Sunday, 26 September 2021

MiMi Mei Fair

Another Chinese fine dining in Mayfair


Apple wood roasted Peking duck

MiMi Mei Fair is perhaps one of the biggest Chinese openings in London of 2021, founded by Samyukta Nair whose family is behind one of the luxurious hotel and restaurant empires called Leela. The executive chef Peter Ho at MiMi has a really strong CV, with senior positions held at the likes of Hakkasan and HKK. Both his front-of-house and chef team also has a number of ex Hakkasan staff so he has a strong team surrounding him. The food offering has a prime focus on Cantonese cuisine, with some Southeast Asian elements in the mix. There is a dim sum menu as well a more standard ALC menu with about 40 dishes ranging from starters, mains, and sides.

Saturday, 25 September 2021

The Sea, The Sea Hackney

Creative seafood tasting counter dining style


Langoustine and spiny lobster cake

Counter dining has somewhat become a hot trend in London lately, with many new counter dining concepts popping up, and mostly toward the high-end level, such as Behind and Evelyns Table. The Sea, The Sea is the latest joining the counter dining fun, with an ex Viajante chef, the talented Leo Carreira running the show. The 12 seat restaurant in Hackney is all about seafood as you could pick that out from the name. The restaurant even has its own seafood tanks to store live seafood and a drying room for fish aging. It offers a 10-course tasting menu, serving creative seafood dishes with a strong influence from Japan.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

The Seafood Bar Soho

Work in progress


Cold seafood platter


The Seafood Bar is a brand new seafood concept restaurant from a successful seafood chain operator from Holland which has the same name. I have eaten at the original Seafood bar in Amsterdam just before Covid and it was really enjoyable, it was simple seafood done properly, grilled to the perfection level with a bang on seasoning. So my expectation for the London launch was high. My only question was that have they changed the sourcing of seafood? While London looked similar to the one in Amsterdam, ingredients could play a big part in impacting the final product.

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Kitchen Table

 3 stars in the making?


Aged pigeon and cherry

Kitchen Table is easily the best 2 Michelin stars restaurant in London, and for me always a good candidate to push to the 3 stars status. Having eaten there a few times, I always found from the strength to strength, the restaurant kept on improving, and is great to see chef-patron James has such passion and hunger to progress to go as far as possible. Since Covid, a major change happened, with the restaurant taken a massive revamp, taken over the sister restaurant space Bubbledogs and switched up to become a bar area, for diners to enjoy canapes and petit four. The price also had a big change, switched from a fixed £150 tasting menu to £250, a crazy change and has become the most expensive Michelin starred restaurant in the UK! Does it warrant the price?

Park Chinois

 Chinese banquet-style delight


Steamed king crab in aged rice wine and rice noodles

Back again at the wonderful fine dining Chinese restaurant Park Chinois in Mayfair, serving classy Chinese cuisine using the finest ingredients. I have eaten there a few times and worked my way to try most of the items on the menu, I really enjoy how the restaurant based its cooking in the traditional Chinese manner, but with a touch of modern twist ever so slightly to create something truly special. For my lucky 13th visit, I have given the kitchen the freedom to come up with an omakase treatment, serving a blind tasting Chinese banquet-style menu, mixing in the restaurant's signature dishes, as well as some off the menu goodies.

Holborn Dining Room

How a great British dining room should be


Grilled prawns with garlic oil


Located inside the luxury Rosewood hotel, Holborn Dining room is a modern British restaurant which is known for its pie-making, with chef Calum Frankin overseeing the operation, the restaurant even has a pie room which works both as a pie-making kitchen, as well as acting as a private dining room in the evening. You can sample the infamous pie either as a takeaway in the daytime, or have it on site. I have eaten its pork pie in my first visit, and I ask keen to try the good old-fashioned chicken pie on my visit. Besides pies, the menu of the restaurant is your typical modern British hotel offering, with salad, steak, fish and burger, etc. 

Sunday, 15 August 2021

Park Chinois

Kingdom of dim sum 


Xiao long bao, har gau, shumai, crab puff


For me, having dim sum would forever be the most ideal choice for a brunch/ weekend lunch occasion. While I love full English breakfast or a Sunday roast, dim sum has a clear edge due to the diverse flavours and types you are able to taste, from steamed dumplings to baked puffs to rice rolls, every piece of dim sum is an art form when fallen into the right hand. Park Chinois' dim sum is easily the best in London, not just because they use a lot of luxury ingredients, that helps but the pastry craftsmanship from the kitchen is second to none, lead by chef Ming who is the head dim sum chef. For my 12th visit to Park Chinois, I went full-on dim sum mode and ordered a selection to share.  

Orient

Good old fashioned Cantonese charm


Steamed Queen scallops with soy

China Town is packed with Chinese restaurants, from classic HK-style cafes, large Cantonese restaurants to dumpling joints. So many choices, so many styles of Chinese food, is not easy to make the right choice. There are a few standout restaurants in my eye, and if you are seeking traditional Cantonese food cooked in a more refined manner, Orient is my go-to place, the Chinese name of the Orient label itself as a seafood specialist, offering a range of classic seafood dishes such as steam fish, stir fry lobster to black pepper crab. 

Paul Ainsworth at Number 6

 The real King of Cornwall


Beetroot, truffle and potato


Besides Rick Stein, it is fair to say Paul Ainsworth is the second most famous chef in Cornwall, with a mini restaurant empire spreading across Cornwall. Paul's flagship no 6 is one of the only 3 restaurants that hold a Michelin star in Cornwall and the only one in Padstow, serving fine dining food using the finest British ingredients, with a strong French influence. No 6 serves a small 4-course ALC menu, with only 3 choices per course, and the standout dish without a doubt is the ' A fairground tale', a trio of desserts that Paul served in the BBC show Great British Menu and won. I was lucky enough to visit in a big group so with some food sharing, I was able to sample more or less every dish on the menu.

Barnaby Padstow

The art of whole fish cooking


BBQ red mullet, harissa bouillabaisse, fennel aioli

From the people behind the fishmonger and seafood bar Prawn on the Lawn, Barnaby is a mini restaurant with less than 20 covers in Padstow. The restaurant pride itself on using prime Cornish ingredients, with a touch of international elements to enhance the local ingredients. The menu is has a range of tapas size dishes, as well as large sharing plates for sharing. I could see many Mediterranean influences with harissa, pomegranate, and mojo verde, which makes it stand out within Padstow as most other restaurants champion classic Cornish cuisine. I went in a large group so I had the chance to sample most dishes on the menu.

Sunday, 8 August 2021

Fresh from the Sea

The freshest lobster and crab


Seafood party

While I was planning my Cornwall trip, Fresh from the Sea was high on my agenda. The little restaurant/cafe is located in a small fishing village in Port Isaac. As the name suggested, the restaurant is all about fresh seafood, with its own day boat catching live lobsters and crabs off the Cornish coast. The catches are delivered directly to the restaurant and cooked on the spot, meaning you are getting the freshest seafood. The menu is simple, with a selection of seafood sandwiches and salads. For serious seafood lovers, best go for a whole lobster or share a large seafood platter so you are able to sample the finest seafood Cornwall has to offer.

Rick Stein's Seafood Restaurant

 Rick Stein's flagship


Hot shellfish platter

If you are planning a trip to Padstow in Cornwall, then a meal at Rick Stein's flagship, the Seafood Restaurant is high on your agenda. Rick Stein is the unofficial king of Padstow, whenever you go, you can see his shops or restaurants, and the Seafood Restaurant is the jewel of his kingdom. Facing directly to the sea, the restaurant's menu is all about fresh seafood, mostly done in the classic British ways with some overseas elements, inspired by Rick's travels around the world. Booking is essential, as Rick Stein is such a household name, there are people traveling to Pladstow just for a taste of his Cornish seafood cooking.

Saturday, 7 August 2021

Alma

A tribute to Portugal's fish and seafood


Scarlett Shrimp, açorda, seaweed

I visited Alma back in 2017 when it gained a Michelin star not long ago, and the chef-owner Henrique Sá Pessoa was considered a rising star chef in Lisbon. Fast forward to 2021, I return to Alma once again for my second visit. It has since gained another Michelin star and the menu has also become a lot more expensive, as you would be expected. The tasting menu cost 85 euro back then and now is 145 euro, which is a sky-high increase. The main reason I had faith to return is down to my first meal at Alma was very enjoyable and I was keen on how the restaurant has developed over the years to warrant its second star.

100 Maneiras

17 moments of a surreal feeling


Caviar, radish and duck liver

Serbian-born chef Ljubomir Stanisic has created somewhat a reputation in Portugal with his take on Eastern European cuisine using fresh Portuguese ingredients. His 100 Maneiras became the hottest ticket in town, with a single tasting menu on offer, telling the story of the chef's upbringing in Serbia, to his current home of Lisbon. You will find plenty of Eastern European cuisine concepts with an unusual, creative, and very experimental touch. Dishes that will fool and play with your mind which has scored the chef his first Michelin star.

Cervejaria Ramiro

 The ultimate seafood temple


European lobster

If you visit Lisbon, the chance is that a meal at Ramiro would be on your to-do list. The casual neighbourhood seafood restaurant is considered the best seafood restaurant in Lisbon. They don't do anything fancy, just using fresh seafood produces and cooked them to perfection. I have been to Ramiro a few years ago, but I could still recall how wonderful it was, and I decided on my return to Lisbon that I will head there not just once, but twice. Thanks to Covid, the restaurant is now taking reservations, which is a blessing as otherwise, you can easily wait a few hours to get a table as this restaurant is legendary to both the locals and tourists.

Pateo - Bairro do Avillez

 Avillez's empire


BBQ Carabineros

Bairro is a mini restaurant hub by the most famous Portuguese chef José Avillez, the very first chef that landed two Michelin stars in Portugal and now runs a handful of restaurants across the nation. It appears he is everywhere, from casual concepts to fine dining venues. Located in Lisbon, Bairro is perhaps his most ambitious project, a dining space house 4 restaurants, with Pateo, the seafood concept taking the central stage. The menu is big, with a selection of seafood dishes based on traditional Portuguese recipes but with an international twist, so don't be surprise to see kimchee or curry.

Da Terra

Creative Latin fine dining


Mushroom doughnut and cod croquette


I first encountered head chef Rafael Cagali’s creative cooking at Da Terra back in 2020 when he hosted a special one-off dinner with the talented Alex Dilling. The unusual, fun ways of his take on Latin-inspired cooking have got me interested to return to try out the tasting menu to truly experience what he has got on offer. Fast forward to 2021, Da Terra has gained a second Michelin star, a remarkable achievement, given it was only launched a few years ago. The restaurant only serves a tasting menu with an open kitchen within the Town Hall Hotel. You either pick a short or long tasting menu and you won't know what you will be getting till the food arrives at your table.

Quality Chop House

 British pork champ


Mangalitza pork belly


I have lost count of how many times I have been to Quality Chop House, the British chophouse has a cult status and is super popular with London foodies. As the name suggested, this restaurant is all about chops, using the finest meat sourcing from all over the UK. They have something really special that not many restaurants are able to get hold of: The mangalitza pork, a really flavoursome pig breed imported from Hungry and now a handful of British farms are able to breed it locally. The pork is basically the wagyu beef version of pork, loaded with marble and bold depth of savoury taste, whenever I visit Quality Chop House, that is the must-order item.

China Tang

Traditional Cantonese feast


Ginger and spring onions stir fry lobster with noodles

UK restaurants are facing a crisis with the short of skilled staff, and that is especially even more true for the Chinese restaurants, with older generation of chefs retiring and lack of chefs coming to the UK due to visa challenge. It is fair to say, there are less decent Chinese restaurants left, especially in the high end Cantonese cuisine sector, but fortunately, one venue still does it at a high level is China Tang, located within the Dorchester hotel. It has been around for more than 20 years and is still holding strong, highly regarded by the locals and guests of the hotel. Pre Covid, it is normal to see it packed out even on a Monday night. For my lucky 13th visit, I tried out a selection of new seasonal specials as well as some all time classics.

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Park Chinois

Supreme Chinese cuisine champion


Stir fry native lobsters with egg noodles

Lockdown is almost over, with dining out is a possibility again. For top-grade Chinese food, if I only have 1 choice, Park Chinois would easily be the one for me. Having been there 10 times in the last few years, I don't recalled 1 weak meal. The restaurant is known for using top-quality ingredients sourced from all around the world, cooked expertly in a traditional Chinese manner with an elegant modern touch. You are paying a premium price for the experience but that also comes with a grand setting with live entertainment every evening. For my 11th visit, I went the classic Chinese feasting way, ordered a selection of large dishes, and shared them with my group.

Sabor

 The best Spanish in London town


Grilled scarlet prawn

My 4th visit to Sabor, and the only Spanish restaurants I have been to more than 2 times in London. Why? The answer is simple as Sabor is easily the best Spanish restaurant in London. The place is always buzzing and lively, the service is rock solid and well above your standard restaurant, but most importantly the food is truly special. If you can't take a trip to Spain, Sabor is the closest thing you will find in London. For seriously foodie, the action comes from upstairs space: El Asador. This is where you will get large sharing plates of classic Spanish dishes, such as the iconic suckling pig. The restaurant also offers a small list of daily special, depending on what is fresh off the market.

Pollen Street Social

Chef counter dining



Afternoon tea

The last time I dined at Pollen Street Social was 7 years ago, I still recalled when it was first launched, the restaurant was the talk of the town with its informal approach to British fine dining in a relaxing and modern manner. The price was also fairly reasonable with £25 for a 3 course set lunch. A lot of things have changed since then, chef-owner Jason Atherton has expanded his restaurants offering with multi Michelin stars across the UK, the dessert bar of PLS has also transformed into a chef counter dining experience zone, where an 8-course tasting menu is on offer. I always wanted to return to Pollen Street Social so the counter dining was the perfect excuse for me to return for my 5th visit.

Sola

US modern fine dining experience

 

Scombridae

Sola, the newish restaurant on Dean Street by Victor Garvey was an interesting one for me. I have no idea what is American modern fine dining, but judging from the menu, it just sounds so inviting with plenty of fusion elements and the use of top-grade ingredients, not to mention the dish visuals are stunning from what I could see online. I was scheduled to visit back in Christmas in 2020 but thanks to the 'C word', that did not happen in the end. Since then, Sola gained a Michelin star and to be honest, that wasn't a surprise for me. Given the positive reviews, the modern and creative fine dining approach, etc. Fast forward to the 2021 summer, I finally got the chance to see what is it all about.

Sunday, 13 June 2021

The Ritz

Classy French fine dining


Bresse Duck

While the UK was still on lockdown, I was asking myself which restaurant is on my 'must return list'. Sadly The Ledbury and Greenhouse are now no more, and Kitchen Table is still shut at the time of writing. So The Ritz was one of the few left at the fine dining level. I had a great memory from my first visit last year, the tasting menu was truly outstanding and I always wanted to try chef John William's more traditional dishes from the ALC menu, especially its legendary table side dishes 'Art de la table'. That was enough for me to justify a return visit. Of course, The Ritz's dining room is grand and classy with state-of-the-art service attached to it, which is another plus to the restaurant.

Portland

Casual fine dining star experience


Honey-glazed Sladesdown duck. Young turnips, black cardamom & lemon

Portland is part of a collection of British restaurants under the Wood Head Group, which also owns the much-celebrated Quality Chop House. I first encountered Portland when it was newly launched back in 2015, and I was really impressed. While it was in a casual, informal setting, the food quality was at fine dining level and it soon gained a Michelin star. 6 years later, I returned to Portland, many things have changed. The then head chef who won the Michelin star has left. Social distancing measure means fewer tables and there now is a tasting menu at £75, and that is what I opted for. Given ALC cost £65, it just seems like a no-brainer to add a few more dosh to have the complete Portland dining experience.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Bocca di Lupo

The hallmark of fine quality Italian cooking


Grilled langoustines

Booca Di Lupo has long been a popular Italian restaurant in Soho, a hit for the locals and I recalled every time when I walked past Archer Street, the restaurant is always packed. To secure a table for a weekend dinner slot, you will need to book weeks in advance, if not months. Covid came along and it seems that didn't impact much to Bocca di Lupo as far as booking once lock down was over, thanks to its strong loyal customers base it has built up over the year. This is not a typical Italian restaurant, with a big selection of regional dishes in mostly small pates format, almost like tapas style so you most likely need to order 3 - 4 dishes per person, depending on how hungry you are.

Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine London

Duck to the future



Peking duck

Without a doubt, feasting on fine dining quality Chinese food was high on my agenda when lockdown is finally over. For sure, you can get takeaway from many Chinese outlets but is just not the same as dining in, and some dishes lose the quality and essence after traveling, such as Peking duck and dim sum. The Peking duck at Imperial Treasure is some of the finest you can get in London. As far as traditional Cantonese cooking, not many other Chinese restaurants can rival its standard (and price!). For my 6th visit to the venue, I pre-ordered a whole duck, along with a selection of dishes from the ALC menu.

Gold Mine

Roasted duck temple


Steamed chicken with spring onion & soy

Gold Mine has somewhat gained a reputation of serving the best traditional Cantonese roasted duck in London. The classic Chinese restaurant in Bayswater is loved by the local Chinese communities for its old-school Cantonese cuisine, things that you are unlikely to find in your local Chinese takeaways, such as salted fish & pork cooked in a clay pot and lamb stew with tofu sheets. The restaurant was doing a decent trade over lockdown, especially with its infamous roasted duck, but for me, many Chinese dishes lose their quality after traveling so I always prefer to dine in.

Mandarin Kitchen

Chinese seafood veteran


Stir fry lobster Cantonese style


Bayswater has always been considered the second Chinatown within London, housed many great Chinese restaurants. Since the Covid-19 impact, it forced the iconic Royal China group to close down its Bayswater operation, a sad moment as its Bayswater joint is its very first restaurant. Just opposite it, is Mandarin Kitchen, another household name among the local Chinese communities. I personally think it is the best Chinese restaurant in Bayswater and I have been there a few times in the past. The family-run business is known for its seafood dishes done in the classical Cantonese cooking manner, especially with its braised lobster noodles, which have become its signature offering and now has become the must-order dish on the menu.

Sunday, 9 May 2021

The Grill at The Dorchester

Grill at the Rooftop


Beef ribeye, mushrooms, tarragon

My 5th time visiting The Grill at the Dorchester and is a bittersweet visit for sure. After months of lockdown, it was a relief to be able to dine out again, and given at the time of writing, indoor dining is still not possible, Dorchester came up with a brilliant idea of using its rooftop to create a pop-up dining space. The top floor of the hotel offers a stunning view of Hype Park, dining there while watching the sunset made an excellent occasion for a weekend treat. Unlike the standard Grill menu, head chef Tom came up with a more casual, sharing menu with plenty of dishes cooked on the BBQ.

Dim Sum and Duck

 Little Chinese gem in King Cross


Cantonese roasted duck


It has been tough with no proper Chinese food while UK is at full lockdown mode. Unfortunately, all my local Chinese takeaway shops' offering is pretty underwhelming, and travel to China Town seems like a big risk given is very crowded since outdoor dining is a thing. I came across Dim Sum and Duck while I was researching decent restaurants around King Cross for work reasons, and it appears to have very impressive reviews online. The menu is mostly classic Cantonese with a few 'western Chinese' dishes in the mix, the chef-owner used to work in Royal China so I was sure the quality would be decent at least. The dim sum and Cantonese roasted duck are the focal points as you can guess from the name of the restaurant.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Casa Fofo

International small plates flair


Age pollock, kale, lemon

To my surprise, the Michelin guide went ahead and launched the 2021 guide despite most restaurants weren't operating for a large part of 2020, and Casa Fofo was one of the big winners and secured a Michelin star, making it one of the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in London with a fixed price blind tasting menu at £48. You do not know what you be having till the dish arrived at your table, so great if you are not a fussy eater and willing to explore. The food is based on Modern European cuisine style but filled with plenty of International elements, especially from Asia. 

Quality Chop House

Chop life on the street


Middle white pork chop


At last, eating outdoor dining is a reality again. However, considering so many restaurants have no outdoor dining, the demand for a table is high with all of those venues that offer outdoor dining space. For Quality Chop House, the legendary meat focus restaurant is a popular venue at a normal time, and with only outdoor space now, along with only 8 tables available, I was extremely lucky to secure a table on a Saturday night. I have been there a few times and the chops are some of the best you can find in London, not to mention the infamous confit potato. For outdoor seating, the menu has been reduced with no tasting menu on offer, I opted for a selection of starters and mains to share with my party.

Friday, 1 January 2021

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 to searching for top-level dining experience and a guide that is respected by top chefs around the world. 




* Rating as of 2021 guide

UK

Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester***

Angler* (1sit visit)

Angler* (2nd visit)

A Wong*

Behind*

Barrafina* (1st)

Barrafina* (2nd)

Brat* (1st)

Brat* (2nd)

Core** (1st visit)

Core** (2nd visit)

Core*** (3rd visit)


Claude Bosi at Bibendum** (2nd visit)

Celeste* (1st visit)

Celeste* (2nd visit)



Celeste* (3rd visit)




Dinner by Heston Blumenthal** (2nd)

Elystan Street*

Galvin La Chapelle(1st visit)

Galvin La Chapelle(2nd visit)

Galvin La Chapelle(3rd visit)

Galvin La Chapelle(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)



Pollen Street Social* (5th visit)

Portland* (1st visit)

Portland* (2nd visit)

Seven Park Place* (1st visit)

Seven Park Place* (2nd visit)

Sketch (1st visit)**

Sketch (2nd visit)***
 
Story*

St John*

The Clove Club* (1st visit)

The Clove Club* (2nd visit)

The Clove Club* (3rd visit)

Trishna* (2nd visit)




The Five Fields* (3rd visit)

The Coach Marlow*

The Hind Heads*

Waterside Inn*** (2nd visit)

Sabor* (1st visit)

Sabor* (2nd visit)

Sabor* (3rd visit)

Sabor* (4th visit)



Hall of fame

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)