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Ethnic Food Markets London

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Shepherd's Bush Market. It's my favorite market in London for exotic items such as green bananas (not plantains) - much better than in Brixton, goat meat (multiple butchers that carry whole legs that they will cut up for you), and small ripe bananas. I also buy breadfruit, chillies and herbs there (on par with Brixton). You can also find green mangoes in season, though they're better in Brick Lane or Whitechapel.

Jun 06, 2011
Malik in U.K./Ireland

dinner at indian zing [London]

Thank you Howler for organizing the food ordering ahead of time. This was a lovely meal with great company.

The starters were excellent in flavor, texture and presentation. Among the mains, my favorites were the pohe (which I'd never tried before) and the goat, and it was nice to find some good chappatis in a restaurant setting. I also didn't care for the chicken too much, but the leftover has been very popular at home, so maybe the dish needed a little time to come together.

Apr 22, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Thattukada Chowdown - Results! [London]

No, we had them plain, hence my comment about the sea salt. I don't think I would have wanted a spicy condiment with it though, as the flavors (egg and coconut primarily) were rather delicate, so any strong spiciness might have overwhelmed them.

Mar 24, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Vinho Verde wine deal

The 2009 Quinta de Azevedo Vinho Verde is in London shops, and at current specials is quite a good deal. You can find it for 4.99 a bottle at Majestic provided you buy at least two (and six total bottles minimum for an order), and 4.99 at Waitrose, with an extra 5% discount if you buy a total of six bottles (mixed wines are ok). Good lemony acidity (think grilled fish or piri-piri chicken to go along), a bit of spritziness (artificially added?), a tad high on the alcohol for a vinho verde (11%), but it's a more serious wine than most vinho verdes. It's going to be my house white for the next few months...

Mar 24, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Tayyab's - London - 2nd visit, and I'm still underwhelmed.

I love Iranian kebabs, but it's not quite a direct comparison to Indian ones for me, mostly because of the spicing (and in the case of koobideh, the texture as well). Have you been to Mahdi in Hammersmith yet? For me, based on three or four visits there (vs a couple to Mohsen), I think they have the best Persian kebabs I've had yet in London. In particular, the koobideh and joojeh on the bone are great. And I believe they have both of them available as lunch specials (though the lunch joojeh might be boneless, and hence not quite as good). The doogh is also really good there.

The one downside of Mahdi is they don't allow any type of alcohol/BYOB, unlike Mohsen, so maybe not the best choice for a weekend dinner...

Mar 24, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Tayyab's - London - 2nd visit, and I'm still underwhelmed.

I've had a few visits to what seems to be the Whitechapel "triumvirate", namely Tayyabs, Needo and Lahore Kebab House, over the last six months or so, and I have to agree with you. None of them are amazing, but Tayyabs is the worst of the lot for me. I actually think that their lamb chops are pretty good, in a meaty kind of way (lots of meat on the bone compared to Lahore Kebab House). But the saag aloo (tons of cream, no flavor) and karahi ghost were not good, and the other grilled items were merely competent.

Needoo was also a big disappointment. Some of the grilled items were good (the lamb chops were tasty, but a bit weird as they seemed to be grilled and then covered in some type of sauce), but the curries were awful. The saag aloo was one of the worst I've ever had (how difficult is it to screw up spinach and potato), I wonder if it was not frozen and then reheated based on the texture of the potatoes. And we didn't have the karahi ghost there, but went instead with the waiters recommendation of the beef dry curry, and that was quite bad too. We weren't able to finish either one of those two dishes. The breads were quite good, so if you're going there just for grilled meats and bread, you could do ok.

Of the lot, I think Lahore Kebab House is the best. The lamb chops are much less meaty than at the other two places, but beautifully grilled (in that South Asian 'almost on the wrong side of overcooked' way that somehow works great with lamb chops), and the seekh kebabs are also the best of the bunch. The lamb boti kebabs are generally good, if a bit dry, and the chicken leg is just as forgettable as at the other three places (is there a good chicken tandoori place in London?) The saag aloo and karahi ghost are good, not destination type of dishes, but good enough to accompany the grilled meats. And the breads (tandoori naan and roti) are again good enough. Oh, and the nihari weekend special is not worth ordering again, the dish was not quite cooked long enough (connective tissue was nowhere near melted all the way through), and the flavors again rather nondescript.

Overall, I think if you stick to grilled lamb (chops, seekh kebab, possibly boti), and bread (naan and roti), you can have a decent meal at all three of these places, but as you start to veer away from those dishes and order other pakistani/punjabi specialties, your mileage is likely to vary greatly.

Mar 24, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Lunch in London -- Layover at Heathrow

I've never made it in the advertised 15 minutes from Heathrow to Paddington on the Heathrow Express. By the time you buy your ticket, wait for the next train, get out of the station at Paddington, you pretty much have to allow 30 minutes.

Al Waha was very good. I've only made it to El Pirata Detapas once, and I liked it but wasn't wowed. But I'd like to try it once more before I make up my mind on it.

Mar 07, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Lunch in London -- Layover at Heathrow

If you decide to get on the tube, there's quite a few good choices in Hammersmith, which would involve an easy change to the District Line at Acton Town, and should take a little over 30 minutes to get to from the time you get on the tube.

My favorites are Franco Manca for Napoletan pizza (nearest tube station is Turnham Green), 101 Thai Kitchen for Thai food (nearest tube station is Stamford Brook) and Mahdi for Persian food (nearest tube station is Ravenscourt Park, but you could just stay on the Picadilly line and get off at Hammersmith).

You could venture into central London, though you need to allow a good hour each way for that trip by tube. Chinatown is right by Leicester Square station, which is direct from the airport, so that could be a good choice, do a search on the board for recommended restaurants there. A faster but more expensive route would be the Heathrow Express, which should get you into Paddington in around 30 minutes. From there you'll be very close to areas like Notting Hill, Edgware Road, Bayswater and High Street Kensington.

Mar 05, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Chung Viet - Deptford High St. - Best Vietnamese I've had in London so far!

I think Nom actually just means salad in Vietnamese. But in Hanoi (as well as in Bodega Bistro in San Francisco) the one I had was with green papaya and dried beef (along with herbs, chili, peanuts, etc).

Feb 10, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Chung Viet - Deptford High St. - Best Vietnamese I've had in London so far!

That dried beef salad looks like Nom, which is one of my favorite Hanoian dish. Was it made with daikon or green papaya?

Feb 10, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Thattukada Chowdown - Results! [London]

Thanks JFores for organizing, that was a fun meal. Like many above, I was also a big fan of the egg appam. Perfectly cooked egg (white just set, yolk still runny) on top of a really good appam, it was an almost perfect bite (I would have liked a little sprinkling of sea salt on top to make it perfect).

Another favorite was the kappa "biryani". I didn't find it too heavy, mostly because that is the consistency I expected from cassava, and the spicy beef in it really compliments the dish well. On a future visit, I'll definitely try the beef fry on its own as well.

I also really liked the Netholi fry, both the fish and the onions were delicious. That dish was pretty much the perfect beer food (though I didn't have beer on this particular occasion). The little portion of mutton curry that came with the thali was quite good, I preferred it to the chicken curry that came with the other non-veg thali. And the parathas were really good, beautifully layered and not greasy at all. Given how good the breads were, I'll have to try the dosas and chapatis next time.

Feb 10, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Local Friends, Golders Green, London

Thank you limster for organizing, that was a lot of fun. I also didn't find the mooli with chicken broth all that exciting, probably because I had it right after the very spicy fish bowl. I mostly enjoyed that fish dish (which was only at our table), but I found it really spicy. Much spicier than the one we had at Empress of Sichuan. By the third helping, I had to admit defeat, too spicy for me to have a single extra bite. Well, I really felt that way after the second helping, but after about a 10 minute break, decided to have another go. I also enjoyed the beef tripe that nobody seems to have mentioned so far, I'd order that one again.

Feb 03, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Franco Manco Expands - London

I finally made it to the new Chiswick location, and was very happy. Much bigger place than in Brixton, and more importantly for these cold winter months, very well heated. I ate at the Brixton branch a few weeks ago, and even though we were sitting inside, we still had to keep our coats on the whole meal as it was so cold.

The menu is pretty much the same as Brixton (same pizza choices on the printed menu plus two daily specials) , though there's a couple of extra choices in the non-pizza items: Budvar beer in addition to the Sam Smith Organic Blonde, cappuccino instead of just espresso, and four appetizers on the blackboard. These appetizers included Mozzarella di Buffala from Campania and a mixed cured meat platter (I forget what the other two were). I had the Mozzarella to start, and it was fine but nothing exceptional.

The pizzas are just as good as in Brixton. Beautiful charring on the outside and bottom, nice chewiness to the crust, just the right amount of tomato sauce and mozzarella on the margherita. Even though this location is farther for me, I think that's where I'll be heading for my pizza cravings till the weather gets warmer.

By the way, for pizza bianca fans, the mozzarella/ricotta/mushroom pizza is back on the menu, and both of the daily specials were white pizzas as well. I personally don't care for the mushroom pizza, as I don't like ricotta on my pizza (I tolerate it in calzones), but the little bit that I tried of the special of the day was quite good (no ricotta on that one).

Didn't try the coffee, but based on the excessively foamy cappuccino that a nearby table received, I don't think they have a proper barista. Then again, that serves them well for ordering a cappuccino after lunch. :-)

Feb 03, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Some stalls at Brick Lane Market, London

Sunday for sure, otherwise it's the outdoor stalls only. But don't wait till Spring, there's plenty of good stuff there now, and with the seemingly fast turnover of stalls, the ones you had your eye on may no longer be there. I talked to one stall owner that used to be in the indoor market, and they really increased his rates last year (more than triple I believe), so he had to move to an outdoor location right on Brick Lane itself.

By the way, the URLs in my post above seemed to have gotten mangled, here's another try. Sunday Up Market: http://www.sundayupmarket.co.uk/index...
Map of both Sunday Up and Backyard Markets: http://www.backyardmarket.co.uk/cgi-b...
Note that there are also other outdoor stalls, at least on Sundays, on Brick Lane itself as you walk northbound.

Jan 26, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Oxford - dining alone

I wish you had posted this a couple of months ago. I had a very disappointing lunch at Chiang Mai, I would have loved to try At Thai. As I mentioned in another thread, Moya, which serves Slovak food, is quite good.

Jan 08, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Barrafina Report - London

I agree that they're not truly good compared to the upper tier of Tapas bars in Spain, but then again they're better than the not so great places I've had in Spain. As for price, it just so happens that the tradition around tapas (served in bars, often eaten standing up, large competition, etc) means that they're particularly cheap in Spain relative to the quality of the food being served. It's a little bit like coffee in Italy where you get a cappuccino for 1 euro in the south (a bit more up north), as long as you're willing to drink it standing up.

I like London tapas restaurants mainly because I can find the classic tapas dishes that I may not want to make at home (tortilla for example), and for their generally simple and good treatment of seafood. On the other hand, I do find that the menus are too static, so they don't exactly encourage too many repeat visits. That's one of the reasons I like Barrafina, because at least they have those nightly seafood specials that change regularly.

Jan 08, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Barrafina Report - London

I think pricing is hard to compare, because eating out in London is much more expensive than in any city in Spain in general. But I would argue that London might be the best place in the world to eat Spanish Tapas outside of Spain.

Jan 07, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Some stalls at Brick Lane Market, London

I checked out a couple of stalls at the Sunday UpMarket off Brick Lane the weekend before Christmas. Just to clarify the locations, the indooor covered market is called the UpMarket, and is on Sunday's only (they have an out of date web page at http://www.sundayupmarket.co.uk/index...). I believe the location is used as a car park the rest of the week. The outdoor market is the Backyard market, and is open both Saturday and Sunday (see http://www.backyardmarket.co.uk/cgi-b..., which has a good map for both markets).

I first tried the Okonomiyaki stall, which claims to serve Osaka style oknomiyaki. I was rather disappointed, it had too much cabbage compared to the batter, so it didn't hold together at all. For this style of okonomiyaki, I find that Abeno on Museum St does a much better job.

Then I had a good Som Tam (Thai green papaya salad) from one of the Thai stalls. I didn't catch the name of the stall (and I counted at least three Thai food stalls), but this was the only one that had the big mortar and pestle to make freshly pounded Som Tam. There was no salted crab or dried shrimp in this version, and they used about equal amounts of shredded papaya and carrots (I would have preferred all papaya). Still, it was nice to find somewhere to have a freshly made Som Tam to taste. I asked the vendors about Kanom Krok (a sweet Thai sweet food that I long for), and they said that come spring, there's normally a stall outside that makes it.

I also tried a couple of Pao de Quejo from the Brazilian stall. The flavor was good, but the texture was too dense, hard and dry. The search for good Pao de Quejo in London continues (I had a bad rendition in a market off Queensway, and some ok ones at Canela in Soho).

Unfortunately, by the time I saw the Bahn Mi stall, I was too full, that'll have to wait till my next visit.

Jan 06, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Princi report, Wardour Street, Soho. [London]

I had a very underwhelming dinner at Princi a couple of nights ago. Two of us shared a couple of slices of pizza, a tomato/mozzarella salad, spinach, aubergines and a sfogliatelle. The place was packed, yet most of the pizzas were tired and looked like they had been sitting there for a while. We asked for ours to be reheated, but they were still on the cold side, and the cheese rather plasticky (we tried a margherita and a bianca with zucchini). The dough was thick and bready, not my favorite style.

As could be expected in this season, the tomato half of the tomato/mozarella salad was terrible. We ordered it because my dining companion wanted to try it, and the server recommended it when I asked her for advice. While I realize that this is one of their best selling items, if they cannot source decent tomatoes at this time of year, it shouldn't be on the menu. The mozzarella was quite good, and could have made a fine dish on its own instead.

The spinach was from a precooked tray, and was rather light on flavor (we asked for some olive oil to drizzle on top to try and make it more appealing). The aubergines were the highlight of the meal, not amazing, but superior to everything else. Finally, the sfogliatele was ok but not great. The citrus flavor in the filling was overwhelming, and the dough was tougher than I like.

I was quite disappointed, because while I didn't have a full meal at the original in Milan, the pizzas there were quite good, as they just constantly kept coming out of the oven to try and satisfy the long line of people ordering them. This location seems to be really more about pre-prepared food to be reheated, so maybe dishes like the lasagna will be more successful.

Jan 06, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Franco Manca, Brixton, London

I've never heard of Antica Pizzeria e Frittitura (the only two Google hits on it are a couple of old posts of yours on CH), so maybe it was called something else? I did try probably a dozen different pizzerias from various recommendations over two trips to Naples, and in the end Da Michele is still my favorite (though Gino Sorbillo is also pretty damn good).

Since the tomatoes are uncooked going in, and they're only in the oven for a couple of minutes or so, all tomato based pizzas will get soggy very quickly. The Margheritas are worse, as the mozzarella seals the moisture in, which is why many will judge a pizzeria by its Marinara. But do try the Margherita at Franco Manca, I've had it a half dozen times and have never been disappointed. And while the DOP pizza calls for Bufala, the best pizzas I've had in Naples have always used Fior di Latte, despite the amazingly good Bufala available there.

Jan 06, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Poilane, Pimlico, London (Galette des Rois in season)

I had Paul's Galette des Rois tonight, it was competent but nothing special. I'll try to make my way to Pimlico one of these days before the "season" is over...

Jan 06, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Poilane, Pimlico, London (Galette des Rois in season)

Cool, any other recommended places for Galette des Rois?

Jan 06, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Franco Manca, Brixton, London

That's exactly how the dough is supposed to be, I think they've pretty much perfected it. Neapolitans will tell you that at the centre, the dough should be as thin as pasta. It never gets crispy (many even describe it as soggy because of the tomato sauce), though some pizzerias will bake a dough with nothing at all on it as a bread, and that will get close to crispy if it's thin enough. Franco Manca make a thicker version of it, which you can buy at the cafe a few doors down (I forget what they call it).

I find Franco Manca to be the best pizza I've had in Europe outside of Naples. I'm very partial to Neapolitan pizza, so things like the Pizza Bianca at the Forno Campo di Fiori in Rome (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3257...) don't quite do it for me. And the traditional way to appreciate a Neapoletan pizza is either as a Margherita (crushed tomatoes, mozzarella and basil) or a Marinara (crushed tomato, garlic and oregano). In fact those are the only two food items at my favorite pizzeria in the world (Da Michele in Naples), who also uses cow rather than buffalo mozzarella.

Jan 06, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Barrafina Report - London

Barrafina is great. Many people might be put off by the no reservations policy as well as the absence of tables, but I think that makes it a great place for two people to go on a whim for dinner, and once you're inside, the extensive wine by the glass list makes the wait go quickly (I order the Marcona almonds also at that point). But even though they're open late, as you found out, you really need to get there early in order to try out the nightly specials.

Jan 03, 2010
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Made in China, Westminster [London]

I had a dim sum lunch at Made in China in Westminster, which opened a couple of months ago replacing Atami, a Japanese restaurant. Most items on the dim sum menu are around 3 pounds per order, and the dim sum is available all day. On the other hand, the dim sum menu is a little small, and doesn't have for example any desserts (no egg tarts, sesame balls, etc).

The dumplings were all quite good, though not exceptional. The chicken feet were disappointing, it seems like they were not cooked long enough so they weren't melting like the best ones I've had. The crispy prawns (prawns wrapped in a crispy pancake pastry) were certainly crispy, but not particularly flavorful. It reminded me a bit of the texture of a Thai crispy catfish salad.

I probably wouldn't go back for just dim sum, but it would be an interesting place to go on an evening and be able to order a few dim sum dishes along with some other dishes from the (mostly cantonese) menu.

Dec 19, 2009
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Irish Breakfast, Afternoon Tea and Cheese Shop Suggestions in Dublin

My favorite place in Dublin for afternoon tea is Keogh's Cafe, at 1 Trinity St. Great scones. The Avoca cafe on Suffolk street is also quite popular, but I prefer it for lunch than for tea.

Dec 19, 2009
Malik in U.K./Ireland

London short takes

I ate at Cigala last week, and had some pretty good tapas. The best dish of the night was langoustines (I forget what name they were given in the menu), four deliciously sweet large langoustines, fried and perfectly seasoned with sea salt.

And I was among the 2000 people turned away from the Tuesday night concert at St Paul's. Turns out that queuing up an hour ahead of time was too late...

Dec 19, 2009
Malik in U.K./Ireland

oysters in london

I've seen at least two different oyster vendors at Borough Market on Saturdays. They sell them closed to go, or for a bit more they'll shuck them for you to eat on the spot.

Dec 14, 2009
Malik in U.K./Ireland

Places to eat in Oxford, any ideas?

I spent a weekend in Oxford recently and was not overwhelmed with the restaurant options. Chiang Mai is often recommended on this board, but I found it mediocre. The one restaurant that I did like is Moya (http://www.chow.com/restaurants/41209...) which serves Slovak food. Very good food, in fact it was better than some of the Slovak restaurants I've been to in Bratislava.

For lunch, it's a chain (albeit a small one), but Pieminister in the covered market has good pies and mash.

Dec 11, 2009
Malik in U.K./Ireland

ISO 49th Parallel coffee around Vancouver

My favorite place to have the 49th Parallel espresso is Elysian Room at 1778 West 5th Avenue, right off Burrard. I actually think they're better than the 49th Parallel flagship store, as they have a better machine and baristas.

Jul 12, 2008
Malik in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)