Sunday 19 August 2012

See Oriental Cafe, Paddington

What a treat when you stumble upon a gem of a place to eat when you least expect it.  My sister and I were waiting for our mum to buy stamps while on our mum's birthday trip and had a wander down an alley off Praed Street, Paddington.  What we found was See, an "Oriental cafe and deli".  Although closed and dark at the time (and we spied someone napping!), we decided straight away that this is somewhere we needed to eat so came back only a few hours later for dinner.

The restaurant was spacious but a little dark with candles all around.  Behind the deli counter is where the sushi was made and it was filled with delicious looking fresh fish.  We were seated immediately at a table at the front with a view of the Paddington Basin.  The tables were simply set up with a candle, fork and chopsticks.
The thing that caught my eye on the menu when we first found See was the bento boxes - I've ALWAYS wanted to try a bento box as I love the idea of my meal being made up of lots of different things plus who doesn't like their dinner served in compartments!

For starters my sister and I shared a plate of Spicy Maguro Maki and mum had edemame.  The maki was filled with tender tuna, cucumber slivers, avocado and scallions, dressed with a spicy mayonnaise and pickled ginger and wasabi to the side.  All of the flavours worked very well together and had a hint of spice from the mayo.

My eyes lit up and my tummy rumbled when I spotted the Agedashi Tofu as I'd had it many years ago while living in Cleveland.  I had my fingers crossed that it was as delicious as I'd had previously and was not let down at all!

Silky tofu in a light, crispy batter with a tempura sauce (mirin, soy sauce, dashi and sugar all mixed together.  The crispy shell complimented the tender tofu perfectly and teamed with the sauce it made for an excellent start to the meal.

The timing of the food coming out was a little off and there was a slight hiccup when someone else's food was delivered to us but what came out next was definitely worth the wait.  My mum ordered the chicken Phad Thai (sorry, no photo because I was too excited about my bento box!), sis had the black cod and my bento was tofu teriyaki.  The bento also came with miso soup which was devoured too quickly to get a photographic record of!

Both bentos came with rice, two vegetable gyoza, a pumpkin croquette and salad.

The rice was cooked to perfection, the pumpkin croquette was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside with a delicate flavour complimented by the BBQ sauce on top but we thought it a little odd to have regular lettuce as the salad as we were expecting more of a pickled salad or seaweed.  The gyoza were a little crispy but not crispy enough to shatter when you take a bite.  I was expecting a sauce to dip them in but was lucky enough to have not only the teriyaki sauce that came with my tofu but leftover broth from my starter.  The tofu...oh the tofu....very similar to the tofu in the agedashi tofu but the sauce was a bold teriyaki sauce which needed a little rice to balance it with the light tofu.

There were a few delays when it came to getting our leftovers packed and paying but all in all, it was a most excellent meal, very reasonably priced considering how stuffed we were when we left and I will need to find a local restaurant that can fix my agedashi tofu cravings!

See Oriental Cafe and Deli
4d Praed Street,
W2 1JX

Spicy Maguro Maki - £4.50
Edemame - £4.00
Phad Thai - £8.00
Black Cod Bento - £16.50
Tofu Teriyaki Bento - £9.50
(prices correct when posted)


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