Nagasui, Zurich

A day trip to Zurich, and I’m craving soup as it’s cold outside. I finally settle on a pan-Asian place called Nagasui that has a bunch of lunch specials. I get inside and start looking at the lunch menu, and it turns out that while they have five lunch specials every day, that’s all you can order from for lunch… oh well!

I finally settle on a penang curry chicken – while it’s not a soup, it does the job, as its hot and creamy. Given the price (over 20 CHF), I find it kind of pricey… but loaded with vegetables and chicken, it fills me up, and I have to say, the curry itself is a nice combination of creamy, slightly sweet and mostly tangy.

So this place did the job – given the many other options for lunch in Zurich, it’s to be seen if I’ll be back, but at least I know that I can come here for comfort food!

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Pastaio, Soho

Of all the new pasta places in London, I’m so far loving Lina Stores the most, but the other day, went and tried Pastaio, which is also close to my office. They have a good-sized restaurant, lined along the window with seats for people that have come on their own for a quick lunch (perfect!)

I start with a salad, made of Castelfranco salad, pommegranate, and a soft but flavourful cheese (the menu said it was Peccorino, but I really don’t think so, neither the taste nor the flavour attested to it!)

Then, I went for the buccatini carbonara. Oh, yeah. And it did not disappoint. Cheesy, creamy, with a nice dose of pancetta, I doused it with black pepper… and it was perfect. The bite of the buccatini, which is slightly thicker than your regular spaghetti, was nice, amidst this great sauce… I licked my plate clean.

And so, I will definitely be back. If you follow Pastaio on Instagram, they post their delicious pastas every day (and typically have a few specials that are tough to resist), so why wouldn’t I be back?!

Caravan, Kings Cross

This is not my first time to Carravan in Kings Cross, but it had been ages (the last time was right after it opened!) This time, we were here to check out the opening of the Coal Drops Yard complex in Kings Cross, with its new restaurants and shops. As it was POURING rain and freezing, we weren’t up for walking around too long, and quickly came in for food.

There is a Barrafina in Coal Drops Yard, but somehow, the thought of cured ham and croquettas at noon was too much! So we headed to Caravan and stood in line (luckily, only for 5 mins, as the queue is in blustery outdoors)…

And I ordered the warm spiced milk to start, which was so comforting… a mix of turmeric, cinnamon, anise seed, and other spices, it was warming and gentle… so I ordered two 🙂

And then, for food… I ordered the charred aubergine puree, served with a soft-boiled egg (which in turn was topped with a tomatoey and pickle salsa that gave a nice kick!), and a yogurt topped with chermoula. The toasted bread on the side had a nice dose of za’atar on it, which gave more flavour… and I took the option of adding a merguez as well! The merguez was very flavourful, it’s the first time in a while that I’ve tasted one with so much… of a merguez taste. But as Andre mentioned, it was not overcooked (which merguez tends to be, crispy which is one of the nice things about it!) But I was happy with the taste.

The aubergine puree, however, was pretty boring, even with the harissa and rest topping it… I think they could have done a better job at adding something to it!

But I do love Caravan over all, for their varied dishes, nicely-spiced foods, and fun combinations. Whether its in Fitzrovia, King’s Cross, or Southwark (though there are other ones elsewhere), it’s always at the top of my list!

L’Huitrier, Bruxelles

The next evening, I arrived by train to Bruxelles, and was excited to try a Japanese sushi restaurant that I had read about. But when I got there, it was packed, and the guy said that they wouldn’t be able to seat me that night (it was a Monday!)

So I walked down the street, looking at the other choice of restaurants, and decided that a seafood restaurant wouldn’t be too different from sushi… Also, with the weather going on in early October, I’d be able to sit outside… score!

I saw down and looked through the long list of food, overwhelmed. Finally, after lookign at the 7 types of mussels, 10 types of lobster, etc etc… I went for the set menu, which had a number of good options… three courses for £29.

I started with the mussels, which were… interesting. Gratined mussels with a tomato and pistou sauce, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into here when I ordered, but they were pretty good. I did end up scraping most of the cheese off of the mussels (seafood and melted cheese? eh.) but the pistou was delicious enough that I finished it up by sopping my bread into it.

Then, the main dish, the seafood platter… exactly what I had been craving! With large and small prawnd, clams, oysters, whelks and cockles… I was in heaven. This took me a good half hour to plow my way through, but I ate every bite.

Fresh, for a great price, this was exactly what I had been craving when I went for the sushi originally… so glad that I found it! Even with all of the other good restaurants in the city, I’ll be back here next time I come to Bruxelles for sure!

Brasserie la Lorraine, Luxembourg

An overnight trip to Benelux, my first night was in Luxembourg, and I somehow managed to get there on a night when my father wasn’t in town! Being a Sunday night, everything was closed, so I headed to the main square, where the brasseries were open.

I went simple… a salmon tartare, which was nicely seasoned with some lime juice, olive oil, and mango. This was a delight, and I gobbled it up pretty quickly…

Served ont the side with some fries, and I ordered an extra side salad… I had a few of the fries, but there weren’t anything to write home about, so concentrated on the salad, with fresh (strong!) red onions and radish…

And that made for the perfect Sunday evening meal, washed down with a bit of wine!

Old Tree Daiwan Bee, Soho

Today, I wanted a savoury soup and had been walking by Old Tree Taiwanese for ages, looking inside and telling myself I’d go at some point, but never making it in! They have a picture of the Taiwanese oyster thin noodles soup, which sounds delicious to me… but when I ordered it, the lady asked if I had had it before… which I hadn’t – it turns out that it’s a sweet and sour sauce-type soup, which really isn’t my thing, I’m glad that she asked!

Instead, I went for the beef noodles in soup, not as exciting, but brothy and good. The soup is quite opaque from the pieces of minced beef, giving it a thicker texture than your typical Chinese beef with noodle soup… served lots of greens, spring onion and a hard-boiled egg, this really hit the spot!

As an appetiser, I thought I would try the Taiwanese-style salt and pepper crispy chicken, but when it came out… it was HUGE. Gigantic. But I had a few pieces anyway… and felt pretty sick afterwards.

This wasn’t because of the chicken itself, which was super moist inside and crunchy outside… it was just the crust that was too much… it was quite salty and fried, in a really nice way that kept it crunchy as you are the chicken, but was just too much after one piece… you went into a salt and fried overload. But as a plate to share with a few people, I would definitely recommend this.

So will I come back here? For sure. There are several things on the menu that sound good, and look slightly different from what you can get on a Chinese restaurant menu, so I am intrigued, and will be back to try out some other dishes.

Westegg, Notting Hill

A lazy Saturday in Notting Hill, and we’re in search of lunch with a terrace! The plan is to bike up to Golbourne Road and see if we can snag a table there, but as we bike by what used to be Raoul’s, you can see that it’s changed names and interiors…. and there are tables outside! Interesting…

So we dock our Santander Bikes and come back to claim a terrace table, and check out the menu. There are a few good brunch dishes, some salads and sandwiches, but also a special “Back from Greece” menu that seems perfect for me  (including shakshuka, all sorts of fresh salads, and what i finally ordered…

I went fo rthe kagiana, which is Greek-style scrambled eggs cooked with buffalo butter, fresh tomatoes, and feta. It reminded me of Turkish menemen eggs, which I love!  Andre got shakshuka, which is like no shakshuka I have seen…. you have the tomatoes and onions, but the egg on top instead of cooked inside… and some yogurt on the side. He was a bit disappointed with his lunch, as I would have been… it tasted fine, but really wasn’t a shakshuka!

But given the large menu with all sorts of different brunch items, and a terrace, this is definitely a place to come back to, when in Notting Hill and needing lunch.