Lotus Floating Restaurant

Why go here:

To enjoy some of the best dimsums on offer in London while all surrounded by calm waters and tall skyscrapers.

What it looks like:

The restaurant is certainly one of a kind when it comes to looks. Unlike most other venues I’ve eaten at, this one’s not on land at all – it is situated on a barge floating right in the middle of a beautiful waterway. And the wide, all-glassy windows mean that even while you’re inside eating your meal, you don’t confuse the stable barge for a boring street side venue because the clear water and the reflections of the sun and the skyscrapers in it will be dazzling right back at you.

202

The food:

The restaurant is famous for its dimsums, so my friend and I decided to a dimsum only lunch.  We might have slightly over-ordered for two people, as you’ll see below.

200

While there wasn’t a single dimsum that I didn’t gobble up instantly and that didn’t meet my standards, there were a few which were just so delicious, I could keep eating them even though I had space for less than a drop of water in my belly.

Steamed Seafood and pork dumpling-  The herbal hint in this dumpling enhances the flavour of the seafood and the pork adds to the bite.

Char Siu Pork Bun – The bun was warm and light and the gooey sweet and saucy pork filling inside made these buns irresistible!

Glutinous rice in lotus leaves – I loved that this dish is of a bigger portion size since I certainly treasured being able to eat it for longer. The sticky rice basking in the smoky sweet flavour of the lotus leaves was oh so delectable.

Crispy bean curd and prawn Cheung Fun- I have always been a fan of the lovely textures of the noodle rolls in a Cheung Fun, but the crispy yet creamy fillings in this variant of the dish make the dish a must have!

Verdict:

Delicious dimsums and gorgeous views (cue: go around sunset for an even more spectacular experience) make the experience of dining in this barge a must-try for all you dimsum lovers out there. And certainly, a much more romantic option for those of you planning to take your lady out to some boring eatery in Chinatown.

Advertisements

Cay Tre

Why go here:

For contemporary Vietnamese in smart settings in the heart of Soho.

What it looks like:

Reflecting the standard layout of most modern Soho eateries, the place has an array of square tables for the diners with stools added to the bar for those in a hurry or eating solo.

The food:

I went with some colleagues and we decided to order the set menu. The Chilli Salt & Pepper squid and the wild shrimp rolls were very delish and cleared off within seconds.

105

184

For main course, I had the slow cooked mekong catfish. The fish was soft and flaky and the flavours were delectable.Be careful with the drinks though. The wine we ordered racked up the bill to be almost thrice what the food alone would have cost!

2014-08-01 22.10.11

Verdict:

Great place if you’re craving some fresh and tasty Vietnamese dished up in imaginative combinations. The fast service and bar seating make it perfect for a business lunch and for solo eaters.

Chico Bandito

Why go here:

For Mexican food served up in very big portions and for the sizzling table Fajitas that you put together yourself!

What it looks like:

Located in an alley just off Old Street, this Shoreditch Mexican eatery is colorful and cheery. The waiters were dressed in Mexican inspired waistcoats and there were sombreros and mini-guitars at hand for the guests to join in too!

The food:

For starters, my friends and I ordered one of their combo tapas trays of which my favourite were the BBQ ribs, which were as sticky and saucy as you can get, though the jalapenos with oozing cream cheese were a very close second, but lost out on the first place due to being a  bit too greasy!

For mains, we all ordered the sizzling table Fajitas. While the task at hand isn’t the most complicated, make-your-own dishes are always such fun and can be quite messy depending on how drunk you are! The sizzling chicken was delicious but the ribeye steak seemed to be the winner amongst my friends, due to being more of a rarity when it comes to Mexican street food, not to mention more filling.

2014-07-23 20.44.15

2014-07-23 20.46.00

For drinks, we all alternated between tequila shots and cocktails. My Blue Lagoon Tequila Fizz was the most intensely colored cocktail I’ve ever had but due to the amount of tequila I consumed that evening, the margaritas were more palatable.

2014-07-23 21.49.29

Verdict:

If you’re looking for tasty but value for money Mexican food and wouldn’t mind doing tequila shots and taking selfies wearing sombreros amidst your meal, this is the place to go.

Cabana Brasilian Barbeque

Why go here:

If you’re looking for Brasilian BBQ but looking for an al-a-carte style meal with manageable portions instead of the infinite buffet style used in most other Brasilian places, this is the restaurant to go to!

What it looks like:

The Stratford branch is somewhere between a cool wooden shack and a warehouse, with postered walls, overhead lighting using spiky baubles and footlong chains making up curtains. Relaxed, easy going feel overall.

2014-02-24 19.53.49

The food:

My Pork Tenderloin dish was tender and well-marinated with chimichurri sauce. The melting, golden parmesan crust on top balanced the heat from the chimichurri while adding to the texture. The Picanha Burger is one of the most eats if you visit this joint- juicy Brasilian steak with chilli mayo and black beans and the extra of pulled pork is highly recommended!

2014-02-24 20.17.12

Our side of cassava chips went well with both dishes.

2014-02-24 20.15.36

My drink was a Guarana Antartica, Brazil’s version of Pepsi/Red Bull apparently, which unfortunately was too bland for my liking. But fear not, the place has a very good range of cocktails, of which the fruity cahaca ones (hint: the Red Tail Parrot) are really refreshing.

2014-02-24 20.04.55

Verdict:

Go if you’re looking for well done, not-too-spicy yet flavoursome Brasilian dishes in a laid back setting. But if you have a massive appetite, a traditional buffet style Brazilean restaurant might be a better deal for you.

Milk and Honey

Why go here:

It used to be a member’s only club, that has now opened doors to all that are willing to follow the house rules. Some of my favourite rules include no ‘star fucking’ and women being asked to ignore all unfamiliar men. If all this doesn’t make it intriguing enough for you, perhaps knowing that it has been lauded as London’s best cocktail bar, will.

What it looks like:

Like every speakeasy, Milk & Honey makes sure its entrance is as inconspicuous as it could be. A plain grey metal door next to a busy pub just off the corner on Poland Street, there’s no sign and no bouncers. You simply ring a buzzer, tell them your full name (they insist on addressing you by your second name, so there’s no hiding your Facebook profiles from your dates) and are let in and led up the stairs by waiters who could well be your butlers, in the manner they address and treat you. There is a small rooftop bar but I prefered the cosy, low-ceiling, candle-lit Red Lounge which has a very intimate feel to it.

The Drinks:

Their cocktails, as mentioned above, are award-winning and rightly so. They do the classics really well and the modern twists on them even better. Of all the drinks I had (more honestly, can remember having), my favourite was the Pisco Punch. In the past, I have found champagne cocktails to always use overly delicate flavours such that I can taste not much beyond the bubbly. Here, however, the sweetness of the pineapple and the Pisco (Peruvian brandy) were the leading flavours, with the champagne bubbles there to add just an extra dimension for your tongue to enjoy.

Additionally, the table service was probably the best I have ever had- they were there to take our orders exactly before we’d reach the last sips.

123

Verdict:

One of London’s best speakeasies. Go there, follow their house rules, flirt with the cute waiters and enjoy their classy cocktails till  3 am – yes, it IS open till that late. So you really have no excuse not to go, unless of course you fail to find the door…

Gaucho

Why go here:

For the steak, sourced all the way from Argentina. The waitress even gives you a little walkthrough of the different cuts available and gives her recommendations on how they should be had – well done, medium or rare (although my friends forgot her recommendations soon after she left, information overload apparently).

What it looks like:

The restaurant is dimly lit and kitted with plush couches and velvet curtains. Would be good to have some instrumental music in the background to add to the feel because we almost felt guilty every time our cutlery touched our plates and were whispering to avoid being overheard. I should mention here that we visited the restaurant at about 9 pm, so maybe they did have music on earlier..

117

The food:

I tried the Ecuadorian Ceviche since I wanted to compare it to the Peruvian ceviche I had tried before. The main difference is with the tiger’s milk being replaced with a roasted tomato and pepper sauce with onion, that reminded me of Italian flavours but the chilled prawns and the cool, creamy avocado slices definitely positively set it apart.

114

Ecuadorian ceviche- the avacado makes all the difference

For mains, I opted for the Braised Shoulder of Lamb. The lamb shoulder was of a  very generous cut.and cooked perfectly, so that the skin outside was crispy while the meat inside was a dark onion pink and oh so juicy!

The side of glazed broccoli and celery wasn’t bad but a sauce/puree might have made a better accompaniment since the long celery sticks were tricky to eat and every time I spent 3 minutes chewing on one of those sticks, I was missing being able to tuck into that succulent lamb. But if you’re not as impatient as me, this won’t bother you.

115

Braised Lamb Shoulder with glazed celery and broccoli

Verdict:

Argentinian steak and other Latin American dishes executed with a few but quality ingredients. Must visit if you like steak but not if you’re looking to try typical South American cuisine, since the choice with dishes beyond steak is limited.

Inamo

Why go here:

For the interactive, touch screen tables that allow you to order dishes from your seat, play games while you wait for the food to arrive(great distraction for awkward dates) and even order a cab and find nearby bars!

335

Touchscreen tables you can play games on!

The food:

Inamo serves fusion food, wih primarily Japanese flavours. For starters, we ordered the Seared Salmon Maki and the Hosomaki. The latter was good but the blow-torched salmon in the former wasn’t as flavourful as we’d imagined, most likely due to the fish not being quite as fresh.

338

Seared Salmon Maki

For mains, we got the Rainbow Trout with Yuzu and the  Berkshire Pork Neck. For those that haven’t had Yuzu before but enjoy experimenting like us, a warning:- Yuzu, the special ingredient of the dish is a rare and expensive citrus fruit which happens to be so sour, it heavily dominates the rest of the dish and the completely masks the flavour of the rainbow trout.

340

Rainbow Trout with Yuzu

The flavours in the pork neck dish on the other hand, were beautiful.   The spicy chocolate sauce complements the succulent grilled pork meat very well and the contrast offered by the crushed wasabi peas helps enhance the sweetness of the meat.

339

Pork Neck with chocolate sauce and wasabi peas

Verdict:

A must visit, if not for the fusion Japanese then for the unique experience. Great place to take a date or family members since you’re guaranteed that there won’t be a moment of boredom!

The Small talk

Hi Reader!

You’ve somehow found your way to the first blog post ever of a 22-year-old. I have been working in London over the last few months and having recently transitioned from a student to a working professional, I’ve been trying to make the most of what London has to offer and that I can afford to indulge in on my ‘analyst’ salary!

I love food and I am adventurous with it. I have come up with the rule that I will never eat at a restaurant for a second time (chains excluded) so that I can maximise the number of new restaurants I can try out while I am here. My friends aren’t particularly fond of my new-found rule since it limits the venues we can go out to eat in but they make do!

As part of my new year resolution, I am going to write about every good new restaurant and bar I visit in London, to give you a glimpse of what my experience was. I am, by no means, a food critic, but I know there will a lot of you out there just like me who love food and eating out and who might be as indecisive as me when it comes to choosing a restaurant because they don’t know which of the 1500 reviews online to read. My blog is to help guys like you with honest reviews on the restaurants and bars I visit including recommendations on what to order.

So happy reading and happy eating, fellow Londoners (and travellers!)