If there any positives to be taken from the whole pandemic situation, it's that it's forced a lot of people to take a good look at their lives and what they are doing, and maybe make a few changes. It's forced a few others to change direction completely, and this is definitely the case with the little foodie company I am about to introduce you to...
Frustrated by the fact that having moved to Winchester from Malaysia they couldn't find the food they loved so much, James and Nicole felt there was no time like the present to start up their own street food stall using recipes from Penang (where Nicole's family is from) and Southern China (plus family recipes too) using traditional cooking methods and ingredients. And so, Lucky Lychee was born focussing on Chinese, Malay and Thai dishes inspired by Penang Street Food...
Malaysian food is a veritable melting pot with influences from Indonesia, India, China as well of course, regional Malaysian dishes - I have yet to eat something Malaysian I don't really like... We visited Penang a very long time ago and apart from beautiful old George Town (which is now unsurprisingly a World Heritage Site), I can still remember exactly what we had to eat at the night markets each night, it was all that good...
James and Nicole invited us to their house for dinner earlier this week to sample the dishes they will serve at Lucky Lychee (pretty impressive to pull off a mini dinner party the night before their first market in Reading), and we were treated to authentic 8-Hour Beef Rendang, Malaysian Chicken Curry (Nicole's family recipe no less), Thai Hot Dogs, and Chinese Meat Pies... Everything is made by Nicole and James, right down to the pastes for the curries and the pastry for the meat pies.
The Thai Hot Dogs (first picture at the top!) are really different, I guarantee you haven't had a hot dog like this before. These are full of Thai Spices such as lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves as well as delivering a pretty respectable chilli kick - so good!! James and Nicole tried these first in Bangkok, and came back and experimented with making their own recipes until finally coming up with one they were happy with. They then found a great local butcher to produce the sausages for them using some of the best local pork around (they supply him with the curry paste). The hot dogs are served in a brioche bun with fresh Asian herbs grown on James and Nicole's allotment.
The Chinese Meat Pies are a cross between gyoza, with a lovely crispy base and a soup dumpling (be careful when you are eating them!), and are absolutely delicious. James and Nicole will be selling them in threes along with fresh homemade pickles.
The 8-Hour Beef Rendang is a dish of Indonesian heritage that is found pretty much everywhere in Malaysia. A dry curry full of delicious flavours including cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, as well as lemongrass, garlic, ginger and galangal. Served with perfectly cooked rice and made with beef cheek, this was probably the best Rendang I have had. You can tell they use the best quality products as the dishes really reflect this.
Nicole's family's recipe for Malaysian Chicken curry really is delicious - a heady mix of coconut milk, Malaysian Curry Paste, star anis, lemongrass, chicken thighs and a few other secret ingredients. It has a slightly sweet and sour aspect, and is served with steamed rice. I am looking forward to bowls of this on cold English days!
Nicole and James plan to expand their food repertoire in due course, but as I have a sneaky suspicion they are perfectionists when it comes to their dishes, you can rest easy in the knowledge that the four dishes they currently serve, they are personally completely happy with, and each of them are delicious and full of fresh Asian flavours.
We really enjoyed our evening with this lovely local couple (you always automatically have something in common when you are equally passionate about food and travel), and really admire their determination to serve great food made with local produce, and all in sustainable packaging too, which is really important these days.
You can find them tomorrow on Middle Brook Street Market between 11-3 for their Winchester Launch where all of the dishes we tried on Wednesday night will be available...
Welcome to the Winchester food scene guys, we wish you all the best with Lucky Lychee, but with your food, you won't need that much luck, trust me!
Middle Brook Street Market