Saturday 23 March 2013

Bocca Di Lupo

Quality Regional Italian food in London

You will be familiar with Bocca Di Lupo if you love eating out in London, one of the most talked about Italian restaurants in town, recently appeared in the BBC food program "Food and Drinks", known for serving regional Italian food in tapas size for sharing, not easy to get hold of a table and I had to book the place 3 weeks in advance.

It was absolutely packed when we arrived, we were sited behind the smart looking bar as I requested, where you can see all the actions from the kitchen. Our waiter and the kitchen staff warmly greeted us, the setting remind me of Barrafina just down the road. We were given some bread and olive while we were looking at the menu, the olive was very fresh and the bread was soft and of great quality. There is also a dinning room at the back if you are after more of a formal dinning experience.
bread and olive

Busaba Eathai

Decent Thai food in Hoxton

While there are so many Thai restaurants in London, it is never easy to find a good authentic Thai as many have developed into more "western friendly" styles and abandoned the true essence of Thai food. Thai Kitchen 101 in Hammersmith and Addie's in Earl Courts came to mind when it comes to good old fashion Thai in West London, but what about East London? I had no idea. Found some decent reviews on Busaba Eathai in Old Street so off I went to see what it has to offer.

There are actually a few different Busaba Eathai in London. Created by Alan Yau, the same restaurateur gave us Hakkasan and Wagamama. Busaba Eathai has a very casual setting with eastern candle burning across which gives it a very Eastern temple smell to it, large tables mean you will need to share with strangers unless you have a group of at least four, this is more of a canteen than restaurant, pretty much Wagamma style but in Thai instead of Japanese.

The drinks was rather disappointed, I ordered a Guava Collins which has guava, lime, coconut and Thai lime leaf. All I tasted was the Guava which most likely came from Rubicon pack, and all other ingredients were most likely pre mixed. No freshness and other flavours from the support ingredients whatsoever, expected a lot better than that.
Guava Collins

Sunday 17 March 2013


British sensation

Roganic is a two years pop up restaurant project in London by Simon Rogan, one of the winners from last year Great British Menu and chef patron of the 2 Michelin stared L'Enclume in Lake District. Simone is known for his creative cooking pushing British cuisine to a new level using top quality British produces and innovated techniques. With Roganic about to close down, I just got to give it a try to see what is so special about the place as it is one of most loved restaurant in London.

I had to book the place about 2 months in advance, I must say this is one of the hardest place to get a booking in London for a non Michelin restaurant beside Sushi Tetsu. Roganic is a tiny restaurant which can sit around 30 peoples, the décor is very pub like, but for a pop up restaurant, what is the point of spending a fortune on the interior? I was there for one reason only, and that is the food, and it didn't disappoint me at all.
amuse bouche

Sunday 10 March 2013

Cucina Asellina

Simple Italian at the Strand

located inside the ME London hotel, just on the other side of Summerset house, the newly opened Cucina Asellina provides modern Italian cooking in this 5 stars hotel but at a very reasonable price. I was interested to see the level of cooking here comparing to other big names Italian restaurants in London such as Murano and Apsleys as I heard this place been pretty successful in New York.

The décor is very modern, high ceiling, plenty of spaces with an open kitchen. We sat at the bars while we waited for another friend. I took a look at the cocktail menu but can't seem to find anything I like so I just asked the bartender for a Sidebar, but turn out she doesn't have a clue what that is which was a bit of a shock for me and she had to ask a more senior bartender for help. Really unexpected as after all we were at a hotel restaurant sitting behind its bar!

Franco Manca

Seriously good pizza

Although it is quite near where I work, I never had the chance to check out this rather popular pizza joint. After getting a bit bored of my usual Wasabi lunch, I decided it is time for something new so off I went to Franco Manca in Chiswick (1 of the 4 Franco Manca in London) for a Friday lunch. I rarely order pizza when I eat out as I always consider pizza is rather easy to make at home and never really had any Pizza that wow me away but Franco Manca proved to be an exception!

The place was pretty busy on our arrive but we managed to get a table but soon the place was soon jam packed and I was please we arrived early. They do take booking here but I really don't have the effort to book for a casual meal on my lunch break! But I soon understand why this place is so popular as I can smell the lovely pizza aroma from their brick oven in the open kitchen. The food took a while to arrive and the manager explained because they had a large group to handle and he given us some fresh olive to apologize for the wait. The olive was really fresh and nicely seasoned without being too salty, with the neutral and earthy flavours really shined out.

Our starter arrived but turned out to be the wrong dish and after speaking to the manager, he given us the wrong dish for free and asked if we would like the kitchen to redo our starter but due to the timing we just went for wrong starter which was a baked garlic flat bread and it was very enjoyable, it was very thin but yet maintained the softness of the bread without turning into "crisp". I wished it had more garlic and herbs on top but with a dash of olive oil on top made it a very quality starter indeed.
 garlic flat bread

Meat Market

Meaty Titanic

While the horse meat scandal still flying around in London, that doesn't stop my appetite for a nice burger in town. I had great experience at Meat Liquor last year as their burger were top notch and good value for money, so this time around I visited one their expansion Meat Market in Covent Garden which sitting on top of the Jubilee Market.

The operation here is actually very different to Meat Liquor, it is much for "fast food" here without waiters and you need to order at the till then wait to be call up to collect your order. Tables were pretty much every man for themselves which I think can lead to be a bit of a chaos when it gets too busy. The décor is very youthful and trendy, with rather amused signs across the ceiling, this is definitely a place that aim toward the younger target audience with its low price and the rebellious interior.

Sunday 3 March 2013

The Shiori

Presenting the art and soul of Kaiseki in London

Located just down the road from Baywater station, The Shiori is a relaunch of Sushi of Shiori, which I never had the chance to visit but I'd heard so many great things about it. I've always been on the hunt, seeking fine Japanese food in London and so far I've yet to find one! However The Shiori turned out to be the perfect answer.

The décor is beautiful using classical Japanese elements to really give you an authentic feel to the place. This place is a tiny operation run by a husband and wife team, which properly can sit up to about 15 guests. We went for the mini Kaiseki menu at £50 for 6 courses. I was never a big fan of sake but I ordered a sake tasting flight anyway as I am in a Japanese restaurant, and oh my! All the sake turned out to taste really light, crisp and refreshing! It was totally unexpected and after checking with the manager, they only stock top quality sakes from special boutique merchandisers. I guess just like most drinks, you get both the bad and the good in terms of value vs quality.
Sake selection

L'Autre Pied

A rather fun & crunchy experience

Located in Marylebone just a few blocks behind one my  favourite gallery The Wallace Collection, the Michelin starred L'Auture Pied is sitting along side another Michelin restaurant Trishna and the high profile Roganic on the same street. I didn't really know what to expect when I booked the place, as it is one of the lower profile Michelin restaurant in London and not many bloggers or food critics has written about the restaurant lately. So off I went to see what L'Autre Pied has to offer and it turned out to be pretty enjoyable.

We went for the tasting meal at £49, which was a special offer, and this has to one the best value deal for a Michelin restaurant! Before the meal starts we had some very tasty canapés and bread, the black olive and Parmesan roll has to be best bread I had in 2013 so far, the richness of the cheese and the unique taste of the olive really shine through. It was a perfect match and as usual I had a bit more than I should but the roll was just really well made, as good as the bacon roll at The Ledbury!
 black olive and Parmesan roll

Dinner at home episode 1

Rum infused Mediterranean evening

Ok so I put together a dinner for some guests the other night, it was a rather experimental three courses meal using rum as a theme, cooking some kind of Mediterranean food with a twist with matching drinks, as it was (and still is) freezing in the UK so I thought it was a good idea to come up with a sunny/ tropical flavours for the guests. It will be silly if I was to comment about my own food so I will just write about how I did it and the concept behind it....

Starter: Iberico Jamon de bellota, black truffle, melon, crab meat and rum
Drinks: Melon martini

This is my take on the classic Parma ham and melon dish, which is a very refreshing starter and perfect for a sunny day, so what I done is instead of using the good old Parma ham, I replaced it with the mouth watering Iberico Jamon de bellota, a Spanish cured ham made from black Iberian pigs. By law, free range pigs and only feed on acorns before the "slaughter" period and cured for at least 3 years. I picked this ham because with the use of black truffle, I wasn't so sure if the Parma ham were able to shine through the rich and intense flavours of the black truffle, while the Iberico ham's strong depth of flavours could stand up on its own. To smoothen the flavours and adding a softer texture to the truffle, I chopped the truffle and mixed it with some sweet crab meat and olive oil. Sandwiched between each side of the melon before spraying it with a dash of El Dorado 3 years old rum to increase the sweet and fruity note of the melon.
El Dorado 3 years old rum
Iberico Jamon de bellota, black truffle, melon, crab meat and rum

Electric Diner

A slice of American experience in Notting Hill

Part of the Soho House group, but unlike Electric House, which is a member only venue, Electric Diner is open to the public, serving classic American dining food. Suited in the trendy Portobello Road, we arrived for lunch on a rainy day but the diner was pretty busy which was a contrast compare to the quite street on a Tuesday afternoon.

The décor was similar to most diners I been while I was in US, but the food was a little better as I failed to enjoy any of the meals while eating at diners in America. Chopped chicken liver, salted butter and toast had a decent flavour with the liver not overpowering the whole dish, lightly salted with no bitterness. 
Chopped chicken liver