Gyoza Bar

It had been a while since I had been out to dinner in Covent Garden – I find it’s full of chains so tend to go to Soho or towards Fitzrovia. Covent Garden has changed with lots more upcoming restaurants….one of the latest additions is: Gyoza Bar.

This new Covent Garden spot serves gyoza (surprise!) – with plenty of bar seating around the big open kitchen so you can watch the dumpling creation in action.  Gyoza are small dumplings stuffed with your choice of meats, salmon or vegetables and topped off with chilli oil, soy or garlic vinegar before being steamed, pan fried or deep fried.

In addition,  there’s lots of Japanese-inspired tapas style dishes including ramen and bao buns, but obviously gyoza are the stars of the show here.

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Apart from the tasty veg gyoza, we had the Japanese sweet potato and lenkon chips. For mains I had the veg ramen which was served with spring onion, stem broccoli, beansprout, inari sweet tofu. The veg ramen was delicious and definitely worth choosing if you go here.

The restaurant is clean and minimalist, with the focal point being the open kitchen. It’s a good place for a quick meal after work but not one I’d rush back to.

 

 

Cream cheese on toast with strawberries, honey and granola

I was suitably envious when I saw the lovely Vikki Chowney posted a delicious breakfast dish and had to try it.

Here’s my version:

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  • Griddled bread – we used a french baguette and toasted it with a little butter on both sides
  • Once toasted, spread some cream cheese or ricotta
  • Slice strawberries on top
  • Add a generous sprinkle of Granola – Lizi’s granola is super tasty
  • Drizzle of honey on top

Vikki’s recipe used ricotta and orange marmalade but I didn’t have either so used cream cheese.

This toast has it all: crunchy bread, creamy cheese, sweet strawberries, luscious honey, and crunchy granola to round it all off.

Bon appetit!

Family celebrations at Dishoom – Brunch

For my dad and my birthday celebrations, we decided to go for brunch to Dishoom. I’ve been to Dishoom several times but mainly for dinner and have had brunch here once.

Based on the Irani cafes in Mumbai run by Iranian immigrants,  Dishoom is Indian as can be seen by the ethnic origin of the dishes listed on the menu, but it’s ‘evolved Indian’, which offers a hint of Bombay’s famous street grills and food stalls including paneer tikka, biryanis, pau bhaji and filled rotis. It’s a popular lunch and dinnertime venue with various Mumbai style dishes and there’s often a really long queue so I was glad to see that you can book for breakfast.

We started with the bottomless chai – hot and beautifully spiced made with ginger and pepper and spices. After lots of chai, we ordered our dishes.

I knew what I was going to order from the beginning – egg naan roll where the naan comes wrapped around two fried eggs with runny yolk, chilli jam, cream cheese and coriander with a side of mushrooms. We ordered: Kejriwal, chilli cheese toast and eggs, Keema per eedu, pau served with chicken kheema, chicken livers, fried egg and sali crisp chips, The big Bombay – Full english with masala beans and a Bombay Omelette which is an omelette of chopped tomato, onion, coriander and green chilli.  Reya had the bun muska and a fried egg.

The food came quickly and was super tasty. Our dishes had the perfect combination to mix traditional Bombay Irani food with the classic British breakfast. In particular my egg naan roll was sweet with a hint of chilli.

I loved the brunch and it was great to try something different. Dishoom has a delightfully vintage ambiance and is really buzzing for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Japanese junk food pop-up Shackfuyu

It’s been almost a year since I last blogged – work has been crazy and I haven’t had any time. But I promised I’ll get back to it starting with this lunch trip to Japanese pop-up!

During Easter, we ventured into town to walk around, mooch and have a late lunch. We headed to Soho for lunch and were torn between Hoppers and Shackfuyu. Unfortunately Hoppers had a one hour wait so we went to: the Japanese junk food pop-up with on-trend fusion food, cocktails and a rock ‘n’ roll atmosphere – Shackfuyu!

The idea behind Shackfuyu is to “playfully highlight foods current in Japan today”, with influences from Korea and China. The lunch food menu was extensive for pop-up with lots of options for vegetarians and of course Neil had lots of meat dishes to choose from.

I opted for the Miso aubergine which was a standout dish – it’s made with four types of miso and bubu arare. One thing missing was a dish with the bao buns for veg. But the chef was really accommodating and he was more than happy to send me the buns to go with my starter.

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Neil ordered the chashu pork and apple sauce which he said was the best bao bun he’s ever had and very tasty. We also ordered the hot stone rice dish – the chef made a veg version so it’s worth asking for this. This is based on Korea’s bibimbap mixed-rice dish. The food was tasty and really filling. We also ordered the sweet potato fries but cancelled these as were too full!

But the highlight of the lunch was the Kinako French Toast with Matcha Soft Serve Ice Cream. This show-stopper dessert is said to be the dish you absolutely need to leave room for. But it’s huge – so easy to share between two. The waiter also gave Reya a cup with ice-cream.

Overall, Shackfuyu is a great place to visit in Soho’s trendy food scene – a perfect for a meal with friends, great for drinks and the best dessert.

Breakfast at Hubbarb & Bell

It seems like having brunch or breakfast in hotels is now the done thing in London! Hubbard & Bell London is the café/restaurant located inside the Soho House Group’s newest hotel – Hoxton Hotel, which confusingly, is located in Holborn. It’s very New York style with an open plan lobby – a perfect spot for creative types to work with their macs. Tucked at the back of the lobby is the Hubbard and Bell oozing a chilled diner feel with long wooden table, leather booths and white brick walls.

Instead of my usual french toast or the full english, I opted for something a little different – the sourdough pancakes with browned sugar and pineapple. My dining partner opted for the Eggs Benny. The portions were generous and the pancakes were really tasty. The menu also had lots of choices for pressed juice, and hot drinks!

This combination of food and drink was honestly heavenly. And rest of the menu looked so great, I will be back soon to try out more. The service was quick and there was a cool atmosphere.Hubbard & Bell is cosy, fun and good value.

I will be returning and if you are around Holborn and fancy a delicious breakfast then I highly recommend making a visit.

Japanese lunch at Roka – vegetarian delight

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As a lover of all Japanese food and the fact that it was next to my clients office, Roka seemed like a perfect spot for a business lunch. I have to admit it’s one of the best restaurants I’ve been to in a long time and I can’t wait to go back

The food was absolutely divine, we had a selection of dishes which were all beyond fantastic. The service to second to none and I liked the design and style of the venue….the layout of the restaurant is one whereby the food is at the centre. The grill is located bang in the middle and it is possible to sit around it and observe the chefs at work. We opted for a table.

My colleague ordered a variety of dishes including several vegetarian options:

  • Prawn and vegetable tempura with dips
  • Broccoli
  • Various maki including mushroom ones
  • Soy glazed tofu – blocks of firm-on-the-inside, but crispy-on-the-outside tofu with crispy garlic crisps on a sea of soy.
  • Asparagus with sweet soy and sesame dressing
  • Rice hotpot made in a casserole pot of glutinous rice and chicken – they did a veg version
  • Softshell crab with roasted chilli dressing
  • Chicken skewers with spring onions

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Food-wise Roka delivered more than I expected. Flavours were pleasant and ingredients fresh. I loved it and can’t wait to back for a special occasion!

One Aldwych afternoon tea – or not!

I loved Willy Wonka’s Charlie and Chocolate Factory story – Those words are so full of magic and warmth that you cannot help smiling. You have read the books or watched the movies or even seen it live – it’s just such an amazing story! When I heard about a themed afternoon tea at One Aldwych, I was intrigued to see how it would be put together…

We were given a themed menu which was decorated with quirky illustrations dedicated to a different family: Charlie and his granddad Joe, spoilt brat Veruca, gluttonous eating Augustus Gloop, Violet Beauregarde, a girl who chews gum all the time and TV loving Mike Teavee. The menu had a list of the treats we had to look forward to.

The adventure starts with the Charlie cocktail, served in a glass teapot with bubbling liqud and smoke coming out. I opted to try the teas: smooth caramel tea which included vanilla and caramel chunks and jewelled apple tea which had wild strawberry leaves, caramel, and apple pieces.

First up was the savoury selection; These included horseradish and roast beef on onion bread, cucumber and chive on wholemeal bread, cured smoked salmon and lemon mayonnaise on rye bread, a heritage tomato tart and a leek and stilton quiche. This is where I felt it was most disappointed as I had advised them of our dietary requirements weeks before saying that we do not eat beef and there were two vegetarians who do not eat eggs in the party. When we mentioned this again, we were only given the cucumber and chive sandwiches and the tart. This was a real shame as most other venues are obliging….and happy to make other options out. When we were asking if we wanted seconds of any, we were brought a small plate of options and had to ask for more which is a shame. This is one of  the smallest amount of sandwiches I’ve had at an afternoon tea – especially considering this was by no means the cheapest! And the options not great for a veggie!

2014-11-16 14.57.42On the sweet side, prepare for a real feast and our main reason for choosing this afternoon tea! This is where the real Charlie and the Chocolate Factory magic really shines through in the sweets, from pear drop and rhubarb and custard candy floss to blueberry brioche, vanilla cheesecake and mango filled golden egg and Eton Mess, which was washed down with chocolate caramel milk in a retro style bottle.

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There was also a little basket was blueberry brioche, scones and cocoa bean financiers. The scones weren’t great – nice enough but not what you normally get at an afternoon tea!. The brioche was tasty, and the financiers really delicious, like mini brownies!

The selection of sweet treats was just so entertainingly made that we all loved to look at it but the tea itself was disappointing! Especially as this wasn’t really a cheap tea at £34.50 per person and we weren’t left feeling full – maybe full of sweet treats but that was it!  I feel that there are much better places for tea including The Atheneum Hotel.