26 Feb 2013

A London institution for Chinese food, Hakkasan continues to tickle my palette with every bite and every visit. My latest visit to Hakkasan was with three of my best friends, and we went to the Hanway place restaurant; the original. The vibe of the restaurant is super trendy, chic and glamorous. The icy blue lit restaurant is contemporary in its presentation yet authentic in its cuisine and Chinese accents of the latticed screens that adorn the interior. To start we ordered the dim sum platter, the crispy duck roll and the sesame prawn toast. All came on time, and the dim sum was cooked perfectly with the scallop dumpling being the best one, whereas the chive dimpling, har gau and shimeji dumplings were all good but not exceptional. The crispy ducks rolls and sesame prawn toasts were also good, but not extraordinary in that they did not ignite any sirens. To follow we ordered the Rib Eye Beef, the Lamb Chops, the duck and a side of asparagus. The rib eye beef was perfectly cooked medium well, and had the refreshing zest of black pepper, and the lamb chops were also a delectable choice and were soft and melted in my mouth. Compared to the other dishes the duck was quite underwhelming, but in its own merit it stands to be quite decent, however I wouldn’t recommend it over the lamb chops or rib eye. The asparagus also stood to be quite good and was smothered in black bean and soy sauce. For drinks we ordered the Chinese Mule; it is highly refreshing and recommended. The cucumber martini is also a delight with a twist of ginger. Despite the steep bill, Hakkasan is highly recommended and is a Mecca for Chinese food and comes as no surprise in being the first Chinese restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star. 

8 Hanway Place, London W1T 1HD

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London, UK
Lima opened last summer, serving contemporary Peruvian cuisine in Fitzrovia. My first impression was that the interior was rather generic, but colourful pompoms and cushions brighten up the space. The menu is new and interesting, and once the food is on the table it becomes even more inviting. Neatly arranged on the plates are small portions of brightly coloured dishes, such as the asparagus with blue potato and braised octopus with pink olive sauce. We decided to share lots of starters, as it was too hard to choose. The spicy salmon with red amaranth is definitely worth a try, but I wouldn’t recommend the sea bream ceviche, as it simply tasted too fishy. As a main we shared the beef pachamanca, a dish that is traditionally cooked with hot stones in a hole in the ground in Peru, something the waiter pointed out was not a possibility in central London. Nevertheless, the beef was amazing. The cocktail list is comprised solely of Pisco drinks, a grape brandy from South America. I loved the Pisco sour with egg whites, and had to order another. The meal was refreshing in both its tastes and appearance. There was a lightness to the dishes that meant I was full and satisfied, without feeling heavy and tired. I am already looking forward to my next visit to Lima.

31 Rathbone Place, London, W1T 1JH

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24 Feb 2013


XO is an Asian fusion restaurant in North London by the team that owns hot spots such as La Bodega Negra and The Box. I went for an early dinner on a Sunday evening, as they were fully booked in the peak hours of eating. I had heard that everything is 40 % off on Sunday, which holds a probable explanation to its popularity. Their menu is rather short, but the selection is enticing. I sampled a few small dishes, such as the prawn har gau, Rock Shrimp and Jalapeño tempura maki and the Baby Pork Spare Ribs. The spare ribs were very tasty, with a generous serving of black bean sauce. They are possibly the best Chinese spare ribs I’ve ever come across. When the bill arrived, the discount had not been deducted, so we stingily asked the waiter to return with a revised and cheaper bill. So it turns out you only get a discount if you’re willing to degrade yourself slightly. My friend stated that it was the best meal she ever had, but she says that quite often, so I wouldn’t read too much into it. Overall I was pleased, the food and the ambiance was likeable. I will likely return to XO, and maybe try their outdoor street side seating in the summer. 

29 Belsize Lane, London NW3 5AS
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19 Feb 2013


I woke up early on a Saturday morning to go for brunch at the Breakfast Club in Angel, motivated to get out of bed after hearing stories about their amazing eggs benedict. We were a group of four and had to queue for more than an hour. I got severely hangry and started ranting about how we were such gullible followers of the crowd and that it didn’t even make sense to wait when there was plenty of other places to eat on the same street. I thought it was just the hanger talking, but I have to say it’s kind of true; it was overrated. The Eggs Benedict were far from competing with the best I’ve tried; the yolk wasn’t runny enough and the bread was dry. The avocado side was completely drenched in lemon, indicating that it’s made in a batch and needs lemon in order to not turn brown. What I will give the Breakfast Club credit for though, is the chorizo side, an amazing treat for just £2 that was so good we had to ask for a doggy bag for the leftovers. The beverages were also great; I had an Elvis peanut butter and banana milkshake and Superman fruit and vegetable juice. It was a decent place with a nice atmosphere, but I wouldn’t queue up again.

31 Camden Passage, Angel, London, N1 8EA

17 Feb 2013


London, UK

I went for Saturday brunch at Apero, a relatively new Mediterranean restaurant in the Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington. I tried to book the week before, but it was completely packed. Curiously, this time they wouldn't even take our names down when we called as they had so much space. So we ate more or less alone in the refurbished cellar. The vaulted cellar is pleasant-looking; I can imagine it works well for dinners at night too. Considering we were practically the only people there, it took a while to get our brunch. The Eggs Benedict were well presented, with flambéed hollandaise sauce. This was a nice touch, but unfortunately made it a tad dry. The same goes for the waffles; they were in need of more melted butter, but otherwise very good. The Gin Bloody Mary was an interesting and successful drink. Overall, Apero finds itself lost in being in a ‘no man’s land’ territory in that it attempts to revive an East London vibe within the highly established neighbourhood of culinary institutions of South Kensington. I could recommend Apero, even though it doesn’t quite reach the standard of London’s top brunch spots; it is worth noting.


Tartine is one of those restaurants that have never become a destination, but nevertheless I usually pop in for a bite whenever I am on Walton Street. This is not to say that it’s not worth a visit but I would never go out of my way to head over there. Not because it’s horrible; in fact the food is very decent but it isn’t memorable and I tend to forget about it unless I pass by it. Additionally, whenever I can’t find a booking at restaurants nearby; it’s always a reliable ally in that I can always find a table. On my last visit I ordered the Chicken Provencal which came with a rocket and cherry tomato salad on top. It was decent, but the chicken was a bit dry although the citrus infused salad provided a nice refreshing squeeze which compensated for the chicken. The flavor was acceptable but did not trigger any sirens or make me want more. My friend had ordered the Spaghettini with crab, chili and tomato, which also was adequate; a bit too much chili for my liking from what I’ve tasted. The surplus of chili made it almost impossible to distinguish the flavour the crab, but it did not taste bad. Tartine is not ‘go to’ restaurant, however next time when you are and in the neighbourhood without a reservation; stop by. 

114 Draycott Avenue, London SW3 3A

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Bar Boulud puts a smile on my face every time I go; an über chic lively Knightsbridge hotspot which has an unmistakable cool vibe with its always dynamic and trendy crowd. Reservations are highly recommended but on my last visit it was only two of us and we managed to grab a seat at the charcuterie bar for a quick bite. Even though Bar Boulud is labeled as a French restaurant and has many mouth watering French delicacies I tend to usually opt for the Yankee burger every time I go; and that is because the burger is to die for! It has to be one of my favorite burgers in London. The burger is old school and has no special sauces or condiments; cooked medium, every bite is a reminder as to why I love meat and why I will never be a vegetarian. The burger is served in a sesame bun which is just slightly toasted so that the bun is warm yet soft; the bun itself is actually really good and I rarely comment on hamburger buns, it’s usually only the meat but this bun is worth the mention! I ordered the burger with a side of hand cut French fries which were also just delicious: light, golden and crispy. What I also like about the burger is its manageable size; I usually hate burgers that are just so big that I struggle to handle them. It’s easy to eat and just hits the spot without making me uncomfortably full. I would recommend Bar Boulud for any time of day as its varied menu options and always busy dining room make it ideal for a quick power lunch or a night out in London. 

66 Knightsbridge  London, Belgravia, UK SW1X 7, United Kingdom

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10 Feb 2013


London, UK

In its image Dach & Sons is advertised as a hotdog diner-style restaurant; but in fact what it serves are sausages and not hotdogs. It's the most hipster restaurant I have encountered in the Hampstead area so far, with 50s looking staff and bearded patrons. The casual interior is furnished with old classroom furniture and various neon signs. Unfortunately the food does not live up to the cool appearance of Dach & Sons. The sausages use meat from the delicious local butcher, but Dach & Sons prepared the meat so that it is rough and a bit solid to chew through so much so that my friend was left poking through the sausage with her knife and not eating it. The bread is slightly dry, as are their hamburgers. Despite not being very impressed, I've gone back there a few times when I've been craving diner food. The Chili Chicken Wings with blue cheese sauce are good, and the chips are crispy. The cocktail selection is rather limited, but the beers are great. I wouldn't go as far as recommending the journey North to eat there, but I might go again when I'm nearby. 

68 Heath Street, Hampstead, London NW3 1DN

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Lately I have been coming here more than usual during my lunch breaks, as I tend to enjoy the freshness of the food and the wide range of daily specials they serve. Its simple and rustic interior plays homage to and compliments the organic offerings on the menu; with a communal table always playing center stage at any branch. Despite returning on countless occasions, the food has been very ’touch and go’ in that sometimes it’s spot on perfection and on other occasions has been nothing but short of disappointing. During my last lunch break here I tried the Kale Chicken Caesar salad which surprisingly tasted much better than it sounds. The texture of the kale added a delightful crunch to the grilled chicken and boiled eggs. By no means does it stand to compete with a classic grilled chicken Caesar salad, but on its own merit I found it to be an interesting and healthy twist to the concept. 

What is less than impressive was the Chicken Pot Pie, which was hugely disappointing as it arrived quite cold with the puff pastry tasting quite stale and rough; the filling itself was in desperate need of salt which in Le Pain Quotidien is hard to come across as they only seem to offer sea salt which practically did nothing to improve the taste.

Le Pain Quotidien is not highly recommended to become a ‘go to’ restaurant but is definitely worth a visit in that it's convenient and close to my office.

St Pancras International, Euston Road, London N1C 4QL


London, UK

Reminiscent of a proper New York pizza place in its image, this is arguably the best value for money pizza in London. I've been going to Icco since 2005, and I'm still not bored. The prices have barely gone up, starting at £3.90 for a Margherita that really fills you up. You pay at the counter and receive a little device that flashes and vibrates when your pizza is ready. The suspense of waiting for this combined with hanger is excruciating, but all the more exciting when it’s finally your turn to go to the counter. I usually go for the Funghi or Capricciosa, and add some chilli oil. The Pepperoni is also good, but they are rather stingy on the slices, only putting one on each slice of pizza. The crust is of a medium thickness, and the cheese-to-tomato sauce ratio is well balanced. I will always return to Icco, especially now that I got myself a brand new loyalty card. 

46 Goodge Street, London W1T 4LU

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London, UK

It’s simple and straightforward with three options to choose from: lobster (grilled or steamed), a lobster roll or a burger.  Having been there many times; I’ve managed to savor each of the options which all seemed to put a band aid on the fact that I had to be in line for about an hour and a half. This place is worth the wait. For any lobster lover this place is a must and is pretty much a pilgrimage for me as it offers great lobster at the very reasonable price of £20. Much to my anguish over the years of not living in New York; Burger and Lobster delivers an excellent New England style lobster roll which is a first for any London restaurant of this caliber. On my latest visit I tried the steamed lobster as it’s less dry than the grilled; it came with the customary side of green salad, crispy golden French fries which are spot on in their texture and crispiness. The half lobster was also tender and very fulfilling; not uncomfortably filling that I needed an afternoon nap. 

To compliment my meal I decided to opt for an Arnold Palmer; a drink which is basically lemon iced tea and Schweppes lemonade; it was the perfect beverage as it wasn’t too sweet but sweet enough to neutralize my palette against my meal. As the brain child of the Goodman Steakhouse chain, the burger is also perfectly juicy and satisfying but will not be my first choice especially when lobster is on the menu. It comes as no surprise that Burger and Lobster has developed a cult following and I will keep going back for more lobster. 

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