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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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

155 Bar and Kitchen155 Bar and Kitchen155 Bar and Kitchen155 Bar and Kitchen

Get Your London Freakshake On, At Soft Serve Society

london freakshakeSoft Serve Society* | Ice Cream, Tea & Freakshakes | Website
UNIT 35 BOXPARK, 2-10 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6GY

Last year one unique, insane, ginormous, sweet sweet dish, broke the internet. The freakshake. Piled high with cake, cookies, chocolate and more. People were going crazy for this milkshake on steroids. However at the time, they weren’t available in the UK. Luckily for me, I live in London – undoubtedly the food capital of England. And of course it was only a matter of time before London picked up on the trend…and made it their own.

Get Your London Freakshake On

So where do you get your London freakshake on? At Soft Serve Society of course! The new eatery has opened in one of Shoreditch’s favourite retail destinations, Boxpark. Offering up soft serve ice cream, cotton candy cones, sundaes, freakshakes, tea and more. If that wasn’t all, there are nods to the owner’s favourites, such as matcha and chiffon cake (homemade by the way).

Luckily I was invited down to try some of their menu, with my friend Vanessa. As concise as the menu is, it’s still pretty tough to choose just one thing. So of course Vanessa and I went for a few. And shared, coz clearly we’re not animals. We chose:

  • Matcha Freakshake
    I was so eager to finally try a freakshake, so when I saw my favourite flavour on the menu, I knew I had to have it. You’d be surprised at just how devourable this really is. Most people would suggest eating it between 2, I say go all out and keep it for yourself. It’s that good! The chiffon cake is airy, and the pocky/cookie and cream are the perfect dipping companions. The milkshake itself carries the perfect hint of green tea; sweet and surprisingly light.
  • Matcha Madness | Soft Serve Sundae
    A must for any matcha/green tea fan, especially if you want something slightly more portable than the freakshake. The sweet azuki beans are the perfect compliment to the slightly bitter (but not too much) matcha. Whilst the mochi adds texture alongside the soft serve. Basically it’s got flavour, it’s got texture. It’s the perfect sundae.
  • Espresso Yourself | Soft Serve Sundae
    I loved the sprinkle of coffee on top of the sundae. It added a slight crunch, and a shot of flavour. Any coffee fan (aka me) will adore this sundae. Out of all of the sundaes we tried, this is the one I can see myself buying on a regular basis.
  • Where’s My Honey | Soft Serve Sundae
    This one is for the sweet toothed out there. The oats and waffle add some extra oomph, but personally I would prefer something with a slightly bitter or salty topping, as the honey and soft serve are pretty sweet. But I know not everyone is down for that. If you love sweet stuff, this is for you.

Overall I loved Soft Serve Society. The draw may be the freakshakes, or the cotton candy ice cream, but it’s a lot more than that. This is the perfect addition to any foodie’s Summer.

Check out more: Where to Eat in London

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Good and Proper Tea – The New Afternoon Tea in London

afternoon tea in londonGood and Proper Tea* | Brunch/Afternoon Tea in London – Cafe | Nearest Tube: Chancery Lane | Website

One of my favourite anecdotes from my time in Japan is the afternoon tea tale. Whenever I met someone for the first time (who had not been to the UK/had any British friends), they would without fail ask me “what time is afternoon tea?” This question came up again and again, and I quickly realised that people genuinely see afternoon tea as a part of everyday life in the UK. Unfortunately most of us Brits know this isn’t the case, but I do love to indulge a little every now and again.

The New Afternoon Tea in London

For me, brunch is the new afternoon tea, in London anyway. I love to spend a weekend morning – or a weekday if I’m feeling particularly luxurious – just relaxing with a cup of coffee, and a decent selection of hot food and pastries. In fact I enjoy it so much, I’m constantly searching for new brunch places. Luckily for me, I was invited along to the launch of Good and Proper Tea‘s new Leather Lane store.

Crumpets and Tea!

Ok let’s get to the food! VA and I shared a selection of G&P’s famous handmade crumpets and cakes:

  • Egg, Mustard, Ham and Cheese Crumpet – Subtle flavours on top of a pillowy crumpet. A unique take on the Croque Madame!
  • Marmite & Cheese Crumpet – Melted cheese oozes over a soft crumpet, whilst everyone’s favourite yes-no condiment adds a tangy edge.
  • Blood Orange & Poppy Seed Cake (vegan friendly) – Sweet and a little tart. Stodgy, but in a good way. I could eat this everyday.
  • Honey and Orange Madelines – These were so delectable and flavoursome. They are definitely my favourite sweet treat at G&P.

Alongside our food I tried the Dragonwell Tea and a Chai Latte, both are personal favourites of mine. Dragonwell tea (aka Longjing) is a roasted green tea. It went extremely well with my breakfast, as it isn’t too bitter or strong a flavour. My Chai Latte was made using milk, however dairy-free versions are available, which I do appreciate. It was a little spicy, and very creamy. Just the way I like it.

Let’s round it up

First things first, I’m the realest… Wait no, that’s not right. The decor! The decor is insanely gorgeous – there are some definite #interiorgoals going on here. Luckily Good and Proper Tea are as much about substance as they are style; as is reflected in their food and tea offerings. We may have gone for brunch, but you could easily while away an afternoon here chatting with friends, “working”, or of course, for afternoon tea.

You can visit Good and Proper Tea in Clerkenwell, Old Street and Brockley Market (find them here).
Read more: Where to Eat in London | A London Life

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Floresta Doughnuts | Japan Travel Diary

floresta doughnutsFloresta Doughnuts | Stores across Japan | Website

You’ve probably seen them on social media. Cute, colourful doughnuts shaped like animals. This delightful doughnut store has been open since 2002. Ever since the first store opened in Nara, this company has stood out from other famous outlets. Say hello to Floresta Nature Doughnuts.

What makes Floresta Doughnuts so natural?

Floresta means forest in Portuguese. This natural theme flows through to their handmade (in-store) doughnuts, which are made with organic ingredients, and little to no additives. The store also tries to keep waste to a minimum, making sure their impact on the environment is as small as possible. In fact the company are so transparent about these things, that you can find the basic ingredients list for their doughnuts on their website. No preservatives are used, so every doughnut is made fresh, daily. The company – which was started by a husband and wife – strives to bring healthier, tasty options to people. A guilt-free doughnut, that you can feel comfortable giving to your children…or for yourself.

But how do they taste?

Very good indeed. You might think that being “natural” and aiming for a healthier doughnut would take away the indulgence. Nope! These are just as delicious as any other doughnut you’ll try, maybe even more so. Floresta still fry their doughnuts, but they don’t taste heavy or greasy. The doughnut itself is relatively light, and the glazes (I tried matcha, of course) make for a subtle sweet contrast.

Which doughnut should you go for?

I would suggest trying a couple – one of their classic ‘nature’ doughnuts, and one of their ‘animal doughnuts’. The nature doughnuts are plain, whereas the animal ones come with a glaze (and sometimes nuts). Prices start at 130円 (around £0.83). The doughnuts may be cheap, but the taste isn’t.

Floresta make their doughnuts fresh, on a daily basis. As they don’t use preservatives, they prefer to make small batches, so make sure you get to a store relatively early. You wouldn’t want to miss out! I would suggest stopping by one of their cafes and relaxing with a coffee. It’s the perfect spot to while away the time.

You can find out more about Floresta Doughnuts here (non-Japanese speakers can use the Google translate version).

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Coffee Valley | Tokyo Travel Diary

Coffee ValleyCoffee Valley | 2-26-3 Minami-Ikebukuro, Tokyo, 03-6907-1173 | Website | Nearest Station: Ikebukuro

This is a bittersweet post to write, as I sit here sipping coffee in my London apartment. Only a couple of weeks ago I was walking around the backstreets of sunny Ikebukuro, searching for this elusive spot. I actually discovered Coffee Valley whilst reading an old issue of Vikka magazine. The feature was pretty tiny, but the emphasis on good coffee and natural food caught my eye. It may sound silly but this little cafe was on my list of must-visit spots whilst we were in Tokyo.

How is the coffee and food?

We arrived late afternoon to find a queue of around 10 people. As a Londoner, this is nothing for me. People seemed curious about us. Maybe because this well-loved spot isn’t exactly on the tourist map. I don’t know. Either way we happily waited with everyone; which consisted of mainly dates and friends. After around 15 minutes we were directed into the cafe. We were spoken to in fluid Japanese, and told to find a table (spread out over 2 floors) before ordering at the counter on the ground floor. The menu here is small, just a coffee list and the daily sandwich, French toast and cake. Don’t worry though if you don’t speak Japanese. It’s all pretty straight forward, the food is displayed on the counter – so you can easily point – and the staff are very friendly.

We ordered two of “today’s sandwich” whilst I had a flat white, and Ben a drip coffee.  Our egg sandwiches were seasoned well with pepper and small bits of vegetables, which created a nice blend of textures. The sandwiches also came with a side of various pickled vegetables to continue the theme – my favourite! The bread was fresh and soft, and the filling was very tasty. I really appreciated the use of natural, wholesome ingredients. The best way to describe the food here is: simple flavours, done well.

As for the coffee, well it was great! Just as good as my favourites in London. They used freshly roasted beans, with a couple of options of origin. I tried some of Ben’s drip coffee, which was smooth and full-flavoured. If I hadn’t been after a slightly milkier alternative, I would have easily chosen the drip.

Final thoughts on Coffee Valley…

For me, Japanese cafes are in a league of their own. Coffee Valley is no different here. Not only is their branding on-point, but their ideology is too. For me food and coffee should be simple at heart, and transparent. By that I mean the use of fresh ingredients which you can trace back to their source. Again, this is something independent cafes in Japan do well. I hope I’m not coming across as pretentious, but at the end of the day Coffee Valley offers up great food, and even better coffee. So if you find yourself in Tokyo, looking for a chilled cafe, make sure you pop by.

You can find out more about Coffee Valley here (non-Japanese speakers can this Google translate version).

Coffee Valley Coffee Valley Coffee Valley Coffee Valley Coffee Valley