Hakkasan

Hakkasan, an elite chain of restaurants which needs little introduction. Last month I headed to their joint in Hanway Place, which is hidden down a back alleyway near the west-end. It boasts a stunning interior, creative cocktails and sophisticated Cantonese food.

As we descended the stairs into the restaurant, we were instantly hit with the smell of burning incense. The steps give away to a sleek space, with low level lighting and charcoal-grey slate. It’s then divided into sections by oriental carved wooden screens. Hakkasan gloats a classy interior and it gives diners a safe haven away from the hustle and bustle of the nearby streets.

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I was invited by the company I work for, Goodmadn Masson, along with 30 or so others as a celebration. We were served a set menu of a selection of Dim Sum, starting with their crispy duck salad. It’s served with a mix of green leaves and water cress with warm slivers of duck meat, a delicious start to our meal.

hakkasan duck salad

Next came the sesame prawn toast. You seriously need to put these tasty treats on your food bucketlist. They’re a world away from your cheap and cheerful Chinese takeaway, as they burst with a molten centre of liquid foie gras.

hakkasan prawn toast

The dishes then came flooding out of the kitchen, and we were brought the stir-fry of black pepper rib eye beef, spicy prawns, chicken satay and silver cod, alongside a side of green asparagus and jasmine rice.

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hakkasan prawns

The stand out dish was by far their silver cod, a Hakkasan signature dish for a reason, the fish itself was charcoal grilled and was silken, and served with thick, rich champagne and honey sauce.

hakkasan silver cod

Needless to say, Hakkasan isn’t your average Chinese restaurant, so it comes with a hefty price tag. But every last detail is considered – the service is impeccable and matched with high-quality food in a relaxed environment. It’s easy to see how this restaurant group has become to distinguished the world over. Push the boat out, at least once.

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Hakkasan, 8 Hanway Place, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 1HD

East London Liquor Company

A few weeks back (and when I say a few, I mean two months ago), my family and I took a trip up to Mile End, to celebrate my parent’s wedding anniversary. They moved to London 35 years ago and originally lived in Hackney, so they were keen to go back to see how much the area has changed.

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We decided to hit up East London Liquor Company, a gin and vodka distillery in East London with a bottle shop and restaurant. You’ll find it just south of Vicky Park next to the canal. It’s a well-kept secret (there’s no signage) and it’s just simply decorated with reclaimed brick walls and salvaged trestle tables – the shimmering copper distillers behind the bar do all the talking here.

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It was a beautiful golden afternoon and after being crammed on a sweltering hot central line tube, all I could think about was that gin and tonic waiting for me at the end of my journey. They boast an incredible stash of bottled spirits (and you can book into distillery tours) but if you’d rather a cold beer (like my brother) they’ve got it by the bucketful.

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If you need something to soak up the booze, they’ve got an on-site restaurant which is influenced by Italian cuisine, complete with a pizza oven and array of sharing plates. We dived into the sharing plates and each ordered our favourite thing on the menu to divide between the four of us: prosciutto & ricotta wrapped grissini, zucchini tagliatelle, artichoke & fennel Salad, and burrata served with nettles.

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I’ll definitely start incorporating the prosciutto and ricotta wrapped grissini into my dinner parties, such a simple snack but one that is incredibly tasty.

The other highlight was the zucchini tagliatelle, it was so light and was served with a dollop of parmesan cheese on top. If you ever find yourself at The East London Liquor Company and fancy a snack to accompany your drinks, get this.

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And if you’re anything like my family, a couple of sharing plates isn’t enough, and thankfully their pizza oven comes to the rescue when feeding the Boasts. Order the ricotta stuffed crust, which is topped with tomato, salami, parmesan and rocket.

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East London Liquor CompanyUnit GF1, Bow Wharf, 221 Grove Road, London, E3 5SN

*Main photo courtesy of East London Liquor Company

 

Peruvian small plates at Chicama

The name of this Chelsea restaurant originates from a coastal town in Peru, which is fitting considering that the menu is completely centred on seafood. I first heard of Chicama whilst reading Time Out Magazine on the tube and I immediately wanted to visit. The name was added to my long list of places I want to eat in and ultimately forgotten about, until now.

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I rarely venture to Chelsea, I work in the City so it’s easy to pop to Shoreditch or Soho to meet pals or back up home, in North London. A few weeks ago I found myself in West London as I was headed to The Bletchley (a spy-themed cocktail bar), and needed somewhere quick to grab a bite.

The interior could have been lifted straight out of a Wes Anderson film and placed into Chelsea. A marble top bar divides the open kitchen and dining area with dusky pink velvet seating, illuminated by lamps which hang from the ceiling.

We were seated at the bar, overlooking the kitchen, and started the long process of trying to decide what to order…

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The idea is to order 2-4 dishes each and share, and I’d note that it’s not very cheap, but their food is a knockout. The flavours are fresh with bold Peruvian spices, marinades and sauces. From the selection of small plates, we ordered the salmon ceviche which was served with grapefruit and pickled onion. Potentially my favourite dish of the evening, the little cubes of fish were perfectly sized and was beautifully complemented by the citrusy spicy sauce it was served in.

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In a bid to get in some greens, we ordered the vegetable ceviche, half of the veg was served raw and the other half was cooked. My favourite element of the dish was the asparagus which was served battered.

There’s a selection of fish on offer which is done over the charcoal grill (and grilled seafood always takes me back to seaside dining with my family so I couldn’t resist). We opted for the sea bass, the quality of the fish was gorgeous and was cooked to perfection, as it flaked off fabulously off the bone. We also ordered a side of the avocado jalapeño sauce, which was so smooth and perfectly completed the fish.

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It’s a shame we didn’t have time to eat more as we were rushing to make it to The Bletchley on time. I’m dying to try the tapioca marshmallows (deep-fried fish cubes with parmesan)… so I guess I have to add Chicama back onto my list of places that I want to eat in.

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Chicama, 383 King’s Rd, Chelsea, London SW10 0LP

 

Taste of London

June seemed to fly by, and it’s been a pretty exciting month – with even more rooftop bars and outdoor foodie pop-ups flooding my Insta feed than ever before. But there was only one thing on my mind: Taste of London.

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Taste of London is one of the world’s greatest restaurant festivals and it’s hosted in Regents Park for just 5 days (and by the time I’ve gotten around to writing this blog, Taste of London has passed and you’re going to have to wait until November to visit!). It’s an eclectic collection of the best restaurants in the capital alongside exhibitors showcasing their products and creations.

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After an intense browse of the restaurant list, we locked onto our first target: The Ember Yard. I opted for the courgette and mint arancini served with whipped ricotta, fennel and toasted pumpkin seeds. It’s crunchy, golden brown coating gave way to a creamy filling inside, I just hope the Ember Yard will make these a permanent staple on their menu…

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Our next stop was to the Folkington‘s truck to grab ourselves a G&T. We tried all their juices first before settling on a classic, Lemon & Mint, to add to our Bathtub Gins. A refreshing (and much needed) treat.

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Roka was next, where we sampled the Gindara to nai no gyoza – black cod, crab and crayfish dumplings. If there are dumplings on a menu, I’m ordering them. I adore Roka and I’ll find any excuse to visit.

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Desert? We tried samples from Pots & Co and I loved their passion fruit and orange compete which is set on top of a cheesecake like cream. We were also given a taster each of their little chocolate pot which is made with 70% Belgian chocolate which has the consistency of a mousse. I loved it so much I went to Waitrose and bought a pack of four, it’s so creamy and indulgent.

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I so wished we can return the next day to discover all the rest of the delicious dishes – there were just so much on offer!

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Craving Coffee, Tottenham

The cranes are rising and times in Tottenham are changing. Wander south from Tottenham Hale station and you might stumble upon Craving Coffee. A laid back, chic cafe located on an industrial estate (bringing a Hackney-esk vibe to the area). It’s a minimalist space with whitewashed walls and low-slung lighting.

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By day they serve artisanal brunch and in the darker hours, they host foodie pop-ups. Nicknamed ‘Tottenham Social’, where street food traders take over their kitchen on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturday evenings. The emphasis here is on local produce, their coffee is from local roasters Climpsons & Sons, and beers from local brewer Beavertown.

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A couple of weeks back my sister and I ventured to Craving Coffee one Friday night, when Japenese street-food vendors, Pochi, had taken over their kitchen for the weekend.

They specialise in bento-style dishes, all of which are served on a bed of rice, with a side of carrots, beans and pickles. We ordered the Sake Soboro, salmon cooked with mirin and soy sauce, and the Nasu Soboro, fried aubergine marinated in soy and vinegar. I am trying to get back on my meat intake (although failing miserably) so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that I preferred to aubergine dish to the salmon – it was beautifully tender and silky, and the pickles really cut through the sweetness from the soy.

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You can usually catch Pochi at Kerb or Brockley Market, and if I find myself in either of these places. I’ll definitely order the Nasu Soboro again.

The best way to keep track of what street food pop-ups are on at Craving Coffee is to follow them on Twitter, @CravingCoffeeUK.

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Craving Coffee, Gaunson House, Markfield Rd, London N15 4QQ

 

 

Shoryu | Buns and Ramen

Situated in a quiet street in Soho, near Chinatown, lies Shoryu Ramen – now one of six London locations. A chain of Japenese restaurants who aim to bring the more hearty tonkotsu to London. The menu here is inspired by the cuisines in the south of Japan, and mainly focused around Hakata tonkotsu ramen – a thick, rich, white pork soup served with thin ramen noodles.

I’d heard a lot of great thing about Shoryu before Serena and I went, and their set menu definitely persuaded me to book here instead of other ramen joints in the West-End (two couses and a cocktail for £22).

To start, the buns. A chicken karaage for me, and a Halloumi and shimeji mushroom for Serena. The ratio of filling to pillowy goodness was spot on, and when fried chicken is never not delicious!?

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Just as we finished devouring our buns, steaming bowls of noodles arrived in front of us. We both opted for their famous tonkotsu, which is a 12-hour pork broth, topped with char siu barbecue pork belly, nitamago egg, kikurago mushrooms, spring onions, seasame seeds, ginger and nori seaweed. Neither of us had any problems inhaling it… the broth was rich and creamy, the noodles al dente, and the pork tender and juicy.

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Two buns, two bowls of ramen, and two hour laters we rolled out of Shoryu feeling extremely full but very satisfied. It’s comfort food at it’s best, more please.

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Shoryu Ramen, 3 Denman St, Soho, London W1D 7HA

 

Bottomless Dinners in London

Bottomless brunches are ten a penny in London now and the problem with free flowing prosecco before lunchtime means the day is rendered a bit of a write-off.

But recently I keep hearing about bottomless dinners popping up all over town and even though places that offer these deals can hard be to find, I’ve rounded by London’s best deals if ou fancy putting a few away at proper meal times…

M Restaurants

M has two branches – one near Bank and the other in Victoria. Last week a group of work colleagues and I headed to their Bank restaurant to celebrate my friend’s 25th Birthday. It was a mixture of romantic dates and crowds of business suits, all happily tucking into meaty dishes.

They offer a four-course dinner and 90 minutes of free-flowing prosecco for £35, which you can book onto here.

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Pescatori

Modern flair truly meets traditional Italian cooking at Pescatori, and fish and seafood play large roles at this eatery. Located in Clerkenwell they serve a bottomless dinner of three courses with unlimited prosecco. Even though the menu is a predominately fishy affair, there is something for everyone.

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Pizza Buzz

If you asked me to name my ideal dinner, 99% of the time pizza would come out on top. Pizza Buzz is a self-service style pizza bar in East London. It’s little like Subway (for something relatable to liken it to) as your pizza follows you along the counter, allowing you to build your perfect dinner.

At Pizza Buzz, their bottomless dinner comes to £29.95 and you aren’t just limited to fizz – you can pick from beer, red wine, white wine, and of course, bubbles, to have bottomless with your meal.

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One Canada Square

In the heart of Canary Wharf, you’ll find One Canada Square. It’s first and foremost a skyscraper, and the restaurant (which boasts the same name) is just as imposing, with its impossibly high ceilings and marble for days.

The deal here is that you can get two or three courses and two hours of unlimited wine, prosecco or beer for £45 or £50 respectively. The menu is predominantly European, with some flavours and influences from the USA and Asia.

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Grand Union

Grab yourself a juicy burger and unlimited glasses of prosecco at the Grand Union for £25 for an hour and a half. They have bars located in Brixton, Farringdon, Camden, Chancery Lane, Paddington and Kennington. Although the offer is available at different times are different locations – so I’d always call befoe going to double check.

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