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Best Vietnamese Pho place and Asian Market in London? And views on Innocent Smoothies?

They went on holiday last Tuesday. From recollection, they're back in the second week of September... something like the 9th or 16th of September.

Aug 05, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

Gourmet-San (Szechuan-Bethnal Green Road)

I visited the place shortly after the new owners came in. I tucked into some Sichuan options from the Chinese language menu. The kebabs were particularly good, the other dishes less so. So, I decided not to write them up but did tell them to translate their menu into English which they later did. And since then I've been unable to visit due to the long queues waiting...! Sounds like the food has improved too.

Jul 25, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

Best Vietnamese Pho place and Asian Market in London? And views on Innocent Smoothies?

Ssh.. You're not allowed to mention Cafe East. It's a secret!

Jul 18, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

GO -- Leong's Legend, Chinatown, London

I was disappointed by Leong's Legend. I've had better xiao long bao at Superstar, Chinese Experience and Inn Noodle, though not recently, I confess. The wrapper was too thick, the pork filling gritty in texture, and there was barely a drop of stock.

However, most of my criticism is directed at the service. The xiao long bao were served in a bamboo steamer with the lid already removed. So, the dumplings were well on their way to going cold by the time they reached the table. Then I had to ask for a spoon to eat them with. Several minutes later they finally arrived with a spoon, by which time the dumplings were well and truly at room temperature - and there's nothing worse than a xiao long bao at room temperature. At least, I don't think there is.

The menu claims that the xiao long bao and other 'dim sum' are being prepared fresh to order. This is not the case - they're producing a certain amount before service. At least, this is what my waitress told me after explaining that the pork and crab xiao long bao were out of stock.

Leong's Legend has a genuinely interesting menu. And they've been open for little more than a week. So, my hope is that I'm reporting teething problems which will be swiftly dealt with. Let's hope so.

Jun 17, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

Cha Cha Moon

What makes me laugh is that someone has posted against the Sunday Times review that the 'ingredient combinations are actually 100% authentic".

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life...

Jun 08, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

London: Lagenda (Malaysian) in Bayswater, any good?

Unfortunately I've found the Chinese and Malaysian restaurant reviews to be consistently inaccurate or unhelpful (i.e. split down the middle as I said), hence the need to exercise caution.

As far as Satay House is concerned, I'd recommend absolutely anything - I've never eaten a dud dish there.

Jun 07, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

snazz sichuan, chalton st (london)

I insist on authentic spicing when I go.

Jun 07, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

Chinese in south London

Felix is opening his own place in Northampton. He did try to find a new home in London but in the end, Northampton seemed to be a better option. A real shame for Londoners, particularly those in the South.

Jun 07, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

[London] When does Oriental City close?

Yep, closed. Some folks who were there are still talking about finding a temporary home, but nothing so far.

Jun 07, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

Cha Cha Moon

I wouldn't describe his food as fusion - you can find similar dishes at Modern Cantonese restaurants in Hong Kong.

Jun 07, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

London: Lagenda (Malaysian) in Bayswater, any good?

I wouldn't bother placing any weight on the comments you read at London Eating. The opinion on offer has rarely matched my own experiences and often you can find views split right down the middle. Last year I also found recent reviews for a restaurant that had closed a year or more earlier.

The good Malaysian places in London are Satay House and Bonda Cafe - both are close to Paddington/Edgware Road.

Jun 07, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

Cha Cha Moon

I thought it was pretty poor too - and I've also been disappointed by the 'critical' coverage. I think it illustrates how little your average critic knows about Chinese cuisine _and_ how much the general standard of Chinese cuisine in this country has recently dropped (so people are eager to celebrate something that looks smart on the surface).

Jun 05, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

Chinese in south London

Chef Felix Yu left Dragon Castle last week so don't be surprised if something changes there... Agree on Hunan, but some could claim I'm biased as I built a small website for them. Unfortunately I can't think of another option in South London though, I'm afraid.

Jun 02, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

Some Singapore/Malaysian Places, London

I've found the cakes available for takeaway from Bonda Cafe in Sussex Gardens (previously Nahar) to be better...

May 17, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

How is Bar Shu now? (London)

Bear in mind that Snazz is probably the best Sichuanese restaurant in London, if not the UK. Given that the average cost of a meal out in London is £40 per head (according to Time Out), I'd say you got something of a bargain!

May 17, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

How is Bar Shu now? (London)

You can't compare USA prices to UK - food is considerably cheaper in the USA.

£46 for two is below average for two in the UK and particularly London.

For example: I went to a neighbourhood Italian restaurant alone last night and spent £26 - that got me soup, pizza, espresso, a bottle of sparkling water and service. I spent a similar amount a few nights before in a nationwide chain. I'd say your average meal cost in London is at least £25 per person for two course including a single drink each.

May 17, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

How is Bar Shu now? (London)

Red 'n' Hot is the one on Tottenham Court Road. It was good when I went about a month after it opened, but I've had reports of poor service, particularly if you're non-Chinese looking to try the dishes they haven't translated into english.

May 17, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

How is Bar Shu now? (London)

£46 expensive for two? You *have* to be kidding...

On the tap water question...

While it's against the law in Scotland for a restaurant to refuse free tap water if they have an alcohol licence, in England it seems to depend on the local council and whether then have added this requirement to the restaurant's alcohol licence. However, generally the expectation is that a restaurant provide tap water free of charge when asked...

May 17, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

Cha Cha Moon

I won't be writing about Cha Cha Moon for a few weeks yet. It's too early. Dishes are currently cheap for a reason...

May 15, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

Best Chinese food in Bayswater/Queensway?

I'd stick to the old-fashioned stuff, e.g. sweet and sour pork rib, steamed or grilled minced pork with salted fish, any kind of hotpot. The bbq meats are pretty good too, but I think Gold Mine just has the edge. The reason I'd opt for the sweet and sour pork rib is that it's prepared fresh from scratch whereas in Magic Wok and most other restaurants, sweet and sour pork is part-prepared in advance. And it really does make a difference.

May 13, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

Best Chinese food in Bayswater/Queensway?

The BBQ chef arguably responsible for the fine reputation of Four Seasons has been at Gold Mine since it opened, so that wins my vote. Four Seasons is, in my view, just coasting along on an old reputation. Away from BBQ, Magic Wok can be very good for old-style HK and Cantonese, though service can be a bit rushed.

May 13, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

Some Singapore/Malaysian Places, London

Satay House is fantastic. It's all good. Make sure you reserve a table and avoid the one nearest the front door - you'll be disturbed all night.

May 08, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

Some Singapore/Malaysian Places, London

Lack of consistency wouldn't surprise me. My previous meal at Kiasu had been really poor across the board. Unfortunately lack of consistency is the number one problem with all Chinese and Singaporean restaurants in London currently. So depressing. :-(

May 05, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

haozhan, london

Did you still pay the service charge? I would have had it removed...

May 04, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

Oriental City. Need advice for tomorrow...

Hi, I just thought I'd add here that Oriental City is set to close at the end of this month, May. Enjoy it while you can!

May 04, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

Pearl Liang in Paddington?

I went back a few weeks ago. Sorry for the delay in responding. It turns out the original dim sum returned to Hong Kong at the beginning of this year. Since then, they've gone through a couple of new chefs. The current one has previously worked at Royal China. It was obvious to me that the dim sum wasn't quite as good before - the attention to detail that was previously there was absent. But it's early days - hopefully he'll pick up speed.

May 04, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

Father and 13 year-old go to London - review

New World is generally superior to CCK in my experience. ('than' should have been 'at'...) But to be honest, I don't eat in either that regularly. I just don't think that the trolleys are the best way to eat dim sum in London - there isn't enough traffic in terms of people. So, you end up with food that has been sitting on the trolley for too long. Or you discover that only a sub-set of the menu is available as they're just starting service. It's a shame - when it works, as it often does in Hong Kong, it's real theatre.

I'm not aware of anywhere else in London that currently has the trolleys. From a restaurateur's perspective they're generally considered too much trouble - the trolleys themselves are problematic to obtain, difficult to maintain and require waiting staff with a certain amount of skill to use.

Further afield, I think Gorgeous above Wing Yip in Manchester has the trolleys but I haven't been there in over a year.

May 04, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

Some Singapore/Malaysian Places, London

In Singapore I've found the dish to be an omelette studded with oysters, crisp on the edges and soft in the middle. Kiasu's was just a mound of oysters covered in egg. It looked unappetising and tasted almost exclusively of oyster - very little egg. Normally I wouldn't complain about an over-exuberance of oysters but still...

May 04, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

Some Singapore/Malaysian Places, London

I ate in Kiasu last night and had the oyster omelette. It was truly awful - literally a heap of oysters covered in egg. It was a shame - the meal was otherwise OK.

May 03, 2008
Ian in U.K./Ireland

Home-cooked Sichuan meal

You don't have frogs where you are? :-)

Apr 28, 2008
Ian in China & Southeast Asia