As you may have seen from my previous review of the Wargrave Arms I'm a big fan of pop up kitchens in pubs. At the Wargrave Arms you had BBQ Whiskey Beer knocking up great tasting ribs and other Americana in a lovely old school Youngs boozer. It's a good arrangement for all involved. The pop up get to trial their food in a real kitchen without the associated overheads and the pub gets to vary it's menu away from the usual Brakes Bros 101 pub food. Obviously the food has to be good and the price pitched right. A successful residency can lead to greater days ahead. However it wasn't the prospect of cheap comfort food that lead us to the Sun and 13 cantons but a calling from my childhood. The Sun & 13 Cantons are currently hosting the Pepe's kitchen pop up and they specialise in Filipino food. I haven't had Filipino Pancit for over 20 years, Naty who looked after my brother and I when we were growing up used to make it for us. She was a great cook fully versed in overcooking meat just how my parents liked back in the 80's but her true talent lay in making variations of her national dishes and some American dishes she had picked up working on a US air base. The top treat of the lot was Filipino spring rolls and chicken Pancit. This was always saved for birthdays and other special occasions. Well this was not my birthday but a cold Thursday in January and along with my brother we set off to deepest Soho on a quest for a taste of our childhood.
The Sun & 13 Cantons is a bit of a Soho institution, a big handsome corner pub which gets very busy with assorted creative types of an evening. The lunchtime we went it was quiet, possibly a result of the trend for a dry January. It's quite a casual place where the staff are easily interchangeable with the punters. The very eager waitress led us into the dining room around the side of the pub. We were joined by our mate Baldy Mark who doesn't eat meat which was a bit of a problem as the menu was very meat heavy. The waitress who didn't know the menu terribly well went off to the kitchen and sorted out some options for Baldy Mark. They had a deal on so starter and main came in at a tenner which was good value. Mark had vegetable spring rolls and vegetable Pancit. Nick had Ukoy which are shrimp fritters followed by a shrimp Pancit. I had a roast pork belly starter Lechon Kawali and chicken Pancit. The starters were good, my pork nicely cooked but definitely needed the dips it came with to boost the taste but my brother's shrimp fritters were very tasty. Service from the kitchen was pretty slow considering it wasn't very busy so by the time the mains came out we were starving.
How would the Pancit stand up? Pancit is a noodle dish made with glass noodles chicken, onions, ginger and soy. For me it is probably the tastiest of all oriental dishes. The version at Pepe's kitchen certainly tasted nice but it was a bit greasy, probably too long in the pan. My brother was also disappointed with his as the shrimp/prawns hadn't been fully shelled so a fiddle to eat. Baldy Mark though liked his introduction to Filipino food. So all in all a decent meal, it obviously didn't measure up to Naty's cooking but it was a nice culinary detour down memory lane. I will probably go back for another Pancit fix before they change to another pop up. Hopefully they can get the cooking bang on for then.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
Food 7 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 8