All posts filed under “Takeaway

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F.A.T by Freddie Residency @ Sharp’s * DunneFrankowski

A cut above average..

A buzz cut. A neck shave. An espresso. Or, a sandwich!? Sharp’s can fix it for you. This is a relatively hip barber’s formerly located on Charlotte Street. Recently, it was seduced to a new *flagship* site on Windmill Street. The operation is split into two parts, as trend has it in Fitzrovia. The front bit is a premium coffee shop by consultancy coffee brand DunneFrankowski, known to those from the East (of London). The barbers are kept in the vintage grooming ground in the back. According to TOB, who has been a loyal Sharp’s customer since its Charlotte Street site, if you get a cut, you can get a free barista-grade coffee. (I can’t verify this as I have my haircut at an internationally corporate, expensive and soul-less hair salon elsewhere). The sandwich that I speak of is a fabulous two-month addition at Sharp’s * DunneFrankowski.

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Five Guys + Shake Shack UK

Best burgers in Covent Garden?

Five Guys

Five Guys Burgers & Fries on Urbanspoon

Rating 2/5

Originating from DC, Five Guys is known for its history of offering freshly made burgers with hand-molded patties and hand-cut fries. That’s the start of its fame. The freshness, however, was the thing of the 80s. The brand has itself franchised and now in 2013 that it lands in London it is no more than just another fast food joint.

The Central London joint is vast and located just half way between Leicester Square and Covent Garden. The ambiance is pumped by music and benefits much from the jolly heavily American-accented wait staff. There are private booths in the basement. There are also two wicked computerized soda-blending machine that will make Willy Wonka proud. (I would queue for a Raspberry Coke Zero and many more)!!

As for the burgers, it depends on which point of view you come from. The menu at Five Guys is basic – Burger (£6.75), Cheeseburger (£8), Bacon Burger (£8) and Bacon Cheeseburger (£8.75) – and you can opt for the Little options (prices at £4.75, £5.50, £6 and £6.75 respectively). The price does not include fries (from £2.75 – £5). There are also sandwiches (£3.75 – £5). The taste, for me, is junk, but surely for a few others, nostalgically indulgent. My Little Cheeseburger did not kill me. The buns were flabby; the patty was not greasy but very bland; the cheese was heavily processed; the crunchy vegetable bits were redeeming. My Grilled Cheese Sandwich (£3.75), however, might kill me. Utterly processed.

(I did return to Five Guys for soda).

 

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Shake Shack

Shake Shack on Urbanspoon

Rating 3.5/5

Shake Shack – one of the most-loved ventures by NYC restaurateur extraordinaire Danny Meyer – has also unpacked at the Piazza of Covent Garden. Unlike Five Guys, Shake Shack burgers do not suffer much from jet lag from their look and are possibly the most photogenic burgers to date in London.

The “Shack” experience is, however, less inviting and very disparate. You need to roam around between the outdoor, the indoor, and the outdoor again. (The dining space inside the Piazza will prove challenging when the weather gets colder). The staff, on two of my visits, was not as charming as at Five Guys.

The menu covers much of what’s available at its counterparts in New York but supplemented with UK ingredients. (Think Angus beef patties and Cumberland sausage hot dogs). There is a good selection of “Shake” (£4.50 – £6.50). The price range is kinder than Five Guys: £5 – £7.25 for burgers, £2.50 – £3.50 for fries, and £4 – £5 for hot dogs. Shake Shack also sells dog treats.

I liked my Shack Stack (£7.75), which is a combo of a cheeseburger with an additional deep-fried cheesy mushroom patty. But, it was the mushroom patty and the fresh veggies that tasted. The beef patty itself was too thin and too docile to make an impact. The chew-y, pillow-y buns were a joy to eat. SmokeShack (£6.50 for single patty), containing smoked bacon and chopped cherry pepper, was a disappointment. I thought it was too bunny and yummy. (If you get this, it might work better by doubling the patty). Shack-cago Dog (£4.75) was studded with onions, cucumber and pickles, and dressed with Rick’s Pick Shack relish and mustard. I thought the whole thing was too sweet. While the halved and grilled beef sausage had a lovely strength of beef and a delightful texture, it was overwhelmed by everything else. Fries were gorgeous on their own, but the cheesy sauce did not leave much impression of cheese. (Oddly mayo-like and buttery).

(I also went back to try ‘Shroom Burger, which I liked).

Quick note. To put these new arrival burgers in the context of London hamburgers, they are great contribution in reviving the burger mania. Taste-wise, however, I find Shake Shack just respectable and Five Guys just edible. The burgers that I think most highly of are Patty and Bun, Byron and the Wagyu Sliders from the bar at 45 Park Lane

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FIVE GUYS

1 Long Acre
London
WC2E 9LH

www.fiveguys.co.uk

SHAKE SHACK UK

24, Market Building
Covent Garden Piazza
London
WC2E 8RD

Tel. 020 7240 0054

http://www.shakeshack.com/location/london-covent-garden/

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City Caphe + Sho Foo Doh (at Pacific Social Club) = My Fave Asians!!

Two of my most favourite Asians <3 <3 <3

City bound..

City Caphe on Ironmonger Lane seems just another Vietnamese takeaway shop, and I was once fooled by its recyclable crockery and a menu typical to any Vietnamese joint in London. After many visits, however, I began to feel this little paired-down shop IS the best Vietnamese food outlet in London. The proprietor Julie and her family run this small business with heart and soul. This, as you will see when at the shop, has earned them strings of very loyal lunch-crowd followers (in other words – possibly one of the longest and fastest-turning queues in London).

City Caphe is opened only during the week, roughly from 11am until 4pm. (Many items are sold out before 3pm). The menu is simple but not short. There are Pho, Bun Hue, Cuon, Bahn Mi, Spring Rolls and a superbly authentic and highly sugared Vietnamese Iced Coffee. All (apart from the coffee) come with a variety of stocks and toppings. The flavouring is well-judged and thoughtfully modified in ways that the recipes do not depart from authenticity. The portion is substantial and the price never goes above £6.50. Summer Roll (£3.75) – tightly packed with springy prawns, tender simmered pork and fresh herbs – was refreshing and delivered exactly what you’d expect from a proper summer roll. The sweet peanut-based sauce added velvety richness. Bahn Mi is freshly prepared and instantly assembled per orders. My Classic Pork Bahn Mi (£3.95) was tightly packed with multi-textured Vietnamese sausage slices and sweet pickles. City Caphe doesn’t bake baguette on the premise but has it tailored specially for them. Beef Bun Hue (£6.50) was consistently feisty. The good quality beef slices were perfectly poached. The Bun noodle was slurpy-licious. The intense beef stock went down a storm with the garlicky, spicy pungent-ness of chilli oil. An additional herb bag containing basil, chilli and lime wedge was a generous touch showing the kitchen does their best not to strip away authenticity. (The chicken version was very good, too).

 

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Forward to Hackney!!
East London is *in* and I have come across a handful of fun-filled places worth travelling for. (More posts for East London to come). One of these is Sho Foo Doh by Fumio Tanga, which was first set up as an okonomiyaki stall at Chatsworth Road Market on Sundays. Very quickly SFD became the words of mouth and Fumio is now a frequent lodger at nearby Pacific Social Club doing what he does very well – flipping Japanese pancakes!!

Born in Hiroshima (where okonomiyaki is the stable of life), Fumio moved to the UK a decade ago and has become pretty Hackneyed. He fuses, at Pacific Social Club (a cafe that might be described as a run-down space of polychromatic hipness and great vinyls), a nostalgic taste of home with a carefree spirit of East London. The specialities are, of course, booze and Japanese pancakes, but there’s a catch. Japanese pancakes that people outside Japan know are the popularised Osaka-style (a kind of fluffy mixed-meat, cabbage-y patty). For SFD, Fumio alternates this Osaka style with a Hiroshima counterpart. The latter is more layered than mixed, with sautéed noodle forming the base and a thin sheet of pancake to cover it all up.

At Pacific Social Club, Fumio is manning the hot plate in the evening from Thursday to Saturday. The menu changes according to his mood. The price for small plates hover between £3 and £6. The flat rate for an okonomiyaki is £8 but the price goes up depending on how many toppings (50p – £2) you would like to add. Chilled Aubergine (£3) was revitalising. The cooked aubergine chunks were left to marinate and sponge up the clear gingery dashi broth. My Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki was..errr… HUGE!! The pork belly mingled well with the springy squid. The noodle was mildly tossed and cooked in Fumio’s “secret” sauce. The shredded cabbage was layered and perfectly steamed between the noodle and the pleasantly chewy pancake sheet (on top). The generous sprinkling of chopped spring onions not only contributed zing but helped refresh the palate. I also had another one of sweet corn and cheddar cheese concoction which was equally utterly soulful and joyous.

Do note there are a few guest appearances at Pacific Social Club, including Bao London.

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SFD RATING 3.5/5

SHO FOO DOH @ PACIFIC SOCIAL CLUB

8 Clarence Road
London
E5 8HB

www.facebook.com/ShoFooDoh
Pacific Social Club on Urbanspoon

 

CC RATING 4/5

CITY CAPHE

17 Ironmonger Lane
Bank
London
EC2V 8EY

www.citycaphe.com

City Càphê on Urbanspoon

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The *New* Chinese Round Up: Bao London + Yum Bun + A Wong

BAO LONDON

RATING: 4/5

Bao London stands for the new breed of quality “street food” in London, serving up “xiao chi” (小吃), traditional Chinese street snacks found at market stalls. The fare here is Taiwanese; the bites are small; the team – comprising Shing, Ting & Er – is currently mobile. (I caught them at KERB but they also hold “evenings” at Pacific Social Club). The staple of Bao London is Bao (steamed bun with pork filling) but the rest of the menu varies. The price seems high, but it is backed by an ambition to source good produce and make everything from scratch.

Steamed Pork Bun (£3.50) was the best I’ve had in London. The buns were made by a formula of water roux starter and milk, left to ferment and then steamed. The result was a spectacularly milky white hue and a very neat and refined, pillow-y texture. Very light! (Personally I prefer their bun to Momofuku’s). The filling of steamed, shredded pork belly, mui-choi pickle, chopped coriander and ground toasted peanut tasted fresh and was quite a delight. (Personally I would prefer a touch stronger seasoning for the pork and that it was a little more drained. A little messy eating). Fried Chicken (£3.50/a bag of 4 pieces) was unique and addictive. Here strips of buttermilk-marinated chicken thighs were coated in seasoned crumbs, which after being fried, led to a very crispy veneer, an inner layer of stickiness and a mellow and tender chicken. Think a twist on “ham sui gok“? The seasoning in the crumb also left a hint of nutty-ness and a tingling sensation of chilli. Pomelo Salad (£2.50) was complimentary (because I went back for so many buns). Good texture – ranging from crispy fried vermicelli and crackling fried pastry, to crunchy vegetable bits and pearl-y pomelo shreds – but taste-wise it needed a bit more tang.

 
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YUM BUN

Yum Bun on Urbanspoon

RATING: 3.5/5

Yum Bun – formerly a stall at Broadway Market, Eat Street and many good festivals – has now turned stationary as a takeaway shop annexed to Shoreditch’s Rotary Bar & Diner. On the menu are Momofuku-inspired buns with 6 filling variations, priced at £3.50 for one and £6 for two. The lunch-only bento option (with 2 buns, 1 gyoza, 1 miso soup and 1 side salad) is available at £7.50.

The “bao” buns here cannot be identified with Momofuku’s pristine execution. They were more bread-y, cushion-y, thicker but not stodgy. (Much bigger than Bao London but far less refined). I liked them for their munch-able sweetness. The fillings were fine complements. My “Mushroom” – Portebello mushroom slices, toasted walnuts and miso glazing – was too mild to counter the bun. My “Chicken” – packed with marinated, flour-dusted and deep fried strips of thighs and finished with a dose of tartar mayo and chilli dressing – were successful. The chicken pieces were crispy enough. The lettuce garnish was fresh. My only concerns were the sauces, which tasted processed. The same went for my “Pork” – spiced-rubbed, slow-roasted belly slices to be seared on hot plate and doused with hoi sin sauce. I personally found the sauce, again, a little too processed-tasting and so sweet that it undermined the moreish belly. The refreshing crunch from the cucumber slices and shredded spring onions alone couldn’t mediate the sweetness effectively. Perhaps in the long run, they could benefit enormously from developing the sauce that is more loose in texture and more clarified in taste, because everything else about these buns was YUM!!

 

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A WONG

A. Wong on Urbanspoon

RATING: 4/5

A Wong isn’t just another “Wong” of Chinese restaurants. Mr. A or Andrew is an interesting lad. He studied at Oxford and LSE, ditched all that completely and turned his late father’s restaurant premise, just off Victoria Station, into a casual but inventive Chinese restaurant. Before all this kitchen action took place, he spent time tasting his way around China and brought back souvenirs of his own culinary re-construction.

There are three menus at A Wong. The dim sum menu at lunch is unique as dim sum items are sold non-traditionally per piece (£1.30-4.95). The a la carte menu (£3-8) and the 8-course “Taste of China” (£38.88) are only served at dinner. The “Snacks” (£1.50-4.95) are available all the time. Century Egg in Sweet Soy and Marinated Tofu (£3.95) was refined. The pleasantly musty cubes of century eggs foiled well with the chilled silky tofu and the clear soy broth. The lightness of the latter was, to me, reminiscent of Japanese dashi and forewent the stereotype of hefty and salty Chinese cooking. The coriander cress provided lemon-y aroma. Sesame Buttered Smoked Chicken (£4.95) screamed quality but the nutty dressing required more complexities and balance. Too cloyingly sweet, for my liking. The two variations of Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings) that I tried were decent. Yunnan Mushrooms, Pork and Truffle Dumplings (£1.75 each) boast depths. I also liked the contrasting texture from the sauteed mushroom topping. The truffle dimension was thoughtful and not just for show. Shanghai Dumplings with Ginger Vinegar (£1.30 each) was modernized. The traditional “ginger vinegar” made its appearance in form of exuberantly marinated tapioca pearls. The soup filling was peppery and porky. The problem, however, lied not in taste combination but in the skill set. Three of these dumplings leaked before they reached the table, otherwise they would have created more firework.

Har Gau (£1.30 each) was served with sweet chilli sauce, under some citric foam. While the foam was zesty and aromatic, its tartness was too intrusive when I gobbled down my piece of har gau. The har gau itself was nice but not stellar. The prawn was springy but the casing lacked a touch of rice-y gelatinous texture. This might be because its exterior became wet from the foam. 63 Degree Tea Egg (£4.95) achieved gooey softness and looked wonderful in the nest of fried filo shreds. The tea scent was also imminent but finely tuned. Quail Egg Croquette Puff (£1.30 each) was served with fried seaweed and an oil-based dipping made from garlic, ginger and spring onion. The flimsy crispyness of the deep fried taro puff contrasted marvelously with the ejaculating egg within. In my opinion, this was more successful than Bo London‘s take of the same dish (smoked quail egg, taro puff and caviar). The dipping, however, didn’t do much and the fragility of the puff itself made an act of dipping a little unease. I enjoyed, to the same extent, Hand Moulded Crispy Bun with Black Sesame Dip (£1.50 each). The buns were correctly sweet and delightfully chewy. I didn’t think highly of the sticky black sesame dip, mostly for its grainy texture, awkward bitterness and lack of nutty depth.

My meal at A Wong was not perfect but this is definitely the restaurant to watch out for. The menu is exciting and does not try making any statement just for the sake of it. There is also a unique kind of sensitivity of taste and approach to Chinese cooking that I find progressive, and for the most part, very delicious.

 

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BAO LONDON

Currently mobile. Check their website for locations/events.

www.baolondon.com

YUM BUM

31 Featherstone Street
Shoreditch
London
EC1Y 2BJ

Tel. 07919 408221

www.yumbun.co.uk

A WONG

70 Wilton Road
London
SW1V 1DE

Tel. 0207 828 8931

www.awong.co.uk

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Balthazar Bakery: NYC Haunt Finds Home in Covent Garden

New kid on the block..

The ever popular Balthazar brasserie has been THE place-to-be of New York City and recently emulated its uber-glam vibe to Covent Garden occupying the Flower Cellars, the corner of Russell Street and Wellington Street. Annexed to the restaurant (soon to open) is Balthazar Bakery, an amalgamation of an authentic-looking all-day French boulangerie and a luxe sandwich haunt.

In the morning (from 7.30am) a wide range of viennoiserie is served and this is to be followed up with a selection of salad and sandwiches at lunch hours onwards. Everything is prepared from scratch; the ingredients speak quality; the staff are charming, handsome and hospitable; the wonderful range of all good and freshly baked things on display that encapsulate you when walking into the shop can easily induce a bread-gasm. The price is also reasonable enough not to ruin the orgasm. (£4 for filled croissant and croque monsieur; £2.75 for most pastries; £4.25 for a bag of madeleines). I lost track of the price for bread. Like at a boulangerie, all items are to take away.

 

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I spent some good minutes sampling the free stuff. Pain au Chocolat was nice but I found Pain aux Raisins (£2.75) more balanced in taste and texture. The plump raisins, in particular, were appealing. The paid items were pretty good, too. Croque Monsieur (£4), which can be warmed up on the grill on request, was generously stuffed with finely shaved ham. The coy aroma of grilled cheese mingled well with the cheese-laded bread. Comforting and delicious, it left a glossy texture on the lips. Ham Gruyere Croissant (£5) was pimped with juicy roasted tomatoes. The croissant had an excellently crispy exterior. Personally I think the filling could do with less cheese as the ham was rather overwhelmed by it. Cinnamon Bun (£2.75) was decadently caramelized and the cinnamon perfume was notable. The bun itself was a little dense and hard. Financier (£1.45) was one of the best I’ve had in London and arrived dotted with raspberry jam. Moist. Buttery. Sweet. The tang from the jam and the pistachio nutty-ness provided good contrasts.

(Will be back for lunch)!! And I haven’t opened the madeleine yet.

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RATING 3.5/5

BALTHAZAR BAKERY

4-6 Russell Street
London
WC2B 5HZ

www.balthazarlondon.com

Balthazar Boulangerie on Urbanspoon

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London Round Up: The Burgers

*TASTE DISCLAIMER*

I have a preference for clean-tasting, not so greasy burgers and used to be on the hunt for them. But, ever since the arrival of much trusted Burgerac and Burgerapp! I just eat according to their rating.

But for this post.. I ate for you, for my own indulgence point of view. Please enjoy and feel for my wobbling calories.

PATTY AND BUN

Patty and Bun on Urbanspoon

RATING: 4/5

Roast alumnus Joe Grossman has made the name for Patty and Bun from various pop-ups and finally decided to go stationary next to Selfridges. The burger menu here is more extensive – 3 kinds of beef, 1 chicken, 1 lamb and 1 veggie – with the prices fluctuating between £7 and £8. (The Ari Gold Cheeseburger is the most talked about). Chips (with rosemary salt) aren’t included.

I opted for Jose Jose Chilli Burger (£8) – beef patty, chilli chorizo relish, pickled onion, smokey P&B sauce, and the usual. It was GOOD!! Apparently… it took a while for the burger to be transported between the kitchen and the dining room, and the lost minutes did result in my lettuce being so cooked and my otherwise gorgeously light brioche bun to be a little too wet. Still, I loved the smokey and paprika-scented taste that glazed the perfectly pink and loose patty. The chilli heat was detectable but not strong. Lamb Shank Redemption (£8) was also GOOD!! The inspiration was quite Turkish for me. The lamb patty boast strong taste and zingy infusion but was balanced off by refreshing cumin aioli and cooling feta. The braised red cabbage provided a crunchy contrast. Despite the messy look, both of the burgers had quite a gourmet charm about them. Not so much greasy aftertaste <3 <3 <3

 

TOMMI’S BURGER JOINT

Tommi's Burger Joint on Urbanspoon

RATING: 3.5/5

It is now universally acknowledged that despite its shack-like American decor Tommi’s Burger Joint does not have much to do with America. Rather, it is a small chain from Iceland (country, not supermarket -___-” ). The menu isn’t big but there are 2 different beef patties to choose from. The regular burger starts at £5.30; the cheeseburger at £5.80. For a better quality of the patty, there is Steak Burger at £7.95. You can add £1 extra for cheese and Bearnaise dipping sauce. The price above is exclusive of fries.

My Steak Burger with Cheese was quite neat and okay. The patty – a concoction of rump, rib-eye and fillet – was lean and robust; the garnish – lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup and mustard – was downright basic and didn’t do much; the glazed bun was pillow-y. I found the accompanying Bearnaise sauce a little too processed in taste. I also tried Tommi’s regular burger, which was not bad but you could find much better burgers elsewhere in London.

(The ventilation isn’t great so if you don’t want to be as smoky as your burgers, don’t go during busy hours).

SLIDER BAR

Slider Bar on Urbanspoon

RATING: 3.5/5

Slider Bar is a collaboration between the ex-truck, much raved Lucky Chip and the convincingly hip Player (cocktail bar). The good ‘n messy burgers, correspondingly, become trendily sized, and you can choose any two of the sliders at £10 (including fries). (When I visited, there were 4 beef variations, 1 veggie and 1 seasonal special). Also, exclusive at lunch hours is the option of a normal-size burger of any on the menu (£not sure how much). For dinner, aim for a cool scene with things to nibble but it’s not ideal as a sitting down kinda meal.

I went for El Chappo – aged beef patty, blue cheese, roasted jalapenos, smoked bacon and aioli in a sesame-studded bun. The chilli and the stinking blue combo was remarkably delicious; but I found the patty a little too cooked (to about medium well) and dry for my liking. The bun was quite forgettable. Cheeseburger – think a mini-MacDonald Cheeseburger!! – was more of a success story. The bun was nicely steamed for a cushion-y, pleasantly chewy softness; the pickle was crunchy and tangy; the cheese meltingly good; but the patty (again) was a little too cooked. Very good but there was quite a greasy aftertaste.

 

HONEST BURGER SOHO

Honest Burgers (Soho) on Urbanspoon

RATING: 3.5/5

Honest Burger has branched out to Soho but the decor – a strictly organic wooden look – reminds me of its original outpost in Brixton Village. There are 5 variations on the menu: “Chicken” (£8.5), “Beef” (£7.5), “Cheese” (£8), “Honest” (£9), and “Fritter” (£6.5). All orders come with chips.

I went for the Honest, which was just nice. The quality dry-aged beef patty from Ginger Pig was macho and carefully seared for medium rare pinkness; the glazed bun was lovingly toasted; but, I was not keen on their signature sweet onion relish, which not only failed to create a good texture contrast in the burger but also oozed a rather odd fragrance of either herbs or spices. Also I found the chips with rosemary salt so strong in aroma that it offset my appetite for the burger.

 

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PATTY AND BUN

54 James Street
London
W1U 1HE

Tel. 020 7487 3188

www.pattyandbun.co.uk

 

TOMMI’S BURGER JOINT

58 Marylebone Lane
London
W1U 2NX

Tel. 020 7935 5275

www.burgerjoint.co.uk

 

SLIDER BAR

8 Broadwick Street
London
W1F 8HN

Tel. 020 7065 6841

www.sliderbar.co.uk

 

HONEST BURGER SOHO

4a Meard Street
London
W1F 0EF

Tel. 020 3609 9524

www.honestburgers.co.uk