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A NY'er in London - Calling all Anglophiles

r
rushbikes Jan 10, 2012 09:05 AM

I've been to London several times a year for the past 7 or 8 years and, as a NY'er, still can't shake the impression that, with the exception of curry, it's nearly impossible to find an awesome meal at a reasonable price. There are no Momofuku's, no Fatty's, no Torrrisi's. Or are there?

Hit me with your best shot. I want your best London hidden gems, from a New Yorker's perspective.

  1. j
    JFores Jan 12, 2012 05:04 AM

    What are you really looking for? I'm a lifelong Brooklynite who has been in the UK for a bit now. I've eaten at 3 of the Momofukus (Ko, Ssam and Noodle) and I only really have two comments regarding them in relation to London. Firstly, that you can get similar extortionately overpriced "pan-Asian" fusion food with good ingredients (though it won't grab up perfectly normal Korean and Chinese dishes and remarket them as something new and exciting as much over here; that's Momofuku specific) and secondly that you would be better served playing to a city's strengths.

    London is like New York. Price and quality are very much a matter of how far you're willing to travel sometimes. East and South London can provide you with "ethnic" meals for the same price as NYC. North London also benefits from its own amazing ethnic enclaves including a vast stretch that may as well be part of Istanbul's Fatih district (right down to the enormous Kurdish population as well.) Regional Chinese cuisine is consistently more expensive here, but South Asian and other things are far cheaper. I'll toss out some places that I think are better than NYC equivalents or that are unavailable in NYC.

    Thattukada - There are plenty of posts on this place. It's an excellent Keralan canteen of sorts. It's cheaper than any equivalent Keralan restaurant in NYC and it blows Kerala Kitchen and 5-Star Thattukada out of the water. Great food, great prices and lovely staff. It's a bit of a trek though as it's in East Ham, but I find that NYers generally have a much higher tolerance for travel times (it used to take me 1.5 hours to get to high school and people here are shocked when I say it takes me 40 minutes to get to uni. 40 minutes is too short! When am I supposed to get my reading done?)

    For Neapolitan pizza (akin to what you'd get at Roberta's but better) I think it would be worth checking out Franco Manca in Brixton. Their pies are undoubtedly better than those at the closest comparison I can think of, Roberta's. Very good ingredients (especially the sausages) and dough better than almost anywhere in NYC. If this place was in NYC it'd be a top 5 pizzeria. Going there also places you in one of London's great food gems, Brixton Market. Brixton Market and Brixton Village used to be a very good market for normal groceries with a few solid "ethnic eateries." In three years it's begun to resemble Bushwick a bit faster than I'd like, but Brixton Village currently exists in a pristine state of food heaven (though the queau in front of St Peter is getting insanely long. Publicity turned it from a bit of a Chowhound secret into a mob scene. Still, Khaosarn and Casa Sibella are both very good amongst others.) There's a huge thread on this.

    Iranian! There's practically none in NYC! Hit up Mohsen if you can. Again, lots of posts and much better than any equivalents in NYC.

    Often posted on as well, Deptford High St and its vicinity are home to the best Vietnamese restaurants I've ever eaten at. Admittedly I haven't hit up Paris or California, but this scene was largely discovered by a Californian poster who had very high opinions of everything he's had. Some good places include Le Gia and Chung Viet.

    Silk Road in Camberwell is by no means the easiest place to get to, but it serves better Xinjiang style Chinese food than you'd generally find in Xinjiang itself (ok that's a bit of a stretch, but their lamb dumplings are better than any equivalent I had there. Amazing big plate chicken! Lots of posting on this as well. NYC has a pretty decent Uighur restaurant called Cafe Kashkar in Brighton Beach, but it doesn't come close to this place. This one is Han Chinese run, but Cafe Kashkar's Uighur staff lived in Uzbekistan for most of their lives and it seriously influenced the menu and the cooking.

    I think that NYC (basically because of Astoria) does Arab snacks, sandwiches (shawarma and such), etc much better than London these days, but London seriously wins out for more sit down style Lebanese food. If you can do it, I would point you towards Chez Marcelle on a Friday for lunch. Avoid grilled items and concentrate on meze and the homestyle casserole-like dishes.

    A general list without elaborations should also include Needoo, Paktoonkhwa Restaurant, Green St in general, No 10 Chinese Restaurant (Sichuan, but superior to most Flushing places), Golden Day used to be the best Hunan food I've had out of China but it's been years, Tasty Jerk (trek, but amazing), Mamuska, Turkish along Green Lanes including Antepliller and others (far better than any NYC equivalent and something I should've written about more above, but lots of posts exist) and Indian Zing for Marathi.

    Everything limster added is amazing, though Las Americas' and El Rancho's Colombian fare is super easy to find all over Queens.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JFores
      b
      bodessa Jan 16, 2012 12:08 PM

      Boom! It's a limster/JFores double bill of delights.

      rushbikes, thanks for the original question - this page is totally getting bookmarked. Really not sure whether to add to what other, better chowhounders have said, and I still don't know what a reasonable price is, but Magdalen and Brawn are two favourites and I'm not rich, so I guess they might fall into that category...

    2. limster Jan 11, 2012 03:01 PM

      Trinity (bonus: no markup for many higher end bottles and wines by the glass, only VAT and corkage which can mean "savings" of up to a couple £100)

      Sedap for the Penang Nyona dishes under the curries section

      Jin Kichi for torikawa and generally excellent yakitori

      Bull and Last, Koya and Hix Soho but these 3 are not hidden gems by any means

      El Rancho de Lalo in Brixton Village for chicarron

      Las American just outside Brixton Village for bunuelos

      Kaosarn in Brixton Village for central Thai (outstanding when the chef is cooking, probably best strategy now is to book a table and have them do a custom menu like we did for a chowdown). There's plenty of great Issan styled Thai in NYC, will skip those.

      Tsuru for scotch egg Japanese curry rice

      Pizarro as mentioned below for lamb and secreto (a prized cut of Iberico pork)

      Ishbilla for the breads and Lebanese mezze

      Kateh for fesenjen made with duck

      Mohsen for the mixed grill (incredible saffron flavoured lamb)

      Wright Bros as Simon mentioned above, for Cornish crab

      Barraco for moqueca and salgadinhos

      The Britainnia (in Borough) for >100 single malts

      1. greedygirl Jan 11, 2012 12:44 PM

        For Italian, I rate Zucca on Bermondsey Street. You could also try Jose or Pizarro's on that street (both Spanish) - haven't been but they are rated by ace hound limster.

        For a hip, fun and cheap eating experience, you could try Brixton Village. There's a massive thread on here for it and a ton of different eating options.

        1 Reply
        1. re: greedygirl
          limster Jan 11, 2012 01:55 PM

          Thanks for your kind words -- I've been going to Pizarro more these days, as the chef (Jose Pizzaro) has been cooking there.

        2. s
          StayThirsty Jan 11, 2012 10:56 AM

          I too would endorse St John...also, give Hix a try.

          If you like the vibe at Balthazar or Pastis, you will enjoy the Wolseley.

          If you are looking to get your carnivore on and want something similar to a NY steakhouse, I suggest Hawksmoor.

          Finally, if you find yourself craving a burger Bar Buloud fits the bill and will also make you feel a little bit like being at Daniel.

          1. buttertart Jan 11, 2012 10:32 AM

            I very much enjoyed the two lunches we had at Hibiscus, and at now GBP 42.00 per person including a glass of wine, coffee, and mignardises, the price is in line with comparable restaurants in NY (if offered a tasting menu at Hibiscus or one at Per Se, I'd go for Hibiscus).
            Also enjoyed the Harwood Arms (gastropub, lots of game in the winter, it seems), Hereford Road (straightforward new English cooking), and Bentley's for seafood (oysters and Dover sole, oh boy).
            None of these seemed out of line in terms of price with comparable places in NY, and the quality of the food is as good or better.

            8 Replies
            1. re: buttertart
              Spiritchaser Jan 11, 2012 11:20 AM

              Hibiscus was one of the biggest let downs I have ever experienced, food was good (nothing more than that) but the staff was so unbeleiveably stiff it took a lot of fun out of the evening. And IMO, Hibiscus isn't even close to being in the same orbit as Per Se.

              1. re: Spiritchaser
                k
                KateBChi Jan 11, 2012 12:42 PM

                Sorry about your experience. My dinner there last June was excellent. We started with a ravioli of spring onion and lime with broad bean and mint puree which was absolutely delicious. I had an equally excellent main of sea trout confit with different artichoke preparations (a barigoule and a puree with mustard) and my SO had a smoked and roasted chicken with a melty onion "fondue". My dessert was a millefeuille pastry with pistachios and cherries. I can't remember what my SO got but he was quite happy. The service was quite good, not stiff and I would go back in a second.

                I can't rate Per Se over Hibiscus as my SO would rather slit pluck out his eyes than spend hours over a grand tasting menu so we've never been either there or Alinia (which is less than a mile from my home in Chicago!) but I have been to The French Laundry & Bouchon and own all of Keller's cookbooks and have cooked from all extensively. Hibiscus did not suffer by comparison in my estimation.

                Other notable experiences from last June included one I picked for primarily architectural reasons but was quite happy with the food. This was the gloriously refurbished Gilbert Scott at the Saint Pancras Station Hotel. While most of my attention was spent staring at the room I managed to find time to eat a very tasty artichoke tart with a fennel and artichoke salad. My SO was enraptured by his lobster salad starter and gave it an A+. My main was a very good lamb with minted yogurt sauce and mixed spring peas and fava beans. I don't know what he ordered for his main but in a rare moment he ordered dessert, "Mrs. Beeson's snow balls" which were merinque shaped like a snowball, stuffed with soft toffee and topped with a creamy caramel sauce and toffeed peanuts. It made my teeth hurt just looking at it but he ate every bite.

                Other notable eats were dinner at Bocca di Lupo which was within walking distance of our hotel. I had a pristine and delicious starter of "crude di mare" which consisted of sea bream, red prawn and it-could-have-been-still-alive scallop with a lovely rosemary oil. I don't recall my main but my SO loved his pasta amatriciana.

                I also had a very fine lunch at Inigo restaurant in our hotel. After slogging in heavy rain through the Tower of London, cold and with aching feet I plopped into the restaurant badly in need of a restorative. I got it in the form of an oxtail laden consomme with fresh herbs, dumplings and spring vegetables. This was unbelievably good! I have been experimenting ever since making oxtail broth and working on the dumplings and I think I am very close albeit (with different seasonal approaches) to making a great one! My main was light and very good a lemon liguine with lemon butter, peas, herbs and parmesan. Simple and perfect.

                1. re: Spiritchaser
                  limster Jan 11, 2012 03:03 PM

                  Hibicus was ok for what I had (great starter, ok main course, good dessert at lunch), but in terms of technique and labour intensive cooking it's certainly nowhere near the French Laundry (haven't been to Per Se).

                  As to whether one is more delicious than the other (which is obviously unrelated to technique/refinement/labour), I would certainly say that I enjoyed my meal at FL more.

                  1. re: limster
                    scoopG Jan 11, 2012 05:21 PM

                    Limster, IMO, having been to both, the French Laundry = Per Se. Only difference is the setting...

                    1. re: limster
                      k
                      KateBChi Jan 12, 2012 02:22 AM

                      Fair enough. I have only been to either only once and may have hit the best night ever for Hibiscus. That's the inherent problem and advantage of these kind of boards. Sometimes a reporter on these boards is a habitue and sometimes merely a dilettante. I am probably the latter even if I like to view myself as a Henry Adams type (for Brits not reading American English literature this refers to "The Education Of...") dilettante :-). I love the food prepared by Thomas Keller and adore his generosity in sharing how he makes food taste so great in his cookbooks. I have spent many, many hours following Keller's advice and recipes to excellent results.. I don't know of a Hibiscus cookbook but I do know that I had a great meal there last June....Just saying... :-)
                      Kate

                    2. re: Spiritchaser
                      zuriga1 Jan 11, 2012 10:57 PM

                      I haven't been to Hibiscus but will stick up for you and say it's very difficult to pass the meal at Per Se or French Laundry. I was at the latter last April, and the meal was amazingly wonderful.

                      1. re: zuriga1
                        buttertart Jan 12, 2012 09:57 AM

                        To each his own, ratio prix/qualité Hibiscus beats Per Se in my opinion, which is solely based on two lunches at Hibiscus. That's not to say I didn't love the two dinners I had at Per Se, but at this point I would prefer to try a Hibiscus tasting on for size. Myself. As would my husband, also present on all occasions.
                        The atmosphere also reminds me of Three Small Rooms in the Toronto of yore, which adds to my enjoyment.

                        1. re: buttertart
                          h
                          Harters Jan 12, 2012 10:28 AM

                          On all three occasions that we've eaten at Hibiscus (two in London, one in Ludlow), the menu that has most appealed has been the "Taste of.....whatever season of the year"

                  2. s
                    Simon Jan 11, 2012 10:06 AM

                    hi rushbikes...i've a New Yorker, but i was living/traveling overseas for most of the last four years, including 4 months in London...a friend of mine here in NYC recently asked me for London recs/impressions for her vacation and this is what i wrote her (long):

                    <<There were various things i loved and other things i really hated about London, but i was very impressed (and surprised) by how good a lot of the food was and i dined ridiculously well for the few months i lived there.

                    A lot of your choices are going to depend on where you are staying/roaming, but here are some of my London favorites that are scattered all over town:

                    -- St. John -- the original one on St. John Street, or the second one “St. John Bread and Wine” in Spitalfields...the original is a loft-like space that holds a high-end/difficult-reservation dining room (wonderful if you want to have a special upscale dinner) and also a more pub-like area w/ a limited but still very tasty menu (fun vibe too, and if you ask nicely they sometimes will serve you items from main menu if they have enough to spare). St.John is prob my fav restaurant in London...St John Bread and Wine is sort of a middle ground between the pub and the main dining room of the original, and is excellent too...think dishes like: snails&greens on homemade warm brown bread, rustic hams, venison w/ berries, rabbit w/ chestnuts, watercress soup, craft ales, etc...foodwise dinner at St. John feels like a cross between a 19th century version of a luxurious Xmas meal and a feast transported to modern London from some inn in Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings...

                    -- Borough Market/Wright Bros...Borough Market is a fun area sort of behind and east of the Tate Modern, selling cheeses, breads, Spanish sandwiches, Thai curries, and home to the original Wright Brothers seafood restaurant which has some of the best oysters in town (awesome place)...

                    -- Durbar...my fav Indian...moderate/nice-inside, in Notting Hill/Westbourne Grove on Hereford Rd...

                    -- Sedap...not a must or anything, but if you happen to be in Clerkenwell area and craving casual Malaysian, it’s quite good...

                    -- Thai 101...this is likely a schlep to get to, depending on where you are staying because there isn’t much sightseeing-wise nearby, but if you are in Knightsbridge/S.Kensington it’s not too far by tube (it’s in Hammersmith area)...but it’s possibly the best Thai restaurant outside of Thailand...wonderful steamed fish, somdam, laabs, etc...Thais pronounce it “Thai Roi-Et” (101 in Thai)...

                    -- Bocca de Lupo...always crowded, fun Italian place on a small street in the southern part of Soho...large and yummy menu, fun to dine at the open kitchen counter...

                    -- Barrafina...i’d put this one near the top of your list...tapas in Soho, no reservations, always a long line but well worth it...casual/counter-only place...

                    -- Cambio de Tercio...high-end Spanish place in S.Kensington...very romantic in a lush easy-going Spanish way...one of the best wine lists anywhere in the world...charming staff...dark, sultry, luscious...

                    -- Randall and Aubin...fun oysters/upscale-British-diner-food in the southeast part of Soho...they (used to?) have an absurdly cheap oysters&champagne deal at certain hours of the day...this was one of my fav first date places, as the food is fun (oysters! champagne! seafood and chips! big salads w/ crabmeat!)...i’d put this one near the top of the list too...

                    -- The Cow...wonderful gastropub in north part of Westbourne Grove/Notting Hill area...fireplace, seafood chowder, fine ales, more oysters, roast game, pies...

                    -- Great Queen Street...gastropub food but more restaurant-like/upscale than The Cow, and located very centrally between Holborn and Covent Garden...

                    -- Vietnamese food...lots of places in the greater Hoxton/Shoreditch area...i used to go to Viet Grill on Kingsland Rd, but others like Cay Tre on Old St (same owners)...

                    -- if you are craving a LA kind of experience in London, the bar at the Charlotte St Hotel serves very good food (and feels pretty much exactly like a London version of Beverly Hills Hotel)...

                    -- Dumplings’ Legend...soup dumplings (w/ crab roe!) in Chinatown...good bitter melon too...nice-ish (for Chinatown) inside...

                    Some general London food thoughts...

                    -- while there is so much wonderful food in London, it takes some planning...it’s not like Paris where you can wing it and just wander into random cafes and be served amazing duck confit or, worst case scenario, a perfectly decent omelette...using that impromptu strategy in London can have disastrous results, as the random cafe/pub you enter has a good chance of serving you frozen/defrosted tv-dinner-type food or brown lettuce topped w/ old shrimp in pink mayonnaise...i’d recommend at least having a few places in mind as options when you head out into diff neighborhoods (i.e. “we’ll be in Notting Hill today, so we could go to Durbar if we feel like Indian or The Cow if we want a cozy gastropub”...

                    -- for upscale places like St. John or Cambio de Tercio, definitely reserve in advance, but for most of the other places i listed walk-ins are fine as long as you don’t mind hanging out at the bar a bit...

                    -- in general, London has great: Gastropubs, Farm-to-Table British Food, Spanish/tapas...Vietnamese is pretty good, better than NYC...i think Chinese and Italian are so-so/spotty (w/ the exception of some dimsum and that Bocca de Lupo)...and Japanese is generally mediocre at best, so i’d avoid Japanese and non-dimsum Chinese, and w/ Paris so close by Eurostar, no reason to eat French food in London either...>>

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Simon
                      limster Jan 11, 2012 03:02 PM

                      For even better Vietnamese food, Deptford high street is the place to go. About 10mins train ride from London Bridge.

                      re: Japanese - on the one hand I haven't found generally outstanding sushi, but on the other, the local mackerel here is outstanding, and places that take advantage of that will have saba that generally a cut above many of the ones I've tried in the US. Tajima Tei, a salaryman hangout, is one example of great saba; they may also have the osaka styled pressed sushi.

                      1. re: limster
                        s
                        Simon Jan 11, 2012 04:51 PM

                        i agree Tajima Tei is a decent place, and i do like Sakana-Tei (near Picadilly/Bond St)...though i wouldn't rec either for a New Yorker visiting, as NYC has vastly better Japanese options...

                        1. re: Simon
                          limster Jan 11, 2012 04:58 PM

                          Not recommending Tajima Tei per se on this instance, but recommending saba in London which I find superior to the ones I've had in the US. Tajima Tei is just one of the many places that serve a good instance of saba.

                          Another example would be the shisomaki at Tosa due to the high quality of local pork.

                          1. re: limster
                            s
                            Simon Jan 11, 2012 05:13 PM

                            Understood :)

                    2. g
                      Gordito Jan 11, 2012 09:04 AM

                      I like NY too, and have a fine time eating whenever I visit. I tell people who are visiting that it is a lot easier to find very good Indian and Turkish food in London than it is almost anywhere in the US. It's not just quality and volume, but regional variety.

                      1. n
                        Nancy S. Jan 11, 2012 06:34 AM

                        As a fellow NYer, I'll recommend my favorites: The Ledbury, Roganic, The Bull & Last, The Harwood Arms, J. Sheekey, The Square, Hedone, Texture. If any of these were in New York City, I would be thrilled.

                        1. h
                          Harters Jan 10, 2012 01:31 PM

                          "it's nearly impossible to find an awesome meal at a reasonable price"

                          It's nearly impossible to answer without knowing what the OP views as reasonable price. What might be unreasonable to an American might be very reasonable to a Briton. That said, I accept that there is "London pricing" in restaurants and then there is the rest of the UK which is generally more reasonably priced.

                          I'm also never quite sure what is meant by "awesome" - I don't think it translates too easily into British English.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Harters
                            r
                            rushbikes Jan 10, 2012 02:54 PM

                            This seems to happen a lot... While I didn't label the post with a specific price, nor details of what I consider an awesome meal, I think a societal convention has been established within NYC foodie circles that converges to an approximate norm defining both "reasonably priced" and an "awesome meal." And even if there weren't an approximate norm for their definitions, I'd still be interested in hearing individuals interpretation of what an awesome meal at a reasonable price is. Makes for a nice cross-section. Wouldn't you say? The responses so far seem to be pretty spot on for what I'm looking for.

                            Awesome = Ace or Excellent (for the purpose of this post)

                            1. re: rushbikes
                              h
                              Harters Jan 11, 2012 02:43 AM

                              On the basis of "excellent" (thanks for the translation), I'll toss in Rules for traditional British and Moti Mahal for Indian. Perhaps my two favourite upscale places in London

                              With some hesitation, I'll also throw in Hibiscus. We've had two meals there since it moved to the capital. Both were good; one was excellent.

                              I'm afraid I'm not able to discuss the price point with you except to say that I find all three places to be reasonably priced for their delivery - I have insufficient detailed knowledge of reasonable prices in NYC, based on two trips there, to have the conversation - except that I find NYC to be expensive in comparision with other American places I've visited over the last 30 years, in the same way I find London to be generally more expensive than the rest of the country.

                          2. Matt H Jan 10, 2012 11:42 AM

                            I am not a current NY'er (lived there in the past) but why don't you go the Gastropub route?

                            Places like Bull and Last; Harwood Arms; Great Queen Street and Anchor and Hope should fit the bill.

                            1. g
                              gort Jan 10, 2012 10:31 AM

                              Friends of mine have been raving about Brawn.

                              12 Replies
                              1. re: gort
                                j
                                jonkyo Jan 10, 2012 11:07 AM

                                Two dimensions of the eating universe in my two that come to mind.

                                Friers Delight on Theobald. Beats the Frozen Fish used at pubs fsh and chips, and quite good.

                                Kikuchi in Hanway Street near Center Point and the famed Spanish bar. Amazing sushi sashimi and more with the owner always behind the sushi bar. Always a great time and awesome food。

                                There is Wagamama so th Mofumofu you miss from here has its kind in London.

                                1. re: jonkyo
                                  m
                                  medgirl Jan 11, 2012 08:15 AM

                                  Wagamama is NOTHING like Momofuku. Wagamama is a mediocre chain of restaurants selling 'oriental' food. No London chowhound worth their 'hound' status would eat at a Wagamama's.

                                  1. re: medgirl
                                    j
                                    JFores Jan 12, 2012 04:33 AM

                                    Thank you.

                                    1. re: medgirl
                                      j
                                      jonkyo Jan 12, 2012 03:20 PM

                                      I avoided it outright, but just one time, ate there, due to curiosity and just one of those things when you keep passing by a place and you have already made conclusions without even stepping in, and you decide to punish yourself with a meal due to feeling guilty and sorry for the establishment that you have condemned it.

                                      And in the end the punishment was extreme, and you feel vindicated that your condemnation was correct.

                                      1. re: jonkyo
                                        scoopG Jan 12, 2012 05:13 PM

                                        That's not what you said in your OP:

                                        "There is Wagamama so th Mofumofu you miss from here has its kind in London."

                                        1. re: scoopG
                                          PhilD Jan 13, 2012 03:45 PM

                                          Unless he has a smilar opinion about Mofumofu (or does he really mean Momofuku?)

                                      2. re: medgirl
                                        klyeoh Jan 14, 2012 12:57 PM

                                        Has Wagamama sunk that low?! Granted that I hadn't stepped into one since Dublin in 2004, I still remembered the time when Wagamama was the go-to place in London. Back in 1994 when Alan Yau (who later started, then also sold, Hakkasan & Yauatcha) ran the place, we queued for an hour (even once on a Wed evening near midnight!) just to snare a couple of seats at one of its canteen-style communal tables. Everything about Wagamama was inventive & "cool" in those days - the handheld wireless devices the waiters used to take our orders, the communal tables, waiters scribbling our orders on our paper placemats, the high-quality pseudo-Japanese noodle dishes which came in huge bowls, and the presence of A-list celebrities there. I went to the original Wagamama countless times then, seen people like Hugh Grant, Elle MacPherson, Sam Neill, Tara MacDonald, etc. Oh well, I guess Wagamama post-Alan Yau is a totally different bowl of noodle now.

                                        1. re: klyeoh
                                          g
                                          gemuse Jan 14, 2012 05:18 PM

                                          Klyeoh, Wagamama is now a global chain, with all the trappings of a franchise run by a bunch of MBA's (people once thought Hard Rock Cafe was pretty cool too). Even 5-6 years ago, it was already in decline, quality-wise. I would only recommend Wagamama to two sets of people: families with small kids and people who who have never had japanese food and need a user-friendly gateway experience to introduce them to ramen and soba. I think anyone who recommends Wagamama on a forum like Chowhound probably hasn't been there since 1994, when they were actually introducing a new menu and palate to western diners.

                                          1. re: gemuse
                                            klyeoh Jan 14, 2012 09:20 PM

                                            I know *exactly* what you meant, especially with regards to the MBA-run thang :-D Reminded me of a business trip I made to Phoenix, Arizona, a while back. One of my new Singaporean staff who accompanied me on this trip was all excited about trying Benihana as he'd used it as a case study of a successful restaurant chain for his MBA project (we don't have Benihanas in Singapore, so most of us haven't eaten in one) - so we traipsed into the Scottsdale outlet one evening. Oh Gawd, we experienced like the worst Japanese we'd ever had in living memory. My poor dumbfounded young staff realised then that good MBA case study did *not* equate good taste.

                                            1. re: klyeoh
                                              g
                                              gemuse Jan 14, 2012 09:50 PM

                                              Heh. I'd love to see that Behihana case study. Restaurants never seem to fare well in the long term when they fall into corporate hands. While there's nothing wrong with bringing some good business acumen to the enterprise, they tend to lose the thing that made them special in the first place.

                                    2. re: gort
                                      g
                                      gort Jan 10, 2012 12:30 PM

                                      Another thing just came to mind, although it's definitely NOT trendy a la your Torrisi's, Momos, etc: Turkish food in Green Lanes.

                                      1. re: gort
                                        ttoommyy Jan 14, 2012 03:04 PM

                                        Brawn is amazing! Im a NYer that just spent five nights in London and i have to say it is better than any place of its kind that i have been to in NY. In fact, i might say it is the best meal I've had in all of 2011 ( even though i had it in 2012).

                                      2. Spiritchaser Jan 10, 2012 10:25 AM

                                        This should probably be on the UK board but until it gets the boot I will second peter j with the St John's recommendation. Nose to tail eating that doesn't come CLOSE to breaking the bank (it doesn't even chip the bank). Eat at St John's and you'll be coming back to NYC saying: "Why are there no restaurants like St John's in NYC". And I'll head off the attacks by saying, "No, the spotted pig is not St John's equal".

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Spiritchaser
                                          p
                                          peter j Jan 10, 2012 10:31 AM

                                          >>>Eat at St John's and you'll be coming back to NYC saying: "Why are there no restaurants like St John's in NYC". And I'll head off the attacks by saying, "No, the spotted pig is not St John's equal".<<<

                                          Exactly. And neither is The Breslin (though I like both). And I'm still looking for treacle sponge in NYC that's as good as Simpson's.

                                        2. p
                                          peter j Jan 10, 2012 09:18 AM

                                          Some favorites:

                                          St. John - modern British cuisine
                                          http://www.stjohnrestaurant.com/

                                          Simpson's in the Strand - traditional British cuisine
                                          http://www.simpsonsinthestrand.co.uk/

                                          Fortnum and Mason - prepared food
                                          http://www.fortnumandmason.com/

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