Wai Chan Corner, Chinatown

Another Chinatown restaurant… this is one that I first went to in 2001 with my my friend Sarah and her family in a quick stopover in London after having studied in Spain for a year. I have been back a few times since, and like it, as it’s one of the only dim sum spots in Chinatown that still uses trolleys on weekends.

This time around, however, I didn’t pick so well… I wanted to switch things up a bit, so tried some new dishes…

First of all, I ordered the prawn wrapped in crispy spinach. I wasn’t expecting this much crisp… so I took most of it off (it was TOO fried). But underneath, the spinach was also crispy, in a nice way, and the bits of prawn were well-flavoured and almost bouncy in my mouth.

IMG_4903

Then, the easy one, the steamed dumplings… these were dried shrimp and fresh pork dumplings with peanut… for a while, I have been craving cunchy peanut in a dumpling, so this really hit the spot! To be honest, I could hardly differentiate between the tastes of the shrimp and pork in the dumpling, they were more of a softer texture within the dumpling that was complemented by the crunchy peanut… but with some chili oil and soy sauce dousing it, I was happy.

IMG_4904

Then, the beef dumplings. These were okay, though again, I didn’t feel like they were as strong-tasting as they should have been. I liked the combination of the spring onion and ginger with the broth under the dumplings, with the thinner, almost wonton-like dumpling wrapper, but the meat inside was just… blah. Really not tasting of anything.

IMG_4905

Finally, I chose the fried salt and pepper squid, which I imagined to be large pieces of squid, lightly battered and topped with tons of spring onion, peppers and onion, along with the salt and pepper spices… but this dish also, sadly, lacked. Instead, I got deep-fried strips of calamari with the salt and pepper seasoning, but none of the vegetables. I had a few pieces, but was pretty disappointed and didn’t even finish.

IMG_4906

So, my overall thoughts? Difficult, as this is somewhere I had been a few times over the years (though not in the past few) and always had a good experience. I’m thinking that perhaps my choices were to blame for me not liking the food, but even the two sets of dumplings were just okay at best. So, this isn’t a place I feel that I need to come back and try again!

Advertisements

Whitstable Cafe and Kitchen, Whitstable

The Sunday morning in Whitstable, we rent bikes and decide to go for a long ride along the water. We stop by one of the grocery stores, but everything is bought already (its one of those kinds of weekends!) and so we head ot the Cafe and Kitchen to see if they’ll make take-away sandwiches for us.

The Cafe itself is very cute, with a big room in the back, and little seats in the front room. They serve everything from quiches, sandwiches and salads, to heavier main dishes.

We each went for the sandwiches, as they were the easiest to carry out. I got a roast chicken, tomato and avocado sandwich on sourdough bread. The creamy avocado made it just good enough.

IMG_2695

This is how Andre feels about his sandwich… he got the Coronation chicken sandwich, which was basically curried chicken on sourdough… no raisins, nothing else… pretty unexciting.

IMG_2696

So, back in Whitstable, perhaps we would try out the quiches or main dishes the Cafe has to offer, but we certainly would not come back for a sandwich, as we found them quite basic, not very tasty, and quite pricey for what they were!

Zuaya, Kensington

A few weeks ago, I noticed that a restaurant near us had closed down (and old Italian place) and that in its place, they were building a place called Zuaya. I was guessing it was going to be Lebanese food, but when it opened, we realised it’s Latin American food!

Turns out the chef is Basque, but has spent years working in Argentina, Peru and Colombia… and this restaurant has influences from all of his stops!

We ordered some food, but then the chef came out and told us his favourites… so we ordered way too much… luckily, the soft opening is offering 50% off until July 18th, so it didn’t hurt our wallets too much!

One of the chef’s favourites was the ceviche a la brasa, which was pretty tasty… and Andre’s favourite. Sea bream with red onions, some large Peruvian corn, a sweet potato ice cream, and Rocoto pepepr Tiger Milk (coconut milk pepper ceviche “juice”).

The crunch of the corn (crunchy outside but soft inside, firm sea bream and tangy coconut milk, the sweet potato ice cream (which didn’t melt over the fifteen minutes we talked to the chef… hmm… )… it was all cut by the sharp red onion on top… perfect!

Then, the corn bread brulee… made with large corn and sweet corn, topped with burrata. The corn bread was slightly undercooked in the best way, that it still tasted a bit doughy, and with nice pieces of sweetcorn in the dough, and the burrata on top was slightly charred (making the brulee). Frankly, the corn cake was good enough on its own that it didn’t even need the burrata… but it certainly didn’t hurt!

And what a pretty presentation!

And the octopus, grilled to perfection, sitting on a bed of potato fume and topped with a chimichurri and mint, and an aji Amarillo chilli sauce, this was a really nice dish! It was no Mykonos octopus, but otherwise, as good as I’ve had in London!

The creamy, mushy potato worked well with the spicy Amarillo sauce and chimichurri (which was much more herby and less oily than most), and the garlic chips on top gave a nice crunch and differing texture.

The turbot was a real winner… the waiter told us about all fo the different things topping the turbot (coriander, mint, Thai basil, ginger and lime keffir), and we couldn’t taste the nuances of any of them, except for the big pieces of basil… but it didn’t matter, because this (large) piece of turbot was perfectly cooked, super moist and nicely seasoned, which made us gobble it down. I would go as far as to say that the best turbot I’ve had was at the River Cafe, and that this is a close contender…

The tuna tartare with avocado was quite good, marinated in a sesame oil and Asian sauce (but, lightly, not overly sauced), the bits of guacamole and the crunchy leaves on top (I’m not sure what these were, but they had a slightly smoky taste, maybe they were some sort of seaweed?) made for a good combination.

We had a few margaritas…

My favourite dish of the meal was the purple tacos… they were lamb neck cooked for 18 hours, mixe dwith ras el hanout, coriander, and smoked cinnamon… and a little pineapple. The meat was SO tender and you could really taste the flavour… Andre was not as wow’ed as I was, but it’s been a while since I’ve had meat where the flavour came out so much!

And finally, the Amazonian prawns, that were grilled and put over a passion fruit coulis… the prawns were fine, though they tasted more soggy than crisp, and the little bits of cunch (grilled shallot, perhaps?) on top was also a bit soggy because of the coulis. The combination of flavours was nice, but the dish just wasn’t spot on.

So, we’ll be back. Apart from being a stone’s throw from our flat, the food was good, and varied. Nex time, I’ll pass on the prawns and order extras of the purple tacos and turbot… and try some of the other dishes on the menu!

Bar de l’Ouillette, Val d’Isere

Our last day of skiing, we were hungover from the MASSIVE pot of fondue we had gone through the night before, so we decided to go for a lighter lunch… we ended up at Bar de L’Ouillette, which has a beach theme (kind of fun with a white, snowy backdrop…)

We looked at the self-service options, and there were many… a selection of sandwiches, hot toasts, and quiches, salads, and grilled meats such as burgers, sausages, and lamb.

I went for the leek and salmon quiche… it was a big piece and chock-full of leeks… with a very thin crust… this was a perfect amount of food, accompanied with the light salad on the side.

Andre went a bit more aggressive… Reblochon and Parma ham on a slice of bread… melted and gooey. Andre thought that this was very good, but quite heavy… and I was satisfied after just one little taste of it!

After our ski day, we walked through town quickly before leaving, and happened by the market… and hovered around the cheese and charcuterie… 

Having already eaten, we didn’t need anything… but what’s the harm in tasting? This Tomme cheese with truffle was out of this world… it’s apparently award-winning… and you can taste why. A salty, creamy cheese with a vein of truffle going through it… we bought some bread to eat this on in the car and had to put the cheese back in my bag to stop from snacking on it… it was heavenly…

The drive back to the airport wasn’t too bad either… with the trees still lined with snow and a spectacular sunset starting to shape up…

Capriciossa, Oeiras, Portugal

A day trip from Lisbon and heading to the beach, we wanted to go to a local seafood restaurant, but learned that most of them were closed since it was Monday (and fresh fish doesn’t come in on Sundays, so you wouldn’t want to each fish on a Monday anyway!)

Instead, we were recommended Capriciossa, a pizza restaurant on the beach. And it was fine, a good place to come for a low-key meal if you have the time… the service was very slow (we probably waited over an hour for the pizzas to come) and they were just ok, but then, it was more about sitting out in the sun !

I got the sausage, mushroom and tomato version, whereas Andre got the cheese, ham and egg… both… fine. They did the job.

Then we had a bit of times on the dunes over next to Guincho beach.. check out the kite surfers and my hair in the wind!

We alos are both sporting some pretty cool outfits… namely my Portugal fleece, which I picked up when absolutely freezing on the scooter on the way to the beach…

And Andre’s very cool wool sweater, picked up in Sintra for the same reason. Why does he look so much more stylish that I do?!

Osteria della Bottega, Geneva

A Friday of meetings in Geneva before a weekend of fun in Switzerland, I had a long lunch break and found a very interesting restaurant on my walk through the old town.

I walked into a modern, sleek-looking restaurant, and loved it instantly. They gave me some bread, olive-oil basted focaccia, home-made sun-dried tomatoes, and Puglian olives. I nibbled some, but tried to not eat too much, as more food was coming!

img_9125

I started off with an appetizer of calamari and broccoli. I had very tenderly-cooked pieces of calamari (and a generous portion!), small pieces of broccoli and broccoli cream, and a mint puree. It was fantastic. Fantastic. I couldn’t wait to try the next course…

img_9126

Which was a pasta… and the perfect serving size, instead of being a large portion. Again, wow. It was a pasta of cima di rapa greens and sea urchin. It was perfectly seasoned, briny with some good, crunchy greens wrapped within the pasta.

They served the dish with a spoon, and I used it, to scoop up every last bit of the urchin juice…

img_9127

This was a fantastic restaurant, and I really could have ordered any of the options on the menu, as everything sounded so good (and just a bit different from your typical Italian menu). I’m sold. I’ll be back for sure, the next time I’m in Geneva!

Flora Indica, Chelsea

A new Indian place for dinner last night, with my bestie Sapna, who is in town for the long weekend! The restaurant has been in the process of opening for the past six months, and was finally open when we walked by! Flora Indica is an Indian tapas-style restaurant, with lots of fun little dishes.

We started with the chickpea croquettes… good with a dab of a tangy sauce underneath them.

img_9202

Then we had the roasted paneer skewers… nice, but they basically tasted like… paneer. They were nothing special.

img_9203

Then, the tikka-roasted salmon, which was very nice and tender, and seemed to have been marinated in something (maybe yogurt?) and spices. Yum. It had a nice, creamy and citrusy sauce served with it.

img_9205

Then, the “main” dish of daal, which frankly looked like another appetiser… but so worth it, it was a very nice, creamy one. On the side, we ordered a smoked butter and black sesame naan, which had a very subtle smoky flavour… and was absolutely delicious… it worked perfectly to scoop the daal up, without overpowering the flavour.

img_9206

Then, still a bit hungry, we ordered a last plate, of scallops. Why is it, when you order scallops, that you never get more than three? Even in a main course-sized dish? Well, anyway, this was a starter, so we got two, small scallops. They were nicely cooked and served with a salt-baked celeriac, a cauliflower puree, and a curry sauce… a nice mix, but there was nothing amazing about this dish.
img_9207

So what did we think? Everything was good, but nothing (apart from the daal, which for me is always a lay-up) blew the lights out… that said, it is a good local place for some small bites in a nice atmosphere, when you want something more exciting than your regular small dishes… And next time, I’ll give a try to the cocktails, as the two pages they had seemed all very exciting!