Dinner at Posto Pubblico, Hong Kong

hk5 Due to overbooking of our flight (grr!) we had to spend an extra night in Hong Kong. So after having checked in at the airport hotel we took the train back to Central for some dinner and drinks, it was Saturday night after all. We wandered around Soho and liked the look of this Italian place called Posto Pubblico. hk7 After a small antipasti plate we chose a pasta dish each. Ro had the one with calamari and a bit of spice (top photo) and I had the linguine with clams. Both dishes were fresh and nice. hk6To add some vegetables we ordered a side of grilled vegetables. They were more or less covered in oil and parmesan – very nice but not all that healthy… Posto Pubblico is a nice little restaurant. The food is fresh and we had a nice meal here. With hindsight it was perfect to have seafood before going to Cambodia and Vietnam where we probably had pork every day. Posto Pubblico, G/F, 28 Elgin Street, Central, Hong Kong

Dinner at Rex & Mariano, Soho

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It’s a few weeks ago now, that Daisy, Rowena and I had a lovely dinner at the fairly new addition to the Soho restaurant scene; Rex and Mariano.

This is a seafood restaurant with great produce but very reasonable prices. And they still have oysters, tartares, ceviche, prawns, mussels and plenty of fish.

The interior goes with the less is more price-setting. It’s simple and scaled back but still nice.

After being seated at our table, we’re told we order everything on the table’s iPad. The software is very easy to use and you can order one or a few things at the time. The waiters’ job is from here on in just to bring the food to the table and answer any questions from the diners. Very efficient!

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Just like in many other restaurants, Rex & Mariano encourages sharing the dishes, which I also enjoy as it’s the best way to avoid food envy. Our first dish was burrata with tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. It was nice but not the creamiest burrata I’ve ever had.

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We then had an oyster each, and they were really big and juicy. And delicious!

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After that we shared this seabass ceviche with coriander, yuzu and red onions.

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The grilled red prawns with lemon, olive oil and sea salt were amazing! So simple but great produce.

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Also the tuna tartare with avocado, chilli and lime was very nice.

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But my favourite that evening was the mussles. We had them as a main with fries and tenderstem broccoli, and what I liked about this dish apart from the mussels being top quality (they were big, sweet and juicy), I loved the sauce. It wasn’t the usually creamy Mariniere type sauce, instead it was a light buttery emulsion.

After all of this I was quite happily full, but the girls fancied a pudding and enjoyed a lovely chocolate mousse with pistachios. The pudding menu wasn’t large and they all seemed to be prepared ahead of time, but they were still very nice. But you can tell the focus here is on the fish and seafood.

Because of the efficient ordering process on the iPad the service charge is as little as five or six percent, which also contributes to the value for money track this restaurant is already on.

Rex & Mariano, 2 St Anne’s Court, London W1F 0AZ

Dinner at Social Eating House, Soho

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Jason Atherton has been busy opening restaurants the last few years with the additions of City Social, Little Social and Social Eating House to his earlier established Pollen Street Social.

Out of the new editions I have only been to Little Social, but a few weeks ago I went to Social Eating House in Soho for dinner with a friend from home I haven’t seen in ages. It was so much fun and since we’re both foodies we thoroughly enjoyed the food as well!

Both starters were amazing! My smoked Angus steak tartare (above) was to die for. Lovely flavours, amazing meat and loved the toppings that added different textures. Oh and the egg cream was delicious too!

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Mattias basically had a cheese fondue on a plate with warm Vacherin Mont d’Or, croutons, ham, chicory and boiled new potatoes. Utterly delicious!

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The main courses were also really nice. This slowcooked venison with date jam, kale, brazil nuts and goat’s cheese was delicious but the lamb was even better. V

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The lamb loin from Kent with neck confit, miso caramel, aubergine and mint yoghurt was pure perfection! Especially the confit was to die for and the whole combination of flavours was spot on!

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We were too full for a proper pudding (the portions here were certainly substantial) but we couldn’t resist some sorbets and icecreams. Mattias had the coconut (which tasted a bit like Malibu) and mixed berry, which was really nice. The mango sorbet I had was really good and the yoghurt icecream was nice too.

I’m a big fan of chef Atherton and his restaurants. Both I’ve been too have a very high standard of both food, wine and service. The ambiance is nice and relaxed too which is a plus. It’s just very well done. All of it.

Social Eating House, 58 Poland Street, Soho, London W1F 7NR

Dinner at Koya, Soho

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Koya, who recently opened another branch, Koya Bar, just down the streat from its original restaurant on Frith Street, has been around for quite a while but I (finally!) did my first visit a few weeks back. It was a cold cold January evening and me and some friends thought a warming bowl of noodles would make a perfect supper.

We started with a few small plates specials from the board and I must say they varied a bit. The fried tofu (above) was alright I thought, but not being a tofu fan my comments may not do it justice. My friends seemed to enjoy it a lot more!

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The sword fish came in breaded and fried chunks complete with bones and things. Not my favourite but perfectly OK.

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But I really enjoyed the grilled oysters!

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For our mains most of us had noodles, but Jenny chose a domburi (rice bowl) with beef and vegetables that looked really good!

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I had a wonderful noodle soup with pork, vegetables and miso. The broth was had great flavour and the udon noodles a nice chewiness to them, the pork itself was probably the least exciting with the dish. It was just what I needed; a soothing and warm bowl of noodle soup!

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Laura also had a noodle soup, but one of the specials with miso and fried salsify (I think), not in the picture. Unfortunately the photo of Amy’s noodle soup with vegetable tempura came out grainy, but I think you can imagine what it looked like. It was also really nice.

We were very satisfied with our meal (and wine) but it’s not a place where you can linger. As soon as you’ve finished someone wants your table; it’s first come first serve – no bookings.

Koya, 49 Frith Street, London W1D 4SG

Bocca di Lupo, Soho – revisited

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A few weeks ago we had a leaving dinner for Phuong – another American friend of mine to return to the US of A. While I don’t blame her for choosing sunny California over dreary England, she’ll still be missed!

The venue Phuong chose for her leaving dinner is one of my favourite restaurants in town; understated and cosy Italian Bocca di Lupo in Soho.

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We started with some bubbly and the Bocca Prosecco was very good! We also got some bread, grassy olive oil to dip the bread in and some olives while we had a look at the menu.

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We then shared quite a lot of starters. First calamari with baby squid which was really good!

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Our waiter recommended the crescentine; deep-fried flatbreads, with cream cheese and salmon roe. He wasn’t wrong, they were delicious!

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The fried sweetbreads with crispy artichoke I’ve had before and it was just as nice this time. The sweetbreads were nice and soft but with a crispy exterior.

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We also had a plate of crudo consiting of tuna tartar with pine nuts, wonderfully sweet marinated prawns and delicious scallops. Especially the prawns were absolutely wonderful!

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We then continued with primi and pasta. Again we shared a few dishes. First up was gnocchi with wild garlic pesto and mozzarella. Really nice and the gnocchi were amazing!

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The tortelloni with prosciutto and cheesy sauce was also really nice.

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But the orecchiette with n’duja, red onions and tomato was the winner – amazing! A nice combination of spicy, creamy and a little acidity.

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Finally we shared some roasted pumpkin with parmesan…

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… and this absolutely wonderful saltimbocca (the picture does not do it justice) and creamy polenta. We were too full to even consider pudding – but what a feast! Writing about it I’m already longing to go back.

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Literally the last night with the gang… :(

Bocca di Lupo, 12 Archer Street, London W1D 7BB

Dinner at Yauatcha, Soho

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Sometimes when I meet my friends in groups of four, especially in a bustling restaurant or bar it feels like I’m part of Sex and the City. Partly probably because we talk a lot about men, but also because the surroundings fit. One Michelin-starred Yauatcha could have been in New York, it’s that type of vibe. And sitting there with four Americans, it’s easy to pretend. It was high pace, lots of chatter, cocktails and dim sum.

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We ordered quite a few dim sum dishes to share, here some steamed dumplings with pork and prawn and Chinese chives and prawn. I absolutely adore steamed dumplings and these were amazing!

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The crispy spring rolls with mushrooms and black truffle was another favourite. The cheung fun to the right was also really good, I think they were filled with pork (char siu).

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These pan-fried dumplings with chicken were also really nice. Although my favourites are the steamed dumplings but I like to change it up texture wise too.

y8y10The crispy duck rolls were basically Peking duck as dim sum; stuffed with crispy aromatic duck and spring onions and dipped in hoisin sauce. Delicious!
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My absolute favourite of the evening was the steamed dumplings with lobster, tobiko caviar, ginger and shallots. So good!

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I always order turnip cake when in a Chinese restaurant and this was definitely the best one I’ve ever had. It was soft and almost fluffy and sprinkled with chives.

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The others were almost fighting over the squid with chilli, oats and curry leaves but I wasn’t a huge fan. I love squid and it was well-cooked (crispy topping, soft fish) but I think it was the addition of the oats that didn’t appeal to me.

We only had (although quite a lot of it) dim sum, but there are plenty of main courses and puddings to chose from too. The restaurant feels very cosmopolitan and lively and the kitchen definitely deserves its star. The lower ground floor is a bit quieter if one’s not in the mood for the hustle and bustle.

Yauatcha, 15-17 Broadwick St, London W1F 0DL

Dinner at Polpo, Soho

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A few weeks ago my Uni friend Lena was in town and suggested meeting up on a Monday night. We hadn’t seen each other since we were actually at Uni in Lund in Sweden, several years ago, so it was lovely to see her again!

We met after work looked in some shops on Regent Street and Carnaby Street and as we walked past Polpo on Beak Street, we thought why not go there for dinner! It was a 45 minute wait for a table which we spend in the basement bar having a drink and catching up.

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We were starving when we sat down and followed the waiter’s suggestion of three dishes each. It was actually too much food for us, but we enjoyed sampling it all.

The first dish (top picture) was a wonderful bruschetta with mozzarella, nectarine and pea shoots. Also the pizza bianco with prosciutto, rocket and parmesan (above) was very good! 
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We wanted something green to balance all the heavy food and without a simple green leaf salad on the menu we settled for the fennel salad with almonds which was really fresh!

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The cuttlefish risotto with ink was absolutely fantastic. The terrible picture (it was dark and I used my iPhone) doesn’t do it justice at all. That and the bruschetta were the highlights of the evening!

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The meatballs made from pork and beef in tomato sauce were soft and full of flavour and a reoccurring dish on the menu.

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The lamb stew with tomato was also nice, but not as nice as the other dishes.

Polpo describes itself as a Venetian bàcaro; a simple restaurant serving rustic, well-cooked food. And that’s exactly what they do! And they do it very well. It’s cosy, a bit noisy and a nice atmosphere and there are plenty branches to choose from all around London.

Polpo Soho, 41 Beak Street, London W1F 9SB