Amazing Billy and His Tasty Chicks

Originally published in my other blog Panasian Kitchen

We heard about Billy and Chicks via social media and wanted to try it.  We’d heard a lot of good things and as we love southern fried chicken we were very curious about how their chicken tasted.  We also found a Timeout voucher online that pretty much sweetened the deal for us (£5 for 2 pieces of chicken, chips and a drink – absolute steal!).  But if you find the voucher on Timeout, make sure you read the fine print because you can’t use the voucher on Fridays.

BATC mural front of house

So armed with our Timeout vouchers, on a rainy Thursday, we headed to Billy and the Chicks.  If you’re going to Soho Theatre, this is a convenient place for a pre- or post-theatre meal as it’s just around the corner.  But be warned that it is a very popular place for cocktails in the evenings so you have to expect a bit of a crush.  Lunchtimes are quieter as most of the punters tend to take their food away to go back to their offices.  Anyhow, we were seated as soon as we came in (we came at 12 noon and the place was virtually empty).  The staff are lovely and while they don’t hover over you, don’t hesitate to ask your questions because they’re really friendly and they know their food.  We presented our vouchers and were asked what we wanted to drink.  TOP TIP: If you get there early enough (just after 12 noon), you can choose what part of the chicken you want, i.e. breast, wing, thigh, or drumstick, because no one else has ordered and you can have your favourite chicken piece.

Fried chicken galore

The Timeout vouchers are an absolute deal because Billy and the Chicks are very generous with their chips (skin on potato fries that are almost chip shop like, crispy-crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside! YUM!).  I would think one serving of chips would be enough to share between 2 people or one very hungry (heavy on the very) person.

The pot of chips

The chicken was amazing.  The spice mix reminded me of how KFC tasted like when I was a kid.  It was very reminiscent of KFC in the late 80s.  The chicken is succulent and the flavour isn’t confined to just the breading and crunchy coating on the skin, it permeates through to the flesh.  When you cut into the chicken, you see how succulent it is because the liquid that comes out isn’t oil but juice…lots of it!  This is quite easily one of the best fried chicken I’ve had in the Big Smoke.

Timeout meal

We also tried the ribs which were okay.  The sweet-sour flavour of the ribs was interesting enough to make it stand out slightly from other pure ribs that you could get from fast food places.  The ribs aren’t mind-blowingly amazing, but they are okay and worth the try.  I loved the tangy-ness of the glaze.

Pressure fried pork ribs in a sweet sticky sauce

The menu is not huge but what they had on there was very complimentary to each other.  I was also quite pleased that they served gravy as a side.  I’m not quite sure why, but gravy doesn’t seem to feature in a lot of places that specialise in American-style fried chicken. I haven’t tried their gravy though.  But judging from the comments coming from the Australian group sitting at the next table, the gravy was really good.  They each ordered their own gravy sides.  They said they didn’t want to share!  That’s for next time…because I am going back. The chicken is really good and I am so looking forward to going back!

Juicy fried chicken

The restaurant space is interesting.  There are a lot of interesting photos everywhere – even a mural of Queen Victoria eating a drumstick!   I would have wanted it to be lit a bit brighter though.  We sat near the large front windows so we could see our food.

God feed the Queen!

I enjoyed my eating experience because apart from the food nostalgia, the music was, for lack of a better description, very cool.  All the music reminded me of the rap and hip hop music that I liked (mostly songs that were in the soundtrack of Save the Last Dance!) when I was growing up.  There is a large DJ booth in the corner which convinces me they take their music seriously!

The DJ and his booth

Most fast food places will want to turn their tables over quickly, but at Billy and the Chicks, we didn’t feel rushed.  It felt like we were allowed to enjoy and savour our food. The staff are friendly and very zen and I absolutely love the small touches like inserting the straw into the soda can tabs so the straw doesn’t float away.  To me that means that they think about the customer and what they can do to make the customer’s eating experience a little bit better.  It’s the little things that matter.

Straws and the soda can tab

If you want really good chicken, the finger-lickin good kind, visit Billy and his delicious chicks! Even without vouchers, I would pay for the food full price, because it is definitely worth it!

Billy and the Chicks, London

Stick food!

There are a few things that make this life so much better.  One of them is barbecue pork on sticks Pinoy style.  I’m going to find out how to make barbecue Grill Queen style.  Grill Queen is a small independent chain that sells barbecued meat – pork, chicken, seafood…you name it, they probably barbecue it.

I haven’t quite cracked it, but the recipe I’m tweaking is nearly there.  I’ll be posting the recipe on the blog soon.

But for tonight, I am eating something comfortingly Filipino: barbecued meat, rice and sautéed vegetables!

pork bbq Pinoy style

Craving Korean comfort food

Alan will be making feijoada tonight so that is an absolute treat and completely comforting.  But I find that because of the weather I am craving a lot of Asian food at the moment.  I am particularly wishing we lived in London so that I can order Korean food from Deliveroo!

I would love, at the moment, to be able to indulge in a large half soy half spicy platter of On The Bab’s yang yeum Korean fried chicken.

yang yeum fried chickenPairing that with their spicy pork buns

OTB Spicy pork buns…and just to be completely stuffed, I’d like to finish it with a warm and comforting bowl of bibimbap!

OTB Bibimbap

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This cake happened today!

I bought a bowl of plums from the Friday Market for £1 last week with the intention of consuming them purely for my 5-a-day.  Usually the fruit that I get from that particular market stall is sweet and perfect (yes, really!) but surprisingly, these plums were very tart.  I tried eating the fruit but it was REALLY tart (bordering on acidic sourness).

Upside down plum cakeI have written a draft of the recipe for the plum cake.  But I need to work on it because the plums were still so tart even after laying them on a carpet of brown sugar.  I’ll have to tweak the recipe first and make it a few times to make sure it’s a recipe that works.  I promise to share it as soon as I’m satisfied.

Watch this space!

Chocolate crinkles

Over a week ago, I gave in to the urge to finally make chocolate crinkles.  It’s a popular cookie in the Philippines.  It’s rich, indulgent and fudgy.  It’s something that might just make you go mmmmm.  I approached the idea of making crinkles with a little trepidation.  I always worry that my memories of what things taste like in Manila is different from reality.  But I did manage to work up the courage to finally make crinkles!

Chocolate crinkleI’ve written a recipe that I’ve tweaked below and I know that it works.  I would love for y’all to make chocolate crinkles and let me know if the recipe works for you.

Ingredients:

  • 150g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 280g caster sugar
  • 150ml vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 300g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ salt
  • 150g icing sugar

Directions:

In a bowl, using a balloon whisk, mix the flour, salt and baking powder together and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the cocoa powder, sugar and oil.  To mix, I’ll use a free-standing mixer.

Chocolate mixtureWith a paddle attachment, on the lowest setting (just so that the cocoa powder doesn’t fly all over the place), start mixing the cocoa powder, sugar and oil for about 2 minutes.  Once the mixture forms a thick paste, increase the speed and mix for a further 2 minutes.  The mixture should turn shiny and smooth.  Add each egg individually and mix until the mixture is again shiny.  Once all the eggs are added, add the vanilla.

Chocolate and egg mixAdd the flour mixture and mix until well-incorporated and the mixture is smooth.

Chocolate and flour mixCover the mixture and chill in the fridge for at least 2½ hours (I initially only chilled it for 1½ hours and it seemed to be okay), the longer you chill it, the better.

Chocolate mixPreheat the oven to 175°C (350°F).  Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.  I like to use a small ice cream scoop or a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon.

Chocolate crinkle mixScoop a generous 1 tablespoon of the mixture and roll it into a ball.  Coat each ball with icing sugar and place on the lined sheet.

Crinkles in icing sugarBake for 10-12 minutes.  Once the cookies are baked, take them out of the oven and allow to cool on the sheets for about 5 minutes before transferring them onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Crinkles for bakingThe cookies have a recognisable cracked surface and that’s how you know it’s a chocolate crinkle!

Choccie crinkleThis recipe makes about 40 crinkles.

The friendliest fish and chippy on the Soho block!

We’d walked past Poppie’s in Soho several times during our recent trips to London.  The Soho branch is on Old Compton Street and Poppie’s in Soho has taken over what used to be Bobby Chin’s House of Ho.  Whilst the signage is mostly black and white, the bunting strung across the signage makes it very cheerful, and, dare I say it, very British!

My friend Ally was visiting from Singapore and this was the only opportunity we had to meet with her.  I’d asked previously if she’d already had a fish and chippy meal since she arrived in London, fish and chips being quintessentially British, to me anyway.  She said no so I thought it would be good to have fish and chips because it would be a substantial enough meal if we were hungry but light enough because, well, it was fish. While I am partial to the fish and chip shop where I live, there was no way I was going to haul my friend up to Harwich to have just a fish and chip meal and push her back onto the train back to London Town.  It was our first trip to Poppie’s but we’d heard a lot of good things about it online.  It was convenient because it was close to where we wanted to go to in London.

When you turn into Old Compton Street , Poppie’s will be easy to find because it will be hard to miss the bright red Mini parked in front emblazoned with Poppie’s logo.  We popped our head in the door and asked for a table for 3 and we were greeted pleasantly and promptly showed to a booth.  The dining area was bigger than I thought.  Since the shop had a food prep and cooking area and a take away counter separate from the main space, I didn’t expect the space to be comfortable.  I thought that they would’ve tried to stuff as many tables as was possible.  But I was very wrong.  We had enough space to wriggle around very comfortably.  There was a certain charm to the diner/shabby chic decor of the space.

The staff is friendly and cheerful.  My friend thought we were regulars because of how the serving staff interacted with us.  I daresay you won’t find a friendlier group of people in the food service industry!  They were really nice and happy.  Some people might think they might be overly familiar, but it was nice to have friendly service that felt really genuine and welcoming.  The Poppettes, as the servers are known, know their food as well and can answer your questions about food really well.

Our food came out fairly quickly and piping hot.  You knew that the fish was fried to order.  The portion of chips was a great ratio to the regular portion of fish.  The fish was fresh, sweet and cooked to perfection.  The service was great and they looked after us without us feeling like they were forever hovering.  When we finished, they cleared our plates away efficiently but we didn’t feel like they were hurrying us up to free up the table.  We were allowed to sit and chat and finish our drinks.  The bill was also a surprise because it was very reasonable for what we ordered.  Great value for money as well!

I chose to order the cod because cod is always a safe option when eating at an unfamiliar chippy.  But I am definitely going back and ordering rock for my next fish and chip meal at Poppie’s.  It is definitely worth it!  When you’re in Soho, pop into Poppie’s for the best fish and chip meal!  You won’t be disappointed!

Poppie's Soho

The power of the crinkle

I comfort eat.  Now I know psychologists and nutritionists and every healthcare professional reading this will be gasping and tutting and shaking their head right now.  Comfort eating is a terrible coping mechanism and will have far reaching consequences.  Ha!  How highfalluting and technical-sounding is that sentence, eh?  Mind you, I am very aware my comfort eating has allowed me to balloon and gain a whole child in terms of weight since I moved to the UK.

Apart from the comfort eating, I’ve been comfort cooking and comfort baking.  I’ve been trying to recreate in my kitchen the food that was readily available to me in the Philippines.  My favourite English proverb (which helps me justify my kitchen sessions) is: “Necessity  is the mother of invention.”  Mind you, the food that I produce in my kitchen aren’t necessarily my own inventions.  Sometimes it’s a result of me trawling the internet for tips on how to cook Filipino food.  Since Filipino food isn’t readily available to take away or to buy at the nearest convenience store, I’ve got to learn how to make things myself if I miss eating them.  I’m quite pleased that I’m able to make things that I would normally just go out and buy if I was in the Philippines.

I finally gave in to a long-standing baking to-do: making chocolate crinkles.  Chocolate crinkles will feature in most Filipinos’ top 10 list of their favourite cookies.  I’m not entirely certain whether it is a Filipino invention but it is certainly readily available in the Philippines, everywhere.  Say the phrase “chocolate crinkles” to a Filipino and you more often than not will hear them say “Awww chocolate crinkles!”

For those of you who don’t know, chocolate crinkles are soft, fudgy chocolate cookies that are slightly firm, almost crispy, on the outside and moist and cakey on the inside.  It’s covered with a generous coating of icing sugar outside and when you bite into the cookie, it’s rich and indulgent.

I’m going to share the recipe here once I’ve tried another test run, just to make sure that the recipe works properly.  Any taste testers available?

Chocolate crinkle

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