Thursday, 18 September 2014

Seoul Bakery - perfect for a quick Korean meal in Central London

Seoul Bakery is perfect if you're looking for a tasty yet good value Korean meal in Central London.

It's certainly not the best Korean restaurant in London - far from it.  Situated in Saint Giles High Street, it's not even the best Korean restaurant along that road, which happens to have four or five Korean restaurants along it.  But that's not a problem because Seoul Bakery does not pretend to be the best.  It's small and it's cramped, but it's forgiven because it's fast and it gets the job done.


I ordered the 'rapokki' - essentially tapokki plus ramen noodles, served with a boiled egg and fish cake.  This cost £5.50, so no surprise that the ramen were of the instant kind.  But considering I was here for a quick and cheap lunch, it was fine.


I topped myself up with some tuna gimbap, filled with vegetables and pickle.  Gimbap can be described as Korean sushi, though the fillings tend to be quite different to their Japanese equivalents.


Meanwhile, the girlfriend ordered the janchi guksu, a wheat noodle soup in a clear and light broth.  The soup could have done with a slight dash of soy sauce, but that's no problem - better than finding it too salty, for sure.

Like I say, don't expect anything fancy at this place, and don't even bother if you're going as a large group.  But if you're out alone or as a couple and you're in need of Korean food at fast food prices, this is one to consider.

Closest Tube: Tottenham Court Road

Seoul Bakery on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

On The Bab - Korean street food in Shoreditch, London

The girlfriend and I were strolling along Old Street in Shoreditch, London, looking for a Vietnamese restaurant when all of a sudden we discovered On The Bab - a Korean 'street food' restaurant.

I've been to plenty of Korean restaurants in my time, but this one - as a result of its 'street' theme - looked a bit different, so we decided to give it a go.

The menu is reasonably straightforward, with dishes divided into 'small dishes', 'on the bab' (rice, noodles or buns) and 'traditional'.  There is a fourth group too: 'special/comfort', which is what I opted for...  


With the so-called special dish - baek ban - I got soup (not pictured), rice, salad, kimchi and a choice of bulgogi beef, spicy pork, spicy chicken or vegetable fritters.  I went with the spicy pork, which tasted really good.  What I liked was that it was: soft, not too chewy, thinly sliced and spicy enough without it being overbearingly so.

As a personal preference, I would have preferred a bit more kimchi and the rice to have been a bit stickier, but I can live with that, as the pork was pretty good and there was plenty of it.

The restaurant is quite small and does not take reservations.  So it is very much more suited to couples and perhaps groups of up to four, who are after a quick meal and who don't mind dining in an informal setting.

Mr Men toilet sign...

On The Bab on Urbanspoon

Monday, 15 September 2014

Yalla Yalla Beirut Street Food (Fitzrovia, London)


Yalla Yalla Beirut Street Food (Fitzrovia) is a bustling Lebanese restaurant tucked away in a relatively quiet side street by Oxford Street.  

Menu choice is good, with 17 different mezze dishes to choose from, plus nine other mains and 11 various wraps/pittas.  Among my group, there were a couple of vegetarians too, so it's definitely suitable for the veggies out there.  Sadly their website does not seem to be working at the moment, so I am unable to link you through to their menu.

Refreshing freshly squeezed fruit juices.

I shared my meal with the girlfriend and we opted for a mainly mezze-based meal, so that we could experience as many of the different dishes as possible. The mezze dishes were reasonably priced, with most costing between £4 and £5, which I thought was good considering the restaurant was not too skimpy on the portion sizes - just right in my opinion.

The best of the mezze we ordered was arguably the hommos shawarma.  The lamb was excellent - it was very well flavoured, soft and moist.

Hommos shawarma: chickpea purée topped with marinated thin slices of lamb fillet.

The sawda djej was a strong dish and one that the girlfriend in particular really enjoyed.  Personally I found the sauce a bit too sweet, but I can see why others feel that such a flavour could work well in contrast to the livers.

Sawda djej: sautéed chicken livers with garlic and pomegranate molases.

I was a fan of the kibbé lahme - soft, crispy, meaty, not greasy and not dry. Could definitely order this again.

Kibbé lahme: deep fried lamb and cracked wheat parcels filled with onions comfit, minced meat and roasted pine nuts.

The arayes dish was a good pick too.  Filled with spiced lamb and sprinkled with pomegranate, this was a welcome change from ordinary pitta bread.  On its own it could be perceived as a bit boring, but it works well with the other mezze.


The makalé samak was big in terms of overall volume.  The aubergine was good but the tiger prawns and calamari were quite small and hard to find - overall I would say this dish was average.

Makalé samak: deep fried tiger prawns, calamari and white bait with spring onions, crispy aubergine and chilli minted Greek yoghurt. 

Our final dish was a mains - the (vegetarian) moussakaa.  If, like me, you love baked aubergine, then this dish may be for you.  It felt like quite a light dish, in contrast to some other similar dishes I've had in other Mediterranean restaurants. My guess is that this is down to the differences in this dish, depending on which country it comes from. 

Moussakaa: baked aubergine in a tomato sauce, onions, garlic, cumin and chickpeas, served with basmati rice.

On average our meal among the group came to around £21 - not bad considering how full we were and how much food was on the table.  


Yalla Yalla Beirut Street Food on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Big Feast at Big Easy (Covent Garden, London)

Big Easy is a 'bar.b.q & crabshack' restaurant in Covent Garden, London, serving great food within a lively atmosphere.

As the description of the restaurant suggests, Big Easy's menu focuses on barbecued meat and seafood. The majority of our eight-strong party opted for the 'Lobster Fest'; for £20, you get either a lobster roll or grilled whole lobster, which is served with fries and house salad, plus a drink (cocktail or craft lager or ale).

Lobster roll

Grilled whole lobster 
Both the lobster roll and grilled lobster tasted great. Along with a decent portion of chips, this was a satisfying meal.  

At £20, the Lobster Fest is the same price as the meals at Burger and Lobster (see previous blog entry).  However, I felt that Big Easy is better because:
  • The lobster is at least as good.
  • You get a drink with your meal for the same price.
  • The side salad is better quality.



I went as part of a group of eight and I thought the restaurant was great for a gathering of friends. We were celebrating a birthday and they were very accommodating; although the kitchen was no doubt busy, they looked after our birthday cake for us until our main meal was finished.

Thumbs up from me!


Big Easy on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Peloton & Co cycle café in Spitalfields, London

In addition to trying new foods and restaurants, my other interest is taking part in the odd cycle ride (see end of the blog post).  So while I was wandering around Spitalfields London today, I was pleased to stumble across Peloton & Co - a small cycle shop that also doubles up as a café.

Tour of Britain being shown on the big screen.

Peloton & Co served everything you'd expect from a café, including: teas, coffees, soft drinks, cakes and more.  The teas we ordered were £1.50 each, so competitively priced.

The shop had a nice homely and almost rustic feel to it - unlike your average coffee shop chain. They also had a projector screen showing the Tour of Britain - fantastic mid afternoon entertainment!


Next time I am in Spitalfields and in need of a quick drink, I'll be sure to visit this place again!

Me riding the London to Windsor 2014 cycle ride.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Mugen - excellent Japanese restaurant in the City of London

As a worker in the City of London, I've walked past Mugen plenty of times and seen lots of (what I believe to be) Japanese people in there - always a good sign for a Japanese restaurant!

Recently, I finally decided to go in for a quick meal before an evening event, so I was after something relatively light.

The menu is not cheap, but there are a few more affordable items on there, namely the ramen noodle soups and curry dishes.

The girlfriend went for the special ramen with miso soup. It was a delight. Check this out...


It tasted as good as it looked - and it looks good to me!

I opted for a much plainer looking soba noodle soup with tempura prawn and vegetables. It may look simple but the flavour of the broth was still top notch. 


I also appreciated the fact that Mugen presented the tempura in a separate dish, meaning the batter would not go all soggy - other restaurants please take note!


While we were there, a private function was going on with a load of Japanese businessmen all enjoying themselves eating Mugen's tasty food. There was a sushi chef in the middle of the party plying his trade, making fresh sushi. Great scenes - will have to go back there one day to try their sushi and sashimi dishes out.

Nearest Tube: Bank

Mugen on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Revisiting Haz - as good as it was the first time

Recently, I revisited Haz St Paul's twice in quick succession, following my first visit in which I really enjoyed the food.

There's a nice modern setting in there, and there's a really good atmosphere. The place is busy, but not cramped - just right in my opinion.

The menu has lots of good choices on there and that sometimes means I don't know what to get - not necessarily a bad problem to have. 

So when I went for a team lunch, I chose for the mixed meze - perfect for when you're a bit indecisive.

Mixed meze
I went to Haz again on a separate day for dinner. I opted for the lamb tagine, which had beautifully soft and moist meat that tore apart really easily. The vegetables and sauce were well favoured too. Lovely.

Lamb tagine

The girlfriend opted for the (meat) mousakka. While the presentation perhaps wasn't great, I'm told it tasted awesome, which is the main thing!

Mousakka

With reasonable prices, good portion sizes and tasty good, I'll be sure to go again!

Nearest Tube: St Paul's

Haz on Urbanspoon