Sunday, January 03, 2016

FIVE FAB DINING PLACES IN LONDON



Gone are the days visitors have to contend with stodgy and bland British fare. Today, London is a thriving hotbed of fab restos of all shapes, sizes and cuisines. For the duration of our all too brief sojourn in the cosmopolitan city, we were overwhelmed by the vast selection of good food everywhere at every turn. This very brief guide focuses on the handful restos us lucky sods were hosted to by Kattie Hoo of Dorsett Hospitality International and Visit Britain (Masala Zone & Fish).

SHIKUMEN
 
Meaning “stone gate” (库门) in Chinese, this trendy Chinese restaurant at Dorsett Shepherds Bush is inspired by the roaring 40s in Shanghai; an exotic gateway to exquisite Chinese specialities melded with Western individualism in terms of its serving presentation.
A brainchild of Malaysia-born executive director Simon Chai, the refined 150-seat restaurant opened in February 2015 and has since been the toast of London culinary scene – hailed by the media as a beacon of modern Chinese cuisine.
Our five-star dinner comprised a stellar line-up, starting with the much-touted Peking duck carved at table-side. The meaty slices came in two types of wraps: a thin skein like those for spring rolls and a thicker, fluffier 'pancake'.
The assertive flavours of Sichuan hot & sour soup stirred fond memories of our Chengdu fam trip with every spoonful. Although this version is tame by comparison, we lapped up the appetite-whetting broth to the last drop.
Any homesickness was adequately banished by the pair of delicately pleated xiao long baos. We greedily slurped up the tasty broth inside the dumplings before devouring the yummy pork filling.
Lobster stir-fried with garlic & chilli reminiscent of Hong Kong typhoon shelter crabs blew us away with its whirlwind of piquantly pungent accents. It went splendidly well with fried rice with edamame and the house beancurd speciality which bore more delicate taste profiles.
Our feast also featured Shikumen's legendary roasted lamb cutlets before a trio of sweet temptations left us stuffed to the gills.

For more information on Shikumen, visit: http://www.shikumen.co.uk

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FISH!
Right in the heart of Borough Market, you can enjoy typical British fish & chips in the glass & steel enclosure of Fish! Restaurant. Fresh, reliably sourced and where possible, sustainable fish supplies are available for your selection.

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Interior shot courtesy of FISH!

The airy interior includes an open kitchen and lots of seating, looking out to the Southwark Cathedral and the hustle-bustle of Borough Market. Topping the chart is beer battered fish (a choice of cod, haddock, skate, plaice or Atlantic halibut) with chips and mushy peas.


Calamari with rocket & lemon mayo, swordfish club sandwich and prawn cocktail are the other scrumptious options to reel you in.



For more information, check out Fish! website: http://fishkitchen.co.uk/
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MASALA ZONE
Masala means spice which forms the heart and soul of Indian cooking. Founded by Ranjit Mathrani, his wife Namita Panjabi, and sis-in-law Camellia Panjabi, the Masala Zone restaurant group has seven outlets dotted throughout London but each is distinctly different in character to complement its location.

Visit Britain hosted us to a pre-theatre dinner at Masala Zone near the Royal Opera House; its mellow-lit spacious premise adorned with hundreds of vibrant Rajasthani puppets suspended from the ceiling.
We partook a hearty Thali dinner which proffered each of us an Indian street food starter like Aloo Tikki Chaat (spiced mash cake with yoghurt & chutney) and Pau Bhaji (spicy potato mash & veg with warm bread) followed by a stainless steel platter with little bowls of curry, two vegetables, dal (lentils), raita (yoghurt), Indian salad, papadum & chutney. A choice of freshly-made whole wheat chapatti or rice forms the basis to capture the spectrum of textures and spice nuances.

For more information on Masala Zone, browse: http://www.masalazone.com/
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HIX SOHO


 

An eclectic collection of mobiles and neons from celebrated British artists provided plenty of visual interest inside the trendy HIX Soho restaurant. Celebrated chef, restaurateur and food writer, Mark Hix serves up a changing weekly menu of seasonal British fare so we had may not necessarily be available on the next visit.
Notable appetisers served during our visit ranged from classic prawn cocktail and stewed forest mushroom. The well-stocked bar dispensed a wide selection of tipples, be it cocktails, beer, wine or cider.
My choice of grilled scallops with pumpkin mash were ‘da bomb’ as was the hefty burger our friend chose. Puddings such as Bromley apple and blackberry pie were comfortingly satisfying despite their mini portions.

Go and peruse current menus and glean other info via http://www.hixsoho.co.uk/

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JAMIE’S ITALIAN
Spacious, high-ceilinged with lots of rustic wood accents and warm lighting, this serene haven is homely and packed with everything Jamie Oliver – from the cookbooks and kitchen paraphernalia to the hearty servings touted in the menu.
Just about a 10 minute walk from Dorsett Shepherd’s Bush, there’s an open terrace edged with greenery to complement the buzz inside. Our DHI host with the most, Kattie Hoo ensured we were so well fed that we gluttons even passed up on dessert!


Gluttons may wanna share the Ultimate Plank – an elongated serving of yummy nibbles including artisan fennel salami, mortadella, prosciutto, spiced chicken-liver pâté, Cobble Lane bresaola & pork scratchings with grissini & music bread, Italian nachos, mini buffalo mozzarella, aged pecorino & chilli jam, olives & pickles, grilled marinated peppers & rainbow slaw.
Gennaro’s famous porchetta of roasted pork belly filled with garlic, chilli & herbs, served with roasted root veg, spiced apple sauce & salsa verde should leave you replete. There’s also fresh crab spaghetti, prawn linguine and several irresistible options for pasta lovers.
For reservations and more info about Jamie's Italian and his culinary empire, visit: https://www.jamieoliver.com/italian/

1 comment:

KY said...

the roast duck's really getting me hungry.