Sunday, September 23, 2007

London eats

Not a bite of fish & chips or typical English food!


First dinner in London, and I have...chicken ramen. In my defence, I wasn't looking for something fancy, but wanted something at a reasonable price, and it had been pointed out to me as a place that was fairly popular with the people in my office. Plus I didn't want to stay out too late as I had only just arrived and wanted to get an early night in.

Wagamama appears to be a chain of noodle restaurants, and while I like how it's done up quite trendily, I wasn't too impressed with what I picked. The soup was way too salty, and not very tasty. Actually, I had forgotten there was a Gourmet Burger Kitchen a little further down the road; I should have gone there instead.

10 Red Lion St, Richmond
The people in the London office love this restaurant, so every time they get visitors, they use it as an excuse to go to Matsuba for lunch. Hooray company accounts! My colleague thinks it's the best Japanese restaurant in London. It would have been nice to have tried some typical pub fare, but I'll never say no to Japanese food! We picked the special bento box, which consisted of sashimi, sushi, teriyaki chicken, tempura along with the usual accoutrements of a fresh salad, miso soup, rice, pickles, and finished off with some slices of orange. It was very substantial and yummy!

Four Seasons
84 Queensway, W2 3RL

I'd long heard of Four Seasons before going to London, and here I show my 'suaku-ness' by stating that when I heard people talk about the divine Four Seasons duck, I had always thought they meant the Four Seasons hotel. Quite obviously, it is not.

At first, I thought, "I'm not going all the way to London to eat Chinese food!" But my dad was so insistent about me going to try it, that he devoted one whole email giving me detailed directions on how to get there and describing the duck, that I felt I couldn't very well let his efforts go to waste. Having heard that there are always long queues to get a table, I made a booking. I have heard that making a booking doesn't guarantee you'll get your table straightaway, so was pleasantly surprised to find that we waited barely 5 min before we were ushered to our table.

Since there was only 2 of us and we couldn't eat too much, we got individual portions of the duck, some kai lan and deep friend prawns coated in a 'ham dan' (salted egg) batter, a recommendation from the waitress. I am so glad I went to Four Seasons because the duck was really all that - tender, juicy and swimming in a wonderfully tasty sauce - in a word, absolutely 'shiok'. I can see why people da-pao the duck back home to S'pore. The prawns were also fantastic, crunchy and with the nice salty taste to it. I just wish there were more of us so we could order more dishes.

Total: about 32 pounds

Chez Gerard
8 Charlotte St
This restaurant claims to have the "best steak frites this side of Paris", and while I can't say whether that is true, I can say it was a pleasure dining there. T and I got a cosy booth in the corner near the doorway and were tended to by a cute French waiter.We started off with a very satisfying warm goat cheese salad and for mains, I had the steak frites in the feather blade cut. The steak was good, but the frites unfortunately were what is best described as ‘nua’ – limp and stodgy, as if they had been sitting out of the fryer for a long time. Oh well, it can't be all perfect.

Shanghai Blues
193-197 High Holborn St
The only reason why I ate at this chi-chi looking Chinese restaurant is because T works here. She said dinner wasn't really worth eating at, since it was really just typical 'tze char' at exorbitant prices, but she highly recommended the dim sum. So for my last meal in London, I had dim sum for lunch.

To me, the test of a good dim sum place is the har gau (prawn dumpling). The skin cannot be too thick and the prawn must be crunchy and fresh. Shanghai Blues certainly demonstrated that it isn't just some gimmicky stylish Chinese restaurant with poor interpretations of Chinese food. We also had:
  • Supreme Shanghai seafood dumplings, a very refined version of xiao long pau, with a fantastic broth
  • Char siew pau
  • Seafood rolls with mango dipping sauce, highly recommended
  • Mooli croissant, absolutely divine turnip puff pastry which melted in the mouth
  • King prawn and Chinese chive cheung fun, a bit of a disappointment given the quality of the other dishes, but not altogether bad
  • Mini egg tarts, bite-sized and came with cubes of raspberry jelly rolled in coconut
...and all washed down with a light and delicate Longjing tea served in very genteel tiny Chinese cups.

Total spent: about 10 pounds per person

I also recommend going to Shanghai Blues for a drink. There's a bar area you can sit at and order cocktails. When I went there on Fri night to meet T after she got off work, I was given a mangosteen & lychee mojito to try. Yumminess!


Densha Girl said...

I didn't enjoy my meal at wagamama too.
I've been in the UK for 2 years now and have not tried the Four seasons roast duck! I have to try that soon!!

JellyGirl said...

Densha girl: Yes yes you must, the duck is sooo good! But make sure you make a reservation first before going there so you don't have to queue for ages!

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