It’s been almost 6 months since I moved to Crouch End now, and I have to say I love the feel of the place. It’s much more villagey than most areas of London; the people are friendly, you get to know familiar faces and goodness gracious – you may even get a hello as you pass by, on a good day.
It also has some great shops, pubs and restaurants – with something to suit every taste. But I must admit, the place we keep returning to (almost weekly, I’m not afraid to admit) is TooTooMoo, the Pan-Asian restaurant on Crouch End Hill.
There are plenty of reasons this lovely little venue has become a fast favourite, but let’s keep the focus where it should be; on the food. The range is extensive without being overwhelming, with a wide selection of dishes from various parts of Asia, that will suit everyone’s tastes. There are plenty of healthy and vegetarian options, and lots of dishes are gluten free too.
The menu is divided up into sections, including Small Plates, Sushi, Sashimi & Salads, Noodles and Rice & Large Plates. They encourage sharing here, so it’s good to get a selection off small plates and try a bit of everything for starters – but I must admit, I almost always go for the Squid.
And… I’m not prepared to share my squid. It’s seriously scrummy – tender inside yet crispy on the outside thanks to the almost invisibly light batter, and paired with a deliciously spicy chilli sauce. I’ve also tried the Pork & Prawn Siu Mai – which is also great. I’m dying to get in there early one day so I can try the range of dim sum; they’re only available before 5pm and I haven’t had the chance to enjoy the sticky buns yet. I do so love a sticky bun…
Moving on to the more substantial plates; my favourite dishes include the Wasabi Lamb with Green Beans (I have had this twice now, both times equally great). The lamb is seared on the outside so it has the most delicious, caramalised crust, yet still juicy and tender on the inside. The Wasabi sauce isn’t anything like you find in your Japanese takeaway, it’s real Wasabi, fresh, spicy and piquant but without that “burn” you get when you breath in. I could honestly eat 2 portions of this in a sitting – it’s SO good.
Also recommended come the Duck and Watermelon salad – I haven’t personally tried this as I’m not a melon fan – but my eating companions have and rave about it. Also try the cod dish (pictured here; sometimes replaced with sea bass) that is only on the eat in menu – not the takeaway one. The Nasi Goreng is also wonderful – especially when you throw in the accompanying chilli sauce and give it a little extra kick. I’m not a big lover of rice dishes usually, but this is packed to bursting with delicious crisp vegetables and huge, plump king prawns. Oh YES.
I’m also told on good authority that the Pad Thai is done to perfection, while I can personally vouch for the Stir Fry Ramen; simple dishes like these can either be average or excellent – and these both come in the second category.
In fact, it’s fair to say that everything we have tried from the menu (so far, we’re still munching our way through the list) has been better than good.
Of course, that’s the main reason I like Tootoomoo. But not the only one. It’s one of those places that make you feel really welcome. You walk through the door to a chorus of hello’s – they know we’re going to eat squid before we order, so bring that while we’re deciding what to have next. The staff have a laugh and a giggle with you and are happy to explain something on the menu or recommend something new. It’s colourful, lively and family friendly, with crayons and colouring paper for the kids, keeping them entertained while the adults enjoy a cocktail (or mocktail) or two, but also a great place to catch up with friends or enjoy a date. They also have a great attention to detail, in everything from the way the food is presented to the little touches, such as personalised water bottles on your table.
With such an array of eateries around, many of which I’ve not yet tried, why do we keep coming back here? Simple. The food is top quality. The atmosphere is casual and relaxed. The staff make an effort to get to know you and your favourite dishes and you always, ALWAYS get greeted with a smile. For casual, reasonably priced food, done very well indeed, I’m not sure it can be beaten.
PS: The restaurant does takeaway/delivery too, for those lucky enough to live nearby. I think one of the best things they’ve done with this is put images of all dishes online when you go to “Order Online” so you can see if something takes your fancy. I’ve been known to check my phone for images before ordering in the restaurant, as I like to know what my dinner is going to look like!
For those of you who like/are wondering about the name TooTooMoo – find the original story here.