Pastaio London

Pastaio. It means pasta-maker in Italian and making pasta is exactly what they do here. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll spend the whole time pronouncing it wrong when people ask you where you’re going for dinner that week.

It’s a no-bookings style restaurant which serves up plates of handmade pasta with powerful sauces. It’s located just off Carnaby Street in Soho, with a huge large glass front plus a bright, Insta-friendly art mural along the back wall. It comes complete with an open kitchen where you can watch the Pastaio’s at work and rows of communal tables.

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Their starters are pretty simple, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook them. We opted for the burrata which was served swimming in olive oil and had chilli and oregano sprinkled over it.

As their burrata is incredibly creamy, if not a little too juicy, you’ll need to grab yourself a side of their sourdough bread to help you mop up all that cheesy goodness.

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The main event: the crab, chilli, agretti, black & white spaghetti, and now that spring is just around the corner, this is the type of food I long for. It packs a punch and the crab does well to hold it’s own.

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Their slow-cooked sausage malloredus keeps the standards high and it’s a brilliant vehicle for another great sauce. It’s a dish comprised of small, striped shells of pasta and the sausage sauce is topped with crust crumbs from the bread – which really cuts through the richness.

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To help wash all the carbs down, we ordered the prosecco slushies. Their blood orange one giving me flash blacks to wandering Milan from bar to bar drinking Aperol Spritz.

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Would I go back? Most definitely – although I can’t help but feeling that I’m cheating on Padella.

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Pastaio, 19 Ganton St, Carnaby, London W1F 9BN

*Main photo courtesy of Pastaio 

 

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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

 

Bao – To queue or not to queue?

A couple weeks back Scott and I risked heading to Bao one day for lunch. If you’ve ever read anything about Bao, then you’ll know all about the crazy queue and how people are prepared to wait for about an hour to get a seat in the Taiwanese street food joint. I guessed you could say I tricked Scott into going… but we won’t go that far.

There’s no reservations and we queued for almost half an hour, which was spent by Scott flicking through his phone trying to deter me from my mission: ‘how about Nopi?’ ‘Or Palomar?’ – I had my eyes set on one thing only, and that was Bao.

About a year ago, the Taiwanese milk bun sensation moved from a street food stall to opening their first restaurant on Lexington Street. It’s tiny inside, only has around 32 cover and is decked out like a Muji showroom with minimalist wooden panelling and backless stool for seats which discourage lingering.

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If you’ve spent a decent portion of time queuing to get into Bao, then you might as well drive right in and order the whole menu.

We started with the pickles, which I wasn’t a fan of. I’m afraid I found them really bitter, nor do they look particularly appetising – maybe they would have tasted better as an accompaniment to a dish instead of on their own.

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Next came the pig blood cake, which I’ve been drooling over on my Instagram feed for ages now. It’s a chunky piece of black pudding which has crispy edges and topped with a egg yolk. Make sure you mash the egg into the pudding before you eat it, it’s simply delicious.

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The trotter nuggets are basically fancy chicken nuggets – but  they’re so moist and come in a light, crisp, oil-free batter.

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The chef’s at Bao avoid all the usual traps when delivering the sweet potato chips as they had the right crunch and they’re served with a plum pickle ketchup.

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Next up came the fried chicken pieces – they’re fiery and sour but delicious. For my taste buds I would have preferred the chefs to turn the heat down as I found them really hot.

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Now for the bao buns themselves… (wipes are available, so dig in with your hands).

 

First off, the Classic Bao. It’s a heavenly combination of a pillowy soft, steamed bun which is stuffed with braised pork, then and flavoured with peanut powder and coriander.

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Then came the confit pork bao – these were so good I went back and ordered seconds. It’s a slice of pork belly topped with crisp shallots and a fruity hot sauce.

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We also ordered the lamb shoulder bao – which I only got a nibble off as Scott wolfed it down! It was served with a coriander sauce, garlic mayo and chilli.

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There’s only one dessert option so I couldn’t resist ordering it. It’s a fried bao which has been sweetened and a scoop of Horlicks ice cream is sandwiched between the bao. It’s incredibly hard to eat and neither of us were sold of the flavour and texture – there’s a good basis for a dessert here, but it needs more finesse to really soar.

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So, to queue or not to queue? The food is great but not as fantastic as over reviews have made it out to be. But you’ll be hard pressed to find someone else like it with well-crafted, reasonably priced dishes, just make sure you go on your day off when it’s quiet.

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Bao, 53 Lexington St, SoHo, London W1F 9AS

 

 

Poké and Matcha at Tombo, Soho

A while ago I visited Tombo in South Kensington (and you can read my review here). I’ve been eagerly awaiting for their second branch in Soho to open.

It’s a Poké and Matcha Bar – they’ve combined two of my favourite things so stepping into their cafe last week was like stepping into a little piece of paradise.

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To get you up to speed, poké is a raw fish salad from Hawaii and it’s being described like sushi in a bowl. The bar serves a range of poké made from salmon, tuna, prawn, chicken, avocado, and edamame, served over black and white rice or courgette noodles. You can order straight from the menu or customise it.

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I opted for their Salmon Avo Lux bowl with rice, and Scott went for Chicken Teriyaki with Courgette Noodles – both delicious! It’s the perfect place to grab a healthy lunch.

If you want to add a hint of naughtiness they also offer matcha brownies, matcha soft serve, and other matcha themed desserts.

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Tombo, 28 D’Arblay St, London W1F 8EW

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HIIT at Another Space

June has been definitely been my month for trying out new gyms and shaking up my routine. This week, I finally got round to checking out Another Space and it’s stunning. I was so impressed with how clean and white the space was – it’s got a smoothie bar and cafe, with spacious changing rooms equipped with fluffy towels and cowshed skin and hair products, plus ghd straighteners and dryers.

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It’s the new pay-as-you go concept gym from Third Space and it’s located on Tower Street, Covent Garden. They offer Cycle, HIIT and Yoga and the idea is that you should do all three in balance.

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I tried the HIIT class with Naomi on Saturday morning and it was amazing! It was super intense and our trainer really pushed us and demonstrated all the moves before hand, so there’s no getting lost. It’s a boxing / circuit training class and you’ll spend your time between the bags or doing resistance training. You’ll do a 5 minute warm up, then alternative between the bags and the floor for a total of 3 rounds on each.

Their HIIT class only started this week, so no doubt they’ll be some tweaks – the gloves were rubbish and remove quite alot of skin from my knuckles but they’re being replaced asap.

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I’m yet to the the Cycle and Yoga classes, but both the studios look fab. If you’re ever in the area I’d definitely recommend checking out at least a couple of classes. It’s a great place to kickstart your weekend on a Saturday morning before feasting on some of the many brunch spots nearby.

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Another Space, 4-10 Tower St, London WC2H 9NP

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Yorica! Soho’s Vegan Icecream Parlour

If you’re looking for vegan, gluten-free or nut-free frozen treats, then Yorica should be your number one destination. It’s situated in the heart of Soho, just away from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street. Walking into Yorica, you’re greeted with a psychedelic throwback – complete with hanging chair.

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You can get ice cream, fro-yo and milkshakes which are all made from either soy, coconut and rice milk. There’s tonnes of flavours and toppings to choose from to help you make your dream treat. Scott and I played it relatively safe, I simply had Cookies and Cream, and he had Chocolate Orange topped with brownie pieces.

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Flavours of ice cream include no-nut peanut butter, beetroot and chocolate, white peach, melon, and so many more – you’re spoiled for choice. They even have a vast array of toppings including  marshmallows, oreos, gummy bears, and loads of fruit.  Did I mention they also have a sprinkle station?

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Everything is free from the 14 main allergens, which allows those with more complex dietary requirements to indulge. Let me know over on Twitter if you check it out?

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 Yorica, 130 Wardour St, London W1F 8ZN

Lazy Sumdays at Ping Pong

Deciding on where to eat in Soho has always been a complicated affair and Ping Pong has been on my radar for a little while now. After a colleague mentioned that they offered unlimited dim sum on a Sunday, I was there with bells on.

Their lazy sumday menu heavily features steamed dim sum, and even though specials and deserts aren’t included in the price tag you don’t feel like you’re missing out. Their concept is straightforward and you have to simply tick your desired dishes off against their menu. You’d advised to order 3-5 dishes at a time and you can always go back to the menu to order more if you wish.

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The service was fairly fast and soon our plates of dim sum arrived in quick succession – no sooner then our first dish of edamame beans arrived we were then surrounded by bamboo steamers.

One of the highlights of the meal was the char sui buns which are soft, fluffy buns filled with a sticky honey-barbecured pork. A favorite of mine was the beef gyozas as they were fried to perfection and not at all greasy – I ordered a second potion of these as they were so good.

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Another dish worth noting was the honeyed chili chicken and mushroom rice pot which was incredibly filling and contained tender shiitake mushrooms, braised chicken and soya beans.

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A dish I would avoid is that black prawn dumpling which is made with a squid ink pastry – it doesn’t look too appealing and it was very slimy.

Without the offer I reckon Scott and I would rack up a pretty hefty bill, so Ping Pong is a perfect place for people who want to try everything at least once.