All posts filed under “Food Hall

20121230-014234.jpg
comment 1

London Round Up: The Asian(s)

The London restaurant scene moves forward at the speed of light. Even some of the good restaurants don’t survive the test of time, and for those that do live on, I think they need some extra mentioning here ^_^

ASADAL

Asadal on Urbanspoon

RATING: 3/5

Situated on the basement level of a building next to Holborn Tube Station, Asadal is my slightly-more-expensive-than-average Korean restaurant with quite a wide selection on the barbecue menu (£6.50-18.50) and a relatively effective and non-intrusive extraction system. (No ventilation tube at table to suck your eyelashes off, so to speak). Useless as this may sound, I never try order anything else at Asadal apart from barbecue, kimchi and rice dishes. The pungent, variably spiced selection of Kimchi (£6) was crunchy and reliable. Namool Selection (£4.50) was less successful and lacked some vital aromatic dimension of sesame oil. That said, in most Korean restaurants in London, kimchi and namool dishes are complimentary. An Chang Kui/Rib Eye Marinated with Sesame Oil (£13.80) spoke quality but was too calm in taste. More robustness and fragrance from the marinate and the char would have made it brilliant. Bulgogi/Marinated Topside Beef Slices (£9.20) had more flavours, notably sweetness. Gal Bi/Stripes of Marinated Rib (£9.50) was my usual favourite – beefy, well-marinated and quite full of tenderised bites. Dewji Bul Go Gi/Spicy Marinated Pork (£8.50) was lost on the spicy side. Sang Chu/Fresh Lettuce with Seasoned Bean Paste (£2.50) was nice, though I would have loved the paste with a little more heat. Pa Seng Che/Shredded Spring Onions in Sesame Oil and Chilli Powder (£1.90) was fresh, feisty and vinegary. Great foil to the mellow taste from the barbecue. Kimchi Bokum Bab (£8.80) was a dish of stir-fried rice with kimchi and small beef cubes. The rice was grainy but quite wet; the heat was there to please (me) but it could induce a kimchi sweat from irregular chilli consumers; the beef cubes were tough and lost in taste.

 

MITSUKOSHI

Mitsukoshi on Urbanspoon

RATING: 3.5/5

For those in the know (of Japanese shopping), Mitsukoshi is the long-standing Japanese department store with many of its branches spreading across Japan, Asia, Europe and America. The one in London – on Lower Regent Street and next to Japan Centre – attracts mostly Japanese (and some Chinese) tour groups. You may expect the same groups of diners in the basement restaurant. You can also expect an all-encompassing, everybody-can-eat menu. And, you can expect Japanese authenticity. The ambiance is low-key, but it is often busy.

The lunch menu contain mainly set courses, costing between £15-27. Most options are served with a bowl of rice, soup and side salad. The dinner menu is dearer but features a wider range of A La Carte dishes. Given my experience at Mitsukoshi, it’s best to go for lunch; the non-deep-frying dishes are usually acceptable; the sashimi, sourced by the same fish supplier as Sushi Tetsu, is reliable.

My Una-Ju Zen (£26.50) from the dinner menu was decent. The accompanying sashimi starter (of salmon, akami and seabass was fresh, though the wasabi was quite dry and tired and didn’t taste much. The eel grilled and caramelised with kabayaki sauce was meaty and fell apart apart in my mouth. The smoky sweetness was quite distinct and the rice was nicely cooked. More spectacular was my A La Carte De Luxe Sashimi (£28.80) from the lunch menu. This premium assortment included salmon, akami, sea bass, yellowtail, flounder, scallops, prawns, squids and vinegared snow crab. It went down quickly with a bowl of rice ^_^

 

CENTREPOINT SUSHI

Centrepoint Sushi on Urbanspoon

RATING: 2.5/5

Centrepoint Sushi is a hidden Japanese restaurant above the Japanese-Korean supermarket on St Giles High Street. The budget-priced menu covers a wide selection of dishes, from sashimi and sushi to deep-fried and cooked dishes. Not a destination restaurant, but more of a place you pop in and order the safest-sounding dishes on the menu and hope the kitchen will execute it right.

My chicken karaake bento box (around £12) was decent. The batter was crispy; the chicken did taste like chicken; and the rice was nicely cooked. The side order of assorted pickles (£4) was full of crunch. From my previous experience, however, the sashimi here isn’t usually the freshest. (Generally you can’t really go budget for good sushi or sashimi).

 

PRINCESS GARDEN OF MAYFAIR

Princess Garden on Urbanspoon

RATING: 3.5/5

The Mayfair scene is usually the place for swanky, inventive Chinese restaurants (say, Bo London, Novikov Asian, Kai and Hakkasan) but its much more traditional Cantonese Chinese restaurant neighbour Princess Garden of Mayfair will have enjoyed its 30-year-old success in 2013.

For me, Princess Garden isn’t the place you go for a *wow* dim sum lunch but a reliably well-done one. The pricing for dim sum (around £3-4) is also quite a steal for the Mayfair location. To my knowledge, they are also the only Chinese restaurant that offers abalone and sea cucumber as the fixed staples on their dinner menu.

My char siu puff (£2.90) flaked nicely and was without grease. The pork was gently spiced and deliciously sweet. The shredded mooli cake (£2.90) was tangy, crispy and crunchy. The beef cheng fun with enoki mushrooms (£4), thinly wrapped and doused in rich sweetened soy dressing, also boast a correct texture. The turnip cake (£2.80), oozing a mild turnip aroma, was soft on the inside and fried for delectable crisp on the outside.

MANGO TREE

Mango Tree on Urbanspoon

RATING: 2/5

Mango Tree and Pan Chai by Ian Pengelley are counter restaurants at Harrods Food Hall. The former took over the old dim sum bar; the latter the older sushi bar. Interestingly enough, the majority of the menus of the former restaurants have survived this rechristening. One desperately hungry moment led me to taking a seat at Mango Tree, now a dim sum bar with a modern *fusion* Thai menu. The price range is high enough to make a Harrods regular gasp. The *cheapest* options on the menu are Spare Ribs and Choi Sum with Oyster Sauce at £7.50 each; the most startlingly expensive option is Thai Green Curry with Wagyu Beef at £59.80.

Seeing the menu, my appetite dwindled and I resorted to Goong Ten (£15.80). The dish – or, rather, my martini glass – held three king prawns steamed in ridiculously bland and watery tom yum dressing and a bed of banal (but fresh) salad of carrot and cabbage. This was edible but overwhelmingly disappointing, which is a shame because Harrods’s recent redevelopment of its restaurant section is really exciting.

 

NAHM (Closed)

Nahm on Urbanspoon

2012 also saw the end of the era of Nahm London – the world’s first Thai restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star. Chef David Thompson has moved on not only to opening Nahm in Bangkok to great acclaims but also to branching out in London, Hong Kong and a few other destinations in Asia for more casual ventures. I will miss the macho, meaty and slightly salty take of Thai cuisine at Nahm as well as its sparkling array of Thai desserts (the best I’ve ever had in and outside Thailand).

Below was a combination platter of Nahm’s iconic desserts Pumpkin and Taro Custard, with threads of syrup-poached egg yolk and caramelised sesame biscuits. (Well, Bangkok is just one 12-hour flight away)..

___________________________________________________________________

ASADAL

Kingsbourne House
229-231 High Holborn
London
WC1V 7DA

Tel. 020 7430 9006

www.asadal.co.uk

 

MITSUKOSHI

Dorland House (Basement)
14-20 Lower Regent Street
London
SW1Y 4PH

Tel. 020 7930 0317

www.mitsukoshi-restaurant.co.uk

 

CENTREPOINT SUSHI

20 St Giles High Street
London
WC2H 8LN

Tel. 020 7240 6147

 

PRINCESS GARDEN OF MAYFAIR

8-10 North Audley Street
London
W1K 6ZD

Tel. 020 7493 3223

www.princessgardenofmayfair.com

 

MANGO TREE

Harrods (Ground Floor)
Brompton Road
London
SW1X 7XL

Tel. 020 7730 1234

www.harrods.com

 

 

IMG_3718
comment 0

The Madeleine Hunt!

MADELEINE!!!

Yes, I am obsessed with madeleine and in London, oddly enough, I have had my best madeleine moment at one extremely British establishment St John Bread and Wine. During my last trip to Paris, I was keen to hunt for the perfect madeleine.

Day 1:

My little research first directed me towards this little, unassuming patisserie in the 12th Arrondissement called Ble Sucre. Chef-owner Fabrice Le Bourdat, who worked alongside legendary chefs in the like of Ducasse, Bristol and Daniel Boulud, baked everything from biscuits, viennoiserie to fancy cakes, and walking in, I became extremely dazzled by multi-coloured gateau galore!

I had to stop my arms from reaching out for sweets–seriously!!–and focused on what I was there for, the madeleine. There was one other reason I should not go for cakes at the time, too, which was that my meal at L’ Astrance was coming up in an hour. Damn it!

So, the madeleine? A bag of four madeleine–the other one was already in my mouth!–baked in the early morning, cost just about €4. Very reasonable price, I’d say. Actually the pretty cakes there were also priced not to send you away with a heart attack, though overindulgence might result in life-changing diabetes. Taste-wise, the Ble Sucre madeleine had this slightly burnt fragrance, which I found very pleasant to the nose; it was also coated with a thin layer of sugar, which not only added extra sweetness but also crunchy texture. And so my verdict went: the Ble Sucre madeleine was Fantastic with a capitalised F!!

Day 2:

I had a head against heart dilemma of going back to Ble Sucre and of getting on with my other madeleine destination. The head prevailed, and I roamed toward La Grande Epicerie de Paris, one massive food hall adjacent to Le Bon Marche. There were enough arrays of mouth-watering cakes and sweets to throw myself off balance and crash into the glass counter!!

Yet, my eyes were not astray long enough; and seconds later I located the Grande Epicerie madeleines. Why? Because their madeleines were gigantic, almost three times the size of the Ble Sucre!! And considering I was there just after 10am, their madeleines were really flying off the counter.

 

Instead of grab-and-go, I was told to dash upstairs to the Cafe at Le Bon Marche, where these madeleines were served warm. Et, voila!

Tucking in, I found the texture to be spongy, soft and oozing buttery aroma. It, however, did not have as much flavour compared to Ble Sucre, and the gargantuan size worked against its goodness by giving too much and leaving nothing else I could crave for. And the verdict went: “decent” with a lower-case “d”.

The ultimate question was: did the French madeleine outdo my British madeleine from St John? Ble Sucre came close to beating it. Actually if the Ble Sucre ones were fresh out of the oven, St John would have been history. Gosh! Better finish this post now before I get even more hungry >_<

 

Enough said,

My head and heart rating for Ble Sucre shots, “10 out of 10″.

My head and heart rating for Ls Grande Epicerie de Paris says, “7 out of 10″.

BLE SUCRE

Square Trousseau
7, rue Antoine Vollon
Paris 75012
France

Tel. +331 43 40 77 73

Metro: Ledru-Rollin

LA GRANDE EPICERIE DE PARIS

38 Rue de Sèvres
Paris 75007
France

Tel. +331 44 39 81 00

www.lagrandeepicerie.fr

Metro: Sevre-Babylone

 

IMG_1013
comments 2

When in Bruges …

EAT A LOT OF CHOCOLATE!!!!

Yes.

Last Monday I was in Brugge–also known as “Bruges” to the rest of the world–Belgium, the world’s capital of chocolate. Guess what–you don’t need to–chocolate was at the very top of my food agenda. There are so many ready-made and artisanal chocolate shops in the city. I was so excited tasting, picking, boxing, paying, taking pictures of chocolate truffles and praline.

It was definitely a cloud-nine moment. Until …

Until my head turned to this deli called D’s Deldycke Traiteurs, I forgot, momentarily–actually approximately half an hour–my chocolate mission. How couldn’t I, especially when I was extremely distracted by D’s Deldycke Traiteurs‘s colourful arrays of food!!

I dived straight into the pick’n mix menu of D’s Deldycke Traiteurs canapes! One other good thing about D’s Deldycke Traiteurs is that it’s a cross between a seafood bar and a deli. You can savour fresh lobsters and oysters, nibble on cured meat platters, sip Champagne, or like me, opt for the chilled food. Eating in, plus service, will cost you an extra of €2.50, but I think it’s worth it.

Here’s my selection of canapes:

(Top Left) Macaron of Chicken Liver Mousse, King Crab, Roquefort Cheese Mini-Sandwich
(Bottom Left) I can’t remember the first two. The truffle lookalike one was coated with Pistachio. The second was made of hard-textured, nutty and sweet cheese. Then, Foie Gras Coasted with Poppy Seeds and Fish Roe with Potato! Everything was just delightful!!

Mini-meal done! Looking at what’s on offer in the open fridge, I was contemplating another visit to D’s Deldycke Traiteurs.

Sadly, as I was informed by the lovely server, D’s is not opened for business on Tuesdays. My attention was, hence, turned (back) to chocolate.

OOPS!! Not THEM ones   >_<

To conclude..

IMPRESSION: 3.5/5
INNOVATION: 4/5
COMFORT: 2/5
NUMBER: 9.5


(read about rating here)

 

 

D’S DELDYCKE TRAITEURS

23 Wollestraat
8000 Brugge
Belgium

Tel. +32 50 33 43 35

www.deldycke.be

The Eclair Delusion
comments 3

Fauchon’s Eclair Weekend Feast, Paris

Place de la Madeleine in Paris is full of food awesomeness: 2-Michelin-starred Senderens, Prunier Caviar House, Maison du Truffe, and… my world’s most favourite food store Fauchon!

I was prying at Fauchon’s windows before its opening hours and found out (this was an understatement) it was running an Eclair Weekend Feast. It was truly dazzling, the French Charlie’s Eclair Factory!! There were about 50 flavours or so. Some were savoury, others colourfully sweet. I wanted to be the first ever customer to buy them eclairs!! Too bad I had a table booked at Pierre Gagnaire and couldn’t stop. Should I just cancel it?

 

Read More