Monday, 25 November 2013

Warming Winter Food at Norman's Kitchen

One thing that amazes me every year I come back to Newcastle is how cold it gets. I know I should know better really (after all this is my fourth year here!) but I'm never quite prepared for it. The problem is that it gets cold so early. By the time it's the start of October, there's already wintry gusts slapping your face whenever you step outside. I think I can handle it, only for it to get colder, and colder, and colder, and colder...

I have a cute little paper thermometer, that changes colour according to what temperature it is (it's supposed to demonstrate some chemistry thing...?). It only ranges from 12ºC to 34ºC. It's blank, no colour appears, probably because the temperature in my house is not registrable on that scale, and I'm pretty sure it's not cos it's too hot!

Cold weather makes me lazy. All I ever want to do is sleep. And not get out of my warm cozy bed. Except maybe to eat.

Especially when there's good food...

Norman's Kitchen clay pot rice dishes | Svelte Salivations

There's a neat little homely place in Newcastle City Centre, near Chinatown, but not in it, that's popped up in the last year or so. Norman's Kitchen is a quiet subtle place thats easy to miss if you're not looking for it. 

I'd been recommended the place by a friend who kept gushing on about the amazing clay pot rice there. What a better thing to do on a freezing winter day than to try it out.

The menu boasts a page of different clay pot rice toppings, but they do various other rice and mains-type dishes as well.

Beef mince and fried egg clay pot rice at Norman's Kitchen | Svelte Salivations

We opted for a typical clay pot dish - beef mince with egg, and another typical Chinese dish, although not one I've seen in a clay pot before - crispy roast pork.

The wait was average, nothing too long, as can be with some restaurants who serve clay pot rice, as they require time to cook the rice only when you order it. Our rice was piping hot and smelt incredible. They also give you a dish of soya sauce each to pour over your own pot, which means you can control the saltiness according to your own tastes.

The only thing was they took the lids off as soon as they served it, while I like to keep the lid on my clay pot rice for 5 minutes or so, as the steam helps to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot, allowing you to eat the wonderful, slightly burnt, crust of rice that forms. This proved not to be a problem though, because they were quite generous with the oil heh. 

Roast pork clay pot rice at Norman's Kitchen | Svelte Salivations

The portions were massive, we were both so full, and barely managed to finish it all! But we did, because it was just that good.

The mince beef was incredible, the texture of the patty was so smooth and fine, yet not mushy at all. The fried egg on top was the cherry on top! Could've been more runny, so all the golden goodness can run out, but nevertheless, delicious all the same.

The roast pork was not bad either, but while it did satisfy my cravings (I do miss proper Chinese food  when I'm away from home...), I can see why it's not a usual topping. The roast pork is roasted, and the added onto the rice when the rice is done. This means that crispy skin on the pork stays crispy(ish), but it also means that the rice does not get any of the flavour of the meat while it is cooked.

I think next time, I'm going to opt for ones where the meat is cooked inside the clay pot at the same time as the rice.

Because there will definitely be a next time!

If I can ever bring myself to get out of bed, and face the inhumane weather conditions of this country.

Restaurant Information:

Norman's Kitchen
Tel: 0191 261 5717
Address: 93 Clayton Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 5PZ