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

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Herman ze German, London

charlotte street is home to a few new eateries, and the newest branch of german sausage shop herman ze german is one which i was very pleased to welcome into the hood. having heard about their top quality sausage offerings, i was intending to pay the soho branch a visit sometime soon, but was saved the trip to soho by the appearance of a new branch of theirs just a stone’s throw away from home in my fave fitzrovia; hurrah!

herman ze german occupies a nice little shop space next to yog along charlotte street. it is simply decorated but very warm and inviting – wooden floors, chairs, and little knick knacks and pictures adorning the walls with punny catchphrases and unabashed use of the word “ze” that make you giggle. there are a few tables on the ground floor and more in the basement which make for plenty of seats to go around.20141022_121601
this picture was taken just slightly past twelve before the lunch crowd came in, but soon after that a steady stream of customers were coming and going, many doing takeaway while others sat down for a quick and casual bite.

they pride themselves on their wursts – “our wurst is ze best” is plastered on many surfaces throughout the shop -, and after sampling them i can see why. their gluten-free and lactose-free homemade sausages are all imported from a family butcher all the way in the black forest in germany, and to accompany these treats, they have a range of german beers and non-alcoholic beverages. here’s the menu:
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i opted for just a bratwurst in a roll, while my friend went for the same but as part of the wurst deal – for £4.10 more, you get fries and a drink.
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bratwurst in a roll with ketchup, mustard and crispy onions – £4.45
the bratwurst roll looks (and actually is) very simple, almost like something i could put together myself as long as i have the right ingredients, so i was very pleased when i discovered that it tastes more special than it looks! my favourite part of the roll was definitely the bratwurst – a finely minced pork and veal sausage. it was grilled to perfection and gave a loud satisfying crunch sound each time i bit into it; the outsides were crisp while the inside was succulent, juicy and very tasty. the crispy onions were the next best part – they added a super satisfying crunch and tastiness to the roll; i’m definitely going to ask for plenty of this when i return. golden brown goodies sitting atop the super sausage drizzled with ketchup and mustard and enveloped by a warm, soft and fluffy white baguette, this made for a really satisfying hot dog meal.

as for the fries which you see in the background of the picture above, they were pretty good! freshly fried, warm, crisp on the outside, tasty, and yummy when had with a healthy dose of ketchup, mayo and mustard. the best part about them is that they’re healthier than regular fries because they are air-fried which means very little oil is involved and this was evident in the lack of grease on our fingers even after greedily attacking them pommes frites with our bare hands.

we were so pleased with our wursts that after polishing off both our rolls, we decided to order an additional currywurst to share. for the currywurst, you can choose from 4 levels of spiciness for the sauce, and any wurst to go with it.
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currywurst (bockwurst) with sauerkraut – £3.95
since we’d both had bratwursts in our rolls earlier, we opted for the bockwurst here. the bockwurst was a smooth and slightly salty smoked pork sausage. compared to the bratwurst, the bockwurst sausage itself definitely had a stronger flavour to it. it also seemed to differ in texture – the bratwurst seemed a little crunchier and chunkier (but it could also have been because this was doused in curry sauce?). we had the third highest level of spiciness for our curry sauce, and it was yummy and packed a sufficient punch. it was more sour-ish than spicy though, so i might go for the spiciest one in future. the curry sauce was thick and tangy, a perfect complement to the sauerkraut on the side as well as the remaining fries we had, which we used to mop up every last drop of the sauce. again, a generous serving of crispy onions was icing on the cake.

herman ze german runs like a fast-food joint, so service is not only friendly but also really quick and efficient. it is perfect for a quick lunch, but also suitable for something more leisurely given the ample seating space and large and comfortable tables. the food is good and prices don’t burn too large a hole in your pocket, though i felt that £8.55 for the wurst meal was quite steep and there are several other good meal options around for that price. nevertheless, i’ll definitely be back when a wurst craving hits!

ze wurst is yet to come. prepare for ze wurst. zis wurst is ze best.
(sorry i just had to :P)

Herman ze German
43 Charlotte Street
London W1T 1RS20141022_121444

Koshari Street, London

would never have discovered this place if not for the groupon trawling that took place while boredom struck a while back. yes, i am an #aunty and proud of it heh 😉
(for the non-singaporeans: “aunty” when used on a young lady -cough- like myself -cough- usually means she is behaving more like a middle-aged to old female, hence the activity of online bargain hunting being labelled “aunty” behaviour) saw what seemed like a really good deal – £9 for a large koshari and drink for 2, did a quick online search to check out what exactly this “egyptian street food” entailed, and with my curiosity piqued and impressed by the rave reviews, promptly made the groupon purchase. am still very pleased that i made that decision because i was far from disappointed!

occupying a small but comfortable shop space along st martin’s lane at the fringe of covent garden, koshari street serves just one main dish, a type of egyptian street food known as koshari. you’re probably staring at your computer screen with raised eyebrows wondering what on earth koshari is; i can totally relate because i was once in that position. but i am proud to say that i now not only know what koshari is but have also had the great pleasure of trying some, and it is absolutely delicious!

koshari is a vegetarian dish consisting of lentils, rice, vermicelli, topped with a spicy tomato sauce, chickpeas, and caramelised onions. does that not sound like a wonderfully wholesome and warming combination of ingredients? well, even if you think it doesn’t, i assure you now that it most definitely is 😀

koshari street prides itself on everything being freshly-made with the best ingredients and bringing naturally healthy egyptian meals to londontown. upon entering the shop, you are greeted by a long stainless steel counter with the koshari condiments all very neatly and systematically laid out. service was extremely friendly and the server took the time to explain to us what exactly goes into a koshari, even letting us try the different tomato sauces with varying spice levels (mild/hot/mad – despite my penchant for spicy food because its a taste of home, i got the hot because i thought a cupful of mad sauce might really be quite mad) before we decided on the ones we wanted for our kosharis.20141007_132809
the koshari was then assembled before us and served piping hot in a huge cup (perfect for takeaways).

the groupon deal was for a large koshari and a drink, so that’s what we got:20141007_133229
large koshari – £6.50 / fresh juice – £2 (regular non-groupon prices)
not sure if you can see how big this cup really was because of the lack of proper scale, but it was really a very generous serving. (almost the size of an ice cream tub if i’m not wrong?) they also do small and medium sizes and as we were devouring our large cups, we noticed that almost nobody (there was a steady stream of customers coming in throughout our meal) except the odd large and famished-looking man ordered the large.

you’re probably wondering what lies beneath the glorious bed of glistening golden-brown shallots, so here are more pictures that reveal the amazing goodness contained in a cup:20141007_133419
and now with everything mixed in:20141007_133933
my midnight hunger pangs are getting stronger by the second as i type this post (will need to promptly get into bed after this so morning will come quick and i can demolish some breakfast :P)… just looking at the pictures, i can remember the great satisfaction i got from this extremely flavourful concoction that really packed a punch. what struck and impressed my friend and i most about the koshari was how fresh and well-done every single component of the dish was – everything was cooked to perfection and served piping hot. the lentils, macaroni and rice retained a delicious bite, while the crispy vermicelli bits, chickpeas and shallots on top added layers of crunch. the tomato sauce was extremely fresh, tasty and flavourful. it tied everything together wonderfully and as we were making our way through our mega cups, we were already imagining how happy we’d be on the cold winters day when we’d return to warm our souls with this yummy comfort food 🙂 the ingredients were added so generously and in such perfect proportions that every mouthful was a burst of flavours and textures in our mouths! i did mention earlier that the cup was huge but what i failed to mention was that i finished it anyway; i enjoyed it that much 😛 left the shop feeling extremely full, but a healthy full, having loaded up on a cup full of wholesome goodness.

besides koshari, koshari street also offers some simple salads, a soup option that changes daily and a handful of puddings for dessert. order a mix of things to make for a really satisfying meal or alternatively, they do combo meals where you can get a koshari, side and drink for a reasonable price. given the quality of the ingredients and how filling and wholesome the dish is, i would highly recommend this little cafe if you’re looking for a quick bite around the covent garden area. the space the shop occupies is small so its ideal for takeaways, but they do have some counter-type seating within the shop so there’s always the option of dining in as well.

if you’ve never had egyptian food, now’s the time to change that! you have even more reason to because the groupon deal doesn’t seem to have ended yet: check it out here!

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Koshari Street
56 St Martin’s Lane
London WC2N 4EA

Khan’s Restaurant, London

was suddenly hit by a massive craving for some good indian food and had intended to give the legendary tayyabs a try, but we were put off by the idea of a potentially (and highly possibly) snaking queue on a chilly autumn friday night. so based on my cousin’s recommendation, to khan’s we headed instead! am happy to say that we had no regrets at all, because i was super pleased with the yummy meal. in fact, so pleased was i that i think a trip to tayyabs may no longer be necessary…

one often associates bayswater with a slew of chinese restaurants – mandarin kitchen, goldmine and the like, so when i told friends that i was heading to bayswater for indian food, i was unsurprisingly met with some raised eyebrows accompanied by “indian? not roast duck?”. i think this will be happening quite a bit more in the coming year (final year omg #timeflies!!!) though, so hopefully the surprise will soon turn to curiosity and excitement to try it too 😛

i was imagining a family-run-type establishment – small, cosy and not occupying more than 2 shop spaces, but i was wrong. very wrong. khan’s has been around for 34 years now, and their success and popularity shows in the large space they occupy and high seating capacity the restaurant has.
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yes, the decor is slightly (understatement?) tacky, but the place is spacious, clean, big and comfortable. beyond this first section where you can experience the pleasure of dining under palm trees while indoors, the back section offers you an alternative of moroccan lights as company. at times i felt like i was in one of those arabian nights restaurants in a theme park, but i wasn’t in the least bit bothered by it because the dining area is actually rather pleasant.

they have a good range of dishes to choose from on their menu, still traditionally prepared by the founder’s family, and purported to have maintained the same quality and standard over the decades.
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for the 2 of us to share, we ordered a serving of butter chicken (what i had been craving and needed to have), fish tikka curry, sag paneer and a garlic naan each. food was served rather promptly and by that time we were starving and all ready to tuck in.20141003_192830L to R: butter chicken (£7.75), sag paneer ($4.30), fish tikka curry (£8.95)
all the curries were very good. my massive butter chicken craving was more than satisfied, the sag paneer was nic’s favourite of the night, and the fish tikka curry was flavourful and being the lightest out of the 3, balanced out the richness of the other 2 dishes.

starting with the butter chicken – chicken prepared in butter, cream, cashew nuts, coconut, masala sauce and dressed with almonds-, this was a butter chicken lover’s (ie me) dream come true. the gravy was ultra creamy and flavourful, thick and rich but not too heavy and with a subtle but palpable taste of a nuts – it really hit the mark for me and is definitely one of the better (if not the best) butter chickens i’ve had in london. i couldn’t stop dousing my naan in this sinful goodness! our conclusion: definitely worth the calories 😛 our only qualm about this dish was the chicken itself – it was a tad dry and we hoped that the meat itself would be more seasoned. it lacked the tastiness that the gravy had, possibly because the chicken wasn’t cooked in the gravy long enough (no idea, just hazarding a guess).

as for the sag paneer, (spinach cooked with homemade cheese), it was nic’s absolute favourite of the night. i really really enjoyed it too, though if i had to pick one fave of the night, i remain loyal to my beloved butter chicken. the spinach was very tasty and creamed to the perfect point that it was smooth but not overly so and still had a nice texture to it. it was also of the perfect consistency and thickness and though i can’t pinpoint what it was about it that made it different from sag paneer that i’ve had at other indian restaurants, it was very yummy and certainly worth an order if you’re at khan’s.

last but not least, we had the fish tikka curry – slices of oven baked fish cooked in a medium spicy sauce. this dish was marked with a little heart next to it on the menu which represents “healthy eating: low fat”, so i suppose this was our (admittedly rather feeble) effort to make the meal a slightly less sinful one… we also enjoyed this dish! it was lighter than the other 2, where the sauce was less creamy (but that didn’t make it any less tasty) and a lot more tomato-ey. my favourite part of this dish was the fish pieces in the curry. they were fresh and naturally sweet, which was a pleasant surprise because one normally associates fish in such things as tasting frozen and not very fresh.

20141003_193126garlic naan – £2.65
not forgetting my staple at any indian meal, naan!!! (do you sense my excitement; just writing about it makes me excited hahaha) had a garlic naan here and was extremely satisfied. the naan was just the way i liked it – (1) BIG, (2) crispy edges, and (3) fluffy. it had the surface area of an entire plate, and was wonderfully soft and pillowy while having the odd slightly-charred crispy patch and crispy edges all around. used every bit of it to soak up all the flavourful and creamy curries, and all the plates on the table were wiped clean by the end of the meal. (we were also ready to enter into food comas by that point.)

all in all, it was a hugely satisfying meal at khan’s and i was extremely happy. i can never leave bayswater without having some gelato at oddono’s in whiteleys, so to top off an already good night, we headed for my fave gelateria (in close competition with gelupo for top spot in my books) for our usual hazelnut-pisatchio-gelato-in-a-cone-please fix. my idea of a great friday night, and something i’m definitely going to need to do again soon… 😀

Khan’s Restaurant
13-15 Westbourne Grove
London W2 4UA

PS. saw a sign outside the restaurant advertising their lunch buffet at a really reasonable price of £9.95 – that’s certainly something worth checking out too!

BOBO Social, London

yet another new kid on the london burger block, and this time just a stone’s throw away from where i stay. i’m certainly not complaining! 😛 bobo social is a newly-opened burger joint in fitzrovia located in a cosy shop at the very end of charlotte street which prides itself on offering great burgers in a charming and civilised (i say civilised because your experience at bobo social will probably be far from the usual unglamorous juice-and-sauce-dripping-all-over-your-hands-and-running-down-your-wrists experience that many other burger joints offer) environment.

there has been quite a bit of hype surrounding it since it opened, so it was a natural choice for one of my first meals back. indeed, we knew it was popular but didn’t realise quite how popular it was until we heard they were often full and reservations needed to be made in advance. so we promptly called on thursday night to make a reservation for lunch on friday, but turns out we had moved too slowly because they were already full :O some #seriousbusiness going on here! nevertheless, intent on not letting anything get in the way of us and our burgers, we decided to go with the lunch deal advertised on their website, and took away our burgers to the park to enjoy them as we basked in the (last of) summer sunshine.

i arrived a little before 1pm to place the takeaway order, and was greeted by warm and smiling staff who were efficient and offered me a seat while i waited for the food to be prepared. the place was nearly full on the ground floor (they were expecting to be full by 1pm), and if i’m not wrong they have more seating in the basement.
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decor is simple but tasteful, and i noted how patrons who were dining in were served their burgers on an eclectic mix of intentionally-mismatched dining ware – the burgers sat neatly right in the centre of the pretty vintage plates, and tucking into the burgers with fork and knife was a very civilised and dainty affair.

didn’t take a picture of the menu i was handed, but its available here at their website. you’ll notice that unlike other burger joints, on top of sides, they have a range of small plates, cocktails, wines and a decent selection of desserts (a friend tried the white chocolate cheesecake for dessert and gave it her stamp of approval). i believe this is how they are hoping to differentiate themselves from the rest – offering a full dining experience instead of the idea of “fast food” typically associated with burgers.

for the takeaway deal which is available daily from 12-2pm and is what we went for, you get a original BOBO burger and a side for a reasonable £10. i only waited about 10 minutes before i was presented with 2 big paper bags of food glorious food.
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arrived at the park and excitedly dug into the paper bags to unveil and lay out them goods (this isn’t all; we had 5 burgers and 5 sides in total).
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behold, the BOBO burger basking in last friday’s glorious sunshine:20141003_132511
BOBO burger – 6oz rare-breed beef, lettuce, tomatoes, charcoal-roasted red onions, BOBO sauce (£8.50 or £10 with a side for takeaway)

size-wise, the burger wasn’t very big and i could handle it quite comfortably with one hand. good for the weight and health-conscious who see this as a guilty indulgence, the burgers aren’t very large or greasy at all so they leave you feeling satisfied but not too full. the lettuce, tomatoes and onions were fresh and complemented the beef patty well. on to the beef patty – according to their menu, their burgers are handmade daily using rare-breed beef, and single species wood is used in their charcoal ovens to enhance the flavour of the meat. i must say that the beef patty was indeed well-seasoned, flavourful and very tasty. the meat was coarsely-ground giving it a really nice hearty texture, and the patties were also all cooked to medium-rare perfection, just look at that wonderful pink! :20141003_132846we all felt that they could have been juicier though; they were a tad dry, resulting in no messy juice-dribbling-moments at all. i would also have preferred more sauce; it seemed like i hardly had any of it so unfortunately i can’t really say what BOBO sauce tastes like! as for the next most important part of a burger, the burger bun, BOBO uses buttermilk brioche buns which i enjoyed very much – buttery, soft and fluffy, worthy of proudly emblazoning a big “B” across the top as they do. all in all, it was a pretty satisfying burger but it didn’t quite blow my mind or excite me in the way that i had hoped. the BOBO burger is definitely closer to the style of honest burgers, clean and simple, without the sauciness of patty & bun’s offerings. its worth noting that the rest of their offerings on the menu sound very promising though, and might be vastly different from the original BOBO.

just realised (very belatedly) that i forgot to take a close-up shot of the sides, so unfortunately you’ll have to make do with squinting a little to see them in the picture of everything laid out above, and then envisaging them in their full glory in your minds. for the sides, we went for 2 servings of sweet potato fries, 1 serving of skin-on beef dripping chips, 1 serving of apple slaw with toasted pumpkin seeds, and 1 serving of mixed leaf salad with pomegranate and croutons.

the favourites were definitely the sweet potato fries and the apple slaw. the apple slaw was refreshing and a nice and healthy (relatively) accompaniment to the burgers. the apple was sweet and wasn’t sliced too thinly such that they retained crunch and juiciness, while the dressing was light despite it being mayo-ish. our other healthy side was the mixed leaf salad with pomegranate. it wasn’t anything to shout about, a light accompaniment that could probably be served at any other restaurant.

as for the sweet potato fries, i loved how they were chunky and rather thickly-cut, almost like wedges except that they were still rectangular and generally fry-shaped, not wedge-shaped. i can imagine that they would have been even better if taken fresh at the restaurant; they were unfortunately a little soggy by the time we tucked into them, but still satisfying and remotely crispy on the outside nevertheless! they were supposed to be sprinkled with truffle salt but unfortunately there was nary a hint of that… as for the beef dripping BOBO chips, given their fancy-sounding name and the fact that they were named after the restaurant, i had very high hopes! they ended up meeting my expectations, but not quite surpassing them in any way. they were good fries, but not particularly outstanding and in fact i think they could have done with a little less salt.

all in all, we were all a little let down and agreed that the burgers at BOBO didn’t quite live up to our high expectations. admittedly, our expectations were pretty high because we had heard so much about the burgers, and the fact that we took them away instead of dining in probably reduced the taste-good factor, even if just by a little. we also found the prices rather steep compared to the other big burger names in town (patty & bun still remaining my top choice and honest coming in a not-very-close second; i swear patty & bun really has my heart 😀 ), and hence all agreed that we wouldn’t quite jump at the chance to head back to bobo. that said, the other burgers on the BOBO menu (which come at a heftier price tag) sound really interesting and i like the idea of the experimental burger sessions they have on monday nights, so there is definitely reason to give it another chance!

BOBO Social
95 Charlotte Street
London W1T 4PZ
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PS. we didn’t know then, but that friday turned out to be what seems to be the last day of summer… its suddenly gotten cold and it seems like dreary london is here to stay for winter 😦
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picnic-perfect ❤

Soi 55, Singapore

(sorry for the recent update dearth – spent the past week and a bit feasting in the land of the rising sun! there are few things better than the greatness that is eating japanese food in japan; more on that to come in following posts!)

quite possibly the coolest new shop in the golden shoe block, soi 55 is a thai iced tea stall in golden shoe hawker centre that’s been quenching the thirst of the cbd crowd since it opened not too long ago. located on the first floor of the golden shoe hawker centre (ie 2nd floor of the complex), you won’t miss the stall as long as you look out for its bright blue and white sign that’s really minimalist compared to the other colorful and cluttered signs that the rest of the stalls have. this was the queue we had to join when we were there at about 130pm on a thursday; cbd lunch crowd was out in full force!20140821_133802

decided to start with something basic and went for the thai milk tea! couldn’t resist adding some red ruby to it as well. 
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thai iced milk tea with red ruby – $3.20 ($2.50 + $0.70)

it was the perfect cold drink for a sweltering day. i really enjoyed the milk tea; i would say it was definitely one of the better thai milk teas i’ve had in singapore – it was fragrant, milk was added such that the tea had just the right thickness, and the thai tea flavour was sufficiently intense but not overpowering. my only qualm is that it was a little sweet (possibly due to the addition of the red rubies which probably inevitably added some syrup to the mix); maybe i’ll go for the “siew dai” (less sugar) next time.

oh and another qualm – i love red rubies but i think i might pass on adding them as a topping the next time i’m here. they were rather clumpy and too big to be sucked up with the straw we were provided with; i had a really hard time trying to suck them up without causing too much of a ruckus when i was back at work in my mentor’s office! this problem can probably be overcome with the provision of spoons though, and they red rubies were otherwise great taste-wise. the chestnuts were crunchy and i’m not sure if they make them from scratch but if they do, perhaps less tapioca can be added for the coating to reduce the clumpiness? something should also be done about how they all clump together!

my friend got the thai rose milk tea and she was pretty disappointed with it. i took a sip and could see why – we felt that the taste of rose was insufficiently strong (we saw while they were preparing the drink that its just a little bit of rose syrup added to the regular thai milk tea), worsened by the additional sweetness that the red ruby added to her drink.

all in all though, soi 55 drinks are still a great option to beat the heat. i wasn’t blown away by what i had, but my craving for thai iced milk tea was successfully satisfied and i wouldn’t mind returning for more if i’m in the vicinity. a decent substitute for bubble tea and a worthy competitor for my other cbd drink faves (fruit juice and teh halia from the arcade)! 

Soi 55
#02-19, 50 Market Street, Golden Shoe Food Centre
Singapore 048940
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 PS. they do discounts on their hot tea and coffee in the morning, so why not pop by for a pre-work perk-me-up?20140821_134058

The Daily Cut, Singapore

amidst the myriad of salad shops in the cbd catering to the increasingly health-conscious office crowd looking to fight post-lunch food comas, the daily cut stands out from the crowd with its different take on the regular green salad.

eagerly counted down the minutes till lunch when i could go check this exciting new place out (#internlife), and arrived in the newly-renovated basement of one raffles place at about 1245pm on tuesday afternoon, greeted by a queue at the counter and a bunch of people waiting for their numbers to be called for collection of their food.
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as you can see from the pictures, the daily cut is an ultra fuss-free set-up, so simply “decorated” (in inverted commas because its not really decorated at all hahaha) that it almost looks like a temporary store that’s waiting to move into proper premises! there are no walls properly demarcating the shop space, and the sign is rather inconspicuous unless you look up and crane your neck purposefully. i like the fact that they have a small seating area with way more seats than many other salad establishments in the cbd. their ordering system is also rather efficient – you fill in a form like the one in the picture below, bring it to the counter to place your order and pay, and finally wait for your little salad (though i’m not sure if its still considered a salad given that the focus is on the protein/meats) box to be prepared.

here’s the order form which also serves as the menu:
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at the counter, you can see the staff at work putting together each box according to the orders received:
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meats to satisfy the carnivores out there
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veg mmm…

we had to wait pretty long (10-15 minutes) for our numbers to be called; we were actually starting to wonder if our orders had been somehow lost in the mix! but soon our yummy boxes were ready for our collection, calling out to us to tuck in.
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sirloin steak + romaine lettuce + edamame + sous vide egg + mushrooms (ginger ponzu dressing)

this was my box – i was super pleased with how everything tasted together (though it doesn’t look all that appetising i know)! we were all quite impressed with the ingredients that were used; they were clearly of a good quality and very fresh. the sirloin steak was excellent – perfectly medium rare, juicy, moist and very tender; most definitely worth the $1 extra to order this! the romaine lettuce was fresh, the mushrooms (hidden but you can just about make them out in the bottom right corner) were sauteed very deliciously and the sous vide egg was poached to absolute perfection (amazing egg yolk waiting to explode also hidden here, unfortunately). i also really enjoyed the ginger ponzu dressing which was refreshing and light.

my friend for a large-sized one that came with 2 proteins:
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chicken thigh + tofu + brown rice + parmesan + sous vide egg + avocado (ginger ponzu dressing)

i didn’t try the chicken thigh but my friend mentioned that it was a little dry. i did try the tofu though, and it was more like tau kwa rather than soft/silky/smooth tofu. it would have been pretty tasteless if not for the subtle chargrilled taste that made it much better (you can see the grill marks on the tofu pieces in the picture above). note that this is the only protein option available for vegetarians.

think this was the most appetising-looking/prettiest salad of our party of 3 that day:
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sirloin steak + sweet potato + sweet corn + almonds + sous vide egg (thai dressing)

the sweet potato was grilled very nicely and the subtle chargrilled taste lingered and really complemented the natural sweetness of the huge chunks. this was another great combi of toppings – a good mix of textures and flavours.

we all left with our boxes wiped clean, feeling satisfied and surprisingly quite full! the portions are quite generous (especially the proteins) yet don’t leave you feeling like you’re on the brink of entering a food coma. i really enjoyed what i had and the best part is that its pretty healthy eating! lots of protein (perfect post-gym meal) and a great alternative to the regular salad bowls which are full of greens with no meat in sight (this is definitely a draw for males; i noticed significantly more males here compared to other salad places around raffles place). another great thing is that you can mix and match the proteins/toppings/carbs such that you can eat here all day every day and never get bored…

that said, i think it is actually slightly pricey even for the generous servings and good quality ingredients that you get. but that doesn’t seem to be stopping people from making a beeline for them at lunch hour, including myself – might just have to make another trip down for lunch before my current internship ends in a mere two days! already getting excited about what to pick this time 😛

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The Daily Cut
1 Raffles Place, #B1-31, One Raffles Place
Singapore 048616

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PS. matt’s chocolate shop is just round the corner and we couldn’t resist getting some chocolate fudge cake for dessert:
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small fudge cake – $4
having heard so much about it, i had very high expectations and though i wouldn’t say i was disappointed, the cake didn’t quite blow my mind either. they heated it up in the microwave for us (check out the glistening dark chocolate layer on top mmm…) – made it look yummier than ever eh? the cake itself was extremely moist and rich, without being overly dense or sickly sweet and chocolate-y. in fact, i would say despite being so chocolate-y, it managed to remain rather light! pretty good stuff (Y)