London: brilliant Bao

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I’m a bit behind on updating this blog, and have been since probably the beginning of the year. My life seems to just speedily whirl by, and I’m left with lots of things to write about but haven’t got enough time to actually write. But sometimes I have a little window, and I try to really grab it with both hands and put these posts together. Wish me luck!

Anyway, I went to Bao  sometime in the spring, i.e. a very long time ago, but I still want to tell you about this great little place.

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Gaby and I queued for a little more than an hour, which is a very long time if you’re hungry, but passes quite quickly if you’re chatting away with a friend. Either way, it’s totally worth the wait.

We started off with trotter nuggets (brilliant idea!) with a tonkatsu type sauce that really cut through the pork flavour. Delicious!

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We then moved on the the baos (filled steamed Korean buns). Their ‘classic’ with braised pork and peanuts was utterly divine and my favourite. I actually ordered one more; it was that good!

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The confit pork bao sounded promising (I love any confit) but it wasn’t as good as the classic. Still nice, but I would skip this next time and go straight for the classic.

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We then had the fried chicken bao with mayonnaise, which actually came in a different type of bun, but it was also really nice!

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We didn’t have just buns though; we also sampled some of the small dishes on the menu, like the mushrooms and century egg. It was a real umami bomb and quite different. I liked it.

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But the scallop with yellow bean and garlic was even better. The powder was just delicious and the bean paste just worked so well together with the sweetness of the scallop.

Since we were here, Bao has opened up another restaurant, but the queues seem to remain at the Soho branch. But go with a friend, chat away in the queue and before you know it you can bite into these delicious baos. Yep. Worth it.

Bao Soho, 53 Lexington St, London W1F 9AS

Meat feast at Zelman Meats, Soho

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The team behind the amazing meat restaurants Goodman (and Beast and Burger & Lobster) opened a new meat restaurant in the space where the fish restaurant Rex & Mariano (also owned by the same company) used to reside. In fact, they still use the Rex & Mariano crockery.

Zelman Meats (after the founder Mikhail Zelman) is a mid-market steak restaurant offering “All we do is beef, and we stick to what we know best” according to the website.

The menu is simple, with just a few starters, four different cuts of beef, sides and a few puddings. I like this simple no-fuss approach, which also makes the ambiance relaxed. It’s not white table cloths like Goodman, just good steak and sides in a relaxed restaurant.

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This is where to go to pig out on great steak, because the bill won’t be that bad and the meat is just as nice here as at Hawksmoor or Goodman. Take your date or a group of friends and just let your hair down. The staff is really friendly and relaxed but with a sincere passion for steak so they can guide you through the cuts and let you know what’s best served rare or medium.

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I came here with two colleagues for lunch, and as only one of us has a big appetite we ordered modestly to begin with, some delicious picanha and amazingly smoky and tender short rib. Once that was demolished we ordered more of the same and enjoyed it with crispy chips, salad and the two sauces on the menu. It was great and even the least meat eater out of the three of us (obviously not me) loved every bite!

Zelman Meats, 2 St Anne’s Court, London W1F 0AZ 

 

Burgers at Dirty Bones, Soho

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One night after work I met up with my friend Gaby in Soho. We were both in  the mood for comfort food and Gaby suggested Dirty Bones, which I hadn’t heard of before. Situated on the top floor in Kingly Court it was really popular, but we got there just in time to get one of the last tables. And the happy hour was still on – amazing!

We started with a cocktail each, called Top Dog, made with vodka, lemon, chambord and prosecco. It was really nice an fresh – not too sweet- and we both really enjoyed it.

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Having sorted the drinks out we decided on food; buffalo chicken wings to start and then a burger each. The chicken wings were very good and seriously spicy. I missed the classic blue cheese dip that is usually served alongside the wings, as it would have been nice with a cooling element.

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With mouths slightly on fire we moved on to the burgers. Gaby ordered the most insane burger ever created, The Mac Daddy with tender beef short rib and mac ‘n cheese. I tried both toppings and they were delicious, but I’m a bit conservative when it comes to burgers so not sure that one’s for me.

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Instead I had the safe option, a burger called The burger. It was what you expect a burger to be, and it was very nicely done! Only strange thing was the piped cheese, but it tasted great!

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It’s an understatement to say we were full after those burgers but we still decided to share a pudding. I mean who can resist cookies and cream; milk ice cream in the glass and a lovely chocolate cookie on the side. Nicely done and very yummy!

Dirty Bones, Top Floor, Kingly Court, Carnaby Street, London W1B 5PW

Peruvian food at Ceviche, Soho

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Still going through the posts from last year, this is definitely a review I want to share with you:

My flatmate Daisy and I wanted a fun Soho dinner after work one day in the autumn and decided on Ceviche which be both really wanted to try.

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We started off with fantastic pisco sours, and then had wine with the food. Only to have some more cocktails after dinner – I’m not a huge cocktail fun but these were great, especially those pisco sours.

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Food-wise we started with cheese puffs with quince, chilli and sour cream. I remember them being crunchy and nice, the sweet and the sour taking the edge off the fried stuff.

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Obviously we had ceviche in the place called ceviche and this one with seabass, chilli, red onions and sweet potato crisps was seriously good!

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These crispy parcels with pork, spices (more chilli) and coriander were also really nice. The texture of the pork was stringy and soft, just like pulled pork.

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One of my favourites was our second ceviche, with razor clams with chilli and borage. So delicious!

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I also really liked these skewers with extremely tender octopus and fiery chorizo, with coriander mash underneath. Amazing!

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The token vegetable dish was the grilled asparagus with chilli mayo. It worked well with our dishes and was really nice on its own too.

I must say I really enjoyed out visit here and can’t wait to go back. The busy atmosphere, the loudness and the very many tables crammed into the restaurant area together with the excellent food and drink just transports you to South America for the night. Another pisco sour, please!

Ceviche Soho, 17 Frith Street, London W1D 4RG

Bo Drake, Soho

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Before Christmas the girls and I managed to fit in a dinner in Soho and we decided we wanted to try Bo Drake, a Korean restaurant in Soho. When we arrived, thinking we had booked a table but it was for another evening, the staff luckily managed to seat us at the communal table.

After some prosecco we decided to order a few different dishes to share, some from the special’s board and some from the a’la carte menu.

First up were the specials: wagyu beef sliders with truffle mayo (yum!), cheddar and red onion jelly in brioche buns (above) and  lobster baos with squid ink. Both were utterly amazing!

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We also had some sweet potato fries with kimchi island (a spin on Thousand Island that really worked), and the fries were really good. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Which isn’t that easy to do with sweet potatoes.

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We also had aubergine in miso which was soft, sweet and sticky. I just love aubergine in Asian cooking!

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We also shared a bo ssäm; pulled pork with a bit of heat served with lettuce leaves, kimchi and dips. It’s messy but fun to make the little parcels and the flavours of the meat were really nice.

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The last dish of the evening was the smoked bobo chicken with a sticky glaze, sesame seeds, spring onions and spicy mayo. Also very nice!

The food at Bo Drake was great and I would happily go back. Initially the service was good but as the restaurant got busier it became quite slow, leaving a little room for improvement but I otherwise like this cosy place a lot.

Bo Drake, 6 Greek St, London W1D 4DE

Sharing menu at Chotto Matte, Soho

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When my food blogger colleague Malin was in town with her friend Jenny we met up twice. Once on a Monday for some prosecco and nibbles and then on their last evening in town for dinner. We had a great time eating our way through Chotto Matte’s sharing menu and catching up.

Without much knowledge of Peruvian food I think Chotto Matte makes a good job of combining it with Japanese. Most dishes we had were really nice although there was a little room for improvement on some. The sharing menus are great way to try a few different dishes (including some of their signature dishes) and they’re great value for money too.

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After deciding on the wine (very important!) we got to try the first dish; tostaditas with beef, smoked aji planka, shiitake and yuzu. Very yummy!

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Soon after (the table was never empty) we received the seabass cheviche with sweet potato, Peruvian corn (they were more floury than usual), coriander and citrus sauce. Apart from the corn I really liked this dish; subtle flavours and nicely balanced. The seabass was delicious!

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The gyozas with pork, prawns and cassava on a bed of sweet potato purée were a favourite amongst us all – delicious!

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The spring rolls with shiitake and prawns and a ponzu salsa were nice too, but nothing special. 2015-05-13 20.44.52

We really enjoyed the very tender miso chicken – it was just scrumptious! Nice barbecue flavour.

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This octopus was very tender and nice but the purple potato purée didn’t add much to the dish, sadly.

2015-05-13 21.11.26And the maki rolls with tuna were nice, but I preferred the hot food.
2015-05-13 21.44.52For pudding we received a selection of sweets, and all very good! The small pots of lemon grass creme brulee and chocolate mousse with honeycomb were just the right size and the mochis fresh and light.

We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner and the buzzing atmosphere! I will certainly come back for the miso chicken!

Chotto Matte, 11 – 13 Frith Street, London W1D 4RB

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