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What should I eat in London that I cannot get in LA?

Hey all, I'm coming from Los Angeles--wondering what the heck I should eat in London that I cannot get in LA.

LA does Mexican and almost all east/southeast Asian cuisines really well so I'm gonna stay away from those cuisines in London.

Any suggestions?

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    1. re: steve h.

      Do they raise the ducks/geese or import from France and other places. Heading to Prague in a few days and I can tell from searches that it's easily found there. Yippee :)

      1. re: c oliver

        Hi c,

        The foie I've sampled has been imported from France.

        I'm looking forward to your report on Prague. Deb and I fly out to Napoli in a few days.

        Be good.

        1. re: steve h.

          Have fun, s. I grabbed a res at Sansho after you and others recommended it.

        2. re: c oliver

          The UK imports it's Foie Gras as I think the production isn't legal. In Eastern Europe I believe they produce their own, I spent a lot of time visiting Hungary and locally produced Foie Gras was always on menus (good with Tokay).

          1. re: PhilD

            Goody gumdrops :) We'll be in Budapest also!

            1. re: c oliver

              They "get" liver in Budapest. They also make some really decent wines. Go to the wine kitchen (Borkonyha) for a lunch. Have fun. Maybe visit a second time if it meets expectations.

              1. re: steve h.

                LOL. Have a res for there. Maybe THAT was the one you mentioned.

        3. re: steve h.

          Ahh, didn't even think about foie gras.

          1. Spanish and Lebanese food here can be very good. My brother lives south of L.A. and I can't remember ever seeing a non-Mexican but true Spanish restaurant anywhere, but maybe there are some in L.A. proper.

            3 Replies
            1. re: zuriga1

              Ahh, Spanish sounds great. You're right, while there are a few in LA proper, there aren't many and they generally aren't excellent. Any specific places you really like?

              1. re: set0312

                I really like Jose Pizzaro's places. "Pizzaro" is his restaurant and "Jose" is a tiny, but fantastic,Tapas and Sherry bar.


            2. Some of our favorites from our last couple visits have been Anchor and Hope for British pub food, Barrafina for tapas almost as good as Cal Pep, Koya for great Udon noodles and Nopi (from Ottolenghi team) for middle-eastern small plates. We are staying in Shoreditch this May and have reserved at St. John's Bread and Wine and probably go to Dishoom our 2nd night. London does great Indian food. It's hard to beat the international breadth of LA food, but London does a good job. I live in Santa Barbara, so also, stay away from Mexican food in Europe.

              1 Reply
              1. re: macdog

                Thanks for the suggestions. Nopi sounds great--will definitely check that out.

                And so does Barrafina.

              2. How's the Singapore/Malaysian stuff in LA? I've never really encountered much of it on my trips there. Some of the specific dishes here at certain places are comparable to their counterparts in Singapore. Try Tukdin and Sedap; the latter has Penang style Nyona dishes which are a sub-genre unto itself.

                Try Lahore Nihari (Pakistani), Truly Indian (Punjabi), Hyderabadi Spice (Hyderabadi), Chennai Dosa (Tamil).

                Toasted in East Dulwich is worth the trip for a modern European food in a small plate format; lovely selection of eclectic wines.

                1 Reply
                1. re: limster

                  Come to think of it, there actually isn't too much singaporean/malaysian. Especially compared to how many thai and vietnamese spots there are. Sedap looks fantastic.

                  Toasted sounds wonderful too.

                2. Scottish beef; English lamb/mutton.

                    1. re: kagemusha49

                      never had whitebait before. heck, didn't know about it. looks really good. easy to come across?

                      1. re: set0312

                        Fairly easy. Whitebait is a little like smelt. There is an excellent lunchtime only fish bar near the monument called Sweetings that definitely has it. Then there's a chain of fish places called Live Bait that I'm fairly sure has it. Lots of other places I'm sure.

                    2. PROPER doughnuts. Marmalade. Full English breakfast.
                      Excellent lamb (though autumn is better than spring).

                      Hard for those of us who haven't been to LA to know what you don't get, apart from the cuisines you mention. Seasons?

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: J Sheridan

                        Quite a lot of marmalade in the States is imported from England.. very easy to find. Is there something different about English donuts as opposed to good ones in America?Full English breakfast - now that's something else.

                        1. re: zuriga1

                          An English doughnut is bready rather than cakey. It typically does not have a hole and is sprinkled with granulated sugar rather than glazed. Also, is usually has a little jam in its center.

                          1. re: kagemusha49

                            There are lots of places in America that make the kind of doughnut you describe. Not everything there is Krispy Kreme or Dunkin' Donuts. It's not ever a good idea to generalize about such a large country. :-)

                        1. re: kagemusha49

                          There is an excellent pie and mash place on Tower Bridge road - it is called Manzi and the layout harks back to Victorian times. On the Whelks and cockles - they are often served in vinegar but whelks especially are delicious fresh boiled - if you ever make it to France and get fruits de mer the whelks are called bulots.

                        2. Jamaican?

                          I stumbled upon a place in Inglewood which was alright, but it's hardly ubiquitous in LA.

                          1. Kippers! Smoked herring. You can buy them canned or in bags (not brilliant) but if you buy them from a fresh fish counter they can be marvellous, smoky but sweet, lovely for breakfast. Waitrose does very good kippers from Craster in NE England. They are an oily fish and therefore good for you, but they do have a downside - they can make everything rather kippery, like your dishwasher.

                            Cuisines I'd suggest, apart from the ubiquitous Indian, would be Turkish. N E London in particular has many good Turkish restaurants, and I'd also suggest Persian/Iranian.

                            1. Surprising that Indian food has gone virtually unmentioned in the replies so far. Indian food is very widely available in London and can be quite excellent.

                              There must be hundreds of such restaurants covering the whole gamut of cuisines from the Indian sub-continent. Prices tend to the low side, sometimes very low. Quality can be hugely variable and here you will need to dig deeper to get good recommendations.

                              But, for sure, I would not leave London without trying Indian at least once.

                              12 Replies
                              1. re: ChaihanaJoe

                                The poster asked for food that he could not get in LA and most respondents have tried to reply with that in mind. I'm not familiar with the Indian food scene in LA but, like the rest of the USA, it must be vastly better than it was 40 years ago. That's why I've suggested whitebait, pie and mash and whelks. Likewise I've avoided mentioning the excellent fish restaurant Geales which is close to Notting Hill Gate tube . . . until now.

                                1. re: kagemusha49

                                  Every large (and maybe small, too) city in the States now has Indian food. I've had it quite a few times, and never once did I have a meal as good as we can get here in London. I fail to understand this, but it's happened. The one exception is a place called Shamiyana outside Seattle.

                                  1. re: kagemusha49

                                    kagemusha, to criticise anyone else's recommendations was the very last thing I had in mind. Nevertheless, I think it is fair to say that there is a world of difference between the Indian restaurant experience in the US and that in certain parts of the UK, especially London.

                                    1. re: ChaihanaJoe

                                      All I'm saying is that Indian food in the USA is much better than it used to be. Given that LA is a foodie city I expect that Indian food is at least as good there as it is in NY or Houston. So the original poster can get good Indian food back in LA. Can he get good kippers - no - not fresh. Whitebait - no. Pie and mash-no. Can he get a BETTER Indian meal in London - almost certainly - but noone has posted a suggestion - and there are plenty of indifferent Indian restos in London too

                                      1. re: kagemusha49

                                        Actually you can get everything in LA, probably one of the most international cities in the world. Driving through LA is like taking a trip around the world. And I even found a place that has pie and mash (probably not as good as getting it in England).

                                        1. re: macdog

                                          That is probably true and thus it becomes more about the execution rather than the availability.

                                          I am certain there are English Pubs in LA but they are facsimiles of the real things and may try to emulate UK gastro pub food but it's still worth trying the real things at places like the Bull & Last or the Harwood Arms (lots of other recs on the board).

                                          British beer and cider. I know the US is having a beer revolution but don't overlook UK cask conditioned beer. The UK also has a craft beer movement but many are bottled so seek out those "on tap" and cask conditioned - the Cask Beer Company in Leather Lane has a good selection, and accompany it with a Pork Pie.

                                          Traditional English foods are really with trying, Rules, Simpsons, Sweetings, Corrigans (which is newish) etc are all good options - the best are formal, stuffy and traditional. Drink Claret not beer (after all Bordeaux was once ruled by England). For modern British St John and it's acolytes are great, and you will get a lot on pubs as well, head for the different cuts of meat and offal.

                                          Likewise with Indian, it's definitely worth checking out the more modern Indians in London which are moving the food experience forward. At the other end the more "real" regional places are worth a shot, but avoid the high street curry houses (like Brick Lane) which sit between these extremes.

                                          Cheese: head to Neil's Yard Dairy to try British cheese. Most cheese shops have broad selections including French, Italian etc. But Neal's Yard focuses on British cheese.

                                          1. re: PhilD

                                            Glad you mentioned St. John's, we have reservations at Bread and Wine in May. Close to where we are staying in Shoreditch and we will have just gotten off a flight from LAX. Still good, I hope.

                                            1. re: macdog

                                              Then you must get the eccles cake and cheese for dessert. Cheese and fruit cakes are and old English tradition. We would always have a piece of cheese with our Christmas Cake when I was growing up in Yorkshire.

                                          2. re: macdog

                                            You're right about being able to get just about *anything* in Los Angeles - I had some of the best Thai outside Thailand, and incredibly authentic Indonesian outside Indonesia, in Rowland Heights and Hacienda Heights. The Taiwanese spots there are not too bad, too.

                                            As for Indian food, just head down to Artesia, where the main street, Pioneer Boulevard, is lined with Indian restaurants from various states in India: quite a few Gujerati vegetarian spots, but also South Indian places (my preference) serving dosas, upuma, uthappam, paratha, idlis, Punjabi sweets shop, etc.

                                            Over in SF's South Bay area (Sunnyvale), you can find an even greater variety of authentic South Indian food - I'd not found this in London, but probably need to head for Tooting the next time I'm in town.

                                            Pic below was our vegetarian lunch at Udupi Palace in Artesia.

                                            1. re: macdog

                                              My brother lives just outside L.A. proper, and you are certainly right about the wonderful selection of international food to be found. I had the best Thai food (I haven't been to Thailand) of my life in Cypress, not far from Long Beach.

                                      2. re: ChaihanaJoe

                                        Hey, Joe

                                        Assuming you're the CJ that I'd know from another board, look forward to hearing your north west contributions - or are you now London based.

                                        Apologies if you are not the same guy (in which case, you'll not have a clue what I've just whittered on about)


                                        1. re: ChaihanaJoe

                                          The Indian scene is not exactly thriving in LA so I'll definitely be checking a few places out! One of the few Asian foods LA does not do wonderfully.

                                          1. Bacon Roly-Poly (made with a suet pastry)

                                            Cumberland sausage

                                            9 Replies
                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              Actually all quality british sausages could make the list. And definitely anything made with a suet pastry is a heavenly body.

                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                Fish and Chips fried in suet is celestial.

                                                It's like Pluto good.

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  Mate.....your having a lend of me.

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    I think you mean beef dripping, not suet.

                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                      That would work - I had visions of ipsedxit's F&C surrounded by fluffy dough.

                                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                                        Suet is just raw beef or mutton fat, especially the hard fat found around the loins and kidneys.

                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                          Although wikipedia points out in the entry for Suet that you should not confuse it with beef dripping.

                                                          1. re: PhilD

                                                            But does it say that suet is synonymous with or akin to pastry dough?

                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                              No it doesn't - although your reply was to my mention of suet pastry.