Bo Lang - Dim Sum Highs, then some lows...

Photo from The Times
My parents were down for the weekend and not spending much 'two on one' time I had an evening with them alone (sibling W was busy). They often stay in South Kensington which has recently had a flurry of new restaurant open up over the last year. 

Bo Lang is one of them. It's a tea house style dim sum and Chinese restaurant with a great energetic, sexy evening atmosphere, thirst quenching cocktails and fabulous food. 

We were ushered towards to back of the rather busy restaurant and sat at one of the side tables with bench style seating, handed the menus and waited, and waited and waited until a charming waiter asked if we wanted to order. No question of drinks beforehand we decided to order some wine and a cocktail, (waited some more) before they took our food order. Our 'pre dinner' (which were now accompanying our starter) drinks arrived and, it must be said, the cocktail was worth the wait. 

Starters are fried or steamed dim sum, soup or salads. Mains are then jazzed up traditional dishes such as beef with oyster sauce, tofu with black bean. However the focus here is the dim sum and it is encouraged to concentrate on these then have a smaller amount of mains - we did both pretty well.

Again, it took some time before our first steamed parcel arrived which were the Saffron scallop and cod dumpling. Filled with plenty of delicious fish this held together perfectly (signs of it being well steamed!) and was absolutely delicious.  

Our second batch of steamed dim sum arrived which was the prawn and chive. A great texture and a good amount of prawns throughout. The dumpling was again, steamed very well. 

We then waited around 20 minutes and within this time were presented with a pretty steamed scallop dish, which wasn't ours (we sent it back to its rightful owners) and a plate of broccoli... again, we hadn't ordered this and we hadn't finished our starters yet.

By this time people were getting up from other tables and helping themselves to their own wine out of the ice buckets by the kitchen. The baked and fried starters then arrived and again we were not disappointed at all, just getting ever so frustrated at the strange service.

The rib puffs were extremely well executed with fluffy pastry and delicious sweet meat.

The squid was in a fabulous tempura batter and seasoned well. 

It was at this point that one of our main dishes turned up. 

Scallops with asparagus and aubergine with samba sauce. No, it isn't one of those restaurants where you get your dishes 'as they are ready'. The menu is split into 'starters', 'mains', and 'puddings'... so we waited on the others to arrive. 

Slowly but surely they came out in slightly better procession than the starters did. 

We asked for another bottle of water (it never arrived) and a bottle of the pouilly fume. It was now that we noticed other tables becoming more frustrated. The tables next to us practically laughing due to their chicken buns arriving as they were on their pudding... 

Jasmine rice was well cooked and more than enough for the three of us.

The most delicious, melt in your mouth Baked black cod with pak choi and a devilishly sweet miso sauce.

Roasted Bo Lang duck breast with samphire was our other choice of main and was cooked pink with a crisp skin - yum! It just could have been a little larger...

Our vegetable dish of Aubergine hot pot with chilli and garlic never arrived or some other lucky table got to taste it, maybe we should have kept the steamed scallops and broccoli?! 

Another thing I found slightly odd is that your starter plates weren't replaced with clean ones for your main... therefore we were eating on side plate sized crockery which was a little strange, and difficult when trying to chase rice around a 6" diameter plate with chopsticks... 

Presented with the table next to us' bill, we then waited another ten minuted to receive our own - the broccoli still firmly on the tab... My Dad actually couldn't be bothered to ask them to take it off and just paid...

Surely for £70+ per person this shouldn't be happening... For a Thursday night, at an established restaurant, surely you'd have got this sorted?! I just hope we hit them on a bad day. I just can't see many of the people visiting last night returning again... which is sad as the food, especially the dim sum, was very, very good.

So, there you have it, one of my first ever disappointed reviews...mainly because I was SO looking forward to is after all my most favoured cuisine... the staff on the upper hand are lovely, and couldn't apologise more. It was completely and utterly chaotic. Maybe it's best to head over for lunch when things are a little less...busy?!

Address: 100 Draycott Ave, London SW3 3AD
Phone:020 7823 7887

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The Bolingbroke, a favourite amongst Clapham residents

I've recently become a fan of finding a local pub to dine in over a restaurant. Mainly because of moving areas and therefore wanting to find a good local to pop to like our beloved Claude's Kitchen or The Brown Cow. However it's also due to really enjoying the atmosphere of dining within a more relaxed surrounding and, more often than not, propping up the bar (before and afterwards).

Mr D and I met up with my brother and his ridiculously pretty girlfriend for a spot of supper. Both being Clapham based we wanted to head to the highly acclaimed Bolingbroke pub at the top end of the vibrant Northcote Road.  

The dining room at the back is gorgeously light and quite romantic. Rustic tables are set and a special board is scrawled on the wall. Menu's were brought over and I needn't have looked - the specials totally caught my eye...

If ANYONE can please tell me where their blue rimmed plates are from I will be over-the-moon! Perfect for summer dinner parties!

Special: salt and pepper squid, was taken up by Mr D and I. Perfectly crisp, plentiful and served with a wickedly good aioli, red and green chillies and spring onion. Fab!

Potted shrimp was taken up by my brother.

Fish cakes taken up by Miss SS, a pretty delicate dish.

Another of the specials was taken by yours truly and I was hugely satisfied... coley, beetroot mash, broccoli and a scallop sauce. The scallop sauce, expecting it to be a sauce tasting of scallops in fact had little queenies dotted around. The coley had a good crispy skin and flaky flesh this went well with the earthy beetroot mash - a really nicely presented plate.

Lamb chops had my the brother ship...

Miss S chose the Burger which came with a good helping of decent chips.

Mr D had another of the specials: ribs in a smoked bbq sauce - never one to pass should ribs be on a menu, these hit a spot. The meat was tender and came off the bone easily. The sauce could have had a bit more of a smokiness punch to it but good all the same.

After supper we popped into the bar area to carry on the evening and have some drinks, we were served promptly and found a space easily considering it was pretty heaving- locals must love this place. We had one of those really lovely and relaxed evenings. 

A fabulous Clapham gastro-pub which is helping me settle into my new surroundings with great ease, thank you! Their roast dinners are on my hit list soon walking past on a Sunday their Yorkshire puds look incredible!

T: 020 7228 4040
A: 174 Northcote Road, LondonSW11 6RE

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Gymkhana - incredible, innovative Indian food

We'd had some utter crappy news with regards to a flat purchase, wanting to forget about it and move on and up our evening at Gymkhana could not have come at better timing. It was also coupled as Mr D's belated birthday treat from yours truly and therefore it was also cause for a mini celebration...perfect

London's Michelin starred Trishna's sister restaurant Gymkhana is housed on Albemarle street in Mayfair. Subtly disguised behind a big green door and minimal signage, I don't think you'd ever imagine it is a (now) infamous 'Gymkhana' style Indian restaurant.

The room is rich colonial, with 1920's (esq) music piping through reflecting that of the high society sporting clubs set up by the British Raj called 'Gymkhana's'. The menu is split into starter style dishes, mains and puddings however they also have three types of tasting menu's, another vegetarian one and also an early bird menu for £"5 - bargain! We were told tasting menu portions are more or less the same size as the a la carte.

For obvious reasons in that we wanted to feel so full we'd forget about the absurd English house buying laws we chose the Full Tasting menu £55 per person for 6 courses... it's money well spent considering the amount we devoured...

Poppadoms were served as soon as our drinks order was taken and came with an incredible mango chutney and a rather yummy shrimp chutney.

Potato Chat with Chickpeas, Tamarind and Sev came first which was totally unlike anything I was expecting. Thoroughly enjoyable and a fantastic texture from the crisp potatoes. On first reflection I didn't think I'd eat it all however I was scraping the plate to get every last morsel by the end of it.   

Lasooni Wild Tiger Prawns, Red Pepper Chutney were incredible and seemingly the highlight of both our meals. Enormous prawns smothered in a delectable red curry paste, a good amount of charr on them which added flavour and served with a spiced chutney (the sauce was another standout element).

Onto the first of the choices for the menu of which we decided to try both on offer:

Gilafi Quail Seekh Kebab, Pickled Green Chilli Chutney. Not the prettiest to look at made better by their gorgeous crockery. It was succulent and cooked to utter perfection seasoned well with a good trace of herbs and spices, the green chilli chutney has a pretty good kick to it which made us worry ever so slightly as the only dish that came with a spiced warning was to come...

Kasoori Chicken Tikka, Sprouting Moong Kachumber was our favourite out of the two purely as the chicken was incredibly tender and the crunchy tomato and cucumber relish type thingy side was a fab addition.

Kid Goat Methi Keema, Salli, Pao (a type of sweet bread bun)was possibly the most unexpected of all the dishes. It came minced was slightly sweet, slightly spiced and all together not what I thought it was going to be at all. Scooped onto the Pao buns, topped with some of the raw red onion it was a fantastic mix of flavours and textures. This is one of the dishes which is most talked about, I felt ever so slightly deflated but with no idea why!

Onto 'mains'?! which came with rice, two types of naan, lentils and a delicious spiced potato dish as sides!! It's definitely worth the money...

Suckling Pig Vindaloo was one of my favourites of the whole evening as it packed some serious punch. This came with the spice warning... for vindaloo (and having a warning) I was slightly scared. However,there was no need to be. Yes, it had a VERY good amount of hotness to it but it wasn't uncomfortable. The thick red tomato sauce was delicious, had just the right amount of garlic and just the most incredibly mix of spices... have this whenever you go! 

Butter, Pepper, Garlic Crab was exactly that but extremely crabbie - perfect for me, not so for Mr D!

Chestnut and Date Kheer (rice pudding) I CANNOT abide rice pudding so I didn't even try this. It was however, gobbled up by the man to my left...

Saffron Pistachio Kulfi Falooda still no idea what this exactly was but it had vermicelli and ice cream in it.  

Some very pretty and teeny weeny chocolate spheres signified the end of our meal, which were delicious. Gymkhana has a wonderful atmosphere and even better food... it's Indian cooking at it's finest and I'm yet to find a contender whom is even remotely close...I can't wait to head back.

Address: 42 Albemarle St, London W1S 4JH

Phone:020 3011 5900

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Tokyo Retro Abbeville Road, Clapham

Now, I am all for supporting local restaurants. They bring a community together, make streets look appealing and stop a barrage of estate agents opening up or (another) 'little' supermarket. Tokyo Retro on the gorgeous Abbeville Road in Clapham has been something of a mystery to us Abbeville Villagers. Taking a while to officially open and a solo table set in the window simply enticed locals to wonder what was going on.

Now open, Tokyo Retro with a few tweaks to the décor, which was much needed to begin with, has finally settled in. We got talking to the very friendly front of house waitresses whom informed us that one chef is ex Nobu and another being head chef of the Japanese embassy (although please don't quote me on it I could have heard her totally wrong!), so our expectations were high and I can tell you, they have been met! They also informed us that they are trying to put in a sushi bar which at the moment they can't due to the kitchen temperatures being too warm...however we wait with baited breath...

On now our third visit, in as many weeks, we popped in and were presented with what is now the lunch menu, they have recently introduced a separate dinner menu with more options for both starters and mains.

Mr D and I fancied trying as broader range of the menu as possible, it was a treat day after all. Whilst deciding, we ordered some of their edamame - not much to report here as I'm not entirely sure you can go wrong or particularly 'wow' with beans...

Chicken Karaage was first out and this is fantastically succulent, incredibly crisp and was definitely gobbled up rather (too) quickly, it's now our staple order on visiting.

Their special giant shrimp tempura is a pretty spectacularly large prawn, with extremely light tempura batter. Served along with three different types of mushroom tempura - an added bonus and just as wonderful. FYI, the same gentleman was dining on two of our occasions whom seemingly travels to Japan A LOT (we could hear every word due to a booming voice) and he shouted claimed the tempura was some of the best he has ever eaten - i'll have to agree it was absolutely de-licious and indeed, some of the best I've ever had too! Sadly the photo does not do the size of this justice...

Crab croquettes were our final of the starter feast we seemed to be having, four mouth burning breaded parcels arrived. Which sadly lacked in crab taste however the crunchy outer shell and smooth potato filling was a fantastic combination. I just wish they were a little more...crabby?!

Our mains (now as the lunch bento boxes) were chicken teriyaki and pork with ginger. Both delivered well on flavour the chicken teriyaki for one was a triumph. Always being a fan of the sweet sticky sauce I was completely sold by. The chicken was kept perfectly tender and had a good flavour throughout. The pork, fell slightly behind due to it being a little dry, flavour wise however it was excellent and there was a dominant ginger kick.



Both dishes came with rice, a Japanese salad and Japanese potato salad. However, do note that now for dinner rice is an extra as they have refined their dishes slightly...see photos below for a recent visit during for the all new dinner menu, just as delicious, just as authentic but a little more refined for suppers...

Beef Katsu Curry - sauce not pictured

If you love Japanese food and want authentic Japanese home cooking you can't really beat Tokyo Retro. The food, I'm told by some regulars, is as good as you would get without actually being in Japan, so if that's not a reason to head over I'm not sure what is... I simply cannot wait for the sushi counter... but, for now, I encourage you locals to go and support it (even if the room is a little quiet!) you won't be disappointed!!

A: 57 Abbeville Road, London, Greater London, SW4 9JW
P: +44 20 3302 7574
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