Monday, 21 September 2020

The Quality Chop House

Chop life 


Mangalitza pork steak

Quality Chop House, the iconic British chophouse and wine bar is a proper institution in Farringdon. The restaurant takes British chops and steaks in a serious manner while retaining the essence of British cuisine. Recently, it also has launched a wine bar next door with more casual small plates offering. Quality Chop House's kitchen is run by Shaun Searley, you can see plenty of steaks on the menu, as well as traditional offerings such as game terrine and black pudding. For my 3rd visit to Quality Chop House, I secured an evening in the private room, which offers a feasting menu with a selection of sharing starters, a main, and a dessert.

Blacklock

The best value meaty joint in London


Meat is good

I am a super fan of Blacklock, the mini-chain is a meat temple for serious chops and steak lovers. Spreading across 3 sites, Blacklock is famous for its core signature offering: All In. The All In offers you a selection of nibbles, followed by a mountain of chops and a side dish, all for just £20 person. On Sunday, it follows a similar manner but switched to serving you a pile of roast meat instead of chops. The Sunday All In roasted dinner has since become such a cult dish, and now you have to book months in advance to try. The below captures my 2 recent visits, one on a regular evening, and another one for its legendary Sunday roast.

Pique Nique

Cozy French cooking in Bermondsey


Raspberry mille feuille


France is not too away from the UK, and there are many French chefs working in London. However, this doesn't mean that London is blessed with many high-quality French restaurants. No doubt, there are a few at the very top end, the contemporary French-themed, Michelin starred restaurants, like Club Gascon and Le Gavroche, but I do found it hard to find classic, mid-range level French restaurants in London. However, Pique Nique in Bermondsey is one of those rare gems, at least according to many foodies and the press. Operate by a team of French with a menu also written in French, it has an open kitchen and the food is all about rustic French cooking, with mains are designed to be shared so best come in a group.

Casse Croûte

 Old school French bistro


Girolle on toast

I would say Cassa Croute is one of the 'better' classic French restaurants in London. The low key tiny French bistro has been around since 2013 and has since become one of the best kept dining hot spot secret for the locals. It is a very 'French' venue with the wine list and food menu written in French only on a blackboard, with an ever-changing daily menu, depending on what is available for the kitchen. The food is in the mood of old school French with items like foie gras terrine. The dining room itself can sit around 20 people, so getting a table is not an easy task, do book ahead and ensure to go on a very empty stomach...

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine London

 The hallmark of fine Cantonese dining


Dim sum feast


Thanks to Government's Eat out to Help out support, to offer diners 50% off (up to the value of 10 pounds) for any eat-in meal in August, I have taken the advantage to dine more often than usual. In August, I visited Imperial Treasure twice, once for its dinner for its legendary Peking duck, and the second time for a full-on dim sum lunch experience. On the back of COVID 19, I wanted to dine in a restaurant that can ensure safety and enforce social distancing. As much as I love some of the venuses in China Town, it just doesn't seem safe for now with tables so packed to one another, the no booking policy for lunch hours is also a minus for me. I was willing to pay a little more and Imperial Treasure fits my requirement perfectly. Below are some of the highlights from my 2 visits.

China Tang

Old school high-class Cantonese


Wok fry grouper with asparagus


Chinese restaurants are one of the hardest-hit sectors with the COVID 19 virus, and once lockdown has been lifted and many restaurants now reopened, there are a few places high on my revisit list. China Tang is one of those places, the classic Cantonese theme restaurant is located inside the Dorchester Hotel, and it is a timeless fine-dining venue. The menu showcases what the best traditional Cantonese cuisine has to offer and does it in a refined and classy way. You would not find any really creative or fusion dishes on the menu, people come here for the old school cooking and top-rate service.

45 Jermyn St

 Game season time


Grouse Breast, Liver Parfait on Toast with Girolles and Poached Figs

45 Jermyn St is located behind Fortnum & Mason, a modern European style brasserie that offers fine dining style cooking with flavours influenced from around the world. The restaurant is known for its caviar and game dishes, which is perfect as the grouse season has just kicked in. The restaurant has also appointed a new chef in Sam White, who was the ex group head chef of Hix, so I am sure he can take 45 Jermyn St's game offering to the next level. To fully embrace the grouse season, I opted for grouse for both my starter and main. 

Casa do Frango

 Posh Nando's


Casa do Frango

Nandos. the grill chicken restaurant concept is one of the few success stories in the casual dining world. I do enjoy their peri-peri chicken every once a while, but the quality can be very inconsistent, depending on which sites you visit. Casa do Frango is basically a supercharged up version of Nandos, it offers only 1 main course, which is the grilled chicken, along with a range of Portuguese inspired sharing dishes. The sharing dishes are much less mainstream with many uncommon dishes you would find on a high street, such as the Bacalhau fritters and African rice. I have been there once in London Bridge in the past and it has since expanded with a second site in Shoreditch. 

Saturday, 15 August 2020

Helene Darroze at The Connaught

Taste of summer


XXL Scottish scallop, spices, carrot, citrus

2020 has been a crazy year so far, who would have expected a virus that would cause such damage across the world? The UK restaurant trade has been badly hit, with restaurants closing down left and right. My no1, aka The Ledbury has sadly called it a day, along with the fantastic Greenhouse in Mayfair. I am really sad indeed. I have picked the 2 Michelin starred Helene Darroze at The Connaught (HD) as my first restaurant to visit in the post lockdown world, just in time to take advantage of the VAT cut and gosh, I need a proper fine dining treat after more than 3 months of cooking at home. To adapt to Covid 19, HD has reduced to serving only a tasting menu, using a selection of prime summer ingredients. It was my 8th visit to HD but I know it will be nothing like before with social distancing in mind.

Le Gavroche

Classic fine dining temple


Seared Scallop, Fresh Peas, Parma Ham & Kampot Pepper Foam

Lockdown has been a nightmare for me, suddenly, going out to a restaurant is mission impossible for more than 3 months. As someone who treats dining out as a hobby, it was a hard time indeed. At the start of July, restaurants started to reopening but there were many that shut down for good. At the high end, Michelin starred Greenhouse, The Ledbury, Texture, and Umu are no more, this is painful especially I rate Greenhouse and The Ledbury as the finest restaurants in the capital. I returned to Le Gavroche as a celebration of getting to eat out again and I wonder how many more restaurants might not be around this time next year with the second wave of COVID 19 is just a matter of when. At Le Gavroche, there were fewer tables with some plastic screen installed for social distancing reason, with all staff wearing a mask.

The Five Fields

Cozy and elegant Britsih fine dining 


Roe Deer, Courgette and Blueberry

The COVID 19 shitstorm has really impacted the restaurant industry, as many restaurants are still shut and some have already closed for good, I know that I better pay a visit to some of my favorite restaurants in London as I might not have a chance in the near future. The Five Fields is high on my to return list. The 1 Michelin starred restaurant championed British ingredients and present it in a really beautiful and refined way. I have eaten there two times before and I always feel it is one of the prime candidates to be promoted to 2 stars level. For my 3rd visit, the restaurant removed a la carte and reduced to only serving a single tasting menu, just like many other fine dining restaurants across London.

Brat

Basque-style BBQ 


Velvet Crab

I love BBQ, especially BBQing a fine cut of meat or top-grade seafood, it is hard to beat. Unfortunately, not many London restaurants have mastered such techniques, but Brat is one of the few places that fit the bill. The restaurant champions open fires cooking with fine quality meat, as well as fresh wild seafood sourced from around the UK, its whole BBQ turbot has become somewhat legendary and has become an iconic dish from Brat. Less than a year since launched back in 2018, it gained a Michelin star. I have eaten there in the past, while I think is a great fuss-free BBQ restaurant, I don't think it quite reaches that Michelin star standard. Anyway, after lifting of lockdown, I miss eating seafood so I went back to Brat to sample some of its new dishes.

Barrafina

Spanish tapas temple in Soho


Deep fry red mullet

Barrafina has come a long way, what started off as a trendy tapas joint in Soho has now become what many would consider being the best tapas bar in the UK, gaining a Michelin star along the way and getting a table could be a mission even on a Monday night. It is extremely popular that help it turned into a mini restaurant chain empire, with sites spreading across in London. Covid 19 impacted the whole restaurant trade in 2020 which forced many walk-in restaurants switched up to allow booking in advance to help with the government's track and chance policy. Secure a slot at the time I desire is now a reality, as I always wanted to return after I had a remarkable meal there 6 years ago.

Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine London

Proper Cantonese fine dining



Peking duck

Imperial Treasure London is the first outpost of the international Imperial Treasure restaurant group in Europe. The group is renowned for its fine dining Cantonese cuisine, and its Peking duck is considered to be one of the finest in the world. I have eaten at Imperial Treasure London a few times already in the past and while they do charge a premium, they do offer proper traditional Cantonese cuisine. Many Chinese restaurants in the UK adapt their offering to make it less 'authentic' in order to make it more appealing to the locals, so I do respect Imperial Treasure sticking to its gun. On the back of Covid 19, I know I need to support the Chinese restaurant community and I picked Imperial Treasure to be my first post-Covild 19 Chinese restaurants as I do miss its legendary Peking duck.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Enigma (Barcelona)

The height of experimental cuisine 


Roasted lobster in aged beef fat

Enigma is part of a mini restaurant empire by Albert Adrià. One of the key players behind the legendary El Bulli. After the closing of El Bulli, Albert has created a number of restaurants which instantly became a hit. The most famous one has to be Tickets. However, Enigma is slowly gathering a reputation. It was launched in 2017, and the concept was highly ambitious. It serves only a blind tasting menu with more than 30 courses. The restaurant is spread into 6 sessions where guests would enjoy a few dishes per station before moving onto the next one. You would kick off the journey from the reception area, followed by a mini-bar station to enjoy some canapes, before moving onto a raw bar, a grill bar then to the main dining room and dessert bar.

Cocina Hermanos Torres (Barcelona)

Iconic restaurant in the making


Suckling pig from Extremadura


Barcelona is one of the top gastronomy destinations in Europe, flooded with so many top restaurants, ranging from classy tapas bars to state of the art fine dinings. Picking a place to visit is not an easy task. I picked Cocina Hermanos Torres based on 1 reason, the double Michelin starred venue has 3 island kitchens taking the central stage inside the main dining area. All the tables are built around the kitchens so, in theory, every single table is a chef table, having the chance to witness chefs in action. The restaurant is also located within a former warehouse but with a contemporary makeover to make it extremely edgy. Like many modern fine dining restaurants in Barcelona, Cocina Hermanos Torres serves a tasting menu with a very limited alc option.

Angle (Barcelona)

Jordi Cruz's rising star


Red prawns on salted rock stone


Angle is located in the heart of Barcelona. Part of the luxury hospitality group Abac, it is the newest Michelin two-starred restaurant in the city, having got promoted in the 2020 guide. The chef behind Angle is a Spanish culinary heavyweight, Jordi Cruz. The talented chef is one of the youngest ever chefs to reach 3 Michelin star status in the world, his flagship restaurant Abac, which is not far away from Angle, is one of the only two 3 starred restaurants in Barcelona. Jordi is renowned for his cutting edge, creative approach in fine dining, taking inspirations from around the world. At Angle, he only offers two tasting menu, just like at Abac.

Mantúa (Jerez)

Jerez's answer to fine dining



Hake poached in cow fat, cavier

When I was traveling across Andalusia in Spain, checking out Jerez was on top of my list. Jerez is famous for its sherry production, and the small city is home to many famous sherry houses. To round off my day trip to Jerez, a top restaurant for lunch was on my agenda and I picked Mantua. It is one of the only two Michelin starred restaurants, run by a local chef Israel Ramos who gathered experience working at other starred restaurants in the Andalusia region. Mantua has only 6 tables in a clean, spacious modern dining room with a high ratio of staff vs dinners. Like many Spanish fine dining restaurants, al la carte is not on the menu with only muti courses tasting menu is on offer.

Monday, 13 April 2020

Abantal (Seville)

The peak of fine dining in Seville


Steamed large red prawn, sauté rice and tomato

There are not great numbers of fine dining restaurants in Seville, I would suspect that is largely down to the fact there are so many high-quality values for money tapas bar and restaurants around the city already, so is there much point of fine dining? Abantal is the only Michelin starred restaurant in the city, located not too far from the city center. Chef-owner Julio Fernández Quintero's cooking style is based on modern Spanish cuisine with a touch of Middle Eastern inspiration, as Seville, along with the whole of Southern Spain, has been occupied by the Arabs in the past which had a big influence to the local cuisine development. The restaurant itself is small, with around 10 tables across the contemporary dining room, and two tasting menus (a standard one or a longer one) to pick from.

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Cañabota (Seville)

Seafood temple



Shrimp tartar, red prawn, langoustine and razor clam

While Seville is flooded with top-notch tapas bars, I was sure there are many great modern, innovative restaurants that are just as good. Canabota is a modern seafood restaurant bar in the old town of the city. It is known for its fresh seafood counter where diners can check out what is available on the day before deciding what to order. White prawns, red shrimps, lobsters, red mullets, etc, the selection is big and I was spoiled with choices. Canabota is a popular restaurant and I had to book weeks in advance, with only 30 covers with a team of 6 chefs, the ratio of chefs vs dinners is high.

El Rinconcillo (Seville)

The house of old school tapas

White prawns from Huelva

El Rinconcillo is perhaps the most iconic tapas bar in Seville. Open since 1670, it is the oldest tapas bar in the city. It does traditional regional tapas but it also has a sit-down restaurant space that serves bigger plates with a bigger menu. It is one of the most popular dining spots and was recommended in the Michelin guide. The menu covers mostly the typical tapas dishes you will see elsewhere, along with a daily blackboard that offers seasonal dishes, based on if El Rinconcillo managed to source any special fresh ingredients on the day.

Bodeguita Romero (Seville)

Montaditos legend



Tuna belly salad

Casual tapas bars are everywhere in Seville, to be stand out, apart from great quality cooking, having a signature dish also help. Casa Morales has the octopus, and at Bodeguita Romero, it is all about the montaditos, a Spanish style sandwich that Bodeguita Romero is famous for and has gained cult status. The classic version contained Iberico pork, black pudding and dressed up with either whisky sauce or mojo picon. Besides the infamous montaditos, the restaurant also has a range of classic tapas offerings, such as grilled meat, cold cuts, and fried items.

Casa Morales (Seville)

Classic tapas 


Octopus and paprika

When you visit Seville, a trip to a traditional tapas bar is a must. There is so many tapas bars around the city so it is not easy to find the right one for sure. Casa Morales appeared on so many websites so it seems like it was no brainer for me to give a try. It is a traditional tapas bar located near the stunning Seville cathedral so it was a great spot for me when I was doing my sightseeing around the city. The menu is big, with a large selection of cold cuts, egg-based dishes to canned food and hot tapas. The cool thing is that you can order most dishes in tapas, standard or main course size, so you can end up trying many dishes if you keep going for the tapas.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

5 Social

The new house of social


Poached Lobster, avocado, artichoke and hazelnut

Jason Atherton's restaurant empire in the UK has its ups and downs in the last few years, from the closure of a few restaurants to gain a Michelin star or 2 at the same time. 5 Social is its latest restaurant launch, which is located opposite of his flagship Pollen Street Social. 5 Social started life as Little Social before it was rebranded with a more upmarket offering in early 2020. It also has a new head chef in the name of Kostas Papathanasiou, who worked at high profile places in the past such as The Fat Duck and The Ledbury. Looking at the menu, it won't look out of place if it was for Pollen Street Social, with a real focus on prime seasonal British ingredients like Cumbrian beef and Orkney scallops.

Kaki

Jiangsu comfort cooking


Sweet and sour Jiangsu style seabass

For Chinese food, Cantonese cuisine will always be my first choice. Having said that, I am also a fan of Jiangsu cuisine, which is hard to come by in London. Kaki in King Cross labeled itself as a Szechuan restaurant and its menu is packed with super spicy and numbing dishes, which I have no love for. However, it now also has a page of Jiangsu (Huaiyang) based dishes, such as braised meatballs and pan-fried pork buns. Kaki generally got some really positive feedback since it was launched, so I was looking forward to seeing if it could deliver some solid Jiangsu cooking which should be packed with delightful rich flavors.

Orient London

Perhaps the best Chinese restaurant in China Town


Steamed egg in soy

I usually stay away from Chinese restaurants in China Town, mostly down to the quality is really not that great. I have been to many that have been highly featured in the top 10 lists from mainstream media such as Dumpling Legend to classic stables such as Pheonix Garden. While they are all pretty solid, none really stood out. Besides, China Town is always busy and packed with tourists with average service at best another reason for me to shy away. Lately, I took the chance to check out Orient which happened in China Town, as I was seeking decent Chinese seafood cooking at a reasonable price, and judging from the menu, Orient stood out as it has an extended list of seafood dishes, with some really classic Cantonese ones like wok fry clams and fried oysters.

Joy King Lau

Good old fashioned Cantonese comfort food


Pei pa duck

Cantonese cuisine is the most popular Chinese cuisine in the UK. While others such as Taiwanese and Northern Chinese food are gaining popularity, it is still miles away from reaching the no 1 status. In China Town, there are many Cantonese restaurants, mostly in the traditional manner. However, due to shortage of skilled chefs, many classic dishes that require long hours of preparation and skills are hard to find even in those traditional venues. Joy King Lau is one of the very few that still commit to cook up some truly old fashioned gems. It has a Chinese only menu that has dishes like pork intestine and red bean curd duck.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

The Goring Dining Room

Refined tradition 


Custard tart, caramelised buckwheat and nutmeg ice cream

The Going happened to be one of the Royal Family's favorite hotels, the luxury 5 stars hotel near Victoria tube station has a long association with the Royals, it was often visited by the Queen Mother and the venue of choice for Kate Middleton before her wedding. The formal dining restaurant within the hotel was awarded a Michelin star in 2017 and still holding such honor in 2020. The cooking is based around British seasonal ingredients, offering refined classic dishes with a smart modern touch. A 3-course dinner would set you back £67, for a Michelin starred restaurant in such a grand setting, this is actually pretty decent for value.

Le Comptoir Robuchon

The legacy


Langoustine raviolis, Foie gras, Savoy cabbage


Since the upscale Michelin starred L'atelier de Joel Robuchon was shut down in Covent Garden last year, everyone expected that would be the end of chef Robuchon's empire in London as the great man himself passed away. However, in winter 2019, the company behind Robuchon's restaurant group launch a brand new restaurant: Le Comptoir Robuchon in Mayfair. It is much more casual in style but still has a luxury feel to it with a contemporary French brasserie mood. The menu is divided into two sessions, seasonal dishes that head chef Jeremy Page come up with based on prime ingredients, as well as a selection of classic Robuchon dishes that got the great Robuchon himself into the legendary status.

Wild Honey St James

The new honey in town


Marseillaise Bouillabaisse

The original Wild Honey in Mayfair was a small cozy fine dining restaurant that full of charm. It offered modern French cuisine without over the top creativity which gained a Michelin star. Fast forward to 2019, it has relocated to St James inside the luxury 5 stars Sofitel hotel. Looking at the menu, not a great deal has changed, a French cuisine based menu that mostly using local British ingredients. Head up by Anthony Demetre, who is one of the top chefs in the UK with Michelin stars following him wherever he goes. I went for dinner and tried out a few of the dishes from the alc menu, to see if much has changed vs the old days.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Hakkasan Hanway Place

New chef, new chapter


Smoked beef ribs with jasmine tea

Hakkasan, the very first Chinese restaurant in London to reach Michelin star status is still going strong after more than a decade. The edgy interior combining with classy Cantonese cooking has created a strong following, and now it has expanded into a mini restaurant empire with sites in the US, Far East, and the Middle East. A big change happened last year with Hakkasan, with the group executive chef Tong left the business and replaced with chef Yeo, who came from Malaysia with a background in hotel fine dining. I headed back to Hakkasan Hanway Place to see if much has changed on the food.

Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine London

Classic Cantonese, posh style


Seafood soup dumpling

There are only a few fine-dining Chinese restaurants in London, and Imperial Treasure is perhaps one of the most premium ones while really sticking to its gun, offering traditional food without much western fusion element. I have eaten at Imperial Treasure two times in the past, both enjoyable but found it a little bit too expensive. At lunch hours, Imperial Treasure has a dim sum menu and a set lunch menu so is more affordable. You can see all the classic Cantonese dum sum such as prawn dumpling and pork bun. What caught my eye is the chef specials from the a la carte menu, so I decided to opt for a few of those, with some dim sum in the mix.

Red Farm

Hyped to the max


PAC MAN SHRIMP DUMPLINGS

Red Farm is a Chinese restaurant like no others. It is a brand that came from America, the original Red Farm in New York is a smart hit with the locals. it does creative dim sum, along with a range of Southeast Asian inspired main dishes. It created plenty of noise when it landed in London and it was one of those places I always wanted to check it out. The London outpost is located in the tourist-friendly zone in the name of Covent Garden. The menu has plenty of takeaway classics such as chili beef and sweet & sour, as well as some unusual dishes like the signature Red Farm dish: The Pacman dumpling. Most dishes costs around the £20 mark which means a meal at Red Farm is a pricy affair.

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Bridges Amsterdam

Seafood hotel fine dining in Amsterdam


Trout, Pumpkin, Buttermilk, Dill, Pear


There are more than 20 Michelin starred restaurants in Amsterdam, so it is not easy to pick a place when you are not familiar with the city. However, as I am a seafood addict, and the city is pretty much surrounded by water, Bridges stood out to me as it is not too far from my hotel, and has a big focus on seafood. It is located inside a grand hotel and oversees by Ron Blaauw, the famous Duch chef that also runs the Ron Gastropub empire. The Bridges is a proper posh hotel restaurant, it has a modern, stylish decor, with eye-catching bar space and large windows overlooking the canal. It has a 7-course tasting menu on offer, besides the standard alc format where fish play center stage.

The Seafood Bar Amsterdam

Slick seafood chain business in Amsterdam


Fruits de Mer

The seafood is a mini seafood upmarket restaurant chain in Amsterdam, it has 4 restaurants across the city, as well as a seafood market shop. As you can suspect, it is all about fresh seafood, and the collection is pretty impressive. I went to the Spui branch, which is the biggest one out of the 4, located in central Amsterdam. It has an open kitchen, as well as a raw bar for all the cold seafood dishes. The menu is big and beside the usual seafood items such as tiger prawns, lobsters and oysters, there are also some other less mainstream items such as snow crab. You can have most of the seafood items either served cold in a classic way or grilled.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Le Gavroche

Good to be back



Artichoke filled with foie gras, truffles and chicken moose

Last time I dined at Le Gavroche, it was back in 2015. Out of the Michelin starred restaurants in London, I would say Le Gavroche is the only one that still has the proper old school French charm factor in its setting and cooking. Most high-profile restaurant these days are focusing on cutting edge cooking techniques and creative elements, but Le Gavroche kept its traditional French root, and produce some of the best tasting French food in London. After 5 years, a return was well overdue and I was very excited to be back. From the look of its tasting menu, not a great deal has changed, so I opted for the ALC menu instead.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Mandarin Kitchen

Old school Chinese seafood joint


Steamed brown crab with rice wine and egg white

Located just outside of Queensway tube station, Mandarin Kitchen is perhaps one of the most popular Chinese restaurants in the area. This classic Cantonese cuisine based restaurant is all about seafood, and it's signature lobster noodles dish has somewhat become such an iconic dish that you would see most tables order it. You would also find many classic Chinese seafood dishes on the menu, such as eel cooked in black bean sauce and steam whole fish. This is a really popular restaurant, so be sure to book ahead.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Park Chinois

New year special


Wagyu Beef Gyoza

Park Chinois has to be the poshest and most glamour Chinese restaurant in London. The fine-dining restaurant and club in Mayfair offer upmarket Cantonese based cooking, with some regional Chinese cuisine types mixing in. Park Chinois uses some of the best ingredients from around the world, ranging from wagyu beef from Japan to wild seabass from Chile. Headed up by chef Liang Koo Cheun, the cooking can also be pretty creative with a contemporary take on Chinese classics. For Chinese New Year, Park Chinois created a special menu that contains dishes that you would rarely find in the UK, but are considered iconic new year celebration dishes back in China.

XU Teahouse & Restaurant

Taiwanese fusion in Soho


Crab in Chilli Egg Drop Sauce served with Fried Mantou

I have been to Xu two times in the past back when it was first opened in 2017. Since then, many things have changed. It now has an afternoon tea menu, as well as a much reduced a la carte menu. The iconic dish, such as the Iberico pork char siu is still on the menu, but there are many unusual dishes popping up in its latest menu, things that you might not class it as authentic Chinese or Taiwanese food. Instead, it has a fusion feel about it. To celebrate Chinese New Year 2020, I got myself a table for lunch, and ordered some of the new dishes, as well as revisiting some classics.

Gold Mine

Classic Cantonese cuisine in Bayswater


BBQ roasted duck

Bayswater is pretty much the unofficial second China Town in London. There are a few numbers of traditional Cantonese restaurants, as well as a Chinese supermarket. The flagship of Royal China Group's restaurant is also there. The location also boasts the famous roasted meat specialist Four Season, as well as the classic seafood restaurant, The Mandarin Kitchen. On the same street, Gold Mine is considered to be the most authentic and down to earth Cantonese restaurant. There is only one way to find out, and that is paying it a visit. Gold Mine is so old school that it doesn't even have a website and booking is by phone only.

My Old Place

Szechuan cuisine canteen in East London


Chilli Oil With Pig’s Ears


Nothing beats a cheap eat Chinese that can deliver bold and flavorsome taste. However, cheap eat is not easy to spot in The City, especially for Chinese food. The only place I can think of is My Old Place in the area, just off Liverpool Street. My Old Place is all about the classics, but not the usual Cantonese affair. Instead, the restaurant has become very popular for the local workers, known for its big flavour Szechuan style Chinese cuisine. The place is not fancy at all, and don't expect any presentation, just good old fashioned, Szechuan food. I have been there twice before, for my third time, I went for some of the more exotic dishes.

Kym's

Lobster brunch


Steam lobster with king soy

When Kym's was first opened in 2018, I was one of the first to rushed to try it out. The second restaurant from Andrew Wong created such a buzz and Andrew was the poster boy whenever any media would write about anything to do with Chinese food. I got to say I was not impressed with Kym's food when I tasted at its soft launch period. It was just standard Chinese food with a more refined presentation in a posh-looking restaurant. What got me to head back? It has launched a brand new lobster brunch menu with unlimited wine, I am a mega-fan of lobster and to celebrate Chinese New Year in style, you can't go wrong with lobster brunch.

Monday, 20 January 2020

Mei Ume

Modern classic


Lo Hei

City of London is crying out for a high-quality Chinese restaurant, I used to go to Shikumen often but the place is going downhill recently. The hotel restaurant Mei Ume in Four Seasons Hotel is an alternative, but at a much higher cost, so is the cost justified? I would say so given I have eaten there a few times, and each time was better than the last. Head chef Tony Troung is the driving force of the operation, his menu is all about classic Chinese cuisine with a modern makeover. You would see dishes such as sweet and sour pork or Peking duck, but his version at Mei Ume would be an instant upgrade for sure. For my fourth visit, I opted for some of the new dishes he has specially put together for Chinese New Year.

China Tang London

Dim sum lunch in style


China Tang dim sum feast

If I ever fancy a long lazy brunch at the weekend, dim sum is always the first thing that comes to my mind. It is hard to beat tasting pieces after pieces of well crafted dim sum with a nice cup of tea while chatting with friends or family. I have eaten at China Tang many times in the evening but never got the chance to try out its dim sum menu, so when Chinese New Year is just around the corner, it was the perfect excuse to pay a visit. Judging from the dim sum menu, it is mostly classic Cantonese dim sum items. I also used the occasion to try out some of the upcoming Chinese New Year dishes that head chef Fong has created.

Duck and Rice

Gastropub with Chinese crackers


Drunken lobster clay pot

Duck and Rice is my to-go casual Chinese restaurant when I am around the Soho area. The restaurant is not your usual Chinese restaurant in Chinatown at all. It is modern and lively in the mood of a trendy pub, with Cantonese cooking, along with a hint of Japanese and Southeast Asian cuisine elements in the mixed. What I like about this place is the big selection of beer, as well as proper cocktails, something not easy to find in standard traditional Chinese places. More importantly, you can book in advance for both lunch and dinner time, and this is a massive plus for me. 

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Flor

British wine bar in London Bridge


Grilled red prawn heads, xo sauce


When Flor was launched last summer in 2019, it was one of the most talked-about restaurant openings of the year. It was so hard to secure a table and all the serious foodies were flooding in. Launched by chef James Lowe and his team from the Michelin starred Lyles, Flor is a modern wine bar and bakery that offers small plates taking flavours from around the world, you will see Middle East, European, as well as Asian element across the menu. The place is split into two floors, the ground floor is the open kitchen with bar seatings and upstair is a proper sit-down restaurant. For my visit, I ordered about 8 dishes to share for 2.

Otto's

Canard à la Presse



Canard à la Presse

While I enjoy fancy, modern French cuisines, sometimes I do love a traditional meal. However, top-class classic French food is not easy to find in London. Many Michelin rated restaurants are going for the modern European style these days, and I would say only Le Gavroche is the only Michelin starred French restaurant that still has that traditional charm in London. However, when I want something less formal and easier for my bank account, I think Otto's is the perfect restaurant. Located in Holborn, the restaurant is all about classic French dishes with some tableside flair. You will see dishes such as stuffed pig trotters and baked cheese souffle.

The Gunmakers

Gastropub in Marylebone 


Iberico Pata Negra Pork Chop

It has been a while since I last dined at a pub, there are not many great London pubs within central London so when I heard Mark Javis is taken over The Gunmakers, a gastropub in Marylebone not far from the celebrities hangout joint Chiltern Firehouse, I was excited to see what he would come up with, I am a fan of his modern British cuisine, haven eaten at his flagship restaurant Anglo, and his two other central London restaurants Stem and Nero Bistro (sadly now closed). He has teamed up with another big name in the industry, in the name of Xavier Rousset, who was behind the creation of the trendy wine bar group 28-50.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Michelin

A list of Michelin starred restaurants I have covered in my blog. By no means, Michelin is the perfect restaurant guide, but still a decent source when it comes into searching top-level dining experience and a guide that is respected by top chefs around the world. 




* Rating as of 2019 guide

UK

Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester***

Angler*

A Wong*

Alyn Williams at the Westbury* (2nd visit)

Alyn Williams at the Westbury* (3rd visit)

Alyn Williams at the Westbury* (4th visit)

Alyn Williams at the Westbury* (5th visit)

Alyn Williams at the Westbury* (6 and 7 th visit)

Aquavit*

Barrafina* (1st)

Barrafina* (2nd)

Brat* (1st)

Brat* (2nd)

Core** (1st visit)

Core** (2nd visit)

City Social*

Club Gascon* (1st visit)

Club Gascon* (2nd visit)

Claude Bosi at Bibendum**

Celeste* (1st visit)

Celeste* (2nd visit)



Celeste* (3rd visit)

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal**

Elystan Street*

Galvin La Chapelle(1st visit)

Galvin La Chapelle(2nd visit)

Galvin La Chapelle(3rd visit)

Galvin La Chapelle(4th visit)

Greenhouse** (2nd visit)

Greenhouse** (3rd visit)

Greenhouse** (4th visit)

Harwood Arms* (2nd visit)

Helene Darroze at the Connaught** (3rd visit)


Helene Darroze at the Connaught** (4th visit)

Helene Darroze at the Connaught** (5th visit)

Helene Darroze at the Connaught** (6th visit)

Helene Darroze at the Connaught** (7th visit)

Helene Darroze at the Connaught** (8th visit)

Hakkasan* (1st visit)

Hakkasan* (2nd visit)

Hide*

Kitchen Table** (1st visit)

Kitchen Table** (2nd visit)

Kitchen Table** (3rd visit)

Kitchen W8(2nd visit)

Kai Mayfair* 1st visit)

Kai Mayfair* (2nd visit)

La Dame de Pic** (1st visit)

La Dame de Pic** (2nd visit)


La Dame de Pic** (3rd visit)

La Trompette*

Le Gavroche** (1st)

Le Gavroche** (2nd)

Le Gavroche** (3rd)

Le Gavroche** (4th)

Lyle's* (1st)

Lyle's* (2nd)

Le Champignon Sauvage*

Murano* (2nd visit)

Midsummer House**

Marcus * (2nd visit)

Marcus * (3rd visit)

Marcus * (4th visit)

Nut Tree Inn*

Nut Tree Inn* (2nd visit)

Roganic*

Petrus*

Pied a Terre* (1st visit)

Pied a Terre* (2nd visit)

Pollen Street Social* (4th visit)

Portland*

Seven Park Place* (1st visit)

Seven Park Place* (2nd visit)

Sketch (1st visit)***

Sketch (2nd visit)***
 
Social Eating House* (1st visit)

Social Eating House* (2nd visit)
 
Story*

St John*

The Clove Club* (1st visit)

The Clove Club* (2nd visit)

Trishna* (2nd visit)

The Ledbury** (2nd visit)

The Ledbury** (3rd visit)

The Ledbury** (4th visit)

The Ledbury** (5th visit)

The Ledbury** (6th visit)

The Ledbury** (7th visit)

The Ledbury** (8th visit)

The Ledbury** (9th visit)

The Ledbury** (10th visit)

The Ledbury** (11th visit)

The Ledbury** (12th visit)

The Ledbury** (13th visit)

The Ledbury** (14th visit)

The Square* (3rd and 4th visit)

The Goring Dining Room*

The River Cafe*

The West House*

The Ninth*

The Five Fields* (1st visit)

The Five Fields* (2nd visit)

The Five Fields* (3rd visit)

The Coach Marlow*

The Hind Heads*

Waterside Inn*** (2nd visit)

Sabor* (1st visit)

Sabor* (2nd visit)

The Flitch of Bacon*



Spain

Azurmendi***

Akelare***

Arzak***

El Celler de Can Roca***

Martín Berasategui***

Martín Berasategui*** (2nd visit)

Mirador de Ulía*

Massana*

Mina*

Etxanobe*

Enigma*

ABaC***

Angle**

Abantal*

Cocina Hermanos Torres**

Dos Palillos*

Lasarte***

Ramon Freixa Madrid**

El Club Allard**

Hisop*

Manairo


Mantua*

Via Veneto


Hofmann*

Nectari*

Restaurante Kokotxa*

Ricard Camarena**

Sucede Restaurante*




Netherlands

Bridges*

Ciel Bleu**

The White Room*

Rijks*

Sinne*

212*



Italy

Borgo San Jacopo*


La Bottega del Buon Caffè*

La Leggenda dei Frati*

Ora d'Aria*

Acquolina*

Enoteca La Torre*

Il Convivio Troiani*




Portugal

Alma**

Belcanto**

The Yeatman**

Casa de Chá da Boa Nova**



Austria

Carpe Diem*

Restaurant Steirereck**



France

Benoit*

Les Climats*

Le Celadon*

Les Fables de la Fontaine*



Ireland

Chapter One*

The Greenhouse**

Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud**



Taiwan

Raw**

Mume*




Hong Kong


Amber**

Bo Innovation***

Pang's Kitchen*

Sun Tung Lok**

Imperial Treasure*

Ming Court* (2nd visit)

8 1/2 Otto E Mezzo Bombana***

Lung King Heen***

Shang Palace*

Ah Yat Harbour View*

Tim Ho Wan* (1st visit)

Tim Ho Wan* (2nd visit)

Tate*

Yan Toh Heen**


Kam's Roast Goose(1st visit)

Kam's Roast Goose* (2nd visit)

Yat Lok*

Ho Hung Kee*

Jardin de Jade(1st visit)

Jardin de Jade* (2nd visit)

Zhejiang Heen*

Yat Tung Heen*

Ying Jee Club**

VEA*