Dumpling Shack

It’s been a very long time since I’ve done a write up of my own free will and not a “review” that was formally requested. You can almost say I feel some sort of liberation writing this post, I would never call myself a food critic and I do cringe at the words food review but this blog has always been a platform in which I share my views and opinion on the topic of food. 

Dumpling Shack

Situated at Broadway Market’s Schoolyard and open from 10.30am until sell out time.
(Tip: Do come before 12.30pm otherwise you could end up waiting more than 20 minutes, usually all sold out by 2.30-3pm)

Dumpling Shack (9 of 36)

Most people would have seen these dumplings on Instagram, @DumplingShack has attained a mass of 13.3K followers at the time of writing, an impressive feat by no means, particularly for a food trader.

Though historically Dumpling Shack have sold a variety of different types such as Cornish crab and prawn, and lobster dumplings; some garnered more attention than others, most notably its ‘brunch’ dumplings. Certainly worthy of an Instagram picture, the brunch dumplings consists of pork, caramelised onions, smoked cheddar and a runny quails egg. Picture credit below to @bakeryee

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For the past few months, Dumpling Shack has established itself as one of the leading street food traders around, with features in the Evening Standard and other reputed magazines.  This led to their first collaboration on solid ground with the restaurant Shotgun, a sell out event, where diners were able to experience Dumpling Shack #restaurantstyle.

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The on trend dumplings of the year are the above Shen Jian Baos (pan fried pork soup dumplings), originated from Shanghai, it can be best described as the doughier version of the Shanghai soup dumplings, xiao long bao. Some describe it as Shen Jian Bao Zi, or Shen Jian Man Tou, as the outer skin is softer and more bread-like in nature. Pan fried and wrapped in dough, containing pork and gelatin fillings, Dumpling Shack is generous with their broth, in which the gelatin melts into soup once fried, giving these dumplings their unique flavour.

These Sheng Jian Baos, the Dumpling Shack version consists of pork, prawn and leek, priced at £7.50 for 4. With the occasional lamb or gyoza option, you’ll need to request these specifically as stock is limited (mentioned on Instagram if these are available). Not to mention they now do some amazing homemade fresh soy milk £2. 

@mayluuluu @alishawong_tl and @annabutlerx are your main pleaters, dumplings are made to order and consumers are able to witness the pleating first hand.

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Photo credit: @bakeryee

I am lucky enough to go behind the scenes every week, to experience life as a street food trader and to catch a small glimpse of the growth of John’s business. That’s just a part of it too, most of the work is done the night before, with the dough and the mixture all prepared by John himself,  as well as a horrendous 5am wake up call to start Saturday trading.

Keep your eyes glued for Dumpling Shack‘s future events, since, the most recent @_atthetabl_ workshop was a sell out within 30 minutes.

 

 

 

Shanghai Supper Club

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Fine dine with Shanghai Supper Club

History and Background:

Meal courtesy of Shanghai Supper Club

Supper club reviews are becoming more of a frequent appearance on eatwithsteph and with so many reasons for this. They are addictive. With many predicting this is the new thing for 2016 – why you say? People need different dining experiences. It’s not just sitting in a typical restaurant having your standard 3 course meal anymore. The London food scene has since evolved.

Shanghai Supper Club is run by Lillian, who was brought up in Shanghai cultivating her culinary skills alongside her Grandma’s home-cooking. Shanghainese cuisine is not common in London and most certainly non serves the Sheng Jian Baos which Lilian is most notable for.

Lilian herself is a one-woman powerhouse, offering takeaway, catering, cooking lessons and of course her pop-up dinners. One guest explains she ordered 100 dumplings at a time from Lilian after developing an addiction to them!

 

The meal: (@£50.00)

Worthy to note that supper clubs are BYOB (Bring Your Own Booze) – we had a chance to taste some of Elyse’s sake, her particular specialty, (if interested see uk.japan-gourmet.com).

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Tofu Skin Roll

The drunken chicken and the tofu skin was one of my favourite starters. Fine knife work comes side by side when it comes to Shanghainese cooking. Something that is evident as you see the imagery throughout this post.

The tofu skin roll is wrapped over chinese vegetables creating a soft and chewy texture.

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Drunken Chicken
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Drunken Chicken

Drunken chicken was aromatic. Served cold, and are one of my favourite Chinese dishes, usually cooked with wine or alcohol, in this case with rice wine, a common ingredient in Shanghainese cuisine.

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Finely chopped tong ho and tofu
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Egg plant and sesame oil dressing

The egg plant was delicate and with sesame seeds and sesame oil seasoning, it became a very fragrant dish. The cubed tofu with tong ho was similarly refreshing but I tend to be quite picky with how I eat my tofu and prefer softened, silkier tofu. I think both dishes would have been even better served hot.

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Finely chopped greens
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Sheng Jian Bao!

Shanghai Supper Club’s most notable dish. Sheng Jian Bao – pan fried pork buns! Now I devoured this. The base was crispy and with the rest of the bun similar to a mantou. The dough was thick enough to give a soft texture, holding a meaty pork filling within. I was surprised at the amount of soup the buns have managed to withhold, each mouthful was as appetizing as the next.

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Stir-fried rice cake with tat soi and chicken

The shredded chicken with glutinous rice cakes was chewy and moreish. I am so used to having rice cake Korean style it was nice to try this without the sweet and spicy seasoning that tends to overshadow the taste of the rice cakes themselves.

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Octopus braised with pickled mustard green

This was a hit and miss with some of the guests I was dining with, some had never tried octopus before so it was a new experience! I loved the combination of the pickled mustard green with the octopus. This paired really well with simple boiled rice. Due to the seasoning it is salty in nature so I would recommend not having too much of it too quickly…like I did!

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Couldn’t help myself but refer back to these dumplings

 

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Hong Shao Rou pork belly

This is a classic Shanghainese dish and one which my mum also makes a lot. This was braised very well, seasoned with soy sauce and rock sugar to give it a savoury but also sweetened taste. It can take a lot of hours to prepare this, to braise it long enough so the pork belly meat crumbles away inside your mouth to give you a melt-in-mouth sensation.

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Sticky rice balls with black sesame in fermented rice soup

We finished off with some tong yuen, or the English name glutinous rice balls in black sesame filling. I don’t think Lilian prepped the actual rice balls herself but it’s the way it has been served which is different. Her Shanghainese influence in this dish comes with the fermented rice soup where rice wine and goji berries have been added to boil, to create a very fragrant finish.

 

Service: Lilian and her family are very hospitable, with her sons welcoming you upon your arrival to her husband greeting you out as you leave the premises. ‘Service’ doesn’t really exist with supper clubs its more of a homely and welcoming affair.

Bits and bobs:

  • Lilian holds her supper clubs quite frequently. Best check her website for more information – you may not find it on sites like grub club.
  • BYOB!

Price: £££

Mondsey Supper Club

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Malaysian lobster night, it’s a Malaysian Supper Club!

History and Background:

Meal courtesy of Tabl. and Mondsey’s.

Pop-ups, street food and supper clubs are becoming the latest hype in the restaurant and food industry and it’s not slowing down any time soon. The recent string of websites such as Grub Club and more recently the guys from tabl.com who have recently made their mark in London, help promote these innovative dining experiences.

Karen and JP showcase their take on Malaysian cuisine through Mondsey’s Supper Club. Malaysian cuisine tend to be varied and culturally diverse due to the multi-ethnic makeup of its population. The country’s culinary history is shared with Singapore, Indonesia and India, and Mondsey’s supper club focuses on the multi-cultural aspect of this.

NEXT SUPPER CLUB DATES HERE (TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE):

https://www.tabl.com/events/157317-malaysian-lobster-night?utm_nooverride=1

http://grubclub.com/mondsey-malaysian-supper-club-lobster-night/6048

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This fabric divider caught my eye! Reminiscent of the Japanese – ‘Noren’ 暖簾

The meal: (4 courses for £ 33.00, any profits go to Alzheimer’s Research Society)

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Monk’s Ice Tea

Mondsey Supper Club first started hosting in 2014 and are looking to make these events more frequent for 2016. Upon entry to their lovely home I was met with a welcome cocktail, their signature, Monk’s Ice Tea. With rum and long an, the drink was a refreshing start albeit it on the sweet side. After a round of introductions with 7 other guests, we were invited to sit at their well furnished table elegantly laid out for 8.

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A clean and crisp arrangement of the table. Spacious too.

We hadn’t even started and I was already excited. Friendly guests, friendly hosts and a very warm, homely environment resembled a sophisticated dinner party, my first to date.

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Rojak (Fruit and Vegetable Salad dressed in a Tamarind Sauce)

Our first impression of this dish was a sharing plate but it turns out it was one each! Rojak is a popular Malaysian salad dish ( 水果囉喏), Karen and JP did their take on this with tamarind sauce with prawn paste sprinkled with toasted ground peanuts. I could make out that apple, cucumber, mango and pomelo were present, with the addition of soft shell crab to give it an interesting twist.

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Karen’s expertise in pastry as a Le Cordon Bleu graduate allowed her to make her own style kaffir like and seaweed brioche
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Otak-Otak (Spiced Fish Mousse)
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Otak-otak exposed

Another traditional Malaysian dish, otak-otak is a dish involving fish pieces wrapped in banana leaves. Aromatic herbs are mixed alongside fish pieces and is slightly spicy to give it that extra kick. To be exact, the otak otak consisted of kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass, galangal, chilli, coconut milk, turmeric and shrimp paste (belacan). The brioche was soft and sweet, and at times, delicate crumbles would escape your mouth as you attempt to devour it all…

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The one photo we’ve all been waiting for…!
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A meaty affair. The Penang Har Mee (Penang Prawn Noodles – but with lobsters)

I was met with surprise at how elegantly plated Karen and JP’s courses were and the flavours that arose from the Penang Har Mee. I was gushed into shock and amazement that led to a two minute dribble over this bowl while Karen was explaining the dish. The taste is distinctive and the soup is more clear than other Malaysian noodle dishes I’ve tried. The Penang Har Mee with all the trimmings which include Morning Glory vegetables, shrimps, half a runny egg, a pork slice and other garnishes. The soup base is lobster and shrimp to allow us to get the full seafood experience alongside a mixture of egg and rice noodles.

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The main that leaves you wanting to come back for more
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Teh Tarik (pulled tea)
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The side view is just as eye pleasing. Pulled tea.

As Karen explains, the literal meaning of Teh Tarik is ‘Pulled Tea’. A popular road side ‘drink’ adapted by the Mondsey couple will have you yearning for more. Their adaption to this leads you to Ceylon tea panna cotta with ginger milk foam, Horlicks crunch and mango. Tea is sweetened using condensed milk and the hot tea is poured repeatedly to create a thick froth visible at the top. The ingredients ginger milk and Horlicks crunch did it for me. This dessert needs mass production, immediately. Aromatic and not too sweet, the mangoes make a light touch and the texture of the panna cotta was light and silky.

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Not done just yet – the petite fours

Formerly a Le Cordon Bleu student, Karen ended her Malaysian masterclass with petite fours. I have no words.

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Served hot, I had seconds…

Service: Very welcoming hosts and a lovely home. The hospitality is top notch, creating an enriching dining experience.

Bits and bobs:

  • It will be at Karen and JP’s home.
  • BYOB

Price: ££

London Without Limits, 3 Little Birds (Grub Club)

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A series of blindfolded dinners for RLSB charity – eating with your other senses!

History and Background:

All photos taken for this post has been taken blindfolded (well, apart from the welcome drink, espresso martini).

A Taste is a regular pop up event managed by Australian chef Chris Jordan. In a collaboration with Sarah Blisset, together they held a 4 course blind tasting course earlier this year in aid of The Royal London Society of The Blind. Fia, Allan and I attended a trial run of London Without Limits 2015 at the newly opened 3 Little Birds, in Clerkenwell. They have been showcasing this event every week in the month of July, with the final installment finishing on the 25th July, so be sure to check it out!

Using your other senses beside your sight, such as taste, smell, sounds and touch, we were propelled into an evening of adventure and sensory creativity.

(I actually make a tiny appearance on the promo video – see if you can spot me here!)

The meal:

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Espresso Martini

I don’t want to give too much away, but it really is amazing how we can eat using just 4 out of our 5 senses. To facilitate our hands we had bamboo sticks separating the diners and outlining our eating area.

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Fia trying to take a drink from her glass of wine
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Actors who photo bombed! They assisted with creating a Shakespearean themed atmosphere on the night

By trying to take photos and documenting what I eat, I realised I had no control of who or what was in my photo! No worrying about angles and proportions here, I was absolutely blind!

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We had no idea that there was even anyone around us!
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Our food served in a bowl to ease the difficulty eating blindfolded
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Our dessert for the evening. Sweet and crumbly, finished it all up in an instant.
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I’ve deliberately not mentioned what we ate here, you can see for yourselves!

You can find more about 3 Little Birds and also the London Without Limits series here. You’re taken to sensory heights with a blindfolded meal, Chris Jordan deserves all the credits he gets for hosting a great dinner with great food.

Price: ££

Juma’s Kitchen (Grub Club)

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It’s a full house tonight at Juma’s Kitchen – can you spot the bloggers?
History and Background:

Meal courtesy of popular start-up pockethighstreet.

Pop-ups and street food are becoming the latest hype in the London restaurant and food industry, but it’s not going to be slowing down any time soon. Philip Juma showcases his expertise in Iraqi cuisine with Juma’s Kitchen, (you can find his events and others similar on Grub Club, or reach out to pockethighstreet).

Serving traditional Iraqi food from the Northern region of Mosul

Philip has an impressive resume, having worked at Michelin starred restaurants to his build up of Juma’s Kitchen, such as Gordon Ramsey’s Maze. Being a British born Iraqi, he finds his roots through his latest venture, Juma’s Kitchen is a continuously sold out and popular event, visited by many. A website to come soon.

The meal: (Usually a 4 course meal for a fixed price)

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Lamb bourek, falafel, spiced baba ganoush (mixed meze bites)
Having never had Iraqi food before, I was met with surprise at how elegantly plated Philip’s courses were and the flavours that arose from each of these. The meze was ate in an instant and was crisp, the sauces were distinctive and certainly never tasted before.

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Dijaj Bilmynarinj

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This beast of a starter!
‘Boneless, crispy chicken thigh served on wafer-layered potato with a rich saffron sauce, garnished in caramelised onions’

One of my favourite courses of the night, flavours were brought out in full force and caramelised onions complemented the savoriness of the chicken well.

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Kubba Hamuth
Handmade lamb dumplings with Iraqi spices in a rich tomato sauce with turnips, onions and garlic. Garnished with mint oil, and turnip crisp.

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Fattoush salad to complement the main
Philip illustrates the concept of sharing plates for the main, an eye-popping course that keeps diners salivating for more. This is JUMA’s signature dish, tender lamb chop with rice filled vine leaves.

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Dolma

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It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t make my own plate look pretty would it? Tantalizing french trimmed lamb chop on display

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Tender lamb mince marinated in Iraqi spices with rice, wrapped in vine leaves, onion shells and baby peppers, slowed cooked in lemon, garlic and pomegranate

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Knafa
We can’t forget desserts, concluding the evening with Knafa. Warm baked cream and soft cheese with shredded filo pastry. Blossom water syrup added the sweet taste to the baked cream and pistachios gave it that extra nutty flavour. I can’t usually take creamy courses, but this one was so dribble inducing, I’m not sure where to start…

It’s best off you try it for yourselves and experiences the intensity of these ingredients when cooked together! A highly recommended and enjoyable affair.

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What a pretty dessert – baked cream and soft cheese topped with shredded filo pastry. Served with blossom water syrup and pistachios

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I could have eaten 3 of these…oops
Service: Style of service is very different at a pop-up, a more personalised and friendly encounter with those who actually run it. Phillip did well – and it was a meal thoroughly enjoyed.

Bits and bobs:

  • Locations may vary since it’s a pop up
  • There may be various discounts if you use particular sites – such as pockethighstreet

Price: ££

80 Tastes at St James’ Court, A Taj Hotel

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Champagne and canapes at St James’ Courtyard

History and background:

Event courtesy of Zomato

Along with 9 other bloggers, (to name a few, I had the lovely chance to meet – Miho from wandertowander, Radio and TV presenter @Anushka_Arora, Jaklien from passportandtoothbrush, Jo from 60before30, Chef and blogger Rosie from alittlelusciousness) together, we had the opportunity to take a first look at the ’80 tastes’ pop-up due to roll out at St James’ Court, A Taj Hotel. Devised to guide diners to a culinary journey within the vicinity of St James’ Court, a tranquil and upscale dining community, minutes away from Buckingham Palace.

‘Around the world with 80 tastes’ introduces us to 4 of these restaurants, cuisines and dining styles differ in each eatery, from Southern European cuisine to South Western Sri-Lankan.

History with A Taj Hotel starts from 1902, constructed with discretion and perfection, guests of Buckingham Palace would frequent here, to witness the sound architectural design that surrounds it.

The meal:

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Upon arrival to St James’ Courtyard, we’re met with champagne and canapes for a bit of what you would call al-fresco dining.
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Laurent-Perrier champagne flight was complemented with 3 canapes – smoked salmon,
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scallop and avocado ceviche
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ratatouille on toast
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Subtle wasabi taste topped with some light greens

Following our ‘amuse bouches’ at the Courtyard, we were led onto Bistro51 for our starters, seared tuna steak with potato cubes in wasabi, and a side salad.

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Tuna steak

An eye-opening start to the private dining room at Quilon for our mains, rated 1 Michelin star and led by Head Chef Sriram Aylur. Spices and flavours are brought out by using the freshest of British ingredients to create a blend of South West Indian cuisine.

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Highlight of the night starring Quilon

Neat leaf plating with a range of seafood, including peppered shrimp, grilled scallop, crab cake and fish curry flavoured with Sri Lankan influences, cocunut, chilli and raw mango.

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malabar pratha bread
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Scallops are my weakness – grilled to perfection
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Bloggers aren’t bloggers if we don’t have lighting… or 2 cameras! @AKBoogie @alittlelusciousness
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Restaurant Kona was next, serving Modern European cuisine

Kona balances luxurious indulgence with delightfully fresh simplicity.

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Cheese crusted chicken and red poblano, tuscan panzanella salad

The chicken was slightly dry for me, but the salad and condiments helped bring up the flavour. Crusted with parmesan meant you can smell the cheesy aroma as you bite into the chicken, pretty mouth-watering.

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The final course for the night of course ends with desserts

Not sure about the red plates here, certainly beautiful crockery, but I’m not so sure it colour co-ordinates well with the chocolate! (Primary, secondary and tertiary colours or whatnot!)

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Manjari parfait with chocolate ganache and chocolate sorbet

Price: ££

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