Celebrating Chinese New Year in London

chinese new year in londonCelebrating Chinese New Year in London

I am always up for celebrating an occasion, particularly those that involve food. You might remember Chinese New Year 2016, where I visited Yauatcha. Yauatcha is a dim sum teahouse offering contemporary Cantonese dim sum, and patisserie inspired by European culinary techniques and Asian ingredients. And every year their top chefs create a special opulent CNY menu. This year is no different, as it sees a variety of high-end ingredients and techniques make their way on to the menu.

I decided to stop by again with VA (chopstickpanorama), to check out what they had to offer for the Year of the Rooster – 2017.
Find out what we ordered below:

To Start
  • Red Cocktail
  • Truffle Crabmeat Dumpling
  • Fried Wagyu Beef Dumpling
Mains
  • Mala Lamb Salad with Jellyfish
  • Lunar Chicken Pot with Cured Pork
  • Seafood Braised Rice in Lotus Leaf
Dessert
  • Jasmine Honey
  • Coffee Hazelnut
  • Coconut Lime
  • Apple Vanilla Choux

My thoughts…

As per usual I’ve bolded my favourite dishes above, to give you an idea of what I enjoyed and would order again. Whereas a couple of the mains were too spicy for me, I thoroughly enjoyed the dumplings and the rice. The desserts – as always – were a delight, and it wouldn’t be a trip to Yauatcha without sampling one…or two. Our meal came to just over £140 (£70 each), including drinks. It’s certainly not inexpensive, but I can understand people parting with their cash for a special occasion.

Celebrating Chinese New Year in London

Yauatcha will offer their Chinese New Year menu through 16th Jan – 11th Feb. As well as their CNY menu, the restaurants will be laden with glowing red Chinese lanterns. It’s not all about the interior though. A traditional lion dance, said to drive away evil spirits and bring good luck for the following year, will be held at Yauatcha City on 27th January and Yauatcha Soho on 29th January.

If you fancy celebrating Chinese New Year in London, head to Yauatcha to view their Chinese New Year menu and make a reservation.

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

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5 Must Visit Copenhagen Restaurants | Travel

Copenhagen Restaurants5 Must Visit Copenhagen Restaurants

Figuring out where to eat can be such a pain, whether it’s at home or abroad. I’m usually the one tasked with finding somewhere too. Thanks to my blog, my friends and family seem to think I’m the dictionary on everything food related. Enter me, having an anxiety attack because I feel like I have to come up with somewhere right there and then (read: in 60 seconds).

So when I go away on holiday, I always make sure I do my research. I don’t want to be the person that relies on friends, or desperately asks Twitter on the spot. Plus you never really know if someone has the same tastes as you, and you don’t want to end up wasting money. Bad, expensive food is the saddest kind of food. Therefore I took my time (and knowledge of the internet) when we headed to Denmark recently. I was gonna boss those Copenhagen restaurants!

5 Must Visit Copenhagen Restaurants

I wanted to do my bit, and add a little suttin’ suttin’ to the array of Copenhagen restaurants posts out there. Blogs were a big part of helping me find some gems whilst I was in Denmark, so I thought I’d return the favour. I’ve chosen a variety of restaurants, and tried to pick ones I haven’t seen on other blogs/sites – minus one (bonus points if you know which one).

  1. Fætter & Fætter
    • Yes, this is a toast bar. For Brits, that translates to toastie bar. So you can expect lots of cheesy, crunchy deliciousness from this beautifully decorated restaurant.
  2. DØP
    • The Danes love their hot dogs, and this is one of the best known places to get one. You’ll find the trucks scattered around Copenhagen (the site has a map). These are a must-have, and they’re so affordable you’ll definitely have an excuse to try them all.
  3. Tårnet
    • Conveniently located in The Christiansborg Tower, this restaurant is redefining Danish food. The decor is to die for, but don’t worry, the food doesn’t suffer. It is every bit as elegant and gorgeous as it’s surroundings.
  4. Mad & Kaffe
    • This one is for the Instagram lovers. Or just those that like their food with a touch of fun. After waiting in the queue (this place is super popular), you’ll be seated and given a piece of paper to fill out. You select your choice of dishes, then sit back and enjoy.
  5. Københavner-caféen
    • It may look a little dated, but this is the place if you want to try traditional Danish food. The pub-like surroundings make for a relaxed environment, and the food is incredibly flavoursome. Try the Flæskesteg (Denmark’s national dish) – pork, crackling, caramelised potatoes, gravy, cabbage, and pickled vegetables.

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

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

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Hand Cafe – East Village London’s Little Secret

hand cafeHand Cafe | East Village | Nearest Tube: Stratford | Map

It is my firm belief that everyone should have a local cafe. Cafes are the perfect place to lose yourself in your thoughts, contemplate life, or just enjoy a damn good coffee. When we moved to East Village in Stratford, the cafe offerings were pretty sparse. And by sparse I mean the closest (decent) cafe was in Homerton. That cafe was 46b Espresso Hut.

I’d been a few times when I was in the area, but it wasn’t close enough to become a ‘local’. So you can imagine my surprise when one of the units near our apartment put up a sign saying a new cafe was coming. But this wasn’t just any cafe. This was Hand cafe – 46b Espresso Hut’s younger sibling.

Hand Cafe – East Village London’s Little Secret

I really have nothing bad to say about Hand, so this post is going to be one of those genuine glowing reviews, that don’t come about too often. They’re dedicated to bringing good coffee and high quality food (using local ingredients) to the people of Stratford…and anyone who fancies paying a visit really.

From toasties to shakshuka, it’s anything but the usual foodie fare. The colourful yellow and purple dish below? That’s bacon, avocado and egg on sourdough. They’ve got the ‘traditional’ dishes down, but they’ve added their own special flare to them. My favourite is the Hand Granola; the fruits change based on what’s available and in season, and the added touch of bee pollen and mint adds a whole new dimension of texture and flavour to this breakfast staple. Trust me, you won’t bore of the food here.

More than just coffee…

I visit at least once a week, and often see the same faces (as well as new ones). Eva and Dom spend a lot of time getting to know everyone, and always greet you with a smile. And it’s not forced. These are genuine people doing something they love, and sharing it with those around them. Their hard work and determination has really helped cement Hand as – in my opinion – the best cafe in East Village. Hand cafe is a gem amongst a growing community. I think I’d even go as far to say it’s the heart.

Check out more: Where to Eat in London

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Is Dominique Ansel London Worth The Hype?

dominique ansel londonDominique Ansel London | Bakery & Cafe | Nearest Tube: Victoria | Map

I headed over to Dominique Ansel London this weekend, much like the rest of London. Well, at least that’s how it felt when we saw the queue and the distinct lack of table space. Still, we waited it out, like the good little foodies that we are. But was it worth it?

Dominique Ansel London: Is It Worth The Hype?

  • Perfect Little Egg Sandwich – £5
    Looking more like a Filet O’ Fish when it arrived, I was skeptical. However this light sandwich was actually pretty delicious (no shade FOF). The flavours pack quite a punch, and are kinda quizzical at the best of times. But I liked it. I think…
  • Croque Monsieur – £10.50
    £10.50 (not incl VAT)! For a croque monsieur! I’m sorry but this is ridiculous, especially when you find out that it tastes no different to those you’ve had at half the price. Coming from a French chef/brand, this is a big let down.
  • Liquid Caramel Peanut Butter Mousse Cake – £5.90
    Not only is it beautifully presented, but it’s heaven for a peanut butter lover. The base fell a little flat (soft and wet), but I half wonder if it’s because we didn’t eat it until the evening. That said, I’d expect a freshly made £6 cake to last a couple of hours.
  • Lime Me Up Tart – £6.20
    This was recommended to us, and I can see why. The sharp flavours contrast perfectly against the myriad of textures. This is a fun one. You need to pour the mixture of sea salt, juniper and brown sugar into the groove and squeeze fresh lime over to make an instant caramel. Silly, unique, genius.

Final thoughts? 

The store is beautiful, the staff knowledgeable, and the menu enticing. However I can’t say I was majorly won over by Dominique Ansel London. I still really enjoy his fun and contemporary outlook on the art of patisserie. And it’s safe to say that you’ll definitely find something different on your visit. Your pockets will be a lot lighter mind you. The prices on the menu don’t include VAT! So if you want to sit in – if you can find a seat – it’s gonna cost you a bit more.

The whole thing just feels a bit anti-climactic. You could blame the cronut (which still sell out quickly here). Dominique’s sudden catapult to fame has left everyone wanting more, more more. And unfortunately I don’t think he can catch up. Still, I’d give him the benefit of the doubt and try again. Maybe.

Check out more: Where to Eat in London

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Atelier September: The Perfect Copenhagen Brunch?

copenhagen brunchThe Perfect Copenhagen Brunch?
Atelier September Cafe & Interiors Store | Website | Map

One of the first things I do when I spend a long weekend in a new city is find out where I can get brunch. As a fan of Scandinavian food, this task was made even more exciting when I travelled to Copenhagen last week. After consulting several books (500 Hidden Secrets of Copenhagen), my Cereal Guide and a few blogs, I had a decent list at hand. At the top of this list was a creative space with a difference – Atelier September.

Atelier September: The Perfect Copenhagen Brunch?

Atelier September is perfectly located a short walk from Copenhagen’s city centre, and just down the road from the popular area of Nyhavn. The cafe boasts bright, clean, spacious interiors at the front of the store, whilst hidden inside the back is a small interiors store/creative space – for all your Danish homeware needs.

The cafe opens at 9am on a Saturday, and since I’m an earlier riser when I’m travelling, I headed over for opening time. I always think the popularity of a place can be seen through the dedication of it’s customers. We arrived around 9:05am and there were only two tables left at this point.  Luckily we grabbed a window seat, so we could people watch…and you know, perfect lighting for blog photos.

The food

For breakfast, you’ll find eggs, rye bread, cheese, granola and fruit on the menu here. It’s simple, but perfect for starting your day on the right note. Lunch time sees a selection of cheeses, hams and breads. Not too different from breakfast, but a great selection none the less.
I went for rye bread and egg. The rye bread was fresh, and the best I’ve had to date. I really loved that the boiled egg was still runny inside, and it complimented the rye bread well. It might sound and look like a simple breakfast, but it was delicious. The perfect start to my Copenhagen travels.

The coffee

As for beverages, Atelier September really excels at bringing variety to the table. Options include fresh pressed juices, matcha, soda, green tea and coffee. I like to start my day with the hard stuff, so I went for a cappuccino (no flat whites here!). I have no complaints.

Does Atelier September offer up the perfect Copenhagen brunch?

Definitely, especially if you’re like me and you don’t always want to over-indulge. If you do, that’s fine too, I’d just suggest you order a couple of dishes. As for value for money, we paid around 140 Krone (£16) for two coffees, and two egg & rye bread breakfasts. That’s not bad when you break it down, and when you consider that you’re brunching in Copenhagen (it’s not a cheap city). The staff here are helpful, and offered us an English menu when I asked about an item on the menu (my Danish is limited to DuoLingo). Afterwards I chatted to the manager about how she wanted to visit London, and how she fell in love with Copenhagen and moved there. If a cafe has good staff, it will go far. And it’s definitely part of the success behind Atelier September. If you want a real Danish experience, head here. It’s a serious contender for the best Copenhagen brunch.

You can find Atelier September at Gothersgade 30 1123 Copenhagen
Check out more: Where to Eat

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Where to Eat in London: 155 Bar and Kitchen

155 Bar and Kitchen155 Bar and Kitchen | European | Website
155 Farringdon Road, Clerkenwell, EC1 3AD

Weekend brunch is almost a ritual for the typical Londoner. Whether it’s with your significant other, your friend group, or even a quiet one by yourself, it’s the perfect way to spend a morning…or afternoon. I’ll admit, I’m a serial bruncher. I do it at least once a week, so you know I’m seriously knowledgable. I just love it.

Where to Eat in London: 155 Bar and Kitchen

I like brunch even more though when I can pair it with window shopping. That’s why 155 Bar and Kitchen was the perfect location for me. Attached to trendy lifestyle store Clerkenwell London, 155 Bar and Kitchen offers up European food from breakfast to dinner. The stylish interior blends perfectly with the vibe of the restaurant.  I’m such a sucker for a good looking restaurant.

Of course I was there to brunch, and what better way to do it than with  a bottle of prosecco? Ok so we didn’t just dine on bubbly. In fact we tried a couple of dishes and shared them:

  • 155 Waffles
    At 155 your Belgian (the best in my opinion) waffles come with a choice; bacon & scrambled egg, or berries and cream. Savoury and sweet is my jam, so I went for bacon and egg. The waffles here are homemade, and are the perfect mixture of crunchy outer, and soft inner. Whilst the bacon and egg help even out the sweetness of the waffle. It’s truly a match made in heaven.
  • Classic English Breakfast
    This has to be the prettiest English breakfast I’ve ever seen. And that’s definitely the weirdest sentence I’ve written for a while. There wasn’t too much food, nor was it greasy – two of the main sins of a full English. In summary, not only did it look good, but it tasted pretty damn good too.
  • The coffee
    As always, a brunch spot is nothing without good coffee. If you fancy a bit of caffeine alongside your prosecco – coz you should totally get prosecco too – then don’t fear, 155 does not disappoint on this either.

Final thoughts? 155 Bar and Kitchen is a ridiculously cool and sleek restaurant, perfect for any foodie. Because guess what? It’s all style, and a hell of a lot of substance. If you’re in Clerkenwell, this seriously needs to be on your list of go-to places. And if you don’t? Then get off your sofa and head there straight away!

Check out more: Where to Eat in London

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Aoyama Flower Market Tea House | Tokyo Travel Diary

Aoyama Flower Market Tea HouseAoyama Flower Market Tea House | Cafe | Map
5-1-2 Minamiaoyama, Shibuya, Tokyo

Have you ever walked into a place and just been taken aback by its sheer beauty? That’s exactly what happened to me when I first walked into Aoyama Flower Market’s Omotesando branch, during my recent visit with Nicole. The flower shop is well known, with outlets across Japan. However this particular location is nestled in amongst the high-rises of Aoyama, and only a minute walk away from Omotesando tube station. Perfect for my inner mori gal.

Aoyama Flower Market Tea House: Concept

The concept behind Aoyama Flower Market’s tea house is quite simple; a greenhouse. Yes, it may sound boring, yet it’s anything but. Think blooming flowers, ivy crawling along the walls, and a botanical inspired menu. That’s exactly what you’ll find here. The idea of “living with flowers everyday” was on the mind of AFM’s interior design team when they opened this plant haven. And boy did they deliver!

The Menu…

The menu here is pretty simple in terms of ingredients. You’ll also find alternating seasonal specials, which are based on particular flowers or holidays. As you can imagine most dishes are vegetarian and vegan friendly, however there is the odd meat dish on the menu; for those who just can’t go without. You won’t find any coffee on the menu either, only tea. So how did I get on as a coffee-loving, meat-eater?

  • Sakura Plate – Special
    We visited during sakura season, so naturally the menu reflected this. Not surprisingly you can often find cherry blossom flavoured (slightly reminiscent of rose) products and dishes at this time of year. This dish in particular included sakura jelly, chiffon cake, sakura ice cream and cream with meringue “mushrooms”. I personally loved the taste; subtle and sweet, with a nice mix of textures. This dish was perfect for me!
  • Fresh Mint Soda 
    Gimme mint any day! Normally I drink a lot of mint tea, but I decided to cool down with something slightly more refreshing – and fizzy – this time. I was brought some optional syrup for my drink, which I didn’t add. However it’s perfect for those with a sweet tooth. I didn’t get a photo of my soda, but I did snap one of my friend’s mint tea, which was just as pretty!

Final thoughts?

This is a popular place, so be prepared to wait. As a Londoner I don’t mind doing this, in fact it’s second nature when it comes to finding a decent restaurant. To be fair we only waited around 20-30 minutes, but you may need to stand if the few waiting chairs in the cafe are taken.

If you fancy some time away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, Aoyama Flower Market Tea House is an incredibly relaxing, comforting spot to visit. From browsing the store for plants and flowers, to enjoying some sweet treats in the restaurant, I really enjoyed the food and atmosphere here. I’d definitely recommend it, and it’s certainly somewhere I would go back to on my next visit to Japan.

Check out the rest of my Japan Travel Diaries (including Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo) here.

Aoyama Flower Market Tea House Aoyama Flower Market Tea House Aoyama Flower Market Tea House Aoyama Flower Market Tea House Aoyama Flower Market Tea House