has recently changed its name from "Cup" to "Teacup on Thomas Street" - who knows why). Nice decor, and the menu reads well - unfortunately the food that arrived was pretty poor. I had the chili which was strangely sour, and while I saw some chillies floating about in it, it wasn't very spicy either. Some of the beans were undercooked, which was pretty unpleasant - at least the pita bread on the side arrived warm and toasted. A had a chicken sandwich that was supposed to have avocado, but they had run out, so it was just chicken - bland and uninteresting, so while the sandwich seemed small, that was ok as it wouldn't have been nice to eat more of it. There was a mix up with the ginger and lemon infusion tea as well - first a big teapot arrived, which had no discernible ginger taste, and then a few minutes later another waitress arrived with two mugs that actually had slices of ginger and lemon in them and her explanation was that they shouldn't really serve this drink in teapots since you don't get enough flavor. Hmm. Thankfully the mugs of tea were quite nice. Not sure what the verdict should be - staff were very pleasant but I certainly wouldn't eat here again - maybe just come for drinks?

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Sir Richard Steele Pub

97 Haverstock Hill

Was in W's neighborhood since there was a plan to see The September Issue at the cinema after dinner, so obviously we had to pick a dinner place. We met up with F&C at this pub, which serves Thai food (and some very expensive pints of Hoegaarden!) I got the basil fried rice with pork, W had Thai green curry with chicken, and F ordered chicken satay and pad thai with chicken. Thumbs up all around, though I would have preferred for the onion in my fried rice to be more cooked as I really can't stand raw onion. Due to some rather strange wall decorations at the pub, we started talking about this crazy taxidermy shop in Islington, Get Stuffed - if you're ever walking down Essex Road, check it out. Also, I highly recommend the Everyman Belsize Park - while the movie tickets are on the pricey side, you do get luxurious seats with little pillows and back rests that recline, and you can also order drinks and food at your seat. Anyway - good pub, good company, and good movie afterwards makes for an excellent evening.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Siam Central

14 Charlotte Street

Apparently this place is popular with J's coworkers, and I can see why! Excellent lunch prices - one course for 5.50, two for 7.50 and three for 9.50 - plus from the size of the two courses I had, they certainly don't skimp on ingredients. Started with crispy chicken wings which I really liked - they're served with sweet chili sauce (which I don't like but I just didn't use it). J had the fish cakes which she said were ok but a little on the greasy side. I ordered the chilli and basil stir fry with pork as a main, and it was massive! Really really spicy, but with great fresh basil flavor, and the green beans and sugar snap peas were cooked perfectly - tender but still crisp. J's aubergine and chilli dish was also very good - I tried a piece of her aubergine and it was a bit milder than my dish but cooked really well. They call this the express lunch menu, and that is an accurate description - we were in and out of there in under an hour. I see the reviews here are pretty good so lunch was not a fluke - I would definitely go back again.


58-59 Great Marlborough Street

Another C (this seems to be a popular first initial among my friends!) suggested
Ran for Korean food when we were planning dinner, so off I went to Soho. We had a great evening catching up on how we were doing as we both quit working at our old jobs this year - so good to hear that other people have enjoyed the change as much as me! While chatting up a storm, we managed to eat some pretty good food as well - we ordered beef with glass noodles (listed as a starter), the spicy stir fried squid and the spicy soft tofu chige. The chige had quite a bit of seafood in it - I spotted mussels, squid and prawns (none of which is mentioned in the menu but it is entirely possible that all chiges have seafood and thus I am the dumb one). I thought the level of spice in both the squid dish and the chige was nice - I am so glad I eat spicy things now! C also introduced me to rice punch, a slightly sweet, refreshing drink that I guess is made out of rice (there were small grains of rice in the drink as well).

One gripe - it seems that Korean restaurants in London generally don't give you the banchan (little side dishes like kimchi and bean sprouts) for free - I am used to seeing the table covered with banchan at Korean restaurants in New York as soon as you sit down so the fact that you need to order and pay for them here is not making me happy. Also, we were there quite early for dinner but then it got really busy - they were polite enough not to ask us point blank to leave, but instead kept removing things from our table as soon as we were done, so pretty soon even my water glass had been whisked away and they had come over, opened the bill, saw there was no payment yet, and walked off again a couple of times. So maybe not great if you want to stay for a long time. On the flip side, I noticed that each table at Ran had a big ventilation thing above it - if you order Korean barbecue they pull it down over the barbecue so that you don't end up smelling like smoky meat (a surprisingly unpleasant smell when it is in your hair, your clothes and your winter coat!) Maybe next time I should try the barbecue...

Monday, October 05, 2009

Leong's Legend Continues

26-27 Lisle Street

C took me here for dinner - the original Leong's Legend is just around the corner but I guess they've expanded into another location, hence tacking on "Continues" to the name, which is funny. Really great atmosphere - little tables with low lighting and lots of dark wood - and the prices are ridiculously low. We had Taiwanese beef noodles (niu rou mian), sticky rice with pork, soup dumplings (xiao long bao) and tofu stuffed with prawns. Delicious! I suppose I could nitpick and say the noodles were a little more done than I would ideally like, but then the broth and the falling-apart tender beef more than made up for that. Plus, the soup dumplings were actually full of soup - probably the best I have had so far in London, not that I've been on a hunt for soup dumplings or anything. Ate everything, which is why my version of a "diet" is so incredibly unsuccessful, but how can people leave food behind when it tastes so good? Maybe I need to go to less tasty restaurants (yeah, right).

Saturday, October 03, 2009


137 Fortess Road

I love Ethiopian food - something about the slightly sour injera bread that you use with your fingers to pick up bits of the dishes makes the whole dinner experience really fun. We had dinner with old friends and new friends so it was a nice mix of catching up and learning about people over an absolute feast. For six people, we ordered two mains (kitfo, a ground beef dish that can be served rare although we asked for it well done, and chicken and spinach wat, which was tender and delicious) and two combination platters. The two combination platters resulted in mild lamb wat, spicy lamb wat, spicy ground beef, fried potatoes, white cabbage, greens, mild lentils, spicy lentils, lentils with raw tomatoes and peppers and an okra dish. Everything tasted fresh and like it was cooked with care - I couldn't stop eating, even when the only thing left was the injera that was soaked through by the sauces from the dishes.

Afterwards we had Ethiopian coffee which they present with a little ceremony - first they wave the roasted beans in front of you so you get a good whiff of the scent, and then it comes in a pot with tiny little cups about the size of espresso shots. Definitely better with sugar, I think - it tasted like there were some spices mixed in, maybe cinnamon and cardamom? I don't usually have coffee but this stuff was so good I couldn't help myself. Mmm. Highly recommended.

Friday, October 02, 2009

The Roast of Sherwood

Whitecross Street Market

The Roast of Sherwood shows up on Thursdays and Fridays at Whitecross Street Market. I took A there today since he had the day off and he wanted to try a burrito from Luardos (which he liked!). I had just had a burrito the night before so I tried something different - a pig roast sandwich. I'm not fond of sweet things with my meat so I passed on the sweet chili sauce and applesauce, leaving me with a plain sandwich of roast pork, lettuce and some rosemary olive oil. There would have been rocket (arugula) as well except we were there quite late and they were out of it. For four quid, this was an incredibly yummy and filling lunch and even though there were tempting sweets at the market, I passed on everything as there was no way I could eat another bite.


27 Upper Street
N1 0PN

C and I were planning to go see a movie so grabbed dinner beforehand at Chilango - a burrito joint close to the cinema. Prices are a little higher than at the other burrito places I've been to - 5.90 for a pork burrito, and an extra 80p for guacamole, but the burrito is definitely the biggest one I've had in London (probably about the size of one from Chipotle in the US?) Rice is cooked through but looks like basmati, and I chose black beans rather than pinto. Very tasty - ranks up there with Luardos and Benito's Hat, I think - good if you are really really hungry and want to be really really full after eating. I know the picture is awful, my camera phone is to blame...