Wednesday 28th September 2016 – House of Dodo, Kerb @ Quay, Canary Wharf, London
Continuing on from last week’s trip to eat at the street food extravaganza (well, 8 stalls anyway) that is Kerb on the Quay over on West India Quay, and faced with a sunny lunchtime when I didn’t fancy soup at my desk, I decided I’d check out another stall, this time the rather wonderfully named House of Dodo. This time the influences are Mauritian, the owner having rounded up their grandmother’s recipes and put them to good use. Now you can’t get too ambitious with a food truck, you don’t have the room, but the menu sounded lovely with curries and seafood and a variety of options beside including goat.
Now I love goat as much as the next fan of gamey flavoured meat, more possibly, and in fact cannot shake the urge to eat roast kid – cabri – whenever spring rolls around because we ate it so often in France in the Spring. In fact during the time I spent in Grenoble we always reckoned we knew spring had finally arrived when the restaurant tables appeared on the terraces and the chalked up menu boards offered gigot de cabri. As a result the goat halim sounded brilliant if not entirely Mauritian. It was described as curried goat dished up with a mix of red lentils and spices and I would have been happy to opt for it were it not for the mention of seafood rougaille – squid tentacles, king prawns, and jumbo mussels, cooked together in a spicy tomato and thyme sauce.
In the event, I arrived at the quay and found that neither dish was available. I had considered satay duck hearts from another of the stalls but that wasn’t available either. I took a long hard look at the House of Dodo counter and let my nose be my guide. The coconut beef curry smelled wonderful, and looked pretty good too!
£7.00 later I was clutching a container of good things, with the curry sitting on well-cooked basmati rice, that had retained its texture well considering they were almost two hours into lunch service when I got there. There was a lovely, crunchy zasar, which I’m told is a Mauritian salad of pickled vegetables, in white wine vinegar, with mustard seeds (lots of mustard seeds) and saffron. In addition there was the option to have a chutney that seemed to be laced with coriander, as well a mix of coriander and chillis that could be added to the mix, and some natural yoghurt in case the chillis fought back too fiercely.
The first forkful suggested the curry was slightly sweeter than an Indian beef curry might be, with spicing kept to a level that made you feel warm but didn’t leave you sweating, a trick that many British-“Indian” dishes seem to pull on unsuspecting foreigners. Not in fact anywhere near the vindaloo that floored a Dutch friend of ours when she wouldn’t listen to us and insisted on ordering one in a restaurant somewhere in the wilds of Warwickshire. It was nothing like what she knew as a vindaloo and in fact she managed about two forkfuls before having to give up and abandon the effort.
This, on the other hand, was rich, just fragrant enough, with plenty of sauce to coat the rice, and wasn’t that different to something I would make at home from scratch. I’d have liked more vegetables perhaps and another time I may go for a larger helping of coriander, but all in all it was a thoroughly tasty lunch.
The one thing that is starting to baffle me about my trips to Kerb so far is that there are always queues at the other stalls but not at the ones I am attracted to. Not sure what this says about me, or my fellow Kerb goers, but judging by the way they all gravitate to the barbeque/burger/ribs type trucks, I think what it says if that they are sadly unadventurous, where I am quite the opposite. Whatever the cause, it does mean that I tend not to have to queue, which is fine by me.