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Monday 7 March 2016

Laksa at GPT Smokehouse by Ping Coombes

When Ping Coombes won Masterchef in 2014 I was delighted, she showed off her sense of humour and remained calm under stressful situations. She brought something different to the table and Malaysian cooking into the foray. Ping and I met 9 years ago working at a terrible office job and all the support staff bonded together against the oppressive atmosphere. Fast forward in time and she has thrived. After spending last Summer of parading round the food festivals with Ping's Buns, fresh 24 roast pork buns, she set up a two date pop up to bring us all proper laksa.

I bought tickets to the first date and decided to take my mum to try something new. The venue was the GPT Smokehouse in Bath so after a couple of drinks at the Brewhouse we walked along the Lower Bristol Road. The GPT Smokehouse has come a long way since it was the Green Park Tavern. Back in the day I saw a punk band there and enjoyed many a refreshing beverage with friends. It is a warm and cosy pub now and it was buzzing with activity the night we went. We were shown to the back area which seems to be some extension as it's a lot more brightly lit than the main part of the pub.

We ordered a glass of wine each and looked over the side dishes that could be added on to our laksa. There were lor bak, five spice pork spring rolls, cucur udang, prawn and garlic chive fritters and finally ikan bilis, anchovies harvested and dried on the shores of Ping's home town in Malaysia, picked by her mum no less.

We decided to go for some lor bak to share. Whilst we waited we could smell the spices of the laksa all around us it was tantalising. Unfortunately the couple at the end of the table to us ended up getting our order so we had to wait much longer than we should have because of the mix up. But once our food arrived we notice we also had a portion of cucur udang which we hadn't ordered the waitress said this was to make up for the wait. I could not wait any long so I tucked right in.

Ping Coombes laksa

Ping Coombes food

The food was absolutely gorgeous. The laksa was definitely spicier than I thought it would be, but that is no bad thing because I love hot food. The coconut tempered the chilli, the flavour of the broth was so intense and there was so much depth of flavour it was perfect. The pork in the lor bak was really tender and the plum sauce was a great match. The prawn and chive fritters were soft and moreish I could have eaten them all day. Ping popped out after service to speak to some friendly faces so I was able to congratulate her on the seriously delicious food. I cannot wait for the next one.

So next time you see Ping doing a pop up jump at the chance her cooking is comforting and full of great flavours. I for one am looking forward to browsing her book on Malaysian cooking when it is released. To find out more visit her website.

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