When I know I have friends or family visiting London, the first thing I plan is where we should eat. Depending on the circumstances, this can be a challenging task including dietary requirements, food preferences as well as balancing cost and location.
I recently had the challenge of finding a reasonably priced, halal restaurant that wasn’t Indian. Luckily, I stumbled across Bintang, a pan-Asian restaurant that was situated 5 minutes away from Camden tube station.
We decided to be seated downstairs, which to our surprise, was deserted but still had a cosy, quaint-feel to the restaurant.
The menu was also pretty extensive with dishes ranging from Japanese to Malaysian with no pork or alcohol in sight. For those that love a tipple, the restaurant operates a BYOB policy which is great for those on a budget.
To start, we ordered Thai crackers which arrived crispy with a mixture of colours. The white crackers lent more towards the usual prawn crackers served in restaurants and the darker coloured crackers, had a more subtle yet crispy taste and texture; pleasant enough but nothing that stood out.
We also ordered the chicken and coriander dumplings for starters. The coriander was scattered above the dumplings and was a little too intense for the subtle flavouring. The taste and texture of the dumplings was refreshing but veered towards the thin side with more pastry than chicken filling which was disappointing.
My dining accomplice decided to try the chicken katsu curry. The dish arrived and was swimming in curry sauce which could have been rectified with less sauce or by choosing a scooped plate. Nevertheless, the sauce had the usual Japanese curry taste and the chicken was deliciously crispy.
I opted for the lamb chops with wasabi slaw which had a nice creamy, tangy slaw. However, the lamb was disappointing with tough bits of meat that had a little too much gristle for it to be enjoyable and as the lamb chops leant towards the smaller side, there also wasn’t enough meat to be satisfied.
My accomplice had never tried duck before or gua bao, and the two together sounded delicious. When the dish arrived, we were both taken aback at how big the portions were. Since my dish wasn’t as filling, I still had room for a piece of the duck gua bao.
As succulent as the dish looked, there was far too much filling, making it uncomfortable and extremely messy on consumption. The duck was overpowered by the sweet, sticky glaze which after a few bites, became too sickly and there was also far too much, unnecessary, coriander. The steamed bun however, was light and fluffy but not the best I’ve tried in London.
The food at Bintang was average however, as I don’t have a restricted diet (nor am I fussy), there are plenty of non-halal options for me to choose from. Those on a restricted diet, may find that Bintang is a great option if you’re looking for something different from the usual halal eateries such as Indian, Moroccan or Lebanese as you’re bound to find something you may never have tasted.
– Bintang, Camden