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.  


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


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.