Wednesday, 29 January 2014

New Malden: UK's capital of Korean cuisine

It's said that New Malden in south-west London has the highest population of Koreans in Europe. So this should make it a good place to find decent Korean food outside of Korea, right? Definitely.

The truth is, I've been to New Malden many times, as I love Korean food. This was partly why I went to South Korea last year, as mentioned in a previous blog post.

Along New Malden High Street, you never have to walk far before you find another Korean restaurant or supermarket. Our target this time was Yami.

We ordered a soup full of kimchi, tofu, mushrooms, pork and sausages. It was easily big enough to share between three people, along with accompanying rice and other side dishes. It's a great communal way to eat - very social - but this perhaps wasn't the best Korean soup I've ever had. It was still good, but I definitely prefer beef in my Korean soup - I'll know that for next time.

I love Korean pancake, so much so that I think I order it every time I go to a Korean restaurant. Here's our a seafood pancake (haemul pajeon) and kimchi pancake (kimchijeon).

Korean food features many side dishes as part of the whole experience. So here we have Chinese cabbage kimchi, sliced potato, carrots and cucumber. It's not as spicy as it looks!

My vegetarian friend ordered this dish consisting of tofu, vegetables, rice and Korean glass noodles. It might not look very exciting, but I'm told it was extremely tasty. Seeing as everything else was pretty good, I'm inclined to believe her.

Closest station: New Malden
Address: 69 High Street, New Malden, KT3 4BT

Monday, 27 January 2014

Boulevard Brasserie in Covent Garden: calamari, moules mariniere & frites, ice cream & tuile basket

I went to Boulevard Brasserie in Covent Garden, London, after finding a toptable special, where I got 50 per cent off all food from the a la carte menu.

I'm a big fan of the toptable deals. There are so many restaurants in London that you can usually find something to fit your budget. Even restaurants at five-star hotels often offer deals, particularly on week days when it's quieter.

Boulevard Brasserie is a French restaurant, with a rather French theme inside. Many of the tables and the bar are situated in the basement, hence the dark photos.

I started off with the breaded calamari with tartare sauce - one of my favourite dishes. Deep fried seafood? I'm all over that. The calamari could have been a bit crispier, but otherwise is was a solid start.

In keeping with the seafood theme, I went for the moules mariniere & frites (mussels and fries) - again, another favourite of mine. Good flavour, nicely cooked, tasty sauce, crispy fries.

I finished off with three scoops of ice cream on top of a tuile basket, which is basically a giant biscuit. The ice cream flavours were chocolate, vanilla and pistachio - all nice and creamy. However, I found the basket difficult to eat, as it was a bit greasy.

Closest Tube: Covent Garden
Address: 40 Wellington Street, London WC2E 7BD, United Kingdom

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Saturday, 25 January 2014

Juicy lamb tagine from Haz - Turkish restaurant in St Paul's, City of London

I really enjoyed the food at Haz, a Turkish restaurant next to St Paul's in the City of London. While it didn't 100 per cent remind me of the time I went to Turkey, I certainly walked away knowing I had a tasty meal and a full stomach.

I opted for the £11.95 two-course lunch menu, choosing the humus (or should that be hummus?) and lamb tagine. The humus was OK, but the lamb was very good, with the meat soft, juicy and well-seasoned. The dish came with seasoned rice, potatoes and vegetables, so it was very filling!

My colleague went for shish kofte (grilled mince lamb on skewer). It looked sufficiently tasty enough for me to take a picture of it! Might get this next time.

Another close-up of the lamb tagine...

Nearest Tube: St Paul's
Address: 34 Foster Lane, St Paul's London, EC2V 6HD

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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Biplob: Indian grilled tiger prawns

Grilled tigers prawns is fast becoming one of my favourite dishes at Asian restaurants. I recently had it at a Nepalese restaurant, and then again at The Biplob, an Indian restaurant in Swindon, Wiltshire.

The shell was a bit burnt from the grilling process, but the meat was fine and nicely spiced.

Biplob is one of the best Asian restaurants in Swindon, with good food, a modern interior and friendly waiting staff. Give it a go if you're in the area.

Nearest station: Swindon
Address: Biplob, Wood Street, Old Town, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN1 4AB

Monday, 20 January 2014

The Pelt Trader: Pizza and Beer in the City of London

If you like beer, you like pizza and you work in the City of London, then check out the Pelt Trader near London Cannon Street.

They have 16 beers on tap and a selection of giant pizzas - all 18 inches of it (12" also available). It's as simple as that.

We ordered the pepperoni, chorizo and red onion pizza. The GF and I couldn't finish it (I let myself down), but the bartender was kind enough to provide us with a takeaway box to ensure none of it was wasted.

They also do 'beer sticks' - dried meat in stick format, which are perfect for snacking on while you sip your drink. I certainly wouldn't mind going again to try some of the other pizzas.

Nearest Tube: Monument, Bank, Mansion House
Nearest station: London Cannon Street
Address: Pelt Trader, Arch 3, Dowgate Hill, EC4N 6AP

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Saturday, 18 January 2014

Does prawn and lobster belong on a pizza?

The answer is yes. I've long been a fan of shellfish on pizza (as a kid, my favourite Pizza Hut pizza was the Seafarer) but I'd never seen lobster pizza on a menu before. So of course I had to order it when I saw it on the Prezzo menu.

The sad thing is, the pizza was a let down, but not because of any of the toppings (king prawns, lobster, courgettes, cherry tomatoes, roasted peppers, red onion, rocket). No, the thing that ruined it for me was the bechamel sauce, which replaced the familiar tomato sauce base. This was of course my fault, as it was clearly labelled on the menu, but it does not go well on pizza in my opinion. It is far too rich and creamy, especially when the pizza is quite sizeable.

I'll stick to tomato sauce next time.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Chinese tea tasting in Notting Hill

If you like Chinese tea and you spend time in London, then consider visiting The Chinese Tea Company on Portobello Road in Notting Hill. It's primarily a shop stocking many types of premium Chinese tea, but it also doubles up as a tea tasting class.

Owner, Juyan, shows the guests (six in our group) how to properly brew and drink various types of tea. Guests can also nibble on snacks and generally engage in conversation.

It won't be for everyone, but if you're interested in this type of stuff, then it's a great event. Juyan (pictured below) seemed very knowledgeable about any question we could think of regarding tea and was very friendly. Check out the pictures of the event!

Three different types of tea leaves.

Juyan handles a pu-erh (pu'er) tea cake.

Tea smelling...lift the cup and the aroma of the tea is held within the tall cup.

Nearest Tube: Ladbroke Grove

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Orecchiette alla barese pasta (artichoke, aubergine, mincemeat and tomato) and garlic pizza

Il Bordello situated in Wapping High Street, London, is a fantastic Italian pizzeria and restaurant with tasty food and a great menu. I went there just before Christmas and I found that the quality of the food is high and the size of portions are generous, so you get what you pay for.

The garlic pizza had a lovely crispiness. Great for sharing.

The picture of the orecchiette alla barese pasta dish (artichoke, aubergine, mincemeat and tomato) looks quite small, but it was a good size and very filling. 

OK, so the picture of the monk fish doesn't look great, but it looked better in real life (blame my photography) and it certainly tasted better. The monk fish had a great texture and was almost sweet tasting. The fish was cooked in a mushroom and white wine sauce and served on rice.

I would definitely consider coming back again.

Address: 81 Wapping High Street, Wapping, London, E1W 2YN
Closest station: Wapping (London Overground)

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Friday, 10 January 2014

I made home made banana and passion fruit ice cream

I recently purchased an Andrew James Ice Cream Maker from Amazon and had a go at making a banana and passion fruit ice cream. This is how it turned out!

I needed four bananas, two passion fruits, 450 grams of custard, honey, lemon juice and vanilla.

Then blitz everything together into a puree, minus the skins of the fruits of course.

Leave the mixture in the fridge for half hour to chill it. Then pour it into the ice cream maker and let it do its magic for 30 minutes.

Here is a video of the churning in process...

Voila. 30 minutes later, it's fresh and home made ice cream!

Not a bad piece of kit for less than £30.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

My super easy creme brulee

Actually, it's Nigella's super easy creme brulee, but I did follow her recipe and made it from scratch. One looks perhaps a little too burnt on top, but it wasn't bad for a first effort and it tasted good.

How does it look?

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year meal at Cafe des Amis in Covent Garden, London

To celebrate the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, I had dinner at Cafe des Amis, a French restaurant in Covent Garden, London. On a previous visit, I was really impressed with the food so I decided to dine there again.

Did my second visit live up to the first? Not entirely. It wasn't bad, but certainly not as good as the first time I went there.

The gravadlax was a good start and tasted how I imagined it would taste - not much to say either way. The blinis were also fluffy and soft.

Another starter we had was a salad consisting of Roquefort cheese, beetroot, pine nuts and rocket. Simple ingredients here and it went down well - difficult to get wrong.

Unfortunately, this is where it started to go wrong. The chicken breast and mash  (or pomme puree as they call it) was a real disappointment. Three diners on my table ordered this and all three felt the chicken was way too tough. One even wanted a steak knife! Not good. Also, note the single piece of broccoli!

The seafood linguine was another disappointment. The pasta was cooked nicely and the king prawns were large and fresh (hidden beneath the pasta). However, I think the chef forgot to add any seasoning; it was like I was eating boiled pasta.

Things got better by the dessert. The chocolate fondant was firm yet gooey and the contrast with the white chocolate ice cream was really nice.

So I've gone from being a big fan of Cafe des Amis to having second thoughts over whether I will go again. Maybe the time pressures of New Year's Eve affected quality control? It was, after all, a lot busier than on my first visit, which was on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Address: 11-14 Hanover Place, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9JP
Nearest Tube: Covent Garden

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