East Meets West at Champor-Champor:
Guest feature by Lisa Hooper.
London is full of hidden gems and one which I have recently discovered is Champor-Champor. Tucked away behind London Bridge and The Shard is this charming little Thai-Malay fusion restaurant. The original owner opened the restaurant in 2000 and this was very much a labour of love. Much of the elaborate décor was painted by the owner’s own hand and he filled the place full of Asian antiques. The result is that you feel you are entering an exotic wonderland. Upon him reaching celebratory status in Thailand (and landing the role of a judge on Malaysia’s Masterchef), the restaurant changed hands in 2011. The current Director, Som, explained that her dream upon taking over the business was to expand the menu to encompass a fusion of Asian and European flavours. With an excellent chef working with her, she has certainly fulfilled this ambition.
We started with the Duck Roti and the Chicken liver and green peppercorn pate, served with prawn crackers and mango chutney. The duck dish is a take on the traditional shredded duck with hoisin sauce but served in a roti rather than a pancake. The flavours were beautiful and I found that with a roti being heavier than a pancake, it works well to encase a greasier meat such as duck. The pate served with prawn crackers rather than toast sounds totally wrong but eating is believing when it comes to sampling this dish. The beauty of this restaurant is that it gets you to mix totally unconventional flavours which result in something unexpectedly delicious on the palette.
Should you wish to keep to a more traditional dish, you will find a good selection of Thai and Malaysian curries on the menu. However, for a main course I opted for the pan-fried red snapper, Malaysian sambal sauce and squid ink linguine. This really is a case of east meets west. A piece of pan-fried fish and pasta is obviously a norm on a European menu but in this case the linguine had spring onions and chillies through it and the fish was covered in a delicate but spicy Asian sauce. The flavour combinations were stunning.
The portion sizes are extremely generous which left us with little room for dessert. But as the flavour combinations on the dessert menu continued to intrigue us, we opted to share a portion of green tea and pistachio parfait. Green tea is a very distinct and slightly bitter flavour but by combining it with the creaminess of the ice-cream parfait and buttery/nutty flavour of the pistachios, it resulted in a lovely light and refreshing dish.
The staff are charming and happy to answer any questions you might have about the menu and to recommend the more popular dishes if you are having trouble deciding! This is quite a small restaurant and the tables are laid up for smaller parties. However, there are also two private dining rooms which can seat parties of up to 12. I would certainly think of hosting a celebration meal here, especially as both of the private rooms are decorated in more of the Asian silks, paintings and artefacts.
I would sum up by saying that this restaurant stimulates the senses in more ways than one. Visually, with the totally unique décor, but most certainly with the awakening of the taste-buds by experiencing new flavours.
62-62 Weston Street
London SE1 3QJ
020 7403 4600