Kulu Kulu Sushi: South Kensington Tube

Posted October 17, 2008 by foodieblog
Categories: Restaurant Reviews

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Kulu Kulu Sushi
39 Thurloe Place
London SW7 2HP
Tel: 020 7589 2225

Why? I took my dad here last time he was in London visiting and he really liked trying out different dishes from the revolving kaiten belt. He requested a second visit!

When? Saturday 27th September, 5.30pm. Not busy when we arrived, but more so when we left.

Impression: Appetising dishes revolve on belt, the green tea is free. The Sri Lankan sushi chef (does anyone know why there are so many Sri Lankan sushi chefs in London?) works diligently away in the middle making fresh dishes.

Prices: The usual plating system is in operation, with plates ranging from £1.50 to £3.90. And it really is refreshing to help yourself to unlimited free green tea.

Service:
Polite. The chef promply prepared my request for fresh inari. I had a nice chat with the staff about the baffling preponderance of Sri Lankans working there on the way out!

Description of food and drink:
I had a hand roll that I watched the chef prepare (see photo!) – I couldn’t resist the combination of an ‘ebi fry’ (fried shrimp) with avocado. It was excellent, although possibly a bit steep at £3.90.

I adore the Nasu Miso here (aubergine in soy bean sauce). It’s so creamy.

My dad picked a green seaweed dish that I had not tried before. It was lovely and crunchy. When I asked what type of seaweed it was, none of the staff knew. I guess it comes pre-packed!

Everything else that we tried (sashimi, sushi, chicken) was pretty standard – but rather tasty and worth the price.

Toilets: OK.

Come again?
Yes. This is a calm, affordable place to grab a bite at lunch or dinner time. There are also branches of the dependable chain in Soho and Covent Garden. Be aware that they close for two and a half hours in the afternoon – from about 2.45pm – 5.30pm (branches vary).

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Asakusa: Mornington Crescent Tube

Posted September 17, 2008 by foodieblog
Categories: Restaurant Reviews

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Asakusa
265 Eversholt Street,
Camden,
London NW1 1BA
Tel: 0871 3328033

Why? Kazu absolutely loves this place. He’s been raving about the Yudebuta Ninniku Miso.

When? Friday 12th September, 9.40pm. This was the only reservation available a couple days beforehand. We stayed until 12.30pm though!

Impression: The place was really buzzing with youthful mixed-nationality groups when we arrived, rather dingy, with questionable décor. Authentic atmosphere, with Japanese menus up on the walls.

Prices: Cheap as chips! The food just kept coming, as Tanaka ordered more and more. I must admit was getting worried about the cost, especially as we had a gigantic bottle of sake too. In the end I was relived to find it was an affordable £19 per person (including the 12.5% service charge!).

Service: Erm… we did wait a full hour for our first dish to arrive! However, the waiting staff were courteous and efficient. The larger-than-life manager lady was charming.

Description of food and drink:
A large bottle of Bishonen (Beautiful Boy) sake went down very well served in overflowing Masu (wooden box cups) with a pinch of salt of the rim.

Of particular note is the Sake Gashira – a salmon head with plenty of meat and a salty, crunchy underside, and the Shimesaba (vingared mackerel sashimi) boasted a melt-in-your-mouth texture. The Yudebuta Ninniku Miso dish was something I’d never tried before: soft, simmered slices of pork, to be eaten wrapped in iceberg lettuce leaves with miso paste and slivers of raw garlic. Lovely. Pleasant Shimeji Bata Yaki butter-fried mushrooms had a bitter aftertaste which I liked.

The Agedashi-doufu (pictured) was just right, creamy and flavourful. The tempura was very nice, but the seemingly-microwaved takoyaki less so.

Toilets: Stinky. Nasty. The pink toilet paper matched the pink walls though!

Come again?
Absolutely. Overall, a surprisingly wide variety of tasty dishes with a few outstanding ones. We had a really fun evening in the laid-back atmosphere. But I wouldn’t go if I was in a hurry to get served.

A Happy Vietnamese New Year at Viet Noodle Bar!

Posted February 11, 2008 by foodieblog
Categories: Noodles, Restaurant Reviews, Vietnamese

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Viet Noodle Bar
34 Greek Street
London W1D 5DJ
Tel: 020 7494 9888 

Why?  Tito’s Vietnamese friend, Thai, was eager to have us try Vietnamese food on the occasion of Tết, which usually falls on the same day as Chinese New Year, according to the Lunar calendar.  Chinatown restaurants were crammed from early on with lengthy queues forming, but we strolled straight in to Viet and nabbed the last table – luckily, a table for three. 

When?  Sunday 10th February, 12.30pm.  A beautiful, sunny Chinese New Year! 

Impression:  Small and noodle bar-ish.  You can see the cooking area in the back which tends to be reassuring. 

Prices:  The main meals, such as rice dishes and noodle dishes are practically all under £5!  They are not large, but they are good value.  The appetisers are somewhat more expensive at £3.80 – £5 for small portions – however, they are original and totally worth it. 

Service:  Young, British accented Vietnamese staff are polite and quick.  My chopsticks were instantly replaced when I dropped one, even though the restaurant was very busy. 

Description of food and drink:  The Cha Gio and Chao Tom appetisers were delicious.  You need to wrap the fried Cha Gio spring rolls in the lettuce provided, adding a sprig of fresh mint, add then slosh around liberally in the tasty Vietnamese fish sauce.  Yummy  Chao Tom involved a prawn ‘mousse’ wrapped around a piece of sugar cane – you mustn’t forget to give the sugar cane a good old chomp to release the trickle of juicy sweetness. 

The soup based noodle dish we tried (Pho Special) involved wonderfully light Vietnamese flat noodles.  These noodles combined with the beanspouts, bunches of herbs, and shiny fresh chilli lent the meal a fresh taste and healthful look.  The creamy Thai-style Red Chicken Curry was less good, with little flavour or zing.  But hey, it did cost only £5, and we were in a Vietnamese restaurant after all!  

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Toilets:  Totally fine. 

Come again?   Viet has no booze licence, and so charge £1.50 for you to bring your own wine in.  It’s a deal.  I’ll be bringing friends for an inexpensive evening soon then – bearing a sharpish rosé, I expect.

Beautiful ‘Blue Tea’ Fusion Dessert at Yauatcha

Posted February 4, 2008 by foodieblog
Categories: Chinese, Desserts, Restaurant Reviews, Tea/Infusions

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Yauatcha (café)
15 Broadwick Street
London
W1F 0DL
Reservations: 020 7494 8888 

Why?  Chika and I tried in vain to get tea and cake on a Saturday some time ago.  They wouldn’t let us in for such a paltry order on a weekend, so we had to come back on a weekday.  Tiresome, but I have been seriously yearning to sample the square, sky blue concoction from the tantalising display of multi-hued cakes, decorated creams and mousses.  Indeed, never before have I eaten a food that is a) square and b) blue. 

When?  Friday 1st February, 4.30pm.  Lots of tables available, naturally. 

Impression:  Fish tanks always impress me.  And the cool grey minimalist interior lets the glass display case of vivid sweets and flamboyant macaroon selection really shine.  How on earth do they get macaroons that colour?  Their lurid hues are not of this earth, yet their dissemblance to real food is oddly compelling.

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Prices:  The sweets are £4 – £5ish, pots of tea to share start from £4.  Macaroons are £1 each or 6 for £5. 

Service:  Attractive, oriental type waitresses hang around in minimalist white outfits with odd Chinese-print bumstrap things.  I thought the waitresses were essentially cute and polite, but they do basically ignore you: putting in an order required much flailing of arms and hungry grimaces. 

Description of food and drink:  The velvety blue coating of the Blue Tea sweet enrobed a silky blue-tea flavoured mousse.  Hidden within the mousse was a jammy confit of blackberries, and on top there was half a blackberry and a thin, printed white chocolate triangle.  It was lovely, best eaten slowly but not too sweet.  Chika had a Melon Tiramisu which was sweeter and sharper.  The tiramisu was encircled by a thin white chocolate case, printed with a green bamboo motif… it looked like plastic – but happily didn’t taste like it.  A pot of steaming Dragon’s Well Green Tea (which the menu explains, with great exactitude, is from Sanshia, Taipei, Taiwan) went down very nicely – it was delicate, and not at all bitter. 

Toilets:  Nice black oriental chic waterfall sink that you feel concerned about contaminating (by actually using it).  Inordinately heavy black wooden doors work against your entrance, but once in it is pretty clean throughout.  

Come again?  A clever choice for entertaining friends visiting London, it’s central and ideal for a break from shopping.  Make them think that you lead a very ‘Sex in the City’ lifestyle.  Not on a weekend though.  I’d really like to try the well-recommended dim-sum – perhaps downstairs in the underground, starry-ceiled restaurant area.

Pinchitos (Pinxitos!) – Tiny open-face sarnies

Posted January 3, 2008 by foodieblog
Categories: Spanish

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Catalan has proved to be somewhat of a nuisance for me with its funny ‘X’s and French/Portuguese/Italian nuances… my Spanish is not yet so good that it can nonchalantly handle the challenges of these new inflexions and rather mysteriously spelled words.  The one thing I have grasped in Catalañ, though, is that ‘x’ sounds like a Spanish ‘ch’.  Pinchitos, are, well, little things you erm, pinch?  Lovely little open-face sandwiches, in fact, skewered through with a toothpick.  In restaurants serving these it is awfully easy to entirely fill yourself up, I have discovered, by noshing many of these before your main course.  They tend to cost €1, which is not bad considering the generous toppings.  Pictured are bombas (fried potato dumplings with a meaty filling), punchy chistorra sausage, black caviar paste with anchovies, and a nice cheesy pizza thingy with a perky jalpeño on top.

Churros – naughty, illusive batter sticks

Posted December 31, 2007 by foodieblog
Categories: Spanish

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I had been dying to try these calorific deep fried batter sticks, which are rolled in sugar and then dunked in a thick hot chocolate drink to eat, but hadn’t been able to find them anywhere.  I recall on my last trip to Barcelona I tried to find churros in the centre of town, as I did again this time, but likewise to no avail.  They seem like the ideal tourist draw – they are traditional, instant, filling and very cheap to make – not sure why no shop on La Rambla has cottoned on… Anyhow, last night a frost was setting in, but we wrapped up regardless, and went out for a local stroll to Igualada.  Just about the time I was beginning to lose all feeling in my thighs (my jacket’s short) we came across a stall selling the illusive churros!  They were just amazing, freshly fried, steaming, and washed down well with the tasty hot chocolate.  The experience reminded me of a couple years ago when we came across a donut stall when freezing in windy Liverpool town centre – hot, sugary dough in the cold – heaven!

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La Boqueria – Deservedly Famous Market in Barcelona

Posted December 30, 2007 by foodieblog
Categories: Markets, Spanish

The primary joy of cooking must be, of course, the ability to procure perfect, burstingly fresh ingredients.  Markets are surely, then, absolute foodie heaven!  La Boqueria is a wonderful food market just off La Rambla with a lengthy history and loads of character – the wafting scents of herbs crushed underfoot and recently caught fish assault your nostrils; the colourful fruit and vegetables are arranged for the highest visual impact; the immaculate female vendors wear prettily embroidered aprons and gossip freely across the crowded aisles.  La Boqueria represents an enduring love of market shopping as a way of life.  How I would love to live near a market like this, calling in daily for my groceries! 

I just love the way this lady’s jumper acts as camouflage amongst the peppers.

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Haughty looks from the beautifully pinafored shellfish seller.

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Montañas of frutas!  Damn, I wants the one at the bottom….

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These gorgeous ‘frutas escarchadas’ (candied fruits) are so vividly hued that they don’t look real…

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