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


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.


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.