Machi-ya, St James

Another local restaurant that opened up a few months ago, this one touting itself as a Japanese comfort food restaurant. I’d take it!

The place is small and cosy, so you instantly feel at home. I went on my own, as I just wanted to get out of the office and no one was around to join…

I started off with the chicken balls or tsukune, the minced chicken skewers served with a soy/egg yolk mix to dip them in, and a shimichi pepper spice on the side, should I want them to be spicy. They were squidy feeling in my mouth and tasted okay, but to be honest, I think that the best thing about them was the extras, ie, the egg yolk, soy, and spice.

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But with this, I ordered one of the specials, the sea bass which was served with a  miso jalapeno sauce, and this was MUCH better. First of all, it was a very generous serving of fish for £9, and the fish was cooked perfectly. The miso jalapeno sauce gave it a nice extra kick, as did some of the grilled lime juice that I squeezed on it, but even on its own, the fish would have been quite nice.

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Shared with a market salad (and a sesame dressing), this was a perfect lunch, cosy and good. The specials board had a number of different other specials, including other types of grilled fish and roast pumpkin – you can bet that I’ll be back for those!

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Ole and Steen, St James

London seems to be opening a number of different office/restaurant/shop spaces, such as NOVA space in Victoria and St James’ Market just south of Piccadilly.

Ole and Steen opened in St James’ Market probably nine months ago, and claims to be the best Scandinavian bakery in London. It has tons of breads, pastries, and light meals… including opened face sandwiches, salads, and amazing-looking focaccia breads that look like pizzas!

I went for two open-faced sandwiches (though probably only really needed one, as they were quite filling!) The first was the hot smoked salmon and egg salad sandwich, topped with pickled red onion. The salmon was fine, but the eggs were delicious… they probably had some mayonnaise in them, but what it really tasted like is that they had been slowly stirred to cook them, making them super creamy. Yum.

The other sandwich was the roast beef sandwich, with a remoulade sauce, a mix of ribboned cucumbers and pickles, and nice slices of roast beef ,topped iwth some pumpkin seeds and dill.

I mean, look at that roast beef! Have you ever seen better in a sandwich? Delicious.

They typically have three choices of the sandwiches, plus other sandwiches and salads… so I will be back soon to try the other options!

Murger Han, Mayfair

A chilly May day, I am craving Asian noodles, as there were strangely absent at the birthday lunch I’d been to at Min Jiang on the Saturday. I had passed Murger Han the previous week as I was walking through Mayfair, and thought that a place almost entirely dedicated to Chinese noodles would be a pretty good choice for the next day I was craving noodles!

The restaurant is quite simple, with chili oil and soy sauce placed on every table (and cute panda chopstick holders).

I started with some vegetable gyoza (nicely pan-fried and crunchy inside) but wish I hadn’t… with the noodles, it turned out to be way too much food!

Then, the Biang Biang noodles, served with pork, chili oil, spring onion, tomato and egg… the tomato was softly braised with the pork and egg (I think the eggy omelette was cooked in some kind of flavourful broth, and was borderline runny still… oh my, it was so tasty!) Underneath the noodles was a lot of chili oil and chili, which, mixed together with all of the ingredients, made the whole dish spicy and delicious.

There are a number of other noodle dishes here, including with some cold noodle dishes, along with their famous murger (which is essentially a pork sandwich that kind of looks like their version of a burger…), there are many new things for me to try out!

Black Roe, Mayfair

Out at lunch with a friend, Buck, we headed to Black Roe, as I’d been wanting to try it out for ages!

Black Roe is a Pacific Rim restaurant that specialises in poke, but also serves all sorts of delicious seafood dishes (and other).

The menu starts with a list of different poke bowls, then appetisers, and main dishes.

We went for the Black Roe poke, which contained both yellow tail tuna and regular tuna poke served with a warm, almost marinated rice, carrots and radish, jicama, and scallions… yum! It was Buck’s first poke and he was pretty impressed.

We also started with the scallops, grilled to perfection, topping a black quinoa and apparently mango salsa, though it tasted more like a  truffled mushroom puree to me underneath. But utterly delicious!

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Then, the main courses. We started with grilled tiger prawns and monkfish in a citrus salsa… very good, but completely dwarfed in experience, size and taste by the

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lobster macaroni and cheese. Holy crap, this was delicious. With the perfect amount of cream and a little bit of cheese, the macaroni was perfectly al dente and the pieces of lobster were big, springy and tasty. The. Best. Mac and cheese. Yum.

img_0177And some broccoli on the side, since we’re so healthy. This was slightly cooked with garlic, so had a little flavouring instead of being plain steam broccoli.

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Overall, lunch was really good, with, funnily enough, the poke being the least exciting thing that we ate (while it was still good, it just didn’t pack as much punch as the other dishes).

So will I go back? Oh yeah. And I’ve already googled many iterations of lobster mac and cheese to make in the meantime…

Japan Centre, Piccadilly Circus

A quick lunch on a Wednesday… my typical go-to’s are either the Japan Centre or Whole Foods, as both are healthy and quick. On this particular day, I was thinking sashimi sounded good but didn’t have the time to sit down anywhere… so I went for the XL sashimi at the Japan Centre (they have everything from small to XXL, with the larger sizes having more varieties of sashimi than the small, which typically has salmon, tuna and yellowtail).

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So I went for the very large one, which had salmon, two types of tuna, mackerel, sea bream, octopus, squid, scallop, sweet prawns, and red snapper. All delicious and fresh, this is better than what you find in most restaurants nearby…

Japan Centre wins again!

Coco di Mama, St James

A new Coco di Mama opened up off of Pall Mall, near the office, and the guys at work have been picking up lunch from there five days a week for the past few weeks, so I headed over to try it out!

Not feeling like their classic, which is a choice of different pastas and sauces, mix and match, I went for one of their salads and soups. The soup of the day was veggie greens with ham hock (after a big workout, I was happy for the extra protein!) and a vegetarian salad, with lentils, broccoli, salad, and a tomato relish… topped with a courgette fritter. Yum.

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Pleasantly surprised, I’ll definitely be back and at some point try the pasta as well!

St James’ Piccadilly Monday Market – Dosas!

Monday lunchtime and I’m not sure what I want for lunch… I head to the St James’ Piccadilly Church square for the food market and wander around…

There are a few new stands, both a gyoza/dumpling stand and an Indian dosa stand. Score!

As you might remember, dosas are one of my favourite foods ever… I would gladly eat them for breakfast every morning. So I was thrilled to find this new stand…

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… and waited in line for 20 mintues to get my dosa!

There’s a large pan cooking onions and potatoes, the dosa filling… and various sauces and chutneys, along with the dosa pan (which is exactly like what you would cook a crepe on).

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She chopped up my dosa into four pieces, then added a chili sauce and the green coconut chutney on top…

At the time, I remember hoping it would be enough food… and boy was it… the nicely-spiced potato and onion filling was quite generous, so I was struggling to finish!

Was it exactly like the ones in India? Not exactly, but still very good. And would I come back? Yes, for sure! … though next time, I do want to give the gyoza stand a try!