Dishoom, London

got to know about this place via a friend’s instagram picture (yes i shamelessly confess – i am an instagram addict) and am really happy i made the trip down to their covent garden outlet to check it out!

dishoom is a bombay-inspired cafe that serves indian food throughout the day – indian breakfast, indian lunch and indian dinner! we went for the breakfast. my friend was surprised when he saw what it looked like – he was expecting more of a hole-in-the-wall/in-a-dank-basement kind of shop (typical stereotype of restaurants serving legit ethnic food…) when i described to him the idea of an “authentic indian breakfast”; dishoom is trendy, bright, clean and airy. i, on the other hand, was expecting exactly what i saw since i had visited their snazzy website many times before, inspecting the menu and deciding in advance what i was going to order lest i take a million years deciding at the restaurant itself (typical me).

Imageit was really empty when we arrived at 1030am (breakfast is only served until 11am) on a thursday morning so the staff were attentive and ordering was a breeze. food came fast and our hunger pangs were quelled in double-quick time (always a plus)!

i had the bacon naan roll and it is DEFINITELY something i will be going back for.

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the bacon was fried just nice (in my opinion, but opinions about how bacon should be done tend to differ) – crisp at the edges and not too soft in the middle; it was tasty and flavourful and went perfectly with the cream cheese and herbs that accompanied it. the proportion of cream cheese to bacon was also great – the cream cheese was not in such a copious amount that it left a “wet” feeling in your mouth. the naan (which they make on the spot – you can actually see them flipping the dough in the open-concept kitchen) was all fluffy and warm. the naan came with a chilli tomato jam which was also delicious – i was peeling off bits of my freshly-baked naan to dip into the jam, though the naan roll was yummy on its own already. and the best part of the dish? at an amazing affordable ¬£3.70!!! some might find the serving small (especially for hungry boys), but i thought it was fine and value-for-money.

my friend had the bombay omelette which came with tomatoes grilled on the vine and fire toast (bread that is buttered then grilled, according to the menu). it was a tasty and fluffy omelette that was filled with tomato, onion, green chilli and coriander. i wouldn’t rave about it, but it was still good. the tomatoes on the vine were perfectly grilled, sweet and juicy. he added a sausage to his dish and the sausage was very yummy – crisp on the outside and the texture of the meat inside was not too soft.

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i also ordered their house chai, which is supposed to be their specialty, while my friend got a coffee. the house chai was not bad – light and fragrant, though i would have preferred it to be a little thicker (was imagining something a bit frothier like teh tarik). loved the cupsthey served the drinks in – seemed very legitimately and traditionally bombay-ish ūüėČ i didn’t try the coffee but since my friend ordered a second cup, i suppose it was pretty good!20130321_105003

we sat and chatted till lunch hour came and my friend wasn’t full from his omelette so he decided to order something from the lunch menu. he decided on the pau bhaji since themenu said “no food is more bombay” – it was a bowl of spicy mashed vegetables with a nice soft bun to accompany it. i didn’t have much of it but i quite enjoyed it from what i tried, and my friend was satisfied. it was really rather spicy but delicious with the warm and soft bun that accompanied it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

who i would recommend this to: people looking for a casual place to have an affordable and relaxing breakfast/brunch. they open at 8am for breakfast apparently, so its great for early risers or people who need to be somewhere soon after breakfast. when we went at 1030, there were plenty of available tables and though the crowd started coming in closer to lunchtime, at no point in time did we feel rushed/pressurised to leave.

will i return? yes definitely for the bacon naan roll! at a great price of ¬£3.70 and dishoombeing conveniently located, i will definitely go back when i’m looking for a light breakfast/brunch that is something different from the usual morning fare.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADishoom

12 Upper St Martin’s Ln¬†¬†London WC2H 9FB, United Kingdom
+44 20 7420 9320

-rach

PS. back in singapore (the land of AMAZING/GLORIOUS/WONDROUS/DELECTABLE/OUT OF THIS WORLD food) for easter break now, so look out for some singapore eats on the blog soon!!! ūüėÄ

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Binging in Brighton

had a wonderful time on a day trip out to brighton last weekend! what seemed like a potentially disappointing trip when we left early in the morning (i actually wore WELLIES to brighton; was defeated by the rain D:) turned out to be a great day away from the hustle and bustle of london!!! not just because of the great sights and great company, but also the great FOOD (glorious food).

tripadvisor was helpful as usual with plenty of highly-ranked suggestions, and we settled for this quaint cafe run by a mother & daughter pair just down the road from the train station for lunch. ella’s yummy delights seemed really popular with the locals – there was a steady stream of customers during the entire two hours we spent in the shop, and we even struck up conversation with some of the regulars and the lady behind the counter; everyone was so friendly and there was a such a homely and cosy atmosphere in the little shop! we started with 2 soups – tomato soup and leek soup, and 2 toasties – bacon, brie and cranberry & ham, cheese and onion. All were super yummy.20130316115914633

its hard to take a picture of a toastie that makes it look exceptional, but trust me, my bacon + brie + cranberry one was SUPER DELICIOUS. They were generous with the fillings and the brie was perfectly melted all over the bacon, which was perfectly cooked. A generous dose of cranberry and granary bread to go with it all made it one of the best toasties I’ve ever had!!! Yummmmm – so simple yet so good!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA20130316_120130janus had a ham + cheese + onion toastie, and he found it equally good, saying there was something about “Brighton bread” LOL – don’t ask me what he meant; he got his toastie with what seemed to be normal white sandwich bread.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe soups were good as well – big bowls of hearty, warm, homemade goodness. Lou ordered a tomato soup (see picture above) while Janus went with the leek soup. I thought the leek soup was rather special – it was thick and almost stew-like in consistency, chock full of pieces of leek (cooked till it didn’t have that distinct onion-ish/some might even say pungent flavour) and meat. Homemade and a generous portion as well!!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA¬†they both felt that the soups became slightly heavy after awhile though, and a little too salty too! I think “gelat” would be the right word for it – for the uninformed, its malay slang that means something is over cloying.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAi ordered my standard chai latte to go with our meal and i loved how it was thick, frothy and creamy, though a tad too sweet for my liking. I felt it could have done with a bit more spice!

ATTACKED THE DESSERTS NEXT!!!
check out lou & janus excitedly peering into the cake display. we took ages to decide what we wanted and it didn’t help that a regular customer told us EVERYTHING was good and she’d tried them all before haha! she also mentioned that she’d once been to ella’s thrice in a day – that’s how much she liked the place.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAafter some serious deliberation, we finally settled for a cappuccino cake, a moo-moo cake and a spotty!
excited faces (aka a nicer way of saying “the face of pigs”):903622_10151364506138652_249460852_o

the slices were huge and more than enough for the 3 of us to satisfy our craving for something sweet:
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THE SPOTTY: chocolate & vanilla crumble with strawberries
our favourite of the day! it was dense and moist and the layer of crumble on the top was exactly how a crumble should be! it had just the right amount of bite and a really nice texture that made it melt in our mouths along with the icing sugar on top – YUMZ! the vanilla, chocolate & berries combined seamlessly and every bite was delicious (Y)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThick with many layers of coffee goodness and some kind of cream cheese-ish frosting. It was something like a tiramisu but less moist, firmer, and with more cream cheese and sponge! The cream cheese layer was really yummy and we thoroughly enjoyed it but found it a little heavy after a while. As you can see from the pic, it was a giant slice that seemed to be leaning backwards from its sheer weight hahahaha!!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I think this was our least favourite of the 3 – not that it was bad, but that it was nothing exceptional (i guess sponge cake can never really be particularly unique?)! The sponge was good – moist and of just the right density.

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our overall take on the cakes was that they weren’t mindblowingly amazing, but they were delicious homemade treats; the kind of cake that was wholesome and hearty and perfect for comfort food ūüôā

and most importantly, everything was really reasonably priced! The total bill for our 3 huge slices of cakes, 2 coffees, 2 toasties & 2 soups came up to  just around £20 Рwhat we thought was a great deal for the portion size, service and quality of food served.

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Ella’s Yummy Delights

51 Queen’s Rd¬†¬†Brighton and Hove, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 3XB, United Kingdom
+44 7540 892697
after ella’s, we explored north laine,
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and saw so many other quaint cafes that we wanted to try but unfortunately had no stomach room for! what we couldn’t resist though, was making a froyo stop at Lick.
the bright and attractive colours of the store drew us inside (along with the declaration in their window that they were the “first frozen yoghurt shop in Brighton”) and we were not disappointed!
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we got a cup of their special flavour of the day to share – elderflower. IT WAS AMAZING. none of us had tried elderflower frozen yoghurt before and it was really refreshing, light, and natural-tasting, and the elderflower flavour was subtle yet unmistakeable! it was more towards the creamy end of the frozen yoghurt spectrum, and the granola toppings were yummy as well. can’t say it was better than my all-time favourite pinkberry, though it doesn’t come in too far behind ūüėČ
will definitely make a trip back here next time i’m in brighton!!!
Lick

19 Gardner Street
Brighton, Sussex BN1 1UP, United Kingdom
01273 945102

finally, we ate at a casual seafood restaurant called Melrose for dinner. it was highly recommended on trip advisor and was just a short walk from the pier so we decided to give it a try! the restaurant was not very crowded when we first arrived, but soon filled up as it got later, with a noticeably local clientele (always a good sign?). the restaurant was run by a couple and they were friendly and ever-willing to give us recommendations.
we settled on a pot of mussels, a fish (haddock) and chips, and a grilled fish platter to share.

grilled fish platter:
it came with salmon, cod, halibut, calamari and scampi. they were all lightly seasoned which was great because it allowed us to taste and appreciate the freshness of the seafood without it being overpowered by any heavy or strong-tasting sauce. the fish was very fresh and the calamari & scampi were well-fried (I particularly enjoyed the scampi – but then again, my standards are probably exceedingly low given the kind of scampi they serve in hall hahaha). i wouldn’t RAVE about the dish though.
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fried fillet of haddock with chips:

thought this was rather yummy. the haddock was really fresh and coated in just the right amount of batter so that it really complemented the fish. we could tell that the oil used was fresh, and the fish had none of the “fishy” smell you sometimes get from buying cheap fish & chips from random street stalls.20130316_184338

we also had mussels in white wine and garlic sauce (which you unfortunately cannot see very well in this picture because the sauce was at the bottom) and it was delicious!!! my favourite dish of dinner i think! the mussels were plump and juicy and the sauce was seriously yummy; i was drinking it off a spoon when we ran out of bread (oh, the bread was good – it had some kind of cheese on top of it I think?)!!!
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all in all, i wouldn’t RAVE about melrose but i do think it is a good option for reasonably priced fresh seafood, and i would say the local clientele says something about the standard of the food in the restaurant. not a bad choice for a seafood meal! they also have a dessert cart with homemade puddings & cakes on it for you to choose should you be interested, which i thought was a nice, homely touch.

Melrose Restaurant

132 King’s Rd¬†¬†City Centre, Brighton BN1 2HH, United Kingdom
+44 1273 326520

shall end off this post leaving you with this picture:
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heeheehee.
am already looking forward to the next time I visit brighton – so many more food places to explore and try out!!! ūüôā
– rach

Who’s your daddy?

We had initially intended to go to¬†the¬†famed Burger & Lobster for dinner. Owing, however, to the approximated 2 hour wait, we decided to adjourn somewhere else. My buddy Chor Hiang suggested this ramen place¬†just¬†off Wardour Street called Bone Daddies. With a name like Bone Daddies, my visiting friend from Oxford, Tong Hui and I were¬†naturally¬†highly suspicious. I mean what kind of F&B establishment calls itself Bone Daddies?!! After much thought though, I realised, much to my own dismay as well, there again, that what kind of blog is called rockabite, baby?? So cynicism unjustified, I guess: nomenclature is not fully representative and should not be used as a judging criterion. Any doubts that we initially had were eventually, and perhaps even conclusively, quelled when we saw the queue outside the restaurant. It was uber looooong. The queue extended beyond the entire corridor of the restaurant into that of the massage¬†parlour¬†next door. And that wasn’t it; there was another round of queuing inside. Madness, should have just gone back to Burger & Lobster eh. But seeing the number of people willing to queue in the cold dreary weather outside, we willed ourselves to brave the frostbites and got in line.Photo 19-03-2013 07 43 07 PM

Tong Hui, who I must emphasise is of University of Oxford provenance, said that the soup of ramen – being made from boiling pork bone for more than 10 hours – increases one’s chances of getting cancer by 15% or something. *TOUCH WOOD* Seeing the people queuing¬†outside and the people slurping sumptuously inside, I reckoned this was either a myth or that the ramen was so good it was worth the health risk! Not that it mattered, we were going in anyway.

Set up like a bar, with bar stools and not chairs, and with rock music playing in the background, Bones Daddies was conceptually as surprising as its name. Indeed this combination of such a setting with ramen was interesting. The queue inside was rather agonising, especially as we felt so close to the food yet still so far.Photo 19-03-2013 08 18 46 PM

Making it worse was this party of 4 seated in front of us, who had finished their food but continued playing some lame numbers game. They were taking their own sweet time to leave; it was diabetes-inducing. And the clearing of tables for a turnover of customers was also pretty slow by the service staff. This made the wait painfully long, particularly when they give you the menu while you are standing in line.

After 15358230231051 years, we were led to our seats. First thing I noticed was that the layout of the tables was pretty cool. They had chilli oil, sesame seeds, chopsticks and this interesting garlic masher. Photo 19-03-2013 08 40 37 PM Photo 19-03-2013 08 40 52 PMPhoto 19-03-2013 08 40 05 PMI guess this gives people a choice if they want their garlics whole or mashed. Or to have their ramen completely without an excess garlic-y taste at all. The item that caught my attention the most was, however, the bottle with hair bands in it. I felt it was a nice and thoughtful touch as peeps with long hair often get their hair into the broth, making both the hair and broth disgusting. Photo 19-03-2013 08 45 42 PM Photo 19-03-2013 08 48 05 PM

Anyway we placed our orders and we each got the purportedly famous tonkatsu ramen. On the menu it was stated that the bones are  boiled for 20 hours Рwhich makes, assuming Tong Hui was not bs-ing, us doubly susceptible to cancer compared to the average ramen eater elsewhere! Anyhow, Chor Hiang, the friend who recommended this place, mentioned that the servings were a tad small. It was also suggested that we enhance the flavour of the broth with a topping of cock scratching (£0.80), whatever that was. I was undecided but after considerable scratching (of my head), however, I decided to stick with the tried and tested extra bean sprouts and an extra egg.Photo 19-03-2013 08 16 52 PMPhoto 19-03-2013 08 18 26 PM

Alas the ramen arrived and it smelt great.  Before we began eating, we saw this group of Caucasian ladies taking pictures of their food. Stereotype disproved! And I guess it also suggests something about the quality of the food there that others, and not just this food blogger extraordinaire, were keen to capture their palettes in photos.Photo 19-03-2013 08 51 02 PMPhoto 19-03-2013 08 42 33 PM

On to the ramen. The bean sprouts were crunchy and juicy. The egg yolks were runny and viscous at the same time. Done almost to perfection! It was really rich in taste as well. And the texture of the yolk in your mouth Рit just melts.Photo 19-03-2013 08 52 45 PMPhoto 19-03-2013 08 53 44 PM

The serving of meat was decent, two big pieces that were thinly sliced with a nice decent amount of fat, making it supple and tasty without an overly swinish (yes, yes, I know it’s still pork, nonetheless) and oily taste. Looks sinful, I know; but if it’s healthful, chances are it won’t taste as nice!Photo 19-03-2013 08 56 36 PMThe broth was really thick. It was almost as though I was drinking a cream of ramen soup instead. I guess it was nice, and I doubt you can justify charging 3 quid for extra broth if it isn’t good! There was also a judicious amount of spring onions and radish slices in the broth. Some veggies to justify the indulgence. However, the radish taste was a bit overpowering and I think this may put some people off, especially if they’re not radish fans.¬†The noodles themselves, though, were pretty average. No special taste or extra ‘bounce’ that other famous ramen restaurants profess to have.

Halfway through, I decided to add some¬†chilli¬†into the mix. I felt it enhanced the taste of the soup in a good way, giving the thick broth – which gets static in taste after almost an entire bowl – a bit of an extra kick. Not too much¬†chilli¬†though, it was rather spicy and may overwhelm¬†one’s palette if too much is added.Photo 19-03-2013 08 59 51 PM

It was funny that their bowls had a ‘thanks’ written at the bottom, almost as though they expected everyone to finish the broth to the last drop. Well, I did anyway and was amused by their sense of humour. The bowl of ramen was filling, unlike my friend had previously warned. Maybe it was the extra egg and bean sprouts.Photo 19-03-2013 09 03 15 PM

On a side note though, what I had mentioned previously about the radish proved right too – my friend left all his radish untouched, citing the fact that it tasted strong and he didn’t really like radish. Perhaps they could consider doing something like the whole garlic pieces with radish as well?

Overall, it was really good ramen, the soup was really rich, perhaps a tad overly so for my liking. But the eggs were really appetising and the quirky combination of a bar setting and rock music with ramen was truly something original. Would I be back? Not if I had to endure another almost 2 hour wait, especially in the kind of cold we endured. However, for a tad under £15, it is a place that I would definitely recommend, at least once Рfor the entire experience (queuing aside) if not just the food. Is it, then, worth the repeated exposure to cancer risk? I think not.DSCN1589

Bone Daddies
31 Peter St,
London W1F 0AR

The Breakfast Club, London

i LOVED the breakfast club. food and ambience-wise, it definitely lived up to my expectations (which were extremely high having heard so much about it). but what didn’t just live up to my expectations but EXCEEDED them, was the queue. despite the fact that we made a trip there on a weekday afternoon at 130pm (a time we assumed would mean a thinning post-lunch crowd), we had to queue out in the cold for a good 30-40 min before finally being let into the warmth of the cosy little place.¬†OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
some of our fellow queue-mates gave up and left the queue halfway, but i’m glad we didn’t ¬†because i thought it was worth it!!!

check out all the accolades they have – i always trust a tripadvisor rating ūüėČOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the interior of the cafe oozes hippie vibes and has this lovely charm and a funky eclecticism about it. the atmosphere is laidback and super chill, and the staff are friendly and rather efficient!2013031515551495520130315155503833 

we knew what we wanted almost immediately as we had plenty of time to inspect the menu placed in the shop window while waiting in line outside.
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i had the pancakes with berries and OMG I thought they were the best pancakes EVER. i know my friends concurred because louisa proclaimed at the end of the meal that she was really full and satisfied but could do with more pancakes ūüėČ
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they were of just the right thickness and were drenched in the perfect amount of maple syrup. the edges were crispy but the insides were soft and fluffy, and the cream that topped the stack was just amazinggg – light, fresh, and very tasty! they were also really generous with the berries which is something i loved; i hate it when restaurants are stingy with their toppings and you end up with either a lot of plain bread/pancakes etc without any toppings left, or too much toppings left because you scrimped and saved on the number you ate with each bite of the main (am i the only person who does this???). i am already looking forward to the next time i get to go back to have these pancakes; its going to be hard deciding between trying something new and having these again! maybe pancakes with banana and bacon next time? ~DROOLS~

louisa had the poached eggs with avocado on toasted bread and it was super yummy as well.
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the avocado was divine – it was topped with chilli and lime which brought everything together amazingly well. the avocado pieces were of the right size, not too pureed and not too chunky, and the texture and consistency of the mixture was great with just the right amount of bite. it was also neither too wet nor too dry. they were really generous with the avocado toppings once again, with a huge pile heaped onto the toast! lou did mention that she would have preferred the egg to have a runnier yolk though.

janus ordered the typical boy meal – the full monty.
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it came piled high on a huge plate like a breakfast mountain. i think it had potatoes, beans, sausages, mushrooms, black pudding, toast, eggs, a tomato, and bacon. like i said – BOY MEAL hahaha. surprisingly, it wasn’t too oily – in fact, we didn’t find a pool of oil collecting below all the food on the plate as i had imagined. i didn’t have much of this as i was pretty much preoccupied with my pancakes, but i did pick at the beans, sausage, black pudding and egg.
the scrambled eggs at the breakfast club aren’t the creamy/milky type so if that’s what you prefer, don’t go for the scrambled eggs here. they are of the drier variety, but pretty good nonetheless. as for the sausage, i thought it was quite nice as the skin (is that what its called?!) was crispy and the filling was soft, but louisa didn’t like it because she prefers firmer sausages. the bacon was yum and we all quite liked the black pudding, and janus said the potatoes were good! the serving was HUGE and janus couldn’t finish it despite being a growing, hungry boy. he also thought it was all quite messy and would have preferred the food to be more separated. but then again, isn’t that what a huge traditional fry-up is all about? in his words “its like… you find egg in your beans and beans in your egg” (he is not a fan of beans btw, hence the despair).

since we had queued for so long, we each went all-out and ordered a smoothie each too. 20130315144155749
clockwise starting from the light pink: the big breakfast, green is good, blue monday

green is good & blue monday were much lighter than the big breakfast and you will understand why once i tell you what went into the big breakfast. green is good had spinach, mint, mango & apple and it was a very light and refreshing mix, perfect to accompany a heavy breakfast. as for blue monday, it had blueberry, strawberry & apple so if you are a berry fan, this is the one for you!
i had the big breakfast and should have guessed from the name and the list of ingredients that it could probably constitute a meal on its own – strawberry, banana, oats, honey, yoghurt and milk. i finished it all despite it being very thick and extremelyyy filling because it was so goooood but next time, i’ll probably share it with someone.
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happy at the breakfast club!!!

total bill: oh dear, i can’t remember the exact sum but i think it was around ¬£35-¬£40

ambience: relaxing, hip, funky, eclectic, cosy, warm, friendly

who i would recommend this to: anyone who loves and appreciates a good, hearty brunch in generous servings, and has enough time to spare to queue for a table! there is a queue outside this place at almost all times of the day (though when we left at around 3pm, there were empty tables – perhaps this is a good time to head there! for tea/ a late lunch) and i heard that on weekends, the queueing time can be as long as 1.5h (which even i am turned off by)! but if you have some time to spare, just take the queue as part of the experience –¬†salivating as you peer through the window and see people feasting on their hearty meals, letting the anticipation of sinking your teeth into some good food build up ūüėČ

will i return? YES! loved the vibe of the place and the food was really very satisfying. there are so many other things on the menu i would love to try! and the best part is, they serve breakfast from 9am to 5pm ūüėÄ and if i’m not wrong, they even have some breakfast items that remain on the menu even after 5pm!

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The Breakfast Club
33 D’Arblay St¬†¬†London, Greater London W1F 8EU
020 7434 2571

-rach

Koba, London

so lecture was cancelled on thursday, which gave me the chance to head out for lunch with 2 of my homiez, followed by a trip to the natural history museum! yay!

why it was an amazing afternoon:
1. the sun was SHINING
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2. nothing beats traipsing around a relatively empty museum on a weekday afternoon with not a care in the world
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3. lunch was YUM:

despite having been to charlotte street on multiple occasions, i never noticed koba which is located just off charlotte street on rathbone street. we had planned to have korean food for lunch and had kim chee at holborn in mind, but it was my korean hallmate who suggested that we try koba instead. i am so happy we had that conversation about good korean restaurants over hall breakfast that morning, because it was YUMMY.

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we were all excited when we got seated at our table and checked out the lunch menu because it was really extensive – many places tend to have fewer items on their “set lunch” menus, but koba is different. they seem to have nearly everything korean that you would possibly want to eat (at least for me) and it was the kind of menu where there was something for everyone, which is great!

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their specialty seems to be their barbequed meats and so it was the “beef lunch barbeque” that I opted for. it came with a side dish with the usual mixed korean appetisers, soup, salad, a baby bowl of bibimbap (it was REALLY baby-sized; more on this later) and meat to be barbequed; there was plenty to eat and i was a very happy bunny.Image
i’ll start with the bibimbap – it was delicious and the ingredients were fresh and generously heaped on top of the rice. the amount of chilli sauce that the waiter added was also perfect – it was very tasty and satisfying. my only qualm was that when they described the bibimbap in the menu as a “small pot bibimbap”, they really meant it – it was TINY and if not for the fact that i was taking small mouthfuls to savour it, it would probably have been gone in 2-3 mouthfuls! but i’m not complaining;the star of the set is probably meant to be the meat anyway.

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moving on to the beef, they gave a very generous 12 slices with the set. they were sliced thinly so if you are looking for something thick, its probably better to order it off the a la carte menu. they bring it to the table raw, and the waiter helps you cook the slices on the stove in front of you. Image
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the slices were tender, juicy, marinated well, and had a slight taste of the barbeque, just as they should have! seemed like good quality stuff and so my fears of quality of the meat being compromised since it was a set lunch were unfounded. the salad provided a good balance to the “heat” of the barbeque – the vegetables were fresh and crisp with a light japanese-type (though in this case, i should probably say it was korean) dressing.
i felt that what i ordered was really quite value-for-money, which is always important for students attempting to keep to a budget ūüėČ

my friend ordered the bulgogi (she was dying to get the barbeque set too, but was recovering from a funky stomach illness from eating oysters at brighton – DO NOT EAT RAW OYSTERS BY THE BRIGHTON PIER; you have been warned. In fact I am heading there tomorrow and will be staying far away from them wahahaha but okay, I digress. Back to the korean food.) and she was really satisfied with it too! the serving was generous, and it came with appetisers and soup as well.
here is a picture of her taking a picture of her food before tucking in. #ASIANALERT

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my other friend ordered bibimbap and got a nice full-sized bowl (unlike my tiny one – but at least they did mention that it was a “small pot” in the menu), which she was pleased with.

total bill: £28.70 for 3

ambience: neat, clean, modern, bright, airy, generally very pleasant. OH YES and very importantly for korean restaurants that have hot plates/barbeques – there is surprisingly NO heavy smell of barbeque hanging in the air; we walked out of the restaurant smelling as lovely as ever ūüėČ

who i would recommend this to: anyone looking for a place that serves reasonably priced korean food, with an extensive special lunch menu. the tables are well-spaced out and the restaurant does not feel cramped at all. a possible venue for larger groups and a relaxing lunch. there was a steady stream of customers and the tables were filled throughout the time we were there, but it seems like getting a table shouldn’t really be too much of a problem since they are efficient with their service and turnaround time is not long, at least when we were there.

will i return? YES. my new go-to korean place for now. compared to assa (where i used to go for my korean fix), i felt that the environment was nicer: bright, airy, nice-smelling (one does not walk out of assa without the smell of food lingering on your clothes for the rest of the day – best to visit it on a day you’re planning on doing laundry hahaha). if you’re craving some hotpot goodness then assa might still be the place for you though!

PS. the koreans at the table next to us were making loud, satisfied noises (accompanied by satisfied stomach-rubbing – or maybe i was imagining this part) and that is always a sign of good food right? natives giving their stamp of approval!

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Koba
11 Rathbone St  London, Greater London W1T 1NA
020 7580 8825
–¬†
rach ūüėÄ

Med-EAT-erranean Delight

Ok, so I was in the sunny Mediterranean city of Barcelona over the past week. Since this is a food blog, I shan’t to bore you with details of how the providential confluence of 7 completely accidental events culminated in me fortuitously getting tickets to the epic, once-in-a-lifetime football match between FC Barcelona and AC Milan. Before going on, however, it’d be prudent to make a disclaimer: this post would probably end up like my hair – not a mess (as Rach would say) but lengthy.

100 Montaditos

I was recommended this place by the backpacker’s hostel where I was putting up. Apparently it is a restaurant chain¬†well-known for its affordability. Let’s see, I thought to myself.¬†Hang on. Actually I couldn’t see it. Initially, at least. Its location at the corner of some poorly-lit intersection, especially with no proper signboard, was inconspicuous to say the least. Thankfully my eyesight was as sharp as my wit, otherwise we wouldn’t be having a post on¬†montaditos¬†– traditional Spanish toppings on a piece of bread/baguette.ImageThe list of different dishes on menu was both expansive and inexpensive. Most of the montaditos were priced at ‚ā¨1 per piece. I ordered 3 sandwiches: (1) Serranito shoulder of Iberian cured ham, loin of pork with garlic and green pepper; (2) Potato omelettes and Iberian spicy sausage on ciabatta and (3) Duck mousse. The first thing I realised was that the sandwiches were rather petite; I reckon the time taken to pronounce some of the sandwich names is longer than the time you’d take to eat it.Image My favourite was the cured ham with loin of pork sandwich. The ham was salty enough whilst the pork loin was tender and added to the mix a different kind of savoury taste that stood out despite the relative saltiness of the ham. The bread was really well baked, crunchy outside but not too hard and very fragrant. Image The other 2 sandwiches were decent but nothing special. The potato omelette was a novelty to me and¬†I¬†liked how it tasted – basically it was an omelette with the powdery texture of potatoes. Somehow, though, the fact that there was spicy sausage was lost on me – the sausage was neither shaped like one nor was it spicy.¬†Image The texture of the duck mousse sandwich was very smooth, almost akin to eating¬†foie gras. However, with the kind of¬†aftertaste¬†that plagues most mediocre duck dishes, it proved a bit of a dampener to my initial excitement.¬†ImageThe food was decent, with some sandwiches clearly superior to others. For its value, however, at ‚ā¨1 a dish, I consider it a steal. Add in the fact that a huge serving of crisps and mug of beer are also priced at ‚ā¨1 each, it’s a nice place to hang out till late or for supper. Also, I’d recommend it to peeps keen on tasting of a variety of toppings. Additionally, I would point out that the restaurant was impressively packed, even at 1045pm, as I entered; interestingly, majority of the patrons appeared to be locals.Image Compare it to an eatery across the street and the crowd appears even more remarkable.Image Yet considering how affordably priced the menu is, I couldn’t help but wonder if the fact that the restaurant was packed with locals spoke more about the authenticity of the food or the state of the Spanish economy.

100 Montaditos
Plaça Urquinaona,1
8010 Barcelona, Spain

La Boqueria

The next morning i went to the famous Boqueria Market. Joining me was a new friend I made on the trip – Englishman, Paul. The market was really crowded and it had an aura of freshness that we somehow don’t get anywhere here in London. The market had everything you’d fathom in a market. It had a fresh food section which was further divided into wet and dry areas, as well as a cooked food area. The selection of food there was amazing. The seafood smelt especially fresh, having probably been that very day’s catch. It sorta reminded me of home when I used to accompany my mum to the wet market every Saturday morning, maybe back when I was in kindergarten.Image Other things that caught my eye were¬†the huge full legs of ham, or what the Spanish call¬†Jam√≥n.¬†They were huge and came in different colours.Image After that we made our way to the cooked food section where there was tapas, pizza, sandwiches and what not. The agony of choice is not one that I deal with easily so out of everything on show, I settled for a simple piece of burchetta. The burchetta here was really delicious. There are many restaurants in the UK that serve burchettas as a starter for meals and, of all that I have tried so far, I would go as far to say that the one at Boqueria was not just a class above but several semesters. The tomatoes were juicy and grilled to perfection, while the topping of cheese was liberal in quantity and melted in my mouth. In fact the pieces of cheese were so thick that I initially thought they were pieces of calamari. Perhaps after just one night in Barcelona my eyesight had degenerated. The bread, complemented by an optimal dosage of fragrant olive oil,¬†was wonderful as well – characteristic of the bread I’d been having in Barcelona thus far.Image One last thing about the market: despite the colossal amount of fresh produce on display in the open, flies were few and far between – impressive. I would recommend La Boqueria to anyone visiting Barcelona. That locals also go there for their grocery shopping and meals probably bear greatest testament to the quality of the food available.IMG_0656ImageMercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria
Rambla, 91,
08002 Barcelona, Spain

Senyor Parellada

Next up Paul and I decided to go in search for authentic paella – since that was the dish that people had recommended coming to Barcelona for most frequently. A few enquiries around and we were led to Senyor Parellada, a restaurant on the ground floor of what looked like a boutique hotel. One glance into the restaurant and we were apprehensive about stepping in. It looked so chic and had an aura of EXPENSIVE about it. However, we decided that if we were to try the highly recommended paella, we should have it at a highly recommended restaurant.Image Our gut feeling was right. The paella costs ‚ā¨14.95, before tax and service – not cheap at all. Hence we decided that – just to taste it – we’d order one serving to share. The waitress taking our order appeared unable to comprehend our order of just ONE paella for both of us. We felt like black sheep in the restaurant, especially as hordes of well-dressed professionals and business-people sauntered in, ordering multiple main courses and more. We were clearly the third estate in a customer base of aristocrats inside the restaurant. Service included a pack of black olives and bread. But the main attraction had to be the paella. The rice had a brownish tone, unlike the yellow kinds you find at your regular farmer’s market in England. Also it was much wetter than the regular ones you’d find around and did not look exactly elegantly prepared. Its taste, however, was divine.IMG_0724 The seafood was as fresh as you’d expect and the selection of meat vast, including loin meat and sausages. The meat was cooked to perfection and every bite was juicy. The¬†French¬†beans in the mix contributed to the dynamic combination of ingredients as well. Also, the rice grains were so fat and flavourful – absolutely Chuck Norris-ing the rice we had at Jin Kichi last week.IMG_0722 The base stock was also very fragrant, to the extent that we resorted to dipping our bread into the residual sauce/stock; that was nice, at least until the waitress came and cleared our paella pan. With the amount of paella sauce left, it felt like at least ‚ā¨2 cleared off our table. In general, the ambience was pleasant, and despite having our only dish over-zealously cleared, we did not feel rushed or under pressure to order more. Looking again at the menu, I came to realise why the paella served here was different to our prior conceptions of it – this restaurant professes to serve traditional Catalan food and what we were served was paella in Catalan-style. No wonder it looked and tasted different from the kinds we see everywhere else. If you want to experience a uniquely Catalan palette I would recommend this place to you. However I also imagine that there are other restaurants out there that also serve great-tasting – though not necessarily Catalonian – paellas with equally generous servings of meat and seafood, all for less than the price we paid at Seynor Parellada.IMG_0727Image Seynor Parellada
Carrer de L’ Argenteria, 37,
08003 Barcelona, Spain

La Rita

The last culinary stop of this post is called La Rita. My friend from Singapore, Jon, who’s living it up in Barcelona for the month, recommended this place for its ‚ā¨9.95, 3 course set lunch. On top of 3 courses, the set also came with 0.25l of red/white wine or a bottle of still water. It appeared like great value, and I was hoping the food was as appetising as the deal sounded. Hence Jon, Alejandro – an Argentinian and another new pal made on this trip – and I trudged down to this restaurant, just off Passeig de Gr√†cia, Barcelona’s Champs-√Člys√©es. We were fortunate we had Ale there with us as the menu was worded in only Catalan and Spanish. For starters we all ordered the lasagne.image (4) It was delightful. The layer of pasta was thin and light whilst the amount of cheese was judicious. What made the lasagne so special was that it didn’t just contain mince beef but boiled spinach as well. The meat was minced so finely that it was as thought the chef had done the chewing for you. I guess if you prefer chewing the meat yourself and experiencing the tactile joy of the meat being gnashed between your teeth then you will not appreciate the finesse of the mince. However, the meat was seasoned really well and went excellently with the spinach. Lastly, there was also – to my surprise – lots of cream on the lasagne. It was light and helped the different flavours of the ingredients complement each other very nicely. Indeed, more light cream and less cheese than usual made this lasagne extremely palatable and not overly salty.image (5) For our mains, Ale and I ordered the pork chop whilst Jon ordered the fish with tomato and potato. I tried a bit of Jon’s fish and found it really fresh and liked the way the fish was grilled very lightly. The flesh was firm yet juicy at the same time: a result¬†that¬†– I am told – is particularly difficult to achieve with fish.image (6) The pork chop was really well seasoned. The first bites of the edges were tender and succulent; I thought to myself – this could very well be eaten plain, without any seasoning. However, as I got to the middle portion of the pork it became less moist and that made me add some salt to the meat in an attempt to ‘expand’ and ‘bring out’ its flavour. The veggies served with the meat were well cooked – the brinjal particularly. It had a nice soft bite to it and the subtly grilled outer layer augmented the natural taste of the brinjal; at no point could I taste the powdery aftertaste you get with poorly cooked brinjal.image (7) For desert we all had the walnut cake with chocolate sauce. The walnut cake was above average. What I liked about it was the decently sized nuts in it which you could actually crunch on – typically giving the feeling that you’re getting your money’s worth. The highlight of the dessert, however, was the chocolate sauce. It was delightfully rich in taste yet extremely bouyant in texture. It was like the walnut cake equivalent of a sunny day with clear blue skies complimented by nice cool, light gusts of wind.image (10) I guess this sweet-tooth nirvana – with regards to the chocolate sauce – explains why I polished off every drop I could.image (11) The restaurant has a nice ambience to it and service was attentive, especially considering that most tables were occupied during lunch hour. This particular day’s menu was fulfilling. However, it could have been a case of us having been lucky¬†on the day as the menu changes every day of the week. Despite a few issues with the pork chop, and considering that it was only ‚ā¨9.95 nett for the selection available, I doubt one can realistically complain; to do so would be NICpicking. Indeed I would say that this meal was possibly the best during my time in the Catalan capital.image (13)image (3)image (12)La Rita

Carrer d’Arag√≥, 279
08009 Barcelona, Spain

The food on this trip was delightful. Perhaps my only regret was that I didn’t manage to try as many seafood-specific¬†dishes as I would have liked. On the flight back I was thinking of a word to sum up my trip. I thought to myself: if aw-FUL is bad and aw-SOME is good, to continue the pattern, this trip to¬†Barcelona definitely had to be aw-EMPTY.

Nonetheless,¬†now that I’m back in London, and hopelessly resigned to hall food on a daily basis, there¬†certainly¬†is an emptiness inside me – and it resides not just in my stomach. Barcelona is a delightful city with delicious food and I will¬†definitely return¬†one day to quell this emptiness. In the meantime, however, I guess I’ll go back to the incessant¬†verbal diarrhoea people know me for; after all, empty vessels make the most noise.

-Nic

Bea’s of Bloomsbury, London

finally got to try the much talked about Bea’s of Bloomsbury today! a friend was visiting from dublin, and we had a great catch-up over some cake and tea at this little shop just off the busy holborn stretch. it was a lovely afternoon spent in a warm and cosy cafe, seeking shelter from the freezing cold outside. when is spring coming???Imageyou won’t miss it as you make your way down theobalds road; the shop window is filled with sweet treats and according to a friend who had been before, it was even more decked out the last time she visited!

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they have a full afternoon tea that goes for ¬£19 per head, but we opted to order individual items as we weren’t quite up to a full-blown feast (and the exercise that we would be obliged to do/guilt-tripped into doing after!!!).¬†Image

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after some serious deliberation and inspection (life-changing decision right here) of the whole range of cupcakes, muffins, brownies, and cakes on display, we settled for a guinness chocolate slice (recommended by the waiter) and a slice of lemon meringue cheesecake.

Imagemy first thoughts on the guinness slice were that it was a bit dry, the kind of dryness that results from being left out in the open for too long. but luckily it turned out that it was only that way around the edges; after having more of it, i realised it was rich & dense but not heavy, and had the perfect amount of chocolate in it! i’m not normally a fan of chocolate cake since i dislike the feeling of “chocolate phlegm” (sorry for the gross description – i really can’t think of any other way to put it!!!) at the back of my throat but that did not happen at all with this slice – it was GOOD STUFF. as for the guinness, i couldn’t really taste much of it but perhaps that’s what makes the slice so appealing – a subtle hint of guinness combined with the perfect amount of chocolate-y goodness. YUM. oh and the icing went perfectly with the cake as well; i thought it wasn’t too sweet and topped the slice in just the right amount.

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LEMON MERINGUE CHEESECAKE: i enjoyed this cake so much that i felt the need to type its name in caps!!! the three of us at tea all agreed that it was divine!!! the meringue on top wasn’t too sweet or sour, and it was the perfect texture. the cheesecake middle was amazing – it was moist and rich but yet light such that you wouldn’t get sick of eating it, and the proportion of meringue top to cheesecake to digestive base was just right! LITTLE (okay not really little; the slice was pretty big!!!) SLICE OF HEAVEN RIGHT HERE. my two friends can attest to the fact that our conversation kept getting interrupted with my random interjections of “omg, this is SO. GOOD.” after every mouthful… oops!

Imagei also ordered a chai latte, and it was delicious; probably one of the best chai lattes i’ve tried! (i’m not a big coffee drinker so this is the drink i normally go for) perfect for a cold winter’s day. it had a generous dose of cinnamon and the perfect amount of spice to it, and i thought it was a rather generous serving despite me ordering a “small”. it was frothy and yummy and super drinkable; i will definitely be going back for more!

total bill: £10.80

ambience: cosy, casual, friendly, relaxed

service: good! patient and friendly service staff behind the counter.

who i would recommend this to: anyone with a sweet tooth looking for a nice cafe to have a little feast on sweet treats. the place is rather small though, and i can imagine it getting crowded on weekends so probably best to avoid going in large groups over the weekend.

will i return? YES! the cakes were delicious and there are sooo many more i didn’t get to try. i believe the menu and their offerings change pretty regularly as well, so that keeps things nice and exciting. might also head back to try their savouries that they serve at lunch time!

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Bea’s of Bloomsbury¬†¬†(Bloomsbury branch)
44 Theobalds Road
London WC1X 8NW
0207 242 8330
– rach ūüôā