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Monday, July 19, 2010

Bowl of noodles

LOCATION: Ramen Seto, Kingly Street, Soho, London
CATEGORY: Japanese, ramen
FOOD: Ramen noodle soup with kimchi and charshu pork
DRINK: water
WE THINK: not too shabby, quick'n easy.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Goodge Street Feast

LOCATION: Sanxia Renjia Restaurant, Goodge Street, London, W1
CATEGORY: regional Chinese cuisine
FOOD: Lunch, Chinese
1. 'Tiger salad' (lao hu cai) - Northeast Chinese spicy salad with pressed tofu, coriander, cucumber and red chillies
2. Liang pi cold noodle salad (not on menu) - Shaanxi style cold noodle salad with julienne cucumbers, coriander and minced pork tossed in a sesame/vinegar/chili sauce.
DRINK: Green tea
WE THINK: This oddly located and unpretentious joint is the real deal for cheap, regional Chinese cuisine. The tiger salad was the best we have tried so far in London and the cold noodles, not even on the menu, were freshly made from scratch and well worth the half-hour preparation time. Only issue was the amount of MSG dumped in the food - we'll ask the chef to sprinkle it less liberally next time.
OUR TIP: order from the Chinese menu! Even if you don't understand what is written you are likely to get a far better meal by picking random items than by trying your luck with the sweet'n sour black bean chop suey crispy duck pancake bonanza on the English menu.

Viva viajante!

Amuse bouche: Crostini de romesco and gordal olives, almonds and Jerez
Amuse bouche: Charred broad beans, pea puree and Sao Jorge cheese
Amuse bouche: "Thai Explosion"
Home-made bread with pancetta butter
Tomatoes with water and strawberries
Charred leeks and white asparagus, hazelnuts and milk skin
Razor clam, smoked yogurt & Rosemary Dashi
King crab with chicken jus and spicy paste
Halibut, confit egg, asparagus ribbons and tapioca
Pigs Neck with prawn and rye
Rump of Lamb, rainbow radishes and stracciatella
Palate cleanser: Lemon and Thai basil sorbet
Crumbled Polenta and lemon paste, strawberries and citrus powder
Dark chocolate and water
Petit Fours
LOCATION: Viajante, Bethnal Green Town Hall, East London
CATEGORY: modern gourmet
FOOD: 9 course tasting menu
DRINK: wine tasting menu
Aperitif: bourbon cocktail 
1. Standt Krems, 'Looserterasen' Gruner Veltiner, Austria 2009
2. Domaine Trapet 'Beblenheim', France 2006
3. Knappstein 'Auckland' Riesling 2009, Australia
4. Poilly Fume, France 2008
5. Terre di Tufi, Italy 2008
6.  Calera 'Mills' Pinot Noir, USA 2007
7. Charles Joguet Chinon 'Cuvee Terroir', France 2007
WE THINK: Honestly? Really delicious. Hard to pick favourites but hold a gun to our heads and the thai explosion, the tomatoes cleverly shaped like a clown's face (or not?), the halibut and the king crab probably take the podium...although the pigs neck with the prawn and the deserts were excellent too...and then the razor clam and the charred broad beans...and was ALL yummy.
OUR TIPS: (a) get a front-row table next to the kitchen and watch the chefs in action - you'll be so mesmerised you don't even have to worry about conversing with the people at your table; (b) one wine tasting menu can be split between 2 persons which is a very good deal and more than enough unless you want to get drunk; (c) give up trying to understand the decor. It's just really weird. Frankly, the vibe at Viajante is a bit weird too. We wish we liked it more.
PS: The crostini was intact when it was served but we got excited and forgot to take a photo before taking a bite.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Loco di Lupo - waiter, there's flint in my food

Crudita di mare - raw sea bream, red prawn, langoustine & scallop with rosemary oil
 Fried red prawns, squids, aubergine and lemon
 Linguine with spider crab and chilli
Tripe with guanciale, chilli & tomato 
Rustic pork and foie gras sausage with farro & porcini
Aubergine with anchovies and celery

LOCATION: Bocca di Lupo, Soho, London
DRINK: Franciacorta Brut (Fratelli Berlucchi) and sparkling water (San Pellegrino)
WE THINK: what a disappointment. The dry foccaccia and luke-warm San Pellegrino set the tone for our first visit to this hyped Soho institution. Apart from the langoustine, the raw seafood was not particlarly fresh, and the bland rosemary oil did little to disguise it. The fried prawns and squid were ok but nothing spectacular, same can be said about the side dish of aubergines which were so sweet they left a coat of caramel on our teeth. The linguine was quite tasty but a tad salty and slightly overcooked. Then there was the tripe which looked good in writing but came out looking like...well the picture says it all. Though well-cooked and well-seasoned, the flavour was dominated by the coat of cheese which unannounced had made its way into the dish - a shame. Had it not been for what the kitchen apologetically identified as a 'piece of flint' in the farro accompanying the pork and foie gras sausage, this dish came close to being delicious and, on a balance, was probably the winner of the night. But the damage had already been done.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fish'n'chips... and tartar sauce!

LOCATION: Golden Hind, Marylebone Lane W1
FOOD: Fried battered cod and chunky chips a.k.a. fish'n'chips
Sides: Gherkin, pickled onions, side salad and mushy peas + in-house tartar sauce and ketchup
DRINK: Crisp grenache bought in Nichols around the corner
WE THINK: 'Bloody good' traditional fish'n'chips is great for a hearty comfort meal anyone might need. The staff in Golden Hind are friendly though confusingly all Greek and speak like one were on an island in the Med...
OUR TIP: You can always ask for seconds of the tartar sauce as it's yummy to the tummy! more is MORE!