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Category Archives: Lela loves London
Ten years and a Michelin star past its inception, Yauatcha in Soho finally made its way into my personal calendar.
With the restaurant’s fashionable reputation preceding itself, The Manfriend and I recently settled in to their vibrant basement dining space amped up by the promise of Haute Chinese.
Immediately taken with the long list of dim sum, we cautiously dipped a few slices of picked cucumber in chilli oil while restraining ourselves from screaming “EVERYTHING! GIVE US EVERYTHING!”.
Successful in said restraint, we were happy to have two crispy duck rolls sat down in what could be perceived as the blink of an eye. Though simple in its conception, the duck rolls were packed with tender meat and halved for dippable manageability. I could have easily managed a few more if not for the arrival of two more dim sum delights; the lobster dumpling with ginger, shallot, and tobiko caviar (as moreish as a dumpling could possibly be) followed by a trifecta of Wagyu beef puffs. The latter – a savoury spill of gravy-soaked beef with a light and flaky pastry casing – was the surprise highlight of the meal.
Though I would have been happy to make my way through the rest of the available dim sum, a brief pause was taken to cleanse the palate with a ‘lime and passion iced tea’ (passion fruit, lime, and apple juice with jasmine tea) before our mains arrived.
For The Man? Mongolian style venison with butter and black pepper sauce. For The Femme? A Szechuan seafood and tofu claypot with peanut – the kind that knocks your socks off and makes your partner see tofu in a new light. I enjoyed both dishes greatly but would opt to spend those 40-something pounds on a surplus of dim sum on future visits.
Forgoing a melange of macarons (my go-to) for dessert, we opted for sweet treats that has enticed us earlier in the evening; a green tea choux with hazelnuts, curd, and confit alongside the ‘Raspberry Delice‘ with chocolate brownie, lychee, and hazelnut. As the photography so rightly suggests, we were not disappointed.
Topped off with incredibly attentive and friendly service, it’s not hard to see why Yauatcha has made such a name for itself.
Though I have a personal policy against negative reviews, I just want to eat excellent Japanese food, you see.
Thank heavens for the launch of Sticks n Sushi in Covent Garden. The Danish restaurant group already have a spot in Wimbledon, but the distinctive space on Henrietta Street – all brick walls, oak bars, and natural light – takes the cake for me.
As per the original Danish site, the menus are presented in an uber-visual catalogue presentation where the food is photographed just as beautifully as it is served; an absolute treat to flip through for sushi virgins and connoisseurs alike. Though their set menus are a great starting point for curiosity and value, I am an a la carte woman and could not resist ordering at least one item from each of the nine pages.
After a round of Yuzu Lemonade (10/10) and and Keroppi (Hendrick’s gin, fresh cucumber, pineapple and calpico – 11/10), of course.
Starting with Salmon Carpaccio and Beef Tataki, The Manfriend and I knew we were in for a treat. The six slices of beef were prepared better at Sticks n Sushi than anywhere I have eaten internationally. We’re talking a thick fillet of beef with smoked cheese, chives, yuzu kosho dressing, soy roasted almonds and spicy goma dressing. When eaten between slices of the salmon (with daikon, chives, lime marinade, trout roe and miso aioli) – I became almost physically excited for the rest of the food to arrive.
For the yakitori indulgences, we opted for scallop wrapped in bacon with herb butter and grilled king oyster mushroom with herb butter and supreme soy. Because herb butter doesn’t count as butter (shhh, don’t tell me otherwise).
Though a cup of ceviche consisting of yellowtail, shrimp, tomato, red onion, cucumber, coriander, lime marinade and citrus pearls didn’t quite pack the punch I’d hoped for, Sticks n Sushi were back to hitting home runs as soon as the Nigiri arrived: two pieces of gunkan spicy tuna with black tobiko, quail egg yolk and cress, two pieces of tuna with smoked cheese and cress, and two pieces of salmon with miso, chives, fresh ginger and red onion…
Oh, but it didn’t end there (the beauty of sushi!). Next up? Softshell crab in rice paper, avocado, red tobiko, lettuce, yuzu kosho and ponzu – the ponzu adding a deliciously tart kick to the risky balance of fermentation and smoky roe.
Followed by a sheepish order of ‘Bling Bling roll‘ (I hate the name) – the insane cataclysm of crayfish, scallop, avocado, cucumber, wasabi, tobiko, miso aioli, chives, trout roe, unagi sauce and lime…sigh…made it my favourite dish of the evening.
Having had such an impressive savoury experience, dessert was obviously on the cards.
For me, the Small & Sweet. A perfectly portioned selection of 1) white chocolate with sweet miso and popped rice, 2) dark chocolate with caramel and lightly roasted sesame, 3) a logic-defying raw food cake with organic brazil nuts, dates, coconut, orange, cacao, goji berries, matcha tea, spirulina, cardamom and cinnamon, decorated with lime cream, cashews, and coconut.
The Manfriend’s small pots of creme brulee (vanilla, liquorice, and white coffee flavoured, respectively) looked delicious, but I would be shocked if anything could compare to the Small & Sweet.
Sticks and Sushi wins for favourite restaurant of 2014.
POSTED IN: beef tataki, bling bling roll, keroppi, nigiri, salmon carpaccio, sticks n sushi, sticks n sushi london, yuzu lemonade
The latest contender takes the form of Psychic Burger – a no-frills diner at Birthdays in Dalston. Ready to indulge, my dining accomplice and I had the wind taken out of our sails at soon as we sat down:
“I’m so sorry. We don’t have about half of the things on the menu”.
Having just spent an hour out of a very busy day to get to Dalston, the mean reds began to creep in. That is, of course, until we realised that with half of the menu unavailable (unusual stock problems, we were told) there was still an excellent selection of options on hand. And Aperol Spritzes, to boot.*
With smiles on our faces, we went on to order the eponymous Psychic Burger, the Soft Shell Crab Burger, bingo wings, BBQ beans, and cheese fries with short rib beef chilli to share.
GLORY, GLORY: NEW BURGER ON THE RADAR. Cooked medium rare, the Psychic Burger was a tender chunk of aged fore rib and chuck steak, topped with American cheese, a secret sauce (rumour has it, only three chefs know how to make it), and nestled in a glazed brioche bun. The components of the perfect burger.
My accomplice took the burger and smokey beans as his personal challenge of the day, leaving me to swoon over a burger of deep-fried (and beautifully seasoned) soft shell crab served with smoked garlic aioli and sweet chilli. An unconventional burger, yes, but one I would eat every day if I could.
Positive I was full after eating the hell out of the Soft Shell, I felt as though Psychic Burger would be as best a place as any to let my gluttony out to play. Those bingo wings and chilli cheese fries had nowhere to run. And, as delicious as they were, we still couldn’t finish them all.
Hooray. Excuses to return.
* In my opinion, the ultimate sidekick to a juicy burger.
POSTED IN: bingo wings, cheese fries with short rib beef chilli, horse burger, psychic burger, soft shell crab burger
I am an advocate of London’s bar scene but I find it particularly difficult to get excited about new drinking holes. For the sheer number of bars that already exist, I tend to ‘go out’ where I can be served – at the very least – some decent street food.
I am so happy I didn’t discount Topolski before trying it out.
Though Topolski’s ‘gimmick’ extends only to the fact that it doubles as a gallery for the art archive of Feliks Topolski, it is situated under the railway arches of Waterloo. At night, this creates a delicious hideaway atmosphere in the way that many Central haunts find it hard to manage.
Their calling card is simple: house infusions of gin and vodka mixed into effortless, dark horse cocktails. I couldn’t ignore a grapefruit vodka Cosmopolitan, but ended up championing the lemon and ginger vodka (with Coca-Cola, of all things) after hearing The Manfriend gush over his own.
After soaking up some alcohol with a sharing board of charcuterie, dried tomatoes, and Zoli bread, we nibbled through some Polish kanapki before ending on a blackberry and blueberry vodka cocktail mixed with cloudy apple.
In relation to my relentless love for Etsy, I have recently fallen in lust with StreetHub. Though both sites champion small and local businesses, StreetHub has shaken things up by offering both click-and-collect and same day delivery for a network of creative local boutiques.
As the site is currently just serving London, I used Fashion Week as a chance to get my hands on some of their goodies. Quickly spotting the items I wanted (from two completely different areas of London), I placed my order and planned delivery for the following day.
Less than 24 hours later, the laser-cut Evelina clutch bag from Lagom and key hole necklace (designed by Fox Le Magpie) from Here Today Here Tomorrow arrived at my door, perfectly packaged and ready to take out. That’s my kind of shopping.