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Asian

Blog, Eat, London

Bao, Fitzrovia & Soho

August 19, 2016
Bao, Fitzrovia

Funny how little pillowy white buns can be talked about (and Instagrammed) so much.  But these ‘bao’ (Taiwanese steamed buns) are no ordinary buns.  Perhaps you only understand the hype once you’ve been, which means fully dedicating yourself to ‘the queue’.  Which is always substantial, and always a guaranteed long wait, because the Lexington Street Bao is tiny.  Except now, with Bao’s second opening in Fitzrovia, which offers a much larger space (this is all relative of course), the queues are also much more manageable.  Or maybe I got lucky, as I only queued about 15 mins (on a Wednesday evening at 7pm).

The flagship Bao opened last year to rave reviews (though they still have a permanent stall at Netil Market), and while desperate to go, my few attempts were immediately aborted having seen a row of people snake around the corner with no end in sight.  I’m impatient, and while I’m always willing to wait for food which is clearly off the charts delicious, there are limits.  The 15 minute Fitzrovia wait was more than manageable, and I was very surprised as we were ushered in so quickly (yes, I felt quite smug).  My speedy entrance made the food taste even better.

Bao, FitzroviaBao, Fitzrovia

The three of us ordered a good section of the menu, and only left things like duck hearts which pushes the boat out a little too far for me.  But we did dare try the crispy prawn heads (which were indeed crispy, and tasty), and the raw langoustines (which were very slippery, but also delicious).  We opted for two bao each, the classic of course (pulled pork, heaven in a mouthful) and then the black cod for Steph and the lamb for Emily and I. They were both delightful – but I can totally see how the Black Cod has become one of their most popular dishes (it’s photogenic too).  Apart from that the sweet corn dish with surprisingly good, I loved their aubergine and rice (too moorish for words) and their octopus was succulent and fiery.  It was all really really good.

Bao, Fitzrovia

The service was excellent, friendly, quick, helpful.  The (Austrian) house wine surprisingly fine (though the tiny glasses do add up price wise).  And the décor, simple with clean lines, is given the food you’re eating.

I’m going back, though unfortunately I know I won’t be the only one.

Bao Fitzrovia

31 Windmill St,

London W1T 2JN

Photo credit: Bao

Blog, Czech Republic, Prague

Sansho, Prague – EAT

February 28, 2016
Sansho, Prague

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the food scene in Prague. But then I came across the excellent Taste of Prague blog and felt a lot more confident.  One restaurant which was constantly mentioned (and praised) on a lot of Czech blogs was Sansho, a pan-Asian restaurant in the Jewish part of the Old Town.

So Saturday night we booked to go (pre-booking is recommended).  The interiors of the restaurant are simple and while its atmospheric, the focus is clearly on the food.  I totally get why people rave about this place. The food is out of this world.  Fresh, original, unpretentious.  For dinner they offer only the six course tasting menu.  Every course surprised us, and when we thought it couldn’t get any better, it did.

We had the salmon sashimi to start, which clearly they see as more of an amuse bouche.

Sansho, Prague

Followed by the clams for me, and the steak tartar for Hen as she didn’t like clams. Hen’s portion was as big as a main course.

Sansho, PragueSansho, Prague

Then came some pork dumplings.  I practically licked the plate.

Sansho, Prague

Followed by the most incredible slow cooked pork belly. Pork is big in the Czech Republic, but this was pork with a difference: Asian flavours, a pepper sauce and spicy broccoli. Even the fat was melt in your mouth good.

Sansho, Prague

By this point we were feeling pretty full, but one of their signature dishes was about to be served: soft shell crab sliders with wasabi mayonnaise.  Beautifully cooked and if you like Bao, you’ll love this.

As we had counted five courses we were now expecting desert. Except then the main course arrived.  A huge Malaysian curry selection, with a stunning jasmine tea infused trout Asian salad, lamb rendang, coconut roti, 24 hour slow cooked beef and pak choi. Incredible.  Despite bursting at the seam we still finished it all.

Sansho, Prague

Desert, we were told, were three mini portions.  Not so mini. There was a cheese cake, a chocolate biscuit with macha ice cream and a sticky toffee pudding. The sticky toffee pudding was hands down the best I have ever had. I later read that it is one of their most praised dishes.
Sansho, Prague

The whole meal came to £50 each, with a bottle of wine and coffees. Such a highlight to our weekend, the friendliest service and food that will make you want to go back the next day.

If you’re looking for a good cocktail bar for pre or post dinner, try L’Fleur, Cash Only, Hemingway or Black Angel, all about a 10 – 15 minute walk away.

Sansho

Petrská 1170/25,

110 00 Praha 1-Nové Mesto

 

Blog, Eat, London

Inamo, Covent Garden

January 18, 2016
Inamo, Covent Garden

Some of you will have been to the original Inamo, famous for it’s electronic interactive tables, where you can order your food by swiping your table and if you’re bored of your dining companion you can even play games on it.  I’d heard mostly good things about the first Inamo (now in Soho, first in St James’) and I like Pan-Asian food, so was keen to try the new one, around the corner from where I work.

Inamo, Covent GardenInamo, Covent Garden

It seems like regulars of the original Inamo will be disappointed, because the tables are no longer interactive.  You get an ipad instead, which yes, I quite enjoy using, but wonder if just ordering food from the waitress might be more effective/faster.  They do offer this ‘clicky thing’ (similar to a mouse) for the table, whereby you can click and watch a video of the chefs cooking (live), which I quite liked.  But then they also offer fairly pointless options like you can store photos of yourself on the table (my description is testament that I just didn’t get it).  So perhaps the whole technology thing is a bit gimmicky and where it worked for the first restaurant, it doesn’t really for the second.

Inamo, Covent Garden

Now for the positives.  The food was excellent.  Delicious sushi, lovely vegetable tempura, addictive dumplings, good chicken satay (I liked the coconut addition).  We saw a lot of other fabulous looking plates go by.  We did go with an offer, which always helps, and otherwise – as at most restaurants serving ‘small plates’ – the costs can really add up.

Inamo, Covent GardenInamo, Covent Garden

I thought the service was excellent, everyone was very friendly without seeming fake, and they are clearly doing their best.  It was very busy and there was a nice vibe – plus the cocktails (and the cocktail bar) looked good too.  They need to iron out a few things – but that’s what a soft launch is for – so I think die hard Inamo fans need to give the new one a chance.

Inamo 

11 – 14 Hanover Place

London, WC2E 9JP

Blog, Eat, London

Bo Drake – A Korean BBQ Smokehouse in Soho

November 7, 2015
Bo Drake, SOho

There are some streets in London – and unsurprisingly a number of these tend to be in Soho – where practically every restaurant and bar you walk past are on your ‘to do’ list.  Greek Street is one of them.

I love Balls & Company.  I am still desperate to go to 10 Greek Street, but am too impatient to queue (which seem inevitable here).  I recently discovered that Milroys of Soho has a hidden cocktail bar called the Vault.  These are all reasons to head to Greek Street.  And then there’s Bo Drake, the minimalist Korean Smokehouse, which looks as appealing as the rest do and which we found was the perfect Saturday night date place (fun, affordable and easy).

Bo Drake, Soho

Firstly, you can book.  But if you’ve not planned ahead you can also just walk in, and perhaps squeeze in at the long wooden communal table/bar, like we did.  The menu is very appealing, if you like Korean food and barbecued meat.  This is not really for the vegetarians out there.

Bo Drake, Soho

These dishes are all about punchy flavours.  I loved their Duck Bao, the meat incredibly juicy and full of flavour.  Their sweet potato fries with kimchi mayonnaise were phenomenal.  The Bo Ssam (smoked pulled pork, with kimchi and spring onions) was delicious, and we devoured their ‘KFC’ (photo above).  But I found their Smoked Aubergine a little disappointing, as I think I was expecting something similar to the aubergines at Shackfuyu (which are out of this world), and found them a bit bland.

Bo Drake, Soho

We made two mistakes: we didn’t order the Smoked Beef Stack or the Smoked Bobo Chicken.  The couple opposite us, clearly regulars here as they walked in a reeled off a list of plates straight away, did.  So there was a moment after dinner, when we were eyeing up the desert (the soft serve ice cream is meant to be amazing) and the cocktails, that we almost ordered the Beef Ribs.  But then refrained.

Bo Drake, Soho

Drinks wise, we opted for a bottle of their house wine, but they also have a very affordable cocktail list (£8) and some good beer options too.

Bo Drake, Soho

If you like the sound of this, you may also like aforementioned Shackfuyu, which is literally around the corner on Old Compton Street.  And if you need a place for post dinner drinks, then try the Vault (blog to follow) or Mr Fogg’s Tavern, or the Blind Pig.  No need to walk far when you’re on Greek Street.

Bo Drake

6 Greek St,

London W1 4DE

 

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