Hidden away on a residential street and covered in Ivy and other plants, is the Faltering Fullback Pub.
As you walk in, there are two bar areas and seating areas like any normal little pub (although there are loads of random trinkets hanging on the ceiling), but as you continue your journey through the pub you find yourself in a large open plan room full of picnic benches, a stage for a live band, a little kiosk for Thai food served by a lovely Thai family, a pool table and then beyond this is the beer garden which is like a tree house and goes up on lots of different floors. One of the Harry Potter films was apparently filmed in this beer garden (beer tree house?) – if it wasn’t, I believed it.
I love how hidden away and surprisingly large this pub is and I love that it is really well priced, there is a pool table (hard to find a pool table in a London pub because of space) and there’s decent food.
The food is decent if you are in the area and craving some well priced Thai food – it is a fairly simple menu and they serve all the popular Thai dishes that we are used to in the UK. From the menu, I would recommend the Kwey Tiew noodles, which are surprisingly really really good!
I hadn’t heard anything about it at all and then one day on the bus home, I realised that San Daniele (a restaurant which was always fairly empty) was absolutely buzzing and full of people. I also realised that there was a new sign outside and quickly jotted down the name in my handy dandy notes on my phone under my “Where I want to eat” page.
We booked it for Sandra’s birthday for the first weekend of December.
It was full of people again and we went into the candle lit restaurant that still had hints of San Daniele’s existence, but as a pop up, Seb really has transformed the place.
We wanted everything on the menu, so it was great that they had a tasting menu so that we didn’t need to make any decisions and we could just try it all.
Everything was so full of amazing traditional flavours of the South East and it definitely made me feel like I wasn’t in London and back in Asia while we were eating there. Seb definitely has the Asian touch.
Our top dishes (in no specific order) were:
The Prawn in the Betel Leaf – it was a really nice start to the meal because of all the zingy refreshing flavours.
The Tempura Chicken in Scotch Bonnet Sauce – So spicy! But so so so so good.
The Whole Seabass – I literally kept eating this until the plate was clean (don’t think they needed to wash the plate after I was done with it). Not only was the fish cooked to perfection but everything on the dish was amazing!
I went to Madame D in October as I had seen so many delicious looking photos on Instagram and needed to try it for myself.
The menu is ever changing based on seasonal foods, but they stick to keeping about 10 different sharing plates on the menu and they do every single one very very well. It was honestly very hard to choose what to order because we wanted to try everything, but we settled on the Curried King Prawns, the Steamed Whole Seabass, the Tenderstem Broccoli and the Himalayan Fried Chicken.
Everything was really tasty and we left feeling incredibly full and satisfied. It was a buzzing atmosphere, the service was great and the food was just as delicious as it looked on Instagram and I was so pleased we went to check it out.
They also do have a cocktail menu which looks brilliant, but we stuck to wine and beer and it worked well with the food.
Sunday Dim Sum was a family favourite of ours growing up and it still is when I go to Hong Kong to visit my Grandma.
It is essentially a Chinese version of brunch with lots of little dishes of dumplings. You will go in a big group with your whole family and sit around the table for a couple hours chatting away while all the plates of delicious dumplings and congee and rice and roasted pork etc continue coming out from the kitchen.
My current favourite in China Town is London Chinatown Restaurant. Everything comes steaming and fresh from the kitchen to your table, they have a good menu, the food is authentic, it all comes fairly quickly after you have ordered and it is really well priced. And the best thing is that you can usually get a table – which can be an issue on Sundays in China Town for Dim Sum.
This is the real Hot Pot that I grew up knowing and loving, not the recent Lancashire Hot Pot I have recently been introduced to that is essentially a stew (why is it not just called a stew? This is beyond me!).
The Chinese Hot Pot is a bubbling pot in the middle of the table with delicious soups (usually two or more) and you have plates of thinly sliced beef, prawns, tofu, vegetables, etc which you put into the bubbling soups to cook. It is a fun, social meal but also extremely delicious, fresh, healthy and homely.
We recently tried Little lamb in China Town which does a £22 per person for whatever you want on the menu – you just cannot waste anything. So we got king prawns, thinly sliced beef, tofu, calamari, vegetables, noodles, fish balls and we ordered two broth soups – one stock broth and one spicy broth. And the cooking commenced.
This was the perfect meal for a cold, rainy evening. The service was great and they didn’t rush us at all so it felt really nice being tucked up in the restaurant with the hot bubbling soup in front of us.
You would never have thought to go into this little restaurant across the street from the Arsenal Football Stadium. It is a little shabby and could definitely be mistaken from an average Westernised Chinese take out, but do not be mistaken, the food is amazing! It is real authentic Chinese street from from the Shan Xi region in China.
It is kind of BYOB except there is a corkage charge of £5 so it is not really, but at least there is that option.
If you are a fan of the traditional Chinese chewy noodles then you are in for an absolute treat! Definitely order the dumplings and the handmade noodles (I prefer the ones without the beef). I would also recommend the cucumbers that are ice cold in a watery peanut sauce which is a really refreshing addition to the meal.
I know I have blogged about Wong Kei before – but a) that was quite some time ago and b) it is a London China Town institution so deserves the extra attention.
Anyone who studied in London for university knows Wong Kei and it has definitely helped many a poor, struggling London university student in its time.
My favourite thing about Wong Kei is that it is a no frills, well priced, quick and easy restaurant that serves good Chinese food. It genuinely reminds me of the small corner rice and noodle cafes in Hong Kong where the waiters and chefs are shouting at each other and throwing menus at people and slamming food on the tables and it has quite a busy, lively vibe where the waiters are even too busy to have the time to be polite to anyone – which can be comical.
If you have been to the very local cafes in Hong Kong with no English menus and roasted duck and pork hanging in the windows and what we would perceive as rude staff – then you definitely know what I mean. Obviously they do have English menus in Wong Kei but it is pretty much the same kind of vibe.
Wong Kei is a bit like Marmite. You either love it or you hate it.
The key to an enjoyable meal in Wong Kei is to a) appreciate the very low prices b) take the rude waiters light-heartedly c) get the right things on the menu.
I love Chinese roast meats on rice. This is very typical to find on most street corners in Hong Kong. This is very well priced here. I always go for the belly pork and bbq pork (Char Siu) on rice but I have a friend who love the duck and belly pork as well.
I do also love the Chinese vegetable Choi Sum. It is similar to tenderstem broccoli but instead of the flowery green top, it has long luscious dark green leaves. I order this with oyster sauce.
Then there are the noodle soups – the won ton soup being their most famous. Obviously it isn’t as silky as the ones on the street stalls in Hong Kong but it is still good and there is always something homely about having a simple broth based noodle soup.
The other options are the usual Western-Chinese dishes such a fried rice, duck pancakes, sweet and sour pork, beef in black bean sauce, deep fried spare ribs, etc – which are all good here.
I would recommend just ordering off the menu instead of getting any sort of set menu because then you can just get whatever you like and it is cheap enough to do this.
And there you have it. Wong Kei. A London China Town Institution.