Xi’an Impression – Arsenal, London, UK

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.

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Pork Dumplings
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Pork Dumplings
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Cucumber in Peanut Sauce
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Cucumber is Peanut Sauce
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Sweet Potato Noodles in Spicy Sour Soup
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Sweet Potato Noodles in Spicy Sour Soup
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The Famous Handmade Noodles with Beef
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Handmade Noodles with Beef

http://xianimpression.co.uk

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Wong Kei – China Town, London, UK

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.

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Sweet and Sour Pork
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Roasted Pork Belly and Char Siu on Rice

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.

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Choi Sum with Oyster Sauce

And there you have it. Wong Kei. A London China Town Institution.

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g186338-d720949-Reviews-Wong_Kei-London_England.html

Kanada-Ya – Soho, London, UK

It was the beginning of the end of summer in London. “In London? What summer?” I hear you ask. Don’t worry I am with you there, but this is when it started feeling cold enough to put tights and a trench coat on and a light scarf in my bag just in case. It was drizzly outside and all we wanted was a big bowl of bone broth noodle soup (to be honest all we really wanted was to be inside the house all day, stay in pajamas and watch telly but we were productive humans and went to work and then met for dinner afterwards).

We decided on Kanada-ya which my friend recommended was really good for ramen, so off to Piccadilly Circus we went and into the tiny little ramen bar and luckily we got a table downstairs in the warmth.

We genuinely wanted everything on the menu and as it was Friday, we thought we would treat ourselves with a portion of Karaage, a portion of Chashu Don, and a Tsuna Onigiri to share and then a bowl of ramen each! Yes, this was a lot of food in hindsight, but at the time we just wanted it all!

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Karaage
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Karaage
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Chasiu Don
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Tsuna Onigiri

The karaage (or fried chicken bites) were absolutely delicious especially when dipped in the side sauce of yuzu mayo – this was my favourite of the . The pork on the Chasiu Don literally fell apart because it was so soft and along with the sauce and the rice, it was a marriage made in heaven. The Onigiri was probably my least favourite but only because the other two dishes were both bursting with great flavours and it was very difficult to compete with those flavours.

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The Vegetarian Ramen
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The Truffle Ramen
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The Spicy Yuzu Ramen

I had the spicy yuzu ramen and I was pleasantly surprised at how good the broth was. It was extremely creamy from all the hours of bone broth creating. I did try the vegetarian ramen broth and it tasted very much like a creamy mushroom soup. The ramen was all very good. I would say it was disappointing that none of the ramen options on the menu came with the famous ramen egg that has been soaked in soy sauce and we all had to order this as an extra to our dishes – this felt a little bit wrong as traditionally there really should have been an egg in there or at least a ramen option with an egg on the menu.

Overall the food was great! It is a nice, warm, little noodle bar. The service was very quick and the food was reasonably priced.

Definitely worth a try!

http://www.kanada-ya.com/piccadilly

Freak Scene – Farringdon, London, UK

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I booked a table at Freak Scene. There weren’t many photos online of the food at the time and not many people had been yet as it had just opened up so I couldn’t find much to read about it online.

We went in the beginning of August because, although we hadn’t heard much about the place, we had read up on Scott Hallsworth and his food sounded great!

It was BYOB so we got a bottle of wine from a wine shop around the corner and got our table.

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The menu for the evening

Everything on the menu looked amazing but luckily its more of a tapas-type fusion food restaurant, so we could order a few things to share – with some help and guidance from the Freak Scene Team.

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Seared beef salad
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Chilli crab and avocado wonton bombs
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Red curry duck leg
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Pork belly and mussel wrap
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Rice and duck leg curry
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Dessert of the day
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Dessert of the day

Everything was exceptionally good. I would have to say my favourite was the duck curry. Jack’s favourite was the crab and avocado wonton bomb. There is something on the menu for everyone to enjoy with something a bit different or special about it.

After dinner we met Scott and his team and stayed for a few more drinks. It was such a good night – I genuinely recommend going and I really hope they get a permanent spot there!

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The head chef Scott himself!

Thank you Scott and team 🙂

http://freakscene.london/

 

The Hops & Glory – Canonbury, London

If you are looking for a Sunday Roast in Islington – The Hops and Glory serves a great one! You would never really notice this pub or know it exists as it is quite hidden away from the busy streets. It has a cosy, rustic vibe and they have their own craft beer brewery as well as their Gastropub.

We went on a late Sunday afternoon last December for a tummy warming Roast Dinner.

We shared a couple plates of sourdough bread soaked in beef dripping and gravy while we decided on what we wanted for our mains. It was actually full of flavour and a great start to the meal.

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Toasted sourdough, dripping & gravy (£3.50)
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Hampshire pork belly w/apple sauce (£16.50)

For my main I went for the pork (I will usually go for the lamb or pork when I am out for a roast) which came with some gorgeous roasted veg and some apple sauce. I did add some more gravy as well! I have had some bland roasts before and this was NOT one of them – It was all full of great natural flavours.

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Spiced Cider (A December Special – yes this is a bit of a late post)
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Rice pudding with pistachios and dates (a winter special – £5)
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Cheese Board with Berkswell, Tunworth & Brighton blue. Oatcakes & malt chutney (£7.50)

For dessert we all shared the rice pudding and a cheese board as we were very full but wanted a little something to end the meal.

Great English food, lovely pub, and fab service. I am coming back this winter for more roast dinners!

http://www.hopsandglory.co.uk/

Natural Kitchen – Chancery Lane, London

Since opening in 2009 in Marylebone, they have grown to be able to open up eight restaurants in total. All their ingredients are from sustainable & ethical sources (which I LOVE). They a say on their website that they always select the freshest, best quality ingredients to go into their menus and they only use suppliers who share their philosophy about quality, provenance, traceability and the impact on our environment.

It is a treat for a work lunch out because it isn’t the cheapest meal for a weekday lunch time (I am not about spending much on a work lunch), but they do make some great juices, coffees and salads here and you really are paying for the quality of the produce.

It is also a great vibe so it is a fab place to have a good old catch up with a colleague or friends as a midday break away from the office, computer screen and desk chairs.

I absolutely adore their salads and I usually get either the tuna or hallumi salads but they do have a bigger menu with hot foods as well.

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Tuna Salad
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Hallumi Salad

If you work in the area and want something wholesome and healthy – this is a great place to treat yourself.

https://www.thenaturalkitchen.com/

Newdlez – Tachbrook Street Market, Pimlico, London

Honestly one of the best Pad Thai that I have had in London is from Newdlez. They are a family owned street food stall that I stumbled upon when I went searching for lunch one weekday at the Tachbrook Street Market.

Every dish is freshly made in a wok right in front of you. You are asked what filling you want (prawns, tofu, chicken or veg), whether you want it spicy or not, and whether you would like the egg mixed into the noodles or omelette-style.

Light, fresh and bursting full of flavour – this is a great lunch option if you are ever in the area.

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http://www.newdlez.com/

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g186338-d8428449-Reviews-Tachbrook_Market-London_England.html