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 dating, london, relationships

Seventeen Thoughts That Run Through Your (or MY) Head on A First Date

I have been called a serial first dater so many times. Dating for me is like one of those things that I need to tick off on my yearly to do list, like: travel ✔️try a new workout ✔️lose a few kilos ✔️ go on a date ✔️✔️

As I always explain when people ask me why I’m single, I don’t necessarily feel like I’m somehow less just because I’m not one half of a couple. I do my own thing and live my life the way I want it to, not as society expects me to. But every now and again I do feel like it would be nice to have someone to share these experiences with and so commences my annual dating bonanza, a series of first dates that never really lead anywhere.

I think bad dates are a universal experience. I certainly have my share of stories to tell but apart from the initial apprehension, I do enjoy meeting and getting to know someone. Here are some of the thoughts that inevitably run through my head on a first date:

  1. Oh God, what am I going to wear?
  2. Hair up or hair down? Hair up makes me look more chic but hair down hides the fact that my face is as big as the moon. What to do, what to do?
  3. Am I wearing too much perfume?
  4. God, let this case finish early so I can get out of the hospital with enough time to freshen up.
  5. Why why why did I schedule a date on a work night?!
  6. Damn, I should have taken the tube instead of the bus.
  7. Please Lord, let him look better than he does in the photos.
  8. Oh, and please don’t let him be a psycho.
  9. Okay, he’s attractive enough. I can work with this.
  10. Hmm, has a sense of humour. Great.
  11. Would it look bad if I get another glass of wine?
  12. Why do first dates in this country mean just drinks? I’m really hungry and could do with some food.
  13. Pace yourself, anj. You know you have to drink water in between liquor so that you don’t get too drunk.
  14. This date is going better than I thought it would.
  15. Yes, there is definite second date potential here.
  16. Ah, the goodnight kiss.

And depending on how well number 16 went….
17. Please let him text me. I really like this guy.
Hahahahahahaha

I don’t know why I constantly find myself on a first date situation. It would be nice to try a long-term thing for a change but I’ve come to accept that if its not in the cards for me, I’m gonna have to learn to deal with it. The one thing I don’t want is to feel pressured to settle just because society dictates that women have to be married at a certain age. Don’t ever settle, people. The kind of love we’re all looking for is worth the effort, the wait and the endless first dates.

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 Careers, london, Self-Discovery

Adulting 101

Let me just state for the record that there are times when I absolutely hate being an adult. Sometimes I find myself longing for the days when all my problems can be solved by a pint of ice cream and reassurance from mum and dad that everything will be alright.

You get a real appreciation for and understanding of your parents as you grow up I think. You begin to see that a lot of the time, adulting is simply about winging it. You fake it and hope to God you make it. As much as you try to use logic and as much as you try to weigh your options before making a decision, a lot of the time you make decisions on a leap of faith. All you can do is pray that you make the right one.

I suck at making decisions. Partly that comes from my desire to have everything. I find it hard to accept that in order to go for something I want, I have to give up something in return. I’m also really afraid of change. I’m the kind of person that gets attached to people, places and things. I’m incredibly sentimental. I remember when I was young (and stupid), my crush gave me a box of chocolate crinkles all wrapped up with a ribbon on top. I think I kept the box and ribbon for about 2 years and cried over it when, as puppy love tends to do, things didn’t work out.

This isn’t a post about puppy love, forgive me for digressing. 

The point is that I get incredibly attached. But sometimes attached is just another word for stagnant. Or stuck. And there comes a time when you have to think about what you really want out of life, and where you see your future going. I’m now in a position where I can think about settling in London and making a life for myself in this city. Its challenging, especially in terms of having a career and managing your finances. Its important to love your job but what I’ve learned is that its also important to keep moving forward. There are a lot of opportunities out there if you have the courage to go for it. And practically speaking, you also need a job that pays the bills.

(If it were up to me, I would be a bookseller at Waterstones, to be honest. But sadly that career path is not in the cards for me.)

This isn’t a very coherent post and its very much a reflection of my mental state of mind. I haven’t been able to blog much because I’ve been confused about the direction that I’m going to take my career (and life) in. I’ve had to weigh whether what I gain is worth giving up something (or someone lol) that I really love. I’ve also found myself questioning whether I have what it takes for me to take that leap, whether I’m ready for such a big step and this is when I usually find myself listening to Miley sing The Climb.

If I think about it from a sensible and logical point of view, I think I already know what decision I’m going to make; at this point, its all a matter of taking the steps to get my heart to accept what my brain already knows. I really really hope that I’m doing the right thing not just for me, but also for my family (and my future family!). As soon as I make the decision and take that irrevocable step, I can resume blogging and doing my book reviews, hopefully soon.

Until then, wish me luck guys. 

Posted in Careers, london, Moving to London, United Kingdom

Approved! 

Just a quick update to say that life has been hectic lately and I’m too emotionally and mentally spent to even contemplate writing a full-length blog. But for those who don’t already know, my indefinite leave to remain has been approved!

It was definitely an excruciating experience and an exercise in patience. For a second there, I really thought there was a real chance that I wouldn’t get the decision that I wanted. Seeing the letter and the word approved (they should really use big bold letters for that one word!) felt like a thorn has been pulled from my side and I drew my first easy breath in 8 hours (that’s how long I was at the home office).

What does this mean for me? Well, it means I basically earn the same rights as a citizen, although I still have to apply for the actual passport next year (and shell out another 2000 gbp). I can own a property, start a business, work anywhere if I don’t want to be a nurse. There’s no restrictions on my working hours, unlike when I was on a work permit when I can only work 20 hours a week extra on top of my contracted hours. I still need a visa if I want to travel this year because my passport is still Filipino, which is a pain because I honestly never want to go through the process of applying for any kind of visas ever again.

I guess what it means is that I can start thinking about building a life in the UK. For better or worse, this is my home now. And that mental shift has had unexpected results and have led to surprising decisions on my part. But I think when you’re young, its easier to take risks. And you take that risk because you don’t want to look back in the future and ask yourself ‘what if?’. I think the only truly bad experience is the lack of experience itself. 

Thank you to everyone who helped me out with this process, to the people who kept me calm when I was nearly in hysterics and to the people who were the first to celebrate with me. More celebrations to come later! 

Posted in london, Moving to London, United Kingdom

I Know I’m Extremely Anxious When…

As I write this, I am in the waiting room of the UK Home Office, waiting to hear my number come up so that I can submit my settlement application (Indefinite Leave to Remain). 

Visa applications always make me extremely anxious. My paranoid brain just goes into overdrive and cooks up a whole number of things that could possibly go wrong. Its funny, I’m normally a glass half full kind of person but not when it comes to things like these.

As visas go, this is probably the most important one I’ll ever apply for; its the penultimate step before I can obtain that long-awaited British passport. I’ve also paid 3000 hard-earned pounds for it. So its understandable to be anxious under these circumstances, but I think I have just taken anxiety to the next level. I really need to calm myself down and I thought writing a blog about how anxious I am would help (try to see the logic in this dear readers!).

So I’m passing the time by making a list of how I know I am beyond anxious and bordering on panic right now:

  1. I have no appetite whatsoever – for a girl who loves to eat, this is a bloody big deal. I can’t even think about food without wanting to vomit.
  2. Music doesn’t soothe savage beast- I’ve tried listening to my Good Mood playlist on Spotify, which usually works. But not today, today I am beyond the reach of Shake It Off and Mr. Brightside. Maybe some Black Parade will help?
  3. I cannot concentrate on what I’m reading. Honestly, I bought a book and my kindle to while away the time but every time I start reading my mind goes into all the possible worst-case-scenarios that could befall me and I just lose interest in Clarissa Fray and the rest of the Shadow Hunters.
  4. I break out in sweat. The weather has turned in London and its now the season of coats once again but I have been sweating buckets since I got off East Croydon station. Seriously.
  5. Little things start to annoy me. Like the fact that the application centre has to be all the way in freakin’ Croydon, or the Mary Sue-ness of the book character whose story I’m attempting to read (the tv series version is infinitely better!). Or the buzz of the people waiting in this room with me.
  6. I feel teary. And emotional. Like I’m likely to break out in tears any minute now.

I am almost certain that things will be fine and I will laugh about this in about 5 hours. But at this moment in time I am nothing if not a bundle of nerves. Watch this space guys, I will update you on my journey later on in the day. Wish me luck! 

Posted in Lifestyle, london, Music, Reviews

A Love Letter to Music and Intimate Concert Venues

I recently went to an intimate concert at the O2 Academy in Brixton and I just have to write about what a great venue it was and how awesome small venues are in general. Granted, it was a Killers concert so I would have had a great time regardless of where it was held. But really, I found it amazing that a band who had sold out arenas like Wembley can also choose to have a gig in a comparatively small venue.

This isn’t the first time I’ve attended gigs like these. In the past couple of years, I’ve bought tickets to watch underrated artists who may not sell out big venues but whom I really really like, maybe because I listened to their music repeatedly while I was growing up. Like Vonda Shepard for example, who rose to fame while playing songs on the hit show Ally McBeal.

I remember I used to “borrow” (and I use this term loosely) CDs from my uncle Tony’s extensive collection and hers was one of the albums that I would take up with me to my room. I was a very emotional and angsty teenager and I spent quite a lot of time in my room agonising over my teenage crushes and Vonda’s songs were (and still are) the perfect accompaniment to that. I dare any woman from my generation to tell me they didn’t cry their heart out to Baby Don’t You Break My Heart Slow.

​ 
 

I saw Vonda at Bush Hall, Sheperd’s Bush last year. When my sister and I were queuing up for this show, I was half afraid that we were being scammed because from the outside the place did not look like any concert venue I’ve ever been to before. There wasn’t even a proper entryway, just a tiny door that resembled the stage door that theatre performers go in and out of. But you should never judge a book by its cover I guess because the inside was absolutely beautiful. This hall looked more like it was used for wedding receptions and parties rather than concerts. It was awesome. And at 26£ per ticket, it was a freakin’ steal! 
Anyway, here are some of the other reasons why small venues are A-awesome:

You don’t need to queue for an entire day just to get a good view

So the last time I went to see The Killers at Hyde Park, I queued at 6am, had an egg mcmuffin at around 10 and nothing else thereafter, had small sips of water throughout the day so that I wouldn’t have to go to the toilet for the next 12 hours and eventually I got to see Brandon and co. at around 9pm. The reason I did all that is because I am only just over 5 feet on a good day and I wanted a good view of the band for my first Killers concert. So I was right up the front during the show but it came at the price of my sanity.

For their concert at Brixton, I came at 7 after having had a good pub dinner and a couple of rounds of drinks, bought another round of drinks at the actual venue before eventually grabbing a spot and still managed to have a good view of the band. O2 Brixton also has an amazing sloping floor so even if you’re at the back and vertically challenged like me, you’ll still be able to see Brandon Mr. Brightside Flowers. 

If you do make the effort to come early, the view is spectacular

The Apple Music Festival is held annually at The Roundhouse, another intimate venue. I’ve been lucky enough that even though I’ve never won any tickets for that festival (you can’t buy tickets, you have to enter a lottery because its completely free), I’ve had at least one friend win tickets 3 years in a row and they’ve taken me along as their plus one. I’ve seen Robin Thicke, Avicii, Little Mix and the last One Direction concert before the band broke up. I queued up pretty early for 1D because I am a not-so-closet directioner and as a result I got to see them up close. I had to battle it out with what seemed like hundreds of tweens though; at one point I thought a stampede would break out! I never want to go through it again, but it was still a great experience.

The acoustics are awesome

Because its such a small venue, the sound is kind of contained and so to me the acoustics sounded so much better than it does in the bigger venues.

 

You feel one with the crowd and with the artist

Gavin Degraw is one of those underrated artists who should be more famous than they are. His songs got me through college. One song in particular has special meaning to me and is the reason why I bought tickets to see him perform TWICE  in one year, both times at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town. The first time I saw him live, More Than Anyone was not on the setlist and I was crushed. I was determined to keep watching him until he played it. And when he did, I really truly felt like he was singing it just  for me.


 

Absolutely beautiful. Thousands of people all singing along to my favourite song. I do love it when artists do sing-alongs during concerts. I saw Kodaline at Hammersmith Apollo and they asked the crowd to sing along to The One, which is actually the one song of theirs that I know the words to. I love the lyrics to this song. 

​​

I think for most artists, having people sing along to your songs is a form of validation. I mean, take The Killers for example. Every time they play Mr. Brightside, Brandon hardly needs to sing because the audience does it for him:


​  

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, hearing Mr. Brightside live is akin to a religous experience. Lol

In some cases, you pay peanuts for the tickets.

The Killers tickets were a bit pricey at 68£ but most of the tickets for the shows I’ve seen hardly ever go over 30£. If you’re a music lover like me, that’s nothing. Also, when I’m watching lesser known artists, not only are the tickets cheaper but there’s also a guarantee that everyone who’s there are true fans which makes for a better experience.

So yeah, I’m sure arena concerts and festivals are awesome in their own way and they’ll have an entirely different atmosphere because of the huge crowds and the number of other activities that you can do. But I personally am spoiled for life after having been to shows like these. Although I wouldn’t turn my nose up if someone were to offer me, say, free Glastonbury tickets. I just want to celebrate music and all joys that come with it.