LAST week I was in UK for a few days, I was really lucky with the weather as it was much better than the weather forecast and I was able to stay dry most of the time which enabled me to explore around a bit more. (I do not like getting wet!!!)
This time the place we stayed did not allow me to do much cooking, therefore very good excuse for me to explore some great eating places in London. It is definitely worthwhile to spend some time to do some homework (researching) rather than just run into any restaurants and ended up with disappointments or surprises (bad ones, I mean here) since dining out is not cheap in UK and we all want to have our money well spent, right? Whatsmore, a lot of good restaurants do need advance booking. Thanks to my UK blogger friends: Kang of LondonEater, Jeff & Ann of Pig Pig’s Corner and Helen of WorldFoodieGuide, their reviews have helped us tremendously in selecting where to eat. Helen even wrote an email to me for suggestions and we ended up meeting briefly in Soho for a coffee in Milk Bar, an Australian-owned coffee place where it was my first time to try Affogato al Caffè!
So without further ado, I would like to share snapshots of our London dining experience with you.
I had lunches at the following restaurants for a budget of around £10-20 per person:
- Restaurant TOKU (next to Japan Centre in Piccadilly): That was my first day, went to have a Spicy Cha Siu Ramen, very authentic but not that cheap for almost £10 a bowl of noodle but this is London and foreign food is never cheap. After lunch I shopped in Japan Centre and Oxford Street.
- Pearl Liang: Pearl Liang is located in Paddington Central. I am so glad to find a nice Chinese restaurant in Paddington, this is because coming from Maidenhead (where we stay) to London by train, the terminal is Paddington. It is great for me if I want something quick and descent without taking the tube. I ordered the Dim Sum Lunch Set 10 Items For £9.60, really good deal! Pearl Liang is popular for its dim sum, I would love to go again and try more dishes as this time.
After lunch I have explored the surrounding a bit, had a stroll along the canal, there is this place called Venice Walk where there are floating boats parked along sides of the canal, I have seen them in the past but only passing by with the car and this time I got a chance to walk along the canal. I felt it looks like Amsterdam more than Venice to me, and then I came across a small park which was renamed to Rembrant Park in 1975, so I am sure that I am not the only one who think this place looks like Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Anyway, it was very nice to find a quiet place in Central if you want to short getaway moment.
- Sushi Hiro: As a Japanese food fanatic, I am so glad to have been able to visit the hidden gem sushi restaurant in Ealing Common, Sushi Hiro, if you like authentic quality sushi, this is the place to go. For Londoner, this may be a bit far out of Central London but for me who comes from Maidenhead, it was pretty convenient for me. The sushi platter (13 pcs) cost £18, I think I do not need to write much, the picture speaks for itself.
the first evening, we were both tired, we had Sainsbury Indian Curry for Two, it was pretty good and really value for $$$, all we need to do was to reheat.
The second evening, I went to Bincho Yakitori located in Soho, Japanese food again!!! 15 years ago, Japanese restaurants were not common at all. Sorry it makes me think of the old days again, can’t help it. Yakitori is like Tapas to me, casual dining, a few skewers with a beer, perfect to go with friends.
So finally the highlight of this trip, was tapas dinner at Barrafina in Soho. The first time I read about Barrafina was a review written by Jeff from Pig Pig’s Corner, I immediately added to my “to-visit list”. It is best to arrive early otherwise you will have to queue up for along time, we arrived at 6;30pm and still had to wait for 45 mins. Yet you can enjoy a glass of wine while waiting. I have been to Tapas place in Spain & Switzerland and this one is very unique and contemporary. We were lucky to sit right in front of the chef and watching the great teamwork between the chef and his colleagues. I was also learning a few techniques & ideas of how to dress up the dishes, very inspirational. And here I have picked up a few of our favorites to share with you:
- Monk fish served on a baby spinach salad (daily special), the monkfish was really fresh!
- White asparagus with finely chopped paprika (daily special)
- Pimientos de Padron, you can eat this in other Spanish restaurants, this is just our all time favorite
- Ribeye beef, Piquillo Peppers, La Peral
- Chips with Brava sauce. You may think this is only chip or French fries, what so special about it? The essence was not the Brava sauce, it was the thyme garlic topping they have added. Absolutely divine and a surprise!!! We have always used rosemary with potatoes and I would not have thought thyme would be another great option that we should not overlook.
So that’s all for now and until my next visit!