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.


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.