Lobos Meat & Tapas is exactly the kind of place that is responsible for my recurrent idle fantasy of moving house to be in close proximity to Borough, Maltby Street and Bermondsey Markets and all the fabulous food and drink places this area of London affords.

Of course, this fantasy is hugely unrealistic, not least because I’m such a dyed-in-the-wool hoarder that I’d never manage to squeeze the ‘stuff’ I’ve amassed over the decades into the minimal-storage space in the clean, modern, uncluttered and tiny city pads that we might just about be able to buy if we sold our house up in the ‘burbs! And of course, I wouldn’t actually want to give up a back garden (or our allotment plot nearby) in exchange for a shared public garden that no one ever actually relaxes properly in (if they use it at all) or a single pot of tomatoes grown on the ledge that’s rather generously described as a balcony.

But still… to have so much of London’s constantly evolving, constantly improving, constantly surprising and constantly exciting food scene right on the door step must be a thing of wonder.

If you live near Borough Market, or even if you don’t quite frankly, I recommend you make your way to Lobos for some very delicious treats. Lobos is folded origami-like into an arched, two-storey space carved out under the railway bridge, right next to the modern glass-fronted Market Hall that went up a year or two back and just a stone’s throw from Southwark Cathedral. Downstairs is the bar space with a couple of high tables; upstairs is the restaurant space with a handful of small tables and cosy leather-padded booths.

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Image by Paul Winch-Furness, provided courtesy of Lobos

Lobos – which means wolves in Spanish, so I’m told – was launched last month by three friends who met while working at Tapas Brindisa – chef Roberto Castro, Joel Placeres and Ruben Maza.

Let me be clear, this isn’t a place for vegetarians or pescetarians – pretty evident from the restaurant’s name, but it never hurts to spell it out. Meat is the name of the game and the menu focuses on prime cuts of Iberico pig, Castillan lamb and beef sourced from The Ginger Pig. It’s classic tapas, beautifully cooked, served in a very cosy space by friendly and helpful staff. And of course, being a tapas bar, you can pop in for a drink and some small nibbles or make a proper meal of it, as we did.

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We settled in for an early weeknight dinner. Even in summer, with August sun keeping the sky light until late, inside was dark and cosy with bare-filament lights casting a very orange glow.

Wine is available by the glass, carafe or bottle and there is a short cocktail menu as well as regular soft drinks. I’d love to see a little more thought put into the soft drinks, but then I’m one of those rare non wine drinkers. Pete was appreciative of the choice of wines by carafe and enjoyed a Tempranillo from Rioja (£6.25/ £17.75/ £34 per glass/ carafe/ bottle).

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The flavour of this Iberico Bellota Ham (£14.50) – that’s the acorn fed stuff – was terrific and somehow it disappeared from the board awfully quickly. That said, I would have liked it to be better streaked with silky white fat; the fat is always so good!

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We ordered Baked Tetilla Cheese (£ 9) on our waiter’s recommendation, not least because he described it arriving to the table as a flaming spectacle. Any brandy had already burned off before it reached us but the dish was still a big hit. Thin, super-crunchy fried toasts were served alongside this hot pan of melted cheese adorned with soft and sweet roasted vegetables.

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I always consider Croquetas (£ 7) a great test of a tapas kitchen, and subconsciously hold them up to José Pizarro’s offering – José was chef-partner in Brindisa before he launched his own restaurant in 2011, and his croquetas are to die for. Well now I can confirm that chef Roberto’s are equally fantastic – filled with ham, chorizo and bacon studded into rich, soft bechamel and served piping hot.

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With a name that translates as secret, of course secreto Iberico is still referred to as the hidden cut of Iberico pork, its natural fattiness giving fantastic flavour. Secreto Iberico, Mojo Chips (£ 9.50) pairs strips of secreto simply grilled and served with paper-thin freshly-fried crisps dressed with a herby green mojo (sauce). Super, super tasty and I liked the choice of crisps over a more mundane side.

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It’s a rare skill to be able to cook ribeye steak so it’s properly pink inside but the fat has had enough time to render down to melty goo in places and lightly charred and crisp in others but that’s how it was in the Ribeye and foiegras (£ 14.95), and same goes for the foie gras; beautifully caramelised and almost liquid inside. No sides, just adorned with slivers of soft and sweet cooked onion. Amazing.

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Yes I was just being greedy when I ordered the Double Chocolate and Pistachio Cake (£ 5) but oh, it was worth it. On a layer of dense chocolate cake sits a huge pile of chocolate mousse, equally rich and made with decent dark chocolate. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s dressed not just with a tiny sprinkle of crushed-to-death pistachios, as is so often the reality of ‘pistachio’ desserts, but a fistful of quality green nuts that are perfect against the chocolate. Dessert, doce puntos!

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Pete enjoyed the Dulce de leche Cheesecake (£ 5.00) just as much, appreciative of the restrained sugar levels; much more appealing than the sickly sweetness that so often equates to dulce de leche desserts.

We’ve been fortunate to experience some wonderful meals out recently (and one much less satisfying one which I won’t be sharing with you here). Lobos provides yet another great choice in the area and has been added straight to the shortlist for places to visit when we head down to the food markets. We’ll definitely be returning for more of their tasty tapas menu.

Kavey Eats dined as guests of Lobos Meat & Tapas.

 

I know very little about Filipino food – the food of the Philippines – so I was intrigued by Luzon, a 3-month pop-up restaurant serving a modern take on Filipino cuisine. Named for one of the 7,107 islands that make up this island nation, it’s the first joint project of chef Rex De Guzman and entrepreneur Nadine Barcelona, both eager to popularise contemporary Filipino food in London.

Housed in Generator London – a funky, modern and welcoming hostel in Bloomsbury – Luzon is open for lunch and dinner on Thursdays and Fridays only, with three courses priced at £22 for lunch and £34 for dinner.

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De Guzman has taken the food of the Phillipines, a “culinary conglomeration of traditional cuisines like Malay and Chinese with bold influences of Spanish, the Middle East and the New World” and presented it with a modern twist; his plating more suited to fine dining than rustic home-cooking. I can’t comment on how true to Filipino cuisine the resulting dishes might be, having never tried traditional Filipino food, but I can tell you that every dish was beautifully presented, utterly delicious and a delightful blend of familiar and unfamiliar flavours.

A short wine and cocktail list is very affordable – wines are £3.50 to £4 a glass and cocktails are between £5 and £6.50. We enjoyed our Mango Mojito (£6.50) and Apple Virgin Mojito (£4.90).

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Neither of us could look past the Pork Tocino starter of 3-day marinated and pressed pork belly, spiced mango salsa, crackling and sweet tocino glaze. Tender pork with fat properly rendered into wibbly submission, sweet and fruity mango salsa, properly crunchy but not tooth-breaking crackling and fresh spring onion, all pulled together by the incredible sweet sharp glaze.

Other starters on the menu were the vegetarian Ensaladang Talong – aubergine salad – and Mackerel Kinilaw – fresh mackerel in a lime-chilli marinade.

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Chicken Adobo has seldom looked so good; I may not be hugely familiar with the taste but know that it’s usually a brown stew served family-style. Here, a leg of silky chicken on the bone and a tiny breaded drumstick was drenched in a glossy adobo sauce, which skilfully balanced soy sauce, vinegar and garlic. On the side, garlicky green beans partially hid smears of dark, heady and intense spiced coconut sauce. A fried slice of chayote – a gourd related to melons, cucumbers and squashes – finished the dish. Utterly delicious.

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I know we both had pork belly to start but we didn’t hesitate to order Pork BBQ as one of our shared mains. Two skewers of pork, this time with a little less fall-apart but just as well cooked, coated in another sticky glaze, these came with crunchy sweet sharp pickled vegetables known as papaya atchara. Like the chicken, these were served with a portion of steamed rice – both of us commented on how fragrant and tasty the rice was; you know it’s good when the rice raises an eyebrow for its flavour!

Two other mains were available, a Red Mullet Escabeche and Vegetable Laing – a stew of taro and tofu in a spiced coconut sauce.

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As with the mains, we shared our desserts, choosing two out of the three available.

Peanut butter ice cream with coconut tuile may not sound that exciting but it was beautifully made – firm but smooth and not overly sweet and wonderful against the crunch and toasted flavour of the coconut tuile and crumbs.

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Last but not least, a phenomenal Leche Flan – like a dense crème caramel – served with a mouth-puckering lime sorbet (which we virtually licked off the plate) and a cashew nut praline. Full as I was at the end of the meal, I could have eaten another one of these on the spot!

The third dessert available was Turon served with plantain spring rolls, salted caramel cream, plantain puree, pineapple and snapdragon.

The restaurant space at Generator London is fairly spacious, comfortable and well lit and with tables decently spaced out – not always the case in other pop-up venues where communal tables pack chairs in so tightly it’s almost impossible to get in or out let alone eat without squashing one’s bosoms with one’s elbows! Not an issue at Luzon, I’m happy to say.

For both my friend and I, our meal at Luzon has sparked an enthusiasm to find out more about Filipino cooking and flavours and we’re both keen to visit again next month when the menu changes, and perhaps again the month after that!

Kavey Eats dined as guests of Luzon restaurant.

 

Isn’t it wonderful when a restaurant meal utterly surpasses your expectations? That’s exactly what happened when Pete and I visited the Angel branch of Jamie’s Italian for a weekday evening meal.

I’ll put my hands up and confess – one reason it was able to do so was because I had relegated Jamie’s Italian to the ranks of a mainstream, mass-appeal chain; Bella Pasta with a celebrity face-mask if you will – so I was expecting dishes that were ‘decent’, ‘satisfactory’, ‘competent’, ‘good value’ rather than ‘superb’, ‘delightful’ and ‘damn tasty’. And Jamie’s Italian serves delicious food that is way better than chain-standardised menus, spaces and services often produce.

We decided to eat the Italian way: a light antipasto, then two pastas for our primo, followed by a shared secondo meat course served with contorno vegetable side dishes. We skipped fruit and cheese and finished with sweet dolce desserts and caffè in the form of coffee cocktails!

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Jamie’s Bruschetta (£5.50) was a lovely start. That creamy buffalo ricotta flecked with herbs was rich and fresh, perfect over crunchy toast. The garlicky tomatoes were cooked and perfectly tasty – and I do like roasted tomatoes, don’t get me wrong – but both of us agreed we’d prefer the fresher flavour of raw tomatoes here. The scattering of lemon zest added an appealing citrus note, lifting all the other flavours.

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I’m giggling as I write because the Three-Cheese Caramelle (£6.95 / 11.95), we ordered the small) was so very good it made us grin as we ate! Described as ‘beautiful filled pasta with ricotta, provolone, Bella Lodi & spinach, served with creamy tomato, garlic, basil & rosé wine sauce’ it had a lightness of texture and brightness of taste that was very unexpected for such a rustic dish. I could eat this every day and be happy.

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But hang on, Jamie’s Sausage Pappardelle (£7.45 / 12.25), we ordered the small) was also fantastic. In this ’ragù of slow-cooked fennel & free-range pork sausages with incredible Chianti, Parmesan & herby breadcrumbs’ everything was spot on from the chewy folds of pasta to the soft, meaty sausage, redolent with fennel seeds, to the light crunch of the crumb topping – this dish was full-on comfort. Perhaps I’d have the caramelle every day through summer and the pappardelle every day through winter?

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We were very relieved we’d opted to share our main when this enormous Turkey Milanese (£13.50) arrived. Of course, the turkey had been properly flattened before proscuitto and provolone were added and the whole lot was bread-crumbed and fried. Served topped with a fried egg and generous shavings of black summer truffle, it was wonderful – the truffle heady, earthy and decadent. I liked the lemon zest scattered over but Pete noted that, although he liked it too, it was a little overused across the menu, such that it made dishes that are actually very different taste a little samey.

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Our first side of Garlicky Green Beans (£3.50) would have been plenty on its own, and was a perfect side for the turkey. The spicy Sicilian tomato sauce, shavings of pecorini and slivers of fried garlic made a delicious dressing for beans that were perfectly cooked to retain a little crunch – I dislike beans served either over or undercooked.

The Royal Caprese Salad (£3.95) was also delicious, but oddly presented and not very well balanced. Half of the heritage tomatoes were roughly chopped but two enormous slices were left as unwieldy slabs on the plate. Against all that tomato was plenty of basil, some sharp salty capers and lots of olive oil but disappointingly little mozzarella; just one tiny ball broken into two pieces.

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Molten Chocolate Praline Pudding (£6.50) is listed on the menu as served with salted caramel ice cream, an accompaniment which swung my choice from the Epic Brownie in its direction, so I was disappointed to be told that the kitchen had run out of salted caramel ice cream only when the dish being served to the table with chocolate ice cream instead. I prefer being advised of changes as soon as the order has been handed to the kitchen, so I can switch to something else if the change is significant to me. Still, the pudding was very good – perfectly liquid within and soft and squidgy without; the dark chocolate and hazelnut combination a gratifyingly poshed-up take on Nutella.

Tiramisù (£5.95), described as ‘the classic Italian dessert topped with chocolate shavings & orange zest‘ wasn’t as classic as all that – the Cointreau-like orange flavour was all the way through rather than just in the scattering of zest over the top. That said, the texture was spot on, with lusciously liquid-laden sponge layered between light-as-air cream. The stick of cardboard stuck to the side, which we mistook for a chocolate decoration until bitten into, was a minor let-down.

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On arrival, I chose a Passion Fruit & Mango Smash (£7.95) – rum with passion fruit, mango juice, fresh lime, vanilla syrup and ginger beer; super sweet and way too easy to drink! Pete took advantage of the wide range of wines available by 500 ml carafe, enjoying his Montepulciano D’abruzzo Il Faggio (£16.05) throughout the meal.

After dessert we switched our usual coffees for some very tempting coffee cocktails, a Tiramisù Martini (£7.15) for me and an Espresso Martini (£7.50) for Pete. His was served with rather more froth than cocktail but the vodka, Kahlua and espresso combination was a hit. I judged my combination of Bacardi Gold, amaretto, Frangelico, Kahlua, espresso and double cream even better!

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Service was friendly and professional and, for the most part, pretty responsive; there were occasional moments where flagging a member of staff took a little longer than ideal – the place was busy and each waiter has a slew of tables to look after. But what I noticed much more is what came across as a genuine desire for customers to have a great experience, a willingness to give guidance on the menu and to steer customers according to their professed tastes. The usual checks that all is well after each course was served seemed less perfunctory than usual too.

The space is cavernous, which makes it a little noisier than ideal, but I know Pete and I are in the minority when it comes to our preferred balance between peaceful and buzzing. Seating isn’t hugely comfortable, though it’s far from the worse I’ve encountered. Hard seats are never as welcoming for a leisurely meal as padded ones!

On summer evenings, floor to ceiling windows let in lots of golden light, making it easy to imagine oneself in a bustling Italian trattoria.

The menu is prosaic – a solidly predictable offering of classic Italian cuisine – but the dishes themselves are anything but dull; deftly cooked with good quality ingredients that are a joy to the eye and an even bigger delight to eat. The food is pretty damn good here, and great value. I’m also comforted by the confidence that quality should be consistent across multiple visits – one of the unsung advantages of a well-managed chain, when they get the formula just right.

 

Kavey Eats dined as guests of Jamie’s Italian, Angel branch.

 

Rex and Mariano has been making quite an impression since it launched earlier this year. From the same group as famous steak restaurant Goodman and enormously successful proto-chain Burger & Lobster, the new fish and seafood restaurant is named for two key suppliers involved in the venture – Rex Goldsmith aka The Chelsea Fishmonger and Mariano, the semi-anonymous father of a Goodman employee, responsible for importing red prawns and other seafood from Sicily.

Key to the concept is serving seafood at accessible prices, certainly far lower than is the norm in Central London.

In a quiet pedestrian street that runs between Dean and Wardour, Rex and Mariano is already a Soho favourite, despite it’s tucked-away location.

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One innovation I thought I’d hate in fact worked very well; orders are placed directly by customers by way of an iPad, though a traditional printed menu is provided on arrival as well. The interface has been well designed – swipe sideways to page through the menu sections, touch a plus button to select an item, enter a quantity and tick to add to your order. An easy-to-find banner button allows you to call for assistance at any time, whether you have questions about the menu or simply need more cutlery. At any time, you can view your total bill thus far and you can review your current order before placing. It’s best to order a few dishes at a time, since most arrive very quickly indeed.

We had to laugh when, mere moments after discussing our greediness, we placed a second order only to be interrupted with a message that our order was “getting quite large” and we might like to send some through now and order more “in a bit”. We took heed and ensured each round was limited to three or four dishes.

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Most of the menu is, as you’d imagine, fish and seafood. But I am a sucker for good burrata not to mention good tomatoes. The burrata, smoked tomato, focaccia (£6) was superbly creamy, with just the right level of smoking to fresh, ripe tomatoes and the focaccia served simply to provide a crisp toast underneath.

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The raw fish page is split into Ceviche, Tartare and Carpaccio, each of which feature tuna and sea bass. Salmon and lobster also make an appearance. Our salmon carpaccio, olive oil, lemon, tomato and basil (£7.50) is fresh, simple and benefits from a light touch with the dressing.

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Lobster ceviche with coriander, fennel, yuzu, orange (£12) is very generous for the price. Large and juicy chunks of lobster meat and thin slices of crunchy fennel are deliciously dressed with coriander leaves and a yuzu orange dressing – both MiMi and I are big fans.

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Oh the red prawns from Sicily! Red prawns raw/ cooked, lemon, olive oil, salt (£10) – doesn’t that make you salivate? We might have ordered this dish twice. OK, fine, we did. And to be honest, we could probably have eaten a third plate quite happily had we not agreed to restrain ourselves just a tiny bit! Also available cooked, we opted for the raw option both times and were blown away by the sweet, sweet flavour – lovely against the slightly grassy olive oil.

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Clams, white wine, parsley, chilli (£7) were simply cooked and decent. If I’m not sounding excited, don’t take it as an indication that they were anything less than delicious – they just had a lot of strong competition! Perhaps a bowl of soft fresh bread to sop up the juices might be welcome with these.

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Sicilian Large Stripe Prawns, lemon, red chilli, parsley, olive oil (£14) were another favourite. Expensive for four prawns yes, though each one was pretty large. The tails were perfectly cooked to retain their juiciness and sucking out the heads of these beauties was an absolute must! We ordered this dish twice too and although the prawns were larger second time around, there was a dearth of the delicious sauce that drenched the first plate and added such excellent flavour.

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Fritto Misto, old bay, lemon aioli (£9) – oddly listed under the Grill section of the menu – was very good, as good as I’ve had in London. It suffered in comparison against the revelatory raw and cooked prawn dishes and that lobster ceviche but that’s probably a little unfair. Ours had plenty of squid rings and tentacles (I love the tentacles best), whitebait and white fish but only one solitary prawn on the entire plate.

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We probably shouldn’t have bothered with either the fried courgettes with aioli (£5) or the triple cooked chips (£4) though again, both were very good. Our focus was firmly on the fishy goodness and the vegetables didn’t get much of a look in.

For dessert we skipped the proffered lemon sorbet or chocolate mousse and went back to the raw red prawns and cooked red stripe prawns – a fitting end to a delicious meal.

The homemade Limoncello offered by the manager (after a minor mix up over leftovers) was a fitting finale, and vastly better than cheap commercial versions.

Service was friendly throughout; although the iPad ordering system reduces staff and customer interaction to an extent, staff are attentive and readily available should you need them. A nice touch is that service is added at only 5% – presumably staff can service a lot more tables when focusing on bringing out dishes and clearing away empties.

I mentioned at the start that Rex and Mariano offers seafood at accessible prices and that’s certainly true. That’s not to say this is a cheap restaurant, especially if you’re as greedy for great seafood as MiMi and I, but the quality of ingredients is superb and the prices for what you get are very reasonable. Our bill, with one soft drink each, was just shy of £50 each, though we could have knocked ten off that and still been satiated.

Thank you to MiMi Aye for additional images.

Rex & Mariano on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

 

I ought to write more about local restaurants, since we visit our favourites far more often than any in central London… and certainly more often than those in “upped and comed” areas of East London that are hip and happening but a pain in the arse to get to!

Sushimania is the latest new face in North Finchley; the fifth in a chain that also has outlets in Edgware, Golders Green, Brighton and Reading.

We’ve visited three weekends in a row.

We are very taken by the excellent cooking and half-price lunch deal, but consistently disappointed by lacklustre service.

Luckily, there’s not a huge amount of interaction required as an order slip and pen are provided and each item in the menu has a number to write into the boxes provided. I’ve only once resorted to taking my slip to the counter (table service is provided, if you can attract a member of staff). On subsequent visits we’ve taken to sitting right by the counter so that we can attract attention more readily. Staff do bring the dishes out in timely, if sometimes utterly disinterested, fashion. Occasionally they will stand in confusion holding a freshly cooked dish, unable to work out that clearing empty dishes first will allow them the space to serve new ones.

The half price menu applies to virtually the entire a la carte list  with the exception only of the sushi set platters; this brings the prices down to a pretty reasonable level –that said, I’d never visit in the evening as the full prices are steep. If you go, go for lunch!

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horenso no goma-ae and nasu dengaku

Appetisers is probably my favourite section of the menu. It includes Agedashi Tofu (£4.20 → £2.10), Horenso No Goma-Ae (spinach with roasted sesame dressing, £3.00 → £1.50), Chicken Gyoza (£4.60 → £2.30), Nasu Dengaku (aubergine with miso glaze, £5.00 → £2.50) and Tori Karaage (fried chicken, £4.20 → £2.10).

All of these have been consistently excellent every time we’ve visited.

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tuna tataki

Oddly, the next short and sweet section is called Starters. We certainly enjoyed the Tuna Tataki (£8.80 → £4.40), though I think it’s a little pricy compared to other dishes.

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tempura moriawase

Thus far we’ve skipped straight past the Salads section and on to Tempura. Both the Tempura Moriawase (2 king prawns, 2 fish and 4 vegetables, £8.80 → £4.40) and the Yasai Tempura (7 pieces of vegetables, £5.80 → £2.90) have been excellent – the batter is very light and crisp and the seafood and vegetables always perfectly cooked within.

Kushiyaki is another tasty selection with Yakitori (£3.60 → £1.80) and Gyu (£4.60 → £2.30) both basted in a tasty marinade.

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tempura phoenix roll futomaki

Sushi is divided into Nigiri (oblongs of rice with topping laid over) and Gunkan (battleship shaped nori wrapped sushi, often used for roe toppings), Hosomaki (small rolls with nori on the outside), Uramaki (medium sized rolls, usually with two or more fillings), Futomaki (larger rolls, usually with nori on the outside), Temaki and Sashimi.

We’ve ordered from all of these sections… so far we’ve tried Salmon Nigiri (2 pc, £3.20 → £1.60), Seabass Nigiri (2 pc, £3.80 → £1.90), Squid Nigiri Mackerel Nigiri (2 pc, £3.20 → £1.60), Egg Omelette Nigiri (2 pc, £3.00 → £1.50), Salmon Roe Gunkan (2 pc, £3.80 → £1.90), Spicy Tuna & Cucumber Uramaki (6 pc, £ 4.20 → £2.20), Crispy Duck & Cucumber Uramaki (6 pc, £ 4.00 → £2.00), Tempura Phoenix Roll Futomaki (salmon, tuna and cucumber futomaki that’s deep fried in tempura batter, 4 pc, £7.20 → £3.60), Spicy Tuna & Cucumber Temaki (1 pc, £4.00→ £2.00) and Salmon Sashimi (3 pc, £3.60 → £1.80)!

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various sushi, agedashi tofu, chicken gyoza, tori karaage, chicken teriyaki and garlic fried rice

We’ve not ordered a great deal from sections beyond. From Side Orders we liked the Garlic Fried Rice (£3.20 → £1.60) – this is also where you’ll find miso soup, stir-fried vegetables and mixed pickles.

From A La Carte we have tried only Chicken Teriyaki (£9.80 → £4.90) – great flavour and served with a lovely vegetable stir-fry but the chicken breast was a little dry for my liking.

Future visits beckon – I’m keen to try Sweet Black Cod (£14.80 → £7.40), Tonkatsu pork (£7.80 → £3.90), various soba and udon noodle dishes and ramen and rice bowls.

Perhaps service will improve. I certainly hope so as it’s the only black mark against an otherwise deliciously strong offering and a welcome addition to the area.

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In the last few years I’ve discovered that I have a taste for sake. I’ve learned the basics about how it’s made and the different types available, but haven’t sampled enough to get a handle on my preferences. There’s a very distinctive taste that most sakes have in common, despite their many differences and it’s a taste I like very much. But having one or two sakes in isolation once every few months serves only to let me choose my favourite between the two – such tastings are too few and far between for me to build up a coherent library of taste memories in my head, and thereby gain more confidence on choosing well in the future. One of the outstanding items on my Food & Drink To Do list is to immerse myself more fully in the world of sake and work out which styles, regions and even producers I love the most.

The Chisou restaurant group have been running a Sake Club for about a year now, a regular evening of tutored tastings with matched Japanese snacks provided. I’ve been meaning to attend since they launched, but have singularly failed.

What finally spurred me to action was actually a deviation from the norm – a special umeshu tasting.

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The tastings are held in a private room – in Chisou Knightsbridge this was the upstairs dining room – properly separated from regular diners. We shared a table with a couple who were also first timers to the Sake Club, Gareth and Nirvana, and had a lot of fun talking about food and drink, life in London and visiting Japan.

Chisou’s Marketing Manager Mark McCafferty hosted the evening and started by giving us an introduction to umeshu, though a printed crib sheet was also provided for each guest. He introduced each of the six drinks, and the snacks that were served with them, sharing tasting tips and notes throughout.

Although umeshu is usually described in English as plum wine, the ume fruit is not actually a plum; although nicknames include both Chinese Plum and Japanese Apricot, it’s a distinct species within the Prunus genus (which also includes plums and apricots); if a comparison is still needed, the ume is a stone fruit that is closer to the apricot than to the plum.

Why did Chisou decide to hold an umeshu night as part of their Sake Club series? Because umeshu is traditionally made using surplus sake or shōchū – a distilled spirit made from a variety of different carbohydrates – or to use up batches which have not turned out quite as planned. That said, as it’s popularity has increased, many breweries make umeshu as part of their standard product range, and some use high grade sake or shōchū and top quality ume fruit to do so.

The method is very straightforward and will be familiar to those who’ve made sloe gin or other fruit-based spirits – strawberry vodka, anyone? Whole ume fruit are steeped in alcohol – the longer the period, the more the fruit breaks down and its flavour leaches into the alcohol. Some umeshu is left to mature for years, allowing the almond-flavour of the stone to become more pronounced.

In many cases, additional sugar is added to the umeshu, to create a sweeter liqueur. Many households make their own umeshu when the ume fruit is in season, as it’s a very simple drink to make.

The whole fruits are often left in the umeshu – both in home made and commercial versions – and served alongside the drink. Take care, as the stone is still inside!

The welcome drink, as everyone settled in and we waited for a few late arrivals, was a Kir-style cocktail of prosecco and Hannari Kyo umeshu. With this we enjoyed orange-salted edamame beans and wasabi peas.

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Next, an Ozeki umeshu on the rocks served with a generous plate of pork scratchings with individual bowls of an umami-explosion shiitake mayonnaise. In Japan, the highest quality of fruit is often very expensive, and Mark explained that this particular brewery use top quality ume for their umeshu. For Pete, this was “reminiscent of a sherry” and Nirvana liked the “aftertaste of almond”. I loved this umeshu, one of my favourites of the evening.

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Third was a cloudy version – Morikawa umeshumade with a ginjo sake (using highly polished rice), so quite unusual. For me, this tasted stronger than the previous one, but in fact it was a slightly lower ABV – I think this may simply have been because more bitterness was evident in the taste. Mark suggested we should “warm it up like a mulled wine, to make the most of it’s spiciness”. Gareth particularly enjoyed the “mouthfeel” of this umeshu. Pete thought it would an amazing match with a cheese – a perfect replacement for port.

With this came a small skewer of smoked duck with apple cider, miso and fresh ginger, served theatrically beneath a smoke-filled dome. I could have eaten an entire plate of these, instead of just one!

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I was surprised how much I liked the fourth option, as I couldn’t imagine the combination on first reading the menu. The Tomio Uji Gyokuro umeshu combines traditional shade-grown green tea with umeshu to add a rich umami note to the finished product. Oxidisation means the drink is amber rather than green, but the meaty and medicinal notes are evidence of the presence of green tea.

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Next was a cocktail combining Hannari Kyo umeshu with Yamagata Masamune sake, lime juice and angostura bitters. I found this a too bitter and dry for my tastes, so asked if I could taste the Hannari Kyo umeshu on its own, as we’d only tried it with mixers thus far. It’s a lovely umeshu but couldn’t compete with the Ozeki umeshu or the Tomio Uji Gyokuro umeshu for me.

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Last, we were served a cup of good quality vanilla ice cream with warm Morikawa umeshu to pour over the top, affogato-style. As you’d imagine, the sweet and sour notes of the fruit liqueur really work well with cold vanilla ice cream, making it what Nirvana called “a very grown up ice cream”. As Mark commented, “warm it up and it really comes alive”.

Pete and I decided to stay on and order a few dishes from the food menu to soak up the alcohol before heading home, umeshu-happy.

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agedashi tofu, gyoza, pork with kimchi, chicken karaage

After such a great evening, we are keen to attend more Sake Club events. Umeshu night was very well priced at £40 per person and was a great learning experience, a fun social evening and very delicious. If you book Sake Club, do take care that you go the right location. The club is alternately held at different branches of the restaurant and it’s not uncommon for regulars to go to the wrong one, resulting in a mad dash across town.

Kavey Eats attended the Umeshu tasting as guests of Chisou Knightsbridge. The additional dishes pictured at the end were on our own tab.

 

There’s a lot to like about Northbank Restaurant, not least it’s superb location on the bank of the River Thames, steps away from St Paul’s and the Millennium Bridge and with a view across to the Tate Modern. The restaurant is spacious and elegant, tables are not too close together for a private conversation and the bar area has a very lovely outdoor terrace, though it was booked by a private party on the date of our visit.

The menu is “modern British”; the produce British too, with a preference for Cornish that befits owner Christian Butler’s home county. The kitchen is lead by head chef Jason Marchant, who shares Butler’s focus on supporting local British producers.

Window tables are in demand, though be warned that in winter you’ll feel the cold when tucked up against the huge sheets of glass. The outlook onto the river and central London skyline are gorgeous though, so wear your thermals and book for the view!

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Images by David Griffen Photography, courtesy of Northbank Restaurant

Marchant has just launched a tasting menu, 6 courses for £55 or 7 for £60, and plans to create a new menu every month. The dishes below are March’s offering, so keep an eye on the website to find out what’s to come.

There is currently no matching wine flight available which is I think is missing a trick, but Northbank’s wine list is very affordable – surprisingly so for central London – with many wines available by the glass. Pete enjoys a white Candidato from Viura, Spain and a red Mon Roc (merlot and cabernet blend) from France, both keenly priced at just £18 a bottle.

The soft drinks list is a let down, with a couple of juices and the regular sodas, it’s crying out for some extra effort. The manager was more than willing to create a non-alcoholic cocktail of my choosing, but I’d like to see non-alcohol drinkers given some attention on the drinks list, rather than leaving it to us to venture off-menu.

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First, an amuse bouche served in a little espresso cup – Carrot and Honey Soup with a drop of olive oil. This was a punchy little soup, packed full of flavour and very intense – perfect to wake up the palate, ready for the dishes to follow.

Bread, served warm, was uniformly soft with no crunch of a crust at all; oddly reminiscent of airline bread though not unpleasant.

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Truffle Chicken Tortellini with Spinach Purée and Truffle Cream was a mixed dish. There was really no texture of chicken detectable in the filling at all but the flavour of the filling was still good, as is was the rich truffle cream served alongside. I didn’t like the spinach puree (which you can just spot behind the tortellini, obscured by the pile of salad); indeed I felt its flavour clashed with the truffle and wondered if peppery watercress might fare better? For me frizzy pile of salad piled on top was not attractive, didn’t add at all to the eating experience and almost completely obscured the slices of truffle draped over the tortellini.

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From there on in, however, the meal was markedly better. Seared West Country Scallops with Burnt Leek, Celeriac, Sea Purslane was a super, stand out dish. I loved the brioche crumb with nori and capers, I loved the celeriac puree and I adored that charred burnt leek – and all of it went fabulously well with the scallops. I couldn’t pick up the taste of the sea purslane leaves, perhaps only one tiny leaf per scallop isn’t quite enough for the taste to come through? But this was a great dish.

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Next up was Rabbit Mulligatawny, another of our favourite dishes of the menu. This dish had a really robust flavour – beautifully tender rabbit (with none of the dryness that is common in rabbit dishes), cooked in a vibrant sauce with a touch of heat to it and garnished with crisp, deep-fried kale. Another really excellent dish.

Given how much of a flavour punch this packed, I think it may have worked better after rather than before the halibut, even given the meaty nature of that fish.

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Panfried halibut was served with mashed potato, charred kale and nasturtium leaves, with a dark red wine sauce. The fish itself was cooked beautifully, firm yet succulent and very fresh indeed. The charred kale was good with it, the flavour from the char adding a hint of bitterness. But the mash was unforgivably grainy and the sauce was oddly sweet and sour. Friends who dined here the night before us absolutely loved this dish but neither Pete nor I liked the sauce much at all and I’m wondering whether there was an inconsistency in flavours from one day to the next? A good dish, but not as strong for us as the two courses preceding.

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Roasted Rump of Cornish Lamb, Potato Terrine, Shallot Purée & Salt Baked Beetroot  was a generous plate of excellent quality lamb with a very subtly flavoured fruit bread crumb. The beetroot was super salty, but balanced by the sweetness of the shallot and that potato terrine was a thing of beauty! A good solid dish.

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For dessert there’s a choice of two, so we each chose one and shared both. First up the Lemon Meringue Plate, a deconstruction that worked well enough with lemon curd, lemon sorbet, meringue and a sprinkle of crumble. Good clean flavours and textures, this worked well.

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The menu listed this as Cocoa and Chocolate, though we were told on serving that it was a chocolate and hazelnut praline dish. The mousse was excellent in texture and taste, with a really rich dark chocolate flavour that is often missing from restaurant chocolate desserts. The chocolate crumb around had shards of hazelnut brittle, more caramel than hazelnut but still added a nice crunch.

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We were told this West Country Cheese Board (£5 supplement) was a serving for one, but it was such a generous portion, plenty for two after the previous courses. Featuring Yarg, Golden Cross Goat, Devon Blue and Stinking Bishop; the only weak cheese for me was the Devon Blue which I found bitter and rather lacking in complexity of flavour; the others were perfectly tasty cheeses. The fig chutney was a perfect blend of sweet, savoury and spicy. Toasts (the same fruit bread that featured in the lamb dish) and crackers were decent. Fresh apple was crisp and sweet. But the grapes were far too ripe, so squishy it was hard to pull them from the stem.

The main negative for me about Northbank Restaurant is how dark it is. Really dark. Dark enough that we were not the only guests using mobile phones as torches in order to read the menu; as far as I’m concerned, that low a level of lighting is better suited to a nightclub than a restaurant and a step too far in the name of moody and atmospheric. If you’re thinking that my images don’t look that dark, be aware that I’ve pulled the exposure significantly in processing – the reason for the level of noise grain in the images. Call me old-fashioned but I really like to be able to see what I’m eating!

Despite my little nit-picks, the meal overall was very enjoyable and the £55/£60 price point is excellent value given the location and quality of ingredients.  I think Marchant’s tasting menu is definitely one to keep an eye on, and shall certainly look out for his new menu each month.

Kavey Eats dined as guests of Northbank Restaurant.

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You may also enjoy reviews by Cooksister Jeanne and Hot & Chilli Rosana, who visited the night before we did.

 

In a quiet road in the heart of Fitzrovia, Le Menar offers a modern approach to North African and Middle Eastern cuisine. The menu, developed by head chef Vernon Samuels, is predominantly Moroccan with a few Lebanese contributions and is so full of temptations that another visit is definitely on the cards to try the dishes we didn’t have space for this time around! Vernon’s twists include the skilful introduction of European ingredients and techniques plus a modern presentation style.

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Inside, the decor is traditional and customers can choose from regular tables towards the front or a colourful cushioned seating area at the back, which is altogether cosier.

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Sugared mixed nuts and plump green olives in a spicy paste are served with the menus.

The drinks list is a little disappointing – only two Moroccan wines (one of which is rather expensive) and no Lebanese ones at all, though there are some affordable French choices. Likewise a lack of Moroccan or Lebanese beers and a dull soft drinks list are equally disappointing. The drinks offering could certainly do with some of the creativity and love that’s been given to the food menu.

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Struggling to select from the Starters, our waiter suggests we take the Mezze for 2 (£18), a selection of eight mezze, selected by the chef. These are small portions, as promised, and served with warmed flatbread. Hummus is full of flavour, simple but tasty. Herb-packed Tabbouleh is fresh, though a touch lemony for me, Pete likes it more. Baby Okra Salad is always a hard sell to two okra haters but is well cooked and balanced with pomegranate seeds. Home made Falafel are crisp and light. Moussaka (not to be confused with the layered Greek version but the looser stewed style) is beautifully cooked and delicious. Moutabal (also known as baba ghanouj) is superbly smoky, silky and so good I could eat it every day. Mini Kibbeh (the Lebanese torpedos of minced lamb and bulgar wheat) are spot on though I’d like a little more of the smoked chilli jam they are served with. Neatly wrapped Waraq Enab – vine leaves with a tomato and rice stuffing – are improved by not being served fridge cold, as is often the case.

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Between two, you don’t need an additional starter, but we were so keen to try it that we squeezed in this Za’atar Burrata (£8), a fantastic fusion dish of creamy burrata, several different heirloom tomatoes (all perfectly ripe and full of flavour), fresh basil leaves, crunchy shards of baked flatbread (in the fattoush style), a light smattering of za’atar on the burrata (could have taken a touch more) and a fantastic dressing (which Vernon coyly revealed to feature merlot vinegar and pomegranate molasses at its base), sprinkled with citrusy sumac. I absolutely adored this dish!

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It was hard to choose from the main dishes too with tagines, slow cooked dishes and items from the grill competing for attention.

The Moroccan Style Sea Bass (£16) with rose harissa, za’atar, spinach, datterini tomatoes and kataifi wafers was our first choice. Isn’t the presentation beautiful, with the fish curving around the tomatoes and wearing that jaunty kataifi hat? The fish was perfectly cooked and it worked well with the selected vegetables and flavours. The cous cous served alongside was completely plain, I’d have liked a little flavoured sauce to mix into it, as there wasn’t much spare with the fish.

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Our other main dish was a neck fillet Lamb Tagine (£16.50), slow cooked until falling apart to the touch, the spices robust but allowing the high quality lamb to shine. Served with crispy potatoes, its cooking liquid as a gravy and a garnish of fried baby aubergine, this was another true winner of a dish!

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Were strawberries in season, these Mini Bingnes (£6) with rosewater, strawberries, lime, mascarpone cream and pistachio dust would probably have been wonderful. As it is, they were let down by seriously under ripe fruit, hard and sharp and lacking in strawberry flavour.

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Deep Fried Vanilla Ice Cream (£8.50) served with butterscotch Medjool dates was pretty good. The salted caramel sauce over the dates was perfect, though I’d have liked a little more of it, and of course, the dates were gorgeous. The Madagascan vanilla ice cream was good quality, no complaints on that front. The sole (and not very serious) issue was that crispy shell around the ice cream was so thick that it evidently needed quite some time to cook through and brown which meant that the ice cream inside was rather more melted than ideal. It was all delicious though, that crusty shell included.

We really enjoyed the food at Le Menar – the flavours are true to Morocco and Lebanon, British and European ingredients are used to good effect, the fusion touches are well judged and presentation is beautiful. Prices are reasonable for the central London location.

A little more attention to the drinks menu, bringing it up to the standard of the food offering, would be a welcome improvement, but even without that, this North African restaurant is well worth a visit.

Kavey Eats dined as guests of Le Menar.

Le Menar on Urbanspoon
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In just a few short years supper clubs have increased in number from a mere handful across the whole of London to many more than I can keep track of; every week I hear excited talk about another one that sounds well worth a visit. The range available is enormous, and I think it’s a particularly great way to try home style cooking from other cuisines.

Prices now are higher than they were just a few years ago, and you can expect to pay anything from £25-50 per person. Of course, like regular restaurants, supper clubs vary enormously in quality and price – some are a little stingy on portions and seem very overpriced for what you get; others are so fantastic you want to shout about them from the rooftops. It’s worth doing your research, and reading reviews to make sure you book the best ones.

Recently, I attended a supper club that has been at the top of my wishlist for quite some time – Jason Ng’s Peranakan Palace. After a sabbatical of several months, Jason announced a date to celebrate Chinese New Year and I jumped on four tickets faster than you could say Peranakan Palace! With three friends in tow, I made my way to Jason’s East London and was happy to discover that I already knew 4 of the other 7 guests attending.

If you’re considering booking your first supper club, however, don’t let that put you off. You absolutely don’t need to know the other guests or the host beforehand – part of the fun is getting to know everyone during the course of your meal.

The communal seating around a large table in Jason’s living room made the experience much more like a sociable dinner party than a meal out in a restaurant and those of us who hadn’t met before were quickly chatting away, united by our shared joy in Jason’s cooking.

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Jason and menu; decorative corner – image courtesy of Jason Ng feasttotheworld

Jason introduced the meal by explaining the origins of Peranakan cuisine – Peranakan Chinese is a Malaysian term used for descendants of the Chinese who emigrated to the Malay Archipelago in the 15th, 16th and 17th century. Peranakan cuisine combines Chinese methods, ingredients and dishes with Malaysian spices, a true fusion of two culinary traditions. I asked Jason if this was like Nyonya food, which I’ve tried only a few times and he explained that the terms Peranakan and Baba-Nyonya are often used interchangeably; these terms are honorific titles – baba means man (or grandfather) and nyonya means woman (or grandmother) – and the food is often labelled as Nyonya cuisine because it is traditionally cooked by the women. So his food should rightfully be called Baba rather than Nyonya cuisine!

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Photo collage courtesy of Insatiable Eater

Over the next two hours, Jason bought out dish after dish, generously piled with tasty treats. Seconds (and thirds) of beef rendang, pork belly and herbed rice were offered, delivered and devoured before desserts were brought out, and a bowl full of mandarin oranges offered, for good fortune.

Each dish was introduced as it was served and a few tips gleaned about secret ingredients and techniques for some of the dishes; a few Jason kept close to his chest! You can find several of his recipes on his blog, Feast To The World.

Not pictured

  • Achar (Nyonya vegetable pickles with fragrant spice paste)
  • Sambal Belacan (super fiery chilli and shrimp paste sauce)

Top row, left to right

  • Kueh Pie Tee (crispy ‘Top Hats’ pastries filled with vegetables)
  • Nasi Ulam (Nyonya Aromatic Herbed Rice)
  • Jason’s signature 16 Hours Slow Braised Ox Cheek Rendang

Middle row, left to right

  • Itek Sio (Nyonya braised duck with tamarind and coriander)
  • Babi Pongteh (Nyonya braised pork belly with fermented bean paste)
  • Chai Buey (Nyonya tangy mustard greens stew)

Bottom left to right

  • Pineapple Tarts
  • Kueh Bingka (flourless tapioca cake)
  • Kueh Dadar (pandan pancakes with coconut and gula melaka filling)

Everything was utterly, utterly fabulous and at £35 a head, this feast couldn’t be beaten for value either.

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Feasting guests – image courtesy of Jason Ng PeranakanPalace

Keep an eye on the Peranakan Palace page on Edible Experiences or email to sign up to Jason’s newsletter to receive alerts of new dates.

Read more about Chinese New Year At The Peranakan Palace on Edible Experiences

 

London’s dining scene is constantly evolving, with new restaurants opening every month to compete with old favourites. I love the way I can travel the world without leaving home, courtesy of  the culinary multiculturalism that thrives here in the capital. Pachamama, which opened in September, draws on the cuisine of Peru for inspiration, combining classic Peruvian flavours and techniques with British produce and a few modern European touches.

The entirety of the restaurant is in a spacious basement setting, so there is no natural light, but an attractive and welcoming space has been created by combining modern furniture (made by British craftsmen) with reclaimed antiques and a bright colour palette.

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The cocktail menu is a good place to start and of course, the classic Pisco Sour is featured, along with several other pisco-based cocktails. I tried the Regent’s Park – two types of rum, chestnut syrup,hazelnut liqueur, lime, orange – which was a cracker, and generous on the alcohol measures too. To my surprise, the flavours really did transport me to Central and South America too! Later we had a Rosa del Inca – pisco infused with pink peppercorns and coffee beans with vermouth, Campari and orange bitters – and a Dulce de Chasca – dulce de leche, rum, pisco and vanilla syrup, but holding the chocolate bitters with which they usually finish it. There are beers and wines too, for those who would like.

A small plates menu is designed for sharing, though go hungry – we chose 2 snacks plus 6 sharing plates and were absolutely stuffed even before dessert arrived.

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From the snacks section, tequeños (£3.50) – small pastries filled with smoked cheddar and feta – were gorgeous; light, crispy and served hot from the fryer with a yellow chilli sauce.

Salt & aji squid (£4.50) was the main disappointment of the meal, its texture chewy like the frozen squid you get at a cheap pub chain. The spicing on the surface was good, and the aji pepper mayo with it too, but the squid so poor it was left uneaten.

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The first of our non-snack dishes to arrive was Cornish sea bass, samphire and tiger’s milk (£9). Lots of beautifully fresh fish was mixed with samphire, red onion, coriander, salsify, sweet potato, plantain, french radishes and chilli and dressed in a citrus marinade – this mixed with the juices that come out of the fish, is what’s known as leche de tigre, or tiger’s milk. That list of ingredients sounds a little random and confused but actually, this dish came together very well indeed.

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Next to arrive was quinoa, avocado and granny smith (£8), the dish that has finally sold me on quinoa. Alongside the headline ingredients were tomato, coriander, red onion, cubed fresh fig and something with some crunch – finely diced cucumber or green pepper. In what quickly became the word of the day, we both marvelled at how beautifully balanced this was, and agreed that, for a dish that sounds so simple, it was actually one of the stars of the show.

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Also from the Soil section and another highlight of the meal was fried aubergine, smoked yoghurt and pecan (£8). It’s a cliché to use the word silky about aubergine flesh, but truly, it’s the word that jumped to mind – it was just so beautifully cooked – and even with the fairly strong sauce, the flavour of the aubergine was not lost. The smoked yoghurt echoed the smoky aubergine and oh my, the umami of that brown sauce – we were told it included dashi, soy and crème de aji along with a blend of spices. All that with the crunch of crumbled pecans too.

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The two meat courses came next. First to arrive was this crispy lamb belly with green miso (£9), soft and meaty batons of lamb with crisp fat and a deep sheep taste, I’d almost have thought mutton except that they had the tenderness of lamb. Underneath a green sauce packed with fresh herbs, miso and the kick of chilli, a perfect balance to the fatty meat. Dressed with micro leaves and French radish, this was another hit.

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Pete was a bigger fan of the ‘Duck on Rice’ (£13) than me. Those quotation marks are directly from the menu by the way, and I’ve no idea why this one dish is singled out that way when nothing else is, especially as it is indeed duck on rice, and not another meat or grain masquerading as such. In any case, the duck comes two ways, a cube of confit and pink slices of breast. These are both fine but the divider was that rice – I found it horribly stodgy with an overwhelming raw cumin taste but Pete said it grew on him as he ate it. For me, this didn’t merit being one of the most expensive dishes on the menu.

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Last to be served was Cornish crab, saffron dashi, purple potato (£10) which included more of the beautiful fresh samphire we enjoyed in the sea bass ceviche. I loved the saffron dashi, thin and with some spicy oil added too. The crab, a fairly generous dollop of white crab meat, was full of crab flavour, even drenched in the punchy juice. The purple potato was a little bland, though that made it a perfect partner to the crab. This was a good one to end on for the savoury courses.

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We found the dessert list a little limiting; with just four items listed, two featured passion fruit and the other two featured chocolate. Since Pete isn’t a fan of passion fruit and we were sharing everything we ordered, our two desserts were both chocolate based.

First up, the aji truffles (£1.50). The two truffles that arrived were almost as big as hen eggs – we both agreed that four or five smaller truffles would have been far more inviting, not to mention easier to eat. Sadly, these lacked a rich cocoa hit, though perhaps that’s a feature of Peruvian chocolate tastes, I don’t know. The aji also seemed to be unevenly distributed – with my first bite I couldn’t detect it at all, in the second it gave me quite a surprise.

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I’m not often a fan of deconstructed desserts – they so rarely match the pleasure of the original constructed kind – so I was a little disappointed when our order of torta de chocolate, toasted quinoa ice cream (£6.50) turned out to be a plate of crumbled ingredients with a (pretty) quenelle of ice cream on top. The balance between the chocolate and the crumble wasn’t right, with far too much of the former resulting in way too little chocolate mousse – it didn’t help that the chocolate was quite insipid; a darker chocolate might have punched through all the crunchy cereal. The ice cream was smooth, well made and quite subtle in flavour – served with an actual slice of chocolate tart, it would be the perfect foil. It’s not that I didn’t like this dish, rather that I felt it could be so much better. Pete’s description of this one made me smile: “it’s like they melted a mars bar and upended a pack of dried roasted peanuts over it, not that that’s a bad thing, I’m quite liking it…

As you can see, the stars of the show were the six dishes we ordered from the land, sea and soil menu sections – meat, fish and vegetables in regular speech. The two vegetable dishes really wowed us,  perhaps because we’re unaccustomed to being so bowled over by these kinds of dishes, the two seafood dishes were also superb, as was that crispy lamb belly. Spicing, sauces and dressings were well judged and the prices seemed very fair for the portions served.

Next time, I’d probably skip the desserts and focus on the savouries; for me, these and the cocktails are where Pachamama really shines.

Kavey Eats dined as guests of Pachamama London.

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