Boopshi’s, London

pictures of boopshi’s succulent schnitzels accompanied by good reviews were popping up too frequently to ignore on various social media platforms throughout last term and so sometime in the middle of it, i decided that a meal there was most definitely in order.

specialising in austrian schnitzel and spritz, boopshi’s is a relatively new addition to the buzzing fitzrovia restaurant scene. with large glass windows letting plenty of natural light in and simple wooden furniture, this corner shop is simple and nothing fancy at all, but certainly a great space for a casual meal. we had an early lunch on a friday afternoon and the place was empty when we first arrived at about 1230, but soon filled up with the lunch crowd.

they serve a range of dishes, but look around and you’ll see that what 99% of the hungry diners have before them is a schnitzel – it is after all what they pride themselves on. besides those sumptuous slabs of breaded meats that they offer, they also have various sides and other plates on the menu:
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the schnitzels in buns sounded like a really good deal but we were there for the meat and didn’t want any distractions from bread, so all of us got whole schnitzels, along with 3 sides to share – spatzle n cheese, fries and sauerkraut. i can never resist the promise of a glistening egg yolk, so ordering a duck egg to top my schnitzel was an absolute necessity:
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rare breed pork schnitzel with duck egg – £10.50 + £1.25
five pairs of eyes sparkled as our schnitzels were placed before us – to hungry souls, there are few things better than being presented with huge slabs of delicious breadcrumbed and freshly-fried goodies! what you see in the picture above doesn’t do justice to the generous serving sizes, for some reason my schnitzel was a little smaller than the rest… one of my friends was served a pork schnitzel so big that the plate beneath was nowhere to be seen, i kid you not.

i’m glad the gravy took a while to get to the table because it allowed me to try some of the schnitzel as it was, and to fully appreciate the fine breading and naturally sweet pork. the juicy and tender meat was moist and coated in just the right amount of breadcrumbs such that the dish remained light despite it being so meaty. i also liked the fact that it was not drenched in excessive amounts of oil and i didn’t feel like i was eating anything that was exceptionally greasy (wishful thinking? denial?). the lemon definitely helped; a healthy dose of some lemon juice added a lovely refreshing zest and helped to lift the taste of the schnitzel. taken with the gravy that was very tasty, this was a suitably hearty and satisfying treat.

as for the duck egg, it was an egg lover’s dream come true. cooked to absolute sunny side up perfection, the egg was slightly browned on its underside and had a yolk so large that it was enough to slather all over the schnitzel upon the all-important popping of yolk, and so creamy that it left me craving duck eggs for a few days after (subsequently scored half a dozen from fortnum & mason and was super eggcited).

given how big the slab of pork was however, i can imagine it getting a bit monotonous to eat without any sides or toppings, so good thing we ordered sides for the table:20141114_124134L to R: frites (£3.50), large spatzle ‘n’ cheese (£6.50), sauerkraut (£3.50)
they did not disappoint and were a great accompaniment to the main event. starting with the fries, they were thin-cut shoestring-types which though appeared a little undercooked for fries because of their very yellow hue, were actually cooked very well! crisp on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. as for the spatzle n cheese, it was essentially austria’s take on mac and cheese – firm and chewy pasta (texture reminded me of gnocchi) generously enveloped in creamy but light cheese. i thought it could have been a little more flavourful but all was good otherwise; it was like a warm homecooked hug 🙂 last but not least, the sauerkraut was probably my favourite side. it was a great rendition of this traditional dish, wonderfully seasoned and cooked just as sauerkraut should be, soft but still retaining a slight crunch. i could have had a whole serving of this to myself!

as you can see from the pictures, the servings here are big and we were really full after (even though we arrived at lunch feeling ravenous and ready for attack) all that intense savouriness, but all felt like we needed something sweet to end off the meal so we ordered a serving of apple strudel to share:
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oma’s apple strudel – £5.50
given the apple strudels i’m accustomed to (think ritz apple strudel – super flaky, crisp pastry and chunky apple slices), this was not quite what i expected. i loved the apple filling which consisted of plump raising and thin, moist and juicy slices of apples which were heavily spiced with cinnamon (one of my friends actually found it too cinnamon-y), but was not a huge fan of the pastry that encased it. although it was light and thin, i would have preferred it to be flakier, airier and crispier; here it almost seemed dense because the many layers were stuck together. the fragrant vanilla ice cream brought everything together rather nicely and was a good complement to the very cinnamon-y apple filling. perhaps it is a matter of personal preference of how one likes their apple strudels to be (catering to commercialised tastebuds vs very traditional as boopshi’s does it), but i was a little disappointed because this came highly recommended as one of their specialties. would probably skip dessert and focus on the mains when i next return! oh and on the topic of desserts, i was also disappointed that the waitress seemed completely unfamiliar with the menu and didn’t know any better than us what a “kaiserschmarrn” was; she had to check with the other restaurant staff.

neverthelesss, boopshi’s is a great spot for a hearty meal that adds to the wonderful mix of dining options along charlotte street. definitely worth a try if you’re up for some schnitzel!20141114_135609

Boopshi’s
31 Windmill Street
London W1T 2JN

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La Crêperie de Hampstead, London

ever since they were forced to reduce their opening hours (see end of post for current hours of operation) due to a dispute with the pub it is located right outside of and used to share facilities with, the legendary crepes from la creperie de hampstead have become somewhat elusive. our first attempt to get our hands on them was unsuccessful – we were innocent victims who fell prey to the opening hours stated on google (didn’t find anything online that said otherwise) and trooped to hampstead on a week day, only to find the shutters down and not even a hint of the heavenly smell of fresh crepes in the air. no words can appropriately describe the looks on our crestfallen faces… special shoutout to good weather x hampstead heath x delicious gastropub food that we stumbled upon which saved the day though! thankfully it didn’t require a third time for us to get lucky with these crepes, we were successful at getting our hands on these parcels of goodness on our next attempt!!! #2ndtimelucky #yay

this little street stall has been parked by this pavement for more than 30 years. recent threats of closure caused uproar among loyal fans and despite now being forced to have no fridge or supplies stored on site, they have managed to keep open, albeit with greatly reduced opening hours. thank goodness they’ve managed this feat, because it has kept many a tummy very very happy, including harry styles’. yes. i kid you not – all 1D fans out there please listen up: harry styles has been spotted in the queue for crepes!20141213_132419

we visited for a late lunch (about 2pm) on a saturday afternoon, and i could smell the wonderfully tantalising aroma of fresh crepes as i approached this hampstead institution. there was a surprisingly short line of about 8 people ahead of us, and it varied in length throughout the time we were there, but at no point did it become unmanageable. the menu is so extensive that (if you’re as indecisive/greedy as i am) you’ll probably spend half (or more) of the waiting time just considering what crepe to get anyway:20141213_132151

after much consideration, i opted for the classic crepe complete with an addition of mushrooms; the full works in the world of crepes, basically. (don’t judge – i was finally there and it was a matter of going all out or going home… choosing the former was not a difficult choice at all 😛 ). i can safely say that i was not at all disappointed despite having high expectations from the great anticipation surrounding the whole affair. it was pretty much love at first bite…
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crêpe complete: ham and cheese, with an egg broken over the ham, plus mushrooms – £5.20 + cost of mushrooms (i can’t remember how much they charged but it wasn’t more than 50p)
the crepe itself is cooked to perfection – check out the gorgeous golden brown and slightly charred crispy edges. the crepes are served piping hot and they are thin and crisp but still thick enough to act as the perfect envelope for the generous ingredients that it contains. they are buttery with a subtle salty flavour, a perfect complement to whatever ingredients you choose to be wrapped within. the ham slices were thick, melty stringy cheese was plentiful, mushrooms were juicy and the soft egg (you get a choice of hard or soft eggs) was the icing on the cake (or should i say crepe 😉 ). every bite i took was packed with flavour and quality ingredients, it was seriously YUM. we settled ourselves on a bench by the high street watching the world go by as serious parties went on in our mouths…

given how generously stuffed that galette was, i was quite stuffed after polishing off the entire thing (it’s a tough life :P). but i desperately wanted to try their sweet offerings, so we joined the queue a second time and by the time we were at the front, i was ready to share dessert! it was once again a difficult decision but we settled on one of their trademarked (i know right… even fancy restaurants don’t have trademarked dishes on their menus, but this little unassuming stall has a few to boast about!!!) caribbean surprise:
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la surprise des caraibes: banana on butter and sugar with a sprinkling of coconut and dark belgian chocolate, finished with cream and rum – £5.50
okay the savoury crepe was delicious, but this, THIS is what i crave and am already dreaming of going back for. doesn’t look too great, but tastes out of this world. the combination of banana, coconut, dark chocolate and rum was magic in my mouth!!! i thought the crepe itself for this sweet crepe could have been a tad crispier (note how the savoury crepe is more brown) but the slight savouriness of the batter created a perfect sweet-salty combination with the sweet toppings. the high quality of the dark belgian chocolate shone through thanks to their generous addition of it (tendency to go everywhere if crepe is not eaten strategically), and went wonderfully with the dark chocolate and banana. the taste of rum was strong, and my friend did mention she would probably ask for a slight reduction in it the next time because she found it a little overpowering. i on the other hand, thought perfect proportions were achieved. already dreaming of going back to get some of this stuff back in ma belly after christmas break!!!

it was my last day in london of 2014, and it was perfectly spent finally having the best crepes in london ❤ i foresee pilgrimages to hampstead becoming a frequent affair next term (last official school term in ldn) – before i even made it 50m away from the stall as we left, i was texting various friends very excitedly telling them that i’d have to take them for crepes next term… best crepes in london? oh #YAS.

why did i not discover this place in first year 😥

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La Crêperie de Hampstead
77 Hampstead High Street
London NW3 1RE

opening hours as of december 2014: friday – sunday from 1145am – 11pm, and “hopefully on thursday too” from 230pm – 9pm

Paradise by Way of Kensal Green, London

sunday roast is always a good idea, and birthday sunday roast for the last to turn 21 in our house was one of our best ideas yet. the birthday girl actually wanted to have her birthday party at paradise (it was fairytale-themed so it would have been 200% appropriate), but the room size wasn’t suitable for the number of guests so she had to pass… it just made her even happier when we removed her blindfold upon reaching paradise and she realised where she was though!

paradise by way of kensal green is located in a building that looks like any regular neighbourhood pub from the outside and in no way at all betrays the eclectic charm and beauty of the place within. step inside though, and you’ll very soon realise that this is far from your average watering hole:
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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwe were seated here in the bar area because the dining room was fully booked, and found that our initial worries that it would be lacking in the atmosphere that the main dining area had were completely unfounded. with huge flower vases, an interesting mix of furniture and one of the prettiest bar counters i’ve seen, it was perfect for our casual sunday girls lunch. 

we opted for a mix of roasts from the menu and after quite a wait (we were less than impressed with the service; more on that later), were presented with huge plates of gloriously hearty fare.
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with my fave five – four fab friends and food

i opted for the roast beef:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Roast rib eye of beef with all the trimmings – £17.50
the servings at paradise are clearly big; look at the size of those plates! two generous slices of thick and juicy roast beef were served with a warm and fluffy yorkshire pudding and a super delicious mix of roasted parsnips, carrots, kale, red cabbage and potatoes. the picture above was taken pre-sauce (because the sauce took forever to come… it took at least a good 10 minutes and a reminder after the food was first served) and i felt the beef was a tad dry at the edges, but nothing at all that the sauce couldn’t solve when it finally arrived. the meat was wonderfully tender, naturally sweet and very tasty. the yorkshire pudding was warm, light and crispy at the edges but soft and pillowy within. as for the roast vegetables, they were a huge hit at the table. i remember the carrots to be amazingly sweet, and the potatoes to be some of the best i’ve had – they were done to perfection with wonderfully crisp exteriors (we still have no idea how they managed to achieve that). so good was the skin that when we were too stuffed to eat anymore heavy carbo, we found ourselves slicing the potatoes open and digging out some of the actual potato, just leaving the thin crispy edges for our very happy consumption…

the other roasts at the table were the herb crust roast chicken (£14.50) and pork belly with bramley apple puree (£15.50). all the servings were extremely generous and just as delicious – the chicken was roasted to perfection, juicy and moist meat encased by a light crispy skin, while the pork belly was tender and not too fatty with an ultra crispy skin. needless to say, we were all belly happy after (nearly) wiping our plates clean.

there’s always room for dessert though, and especially after the yummy food we just had, we had high hopes for some mouth-watering sweet treats. we ordered 3 desserts to share, and were once again not disappointed with the food at all:
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top to bottom: baileys & caramel cream cake, sticky toffee pudding, lemon tart
my favourites were the lemon tart and the sticky toffee pudding. the lemon tart was a refreshing end to the meal as it always is, the lemon filling tangy but not too sour and of a great consistency. the tart base was crisp and light, and the almonds were a nice addition of texture. as for the sticky toffee pudding, it was dense but not too heavy, and the toffee flavour though strong was not cloyingly sweet or overpowering in any way. the baileys cake had an interesting texture that was a cross between a light cheesecake and a cream cake, but reminded me more of the latter. it was very light and its base was very enjoyable though i would have preferred it to be crunchier – instead of the typical kind of base usually made of digestive biscuits, the biscuits used here were lighter and had a subtle chocolatey hint to them.

all in all, we were extremely satisfied with our meal at paradise. the food was great and luckily it was, because the service was rather frustrating at times. don’t get me wrong – the staff were all friendly, accommodating and lovely, but it was the pace of service that left much to be desired. we had a lot of trouble getting the attention of the staff, and whenever we asked for something, it often took several reminders before our requests (which were simple ones for things like sauce, the bill, water refills etc) were acceded to. perhaps it was because it was a busy sunday afternoon for them, but given the popularity of their sunday roast, one would imagine they’d be used to and good at dealing with such crowds.

nevertheless, i would still recommend this beautiful place for a wonderful sunday roast experience and hopefully we have better luck with the service next time!

Paradise by Way of Kensal Green
19 Kilburn Lane
London W10 4AE

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Lan Zhou Noodle Bar, London

i cannot believe i it took me 2.5 years to discover this hidden gem right in the heart of leicester square; if i had known of it earlier, i’m sure i’d have spent many a cold night there slurping up oodles of noodles, elbow to elbow with other hungry patrons of this hole-in-the-wall…

it was a cold and rainy day and having just ticked one off the london bucket list by ice skating at somerset house, my ravenous friends and i decided that a large bowl of piping hot noodles sounded really, really good. so off to lan zhou la mian we trooped!

lan zhou la mian is not a shop i would venture into if it wasn’t recommended to me by friends – their shop window is filled with trays of (if i may say) dubious-looking extremely brightly-coloured ready-to-eat hot food (think mr wu’s chinese restaurant eat-all-you-can-buffet-style food that always makes me upset because i hate that it would make some people who don’t know any better think that that is all chinese food is about – fried spring rolls, lemon chicken and “singapore noodles” (the most offensive thing ever!!!)) and given how it is so well-located just a stone’s throw away from leicester square tube station, it appeared to me to be the type of shop that serves sub-standard chinese fare at cheap prices. we couldn’t have been more wrong though, and hurrah for that!

venture into the little shop and you will find (1) an almost 100% chinese clientele (a sure sign of its legitimacy) and (2) a chef hard at work making noodles before your very eyes! needless to say, i was ultra excited – the last time i had fresh hand-pulled noodles was about 3 months ago in sunny singapore, its taste quickly becoming a fading memory in my mind…
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they have an extensive menu that includes a range of cooked dishes and cold and hot appetisers, but we were there for the noodles, and that alone left us spoilt for choice. besides all the different types of noodles they have, you can get them all soup/dry/fried, and you can choose how thick you want the noodles to be. there are countless permutations and combinations that will be made-to-order just for you:20141205_140946

the aforementioned friends who recommended this place highly recommended the beef noodles, so the stewed beef la mian soup is what every single one of the 4 of us opted for. the noodles took quite a while to arrive (one would expect faster service using all the other casual chinatown eating spots as benchmarks) and the waiting time was exacerbated by the fact that it was 2.30pm and we (or maybe just me) had just done the most exercise we’d done all year by skating for an hour.

words cannot express my utter delight when a huge bowl of piping hot noodles was placed before me some 15-20 minutes later:
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mid-way through the monstrous bowl
we couldn’t have been happier with our huge bowls of noodles (#asiankidsforever). the broth was thick, tasty and flavourful, and the beef brisket was tender, well-seasoned and added in generous amounts. note the addictive chilli oil in the picture that was added in copious amounts for that extra spicy punch, making this bowl of soupy goodness even more satisfying than it already was on its own. as for the noodles, i was sold after taking my first bite. you could tell they were definitely freshly-made (the waiting time was warranted after all) – bouncy, springy and cooked for just the right amount of time to give it the perfect bite. i could not stop enthusing about the texture of the noodles as i made my way slowly but steadily through the huge bowl. soon it was all gone and i ain’t gonna lie, i was a little sad (as i tend to be when i have nothing left on my plate that previously contained a mountain of all things delicious).

at just £6.50, this bowl of goodness was like a warm, comforting hug on a cold winter’s day, and i will certainly jump at any chance to return. mega plus points for the fact that it opens till the wee hours of the morning (5am on saturdays?! truly a #rarespecimen in london), so this is certainly a place to visit when you’re in need of a late-night supper or desperately need to satisfy a sudden intense craving for oodles of noodles before bedtime. love me some la mian!!!

Lan Zhou La Mian (Noodle Bar)
33 Cranbourn Street
London WC2H 7AD

The Frenchie, London

been so swamped with life and its many happenings (may or may not have involved 51% play 49% work :P)  in general that i haven’t managed to find much time to write about all the exciting foodie adventures i’ve been on (huge backlog that i will endeavour to clear over christmas break!!!). but i had the pleasure of savouring something that excited me so much on tuesday night that i decided i had to write about it. pronto.

i hereby present to you *drumroll please*… the glorious FRENCHIE in all its glory.
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duck confit in a brioche bun with crispy duck skin scratchings, red onion chutney, mustard, rocket, blue cheese & truffle honey – £6

made the trek to southbank christmas market on a cold rainy night just to have this and i believe it was worth every single step there (along with many other happy patrons who stood in the queue with glistening eyes and later proceeded to stand around the stall mmm-ing and aah-ing as we stuffed our faces in delight). thank goodness it lived up to its hype or i would have been sorely disappointed… i think it has officially made it onto my list of the top 5 ways to spend £6 in london 😉 #heavenisaplaceonearth…

the burgers are made to order and you get to watch hungrily as a mound of duck confit sizzles on a hot plate along with your choice of cheese (blue cheese or goat cheese with truffle honey, raclette or cheddar). the wonderfully fluffy and soft brioche is heated up on the hot plate alongside the duck, and later slathered generously with delicious red onion chutney and mustard before sandwiching the amazingness that is a mini mountain of duck/cheese/scratchings/truffle honey.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the duck was soft, tender, flavourful, well-cooked, and made even better by the occasional crispy edge. topped with melty blue cheese, truffle honey and mayo which provided a real kick, there was an explosion of flavours and textures (from the rocket and scratchings) with each mouthful. oh yessssss the scratchings are surely worth mentioning by themselves… melt-in-your-mouth fatty goodness get in ma belly #YAS. they also added a super nice crunch and were the perfect contrast to the pillowy brioche and soft tender duck. taste-wise, the savouriness of the mustard and cheese were the perfect complement to the sweet honey and red onion chutney. i could go on and on raving about this burger (which i place high up in the esteemed ranks with patty & bun as the closest contender for the title of my all-time favourite burger in london!!!) but i shall stop now and simply urge you to please go try it for yourself!!! (besides being at the southbank for the christmas market, they are also sometimes at brick lane, broadway market and camden lock.)

we also had a serving of duck fat chips with truffle mayo to share. artery-clogging and oh-so-sinful, but very good stuff. i would have preferred them to be a tad crispier on the edges (they were pretty much unabashedly oil-drenched), but they were otherwise very tasty (wouldn’t have expected anything less) and the truffle mayo was fragrant and light, the perfect accompaniment to them chips.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAduck fat chips with truffle mayo – £2.50

i was so satisfied that i was all ready to head home after that 1 burger (which i refused to share with anyone; thankful for friends who understand my need to have my own serving of certain delectably divine foods… heh), but because the southbank christmas market this year is officially a food heaven, we could not resist getting a few (or more) other things to share. other things on the agenda included:
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pulled pork mac n’ cheese toastie (!!!) from grill my cheeseOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
quintessential christmas market food – dutch pancakes with maple syrup (because nutella is too mainstream :P) and strawbz
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super yummy smoked polish sausage from the polish deli

NB: copious amounts of hot chocolate and mulled wine/cider not pictured…

the southbank christmas market has seriously upped its game this year and is definitely worth a visit! i loved every bit of it – compared to the glitzy and commercialised winter wonderland, the southbank market is distinctly different – all cosy and warm like you’re in your neighbour’s backyard enjoying some good good warm food in the cold and under magical fairylights ❤OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA