In my book, the perfect Saturday is made up of some spontaneity and a large bowl of curry laksa. After being thoroughly entertained by a ballroom dancing competition, we caved in to those cravings for curry laksa and decided that a visit to Hare & Tortoise was in order.
Hare & Tortoise
11-13 Brunswick Centre
London WC1N 1AF
020 7278 9799
With our minds more-or-less made up even before we each did the customary menu flip-through, ordering was a quick affair (I suspect that this was due to extreme hunger as well).
Curry Laksa - the one that makes it all worthwhile. The gravy is reminiscent of my favourite curry noodles back home, a good amount of spices and a hint of lemon grass, flavourful but with a good balance. The dish makes use of thin rice noodles instead of the usual larger, yellow ones, and contains a generous helping of tofu, squid, prawns, chicken and beansprouts. Portions are really quite large but there's rarely a bowl that isn't cleaned up, gravy and all, at the end of the meal. Despite the three chilli rating that it's given on the menu (Something our budding chef, Jason was slightly worried about at first), the laksa is good even for the more faint-hearted.
Penang Prawn Mee. A good alternative to the curry laksa, this is for those who prefer something a little less rich. This came as a bit of a surprise, I must say, as it tasted much more authentic than I thought it would. With the unmistakable sweetness of shrimp, the clearness of the gravy and the helpings of kangkung, one could almost imagine being seated at a table at the hawker stall on a warm Malaysian afternoon.
Roast Duck and Rice. The duck is roasted in a style that is quite different from the way it's done in Chinatown, a departure from the usual Cantonese version. The cinnamon, aniseed and ginger are what makes the difference as it gives the duck a hint of sweetness. This is perhaps not the dish for the anyone who swears by Goldmine or Four Seasons but is great for the ones who want a change.
The best times to visit Hare & Tortoise are non-peak hours as there's almost always a queue during the more standard meal times. Despite arriving rather late in the afternoon this time around, the restaurant was still pretty busy and there was a short wait before we were seated but really, it's one of those places that I'd highly recommend, even to the less curry laksa enthusiastic ones.