Above: Two Hungry Girls' absolutely fabulous green tea profiteroles
There are a certain type of people, who every now and again confide, slightly mope-ily, that it's so much harder to make friends and really connect with people as adults, compared to when we had the condusive environment of school to bind us together. All the more so if one is a transplant in a big city far from home.
This remark always used to sadden me, and constrict me with a wee bit of anxiety, especially when I was on the brink of moving to a new city, and definitely when I was on the brink of leaving a traditional work environment, diving into the seeming murk of freelancing and startup-ing (is that a verb?)
But the foodies of London (you know who y'all are, lovelies) have, over the last year and a bit, continuously proved my anxiety wrong. No one's claiming or promising kinship at first sight. But make the effort to break bread together often enough, and smiles and laughter inevitably start to bubble, and heart starts to warm (maybe due to arteries slowly clogging, but why fight a good feeling?)
Leigh and Shu of the newly formed Two Hungry Girls supperclub are a case in point. I met fellow Singaporean transplant Leigh through working with Singapore supperclub Plusixfive, and over subsequent coffees, ramen and gingerbread, found ourselves egging each other on with our freelance ventures (Leigh is a professional pastry chef, and started Craft Cakes to design custom cakes and teach pastry making and decorating classes). Shu -- a Malaysian native and author of Hungry Female who left her corporate sales job to spend time learning Chinese in Beijing -- charmed me immediately with her irrepressible energy and infectious laugh.
Above: The Two Hungry Girls, Leigh (left) and Shu. Photo by Nathalie Malric
And so I am delighted to introduce to you all Two Hungry Girls supperclub, and its mission to share their own brand of creative Chinese and South East Asian cuisine with London.
I got a sneak peek at Leigh and Shu's handiwork last month when they hosted a charity supperclub for the Great British Chefs / Action Against Hunger charity supperclub competition. Here's the supper that got them into the competition finals.
Their opening act? An absolutely delicious lychee and raspberry sangria. These were fresh, hand-peeled lychees, mind you, not the syrupy canned variety. Very addictive. This is going to be a major hit in the summer months I reckon.
To start, lightly picked cucumbers with shredded cloud ear mushrooms; and tea-soaked eggs.
Mains: A dish I immediately recognised from tramping around Laos - a platter of visually delightful "birdcage" lemongrass skewers. Utterly yummy, fragrant and so much fun as diners inevitably peer at the skewers intrigued at how the chef got the meatballs into the birdcages.
Tofu tends to get absolutely butchered (ironically) by Western vegetarians. When treated respectfully as a star in its own right rather than a shoddy stand-in for meat, tofu can be a real delicacy, as the girls pull off here with a simple soya sauce and sesame oil dressing and fried shallots.
Stir fried prawns and asparagus. A deceptively simple dish since it is actually very easy to overcook. This rendition had a lovely crunch.
Panfried fish, with the skin crisped to perfection (again, tricky for many home cooks). For Two Hungry Girls' debut supper they'll be combining fish with a Sichuan style mala (literally meaning numbing and spicy) sauce.
However much of this Chinese soul food you shovel in, be sure to save room for dessert, or kick yourself afterwards. Behold Leigh's parting shot (and what a whammy it was!): A tower of green tea profiteroles. (Did I mention that Leigh used to work at the Michelin-starred Sketch?)
Two Hungry Girls make their supperclub debut on Sunday 1 April (no joke) in Hampstead. Come sample some Chinese soul food, scarf some scrumptious desserts, meet some interesting people and maybe, just maybe, chase away a few big city blues.
Hope to see some of you there!
Disclosure: I'm the founder of Edible Experiences, and run marketing and bookings for Two Hungry Girls. Click on the link below to keep track of events by Two Hungry Girls.