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.


 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.


US modern fine dining experience



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.


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.