London Travels – Bintang, Camden

It’s a part of our capital that has housed the likes of Karl Marx, Mary Shelley and, more recently, Tom Hiddleston. It’s also the home to this site’s first ever Pan-Asian persuasion…

Camden is a part of London I have never yet really explored. I am still yet to experience its vibrant marketplace, for which it has a reputation. Its restaurants are also, sadly, unknown to me. Until now, that is.

We’ve been a bit samey here at Expensive Tastes lately – a lot of burgers flying about and not very much interesting. It’s about time that changed, and with my latest visit to London, the Pan-Asian fusion restaurant Bintang on Kentish Town Road quickly became the subject of this latest review. It came as a recommendation from my friend Fahim Ali, who was joining me – it was not his first visit so he would handy to show me the ropes.

Prawn Crackers and Sweet Chilli dip

Lunchtime is busy, even in the later hours of the afternoon such as those we were eating at, and due to that, some patience with the service is to be advised. However they did keep us going and let us know they cared by providing us with a freebie – in this case some prawn crackers with a sweet chilli dip (see pictured).

Korean Wings

Eventually we came to the first course, which is undoubtedly one of the best things you are ever going to find in any restaurant – Korean Wings (see pictured), available in fives, twelves or twenty-fours, depending on your appetite and how good at sharing you are. As it was to be our starter, Fahim and I shared a plate of five, and we were given one extra for good measure. Napkins at the ready, because eating this was a messy affair. The wings came covered in what the restaurant call their “Special Sauce”, about which you won’t hear many complaints. But what flavour was it really? Sweet? Then a hint of spice? Also tangy? Probably best to just try it yourself and form your own opinion. But the meat too was sensational and succulent — the likes of KFC and Nando’s can hang their heads in shame for chicken of such sheer quality. It’s also one to attempt in the event of a Pan-Asian-influenced barbeque, in my opinion.

Beef Ulek
Photo Credit: Fahim Ali

Curries are unfamiliar occurrences at Expensive Tastes – if one features in a review, it’s by way of one of my co-diners ordering one. On his last visit, Fahim braved the Beef Ulek (see pictured), illustrated spiciness-wise with three chillis, and I have been otherwise advised that it cannot be described without using a 🔥🔥 emoji. But given I am still very much a beginner on the curry front, I opted, after a bit of mind-changing, a Lamb Rendang (see pictured below), which is a mild Malaysian lamb curry, which I ordered with coconut rice.

Lamb Rendang

I approached it cautiously at first, but totally needlessly – this was definitely a good choice of curry regardless of whether you’re experienced in the field or not – spice-phobes would find this a decent option. It was a very rich sauce, filled with onions and coriander, which only complemented the lamb pieces, some of which were still on the bone, but which otherwise practically dissolved in the mouth. Adding to the richness, to a point where it became impossible to finish the dish, was the coconut rice, still dripping with coconut milk that gave everything a really creamy texture. It was gorgeous, don’t get me wrong.

Quarter Crispy Duck with pancakes, mint cucumber, spring onions and hoisin sauce

Having said all this, if curry really isn’t your thing, then a quarter Crispy Duck with the usual trimmings of pancakes, cucumber, spring onions and hoisin sauce (see pictured) might be more tempting. The quarter-size portion was Fahim’s choice of main on this visit, but the dish does come in full and half-size portions as well.

From the outside it might strike you as a questionable and dubious part of town, but direct all love to the inside of this little diamond in the rough. It may have inspired a fair few more restaurants of its kind to be appearing in this publication very soon.