oonth's Profile

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London - Sushi of Shiori - Japanese comes to Drummond Street!!

Simon, good to have a fellow peripatetic in this part of the world. I'm loosely based in London again although still somewhat nomadic and travelling here and there. Oddly enough am back in NYC this week for the 1st time in 2.5 years, will search for some of your recent posts on the Manhattan board.

Re Japanese food in London, definitely a fast improving scene. I've eaten a few times at Shiori and always been impressed plus the owner Hitomi is a lovely lady and deserves to succeed. One of the only places in London where you can sit at the counter and do omakase. And possibly the only dedicated sushi ya as everywhere else doubles up as either izakaya with sushi bar or generic Japanese. From recent experiences, other places you should have on your sushi radar are Sakana tei, Saki (bukkiri don £6.50 takeout Monday lunchtime is one of London's true bargains IMO), Suzu, City Miyama, Chisou. Kikuchi is another worthwhile place although only open evenings. Check out the following blog entry which I generally concur with (see my comments) although note that the analysis only extends to chirashi.

http://gourmettraveller.wordpress.com....

Also check out her posts on Sakana-tei's evening menu (in Japanese only but can ask for translations). I have eaten well at Mitsukoshi in the past, I need to revisit. Agree with the downhill alert for Tomoe, shame as it used to be ichiban. For udon noodles and some izakaya style offerings, do not miss the recently opened Koya on Frith Street in Soho, chefs were brought over from Paris I understand. And if you need non Japanese recs for your upcoming London visit, let me know. I have eaten some good and, on occasion, outstanding items so far this year in London eateries.

Bon appetit in Paris. I look forward to reading your reports.

Jul 12, 2010
oonth in U.K./Ireland

Sake recommendations for Akita (restaurant recommendations also welcome)

I have in the past enjoyed sakes from the following two breweries based in Akita prefecture (not sure where exactly or how easy it would be to access them by train): Ama no To and Yuki no Bousha:

http://www.amanoto.co.jp/english.html
http://www.yukinobousha.jp/english/brewery/index.htm

Takashimizu is another relatively well known brewery from that region.

You can get some other ideas via this page on John Gauntner's website:

http://www.sake-world.com/html/best-s...

Would be interested to hear about any good eating/drinking experiences you have on your travels as this is a region I plan to explore on my next visit to Japan later this year. Isn't Aomori renowned for high grade scallops amongst other things?

Apr 16, 2010
oonth in Japan

Local Friends - Chinese (Hunan) in Golders Green - London - Really Good Report

Visited a few days ago, this place is local to where I live.

Can echo the comments of other posters - a positive first impression (stir fried pork with chillis, aubergine/green beans and fried rice w/ preserved vegetables), enjoyed each of the dishes (and subsequently leftovers at home) and found the owner and waitresses charming + friendly and very happy to talk customers through the Hunan menu. I seem to remember Limster commenting on the lack of fieriness in the dishes and I found the same. Looking forward to trying more dishes off the menu including dumplings, hot/spicy fish, hot/spicy swimmer crab, stir fry beef with chilli, mutton, dried pork w/ radish.

Dec 04, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

Ristorante Semplice, Mayfair, London

Had lunch here today. The carpaccio was very good and flavourwise as you describe. Great colour on the meat. However mine was thinly sliced.

Main course I opted for home made egg sedanini (finer, thinner version of penne) pasta with venison ragout and black cabbage sauce. Really delicious dish - excellent ingredients, well-executed and wonderful combination of flavours.

Bread average, olive oil good, glass of barbera d'asti fine nothing special. Agree with your view of the service.

I've lost track of the number of disappointing experiences I've had in upmarket Italian restaurants so it's nice to find somewhere which delivers. Will probably try their trattoria at some point too.

Dec 04, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

Needoo, Whitechapel [London]

Yep the same. Ordinarily it sells mithai (Indian confectionery) plus Gujarati farsan (savory snacks). Would be interested to know if they still do their chole special on a Sunday morning, it's been a few years since we last sampled. Need to get there early, I remember they used to run out quickly.

How's Wonderful by the way? I am underwhelmed by Asian bakeries in London, would love to find some good stuff.

Nov 13, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

Taste of Beijing, Soho, London

Went during the week. Ordered a noodle soup (£6.50), chive turnover/pancakes (£4.50) and a stir fry of cloud ear mushroom + lotus root (£7.25) off the Chinese menu (as recommended by the very friendly owner, the Beijing TV celebrity, she kept calling me "my darling" which I found amusing). Excellent noodles in the soup but everything else was solid rather than spectacular. Soup broth was a touch bland, maybe just a vehicle for the noodles more than anything else and the squid in the soup was rubbery. Cloud ear mushroom + lotus root was stir fried in a light sauce, quite subtle flavours and more about the textures which were a nice contrast of slimy and crunchy. I'm sure she said there would be some Chinese sausage in the dish but there wasn't and I didn't query in the end. Chive turnovers had crisp pastry but the filling was extremely salty. Limster, is saltiness a distinctive flavour of Beijing/Northern Chinese cuisine do you know?

Really nice people and good to have some alternatives to Cantonese + Sichuan so would definitely go back and try more. Perhaps the real delights are to be found on the Chinese language menu, look forward to hearing more.

Nov 13, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

Needoo, Whitechapel [London]

Checked out Needoo earlier in the week. Had seekh kebab, chicken tikka, tinda (gourd) and kheer (rice pudding). Mixed bag overall, quite good. Seekh kebab - flavour was good but more gristly than it should have been. Chicken tikka - fine, flavoursome and moist. Tinda - OK, would prefer to see this (and other vegetables) cooked in a runnier/lighter sauce or dry masala mix style rather than the tari (thick gravy) which is much better suited to meat preparations. Kheer was quite bland and I don't recall any chopped nuts. Will try the aubergine+lentils and some other dishes on my next visit.

Re medgirl's query as to whether there are any Sikh/Indian Punjabi dhaba style places in London, the answer is none that I know about. There was (maybe still is) a Gujarati sweet shop in Hendon called Gupta which did not bad chole bhature on Sunday mornings but that apart nada that my family has come across. Would be great to have a place offering up rajma chawal, chole + bhature, aloo + puri, sarson ka saag, dal makhani, stuffed parathas and various other favourites.

Nov 12, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

Calling London Sushi Buffs

Thanks for the kind words and glad that you enjoyed your visit to Shiori, it is a real gem. I suspect that it's going to get even better in the near future as the owner's husband, currently a chef at Umu, is going to start working with her at some point. Also they should also be getting their drinks licence very soon.

I haven't frequented Tomoe much this year (see my criticisms re attitude, service and price above), sorry to hear about your disappointing experience. I also find the decor and state of premises at Tomoe offputting and don't buy into the suggestion that this adds some kind of authentic Tokyo charm.

Never been to Mai, sounds like a kushiage specialist from what I've heard.

Nov 12, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

Ordering/Buying a turkey for Thanksgiving, and other Thanksgiving foods in London

Actually I'm about 4.5 miles away in Hampstead but I like wandering and discovering and have been enjoying reading about your local discoveries as it's not an area that has hitherto received much coverage on this board. Keen to try Le Chamarel which sounds like something a little different. Keep up the good work!!

Nov 12, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

Ordering/Buying a turkey for Thanksgiving, and other Thanksgiving foods in London

I stumbled across this butcher shop a few days ago when I was in the area and it certainly looked impressive from the window dressing although I didn't go in and buy anything. Made a mental note to revisit and sample some offerings. Please let me know what you think of the items you've tried so far.

Was in the area for Turkish food on Green Lanes. Ended up eating at a place called Hala and were pleased with our choice. Shared two items - a Turkish sausage pide and a daily special of stuffed meatballs (icli kofte) - and enjoyed both of them. Complimentary bread, salad and muhammara were also tasty. £14 for 2 IIRC. Afterwards we enjoyed a coffee and baklava from Antepliler patisserie a few doors down.

By the way if you're a sushi fan, you should check out Fuji Foods which is about 1 mile from Turnpike Lane tube @ 167 Priory Road. It's a small Japanese grocery store with a sushi counter at the back. Very good quality at very reasonable prices.

Nov 09, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

London - Moroccan - Golborne Road

Postcode is W10. It's at the northern end of Portobello Road roughly speaking between Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park. For as long as I can remember, there's been a Moroccan and Portuguese community along that stretch but the street food scene is a relatively new and welcome development. Here's a little bit more colour via Timeout:

http://www.timeout.com/london/restaur...

Nov 07, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

London - Moroccan - Golborne Road

Had a really delicious bowl of bean soup from one of the Moroccan food street stalls on Golborne Road yesterday lunchtime. Served with very good bread and tasty harissa on the counter to jazz things up. All for the princely sum of £1.90 and I was sated. No name on this stall but it's more or less in front of Le Marrakech grocery store and has a board menu listing soups, sandwiches and fish plates.

The street food scene has burgeoned since I was last there, there are maybe as many as 10 stalls dotted along the north side of the street. Not sure if they are all there every day, probably not. On sale a variety of items including fish/seafood a la plancha, kebab sticks, merguez/grilled meat sandwiches, falafel - a lot of items looked and smelled appetising and I will certainly be back to sample more.

A great post-Friday prayers buzz around the place yesterday lunchtime.

Nov 07, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

Bangkok - all things Pandan and Pork Floss

Spent summer 2007 living in BKK, back in town for a few days this week. Interested to hear about any items in food shops or dishes in eateries involving either of the above-mentioned two ingredients. For example have enjoyed pandanus ice lollies and layered cakes and know about chicken cooked in pandan leaf, anything else out there? Assuming I can buy pandan leaves, extract and other products to take back with me.

For pork floss, I know it's more of a Chinese thing but seems to have become popular in BKK. Had an excellent pineapple rice with seafood and pork floss at Erawan Tea Room earlier this week and also enjoy the pork floss buns from various bakeries including Breadtalk in Siam Paragon. Anyone recognise and able to provide co-ordinates for this dried pork floss store in Chinatown?

http://77highway.typepad.com/photos/t...

Thanks.

Oct 14, 2009
oonth in China & Southeast Asia

Nopales in London?

As relizabeth says, no perishables at Casa Mexico so no cotija. But still worth checking out which you can also do online. Btw I coat my grilled corn in Indian BBQ masala, lime juice and Japanese kewpie mayo - an awesome combo if I say so myself especially with the current crop of sweetcorn from farmers' markets.

Taqueria/Cool Chile - good selection either at the restaurant/shop itself or at Wholefoods (also Borough Market). I bought one of their "mole kits" a few weeks back which I need to try out at some point. Taqueria itself a mixed bag, I've had one very good meal and two underwhelming ones. Boho Mexica new kid on the block, haven't been yet but seems to be getting relatively positive reviews.

Oct 08, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

Nopales in London?

You won't be able to buy fresh nopales but I've bought tinned ones before at Wholefoods.

GG, I discovered Casa Mexico for the 1st time a few weeks ago, it's been going for 6 years apparently. Nice shop run by an English guy and his wife who retired to Guadalajara a few years ago and have since moved back to London to open this place. Mainly handicrafts + decorations but a small, well-stocked food section. I bought a tortilla press, some masa flour, some dried oregano and some Mexican dulce de leche (cow's milk, they also had one made from goat's milk) which turned out to be delicious and even better than Argentinian ones I have bought in the past. Definitely worth checking out, located on a cute residential street in Bethnal Green.

Oct 07, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

Calling London Sushi Buffs

Sharmila, glad that you made it to Shiori and liked it so much. I have been back a few times since my initial visit and am really enjoying everything I'm eating there - superior sushi, sashimi, rolls, miso. And yes the ice creams are a revelation, I tried the chestnut and sweet potato flavours for the 1st time last week. Wasn't aware that they offer yakitori and kara-age, will check those items out on a future visit.

As you say Hitomi the owner is supernice. I think she realises that she made an error of judgement opting for smaller premises with limited seating, an easy mistake to make for a 1st time restaurateur. She needs to get some take-out/delivery/catering custom from local businesses. If you know anyone who works nearby, take them down there, I've been doing just that and she's very appreciative!!

Oct 06, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

Needoo, Whitechapel [London]

I've always eaten well at Tayyabs albeit that I tend to avoid the circus that is eat in and grab a couple of items to go, often a chicken tikka roll for £3. I rate a couple of less discussed items like katlama from their sweet counter and firni, one of their desserts.

I'm looking forward to trying Needoo, a friend who lives locally and knows the manager/owner mentioned that they have a garden which they plan to open and use for drinks/shisha which would be a nice way to round off a meal.

Great to hear people talking about Punjabi food for more than just the grilled meats. Vegetable, pulse and lentil dishes as well as a variety of breads are an essential part of Punjabi cuisine - along with items of chaat, they are what I crave more than anything else.

JF is right to say that only outer 'burb places like Thattukada will never get overrun. Another such place is a Pakistani Punjabi dhaba called Nauroz in Eastcote/Harrow which made a very good first impression on me a few weeks ago.

Oct 06, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

London -- Fitzrovia for a week -- looking for Indian, Chinese, Iranian, Lebanese, Malaysian

If you do some searches, you'll get board favourites for each of these cuisines. A couple of alternative suggestions for you: Iranian - Tandis on Chalk Farm Road (Northern line tube from Goodge St to either Chalk Farm or Belsize Park); [South] Indian - Vijays on Willesden Lane (Bakerloo line tube from Oxford Circus to Kilburn Park), stick to South Indian dishes (dosas, rasam, dry masala fried lamb, fish mollee, chicken ginger, biryani); Lebanese - Yalla Yalla (walking distance, 10-15 mins).

Oct 06, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

Calling London Sushi Buffs

I've still not tried Tosa. They've now opened a 2nd branch in East Finchley which is closer to me than Hammersmith so I plan to try at some point soon. Did you know that they're owned by the same group that owns Teachi and Bento Cafe on Camden Parkway?

http://www.teachi.co.uk/index.php?pag...

FWIW, I quite liked Teachi (for dim sum) but thought that Bento Cafe was pretty awful.

Oct 05, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

Calling London Sushi Buffs

Like Limster, my 1st choice would be Kikuchi but it can easily run you £50pp so not cheap. Search for the thread on Kikuchi which Limster started.

Akari on Essex Road is another good bet and cheaper than Kikuchi. Search for the thread which I started.

http://www.akarilondon.co.uk/

Oct 05, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

Bolivian & Ecudorian in Southwark, London

Tried a salteña at Parrillada del Sur yesterday. £1.60 each, filling a mix of chicken and beef. It was OK nothing special (filling slightly better than pastry), I wouldn't go out of my way for them.

Oct 04, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

[London] Banh mi?

I was disappointed rather than very disappointed with my caramel chicken banh mi but I'm not writing them off just yet. Didn't think much of the bread and had a chat with the owner about this, he is looking to source baguettes made with the right blend of rice flour and wheat flour, let's see what he's able to come up with. The filling was actually tasty but as you say there just wasn't enough of it and for £3.70 this represents poor value for a sandwich. There is pate on the menu which I would expect to feature in any of the pork banh mis but I am yet to sample. Interested to see pork floss on the menu, a favourite of mine but not an ingredient I associate with Vietnamese cuisine.

Of the London examples I've tasted so far, Cafe Bay in Camberwell/Denmark Hill is the best although I wasn't happy with the pickled veggies there, either they hadn't been pickled for long enough or the pickling liquid itself was weak.

http://vietbaguette.net/

Oct 04, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

London - Torta Canarejal - Spanish Sheep's Milk Cheese

First tried this cheese at Inopia, a neighbourhood tapas bar in Barcelona owned by Albert Adria, Ferran's brother (it has also featured on the menu at El Bulli). Instantly fell in love with it - it's gooey, robust and deliciously moreish eaten either on its own or with some bread.

Am delighted to find that it is now available in London. I bought a round (they are small to medium sized) from Pomona deli in Belsize Park. They are getting them from Brindisa so I assume that they are available at the shop in Borough Market. Not cheap (£8.99, possibly cheaper at Brindisa shop) but better even than Vacherin Mont d'Or IMO.

Here's a link to the cheesemaker's website (Spanish language only):

http://www.quesoscanarejal.com/

Sep 28, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

Tentazioni, Shad Thames, London

Limster, this is a blast from the past, I went to this place years ago when Shad Thames was being plugged as the next big thing. Really can't remember what I ate but, as with many of my more upmarket/modern Italian dining experiences, I came away underwhelmed.

I wasn't even aware that Tentazioni was still going - what drew you to the place?

Sep 28, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

Mezza Express - London

This thread should give you more ideas for eating options on Parkway and in Camden.

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/615255

I still need to try Mezza Express myself, sounds promising and looks good from the times I've walked by it.

Sep 28, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

Camden Lock Street Food - London

Zuriga, all of the Camden markets are a mob scene on the weekends especially good weather ones like the one just gone. There used to be a good arepa stall in the Lock market but that's now gone. Apart from that I've never really thought much of the food offerings at any of the markets although the Lock market has the best of what's on offer I think. Stables market is best for [non-food] shops and stalls. Opposite the Stables market on Chalk Farm Road, there is a very decent dim sum place called Yum Cha.

If you do revisit, post ahead of time and I can give you some suggestions. You might like to wander into Primrose Hill, nothing stellar foodwise but lots of solid (and quite charming) options including Troika (Russian Teahouse), Sardo Canale (Italian/Sardinian), Engineer (gastropub with a lovely back garden), Lansdowne (another gastropub, very hip), Melrose & Morgan (deli). Lemonia is a North London institution, decent enough Greek food but you go as much for the ambience especially Sunday lunchtimes. Other well reviewed places like Absinthe (French bistro) and La Collina (Italian/Piedmontese) I haven't tried yet. Oh and there's Nonna's deli which is part of Ramsay + Hartnett's York & Albany gastropub. You can get very good Neapolitan style pizzas from their wood-fired oven although at £9 for a margherita, prices are steep. They do excellent home made Scotch eggs as well.

More than enough info to keep you going!!

Sep 28, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

Calling London Sushi Buffs

Hi. Am posting the link for Atari ya below. My mistake above - the sushi bar (takeaway) is on James Street not Davies Street and I think you have already discovered this place. They have a proper sit down sushi bar but that's in Hendon Central and probably not very convenient for you. Definitely worth a visit though, you can view the menu online.

http://www.atariya.co.uk/

Dinings now has a website too, here's the link:

http://dinings.co.uk/

Let me know what you think of Shiori and I'll do the same when I make it back to Sakana tei. Thanks for the blog report and photos, that uni looks excellent and I'm fairly certain is Californian or from Hokkaido, my favourites. Btw Fumio san is right, onsen tamago is quite easy to make at home although I find it tricky to consistently cook the eggs at the right temperature and for the right amount of time!!

Sep 28, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

NYer looking for Sunday bday dinner in Barcelona

The Sunday evening request comes up quite commonly on this board. One very good option is Els Pescadors, an accomplished fish/seafood restaurant in a charming old world square in Poble Nou which is one of Barcelona's traditional working neighbourhoods.

http://www.elspescadors.com/default.asp

You could walk there along the promenades/sea front from Barceloneta, maybe stopping along the way for a drink at a chiringuito if they haven't closed for the season. And afterwards maybe wander up the Rambla de Poble Nou, get a feel for the nabe and then drink a patxaran at one of the bars.

You do get some tourists at Els Pescadors but it's much less touristy than the other places you mention.

Sep 28, 2009
oonth in Spain/Portugal

Calling London Sushi Buffs

Phil, don't think that's a problem - whether you're eating raw fish in London, New York or Tokyo these days I think you can expect a lot of the fish to have been frozen at some point (and some of it imported) and as long as a sophisticated freezing technique has been used, shouldn't adversely affect the flavour/texture.

Btw, did you check anywhere out earlier in the summer as per your request above?

Sep 23, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland

Calling London Sushi Buffs

Hi again. I think we're agreed on the limitations of the Japanese food scene in London (if sushi options are second rate at best then ramen isn't even worth thinking about!!) but I am definitely trying to accentuate the positives!

Just a little bit more for you about each of Tomoe, Shiori and Dinings. Tomoe was my favourite sushi ya/izakaya for a while in 2007 and 2008 and I got to know the sushi chefs who looked after me well. But I haven't been in a while partly because attitudes there have worsened and I started to find find it all a bit rude and aloof. Plus they put their prices up which, bearing in mind the scruffiness of the place, didn't seem particularly reasonable. But the food is still much better than the London average so on that basis it's worth the visit and hopefully you get gracious treatment. Look out for the scallops, iberico pork dishes, grilled razor clams, bonito tataki (if they have it as a special).

Dinings is massively hyped at the moment (has become a real favourite place for chefs) and I don't think it's THAT good to justify the hype. When I went a few times in 2007/2008 what I liked was sitting at the counter ordering sushi directly from the itamae who I got to know and who I developed a rapport with. I wasn't that excited by their "Nobuesque creations" but I did like the regular nigiri. I also liked some of their sakes by the glass. And they had an excellent dessert (black sesame something). I probably need to revisit myself to check on current standard.

Shiori is a newcomer. Think a better version of Atari Ya cafe. Small space, limited menu, really nice owner and sushi chef (from Hokkaido). No drinks licence at the moment but they have applied for one. Here's a link to the thread I started - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/636919. I've been back a couple of times since and I'm really enjoying it. And here's the link to their website - http://www.sushiofshiori.co.uk/index....

I will definitely be making it to Sakana-tei for dinner at some point and will report back.

Sep 23, 2009
oonth in U.K./Ireland