Posted in Food, Lifestyle, london

Fri-Yay Food Trip: Dishoom

After a whole week of rotation to trauma and orthopaedics, an eventful Friday filled with drama and the prospect of going home to the Philippines for the first time, my sister and I decided to take our dear friend Romelyn out to Dishoom last night before her flight to Cebu today. 

I was first introduced to Dishoom by my friend Katie and I have fond memories of catching up with her and my other favourite gal pal Caterina over a bowl of black daahl and a steaming pile of nan bread. The wait can sometimes seem interminable and its not unheard of to queue for at least an hour before you can even get to the bar and then wait another half an hour to get a table. But it is surely worth it.

Before Dishoom, my sister and Romelyn have always been skeptical about indian food. I was met with dubious looks and, in Arlene’s case, a serious frown, when I first suggested trying Dishoom at the Shoreditch branch. Obviously, these two have since changed their tune and we are now frequent visitors to this place, especially since the Kingly Street branch ( near Carnaby Street) is about a 5-minute walk from the flat.

Here are a few of our favourites in one photo:

Yum, yum, yum, yum, YUM!!!

When eating at Dishoom I find its best to have some sharers rather than having individual plates. For starters, we really like the Calamari served with different kinds of sauce/dips/whatever it is you call them.

You cannot go to Dishoom and not try their nan bread. Because I am obssessed with all things cheesy (from music to food to movies! Haha), I love ordering the cheese nan whereas my sisger prefers either the garlic or plain. I think its best served with the House Black Daahl. Let me tell you, I have no idea what’s in the Daahl and I don’t want to know but it is incredibly delicious when paired with the nan bread. If you want something a bit more sweet, you can also pair with with the Chicken Ruby. 

And finally, because the Filipino in us cannot have a meal without rice we often share Dishoom’s version of the chicken biryani. Its not that big a serving, but if you’ve already had everything else, I don’t think its a good idea to expect to consume a whole one by yourself because its really filling.

Ah, Dishoom. Still one of my favourite places to go to for a pick-me-up. Its not that expensive either. If you’re not consuming the cocktails, it will cost you about 25£ each. If you do order drinks, it can go to about as high as 35£ each, so be warned, the drinks are expensive. Also, if the long queue is stopping you from visiting, you can always come before 6pm because they will still be accepting reservations before then. Plus, they serve free drinks for the people queuing, which is another reason to give them two thumbs up!

Hope you get a chance to enjoy Dishoom as much as I do. Cheers! X 

Posted in Food, Lifestyle, london

Saturday Food Trip: Koba

My sister and I did an unexpected shift at the hospital yesterday and we both ended up staying until 8pm for some reason. So because it had been a long day and it was our workmate Gianluigi’s, last official day at work, we decided to treat ourselves to some korean barbecue.

Now London is a place that won’t ever run out of   korean barbecue restaurants, and in your quest for the best bulgogi in town you’ll run a gamut of choices, from the cheap to the reasonably priced to the really pricey. I think Koba is a place you go to every once in a while when you’re craving for GOOD korean barbecue. Its not the cheapest option for barbecue in central London; I think in terms of budget Superstar Barbecue in nearby St. Giles might be a bit easier on the pocket. However, in terms of quality Koba is definitely better.

We’ve been to Koba so many times that the waitresses already know they have to help us out because we’re just hopeless with the grill. That’s the other great thing about Koba: they have excellent and efficient service. The staff are always there to help you out if you need anything and they will do the grilling for you if it looks like you’re struggling (which I usually am).

There’s plenty of other choices apart from the barbecue. We usually get korean seafood pancakes for starters. They’re so yummy I could eat them all day. My sister and my friend Romelyn are both big fans of kimchi, which is a traditional korean side dish so we tend to get that as well.

I wouldn’t recommend having a lot of starters because the meats from the barbecue are quite heavy on the tummy already. BUT. One of my ultimate favourites in Koba is their seafood and egg fried rice and I don’t care how heavy rice is, I will always order the fried rice.

Also I didn’t have the chance to take a photo of it but the crab salad is also really good for a starter. The perfect combination of the saltiness of the crab and the vinegrette/dressing that they used was incredibly delicious. Gian went so far as to ask the waiter if they had bread because like the true Italian that he is, he wanted to mop up the remaining juice with a focaccia or something. Obviously a korean restaurant would not have bread of any sort, more’s the pity. 

Anyway, like I said, the korean barbecue selection are the true highlights of the restaurant. Depending on you hungry your party is and how many people are actually in your party, you might want to order a couple of plates. Usually, if its just my sister, Romelyn and I we can be satisfied with one. But Gianluigi was apparently really hungry so we ended up ordering both the Koba and Seafood platter.

Koba’s marinade is definitely better than Superstar’s and I also find that they have better-quality meats as well.  I remember Gian, who is a true coinousseur of all things culinary, being disappointed about the food when we last ate at Superstar but he gave this one his stamp of approval. Tutti bene as they say. I’m glad I’m finally able to return the favour after he made me taste one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had in my life.

Koba usually gets busy around 7 to 8pm. Unless you’ve made reservations, you stand a better chance of having a table if you go a bit early or a bit late, like closer to 9. Its located near Charlotte Street, its more like Rathbone Street to be precise. 

Cheers to more food trips. Happy weekend everyone! 

Posted in Food, Lifestyle, london

Friday Food Trip: The Roti King

Ah, the joys of de-stressing over food on a Friday night. After a really long day, I went to dinner with my sister and a couple of friends to an unknown (unknown to me anyway!) place near Euston called The Roti King.

I have to admit to being a bit skeptical at first. I’ve never really been fond of Malaysian food, apart from nasi goreng. But I am also the kind of person that is easily swayed by good advertising and believe me, the really long queue outside the restaurant was as good an ad campaign as any.

We must have waited about 90 minutes just to get into the restaurant. They had a really small space, I don’t think they could have sat more than 30 people at any given time. So top tips if you want to try this restaurant?

  1. Be prepared to queue 
  2. The chances of getting a table earlier depends on how many there are in your party. There were people who had only been queuing 5 minutes but a table for two was available so they were able to jump the queue. Whereas because we were a party of four, we waited a while.
  3. They do takeaway as well so that might be an option to consider.
  4. Its cash only guys. The nearest cashpoint is in Euston station so be prepared with some G’s.

Anyway, we finally got in around 8:30 and by this point the savoury smell was really getting to my stomach. I was so so hungry (so what else is new) that I just rattled off appetizers straight away. Roti to me is like a softer version of nan bread, or the malaysian equivalent of crepe. We ordered roti with spinach and cheese, roti special (this comes with either chicken, fish or lamb curry sauce) and the chicken murtabak which is roti with chicken and egg filling.

The first two were awesome. The last one was a bit bland and really filling, especially since we still ordered mains. I think if we ever go back there again, I’d order more of the roti with chicken curry. It was just so so good, my mouth is watering at the memory.

So, with the mains I would recommend sharing. We didn’t anticipate the portions to be as big as they were. I also didn’t anticipate how spicy the dishes would be which was stupid of me seeing as the dish I ordered had a big red S (for spicy) beside it. I am not known for my tolerance for spicy food so for the life of me, I have no idea why I ordered the sambal fried rice. Sambal literally means chilli-based. We are talking about rice that was probably cooked in chilli! It was so spicy that the first spoonful had me reaching almost immediately for my glass of diet coke.

Tip: My friend Angelica recommenda getting the soya milk to counteract the effect of the spiciness. I never knew that. Unfortunately, the only thing I tolerate less than spiciness is soya milk. Ugh. 

It was incredibly delicious despite that though. I didn’t finish the dish because there’s only so much spice I could take so my sister swapped plates with me and I was able to try her flat rice noodles instead, called char kuey teow, also really really good. I forgot to take a photo of it but its almost similar to the one below except that they used flat rice noodles intead of canton and I’ve always loved flat rice noodles, or ho fun as the Chinese call it. 

All in all, I give this restaurant a 4 out of 5 rating. It was good and it was cheap. With the amount of food we had we only paid about 14£ each and we would have paid less if we thought about sharing instead of ordering one dish each. As it was, we ended up asking them for a box for our leftover.

I would definitely recommend this place if you’re looking for authentic food and like us, you’ve spent a little too much this month and payday seems ages away.
Cheers! x 

Posted in Food, london

Food Tripping: Authentic Naples Pizza in London

Fun fact: modern pizza originated in Naples. 

Another fun fact: the Pizza Margerita was created for the Queen Consort of Italy, Margerita of Savoy. The original toppings were mozarella, tomato and basil and these were meant to represent the colours of the Italian flag.

Growing up in the Philippines, I was exposed to the American (bastardized) version of pizza. The crust was thicker and the toppings more varied (and weird, like pineapple). It wasn’t until I came to the UK and had the chance to travel that I had the opportunity to try “real” pizza.

Everyone who knows me know that I love everything about Italy: the food, the language, the places to visit and the people. Some of my closest friends in the world are Italian. Which is probably why I often find myself talking with hand gestures (it just allows you to express yourself better, to be honest! Hahaha).

Ive been to different parts of Italy about four or five times now and it never gets old. However, I’ve never been to Naples. But yesterday, my two Italian friends and colleagues decided to bring me to a place in London that sells authentic Naples pizza. We had a long long day at work (three REVISION hip replacements, about 70 heavy sets to organise, quick turnover, high stress levels) and we needed to de-stress. So off we went from Warren Street to the heart of Chelsea. 

Chelsea is an area I don’t really visit very often, I’ve always stayed more North of the river but there are some great places to eat in Chelsea and the food was cheaper than I thought it would be. Anyway, the place we ate at was called Santa Maria. The restaurant had a really casual and relaxed feel to it. We arrived at about 9pm and were able to get a table without any trouble. My friend Gian says its better to come a bit late because otherwise we’d be queuing for our table.

I was already excited looking at the menu. For starters, we had this soft mozarella dish that I’ve now forgotten the name of (I know it starts with a B) and it was so delicious I felt like I was having a religous experience. 

Best served with a glass of peroni, in my own personal opinion

Just as an aside: I love cheese. I think cheese makes any dish taste better, there is no dish that cannot be improved by cheese. When I was in Rome, I got told off by one of the restaurant owners because I wanted to add parmesan to my seafood risotto. You DO NOT, apparently, add cheese to seafood, its just wrong. You can just imagine the italian accent and the passionate hand gestures when he was telling me off. 

Anyway, the real star of the night was the pizza. My one real failure is that I tend to be safe and conservative when choosing my pizza toppings. I really should be more adventurous and try new things (in all aspects of my life that probably applies!) but I always seem to want to stick with what I know best. I had the Santa Carmela pizza which is pizza with tomato sauce, mozarella, parma ham and basil. It was really delicous, not to mention massive. 



Look at all that cheesy goodness! 





Anyway, I now think that the secret to pizza is to keep things simple. And if you ask my Italian friends, it is important to use Italian ingredients. I reckon after this I may never have Domino’s and Pizza Hut ever again. 

Anyway, this is one of the reasons why I love living in London and having a diverse circle of friends. You just learn so much about other cultures and traditions and you can only gain from their perspective because oftentimes its so different from your own. The cuisines are just a plus, its the company that really matters. Thank you friends for bringing me here! 

Santa Maria is about a 10-minute walk from Fulham Broadway if anyone wants to try their pizza. Cheers! 

Posted in Food, Lifestyle, london

Saving Berwick Street Market, and the simple pleasure of eating street food

Yesterday, I was having one of those rare occurences in my life: a weekday off, and my sister and I decided to go out and get our nails done in preparation for the big wedding this weekend. I rarely venture around my street on weekdays so while I knew that Berwick Street is a popular place for people around the area to have lunch, I didn’t quite realise its impact on the people who work in and around Soho until I saw a sign thanking people for petitioning to save the Berwick Street Market.

I’m sure I got the flyer in the mail, but it must have been one of those weeks where I was working 70 hours a week and anything that had nothing to do with the nhs or orthopaedics were pushed to the back of my mind to be attended to later. So this market has apparently been independently run for about 300 years but the Westminster City Council is aiming to privatise it (ugh, story of our lives) so someone started a petition at change.org. 

I am not socially conscious and I don’t always fully understand the implications of privatisation. But I do understand tradition, and how important it is to have continuity, the pleasure one takes in carrying on a routine. 

When I was in high school, there were two or three street vendors who would sell fish ball, squid roll and fish tempura outside the school grounds. They’d have these mobile frying pan thingies where they would fry these delicious treats after which they’d be skewered in barbecue sticks and we would be able to dip them in the selection of sauces provided (sweet, chilly and this vinegar mix that to this day I can’t quite recreate). 

It probably wasn’t the most hygienic thing in the world, but in the Philippines, we weren’t much fussed about those things. I think as a result, we as a people developed strong stomachs and, short of actualt typhoid, can tolerate pretty much a range of food-borne bacteria. We were all perfectly capable of asking our parents to buy these things in the supermarket to have at home, but it just wasn’t the same as queuing up with all the other skids after school just to have fried fish ball. It became part of the after-school socialisation routine. 

It was even more special for me because I was raised quite strictly as a child and I never stayed late after school on account of the need for me to study AND tutor my younger siblings. But on the rare occasion where the driver would pick us up late, i was right there queuing with all the other kids, excited at the prospect of eating a simple street food. 

I think my love of street food and street markets stemmed from those days. When I travel, I have never been able to resist the lure of the street market. When I first arrived in London, I went to all the markets: Borough, Brick Lane, Camden. London is full of them, especially in the summer, and they’ve become a tourist attraction as well as places to eat. But Berwick Street is special. Its local and its home. I feel kind of bad that I didn’t do much to preserve something that’s been here since before I was born, but I promise I will try to patronise the local businesses here as often as budget allows. 

The food really is tasty and quite affordable too. Usually of Meditarranean and Lebanese origin, they offer a selection of gyros, falafels, lots of lamb, wraps, halloumi, etc. There’s also a fresh fruit and vegetable stall if you don’t feel like trekking through nearby Chinatown to find produce. Seriously, I love that I live so close to this. Hopefully, it will be around for a long long time.