Celebrating Chinese New Year at Yauatcha

yauatchaYauatcha City | Dim Sum | Broadgate Circle | Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street

Last week Yauatcha invited myself and VA (chopstickpanorama) to come along to their City location, to celebrate Chinese New Year with them. I don’t usually celebrate new year, whether it’s British, Chinese etc etc…you get my point. However when Yauatcha told me that this particular celebration would involve copious amounts of food – and gin – I found myself unable to say no.

Dim Sum

We ordered all of the dim sum dishes from the CNY menu, which includes: Caviar siew long bun (full of soupy deliciousness), Foie gras roast duck puff (beautifully presented rich parcels of goodness), Caviar taro dumpling (a dumpling by any other name…) and Black truffle edamame sesame ball (oddly sweet). The Caviar siew long bun was the best dish by far for me that evening. However the Foie gras roast duck puff came in at a close second. Controversy aside, this is a delicately rich and buttery dish, and I love the heart shaped pastry. I could easily have ordered both of these numerous times, and gorged on them for the rest of the night.

Main

For our “main” we ordered the Yauatcha scallop pushing (a light, refreshing salad), Hakka fortune pot (a variety of meats & seafood) and Dried oyster fried sticky rice (to accompany). The Yauatcha scallop pushing was a mixture of textures and zesty flavours. Our server also explained that this traditional dish comes with an added bonus; by mixing it as high as possible you can make one wish for the new year. Let’s see if VA’s comes true (she did all the mixing)! I was excited for the Hakka fortune pot as it included abalone (a new taste for me), however I felt slightly let down by the dish. Alongside the Dried oyster fried sticky rice, it all just seemed like a classy version of a Chinese takeaway…which to be fair, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just not for me.

Gin Cocktail Flight & Macarons

The cocktail flight was a lovely accompaniment to our meal. Each of the 3 cocktails was served at separate times throughout the evening; to compliment the food we were served. Of course the Saffron gin and tonic was my favourite. Ever so sweet, and a pleasing colour  – kudos to Monkey 47 for this dry & complex gin.

The macarons (Gin and tonic, Juniper berry, Bitter orange almond, Elderflower ginger, Rose rosehip and Camomile) were a delight, as they always are at Yauatcha. Their innovative use of ingredients never fails to produce a unique flavour and texture. My favourites of the evening were the Rose (tastes just like Turkish delight), and the Camomile (the buttercream is almost custardy in texture).

My thoughts…

Our meal came to just over £157 (£79 each), including the cocktail flight. Taking this into consideration I can’t say I would go back and spend that much. However I would happily go back for the select few dishes that helped make my evening so delicious (see bolded items).

Head to Yauatcha to view their Chinese New Year menu.

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A London Life… at Sushinoen with Nuffnang UK

sushinoenSushinoen* | Japanese | Whitechapel | Nearest Tube: Aldgate East

London is a culinary melting pot of cuisines. We have the complete A-Z of food, from Algerian to Zambian – Foodies need not be disappointed. Whereas I do enjoy discovering new cuisines, there’s one I always go back to – Japanese. After living there, I have a handful of recipes that I like to re-create at home. However there’s nothing better than having someone else cook for you, am I right?

This past weekend I was lucky enough to be a guest at Sushinoen, courtesy of Nuffnang UK. A cute Japanese restaurant tucked away in the heart of Whitechapel, Sushinoen serves up a variety of Japanese dishes. We were sat at a sunken table (horigotatsu), which I always find super comfortable. After everyone had arrived we ordered a bottle of plum wine (umeshu) – my favourite Japanese tipple. Conversation flowed as the first round of food was brought to the table: Butakakuni, Agedashi Tofu, Beef Tataki, White Tuna Carpaccio, Mixed Seaweed Salad, Shumai, and Chicken Gyoza. Honestly I would recommend it all, but it was the Butakakuni and the Agedashi Tofu that really had something special. Agedashi Tofu is probably my favourite Japanese side dish, the crispy outer is complimented by the soft inner (and a wondrous tentsuyu broth). However it’s the Butakakuni that surprised me the most, as I’m not the biggest fan of pork belly. This though was so tender it fell apart and melted in the mouth – definitely my dish of the day!

At this point I was already starting to feel full, and then a wild plate of sushi rolls appeared! We had the Bravo Duo (seared tuna & salmon on California roll) and Spider (prawn tempura on California roll) rolls. I could only manage a couple of bites, but I was left wanting for more  – thank you Hidekazu Tojo for this marvellous invention! Unfortunately we were all too full to eat any Sukiyaki (the next dish on the menu), but nothing was wasted as we were given boxes to take home. The dessert of matcha ice cream & mocha was a light & refreshing end to the meal. Of course I always have room for something sweet – my friends say I have betsubara – especially if it’s matcha.

For any bloggers interested in working with brands, I’d highly suggest checking out Nuffnang UK.
And for those with a rumbly tummy, Sushinoen is definitely worth a visit.

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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.

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Where to Eat in London: COUNTER Vauxhall

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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.

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

Duck and Waffle, Will You Marry Me?

duck-and-waffle-experian-wedding-guest-finance-1Duck & Waffle | British and European | The City | Website
– reservations available –

Last week Experian invited me up to Duck and Waffle for a leisurely lunch, and a chat about weddings. No I’m not getting married just yet. Even if my family do enjoy continuously asking “when’s the big day?” Instead we were talking about the cost of weddings for those who attend. I’ve managed to avoid having to attend any friends weddings, purely because none of them are getting married yet. However I’m sure a lot of you will probably know this pain all too well. Apparently 11% of people have spent over £800 on attending weddings. Just think of how many visits to Duck and Waffle that is! This made me realise that my idea of a destination wedding probably isn’t the most practical for some people. Definitely food for thought!

Food based puns aside, I know you’re all dying to find out what I thought of Duck and Waffle. Well I must say, it lives up to the hype. So much so that I went back two days later with a bunch of friends. The food was expertly prepared, and presented in a jovial, rustic fashion. Duck and Waffle is pretty special. They’ve managed to create dishes that sound, and look, as good as they taste. Our Chef’s Sharing Menu was full of eclectic British and European dishes. It’s fair to say I loved everything that was put in front of me. However my top dish by far was the BBQ-Spiced Crispy Pigs Ears. Don’t be deterred by their name, these are no doggy treats. Arriving in a wax sealed paper bag (oh yes they did), the smell is the first thing to hit you – a hefty American BBQ aroma. The smell is pretty damn good, but of course it’s all about the taste. These thin strips of pork crackling are full of immense flavour. Somehow they manage to be sweet, spicy and a delicate umami flavour all in one. Don’t ask me how they do it; this is sheer magic. If Duck and Waffle did takeaway, I’d have the meat sweats everyday of the week.

If you can’t get enough of finances (you crazy party animal), check out Experian’s Money & Relationship Guide for some interesting graphics on mixing love and money.

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Yauatcha Soho | Mooncakes and Macarons

yauatcha-london-soho-afternoon-tea-patisserie-mooncakes-2Yauatcha Soho | Dim Sum & Patisserie | Soho | Website
– reservations available –

It’s not everyday I’m invited to a Michelin star restaurant. I know, shocking right? I should have told you to take a seat before I made such a life-changing statement. Joking aside, even though I have visited several Michelin star restaurants, I do still get a little starry eyed when I walk in to one. I mean, any foodie would, right? So when Yauatcha invited myself and V.A to visit for afternoon tea, I was more than happy to accept. The Dim Sum and Patisserie has been on my list for several years now, but I’ve always been too absent minded to book.

We headed to the restaurant around 3 on a Saturday afternoon. I would like to add at this point that it was possibly the hottest Saturday ever…in existence. The sun was roasting us slowly, so the prospect of tea and cake in an air conditioned restaurant was exhilarating. Inside we were greeted by the maître d’ who showed us to our table. We were then given a small tour of the patisserie, where we were shown the new mooncakes that Yauatcha are serving up for the Mid-Autumn Festival. We chose to try both of the mooncake options available. Of course we took several minutes to stare in awe at the other worthy cakes on offer. It was difficult not to choose the most beautiful (which is pretty much all of them), however we managed to whittle our choices down to only three: Raspberry delice, Passion fruit mango dome, and Red fruits fromage frais.

The cakes were delightful. Each encompassed it’s own subtle flavours, however they all shared a light and airy texture. Perfect for afternoon tea, no? We paired our cakes with a pot of Classic Beauty Blue Tea (I love Taiwanese tea), and two cocktails; Lalu and Nashi Momo (Japanese pear AND peach? Yes please!). The tea was thirst quenching, and went down smoothly. A pot easily nourished us both, however I would gladly order a pot for one next time, as it was so refreshing. As for the cocktails…well, they were gigantic! And don’t assume that these cocktails were all style and no substance. In fact there was an abundance of flavour. The Nashi Momo was my personal favourite, as it shared the subtly sweet taste, and the slightly grainy texture of it’s namesake. I would order it again in a flash!

As for the mooncakes, they were smaller than the usual “family size” version, which made them perfect for a single serving. I wasn’t particularly won over by the mooncakes by themselves as they’re a little stodgy, however when paired with ice cream (an a la carte option, or a diy for at home) they were extremely moreish.

Price wise, Yauatcha isn’t as expensive as you would think; our bill came to a total of around £60. In my opinion £30 each is not much at all for what we received. I would gladly pay it. After all, I can see Yauatcha being a lovely place for friends to get together, chat and celebrate over tea and mooncakes. It certainly was when me and V.A went at least. It was wonderful to have our own mini Mid-Autumn celebration, even if it did feel like the Sahara outside.

Mooncakes are available at Yauatcha until the 27th September.
You can check out V.A’s post here and watch our first foodie video at the bottom of this post.

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Yauatcha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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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.

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