Another summer in London, another round of Taste of London… I went back with Hanna on the Thursday night this year, and we had a blast! While none of the dishes wow’ed me this year, we had a lot of fun walking around, trying different dishes, and dodging the flashes of rain.
This year, we were quite smart, and shared some dishes to start… which effectively meant that we could try more dishes before getting full! Genius.
We started off with the polenta croquettes from Duck and Waffle. That were really just ok. Parmesan and polenta croquettes, served with a black truffle sauce… They really weren’t croquettes, more of cheese balls… they were unfortunately too dense and cheesy, without enough other taste… and the truffle sauce did not help enough. They were good, but not as good as the ingredients promised!
Then, went on to Sartoria, a restaurant based on Savile Road in Mayfair. While friends have told me to try it, I haven’t been yet… and while we walked past their stand, the guys seemed to be having a lot of fun, mixing their pasta, and adding tons of truffle shavings to the top.
So Hanna and I shared a serving, it was nice and creamy (they must have added a tiny bit of cream), Gran Padano cheese, broad beans, and peas… with tons of truffle on top. Tons. The pasta was delicious, and a perfect (small) serving for two… there was nothing incredible about the dish, but it was a good, solid pasta that I would have been happy with, had I ordered it in the restaurant.
Next, on to Roka. Here, we shared two things from the barbecue (as they both smelled amazing), the lamb cutlets with Korean spices and the pork belly, slow cooked, with lemon, miso and garlic soy.
I have to say, I am used to pork belly being either dry or too fatty. This one was neither, it was perfectly tender and moist, with some but not too much fat. Absolutely perfect.
And the lamb cutlets were even better… seriously, heaven. They were also perfectly tender and cooked, with such amazing spices… I would have been happy for a second serving!
Then, the soft-shelled crab tacos at Champor Champor. These were just ok. We walked by some people having them, and instantly needed a taste as well… but when we got them, they were just ok. Mine was overloaded with ingredients, which means it disintegrated immediately… also because my soft-shelled crab (salt and peppered) was quite watery, as soon as I took a bite of it, and leaked all over the plate. You couldn’t taste the yuzu dressing, either… A bit disappointing.
Hanna’s version, which has the chilis and onions, but not the pickled red onion and cabbage…
And then a very unexpected surprise… standing and finishing the soft-shelled crab taco, we saw someone walk by with one of these… It turned out to be a grilled scallop in chili, cheese and mustard… essentially, in a cumin, chili and coriander-flavoured cheese sauce, served with baked puff pastry on top and a spiced cheese chili. Wow. From Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen, which is in the Hilton Hotel at Terminal 5 Heathrow. Shame it isn’t in central London, as many of the dishes on their menu sounded delicious.
Yum. This was the before…
… and dafter… honestly, I found the scallop almost underwhelming, given the rest of the dish… I would have been happy for just the puff pastry and cheesy sauce… It was a heavy dish, but worth it.
Then, we needed a drink, and had a hard time finding nice-coloured rose wines (everything was bright pink), so ended up at the Chapel Down stand, having some of England’s best white wine, the Bacchus.
Feeling a bit full, we felt like we needed a palate cleanser… and got it in the variety of oysters…
A few oysters and a glass of white… lovely. And it did make us feel less full, suddenly!
Cured red prawns (the Sicilian red prawns, Hanna and my favourites…), served with a black curry sauce, coconut gel, coconut crumble, pickeld shallots, coriander and zucchini flowers…
Wow. The prawns were so delicious, and so were the side flavours. I found that the curry flavour and coriander both over-powered the simple flavour of the prawns, there was a bit too much going on in the dish… but the flavours alone, wow. Such great tastes.
And then an old favourite… we had been holding out to try some other dishes, but of course came back to Sushi Samba’s Sasa roll. Shrimp tempura, quinoa, shishito leaf, coriander, spicy mayo and red onion, it gets better and better every year. No real comment, just, yum.
And finally… as a last bit… we were very full, but I wanted one last dish… so we headed to Chai Wu, where the duck bun had looked pretty amazing… and were not disappointed. It turned out that it was topped with a garlic truffle oil, which tasted like it had some sweet chili and something tangy in it as well. Ah-mazing. So so good. With tender duck in the bao bun puff, this was a perfect last dish for the night!
A few other comments on Taste of London that night:
- Whole Foods sells prosecco bottles for £10. It’s dryer and less sweet than regular prosecco, and I love it. Check it out.
- Deliveroo, the London delivery service, had a sitting area, where you could order your food from the stands and get it delivered to you, in their seating area. Genius.
- Kurobuta, which had a disappointing pork bun last year (so we didn’t go back), had the best music of all the stands, hands down. For a party, head there.
- Initially looking at the menus, there seemed to be tons of fried chicken dishes available… but we found none. So if you do find some… buy it immediately!