Friday, September 5, 2008

ASAP - cheap takeaway Asian food in City of London


31 The Circle, Broadgate, London EC2 Tel: 0207 256 5045

doesn't come cheap when you work in the City. A decent lunch with drinks can cost up to £10-£15 pp. So unless you're an investment banker, a hotshot lawyer or holds the company's credit card, you'll bound to have the occasional takeout sandwich from Pret, E.A.T. or some dubious corner café. At £2-£3 per serving, it's defnitely more affordable.

However, that might have changed for those who work in the vicinity of Liverpool Street Station. I chanced upon ASAP, which opens up a branch at 'The Circle', a two minute skip from Liverpool Street Station. You would have thought that 'ASAP' refers to the fact that you'll be able to get your food asap. Well, you're right and wrong in that aspect.

ASAP is indeed a fast food outlet. With limited seating (40 or so), most patrons buy takeaways. While I was there having my lunch, two things became apparent - the queue is always long and it's always moving fast. The Thai dominated shop assistants were able to serve a customer with an average time of under three minutes (queue time included). Very fast indeed. The name however, is the Malay word to describe fragrant steam from enticing food.

The setup of the serving area reminds me an 'economy rice' stall back in Singapore. The procedure is simple; just grab a transparent plastic container, write your name on the lid and pass the entire container to the staff. Your order will then be packed and shoved into the microwave while you fumble with your change. Viola, you walk out of the shop a couple of minutes later a satisfied customer.

The cuisine is distinctively south east Asian or more precisely Straits Chinese. The main dishes included ginger chicken, pork with poached eggs, fried noodles and rice, beef doused in pepper gravy (just to name a few). A dish, which is invariable a meat, served with steamed rice will set you back by £5.50. It taste pretty good really, in fact it's almost as good as my Mum's cooking.

No more cold sandwiches, no more lunches that will burn a hole in your pocket. Why not pop by ASAP the next time you're near Liverpool Street Station?

Read also...
The Rock and Sole Plaice - Fish and chips anyone?
S & M - satisfy your craving for sausages
Shell-Seekers - Mussels galore

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SheR. said...

Ooo... the food looks yummy!!
Hey you forgot another category of people like me who don't happen to be a lawyer or anything close to that.. The CHEF!!
We get free meals. Hee... Foie Gras and Lobster Bisque anyone?

C K said...

How can I forget the Chef? But from your photo, it doesn't seem that you managed to pillage much from the kitchen.

Either that or you have an extremely high metabolism rate. :)

eastcoastlife said...

Still expensive if I convert to Sing dollars. haha... But I guess it is pretty economical for those living in London.

sher, I want the foie gras and lobster bisque! My son gets to eat fine food everyday, no wonder he can't keep his weight down.

lina said...

Asap for a restaurant name? That's something different.

I guess the price is cheap for Londoners but definitely not for us who will keep converting it back to RM/SGDs!

waitingkitty said...

I am glad that I am living in HK. No problem getting cheap Asian food here. BTW, Breadtalk and Toast Box have been opening many branches here in HK, so I can even get my kaya toast, runny eggs and kopi the Singaporean style!

yanjiaren's blog. said...

I love Chinese ginger chicken and I can't wait to get to London next week to visit y Son. I am taking him to Chinatown again for a slap up piece of duck.

Fëanor said...

CK: Thanks for this pointer. I'll check it out one of these days. Btw, there's a Chinese restaurant on Middlesex Street in the City, which my Chinese colleagues assure me serves as authentic a North Chinese cuisine as can be found in London. I forget the name, but if you go, you can't miss it - it's got a large red facade and is not too far from a watering hole called the Poet. It's quite reasonably priced, I thought - a main dish is £7 and is huge. If you go, do let us know what you think of it.

Blog Tactic said...

Actually, in Malay, "asap" is smoke.

Dutchie said...

ck, the concept of having a warm meal at noon is reserved for the happy few. Voor the general populace, it's that dreadful cheese sandwich for lunch at one's own desk :(

Amsterdam Central (shopping lanes) does offer all kinds of quick bites (wedge of pizza, stuffed bread rolls, quiche, etc). I saw only 1 shop with Asian takeaways which resembles ASAP formula, going for € 7,50 to 12,00 depending on what u choose to go with ur rice. Sweet n sour pork is most popular. Chicken satay (cubes of meat on a stick in peanut sauce - not grilled n very bland) is also the local favourite.
My hubby n I will inevitably go to a chinese restaurant for char siew fun, duck rice or hor fun They r pretty good at € 9,50 a plate. 2 wontons in a small bowl of soup goes for € 4,00 (not worth it - better pay for a pot of jasmine tea which can be shared). Best of all r the flaky mooncakes or lotus buns which we "tah-pow" for later.
Such treats dont happened frequent enough for us bec of the long distance .. sigh ..

C K said...

You know what? I wouldn't even think of forking out $5 for a plate of chicken rice in Singapore. But just yesterday, I was lapping up a bowl of pork (instant) noodles for £5 a plate.

It's really a matter of perspective.

Hey, you mean your son is surviving on foie gras? :)

talking about naming restaurants, there's this Malay restaurant in Prague named Saté... no prizes for guessing what they sell.

Breadtalk was fantastic when it first opened in Singapore but it has gone downhill ever since. I still stop by for the occasional pork floss bun when I'm back though.

But hey, I love Toast Box! The way they cut their toast into cubes is just so convenient!

You'll be surprised that the duck sold in London taste far better than those found in Singapore. I suspect it's the feed that goes into fattening the dark. Hmm...

Oh, congrats on your upcoming wedding!

Got that. Whew, it has been an eating fest for the last couple of weeks. I'm now staring at my ever expanding waistline. Time to hit the gym.

£7 for a main dish sounds rather reasonable I would say. You'll be the first to know if I were to pay it a visit. Btw, how does Northern Chinese cuisine taste like? I've got abosolutely no idea...

@blog tactic,
Got that. Thanks for the correction. :)

It does seem that the price over at your end is comparable to London. I wonder whether there's a European conspiracy to maintain Chinese cuisine prices...

Anyway, sweet and sour pork is my favorite too... an irony as I wouldn't even think of ordering that back home. Perhaps it's the lack of variety over here. Oh well...

blurblurpiggy said...

Do you know if they're open on Saturdays?

Thanks :)

C K said...

I'm not quite sure about that. Perhaps you can drop them a line? You can find the number below the first photo. Cheers!

Do you work there during weekends as well?

blurblurpiggy said...

I work near Oxford Circus. I wanted to know because I was thinking of organizing a Msian gathering there. Do you know what time they are opened until on weekdays? I could only call them after work, I'm afraid they might not be opened by the time I finish.

Thanks a lot for the info :)

C K said...

Sorry to have missed your follow up comment. I hope that you have found a venue for your Malaysian gathering.

To be honest, I don't think ASAP is a great place to 'gather'. It's more like a foraging ground for you to fill your stomach in a hurry.

I would definitely recommend the Malaysian Hall and I'm sure you know where it is. :)

kyh said...

It's nice to hear so many Malaysian/Sg establishments are popping up in London in recent years. Good for those who miss home or are trying to excite their taste buds!

But yet, the prices in the menu to me are erm... expensive.

kyh said...

Oooops.... The above comment was supposed to be for your Sedap entry. I didn't know why I ended up posting my comment here. :P

Anonymous said...

The northern Chinese place mentioned is called Gourmet San, or My Old Place. There are two branches, one on Middlesex St. near Liverpool Street station and the other on Bethnal Green Road. Excellent Sichuan food and very reasonable - and that's even when converted back into SGD, e.g. 1 pound for lamb skewer and 70p for BBQ chicken wing.