Where to Eat in London: FOLD Vietnamese

fold-vietnamese-restaurant-brick-lane-london-2FOLD | Vietnamese | Brick Lane | Website
– reservations are available –

My love affair with Vietnamese food started over a year ago, shortly after meeting V.A (chopstickpanorama). It was a new venture for me, and one that I would undoubtedly come to love. Much like my love for Japanese food, I enjoy the light, subtle flavours in Vietnamese cuisine. Luckily my office is close to Kingsland road (the best place for Vietnamese food in London), so I am able to enjoy these flavours pretty often. That said, my favourite dishes are those made by V.A herself – a restaurant could never compare to good home cooking. Thanks to her kind nature she has introduced me to a variety of dishes, of which my favourites are Banh Cuon and Shaking Beef. So when she told me of a new Vietnamese restaurant opening even closer to my office, I just knew we had to check it out.

FOLD is based on Brick Lane and offers up “Vietnamese folding food” – aka rice paper dishes. Walking in I was impressed with the contemporary, clean interior. We took a seat on a communal table, and began to browse the menu. This is where I start to sound pretentious – the dish names are not in Vietnamese. Instead they have descriptive English titles, which is a little confusing. I searched the menu for my beloved banh coun. I think V.A could see the worry in my eyes, so she asked the server. Luckily we were told it is indeed on the menu (Steamed Rice Paper Pancakes). We ordered a selection of other dishes and were served pretty quickly. Most of these dishes can be prepared in advance, which makes the service very smooth.

For me the stand-out dishes were the Beef Carpaccio Folding Set (reminiscent of shabu shabu), the Salt & Pepper Tofu Folding Set (light and crunchy) and the Vietnamese Coffee (come on, as if you weren’t expecting that). Unfortunately the Banh Cuon was a bit too thick, and lacked flavour. That said, I liked how they filled it with egg rather than shrimp or pork – making it edible for almost everyone.

I can see myself going back for lunch, and sharing a folding set with a friend. However I’m afraid to say that I probably won’t go back for dinner at this price. These are not expensive ingredients, and whereas I understand Brick Lane is not a cheap place to rent, I just can’t justify £40 a head (we paid £21 with a cocktail thanks to the discount). I’d suggest trying it out with the 50% off during their soft launch (on until 6th Nov) though. Check out FOLD Vietnamese for more info.

Thanks to V.A (Chopstickpanorama) for the photos of me.

fold-vietnamese-restaurant-brick-lane-london-4fold-vietnamese-restaurant-brick-lane-londonfold-vietnamese-restaurant-brick-lane-london-5 fold-vietnamese-restaurant-brick-lane-london-1 fold-vietnamese-restaurant-brick-lane-london-6 fold-vietnamese-restaurant-brick-lane-london-3

Where to Eat in London: COUNTER Vauxhall

counter-vauxhall-zomato-meetup-4

COUNTER Vauxhall | European | Vauxhall Arches | Website
– reservations are available –

Brunch isn’t something you get to enjoy every day of the week. And in my opinion, it shouldn’t be. Brunch is a relaxing occasion where you gather with friends/family to fully enjoy your food and free time. I try to have brunch at least once a week, as it spares me the time to appreciate the food I’m eating, and the company I’m keeping. Plus, who doesn’t love getting up late on a Sunday and eating tons of food? Step in Zomato. Or more precisely, a Zomato meet-up at COUNTER* in the far away land of Vauxhall.

COUNTER is a modern restaurant based in Vauxhall’s railway arches, less than a minute outside of the station (it’s literally next door). Walking in I felt a real Mad Men 1950/60s vibe to the place, albeit with a contemporary twist. A pianist was playing by the front of the restaurant – whom I would later find out took requests – and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. It’s so nice to walk in to a restaurant where people are talking, rather than sitting on their phones (yes, I did just go there as a blogger). We started with Peach Bellinis (one of my favourites), which was actually part of a £20 DIY menu that included a bottle of Prosecco, peach puree and sliced peaches. That’s really not bad for a boozy brunch with your fave group of people.

I ordered a flat white and the New England Crab Cake, with artichoke, smoked salmon, poached egg, and chive mayonnaise. My coffee was ok (I sound like a coffee snob), but it was my Crab Cake that rightfully stole the show. It was soft, flavoursome, presented beautifully, and just the right size. You couldn’t ask for more. If I had the option of eating it again, I most certainly would. I also shared some Bacon, Mac & Cheese Balls with the ladies (so so good) and some sourdough toast (toast is toast). After our brunch we were offered a dessert menu. Dessert…with brunch!? Of course, I love finishing my brunch with something sweet! Being the peanut butter fiend that I am I chose the Peanut Butter Parfait. I am most definitely a peanut butter snob, and I can tell you that this dessert had the perfect amount of the holy paste. However there was a little too much jam for me in some parts – I’m not a PB&J kinda gal – so I didn’t finish it entirely.

The wait staff were friendly and incredibly helpful, making sure we had everything we needed; I noticed this was the case for the tables around us also. Price-wise my brunch came to about £20 – including my share of the Prosecco deal. We were at COUNTER for almost 4 hours, so the £20 doesn’t seem like a lot, when I consider how much I ate and drank. I had a wonderful time. My tip? Ask the pianist to play your favourite song…or the Jurassic Park theme tune – it’s awesome!

Check out the rest of my Where to Eat in London series.

counter-vauxhall-zomato-meetup counter-vauxhall-zomato-meetup-3 counter-vauxhall-zomato-meetup-1 counter-vauxhall-zomato-meetup-5counter-vauxhall-zomato-meetup-2counter-vauxhall-zomato-meetup-6

COUNTER Vauxhall Arches Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Where to Eat in London: Bourne and Hollingsworth

where-to-eat-in-london-bourne-and-hollinsgworth-1Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings | European | Clerkenwell | Website
– reservations are highly recommeded –

I don’t always base my brunch choices on the interior of a restaurant, but when I do, it’s Bourne and Hollingsworth. Joking aside, I will openly admit that I chose to visit Bourne and Hollingsworth for their interior design. A bright, spacious restaurant filled with greenery and marble…it’s a bloggers dream! However it would seem that bloggers are not their only fans, as their table booking system made evident. This is one London establishment where you won’t get a seat without a reservation. However a few weeks after I originally gave up trying to get a table, something amazing happened. The site refreshed itself, and there it was, a table for 2 at 11:45 on a Saturday. I grabbed it!

When we arrived the restaurant was busy, but chilled. This is the usual at B&H. We were shown to our table at the back of the building, exactly where I had hoped to sit – lucky me! I knew precisely what I wanted to order – the Drop Scones with Clotted Cream & Summer Berries. All thanks to Katy. Our dishes arrived pretty quickly and I immediately tucked in. The drop scones were devilishly light, and buttery rich. The clotted cream had actually been whipped, so again it was rich and creamy. It was beyond delicious, especially when paired with the raspberries. Unfortunately about 3/4 of the way through, I began to give up. The clotted cream was too rich, and it had all begun to taste like…yes you guessed it, butter. Something I personally love, but only in small doses. My suggestion to B&H? Ease up on the red currants and blueberries, add a few more raspberries. Oh and maybe hold back a little on the rich ingredients. A great dish like this shouldn’t be it’s own downfall.

I wouldn’t order the Drop Scones again, but I might be tempted to come back for dinner instead…if I could get a table. The reservation system here works so well that they don’t even need to take walk-ins. Of course this is a shame for those who stop by and fancy checking out the restaurant on a whim. However it does add a refreshing change to London’s usual “walk-in only” policy. Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings is a beautiful restaurant, with a classic, well-thought out menu. The interior matches the time and care that has gone in to the dishes, and I would highly recommend visiting. Just make sure you plan in advance!

If you liked this, why not check out the rest of my Where to Eat in London series.

where-to-eat-in-london-bourne-and-hollinsgworth-2 where-to-eat-in-london-bourne-and-hollinsgworth where-to-eat-in-london-bourne-and-hollinsgworth-3

Click to add a blog post for Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings on Zomato
Square Meal

Where to Eat in London: BIRD

where-to-eat-in-london-bird-restaurantBIRD | Fried Chicken | Hackney | Website
– reservations available –

Fried chicken is my guilty pleasure. In fact it’s one of the few things I think I could eat everyday…without growing sick of it. Even though it’s relatively common in the UK, it can be difficult to find good fried chicken. BIRD isn’t exactly the new kid on the block. But in the short time it has been open, it has made a pretty good name for itself. I’ve been a few times myself, what with the restaurant being only a 10min walk from my office. So when BIRD invited me back to try their new lunch menu of course I said yes.

I had been drooling over some of the new additions to the menu, such as the Korean Burger (fried chicken, gochujang glaze and kimchi slaw) and the Fried Chicken Biscuit Sandwich (freshly baked buttermilk biscuit, fried chicken, honey butter & hot sauce). Naturally we ordered both when we arrived, alongside some fries and pickled cucumber. I had been excited for the biscuit as it’s something I have only had in America (and loved). It was crunchy outside and soft inside, with a slightly oily aftertaste. Although I felt it definitely could have been bigger, it was pretty authentic. The chicken was moist in both the sandwich and the burger, with a slightly crispy outer. The Kimchi Burger boasted a delicious slaw and oozed hot sauce. This is one messy burger. Over all it’s wasn’t the best fried chicken I’ve had, but it made for a good lunch. I saved my doughnut for later, and boy was it worth the wait. I honestly think BIRD make the best doughnut dough in London. This one was bigger than my hand, and I finished every last bit of it.

Our lunches came to £10 each (without drink), which included a main, side and a doughnut – or £8 with a side or doughnut. The difference between BIRD and other fried chicken restaurants is definitely in the ingredients. The chicken is brought in fresh everyday, and cooked twice to make sure that it is perfectly done. The doughnuts are made daily in-store, and the flavours change to match. The fresh, quality ingredients are definitely reflected in the taste, right down to the special seasoning on the fries. In fact I loved the little details so much that I ended up taking away the recipe for the seasoning, and jotting down the name of the hot sauce. BIRD may look like a hipster joint, but it the food feels more like home cooking. This may mean a few mishaps here and there, but more often than not they get it right.

If you liked this, why not check out the rest of my Where to Eat in London series.

where-to-eat-in-london-bird-restaurant-3 where-to-eat-in-london-bird-restaurant-2 where-to-eat-in-london-bird-restaurant-4 where-to-eat-in-london-bird-restaurant-1

Where to Eat in London: Toconoco Japanese Cafe

toconoco-restaurant-review-japanese-cafe-food-shoreditch-where-to-eat-in-london-bloomzy-2

Toconoco | Japanese Cafe | Hackney | Website
– reservations not available –

It’s difficult to explain the serenity I felt in the cafe’s of Tokyo. It really feels as though you are being whisked away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. A cafe is no longer just somewhere to eat and drink. It’s a sanctuary from modern life. It is this feeling I have been craving ever since I returned from Japan. I didn’t think I’d find it again, until I happened upon Toconoco.

Toconoco is a child-friendly Japanese cafe on Kingsland Basin, Regents Canal. Surrounded by canal boats and wildlife, this little sun trap feels miles away from the streets of Shoreditch. I headed there on a weekday afternoon around 12:30. They had tweeted their daily lunch set photo, and it looked too perfect to miss out on (only 15 lunch sets are made each day). Lunch sets are very popular in Japan, and I miss the concept here. It varies depending on the restaurant, but they usually come with a main, a side salad, rice and a miso soup. Toconoco’s lunch set on that particular day was ham croquettes, and it was every bit the same as those I’d had in Japan. The ingredients were fresh and delicious, complimenting each other perfectly. The delicate use of sauces and dressings is something I have yet to master in my Japanese cooking. However Toconoco are clearly skilled in this art. We also ordered a side of Egg Miso-Mayo Toast with spring onion, sesame oil and chilli flake. How could I pass on something that sounds so intriguing? The toast had a distinct Japanese flavour to it and was lighter (and less rich) than regular egg mayo.

The main thing I took away from my visit to Toconoco, was how authentic it is. The food is prepared fresh everyday, and is fitting to the weather and season. This is real Japanese food. Not the hyped up, overpriced kind you find in restaurants in Soho. This is home-cooking style, made with love and care.  It reminded me that we should all take some time to relax, and that eating should be seen as one of life’s simple pleasures. Because eating at Toconoco is certainly no chore.

toconoco-restaurant-review-japanese-cafe-food-shoreditch-where-to-eat-in-london-bloomzy-3toconoco-restaurant-review-japanese-cafe-food-shoreditch-where-to-eat-in-london-bloomzy-5 toconoco-restaurant-review-japanese-cafe-food-shoreditch-where-to-eat-in-london-bloomzy-1 toconoco-restaurant-review-japanese-cafe-food-shoreditch-where-to-eat-in-london-bloomzy toconoco-restaurant-review-japanese-cafe-food-shoreditch-where-to-eat-in-london-bloomzy-4toconoco-restaurant-review-japanese-cafe-food-shoreditch-where-to-eat-in-london-bloomzy-6

 

Where to Eat in London: On The Bab, Covent Garden

on-the-bab-covent-garden-restaurant-review-where-to-eat-in-london-food-photography-bloomzy-1 on-the-bab-covent-garden-restaurant-review-where-to-eat-in-london-food-photography-bloomzy-4 on-the-bab-covent-garden-restaurant-review-where-to-eat-in-london-food-photography-bloomzy-3 on-the-bab-covent-garden-restaurant-review-where-to-eat-in-london-food-photography-bloomzy-2 on-the-bab-covent-garden-restaurant-review-where-to-eat-in-london-food-photography-bloomzy-cherry-blossom-cocktail on-the-bab-covent-garden-restaurant-review-where-to-eat-in-london-food-photography-bloomzy on-the-bab-covent-garden-restaurant-review-where-to-eat-in-london-food-photography-bloomzy-fried-chicken

On The Bab | Korean Street Food | Covent Garden | Website

– reservations not available –

You may be blinking right now, wondering if you’re seeing double. Well yes, I have featured On The Bab before in my “Where to Eat in London” series. However that was their Shoreditch location, and last week saw the official opening of their new Covent Garden restaurant. But how is it different to the original? Well there’s a whole new menu that you won’t find anywhere else, and it’s perfect for Spring.

On The Bab is a special place for me. I first visited it (with my now best foodie buddy V.A) last April, and I instantly fell in love with the menu. So with V.A alongside, we naturally wanted to sample everything from the new menu this time. We started perusing the menu with a sweet Cherry Blossom Cocktail. This culminated in us ordering: Korimari with Bulgogi Beef, Spring Onion Fried Chicken, Pumpkin & Potato Salad, Fried Chicken On The Roll, Seaweed Salad with citrus dressing, and Rice Poppers.

The Fried Chicken On The Roll was definitely my favourite dish of the evening – something similar to gimbap, it has been amusingly named Korean Burrito. The mixture of textures and flavours work incredibly well together, and left me wanting the whole two rolls to myself. The Spring Onion Fried Chicken was a drier version of one of my favourite dishes at OTB. Whereas the flavours were strong, it was the crispier texture that I enjoyed. The Korimari came with a tender well-marinated side of bulgogi beef and vegetables. I loved the sesame oil aftertaste, and the simplistic way of eating – this is definitely one for Summer! The light, refreshing salads were thoughtful sides to the mains, and whereas the Pumpkin & Potato Salad was a little bland, I liked the sweetness of it. The Seaweed Salad was the better of the two though, with a tangy citrus dressing that paired well with the stringy vegetable. The rice poppers weren’t to my liking, but I think they’d be pretty good if you were drinking more than you were eating…you know what I mean.

Of course when you love a restaurant so much there is always the chance that you may not enjoy a new menu. However I had faith in OTB, and thanks to the chefs wonderfully modern take on authentic Korean cuisine, I need not worry. The new Covent Garden location has a serene ambience, and the usual superb service. This is one restaurant I would make the commute from East to West for.

Thank you so much to On The Bab who invited me and V.A to dinner to celebrate their opening. On The Bab is one of my favourite restaurants in London, so it meant a lot to be invited before the restaurant had even opened. As always with these kind of post, my views and words are my own – I truly love this food.

You can read more of my restaurant reviews on Zomato

Square Meal

A London Life… in Tokyo?

eat-tokyo-japanese-restaurant-food-review-bloomzy-karaage

eat-tokyo-japanese-restaurant-food-review-bloomzy-age-tofu

eat-tokyo-japanese-restaurant-food-review-bloomzy-natto-salmon-sushi

eat-tokyo-japanese-restaurant-food-review-bloomzy-wakame-su

eat-tokyo-japanese-restaurant-food-review-bloomzy-unagi-don

eat-tokyo-japanese-restaurant-food-review-bloomzy-natto

Eat Tokyo, Hillgate Street, Notting Hill, London

One of the best things about London is being able to find authentic food from pretty much any country or region. That isn’t to say though that there aren’t imitations. Unfortunately for every Asakusa, there are ten Wagamamas. Still, part of the fun of discovering new places to eat is in whether or not they will be true to form. One place I had heard about through the grapevine was Eat Tokyo. I’d heard several people say “this is the real deal” or “it’s the best Japanese food in London”. However I’m pretty critical of cuisines I know well, and I’d also heard some not-so-great reviews, so I decided to take these opinions with a pinch of salt. In fact I’d resigned myself to never visiting the restaurant “chain” (they currently have 6 locations in London). Yet last week V.A and I found ourselves unsure of where to go for dinner after our SHOW DRY salon visit. Low and behold, there was Eat Tokyo on our Zomato app with a 4.6 rating. So we decided to give it a go.

First off, let me say, the Notting Hill location is small. VERY small. In fact we were lucky enough to get the last table, right next to the front door. The layout of the kitchen and seats – this location features seats where you can watch the sushi chefs at work – reminded me very much of a typical izakaya. Even though the restaurant was full, the staff were efficient. We were given the ginormous menu (really guys, it’s too much) and took our time looking through it. I took charge and ordered a whole selection of my favourite dishes for the both of us, as V.A wanted to try something new. This included: Natto (fermented soy bean – Japan’s marmite), Unagi Don (grilled eel on rice), Wakame-su (pickled cucumber and seaweed), Agedashi Tofu (fried tofu in a tentsuyu broth), Salmon Sushi Rolls and Karaage (fried chicken). The chef also accidentally made us some natto sushi, which we were given for free.

As for the food, was it authentic? Everything apart from the wakame-su (it should have been sunomono) tasted exactly as I remembered it from Japan. The flavours and textures were all there, but something was lacking. Unfortunately whereas Eat Tokyo excels in bringing authentic Japanese dishes to London, it did not excel at bringing good quality ingredients and well cooked food to our table. The karaage wasn’t bad and neither was the age-dofu. However the unagi was overcooked and chewy, the sushi was cold, the natto didn’t come with a side of tare or mustard, and the wakame-su wasn’t pickled, and had ginger on top?! Overall not a great experience, but not one that I regret. I won’t be heading back anytime soon, but if I had nowhere to go I’d probably give them another chance.

You can read more of my restaurant reviews on Zomato.