Somewhere you go to again and again (London)
Whether this means that I am lazy or unadventurous, I do not know, but I find myself eating at the same places virtually every week and then fitting other newer places around those favourites.
Hardly a week goes by, for instance, when I do not pay a visit to The Lahore or Tayyabs. Then I have to have my fix of Turkish Kebabs for which I will travel up Kingsland Road and perhaps as far as Stoke Newington. I also eat at least once a week in the local Vietnamese places.
Does your eating follow a similar pattern? Are there places that you have on weekly rotation?
I find in London that I eat out locally (ie walking distance from home or office) 80% of the time as the city is not the cheapest or fastest to navigate. Though I was much more adventurous prior to our daughter being born 15 months ago. That said I/we still eat out a few times a week.
In the last few months I've been frequenting the Oak (wifes fave at the mo), Lucky 7, all the Mexicans in NH, E&O, Thai Rice, Saki, Inaho, Mediterraneo and sister Italians on Ken Park, Vinoteca and Hawksmoor.
You can probably figure out where I work and live. We go out of our way probably once/twice a month. Would love to add a good chinese to my routine but have found nothing good in walking or delivery distance.
I think it's nice to have regular places. I find myself going back to Vinoteca, Pham Sushi, the Prince Bonaparte, my local Indian place and Raoul's time after time. It doesn't help my food blog out but for the sake of convenience and certain tried and tested dishes that you just crave it can't be helped.
Fernandez & Wells in Soho. Not weekly, but at least once a month.
Also, on Brick Lane on Sundays, there are these Japanese ladies who do chicken katsu for 4 quid. I usually get that at least once a month too. (It's not a storefront...on Sundays, they are just south of the entrance to the Sunday Upmarket on Brick Lane.)
It goes without saying that I practically live at Thattukada, but I also go to Italia Uno, Franco Manca, and Gram Bangla very regularly. While Gram Bangla has fallen into a distant fourth among them (only because I live, work, and study so far away from it this year), I still get in at least one visit a month. I try to do Franco Manca every Tuesday when I do my shopping in Brixton and I'm at Italia Uno almost daily (whether its just for coffee or its actually for the whole sandwich, drink, dessert thing.) I've been doing Thattukada religiously though with as many as 3 trips a week. Mixing it up with cooking has actually LOWERED the amount I spend per week on groceries (some of the stuff is that cheap. The veg thali fills me to the rims for 3.80 and comes with unlimited refills of pretty much everything. Or at least it does for me.)
Where do you go to for Turkish kebabs these days? Testi? Your meat destinations post was excellent. Oh yeah, I also end up at either Kebabish on Green St or Beigel Bake on Brick Lane after midnight at least twice a month. Hell, more.
Cyprus Mangal at 45 Warwick in Pimlico is a great Turkish place that is cheap and the food is fresh and delicious.
Also in Pimlico on Tachbrook is Gastronomica which is an Italian casual place for a coffee, meal or to buy cheese, meat and wine. Very cool place.
I'm looking for a great Indian place in that neighborhood that is reasonably priced. Millbank Spice is horrible.
I've tried the roti canai - good roti / sauce ok but could do with more spice.
The hainanese chicken rice is really good with nice thickened soy and chilli and garlic dips - chicken not too scraggy and on the bone - very nice - good chickeny rice and nice broth.
The noodles are good too if a tad too normal - soya seems to be the main flavour.
BTW, I've been to Malaysian Kopi Tiam a couple more times. Thought the nasi lemak was too one dimensional, lacked the coconut fragrance in the rice. Other components, such as the chilli, achar, ikan bilis (fried anchovies with peanuts) and chicken curry were pretty good.
Also had the bak kut teh, a broth with simmered pork ribs and various herbs, which I quite liked, even if it wasn't as robust as some of the versions back home. reasonable flavour in the broth, an ok amount of pork ribs, along with pork belly slices and intestines, shiitake mushrooms and importantly, pieces of you tiao (fried crullers) for dipping into the broth. Also liked the fact that they automatically brought some soy sauce with sliced chilli, which is de rigeur for this dish. Wished that the soy sauce was of the darker more intense variety, but perhaps that's a quibble.
Keep looking, purplishrose. I've been visiting London every year for the past 30 years, but have never found a S'pore/M'sian culinary nirvana yet. The closest to authentic Malay food I've found was in a low-brow canteen at Malaysian Students Dept (Malaysia Hall) in Bryanston Sq back in the 1970s/80s - you can check out their new location in 30-34 Queensborough Terrace, Bayswater. Haven't been to their new place, but I can guarantee you a real 100% authentic Malay meal, the cooks are always "makciks" flown over by the Malaysian Govt.
Singapore Garden was fabulous for their Hainanese chicken rice (especially in the mid-90s), although I haven't gone back for ages & don't think they served bak-kut-teh which you seeked anyway. Maybe you should touch bases with Maureen Suan-Neo, the very friendly Singaporean Nyonya-Chinese lady who runs Singapura in Blackfriars and ASAP in Holborn (she also authored the Secrets of Singapore-Nyonya Cookbook), to see if she'll put bak-kut-teh on her menu.
Bistrotheque in East London - great local (for me at least) restaurant - consistently good food with charming service and buzzy atmosphere - love it for brunch. Their steak tartare and bloody marys are the best!
Also Anatolia on Mare St for kebabs (lamb shish in a roll with garlic sauce).
Used to go to Canteen in Spitalfields a lot but have found it to be really disappointing the last few visits so it's off my list now.
I don't follow a pattern I just go by ear really. The restaurants I always go to are:
Barrafina, in Soho whenever I want some excellent spanish food, they never disappoint and is always worth the long wait.
Gaucho, picadilly circus. Where else can you have mouth watering melting steak?
Mangosteen, carnaby street. Consistent quality always, inexpensive and full of flavour. Delightful.
Leon, oxford circus. Healthy fast food, although they deleted some dishes for their new winter menu which were firm favorites, what a pity. Not good for desserts, though.
Royal China, Baker Street. Just really really really high standard chinese food.
Villandry, great portland street, for brunch. I always go for their cheese burger. Yum.
Busaba Thai, the best branch is the one near Tottenham court road. I always always order their thai calamari, and pandan chicken. Absolutely fab. Don't go to the one near selfridges, the quality has been dropping for a couple months now, and portions seem to be getting smaller.
I've been going to Bar Du Marché on Berwick Street for steak frites for at least ten years. I went there on my first date with Mr GG and it's his favourite place - but more often than not he takes other people there as I want to try new places!
There's a new Italian place called St Francis near where I live in Brixton/Herne Hill which I've been to three times already and intend to go often. It's cheap and the standard of cooking is excellent, so I want to support them. They also give us free things, which is nice!
Also my local gastropub, the Prince Albert and Franco Manca in Brixton for pizza. Khan's on Brixton Water Lane for curry.
China town has a lot of rubbishy restaurants.
An excellent choice - and pretty much the only one I will go to is the
Address: 22 Wardour Street, W1V 3HD
Like other Chinese restaurants they have a Chinese menu as well as an English menu. The Chinese menu has the more interesting, authentic and cheaper dishes. I have as yet been unable to decipher it - I usually just point to what the other Chinese people are eating - and have never been disappointed. The quality is fantastic at any time of day or night. I often call in here at 3am post club!
The thing I always have is the BBQ pork and Crispy pork with rice (Char Siu and Siu Yo). Its not on the menu - just ask or it. The contrast between the crispy salty pork and the sweetish bbq pork as well as the rice is fantastic. I have yet to taste better.
I try new places all the time, but the failsafes for me are:
- Assa on St Giles High St for the marinated beef/pork and kimchi stew (hotpot) - pretty much what everyone else orders when there and is perfect for cold winter nights!
- Song Que on Kingsland Rd for rare beef pho. I've eaten at most Vietnamese places around London and this is truly one of the best. I also rated Cafe East's, but that's too far out for me to go to.
- HK Diner on Wardour St, for the roast duck hor fun. The duck is always pretty flavoursome, and really hits the spot.
- Rosa's near Brick Lane for Thai food. Love the curries (though suspect they use bicarb/soda water to tenderise the meat), the lamb satays are phenomenal and the som tham incredibly moreish.
- Busaba Eathai for the thom kha kai noodles... I always try to order something else but always go back to that. Love the galangal-fragrant coconut broth and tender chicken with the smokiness from the grill.
- Barrafina, hands down some of the best tapas and most consistently excellent restaurant in London. Grilled quail with aioli, lamb cutlets, tortilla and pimientos de padrons are my must-orders, with a chilled glass of fino or manzanilla sherry.
- Da Mario's on Endell St for an excellent seafood linguine and generous servings of prosciutto crudo with melon.
- Tomoe on Marylebone Lane for their maguro yamakake (raw tuna with grated mountain yam - yamaimo) - sadly portions have become smaller and prices have gone up, but I love that they serve yamaimo at all.
- Hazuki on Chandos Place or Yoisho on Goodge St for my ultimate vice, chicken karaage. Both places do perfectly marinated chicken with delightfully crisp exteriors. Yum.
Places I regularly go:
Hung's on Wardour St, for ngau lam ho fun in soup, or crispy belly pork and king prawn dumplings in noodle soup.
Masala Zone, for a decent thali.
Hawksmoor; their steaks are so good.
Tayabbs - their lamb chops are worth the queue.
Ten Ten Tei for sushi and sashimi
Jerk City, especially when hungover / just been paid.
Atari-Ya - recently discovered, will be back regularly though.
The Peninsula Restaurant in the Holiday Inn, North Greenwich - we go at least once every two months for dim sum brunches.
Always find myself going back to Paddyfield and getting amazing takeaway curry from the Holy Cow in Balham.
In Brixton am now hooked on Wild Caper (http://tinyurl.com/6n7u5o) and Franco Manca whenever I have the day off in Brixton during the week. I love Wild Caper's chunky pork and fennel sausages.
Also, have found that I am now a regular of Wahaca - great for having a casual dinner with friends you've not seen for ages or from out of town.
In terms of bars, there's one that used to be called LowLife on Paddington St / Baker Street that is now called This is a Bar. It's brilliant, especially when James is behind the bar.
The Golden Hind is a regular for fish on Fridays. It's brilliant. Especially with their BYO policy. Although we've recently started going to Tomoe for a healthier option.
And lastly in terms of sandwich shops, you'll have to go a long way to find a better regular sandwich shop than the Chiltern Rooms in Marylebone. Top place.