Sunday, 15 December 2019

The Ledbury

Still the best


Fallow deer rib, bone marrow, red cabbage


The Ledbury, for me, has been the best restaurant in London for the last 7 years. The casual fine dining restaurant in Nothing Hill has kept its 2 Michelin stars for 10 years now, unlike many other top restaurants out there, it doesn't use social media and mail marketing, chef-owner Brett Raham also has no Twitter or Instagram. It just relays on WOM to attract diners from around the world. If you ask most London based foodies, many would rate The Ledbury as the best in London and is easy to understand why with its modern, creative but refined approach in its cooking. They somehow just got the perfect balance of drama and taste. Nothing gimmicky about the style, just amazing tasting food.

Sketch Lecture Room

The new 3 stars on the block


Wild Native Turbot Roasted On The Bone


When the 2020 Michelin Guide result was released in September, Sketch was promoted from 2 stars to 3 stars. It stunned many people, including myself. I had an average meal at Sketch 5 years ago and I got to say it was 1 star level at best. Since then, there has been a new head chef and many rounds of menu changes, so maybe it is time for me to head back to give it another try. What makes Sketch special is its strange, fun and eye-catching decor, from its Alice in Wonderland theme bar, the pink-themed casual restaurant to the flagship, 3 Michelin starred fine dining Lecture Room. The restaurant is overseen by the legendary French chef Pierre Gagnaire, which is known for his creative approach in fine dining, using odd ingredients combination.

The Greenhouse

True Haute cuisine in Mayfair


Bouillabaisse, sole. red prawns, saffron


The Greenhouse in Mayfair is a special restaurant, with some very high profile chefs working there in the past, such as Alyn Williams and the late Gary Rhode. It gained 2 Michelin star status with Arnaud Bignon but he has left in 2018, he was replaced by Alex Dilling, who was the executive chef for Helene Darroze. He has managed to maintain the 2 stars status for the 2020 guide. Alex appeared to be on the right track as he has already gained some positive reviews from the media and loved by many chefs across the nation with his modern French cooking. The last time I was at The Greenhouse was back in 2016 so I was interested to see what Alex's cuisine is all about. To fully experience that, I opted for its long tasting menu which cost £155.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Céleste

Luxury French dining at Hype Park


Scottish scallops, crushed celeriac, crispy skin and Truffle chicken jus


When the 1 Michelin starred Celeste first opened the door back in 2015, I experienced one of the finest meals in London at that time. Back then, the restaurant menu was developed by the 3 Michelin starred chef Éric Fréchon from Paris, with Florian Favario was running the kitchen. Fast forward to 2019, it appears many things have changed. The restaurant is no longer using Eric Frechon's name on the website so it seems like he is no longer involved. The kitchen also has a new head chef in the name of the Steeven Gilles, who worked at 2 stars The Ledbury, as well as 3 stars Epicure in France. As it has been such a long time, I headed back to Celeste with an open mind. One thing for sure, however, is that the dining room is still as luxurious and elegant as ever.

Barboun

Eastern Mediterranean hotel restaurant in Shoreditch 


Red mullet, chunky muhammara, walnut


Back in 2016, I dined at Yosma and experienced what upmarket Turkish cuisine is all about. No more just the standard BBQ lamb chops or yogurt with spiced adana. I encountered some big flavours, ingredient lead cooking. However, Yosma didn't last long and it has since closed down, I suspect it was largely to do with the location (Baker Street) and its super large space. Fast forward to 2019, the people behind Yosma is having another go, this time, a large Mediterranean restaurant called Barboun inside the Zabeel House hotel. From looking at the menu, it seems much more premium, you can see sirloin, octopus, and even smoked eel on the menu. The restaurant space is classy, it felts more like a British modern restaruant than a Mediterranean one.


China Tang London

Winter warmer, Cantonese style


Steamed brown crab in egg white and rice wine


China Tang is one of my to-go with places for authentic, top-notch Cantonese food in London. I have lost count how many times I have been there now, it might be inside a posh hotel, but the cooking is all about classic, old school Cantonese, with no gimmicks whatsoever. For my winter visit, I had the chance to sample some new dishes that head chef Fong is testing out, as well as getting my hands on some traditional winter dishes. The restaurant was so so busy on the night I went, it was flooded with travelers, as well as wealthy locals.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

The Grill at The Dorchester

New chapter


The Grill lobster thermidor tart

The Dorchester is blessed with a 3 Michelin stars restaurant in the name of Alan Ducasse and a popular Chinese restaurant China Tang. However, its less formal British restaurant, The Grill, somewhat is not much loved at all. Every time when I walk past it, it hardly has any customers, and I got to say, looking at the menu, it is dull and expensive. The hotel clearly is trying to inject life and excitement into The Grill, by appointing Tom Booton as its head chef, Tom is a serious talent with working experience from the like of Alyn Williams, L'Autre Pied and Hide. At the Grill, he has come up with a brand new menu with plenty of British classics, with modern refinement. 

Trivet

Not Fat and not duck


Scallop, barbucine and sesame


When there is a new restaurant opening, one of the first thing I check is the CV of the chef behind it. Whoever is the PR agency behind Trivet, the new opening by Johnny Lake must be one of the easiest jobs as Johnny's record is seriously impressive. You might have encountered him on some of Heston Blumenthal's TV shows in the past, as Heston's right-hand man and the company's Executive Head Chef. I never got the chance to try out Fat Duck so it was a great opportunity for me to test out what Johnny's cooking is all about, with his very own restaurant that he has total control of it. Trivet is located in London Bridge, which lately has somewhat become a popular location for restaurant launches.

45 Jermyn St

Old school charm in the heart of London


Champagne Risotto, white truffle

Located just behind Fortnum and Mason in Mayfair, 45 Jermyn Street is an upmarket restaurant in the mood of a modern brasserie. The restaurant has a reputation for serving high-quality game dishes and in true Mayfair fashion: caviar. The menu is big, you have 15 choices for the main course alone. There are some old school classic dishes on the menu, as well as some international dishes. Seeing a menu that has both Mexican tacos and Beef Wellington at the same time is really puzzling for me, but I guess when you are located at one of the busiest tourist districts in London, you need to be mindful to have something for everyone. The big question for me was, can the kitchen pull it off.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Pacific

Top Japanese pop up 


Miso tooth-fish

There are many top Japanese restaurants in London already, from Nobu, Zuma to Saka no Hana and Roka. But I just got to say they are far too expensive for what they are offering. I don't understand why a plate of grilled fish can cost more than £40, and a few pieces of sushi can cost more than £30, hence I rarely go for Japanese food when going out as it is hard to find a value for money joint. So when I discovered there is an informal but high-end Japanese pop up coming to town by Australian chef Shaun Presland, I had little interest. However, after checking the menu, it seems the quality of the ingredients that Shaun is using is really interesting, things that you won't see much elsewhere, such as kingfish and abalone.

Volta Do Mar

A Portuguese disaster in London



Ovos com tomate, Dorset crab

For some reason, there are not a great number of Portuguese cuisine themed restaurants in London. It has always been treated as the poor cousin of Spanish cuisine. After a few trips to Portugal, I discovered Portuguese cuisine can be just as delightful as its Spanish counterpart, especially in the seafood department. Whenever there is a new Portuguese opening, I take great interest, from Casa do Frango to Bar Duro in London Bridge. Therefore, the opening of Volta Do Mar is a big deal. It positions itself as a Portuguese restaurant with international influences thanks to Portgual's rich history in exploring the world in the past, from South America to West Africa and Southeast Asia. 

Lina Stores King's Cross

Classic Italian done well



Egg Yolk Tagliolini, Vacche Brune Parmigiano, Butter, Black Truffle

There are so many Italian restaurants in London, I have lost track of how many new opening in 2019 alone. One of the big trends in Italian food is the rise of pasta focus concept, all kicked off by Padella in London Bridge which now gained cult status. Lina Stores itself has a rich history, it started off life at a simple deli that sells imported sauces, ham and dry goods, before launching a pasta restaurant in 2018 nearby which became an instant hit. Clearly, everything is going well for Lina Stores, as it has just launched another restaurant in King Cross. The venue, as well as the menu, is much bigger than its Soho site. Besides pasta, it also offers a small selection of mains and a wider choice of antipasti. 

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Allegra

Star in the making


Welsh lamb, sweet pepper romesco, pickled walnut & black olive caramel

Located on the 7th floor of The Strafford Hotel, Allegra is a brand new fine-dining restaurant headed up by Patrick Powell, the former head chef of the much-celebrated Chiltern Firehouse, which was flooded by celebrities, foodies and star chasers. Allegra itself has a large menu, catering for breakfast, lunch, dinner as well as bar snacks, which is a massive demand to the kitchen team. For dinner, the menu format is fairly in line with most modern British restaurant. It offers an a la carte menu which also contains pre-starter snacks and side dishes. To fully sample what chef Patrick Powell is really capable of, I ordered 11 dishes from the a la carte menu and shared everything with my dining partners.

Hide

Underwhelming


Celeriac, avocado, angelica seeds

When Dabbous was around, it was without a doubt, the hottest restaurant in London. The Michelin starred restaurant was highly praised by foodies and food critics. A table at Dabbous was so in demand that you would need to book 6 months in advance to have a chance to secure one. Fast forward to 2018, Dabbous is no more and the chef behind it has launched a new restaurant called Hide in Mayfair and it was awarded a Michelin star soon after it opened. Hide is not your usual restaurant, it has 3 floors with 2 restaurants that offer a completely different menu. The cooking style is modern European with a hint of Nordic feel to it. The top floor restaurant at Hide is considered the more formal part, with a short tasting menu costing over £100.


China Tang London

Classic revisits


1.5 kg Native lobster, ginger and noodles

There are only a handful of Chinese restaurants I would keep on returning in London as it is such a large city with so many choices. It is hard to find top quality authentic Chinese restaurants but China Tang totally fits the bill. The hotel restaurant inside the 5 stars Dorchester Hotel has been around for more than a decade, but it is still going strong. Every evening, no matter if it is a Monday night or weekend, the restaurant is flooded with diners from around the world. The cooking by Chef Tong is based on classic Cantonese cuisine, but leverage top-grade local ingredients, such as Scottish wagyu beef and Cornish sole. Every season Head Chef Fong would add a few specials dishes on top of the standard al carte menu. 

Park Chinois

Weekend Chinese lunch in style


Scampi Shumai, Har Gau and Summer and Black Truffle Cheung Fun

Park Chinois is easily my top Chinese restaurant in London for me whenever I seek a top-level Chinese dining experience. The Mayfair site offers Cantonese cuisine, with a range of European and regional Chinese influences. The restaurant has 2 floors, the top ground floor is a classy, stylish dining room called Salon de Chine, while the basement is more informal and has a club feel to it. The lunch and dinner menu is fairly similar, the main difference is that the dim sum choices are a lot bigger while at dinner time it has a larger a late carte menu. For my lunch, I went for the best of both worlds, selected a range of dim sum as a starter, before diving into some meat and seafood mains.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Ricard Camarena Restaurant

Modern Valencian gastronomy delight


Tuna belly with coffee and tomato

To finish off my Valencia trip with a bang, I knew Ricard Camarena would be my choice for a proper feast. Ricard Camarena is also the name of the chef-owner, located outside of the city centre, it is the only 2 Michelin starred restaurant in the city, and there aren't any 3 stars in Valencia. The restaurant is built within an art gallery and the interior is modern with heavy usage of wood. There are only 2 choices of the menu for dinner, either a short or a long tasting menu. You would not know for you would be having in advance, so is best to inform the restaurant should you have any special request. Once you arrive, you will be seated in the lounge area first to enjoy some canapes and wine, before your waiter takes you to your table.

Sucede Restaurante

Mad scientist


Red mullet, date, rabbit ear, sesame, broccoli


Valencia might be the 3rd biggest city in Spain, but it is still tiny compared to Barcelona and  Madrid. When it comes to fine dining restaurants, there are only 3 one Michelin starred restaurants, and Sucede is one of them. Located in the heart of the city, just a few minutes' walks from the cathedral. What made me picked Sucede is its historical concept in its cooking approach. Valencia was once governed by the Roman, before the Arabic, so the cuisine is heavily influenced by the two eras. To play on the historical aspect, the tasting menu at Sucede has a touch of Italian and the Middle East flair, but to respect the tradition, they do not use new world ingredients, such as potatoes and tomatoes.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Civera Centro

Seafood kingdom in Valencia


2.9kg blue lobster


Civera is an old school Spanish restaurant in the heart of Valencia, located in the trendy end of the modern part of the city, not far from the main train station, Nord. Civera has been going strong for over 50 years now and is highly regarded as one of the finest restaurants in Valencia, loved by both the locals and travelers. What sets this place apart is its fresh seafood stocks. You can see live lobsters and crabs, as well as plenty of fresh fishes and shellfishes on display. Most of the seafood is offered in its most simple format, grill with a touch of seasoning and olive oil. This is a proper seafood restaurant, even the salads offering contain raw fishes or cooked shellfishes.

Restaurante Navarro

Legendary rice restaurant in Valencia


Lobster rice with swordfish and shrimps


If you research top restaurants in Valencia, no matter if it is on travel websites, blog sites or TripAdvisor, the chance is, Restaurante Navarro would be high on the list. The restaurant gathered legendary status with its modern Valencian cuisine and traditional local rice dishes. A family business, the restaurant has been around for 70 years now and is still going strong. On the day I visited, it was packed till 5pm and that is on a Wednesday. This shows just how popular Navarro is. To stick with the local tradition, this rice specialist restaurant doesn't open in the evening. As it turned out Valencian only eats paella rice at lunchtime, and not in the evening. You will also need to pre-order rice dishes 1 day in advance as they required a long preparation time when done it the traditional manner.

Casa Montaña

Old school tapas in Valencia


Smoked eel


According to my research, Valencia is one of the less tapas friendly cities in Spain. The locals prefer the classic 3-course meal when dining out vs the tapas crawls like you would see in many other Spanish cities. This means finding a good quality tapas bar is no easy task. But after checking a few websites, it seems everywhere are pointing to a tapas bar called Casa Montaña in El Cabanyal, by the coastline of the city. The bar was launched since 1836 and is now one of the most visited restaurants in Valencia. I was glad I booked a table as the place was full of hungry customers waiting for a table to be ready when I got there. 

Raco del Turia

Classic Valencian cuisine


Paella with blue Lobster & monkfish


When you think of a popular dish from Valencia, without a doubt paella would come on top of your mind. However, I was sure that there are so many other fantastic local dishes beside the legendary paella, and I was keen to find out when I was traveling to Valencia, the 3rd biggest city in Spain. I came across Raco del Turia, a traditional Valencian restaurant in the posh part of the city, Eixample. The decor of the restaurant is seriously old school, with heavy usage of wood, and classic paintings around the dining room, and there is the white tablecloth. The menu is your classic a la carte format, with a strong focus in rice dishes, from traditional paella that contained chicken and rabbit, to baked rice, rice soup, and noodle dishes, I never knew there were so many other versions of rice and noodle dishes from Valencia.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Helene Darroze at The Connaught

New chapter


Helene Darroze at The Connaught

There are so many new London restaurants opening in the past couple of years, but sometimes I just love heading back to the tried and tested places. Helene Darroze at The Connaught is without a doubt one of those places, the 2 Michelin starred hotel restaurant had just done a revamp. The decor is now much brighter with a much lighter colour tone and the installation of modern tables. The menu also had a makeover, it is some kind of a tasting menu and a la carte hybrid. Guest now has a choice of opting for 5 courses or 7 courses, picking dishes from a menu that contains about 17 dishes in total. The beauty of it is that your table is not restricted to having the same thing, meaning you can be much more flexible, as sometimes the traditional tasting menu format can be an issue when there are dishes that are not appealing to some when dining in a large group.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Kitchen Table

A proper kitchen counter experience



Kitchen Table

I have been to Kitchen Table 3 times now. The first time was in 2013, it had no Michelin star then. The second time, it held 1 Michelin star. And my third and most recent visit, it now has 2 Michelin stars. The tasting menu only kitchen counter experience has changed a lot since my first visit back in 2013. I still recalled the menu cost less than 
£70 back in the days when it was first launched and now is £150. However, this is in-line with the London fine dining standard these days and the ingredients that chef-owner James used in the menu are special, and it is still one of the most unique and special restaurant concepts in London. The counter dining, 10 plus courses experience in the mood of modern European cuisine is the type of food I really treasured. For my third visit, I opted the menu upgrade, which extended the menu into 14 courses, 4 hours long dinner.

The Laughing Heart

Modern British food with an Asian touch


Lost soul in a fish bowl


I got to admit, TV cook shows do have an impact on me. When I noticed Tom Anglesea, head chef of The Laughing Heart has won Great British Menu 2019. I immediately started to do some research on The Laughing Heart. The East London restaurant is in the trendy neighbourhood of Hackney. It is as much as a wine bar as a restaurant, at day time, The Laughing Heart also acts as a wine retailer too. The restaurant menu itself has a range of small to big plates, and are ideal for sharing. Like most modern European restaurants, dishes come in no order and are served up as soon as it's ready from the kitchen. Judging from the menu, it is mostly British with a hint of an Asian twist.

The Game Bird

Game champion


Game time

Game season is finally here, but the problem is that not many restaurants in London can actually pull off top-class game dishes. There is the legendary Rule in Covent Garden, as well as the one Michelin starred pub The Harwood Arms in Fulham, but surely there are more hidden gems in London? Located in the posh area of Mayfair, The Game Bird is a stylish hotel restaurant inside the luxury 5 stars The Stafford Hotel. The restaurant is headed up by Jozef Rogulski, who has experience in some of the highest regarded restaurants in the UK. The menu, as the name suggested, features seasonal game dishes, as well as some classic British delights, such as pies and beef wellington. 

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Norma

The taste of Mediterranean


Orange, rosemary, red prawns

Ben Tish has been a busy man lately, since leaving the Salt Yard Group, he has joined The Stafford London Hotel as food director and has helped shape its flagship restaurant The Game Bird as one of the finest hotel restaurants in London. He has also launched Norma, an Italian inspired restaurant in Fitzrovia. With his experience from Salt Yard Group, I was really sure the food standard at Norma would be pretty solid. Looking at the menu, it looks fairly similar to Veneta, his old restaurant that champions Venetian cuisine with a strong focus on raw seafood and Italian small plates. Norma's menu is fairly big and is ideal for sharing, with dishes ranging from snacks, raw seafood, starters, pasta, mains, and desserts.

Neptune

Soulless Hotel dining


Raw oysters

Kimpton Fitzroy London is a really posh and fancy 5 stars hotel next to Russell Square. A luxury hotel deserves a top restaurant and Neptune is the answer to that. The stylish and classy dining room, along with an oyster bar has money signs written all over it. However, the price is actually pretty reasonable for a 5 stars hotel. Most starters are around the £10 mark, with all the mains cost under £25, apart from the steaks. The chef behind Neptune is Brett Redman, who is also behind the casual Japanese yakitori joint Jidori and British restaurant Elliot's Cafe. Therefore, the expectation for Neptune was rather high for me as I had a really enjoyable meal at Elliot's Cafe in the past.

Monday, 30 September 2019

The Yeatman

The height of Portuguese cuisine 


Pigeon, foie gras, onion, artichoke

When you think of a restaurant with the perfect package, besides the food, the decor, the location, and the services also play a major factor. Located in Vila Nova de Gaia, where is famous for its port wine cellars, The Yeatman is a luxury 5 stars hotel, on top of a hill overlooking the beautiful River Duro and the city centre of Porto. Inside the hotel, it has one of the only five 2 Michelin starred restaurants in Portugal, with the same name. It is also part of Relais and Chateaux's rosters of hotel and restaurants, meaning it is considered a very special and prestige venue. Many travel websites rate The Yeatman as one of the very best restaurants in the country, offering creative, highly technical modern Portuguese cuisine. It offers a fixed tasting menu only, so if you are not a fan of such format, perhaps this is not the right place for you.

Casa de Chá da Boa Nova

Seafood marathon


Squid “Chanel”


Located from the outskirts of Porto, Casa de Chá da Boa Nova is a 1 Michelin starred restaurant that champions seafood cooking. Besides talking about the food, the first thing you would notice when you see the restaurant is that it is located by the ocean, with a stunning view, along with a beach and lighthouse not far away. Besides, the design of the restaurant is a work of art, very modern and stylish. The menu itself is pretty mad itself, no a la carte, just a long tasting menu that contains no meat, just seafood dishes one after another till you reach the desserts. This is perfect for me as I am a massive lover of all things fishy and Porto is considered a great place for seafood.

Taberna Dos Mercadores

A little Portuguese seafood heaven


Salt crusted seabass

When you think of Portuguese food, besides the legendary roasted pork and custard tart, seafood is another strong offering from the nation. Located in the heart of Porto, Taberna Dos Mercadores is a tiny independent seafood restaurant that has gained a reputation of cooking up some of the finest seafood dishes in the city. with less than 10 tables, and not a chance to get in unless you book well in advance, it was easily in my to-visit list when I took a trip to Porto. The menu is best for sharing, with a small selection fo tapa sized dishes, as well as some bigger dishes, such as the restaurant's signature salted codfish. 

Ostras & Coisas

Seafood and oyster bar in Porto


Fresh crab with brown meat and garlic bread

Checking out a seafood restaurant was high on my agenda when I was planning my Porto trip. However, from my research, it appears all the major and iconic seafood restaurants are located in Matosinhos, the westside of Porto which is by the ocean. As I was staying in central Porto, travelling is not really ideal for me so when I discovered there is a modern seafood bar in downtown Porto, especially specializing in fresh oysters, it was a no brainer for me to give it a go. Ostras & Coisas has a strong selection of seafood items on the menu, in fact, there are no vegetables or meat dishes on the menu. You can see the daily catches on the display counter at the front of the restaurant, it also has a few water tanks, filled up with fresh lobsters and crabs.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Core by Clare Smyth

Modern British fine dining as it should be


Scottish langoustine, wasabi pea, rose geranium and almond

This is my second time at Core, the fine dining restaurant by chef Clare Smyth in Notting Hill. One year later, a lot has changed since then, Core is now a double Michelin starred restaurant and has two tasting menus, one classic (which is what I had from my first visit) and a seasonal menu, which use more luxury and premium ingredients. I really enjoyed Clare's style of cooking from my first visit, very clean and extremely refined at the same time. The only reason put me off heading back is mostly down to how popular it is, you got to plan well ahead to book a table. I opted for the seasonal tasting menu for my second visit, a 7-course menu with canapes and petit four, at £145 per person.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Luke Selby at Mortimer House

Guest chef series at Mortimer House


Roasted Native Lobster, Fennel & Smoked Butter Sauce with Tempura Claw

I have been a fan of the TV program The Great British Menu on BBC for years, a great show that put some of the finest chefs from around the nation, completing to put up showstopping dishes. One of this year's winners is Luke Selby, the former head chef from the Michelin starred Hide in Mayfair, he has taken over Mortimer House (a private clubhouse with a restaurant) in Fitzrovia for 1 month, showcasing his cooking flair, including his winning dish the smoked butter lobster from The Great British Menu. His menu at Mortimer House is short and snap, it is basically a small a la carte menu, with only 3 choices from each of the starter, main and sweet sessions. 

Holborn Dining Room

British pastry master


Hand raised pork pie

I rarely go to a hotel restaurant these days, simply just because usually is overprice with cooking that has no soul. You are paying for the expensive decor and fancy interior design instead of the quality of the cooking, hence I always try to stay away from hotel restaurants. Holborn Dining Room funny enough is inside a hotel and is at the luxury 5 stars Rosewood Hotel no less. The restaurant caught my attention as it has gained a reputation in providing top class British pies, the humble pie is somewhat a childhood memory for me so I was eager to see how head chef Calum Franklin has turned such an iconic British dish into something exquisite without losing its true essence. There are 5 choices of pies on the menu, along with a selection of modern British dishes and steaks.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Two Lights

American in East London


Crayfish Boil, Jersey Royals, Chorizo, Corn

Located in Hoxton, Two Lights is an American inspired modern restaurant by The Clove Club group. The Clove Club is one of the most regarded restaurants in London, and gaining a spot in the World 50 Best list from Restaurant Magazine is an amazing achievement, so naturally, the expectation is big on the groups' other restaurants. Two Lights is a very different beast compared to The Clove Club, is even more casual with spaces reserved for walk-ins. The menu is a la carte with no tasting menu, focusing on modern American cuisine. As someone who has little knowledge of American food, I was really excited to see what Two Lights is all about.

BaoziInn London Bridge

London Bridge casual Chinese den


Char siu pork

The first Baozilnn in China Town is somewhat an iconic Chinese restaurant known for its regional Sichuan cuisine. Fast forward to 2019, Baozilnn is now a mini-chain with 5 sites across London. The latest one is located in London Bridge and is the biggest restaurant in the group. Looking at the menu, it doesn't appear to be in the mood of Sichuanese style like its Chine Town counterpart. Instead, the majority of the items on the menu are mostly Cantonese dishes, ranging from wonton to roasted meat. In fact, you would see most dishes in many restaurants back in China Town. So when Baozilnn London Bridge is charging around 30% than the standard cost if I compare to China Town, it better be good.

Quo Vadis

Modern British with a European touch


Vol au vent of cod, mussels & sea vegetables

Located on Dean Street, Quo Vadis is one of the most historic sites in Soho. The upstairs members' only space is a popular joint for people in the trade to hang out or conduct businesses. The ground floor space is headed up by chef Jeremy Lee, a former Great British Chef winner, and a highly respected figure among the chef network. His modern British cuisine is all about taking classic recipes with a fresh makeover to create something extremely flavoursome but truly remain the British essence. I returned for my second time to try out its summer a la carte menu.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Gauthier Soho

Comforting and classy French dining 


Summer black truffle risotto


I have lost counts on how many times I have been to Gauthier now, the iconic French restaurant in Soho is highly regarded as one of the finest restaurants in the area. Chef-owner Alexis Gauthier is a classically French-trained chef and he has earned a Michelin star not long when he launched Gauthier around 10 years ago. The ever-changing seasonal menu, based on modern French cuisine concept has turned Gauthier Soho into a top French dining restaurant and is still going strong after so many years of trading.

Park Chinois

Top-level Chinese Sunday lunch


Mushroom rice rolls with black truffle

Without a doubt, Park Chinois is easily the best Chinese restaurant in London for me. Located on Berkeley Street, the restaurant has two floors. The ground floor is ideal for relaxing dining while downstairs is in a night club manner. The lavish restaurant in Mayfair showcased top Cantonese cuisine, as well as some regional Chinese classics, all done in a fine dining manner, using top of the range ingredients from around the world. I returned to Park Chinois for the seventh time for a lazy long Sunday lunch, with a selection of dim sum as the starter, before moving onto duck and seafood dishes.

Duddell's London

Cantonese weekend lunch in style 


Braised abalone in chicken stock

I returned to Duddell's for the seventh time. The reason I am heading back is simple. Head Chef Chris Tan's style of Cantonese cuisine is something that I really enjoy. While it is not classic at all, it does still maintain the hallmark of great Chinese cuisine essence, with a simple touch of western flair. The modern Cantonese restaurant in London Bridge is the best Chinese restaurant south of River Thames for sure. For my seventh visit, I opted for dim sum as starters, before moving on to a selection of mains that especially put together by Chef Tan.

Mei Ume

Classy Chinese banquet in style


Signature Peking duck

Located inside the luxury 5 stars Four Seasons Hotel, Mei Ume is an Asian restaurant that championing the best two Asian cuisines: Chinese and Japanese. The restaurant is headed up by chef Tony Truong, with over 30 years of Chinese cuisine experience, worked in some of the finest kitchens from China to the UK. For a special occasion, I have booked in Mei Ume's private dining room for a long and mouthwatering banquet, an extended 12 courses marathon. The menu was specially put together by Tony, offering classic Cantonese dishes that you would see in a traditional Chinese banquet, as well as some modern Japanese dishes. 

Saturday, 10 August 2019

The Five Fields

A top-notch fine dining experience in West London


Short Rib, Turnip and Nasturtium

I have always got a special spot for The Five Fields, one of the finest restaurants in London. I first experienced its cooking 6 years ago, before it gained a Michelin star, and I was really impressed with how exceptional it was. I just find the cooking at The Five Fields so special, really interesting with amazing attention to detail in its cooking, it is truly unique. Fast forward to 2019, I returned for my second visit. A few things have changed since then, it is now also open for lunch, with a more affordable menu at £65 for 3 courses. However, to fully enjoy the full Five Fields experience, I opted for the tasting menu at dinner time.

The Coach Clerkenwell

Classy pub food in Clerkenwell


Duck confit, grilled purple sprout broccoli and anchovy sauce

Every once a while, I crave for a good classic pub food experience. Good quality British pub food in a gastropub setting is not that in common anymore, which is sad. The Coach at Clerkenwell is a casual pub that has always been a popular joint for after-work drinks, but the restaurant within has also gained a reputation since 2018 after installing a new chef in the name of Henry Harris. He has rejected his French fair into Britsh pub food cooking, you would no longer see burgers or pies on the menu, instead, some brasserie-style food with a rustic pub feel to it, using a range of British ingredients.

BAO Fitzrovia and Borough

Bao to the test


Beef, Taipei Butter Rice at BAO Borough

It has been over 2 years since I last visited Bao, the ever-popular Taiwanese restaurant in London. Since then, it has slowly expanded into 3 sites, so clearly they are doing something right, as it is popular to both the locals and tourists. Many places have since tried to copy Bao but without much success, while Bao is still going strong. I headed back to Bao Fitzrovia and also visited its new site at Borough to do a direct comparison, as I have noticed each site has some very different items, apart from the iconic bao dishes. 

Scully St James's

Asian fusion, Scully style


Tomato and Coconut Salad, Green Strawberries, Tomato Shrub

Fusion food is hard to get it right, and it seems to be a dirty word to many chefs around the world. However, when a chef managed to get the balance right when executing fusion cooking, it can be some of the most exciting and impactful things. Located in St James, London, Scully is an Asian fusion restaurant by Ramael Scully, a chef that has traveled around the world and came up with a southeast Asian style fusion cuisine with inspirations from all over the world. From using the Europen dry-aging method, Asian pickling techniques to using South American ingredients. 

Leroy

Hipster wine bar in Shoreditch



Cured trout, samphire, cucumber, horseradish

Leroy is a wine bar and restaurant in the trendy area of Shoreditch. Surprisingly, it landed a Michelin star in the 2019 guide, which is a bold move from the guide as Leroy's setting and food is far from fine dining level. The decor is your typical modern wine bar, with table closely packed together with an ever-changing daily menu. The food is modern British, small pates, which is something that is so popular in London right now. Our waiter on the day suggested us to order 3 dishes per person and the food are best for sharing.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Tayer and Elementary

Twisted fusion with an Asian flair


Eel, potato, truffle, lettuce

Tayer and Elementary is a brand new food and drinks concept by top bartender 
Alex Kratena and chef Zijun Meng. The place is not your typical bar or restaurant setting. The front of the venue is an all-day coffee bar with pre-mixed cocktails and snacks. However, the real magic is behind the coffee bar, with a stylish and modern cocktail bar taking central space, along with a kitchen counter, which serves only 4 people at a time. Chef Meng offers a blind 5-course tasting menu at £60 for each dinner service, no menu and guests would know what are in for till the dishes are ready in front of them.

Opera Tavern

Tapas bar in the West End



Slow-cooked Galician octopus, saffron aioli, datterini tomatoes


Part of the successful Salt Yard Group, Opera Tavern is an Italian and Spanish tapas bar in Covent Garden. When it was first launched back in 2011, Opera Tavern was one of the most trendy and popular tapas bar in London in that era. Fast forward to 2019, many things have changed. Chef director Ben Tish has moved on, and the group has been sold to Urban Pubs & Bars, which owns a host of pubs across London. I first ate at Opera Tavern when opened, and wonder how much has changed since then. Looking at the menu, it has a selection of tapas, spitting into snack, meat, fish and vegetable session. I opted for 3 dishes per person, in typical tapas fashion and shared everything.