Monday

The London Foodie Japanese supper club





I have neglected my little food blog lately, the start of a new job has meant I've slightly popped it on the back burner for a week, but this is a fantastic place to start the write ups again.

I first met Luiz, the brains behind The London Foodie, at the steak secret evening late last year. After hearing about his passion for food and his love for Japanese home cooking direct from the horses mouth I decided that his supper club was a must for this year. Luckily, my lovely Miss K had a birthday and revolving most our celebrations around new restaurants to try, I booked us an evening at Luiz's supper club one Thursday evening.

He runs two types of supper clubs; one based on his Japanese home style cooked food and another of French classics.

The Japanese menu was my choice for this particular evening and never having been to a supper club before I was hugely looking forward to it. What unfolded once we had stepped through the front door completely exceeded my already high expectations.

A welcome G and T was in hand as we gathered in the living room and it was apparent to us that Luiz was cooking for around 30ppl!! Some tofu gyoza with a devilishly sweet and sticky teriyaki sauce started us off nicely however, engrossed in conversation I didn't get a snap of these, but they were delicious and rather pretty! There was also huge bowls of very moreish spiced popcorn dotted around the room - N.B. try not to fill your boots too much!!

It's BYOB and all is kept refrigerated/safely out the way until you wish to crack those bottles open (we took 3 bottles and comfortably finished these- you're here for a GOOD feasting!!).

We were then shown a seating plan and taken downstairs to the wonderful (spacious) kitchen. Luiz took us through the menu and a lot of open mouthed expressions were held around the room at the sheer volume of food and also it sounded incredible...

To start came a 'salmon sushi two ways', cubed and hand cut salmon was mixed with avocado, spring onion and soy on shiso flavoured rice and wasabi cream. This was super fresh, had a lovely silky smooth texture with a fantastic wasabi kick -  a wonderful start to the evening ahead.
 

Next up was a 'hot pot'. This acted as a center piece in the middle on the tables to share between 4/5 of us and added some drama to the evening. Non-technical talk it's a DIY noodle soup based dish. A hot soy and miring broth bubbled away into which we added paper thin raw beef, tofu, shirataki noodles, oyster mushrooms and spinach. This circulated the most incredible aroma around the room and also got all the guests interacting with one another whilst the broth cooked away for about 10 minutes...
 





Once cooking is completed (the meat to your liking) you then ladle it into your bowls (make sure you get a bit of everything in there!). Each bowl has a single raw egg cracked into them which, once the hot broth hit the egg it starts to scramble and therefore cook.


This was a brilliant dish, made even more so as it brought the table together and the rooms atmosphere really hit off. The beef was perfect and tender and the broth I could have by the mug full endlessly!

During this cooking process we were presented with one of my favourite Japanese dishes, 'Nasu Dengaku' which is grilled aubergine soaked and cooked with a sweet mirin and soy sauce. This version however was topped with mozzarella cheese. I love this for two reasons; one the sweetness of the sticky sauce goes perfectly with the aubergine and two it's just such a delight to eat, it feels very indulgent and yet there's not a single piece of protein. Luiz's version did the dish proud...





Believe it or not we are only half way through starters...

Next up was 'Okonomiyaki' a type of Japanese pancake topped with pork belly and baby squid. On top of this was a type of fish flake which had a very strong flavouring. A decent sweet and sharp from the ginger was apparent in every mouthful and a nice crunch from the pancake gave a new dimension from previous dishes.





Onto many people's favourites for the evening... An extremely pretty and delicious seared 'tuna tataki' with a punchy ponzu and sesame dressing. This had a good sharpness and cleanliness to cut through previous slightly heavier dishes, a fantastic intermedian and expertly cooked!


The main course was next up and served along with an incredibly light mixed tempura vegetable side dish.


 

'Oyako-Don' is a chicken and egg dish which has been poached in dashi, mirin, sake and soy with onions and peppers. This was served with rice and pickles.

The chicken was extremely tender having been velveted in the egg and left to marinate until cooked. Luckily this wasn't a huge portion as I was nearly full to bursting but through sheer enjoyment it was gone in an instant.



A pudding was provided of flour less chocolate cake with a green tea ice cream. But due to Apple's cleverly designed phones not having battery to last later than daylight my phone had died...

It was such a wonderful evening, if you're after something a little bit different then I urge you to try a supper club. It's a great way of interacting with new people and trying fantastic, innovative and new foods. Just remember you are in someone's home so treat it with respect.

The London Foodie Japanese supper club comes in at around £50pp when you add service for Luiz's hard work. After an evening like this I will be sure to visit Luiz's home again for another fantastic feast!
 
You can get is touch with Luiz about upcoming dates, via his blog HERE.
 
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Joy King Lau - getting in my Dim Sum fix


Yes, my posts seem mainly Dim Sum/Sushi related recently but almost all of my friends request a lunch date to a dim sum restaurant in central London once a week. This is mostly because you're in and out in 40mins and you can eat relatively healthy for around £10 - perfect!

Joy King Lau has been on my hit list and I decided to head down one week day with an ex colleague of mine whom also shares the same deep love for a dim sum fix. Arriving around 12:20 it was already near to full and around 90% of the diners were Asian - surely this is only a good sign?! I am told that on weekends a large queue forms so it's best to get there early. 

Reviews have been mixed, mainly due to the staff seeming unfriendly however, on this occasion, the staff were extremely friendly and helpful when ordering. 

Neither of us were hugely hungry so we didn't go wild

To start with we had the old favourite 'prawn cheung fun' which was swimming in a warm sweet soy which was yummy! A generous portion of prawns within each of the rolls made this a great example of what was to come...




Prawn, pork and chive dumpling were a delight to eat, perfectly seasoned, nice and plump with delicious filling and the chives gave a great flavour. 


Paper wrapped prawns - one of my absolutely childhood favourites. There was ample prawn filling and the rice paper was crispy, light and not a morsel of grease - perfect! 



Great dim sum at low prices isn't always easy to come by. But lunch for two came in at £20 which I think is a bit of a steal?! And for some of the better dim sun out there... I will be returning.

Joy King Lau on Urbanspoon

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Wednesday

A Wong... excellent Chinese food in Victoria


I'd practically starved myself for a week doing some new fad diet to see how/whether it had worked. In celebration of completing this, and needing to gorge eat, my uni friend Miss H and I fancied a good Chinese and one close to home. A Wong was decided and the painful process of booking a table began... 

You have to fill out a 'desired dining date and time' and then wait... and wait...for a call that may or may not disappoint. Luckily for us the call came through positive and so our mouths began to water a good few weeks before the booking.

The thing about A Wong is that it's not in the prettiest of areas, nor is the first glance a reflection on the delights that await. It looks rather 'cutesie' from the outside, a patio filled with random plants, and simple tables laid out waiting to be filled. So, if you are a passer by and you do happen to look at the place...take a chance you won't be disappointed. 



I arrived a little early to then find they had messed up our booking, we had no table. So after slight unimpressed chats, on a Friday evening, with the delightful front of house I was seated in the main room and handed the menu's - the bar seats FYI look a lot more fun for two!



I had done my research, spied bits to definitely go for and others to avoid and luckily for me Miss H sat down and was more than happy to 'order whatever as long as it's a feast' and so the it began, along side a lovely bottle of white and were talked through the dipping sauces, one shrimp, one bean - both divine!



Starters are presented more or less as 'snacks' and therefore as singular pieces. I'm not entirely sure the table next to us understood this as I watched them trying to halve a scallop exactly right followed by what looked like a singular quail's egg... not an easy task!

First up came the spare ribs in sweet and sour sauce (£1.50). The pork meat fell off the bone and was incredibly juicy and the sticky sweet sauce was so delicious we were both swiping the plate with our fingers to get every last bit. 




Dry braised prawns in salt and pepper (£3.00 each) were actually one of my favourites of the evening- Simple, yet moreish. The chilli and spring onion gave more depth to the dish and I found myself not bothering to take the shells off for fear of losing the flavour.  




Yunnan fried cheese, was something we thought was going to be 'a little bit different' and in actual fact was quite the opposite... haloumi style cheese and tasted the same with salt and pepper as a 'dip'... hmmmm although £2 a portion (shown) won't break the bank.



We fancied trying some mushroom, bamboo and vermicelli spring rolls, then immediately regretted it when they arrived! At £1.50 a portion we ordered two of these expecting them to be small/dim sum portions... they arrived HUGE!! However extremely tasty and had a fantastic crisp wrapper. 



We then has a 'midi' course of the 'A.Wong dim sum basket', knowing from reading up that the dim sum here is something to shout about I was looking forward to trying this. The pork and prawn dumpling was innovative adding a bit crackling for another texture, the filling was delicious. Crispy wonton was good but nothing too different to write upon. The shrimp dumpling with citrus foam however was another winner.



A small and welcome pause before our mains arrived... I told you, we were feasting, not fasting!!

Gong Bao chicken with roasted peanuts shone out above all dishes. Light, super tasty and with a perfect amount of spice to keep those taste buds excited! The chicken was cooked to perfection, (not a dry bit in sight) topped with a piece of chicken crackling - awesome!



Sechuanese aubergines were another delight. The deep purple veg were coated in a deliciously thick, sticky, sweet and slightly spiced sauce. I could have had these with a simple rice dish and left happy. 



Crispy chilli beef had actual beef slices inside the crispy coating - unlike many Chinese restaurant takes on this favourite dish. Extremely easy to gobble up at record speed.



To accompany our mains we shared the Yang Zhou fried rice which was also very, very good and had a good smacking of fish sauce running through it - deee-lish!



A Wong is a great addition to pop up outside the central hub of London's China town. The interior is sleek, minimal and rather 'out there' considering the surrounding restaurants and convenience shops. Service is impeccable, on this visit we went over our table time and were shown to the bar where seating had been reserved for us to carry on.

The fad diet worked, I feel leaner, lighter and more awake! However I'm not so sure after discovering a little gem such as A Wong how long it'll take for those naughty pounds to creep back on... I think it's my new favourite Chinese - this year is beginning to look rather excellent! 

Our meal came to £40pp including service and booze - not bad eh?

70 Wilton Road, Pimlico. SW1

A. Wong on Urbanspoon

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Tuesday

Berners Tavern...

Mr Atherton, I want to take my hat off to you. Not only have you had a remarkable couple of years with the opening of Pollen Street Social, Little Social and Social Eating House. I've now found my ultimate Central London restaurant...

Berners Tavern is quite possibly the most gorgeous, decadent dining room I have ever been in...




video


It literally took mine and my fellow diners breath away. 

Mr D and I nestled into the cocktail menu at the bar whilst we waited for our guests. Now, the boys behind the bar here certainly know their spirits. I started off with a grown up milkshake 'cereal killer' a rum based cocktail made with coco pops and all sorts of chocolate naughtiness...



Mr D chose the 'mead myself and aye' a cider base with apple liqueur and honey, another refreshing and innovative thirst quencher...


Making friends with the adorable and charismatic barmen I decided to test their skills and asked them to make me up a gin based cocktail of their choice, as long as it was 'off menu'. A delicious melon tasting concoction arrived complete with edible flower and rosemary sprig it was very, very good. 






Mr D then followed with a more manly lager in the fabulous 'Atherton tankards'...



Luckily by now (for fear of getting properly stuck in) our guests had arrived and we were whisked off to a lovely banquette table by the busy kitchen. The atmosphere at Berners Tavern is electric, whomever does the playlist deserves some sort of award, as the background music is fantastic.

More cocktails arrived...


Followed by a sensible choice of wine to accompany the meal ahead... n.b. the wine list is higgledy piggledy so don't go looking for the '3rd bottle down' you'll be hit with a £406 red - ouch! We went mid market and got a red and a white for around the £40 mark. 

The menu reads exceptionally well and all of us found it rather hard to choose, so much so, we had to send the waitress away twice to give more time.

Once chosen, starters began to arrive swiftly - a good thing beings as I was now three cocktails down and wine was beginning to be poured...

My starter of scallop ceviche, avocado, radish, baby gem and chilli with lime ice was light, zingy and super fresh. It totally woke up my taste buds and had an excellent mixture of textures - simple, yet utterly wonderful and looked as pretty as a picture. 


The two boys around the table had 'ham, eggs and peas' - duck egg, mushy peas and crispy ham...oozy, runny yolk sat on a rich, vibrant bed of peas.. mmmm mmmm...


Service here is impeccable, staff whizz around light footed and unnoticed appearing at the perfect time to fill up your glass/order more water etc etc... another nod towards Atherton's other excellent restaurants. 

For mains, I opted for the cod served with leeks, the fish cooked to absolute perfection was divine, the ham added the right amount of saltiness and another dimension of texture. I thoroughly enjoyed this heart warming dish and more so as our little country was now fully immersed into winter and more so as this was a particularly wet and windy evening!


Mr D and Miss E both had the Dingley Dell pork chop, braised baby gem, fig chutney and Kent cob nut (a type of hazelnut). This smelt incredible!


Not being able to resist the duck fat chips we shared two of these for the table and were not disappointed. Perfectly crisp coating and fluffy middle.



We had puddings to share; A small selection of mini macaroons and cheeses. The cheese I didn't sample but the macaroon I had was lovely and light, if only they were a little bigger!






Our time was up at 9:15pm for the second seating (we had been at the table since 6:30pm) and the waiter had kindly reserved us a table by the bar area to move onto - excellent service yet again. This however did then set us up for more cocktail drinking - most definitely not needed. 

Vespers arrived and I knew at this point I would be on a dance floor within the hour...luckily for us me there's one underneath the restaurant which is part of the hotel so we didn't have far to stagger...




We arrived at 6pm and left at 3:30am...

It's incredibly good fun but be prepared/afraid to enter and never emerge until the wee hours of the next morning, wake up with a sore head and an astronomically large receipt stuffed in your wallet... (in excess of £150pp) this was more so to do with getting over excited about the cocktails, wine and prosecco...

It's not your average Tavern, in fact it's quite the opposite. Pop on your best, sling on your heels and enjoy the decadent fabulousness that will unfold. Berners Tavern - 'wow'.

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Berners Tavern on Urbanspoon
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