Dinner Date: My Private Chef Experience

Private Chef Experience

Have you ever been sat at home thinking ‘I fancy hiring a private chef to host a dinner party for me’. No? Yeah me neither, that is until a few weeks ago. An email landed in my inbox from La Belle Assiette. They offered me the chance to have a private chef visit my home, and cook a 4-course menu for myself and a selection of guests. Maybe I was on a high from perusing their menus, or maybe I just felt like a real adult for once, because I said yes. And so began my private chef experience.

My Private Chef Experience

Living in London means my flat isn’t exactly a mansion. But we are lucky enough to have an open plan kitchen-lounge, with a reasonably sized dining area. So we invited a couple of friends over, for drinks and dinner.

I was introduced to my chef beforehand – Lina Lin. A talented chef who works for Roka during the day, and has a passion for supper clubs in the evening, Lina was a perfect match! We chatted beforehand via WhatsApp and a phone call where we discussed the menu and my needs. As much as I love Japanese food, I decided to go for Lina’s Singaporean menu (she has a couple to choose from), because honestly, it just sounded too delicious to pass up.

The Menu

  • Appetiser
    • Crispy Potato Curry Puff
  • Starter
    • Tauhu Goreng (Fried Tofu layered with Bean Sprouts, Cucumber, Carrot, Scallion and Special Peanut Sauce)
  • Main Course
    • Nasi Lemak (Fragrant Rice cooked in Coconut Milk and Pandan leaf, served with Beef Rendang, Sambal Prawn, Anchovies, Peanut, Cucumber and Sambal Chilli)
  • Dessert
    • Mango Sago with Coconut Milk

Lina was incredibly knowledgeable, professional, and friendly. And not to mention, an accomplished chef. Originally I thought it might be a little awkward having a stranger in my kitchen. Everything from laying the table, down to washing the dishes is done by your chef – so you get the whole evening off. After I calmed my urge to help, I relaxed and enjoyed a few drinks with my guests, before we were seated.

The meal itself was even more delicious than it sounded, and I loved how Lina explained the dishes and the origins behind them. After we had finished, we chatted about Singapore, food, and London life. It genuinely felt like we had just had dinner with a close acquaintance.

La Belle Assiette is an experience that I will never forget, and I don’t think my guests will either. If you fancy a night off, you can hire a private chef in London via La Belle Assiette (prices start at £39pp)

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This post is in collaboration with La Belle Assiette. Photos were by a professional photographer, however all views and words are my own.

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Ling Ling: Scandinavian stylings meets Cantonese cuisine

ling lingLing Ling | Hakkasan group | Cantonese | Map

If you’re living in London, you’ll know the Hakkasan group well. Yauatcha, Sake no Hana, and of course, Hakkasan. But did you know that they have restaurants in cities across the world? And much like their London counterparts the restaurants vary in style, dishes and cuisines. Well one of those cities just so happens to be Oslo, and one of those restaurants just so happens to be Ling Ling. Which was lucky for me as I was just about to take a break in Norway’s capital city.

Ling Ling Oslo

Ling Ling is the younger sibling of the Hakkasan group. Located in the trendy area of Aker Brygge. It’s vibrant, fun, and stylish; this much is clear when you walk into the harbour side restaurant. From the simple Scandinavian stylings, right down to the innovative cocktail list. And there’s no better way than starting a journey at Ling Ling than with one of their cocktails. We tried the delectable Plum Sour (Akashi Tai Ume-shu, Johnnie Walker black label whisky, lemon, lime, egg white & Boker’s bitters), and the popular Red Shéng (Aquavit white, raspberries, ginger, lime & lychee).

We could have easily spent the rest of the day on the stunning rooftop, overlooking the Oslo Fjords. However we decided that a diet of cocktails alone wasn’t for us – we wanted food! So with eyes bigger than our bellies, we chose the Ling Ling Journey menu:

  • To Start
    • Peking duck with Oscietra caviar
    • Supreme dim sum platter
    • Golden fried chicken and mango salad in sweet chilli dressing
    • Spicy Norwegian scallop in glass vermicelli noodle
  • To Continue
    • Barbecue char siu pork
    • Grilled silver cod in ginger soy
    • Norwegian langoustine in samba sauce
    • Stir-fry three style mushroom
    • Jasmine rice
  • To Finish
    • Soy caramel and banana delice (peanut, milk chocolate, vanilla chantilly)
    • Apple bavaroise mousse (sea buckthorn, caramelised white chocolate, Chinese five spice)

At 988NOK (around £97) per person, the menu is available all day for parties of 2 or more.

Scandinavian stylings meets Cantonese cuisine

My personal favourites have been bolded above, however I do want to give a few shout-outs. The Peking Duck features crunchy, fatty duck skin sandwiched between caviar, duck, cucumber & pancakes. If it was socially acceptable, I would eat a whole one. As for the Grilled Silver Cod, let’s just say that I’ve never tasted cod like that done at Ling Ling. It was chunky, flavoursome and buttery soft. And to finish with a dessert, you can’t visit without experiencing the Apple Bavaroise Mousse, even if it’s only for the photo opportunity (although it is also refreshingly light & moreish).

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a Norwegian restaurant serving Cantonese cuisine. However I left feeling that the team behind Ling Ling have definitely done their homework. The merger of Cantonese dishes and Norwegian ingredients works perfectly at this contemporary location. Largely helped by the fresh seafood that features throughout the menu. From the location, to the service, ingredients, and execution; Ling Ling is an outstanding experience.

Check out more: Where to Eat and Oslo

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This post is in collaboration with Hakkasan however all views, photos and words are my own.

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The Yauatcha City Summer Tasting Menu is Hot!

Yauatcha CityYauatcha City | Dim Sum Teahouse | Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street | Map

Working right next to Yauatcha City used to be oh-so convenient. Anytime I fancied one of the most beautiful desserts in London, I’d just skip on over. So when my office moved, I was almost certain that was the end of my love affair with the dim sum teahouse. But it was just my luck that I was invited back to try their new Summer Tasting Menu last week, which I dragged my friend Zarna along to (spoiler: she wasn’t unhappy).

And so rather than being petty and keeping all the good food in London to myself, I decided to let you all know about it too.

Yauatcha City Summer Tasting Menu

The Yauatcha City Summer Tasting Menu comes in two varieties: meat or vegetarian. We both chose the meat option, however Zarna can’t eat beef, and Yauatcha were very kind and replaced her venison puff (incl. beef gelatin) with a duck spring roll. I like to mention these little gestures as customer service is very important to me, and all these little things add up to an even better experience.

But of course I’m here to talk about what we ate…or more accurately, what we devoured:

  • Cocktails
    • Asian Daiquiri
    • Thea Martini
  • Steamed Dim Sum
    • Champagne scallop & prawn dumpling
    • Wild mushroom dumpling
    • Crystal dumpling wrap with pumpkin
  • Fried Dim Sum
    • Venison puff
    • Mushroom spring roll
  • Mains (1pp)
    • Stir-fry sliced beef
    • Stir-fry pepper chilli seafood with asparagus
  • Sides
    • Chinese vegatables
    • Jasmine steamed rice
    • Macarons (2pp)
  • Tea (1pp)
    • Classical beauty
  • Desserts (not included in tasting menu)
    • Fromage Frais
    • Tropical Dome
    • Chocolat Mint Delice

How hot is the Summer menu?

My favourites from the menu were: Venison Puff (the pastry & filling is to die for!), Stir-fry Sliced Beef (melted in the mouth), Thea Martini (sweet & fruity), Fromage Frais (beautiful & tangy), and the Chocolat Mint Delice (rich, indulgent…with popping candy!).

The Yauatcha City Summer Tasting Menu is £34 per person (min. 2 people), which includes a glass of wine/cocktail, macarons (2pp) and tea. For such a generous menu, I think the price is more than fair. We were pretty much full by the time our main course came round, but of course we couldn’t let good food go to waste so we devoured everything.

Check out more: Where to Eat in London

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XU London – Authentic Taiwanese Food Worth Waiting For!

XU LondonXU London | Taiwanese | Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus | Map

My inner friend circle is pretty much made up entirely of foodies. When I think about it, food is actually the thing that brought a lot of me and my close friends together in the first place. Which means it’s not odd to see us getting excited about new restaurant openings, or the latest street food craze. One of said friends is Joe, who first introduced me to Taiwanese food. And we’ve been on a mission to find the best Taiwanese food London has to offer ever since. So when Joe messaged me about XU London (the team behind Bao) opening, we agreed to make a reservation straight away.

My first impressions of XU came from their Instagram. I was pretty much sold straight away, but part of me wondered if it could live up to such a perfect image. Little did I know, it would be even better than I expected.

Xu London

As soon as you enter, you’ll notice the restaurant is sharp and sleek. It really does feel like you’ve been transported back to 1930s Taiwan, with nods to the era in the dark wood and art deco stylings. The menu – in the shape of a newspaper – also mirrors the feel of the restaurant.

But what did we order? Well we decided to go for a selection of smaller plates, to share…

  • XU’s House Blend Tea (for the table)
  • Selection of Bak Kwa (Taiwanese jerky)
  • Xiao Tsai (
    • Lotus Crisps – chilli, peanut, wintermelon syrup
    • Tomato & Smoked Eel – dried soy daikon
  • Mian Shi
    • 2x Xian Bing (2pc) – pan fried aged pork pancake, vinegar & chilli oil
    • Taro Dumpling (3pc) – taro stuffed with Taiwanese sausage, kow choi oil dressing
  • Cocktails
    • Lo Tsui Ke – Hong Yu tea, gin, white miso, apple
    • Takkiri – 10 Year oolong, Kavalan Single Malt, curdled milk soda

Our total came to £64.13 (with 12.5% service charge). Not overly pricey when you consider we had cocktails, but it certainly isn’t a cheap lunch. However I should point out that whilst the menu does include some pricier dishes, it also has it’s fair share of cheaper ones too.

Does it live up to the hype?

Quite frankly…yes. Taiwanese food really doesn’t get enough love in London, so XU is a welcomed breath of fresh air. Right from the service (exemplary), down to the dishes. Authentic flavours and ingredients are scattered across the menu, and presented elegantly. My personal favourites from our visit were the Tomato & Smoked Eel (refreshing, unique flavours), XU’s House Blend Tea (light & thirst quenching), and the Xian Bing (juicy, soup laden dumplings made with quality meat). The Xian Bing were so good we ordered another portion. In fact everything was so good I would have ordered it twice. I can’t wait to go back to XU – numerous times – and work my way through the menu.

Check out more: Where to Eat in London

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My Top 5 Foodie Hotspots in Aarhus, Denmark | Travel Guide

Foodie Hotspots in AarhusMy Top 5 Foodie Hotspots in Aarhus, Denmark

Hands up if you have trouble deciding where to eat out on a regular basis! Insert raised hand emoji here. I constantly have trouble trying to remember restaurants, or find something new in London, let alone a new city. So I did quite a bit of research when we visited Aarhus recently. However I also wanted to leave some options up to chance, and find something truly amazing. Because there’s nothing better than being surprised, right?

So here are my top 5 foodie hotspots in Aarhus including a selection of cafes, restaurants and bars.

My Top 5 Foodie Hotspots in Aarhus

  1. Bill’s Coffee
    • Let’s start with breakfast. And what better for breakfast than Danish pastry and coffee? The pastries at Bill’s are heavenly. The coffee is some of the best in Aarhus. And the staff are friendly and welcoming. Perfect, no?
  2. Mig og Ølsnedkeren
    • If you’re a fan of craft beer, this is the place to relax after a long day. The selection of beer is insane, and the atmosphere is very chilled (read: Danish). It’s perfect for a hyggeligt evening with friends or family.
  3. Pinden
    • I’m a firm believer in taking in a country’s traditional delights, and Pinden is the perfect spot for delicious Danish food. Don’t forget to finish your meal with some snaps (Danish schnapps)!
  4. La Cabra Coffee
    • For a lunchtime snack and a caffeine pick-me-up, you can’t beat La Cabra. The fresh crayfish sandwich is hands down one of the yummiest meals I had whilst in Aarhus. So much so that I’d happily marry it!
  5. Den Lille Kro (The Little Inn)
    • If you fancy spending a little more, and want something special, this is your place. The Smørrebrød (Danish open sandwich) is delightful, and some of the most impressive I’ve had. Not to mention THAT burger.

Bon Appétit! Or as they say in Denmark, ‘Velbekomme’!

Don’t forget to check out my other Denmark travel posts!

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Afternoon Tea with a Dim Sum Twist, at Hakkasan Mayfair

Hakkasan MayfairHakkasan Mayfair | Dim Sum | Nearest Tube: Green Park | Map

If you’re a foodie, or simply a dim sum addict, chances are you’ve heard of Hakkasan. And if you haven’t, then where have you been? The Michelin star award winning restaurant group has locations across the globe, but it all started in little ol’ London. I was invited recently to visit their Mayfair restaurant, to try out the new Tea & Dim Sum Lunch menu. With an empty stomach, and an eager eye, I accepted (duh).

Hakkasan Mayfair

First impressions of Hakkasan Mayfair are impressive. Moody, atmospheric lighting guides you down the candle-lit hallway. Awaiting you at the end are the restaurant’s conscientious staff, who are more than happy to show you to your table. The staff here – like at many of their restaurants – are very friendly, and more than happy to explain any dishes or menus. However we were here to try just the one, the new Tea & Dim Sum Lunch menu:

  • Choice of Fruit Blend (non-alcoholic cocktail)
  • Dim sum
    • Char sui bun
    • Har gau
    • XO scallop and prawn dumpling
    • Black truffle and chicken roll
    • Baked venison puff
    • Crispy beancurd cheung fun
    • Stir-fry asparagus
  • Dessert
    • Matcha Custard Doughnut
    • Seasonal fruit platter
    • Macaron
  • Choice of tea
    • Dragon’s Well green tea or White Peony tea

At £42pp the menu is available from 12pm to 6.15pm for parties of 2-7 people.

More than just a pretty face…

Let’s not beat around the bush here. I was impressed. The menu felt like a slight nod to the British past time of afternoon tea, with a dim sum twist. It includes more than enough food for two, but…oh, the food! Strong, comforting flavours are accompanied by a myriad of textures across the menu, with my favourites including: Black truffle & chicken roll, Baked venison puff, and the Crispy beancurd cheung fun. The dessert platter is a great end to the menu; light and sweet. Just make sure you accompany it with one of Hakkasan’s signature teas.

Priced at £42 per person, this is averagely priced for those looking for a slightly more luxurious lunch. And taking the whole menu into consideration, you’re certainly getting your money’s worth for a lunch at Hakkasan Mayfair. We were pleasantly full when we left, and as my friend stated, this really is a contender for ‘…the best Chinese food in London’.

Check out more: Where to Eat in London

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Monocle Cafe – More Than An Instagram Trend?

 

Monocle | Cafe | Nearest Tube: Baker Street / Bond Street | Map

Most of us on Instagram have come across a photo of the Monocle cafe and it’s trendy storefront. And if you haven’t…do you even social media, bro? Seriously, this place is a hive of iPhone activity every time somebody walks by. In fact, I would go as far to say that it’s been Instagrammed more times than it’s celebrity neighbour – The Chiltern Firehouse. Now that’s an achievement! And can you blame people when the facade is this lovely?

But wait a minute, isn’t this a cafe? People do actually eat here…right?

Monocle Cafe – More Than an Instagram Trend!

Contrary to popular belief, I have actually eaten at Monocle. I don’t just stop by to take a photo every few weeks. In fact I’ve eaten here several times, and I keep coming back for more. Much like it’s namesake publication, the cafe offers up a variety of eclectic and delectable treats. High quality, authentic Japanese and Scandinavian dishes dominate the menu, alongside cakes, pastries, and a really great drinks menu – (Allpress) coffee, wine, matcha, check!

The interior is ridiculously cool too, with Monocle branded goodies lining the shelves. You’ll always find the latest issue here, and you’re more than welcome to peruse it during your stay. Which is perfect, because you won’t feel pressured to rush here. Nor will you feel ‘out of place’ like some London establishments – cough, hipster cafe, cough – as the clientele varies greatly. The atmosphere is relaxing, and the staff incredibly accommodating. Can I talk it up any more? So go on, venture inside next time you’re nearby. After you’ve taken your Instagram photo, of course.

You can find the Monocle Cafe at 18 Chiltern Street.
Don’t forget to check out more of my Where to Eat in London series.

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