Japanese

Kanada-Ya, Tottenham Court Road

May 10, 2016

My distaste for restaurant queues can be traced back to the time my entire party of four was unceremoniously booted to the back of line because I was a few minutes late. When you play the game of Meat Liquor queue, you win or you die. And by die, I mean you have to wait an extra hour for dinner and do the humiliating walk of shame to the end of the line. But alas, this is London and queuing is a reality. Only once I accepted this, was I able to even entertain the idea of dining at Kanada-Ya.

And was it worth the wait? Hellz yes. We planned our trip with military precision. Arrive on a chilly Saturday right when they open at high noon. The cloudy skies threatened a downpour at any second. Everyone arrived on time. But there was still a line-up about 15-20 people deep. You really can’t win in this city. The line moves fast though, thanks in part to the fishbowl-style large windows. Only a pane of glass separates you from the hollow-eyed stares of the hungry. We all ordered the “Original Ramen” which is 18-hour pork bone broth, secret sauce, hand-pulled noodles, chashu, pork, wood ear fungus, nori and spring onion.

You can order your noodles extra firm, firm, regular or soft (this is only acceptable if you don’t have teeth or are an actual baby). Just like in Japan, once you finish your first bowl you can order extra noodles to slurp up the rest of your broth. The broth is deliciously warming in the way that only incredibly soothing bone broth can be. I ordered my noodles “regular” and they were perfectly firm and and springy. My mom is an expert pho-maker and her broth would take 48 hours to cook. The proof is really in the quality of broth – most of the ramen places I’ve been to in London have really fallen short – it’s usually too salty with zero complexity of flavour. Not so here my friend.

Ordered some onigiri rice balls because waiting in a queue for my food makes me extra greedy. Rice balls aren’t anything special per se but I’ve always just enjoyed balls of plain rice sprinkled with seasoning. Maybe you will too? Service was quick and snappy – we had zero inclinations to linger and chat. I could feel 15 sets of eyeballs staring at us from the sidewalk.

Come here if you want an authentic bowl of Japanese ramen. Don’t come if want to make googly eyes  on a Tinder date and want to linger over a few drinks and chat in a candle-lit cellar. I recommend coming with a partner that you’ve been dating for several years who is used to seeing you face-plant a bowl of noodles on the regular. Kanada-Ya is all ramen business and not much else. And that’s not a bad thing.

UPDATE: There is new location in Haymarket near Piccadilly Circus where you can actually make a booking online. YES THERE IS A GOD.

 

 

Vietnamese

Salvation In Noodles, Dalston

July 29, 2015

 

Vietnamese food is a wonderful thing. It’s not as reliant on the deep fryer as Chinese. Instead of the sweetness of Korean gochujang sauce, you get the salty tang of fish sauce and the tartness of lemon. And herbs. Plenty of fresh herbs. Thanks to my grandmother, I grew up eating Vietnamese food. So I have to admit that I approached Salvation in Noodles with a bit of skepticism. Trendy Dalston Vietnamese joint? As if! But I was pleasantly surprised, mostly with the quality of the starters! We started off light with the classic prawn summer roll. It looks a bit limp here but it tasted fresh – and there was a decent sprinkling of fresh herbs.

 

Onto the Vietnamese fried pork spring rolls. Interesting presentation – lab dissection style. The outside was perfectly crispy while the pork had a really nice flavour, complimented by the fish sauce dip.

Vietnamese chicken salad starter – again I appreciate the monstrous rice cracker protruding from the small bowl but it didn’t really add anything in terms of taste. A light, refreshing starter – not too salty or overloaded with fish sauce.

Which leads me to this – the deep fried chicken wings. OH MY WORD. I have to preface this by saying that my spirit animal is a bucket of fried chicken. These are a must-order – perfectly crispy and seasoned to perfection. Again with fish sauce. We  ordered another round of these.

By the time the mains arrived, I was on my way to feeling pretty stuffed. Not helped by the fact that I had just returned from a holiday where I had doubled in size. The pho had a flavourful broth and the noodles were nicely cooked and not overdone. But I wasn’t blown away. Even though pho looks pretty simple to prepare, it’s actually very difficult to get right. My mom actually starts making the broth the day before, so it’s no surprise that a lot of restaurants struggle with recreating that rich, complex full-bodied flavour.

This was the clear winner of the night – Bun vermicelli noodles with Vietnamese pork sausage patties, herbs, salad and fish sauce. SO GOOD. I wish I had ordered this one. It came with a generous helping of coriander but almost too much vermicelli? I might be splitting hairs here but when you mixed everything together – the noodles took over. As vermicelli is quite tasteless on its own, I was left with a heaving bowl of noodles. Seriously, there was enough to fashion a vermicelli wig.

The Bun Vermicelli noodles with prawn were tasty but nothing to write home about. If you’re on the fence about what to order, I would definitely recommend ordering the Bun Vermicelli noodles with pork over the prawns.

Update: Salvation in Noodles has finally opened their new outpost down the street from us in Finsbury Park at 2 Blackstock Road, N4 2DL. Next to a chicken shop, of course. I think every shop or restaurant in this area is mentored by a chicken shop – I can even see a chicken shop from my front window. Added bonus? It happens to be around the corner from our favourite Korean restaurant, Dotori. The Asian food situation in Finsbury Park can really only go up from here.

 

SIN (Salvation in Noodles) 
122 Balls Pond Road 
London N1 4AE
Pub

The Ranelagh, Bounds Green

July 27, 2015
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I have a staunch love of North London. Newington Green was the first place I ever lived, and while it very much felt like the ‘hood back then, it’s now an enclave of artisan bakeries, overpriced pizza and the “gastropub”. Now a proud dweller of the much-maligned Finsbury Park (SO MANY TRANSPORT LINKS, HOMESLICE), I still can’t say I’ve ever ventured further north than Crouch End (another hive of organic shops and yoga pants). Today was the day I would ride to Bounds Green! Fried chicken and waffles were waiting.

The pub itself is fantastic – lovely atmosphere with long wooden tables and friendly bar staff. There was even a bouncy castle outside in the garden (!!!) and a whole posse of people celebrating a 21st birthday with a guest list that ranged from aged 2 to 90. The first thing I ordered was a Bloody Mary – perfectly spiced and refreshingly cold. No celery or salted rim but let’s not split hairs as it was freaking delicious.

Top marks all around for the burger with sweet potato chips.

I patiently waited for my fried chicken platter while those-who-shall-not-be-named around me ate their fried chicken with waffles and maple syrup. I don’t know who came up with serving up fried chicken with waffles but it’s in my top 10 food pairings. Not everyone’s cup of tea but the combination of sweet and savoury is divine if you’re into that type of thing. I had two beefs with this dish though – the fried chicken was well-battered yet tasted of vinegar. The chicken wasn’t deboned before placing on the waffle. And there were limp parsley leaves garnishing it – so unnecessary. BEGONE LIMP LETTUCE LEAVES. You’re not wanted here.

The actual fried chicken platter was no different. The fried chicken was delicately battered and nicely seasoned – but there was a very distracting vinegary taste to it. It’s not that it was a bad thing, it just overpowered the entire dish. This didn’t bother everyone though, so if this sounds vile to you make sure you ask the kitchen to lay off the vinegar. The chips? Perfectly crunchy and moreish, as a good chip should be.

The Eggs Florentine arrived atop a couple of hamburger buns. Ex-squeeze me? Are English muffins not sold in Bounds Green? This is the 2nd time I’ve seen this and I don’t understand. Just put a muffin on it y’all.

The best meal by far was the Chicken and Ham Hock pie. So British. I had a couple of bites and the flavours were rich and satisfying and the crust was nice and flaky. I regret nothing, but next time I come here I’ll probably order this dish. There is also poutine on the menu. It is not real poutine.

We had a delightful afternoon sitting in the garden after lunch so I would wholeheartedly recommend this pub for anyone Bounds Green-bound. The food in general was great with a few duds here and there. But if you’re searching for amazing fried chicken, your best bet is to go to a place with the word “diner” or “mama” in it – I’ve actually had incredible fried chicken with waffles at Stax Diner in Carnaby Street, London. Or just git yer ass down to Little Rock, Arkansas. I imagine Bill Clinton’s hometown would serve up a mean chicken and waffles.

What to order: Chicken and ham hock pie, fried chicken and waffles (hold the vinegar), Burger with sweet potato chips and the Bloody Mary

The Ranelagh
82 Bounds Green Rd
London N11 2EU
www.theranelaghn11.co.uk
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Sidrería Astarbe, Bilbao

July 26, 2015

At a conference in Bilbao last week the organisers took a bunch of us out to one of San Sebastian’s famous cider houses. It’s definitely an experience to be recommended. The one we went to was called Astarbe. And they also sell their cider bottled. Some sort of cider making operation has stood on the site for the last 450 years.

We started by being told the rules for the evening. We should help ourselves to the cider from these 10,000 litre barrels. Just pouring a little bit each time from a great height to give the cool, very dry, cider some air and bubbles. Each barrel held between 8,000 – 12,000 litres. A mere 20,000 pints of cider.

So, yes. We should help ourselves at any time. But whenever our hosts yelled out txotx it was mandatory to come up and charge our cider glasses. Challenged accepted Basques!

The food was a set menu and would be coming out shortly. So, drink some cider! Make plenty of toasts and come back to the tables for each course. A perfectly informal experience.

The grill was right next to the long communal dining tables, and when we walked in the staff were cutting 2 inch steaks from a whole side of beef.

The first course that came out was a large omelette, inside the eggs were every so slightly runny and mixed with salted cod (bacalao) and oily fried shallots which everyone ate with crusty baguettes. Its called Tortilla de Bacalao and it’s the traditional starter at all these cider houses.

After a few more trips to the cider barrels some grilled fish arrived. Not entirely sure what the variety was and couldn’t ask! But it was thick fillets, white, and fleshy. Grilled with a topping of mushrooms and fried onions. It had been heavily salted. Maybe even preserved briefly in salt? But definitely not dried.

More toasts and trips to the barrels the steak came out. The cut they were using was called Chuletón de Buey. Which was a bone in rib steak. The sirloin side of the t-bone with some extra fat attached. And it was great. Thick, expertly cooked, and very fatty. One guy told me that the basque buy the fattiest beef that the rest of Europe doesn’t want because it’s the best. And since grilled fat equals flavour this was pretty damn tasty. They served one of these monsters between four people and then came around afterwards and asked if we wanted more. Which about half of us did. The only thing they added to the meat was a sprinkle of salt.

The final course combined walnuts, quince jelly, and a mild cheese. A nice simple end to the meal that went perfectly with the cider everyone was still drinking. It’s like they’ve done this before a few hundred thousand times over the last 450 years that a cider house has stood in this location.

The whole thing cost around €35, including as much cider as you wanted to drink.

Seafood

Seaside Eats, Whitstable

July 23, 2015

Full disclosure. I don’t know how to swim. I diligently took lessons as a kid and earned a yellow badge. Or maybe my mother bribed a swim instructor – I’ll never know. But the fact remains, I am a grown-ass woman who can’t float in a body of water. But far from seeing a large body of water as something menacing, I find myself really missing its presence. In Vancouver, the ocean is always there. Staring at it (from a safe distance) from a rock on the beach is the most peaceful feeling in the world. But what about The River Thames, you ask? Staring into its murky depths, I think of the Thames as more of a throwback to my favourite kind of unrelentingly grim Scandinavian murder show.

I first discovered Whitstable four years ago when I went to the famed Whitstable Oyster Festival. Only an hour by train from London and full of fresh oysters, seafood and salty sea air – I arrived full of unbridled enthusiasm and spent the weekend happily queuing for sauteed scallops, cockles, calamari and of course, fresh oysters. I sat on the rocky beach and stared into the sea like a maniac. I loved it immediately and started “looking for flats” despite being balls deep into my overdraft. I’ve gone back once more for the oyster festival, and while I always have a great time (word of advice: don’t wash down raw oysters with an oreo milkshake – ugh), I think you’ll have a much better time if you go on a less busy weekend.

I highly recommend getting an Air B&B flat if you’re staying for more than a day. We went from Friday afternoon to Sunday and went to the seafood market everyday. Starting with these magnificent sauteed scallops. Oh my word, these were heavenly! I had not seen a scallop like this in years so was beside myself.

And the fresh crabs! Usually I prefer lobster as it is less work to eat with more of a payoff. But if you have the opportunity to get some fresh crab – don’t pass it up. These were just simply boiled and then served with a dijon mustard/mayonnaise sauce. Or you can never go wrong with some hot garlic butter sauce. I’m getting palpitations just thinking about it.

I can be very disorganised so despite putting a reminder in my calendar and being reminded by our wonderful Air B&B hosts, Jason and Simon, to make sure I made a reservation at one of the restaurants ahead of time…I didn’t. I rang up the day we were arriving (the start of a long weekend) to inquire about a table for two. Somewhere. ANYWHERE. I could hear their disdain over the phone. Bitch, please. I’m not a huge fish & chip fan but we popped into a local shop on the high street for an “evening snack” and it was pretty tasty.

Luckily we took a morning stroll on the Saturday and popped into the Royal Native Oyster Stores right on the beach – and walked straight into a cancelled booking. I love it when my inability to plan in advance is so handsomely rewarded.

The smaller oysters are the Irish Rock Oysters, the larger one are Whitstable Bay rock oysters. I preferred the larger ones, because bigger is better. This also applies to hair, guinea pigs and serving sizes. Honestly I can’t REALLY tell the difference between types of oysters. I need more practice.

Razor clams! I’ve never actually seen these before in real life. These were delicious! I don’t normally like clams (unless they’ve been blended into Clamato juice). They’re just so tiny, I can barely taste them. What’s the point? But these were substantial enough to sink my teeth into. Excellent.

Moules Marinier – an old favourite. The best part is dipping some freshly baked baguette bread into the sauce. Heaven. The bill came to £80 for lunch but that included some white wine. A bit pricey for lunch but the seafood was quality, the service was prompt and friendly and when I’m on holiday I tend to spend money like I’m Dr. Dre so this seemed reasonable at the time.

Self-explanatory asparagus with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Don’t even remember eating these, was so fixated on the oysters! Am sure they were good…

 

Whitstable

Finished the weekend off by having a giant salted caramel oreo ice cream and buying some last minute tat for my “hoarder’s corner” at home. If you’re looking for a nice little weekend getaway not far from London and love seafood, I can’t recommend Whitstable enough!

We stayed in this lovely one bedroom Air B&B flat – the location was perfect as we were right on the main high street and moments away from the beach as well. Plus, we had the best hosts so highly recommend staying here if you’re after a cosy one-bedroom.

They recommended a whole list of restaurants which we didn’t have time to try: Elliotts @ No.1 Harbour Street (named as one of the top 40 restaurants in the UK by The Guardian), JoJo’s Meze, Meat and Fish Restaurant (booking opens two weeks in advance – it’s cash only), Oyster Stores (the only one we made it to!), Pearson’s Arms (nicer upstairs and across from Oyster Stores), The Cheesebox (they have takeaway cheese fondue!!), Wheelers Oyster Bar, or The Duke, Dave’s Deli and Windy Corner for lunch.

Pub

The Union Tavern, Westbourne Park

July 22, 2015
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This post was inspired by the fact that my ideal Sunday involves not leaving the house. Sunny day? I have windows. Hungry? There’s a well-stocked corner shop downstairs that stocks everything my heart desires – Doritos, hummus, Diet Coke. There are even meatballs in a can for those who have truly given up on life. But when a dear friend had his birthday at a pub in West London on a rainy Sunday, I put on my game face and not only left the house, but left North London. Dear God.

A quick check of the pub menu and I was pleasantly surprised to see ribs, chicken wings and pulled pork buns. We had a disastrous meal at a BBQ pop-up in a North London pub recently so I was reserving judgment. But I still diligently wore my most stretchy pants, because if I’ve learned one thing – sub-par food doesn’t stop me from eating until I feel sick. Bleh?

The first thing I laid eyes on were the chilli cheese fries. Not a common thing to find in the UK, these were slightly spicy, comforting and had the added bonus of both melted cheese and perfectly cooked french fries. Plus, the presentation can’t be faulted. It’s not easy to make beef mince, fries and cheese look like this – it’s usually a big ‘ol mess. Look how pretty!

HOT WINGS! Are these Canadian sports bar worthy? Would there be blue cheese dip? Yes and no. Nice and zingy but not so hot that it blows your head off, these were exactly what I wanted on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Definitely could have eaten more but there a lot of people I didn’t know around me and I desperately needed a bib.

A friend’s pulled pork bun looked impressive. I was assured it was delicious. I stared at it but didn’t sample. Low-carbing innit. LOL

I had only planned to nibble on a few wings this afternoon but I simply had to sample the mac & cheese. Surrounded by Australians and New Zealanders, by default I was the mac & cheese authority at the table. Hah! This was a solid 7/10. Creamy, al dente pasta with the right amount of cheesy flavour.

Since we were celebrating a birthday, it would be rude to not have dessert. This brownie sundae arrived looking smug and impressive. The perfect end to a blow-out meal, it’s obviously a super rich dessert but didn’t taste sickly if that makes sense! Would highly recommend this pub for a lazy weekend day – felt like I was back in Canada! It’s right across the street from Westbourne Park tube station and has both hot wings and mac & cheese!

What to order: Hot wings, chili cheese fries, brownie sundae

The Union Tavern 
45 Woodfield Road
W9 2BA
www.union-tavern.co.uk
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Street Feast @ Hawker House, Haggerston

April 1, 2015

Carbs are a menace and sugar is the devil. But you can only run so far before you crave their comforting arms around you. I went to Street Feast at #HawkerHouse with the full intention of being healthy and low carb (HAHA). But it obviously descended into feeding at the trough and queuing for fried chicken and noodles. Hawker House opened the weekend of 30th January for 10 weekends and is housed on three glorious floors filled with street food, booze and music in what looks like a burnt out office building. Pretty long queues if you don’t get there early on a Friday night but it wasn’t TOO bad. First thing I tried was a Cornetto of Mussel Popcorn at Duck N’Roll, run by Michelin-starred chef Pascal Aussignac from Club Gascon – heavenly! Perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of crunch and a side of black aoili dip.

Next up was some classic pork & chive gyoza dumplings from Rainbo. These didn’t blow my mind but were still good. I imagine it was just because they were a little bit cold. Started in 2011 Rainbo partners with Nepalese NGO called BASE to help raise money to help put an end to child labour, with 20p from every meal we sell going directly to the rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of child labourers. Dumplings with a conscience – what’s not to love?

The most popular stand by far was Breddos Tacos. But we didn’t want a taco after we saw the words ‘buttermilk fried chicken’ from across the room. It took about 30 minutes but we ordered two small sides of fried chicken and DAYUM it was worth it. I think it also comes in a taco but hey I was “low-carbing” (LOL).

Also hit up Busan BBQ – a self-described “AmeriKorean Dream”- run by a husband and wife team inspired after eating a Bulgogi burger in Korea on a trip to meet the in-laws. We ordered two kinds of sliders – the Busan Burger (28 day rare breed British beef burger, dunked in a soy bulgogi sauce and topped with mustard pickled onions) and the Spicy Pork Belly bun (sweet and spicy pork belly, gochujang sauce). No one really liked these – it was too saucy, too salty and didn’t feel American or Korean. I would try these again as it’s an intriguing idea but the execution left much to be desired – I felt like I was beaten over the head with sauces.

Another highlight of the night was Yum Bun. Started as a stall in Hackney’s Broadway Market in 2010, they serve delicious signature steamed pork, chicken, mushroom and shrimp buns. We had sweet steamed fried buns filled with ice cream – salt caramel and toasted coconut. OMG. These were faultless and exactly how we imagined them – an Asia-inspired ice cream sandwich. By this point in the night I felt slightly sick (standard) but it wasn’t hard to finish these off. UPDATE: If you missed out on Street Feast #HawkerHouse, it’s coming back to Dalston Yard for the summer starting the weekend of 16th May with an even bigger event called Dinerama set to be open five days a week. Not to mention Summer Tales at Red Market in Old Street – a tropical-themed street food feast with relaxed jungle vibes and hammocks on the menu. Christ. Will have to get those bibs cleaned.

Really need to try the Angry Fries from Bleecker St. Burger next time – chips soaked in hot sauce and creamy blue cheese. Mmmm. The stuff of gluttonous dreams.

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Lazy Susan Room at Smoking Goat, Soho

March 29, 2015

Smoking Goat has been described as a Thai BBQ restaurant and all the reviews have been amazing. But of course they don’t take reservations. So months ago we booked their Lazy Susan room. Which handles a maximum of ten people as a way to skip the queue. It was a set menu at £35 each – a pretty good deal as there is A LOT of food.

It’s a lovely dark room. Right in the bowels (yeah I went there) of the restaurant with a giant table. The service is fantastic. Friendly and attentive but with a light touch. People who know what they’re doing, and how to host.

First up was the coal roasted Aubergine salad. Poached egg and fish sauce.

Next, their famous chicken wings. Crisp, sweet, sticky, and steeped in fish sauce. The whole place smells of them. In a good way. We were warned that we would immediately want more of these, and that we could have more of them. But that we shouldn’t because there was loads of food to come. We listened to the warning. Ate the whole plate. And then immediately ignored the host’s great advice and ordered more anyway. Not pictured was their pomelo and chili salad which we had polished off well before the wings arrived.

Cornish clams in a yellow curry broth.

Smoked whole lamb shoulder basted with fermented shrimp, chilli & palm sugar. The main course. We carved it up at the table and ate it with balls of sticky rice which were served to us in little plastic bags. It was a great piece of meat. A really unique preparation. Smoky BBQ plus sweet and pungent thai flavours.

Green papaya salad

And still they kept on bringing more meat! Slow roast duck legs marinated with galangal, lemongrass & kaffir and basted with ketjap manis & white pepper. At this point I have to confess to being so drunk that I don’t remember much about them. But according to Jen they were the highlight of the meal. I’ll have to go back for the duck and their Crab dish, which also receives rave reviews, but sadly wasn’t on the menu that evening.

For dessert kaffir lime granita & rum coconuts. A good refreshing end to the meal with a slight hint of fish sauce (seriously).

And that was the slight problem with the series of dishes we had served up to us. Each one was delicious. But taken as a whole the intense fish sauce flavour became a bit one note. And that’s coming from someone who really does love that flavour. But it does need to be done carefully. The papaya salad for example had too much. The salt of which killed the other flavours.

But that’s a pretty minor gripe. The overall experience was fantastic. Just the right kind of chaotic food fun.


Smoking Goat
7 Denmark St
Soho

Smoking Goat on Urbanspoon

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Loong Kee Cafe, Dalston

March 20, 2015

Well, well, well. This is what happens when you don’t book ahead for Chinese New Year. After having the metaphorical door slammed in my face when trying to make a reservation at Yipin or Dotori, we resorted to the always reliable Vietnamese restaurants on Kingsland Road. We momentarily considered Spanish tapas but then I didn’t want to risk being struck down by a malevolent Chinese spirit. Settling on a place we’ve never tried before in the spirit of trying new things, we settled on Loong Kee rather than return to our favourite – the always reliable Tay Do. There were six of us and as the food was not memorable and the lighting was terrible, I didn’t bother taking loads of photos.

This is one of my favourite dishes of all time – Bun Thit Nuong with vietnamese spring rolls – vermicelli noodles with lemongrass marinaded chargrilled pork, fresh herbs and fish sauce. SO GOOD. I’ve had it at countless family dinners and it’s my failsafe order (besides pho) when I go for Vietnamese. The Loong Kee version didn’t make a good impression – the pork didn’t have much flavour and it was just very bland. I almost didn’t feel like finishing it – it’s the basic bitch version of the glorious original dish. But obviously I did because to not finish food would be out of character and I didn’t want to arouse suspicion. On the whole, the menu was all over the place – there was Thai food, there was Chinese food, yada yada yada. Usually not a great sign.

The best thing we ordered was the coconut ice cream. Served in a coconut shell. Refreshing, sweet and delicious. I would come back here just to order this!

Also can’t go wrong with fried banana fritters with ice cream. The bananas had a tad too much batter but maybe I’m just splitting hairs at this point. Next year, I won’t forget to book a table and a karaoke room at Yipin for Chinese New Year. OY VEY.


Loong Kee
134G Kingsland Road
London E2 8DY
www.loongkee.co.uk

Loong Kee Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Frank’s Canteen, Highbury

March 15, 2015

Brunch is sometimes a victim of its own hype. Unfairly swept up into lists of “stuff white people like” or girly lists of things to do on a Sunday before hitting the mall, brunch is actually the most fuss-free, guilt-free meal of the week. You don’t have to wake up early for it and if you’re hungover with a complexion that looks “haunted”, a stack of pancakes and a fresh cup of coffee is the answer. Then you can drag your carcass home to lie facedown on the couch for the rest of the day. It’s a win-win.

Frank’s Canteen opened up a few months ago on Highbury New Park and has a simple no-nonsense rustic feel with white walls and a handful of pale wooden tables. We ordered the Potato cakes with smoked paprika butter, poached eggs, spring onions, spinach leaves, Norfolk black bacon & lemon crème fraiche dressing. This was good but despite the list of ingredients, it didn’t have a great deal of flavour. It’s nice to go out for brunch and order food that has a bit of an edge to it that makes it stand out. This is why I love going to Ottolenghi. It was just a tad on the boring side for £10. We assumed the potato cakes were a type of hash brown but it was more like some sort of bread.

The Huevos Rancheros were a much better option. Soft corn tortillas, poached eggs, chilli tomato salsa, refried beans, coriander & mature cheddar. I enjoyed it but again, I felt like it was lacking excitement and needed something more. Maybe we’ve gotten too picky and jaded? Other options are Poached Eggs on Sourdough toast served with side options like Braised red onions, tomato & borlotti beans, or Norfolk black bacon, Lincolnshire sausage and Smoked salmon. It’s a really nice and cosy neighbourhood cafe but there isn’t anything that particularly stood out like the Sydney breakfast at Highbury Arts Club or amazing Eggs Benedict at Yolk. But you can’t go wrong if you live in the area and just want to pop in for a fuss-free cup of coffee and plate of poached eggs and bacon.


Frank's Canteen
86 Highbury Park
London N5 2XE
www.frankscanteen.com