25 Oxford Street,
020 7287 5953
Tube: Tottenham Court Road
The Cost & Date: Tuesday December 16th 2008 for lunch :: £20.90 for 2.
Food & Drink: For appetizers, we had steamed pork & chive dumplings (you get four, we had eaten two in the photo). I had a duck la-mian soup (above), and my friend had a pork/chai siu la-mian soup. We also had some tea.
Setting: Small, relatively clean. Small toilet though.
Service: Straightforward, not bad.
Story: Another connection through my flatmate, but this restaurant is fairly well known and popular due to its central location. My flatmate actually met one of the cooks that actually does make its specialty, handmade la-mian. Whenever you pass by the window on Oxford Street, it’s all steamed up due to the hot food and the noodle making. It’s nice, warm, and cozy. A good respite from the insanity of Oxford Street. I liked the noodles. You can tell it is handmade and not from a premade package. It’s not too salty either. The dim sum was not bad at all.
Overall: I’d definitely come back, but it can be a bit busy on the weekends and later weekdays. It’s not too expensive, but I think it’s more or less a good deal considering London restaurants. Better than some Chinatown establishments.
My Old Place: Authentic Northern Chinese
88 Middlesex Street
London, E1 7EZ
020 7247 2200
Tube: Liverpool Street Station, Aldgate
The Cost & Date: Thursday 20th November 2008 :: £65 for 5.
Food & Drink: We had soup, lamb on skewers, pig’s feet, fried crab, celery- mushroom- shrimp stir fry, this other dish I can’t remember and white rice of course. We had aloe vera for a drink.
Setting: Laid back Chinese style. No place mats, mandarin speaking staff, and 80% of customers were young Chinese. Apparently there’s a big basement with karaoke too. Type of place that is busy most nights with regular customers.
Service: Busy, but food came quick and fast. Card machine was broken. Good to bring cash to restaurants like this which are more on the laid back and unpretentious.
Story: One of my flatmates has been in London for five years and invited me and a few others to this place. She first went to this restaurant’s other location in Bethnal Green, but apparently that place is very small. I like this place, and the portion sizes are bigger than what you would pay for in Chinatown. The grilled lamb on skewers was really good; I definitely recommend it. The pig’s feet weren’t bad, but I’ve had better (at home and in China). We were all stuffed though and it is honestly a very good deal compared to some other places. We had leftovers and it was on the spicy side too which is nice.
Overall: Recommended for Northern Chinese food. Bring cash, and call ahead if you’re more than four any time and probably good to call ahead in general. People often line up for this place.
36-38 Dean Street
London W1D 4PS
0207 494 4716
Tube: Tottenham Court Road, Leicester Square, Picadilly Circus
The Cost & Date: Tuesday, 11 November 2008 Dinner. £44.10 (with 12.5% service charge) for two, me and my friend M.
Food & Drink: We just made right as happy hour ends which meant we had two Caipirhnas for the price of one. Rioja Chorizo for a starter; we each ordered the paella and followed it with a chocolate banoffie pie. M also had tea.
Setting: This is a chain restaurant. Vintage meets modern explosion? It’s a big space, comfortable tables and warm atmosphere. It’s dark, but offers intimacy. Not crowded on a tuesday night which is typical, but not dead either.
Service: Pretty decent, but not outstanding.
Story: M and I were here for hours since we had not seen each other for months, and now she’s in Paris and I’m in London. We could afford to splurge, and I know £50 for two is not splurging in this town, but it is where we come from. We stayed for hours, and the best part of the meal was the drinks which were like mojitos, minty, limey and cool and the banoffie pie which was drizzled with really good caramel (and I’m, not even a big fan of caramel). The chorizo was a tad oily, but we were hunrgy and we both liked chorizo. The paella had two mussels, some chicken, some squid, and one big shrimp. It was not stellar, but not bad. I’d try something else if I were ever to come here again.
Overall: Really not that bad for a chain. Not as awful as Garfunkels (so bleh that I won’t even review that). Recommended for drinks (Happy hour 1700 to 1900), and they had a tapas special between 1600-1800.
50-54 Kingsway (near Holborn station)
London WC2B 6EP
+44(0)20 7430 1888
The Cost & Date: Lunch for 2 was £12ish. Dinner for 4 was £50ish I think.
Food & Drink: For the lunch session, I had salmon maki. For dinner, I had the soba noodles. Tap water for drinks.
Setting: Nice decoration. I like the ladies washroom. The sushi bar has revolving mechanism.
Service: Nothing to complain or rave about.
Story: Both times, I was with this one friend who goes here quite often for the Udon. Due to the central location, this place is busy most times for lunch and dinner. The maki was actually good in that the salmon did taste fresh. The soba was way too salty for me though. I love buckwheat noodles, but there was too much salt in it.
Overall: Meh. The decor is pretty nice.
This is my first restaurant review on the blog. I have always wanted to try this out, and now I’ve moved to London where there are restaurants aplenty and a large possible population to go to them. A few warnings first: I can be a harsh towards eating places. It is not so much that I am picky of food, but I did not grow up going out a lot. While it is not that I do not like that others cook for me, I prefer home cooking (not necessarily my own). Secondly, family members and I have all worked in the restaurant industry, and while I love food, the experience with the business aspect of it makes me wary and also knowledgeable about what goes on behind the scenes. While I can be sympathetic to servers having been one before, I also know of servers who have gone the extra mile. I rarely have restaurants I go back to; it takes a lot for a restaurant to become my regular or favourite. Finally, this feature will not be as frequent due to this and other reasons, and since I am new at this (and harsh), bare with me. This is why this restaurant has no photo. I will also try to review more casual eateries and cafes.
2A Kensington Park Road
London W11 3BU
Tube: Notting Hill Gate
Tel 020 7243 1800
The Date & Cost: Sunday 19 Oct 2008 / £45 for 4
Food & Drink: Malay Chinese restaurant. I had the Penang Char Kway Teow (a signature dish apparently) which is wok fried rice noodles with prawns, beansprouts, egg, fish cake, soy sauce, chive and chili paste. The others had dumplings, a curry noodle dish, the beef, and another dish noodle I don’t quite remember. Two had drinks. We all had tap water too.
Setting: Probably the best thing about this place is the architecture and design. Their website has maps of the curved dining rooms on two levels. We were seated on the first floor, and it is decorated modernly with minimalistic touches. It did not look cold, and while we were there at night, it was still bright. I did like the decor and look of the place.
Service: Our waitress had a hard time understanding my choice of Penang even when I pointed to it and said the menu number. She forgot someone’s diet coke. They gave me less change than I asked for. Service in Europe is not the same as in North America so I have to have even lower expectations here now. Service was not horrific or anything to rave about. Service charge was not included in our bill so tip accordingly.
Story: This was the first real restaurant I actually ate out in England. One of my American classmates lives near by, and after some wine (from Nicolas) and cheese (we had some damn good English sheep milk cheese), we headed out for dinner around 8ish. We basically walked around and found this place decently priced considering the area and also spacious and well lit. Our other options in the area included asian fusion, pizza, and of course, pubs. The food was not that bad and we all liked it fine. My dish could have been done far worse, but was not terribly filling at £7.80. Also, while the menu has many spicy options, I am finding that spice in this country is not really spice at all.
Overall: Considering the other things in this area that we saw, this is a pretty good option. It may be a bit trendy, but food is decent considering the price range (also good for the area). I like the decor most of all though, and people who enjoy well and intriguingly decorated restaurants will enjoy the curved dining room which is a bit small, but interesting and well lit.