Sunday 24 February 2013

Four unique cocktail bars in London

Evans & Peel Detective Agency

Locate in Earl's Court, about 5 mins walk from the station, a very hidden venue which is really creating a buzz in the area thanks to the special entry system. 

You must book for an "appointment" and you will be greet by the "bouncer" in an office and you must name your "reason" in order to get an "appointment" to see the "detective". I don't want to give away too much information, as this is what makes this place special. The bar is in a 50/60s style of New York/Chicago, which really gives the bar a "Mad Man" feels to it especially with its dark lighting and old school furniture. 
Evans & Peel Detective Agency

Bincho Yakitori

Relaxing Japanese Izakaya experience

Bincho provide something a little different to your usual Japanese restaurant in London, instead of the usual sushi and ramen, Bincho offers Japanese BBQ on the grill, which is a traditional style of Japanese concept that not quite got mainstream in UK yet. I didn't actually planed to visit Bincho, I went there for their newly open whisky bar downstairs and ended up eating in Bincho after smelling all the wonderful flavours while I was walking past their grill.

We sat behind the grill to get the chance to see the kitchen in action, the burst of meaty and char grill smells just make me so hungry and it was very interesting seeing all the meat well placed on the specially designed grill in little wooden skewers to really deliver an authentic fell to it.

This place doesn't do starter and main courses, you just order lots of small plates of grill food to share with the whole table so it is a bit like tapas food. First to arrive was Gyu, beef rib off the bone, the meat was tender and grilled at the right level, clothed with a sweet Japanese seasoning which is similar to soy sauces. Sea bream again used similar seasoning, the sauces was a little heavy and I wished they used less to balance out the neutral flavours of the fish's sweetness. Whole tiger prawn was a little over grilled and the meat got a bit tough, but otherwise the flavor was good.
Beef, sea bream and tiger prawns

Sunday 17 February 2013


King of tapas

Barrafina always been regard as one of the best tapas bar in London, a tiny bar which properly can sit about 20 people at a time but doesn't stop people willing to queue up to more than an hour to experience the quality tapas on the ever busy L shape bar with an open kitchen thanks to the no booking policy. So I went there with expectation of needing to wait for a while but I was well up for it as I queued over 2 hours for Burgers and Lobsters before so I am no stranger to queuing!

The bar was completely packed when we arrived and the friendly staff informed me I might need to wait a while before they got any free space but I knew the score, so off we wait at the back of the bar and we were offered to taste some Sherry and bread while we wait (modern marketing for no booking restaurants), we were actually quite lucky as moment later the queue filled up the back bar and people had to wait outside the door. The staff was very helpful for our choice of Sherry, trying to know what we normally drinks and the types of taste we are used to before making recommendation, and his suggestion really delivered.

We got seated after about 30mins wait. We were given a special daily menu as well as the normal menu, we ordered a large selection of seafood tapas off the daily menu as I can see all the fresh seafood sitting nicely at the back of the open kitchen. First to arrive was the mussle, simply cooked with herbs and olive oil dressing. Gosh it was great, really show the class of fresh and quality ingredients, the mussle was juicy and soft, unlike those chewy and tough ones you get off supermarkets or average tapas bars. I was really impressed.

Dragon Palace

Good value Chinese on a budget

It was Chinese New Year week and I been asked to search for a decent Chinese restaurant at a reasonable price for my friends. It was actually a lot harder than I expected, after some extended search and noticed Dragon Palace just outside Earl's Court station. Price wise is decent and they got some very interesting local Cantonese dishes in their menu, something that is rare even in China Town. I actually don't have much love for China Town, most of the restaurants down there produce average cooking and some dishes aren't even Chinese these days...

Anyway off we went to Dragon Palace, the décor is rather modern and almost in style of a western coffee house, you wouldn't be able to tell if it is a Chinese restaurant. We ordered bit of everything on the menu and the first arrived was lobster with ginger and spring onion, accompanied with crispy noodle base. The ginger and spring onion sauce was cooked well, the, really delivered the soft spices of the ginger and went well with the crispy noodle. However I found the lobster was a little over cooked. It got just a tiny bit on the chewy side, this dish would have been really good otherwise, and at £26 sharing by 4 it is value for money given the portion was pretty big. (The lobster was much bigger than the one I had at Burger and Lobster)
 lobster with ginger and spring onion

Saturday 16 February 2013

Fez Mangal

Delightful Turkish BBQ

I been on a hunt for a fine Turkish kebab for many years in London, and I think I finally find one in Fez Mangal. Locate near Ladbroke Station in Notting Hill, this place isn't your standard drunken greasy kebab take away, but a proper Turkish BBQ restaurant which provide quality kebab and BBQ dishes. The place itself is actually very stylish with unusual wallpaper and design with a massive grill at the front, which is where all the magic happens.

Lahore Kebab House

Outstanding Pakistani food at outstanding value

If you live near around the city or East London then Lahore Kebab House should be a familiar name, serving outstanding kebab and curry at outstanding value for many years in Whitechapel. It is in a canteen format, which can properly sit over 100 at a time, the place is massive! 

Like most Pakistani restaurant, a plate of salad was given with yogurt but a bottle of still water rather than tap water, which was a nice touch.  To start off the menu we had chicken kebab, chicken tikka and lamb kebab. All the meat was nicely grilled, but the chicken kebab really stood out, freshly grilled, tender and full of rich and authentic flavours  The lamb was just a touch over cooked but with great seasoning, the chicken tikka was the weakest out of the three with lack of depth of flavours as would expect for a tikka dish. I am not good at handling spicy food but I cant stop digging into the kebab (The bottle of still water came handy) as it tasted brilliant, the mixture of spices were just spot on, they really know the art of seasoning. 
chicken kebab

Kerbisher & Malt

The fine art of fish and chips

Tuck away in the quiet end of Hammersmith on Shepherd's Bush Road, Kerisher & Malt serve one of the best fish and chips in London. It's been very difficult to locate a decent fish & chips place in London and I was please to discover such a quality restaurant producing this classic English dish.

Sunday 10 February 2013


Simply stunning

The best restaurant in London? I think so, at least for me. Ledbury was also voted best restaurant in the National Restaurant Award 3 times and ranked 14 in the World 50 best restaurants by Restaurant Magazine. As of writing this place offered me the best dinning experience so far, the following highlight my second visit, I had lunch on my first visit and I was so impress that I booked the second visit right on the spot at the end of the meal! Managed to get a chance to meet Brett Graham (Head chef) the man himself and what a legend! Seeing a 2 stars kitchen in action and chatting with Brett was a truly wonderful experience.

This time I went for the tasting menu, started off with some foie gras pastry as Amuse Bouche, creamy and light with a crispy base, top notch and what a great treat to start off the meal. Oh then here comes the bread... I don't know what kind of magic powder the kitchen got in the bacon roll, but it tasted so good! Not oily at all with all the richness of bacon and hot pastry. I just can't stop eating it which it came back to haunt me later on in the meal...

Sunday 3 February 2013

Cambio de Tercio

Exceptional Spanish cuisine on a whole new level 

I don't have much experience when it comes into Spanish food in London, with Brindisa London Bridge, Brindisa Soho and Opera Tavern as of writing. Brindisa were great, excellent lamb dishes and lovely cheese. Not a fan of Opera Tavern, way too over price for what you are getting, and I failed to notice any special dishes. I heard good things about Cambio de Tercio so decided to check out the place as I been eating a bit too much of French food lately and it is time to have a little change!

They had a new tasting menu and while I was checking it out online it seems like they are going toward to the El Bulli style of Spanish cooking and at £39 seem like a no brainer to give it a try! Before the tasting menu, we ordered a traditional tapa of Iberico Pata Negra Ham "5 JOTAS SANCHEZ ROMERO CARVAJAL" toasted bread & tomato. This is one amazing plate of ham, the fat of the ham were spread evenly and loved the hint of sweetness and salt releasing through the meat.

Iberico Pata Negra Ham


Remarkable fine dinning experience in London

This is my 3rd visit to the lovely double Michelin starred Hibiscus in the quiet Maddox Street, just off the busy Regent Street, about 5 minutes walk away from Oxford Circus Station. I booked the Toptable offer this time around which for £49, you get four courses and a glass of wine. This is very good value for dinner in a Michelin restaurant at London. And since it is still only January, I want to go a bit easy for my wallet!
(Sorry about the low quality of my photos, I decided not to use flash on my camera as I did not want to distract other diners!!!)

The downside of Hibiscus for me in the past has always been the rather dull décor with the odd colour choice, but on arrive this time this is not the case any more  the wall colour has been changed to a lovely eye pleasing blue and the serving table in the middle has been reduce to create more space. These little changes really lifted the restaurant up and it really seem much more lively than what it used to be.

So on to the food, started off with some lovely stuffed cheese amuse bouche and some quality bread. Crispy on the skin and soft in the middle as it should be, really enjoyed it and had to stop myself eating too many otherwise I would be too full for the desert! The first course was a really interesting broken egg shell, wonderful wired with dash of meat and oily texture, remind me of some oriental sesame based dish I had in the past.