Supper Club Review: Yummy Choo Eats

By - Tuesday 28th May, 2013


From Mauritius With Love – via Croydon

Breadfruit fritters, shrimp croquettes, Mauritian bruschetta, chicken liver gajak, coconut chutney and coriander satini

There’s a recession on, and staying in is – allegedly –  the new going out. Although, as I set off for Yummy Choo Eats supper club in East Croydon, it was unclear to this novice food reviewer whether this was to be an ‘in’ or an ‘out’ experience. Yummy Choo Eats is a Mauritian supper club, advertised online for serious foodies, amateur enthusiasts or just the gastronomically adventurous.

Supper clubs are in-betweeners – usually held in the home of the organiser, paid for on arrival with a specified contribution, booze also to be brought along by guests.   They seek to combine the occasion of dining out with the relaxation of a home environment, spiked with the knowledge that the cuisine in question is someone’s passion and that your fellow diners are likewise up for a voyage of discovery.  I visualised a buffet, but on arrival found myself welcomed by Yummy Choo’s vividly beautiful founder, Selina Periampillai, handed a rum cocktail, and seated around a long table in her living room where a three-course journey into the unknown  awaited.

Hasty research had reminded me that the island of Mauritius lies east of Madagascar, about 2000km off the east coast of Africa, and has been occupied by the Portuguese and the French at various points in its history.  Today, it also has Indian and Chinese communities. This hints at what might be expected from a culinary point of view, and names on the menu – cari poulet, gateaux piment , dhall puri, kofta rougaille – testified to influences both historical and modern (though whatever they did for the cooking, the occupiers of Mauritius also did for the dodo in short order between 1598 and 1662, which definitely counts as a fail).

Starters featured breadfruit fritters, shrimp croquettes, and Mauritian bruschetta, with refreshing coconut chutney as an adjunct.  My favourite amongst them was chicken liver gajak  -  tender, rich slices served on chunks of crispy bread and topped with fresh coriander. These surely possessed the power to convert even the offally hesitant.

Cari poulet, green banana curry, fish vindaye and tomato chilli salad

Mains were the previously mentioned cari poulet (a subtle and delicious chicken curry), green banana curry (which despite my cooling expectations of banana, was the fieriest dish served), fish vindaye, pineapple spiced rice, dhall puri, and tomato and chilli salad.  The underlying palate seemed Indian, with tropical notes from the pineapple and banana, but this wasn’t an overwhelmingly spicy experience. The meal was fragrant and subtle, with notes of herbs and spices remaining evident throughout, regularly lifted with energetic bursts of warmth. As one of my fellow diners observed, you could eat a lot of this stuff (fortunate indeed, as we were keen to do so) without really feeling that you’d eaten too much.

Rum baba with homemade coconut icecream

‘Dessert disappoints’ is a dining mantra I generally follow – you get more bang for your buck with starters. But Yummy Choo’s stood this one on its head with coconut ice-cream and a perfectly squidgy rum baba –  intense, rich, and cooling, a piece of tropical paradise. This clashed somewhat with the steady grey rain now falling outside, and dank chill was probably why I couldn’t enthuse about the accompanying alouda, a kind of chilled vanilla milkshake crying out to be sipped in golden sunshine. Change the mood and I would have loved it.

My fellow supper clubbers were an interesting bunch – a doctor, an architect, a woman who runs her own wine business, and a city-broker-happily-turned-trainee-chef-and-food-blogger among them – and the resulting conversation was lively. Meeting the like-minded, or indeed the not so like-minded, is part of the supper club experience and old hands clearly enjoy this beyond-the-norm social aspect of such occasions, as did I.  Food was more than a passing interest for them all, and for most (as for me), Mauritius had been terra incognito. As indeed had Croydon, and I was quietly delighted with positive reactions all round to their first-timers’ adventure on Tramlink.

Selina Periampillai, previously a photographer, founded Yummy Choo Eats just over a year ago. Choo is in fact her maiden name and the club generally meets at her home, with a limit of 11 -12 diners on these occasions. It is now expanding into central London with larger pop-up events, the two most  recent held at the National Gallery and at a pub in Fitzrovia.

Selina has welcomed serious food bloggers and reviewers as she seeks to build her brand, and engagingly described to me her (totally unnecessary) nervousness on occasions such as that.  But Yummy Choo’s at its Croydon roots has the atmosphere of a treasured culinary tradition, preserved and shared with anyone who loves food and is curious, out of Selina’s passion for it.  ‘Mama Choo’, her mother, glimpsed only as I was preparing to leave, must have something to do with this passion and works with her daughter as they morph their love of Mauritian food into a most successful enterprise.

I had a lovely time and the food was wonderful – the very best kind of review. Yummy Choo Eats is a Croydon treasure straight from the Indian Ocean. While I wish it well as it goes out into the big wide world, it will always be our baby.

Please do-don’t kill me. A commemorative napkin.

Liz Sheppard-Jones

Liz Sheppard-Jones

Writer and editor. Views personal, not representative of editorial policy.

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  • Anne Giles

    Sounds wonderful!