Tonkatsu Pop-up at Proud East, Haggerston

Mark and I decided to venture somewhere close last Sunday when the sun was shining- Ok seriously though it was hot AF. We sat on my roof for 30 minutes and decided, Nah, this ain’t for me. I kept envisioning a nice cold pool to jump into and then opened my eyes and realised I was still in London. I really need a holiday, can you tell?- MIAMI HERE I COME.

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Anyways- for lunch time we decided to head down to the Canal in Haggerston and realised that a Tonkatsu pop up was going on in Proud East for twelve weeks only.  Now if you haven’t been to Tonkatsu, you’ll know that their speciality is ramen. Now, don’t get me wrong- I love a bit of ramen. However, the thought of eating it in 30c is not my idea of a good time. However, we noticed that they were doing Ramen salads, as well as other side dishes, so we decided to give it a go.

We went for:

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Pork Gyoza with ginger and chilli

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‘Eat the bits chilli oil’ chicken wings

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King Prawn Katsu

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Chicken Hiyashi Ramen salad with poached and marinated chicken, cucumber, tomatoes, pea shoots and a seasoned egg. Drizzled with a ponzu dressing.

 

The verdict? The food is pretty damn delicious. I’d never had a Hiyashi Ramen salad before. This was essentially a dish made with classic homemade noodles which are cooked then chilled in cold water to retain the perfect bite and bounce, all topped with a tangy dressing. It made a light and refreshing alternative to a hearty ramen broth, whilst still being filling due to the noodles. Furthermore, the Pork Gyoza’s were flavourful and the Prawn Katsu perfectly crispy.

However, the winning dish for us was the chicken wings. Oh. My. God. Mark and I agreed that these were up there for our favourite wings ever- and TRUST ME, we’ve eaten a lot of chicken wings in our time. First, they were deep fried to achieve the perfect crunch and then, they were drenched in their homemade chilli oil sauce. They were just the right amount of spice and perfectly moreish. I’ve always said chicken wings are underrated and wings like this prove me right everytime.

Basically, you have to try these if you’re visiting.

It’s a perfect East London spot to catch a quick bite to eat and the bonus is the lovely terrace that faces the canal, where you can sit in the sun with a cold drink and people watch all day. Don’t tell me I’m the only person who does that….

 

 

 

Hakkasan Chinese New Year Menu: Doha

I’m officially back in London!

My holiday to the Middle East felt like it went by so quick and I am definitely missing the sun. After all, it ain’t London if it ain’t gloomy most of the time!

On my trip, I got to catch up with family, popped over to Dubai to see my wonderful friends and took the opportunity to relax and forget about the stresses of reality back home (aka the never ending job hunt that currently dominates my life). Of course, while I was there I also got to eat at some amazing places and consume mouthwatering dishes (and lots of wine and alcohol too, wahoo!). We went to some great fine dining places in Doha, including Nobu, (check out my previous post for a full round up of that), as well as Hakkasan.

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If you don’t know what Hakkasan is then WHO ARE YOU? hehe just kidding. It is a Michelin starred restaurant that serves contemporary Cantonese dishes. When we went, we were in for a special treat as Hakkasan had launched a  limited edition menu, cocktail and dessert for Chinese New Year. Naturally, I knew I had to try it! Each Hakkasan location in different countries had unique dishes to their Chinese New Year menus, which meant that even when you dined at one of their restaurants, it really was something distinctive to your location, making it a truly unique experience. In Doha, the set menu was priced at QAR448 per person, which is roughly 98.88 pounds (yeah, I had to mention that, Hakkasan is definitely many things but a cheap option is not one of them). As there were four of us, two of us shared the set menu, while the other two got some classic favourites off the a La Carte menu... (all for the food blog right? Sort of… it’s mainly because I always want to make the most of any dining situation and if you know me, you know I get extremely food jealous).

This year was the year of the rooster and the signature cocktail, ‘waltzing colins’ (pisco, sake, mandarin, lemon, grenadine, cucumber and sparkling wine) all had cute rooster broaches attached to the glasses. The cocktail was tasty, although a little bit too sweet to drink loads in a row – (NOT that I am complaining, I was actually a bit hungover from my crazy few days in Dubai- oops)

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For the Doha set menu, we began with the Fortune Tale Salad, with Roasted Chicken and Mooli. This was mixed in front of us as we were all asked to make a wish in the spirit of Chinese New Year for prosperity and good fortune. This was a tasty, light starter and I especially loved the crunch element to it. However, I will say it was a bit one dimensional in terms of flavour. Next, we were served a Hakka steamed dim sum platter. These included Scallop Shumai, Hai gau, Smoked Wagyu Beef and Seabass Dumplings. THESE WERE DELICIOUS. If I had to pick between the salad or dim sum, it’s obvious that dim sum wins EVERY time.Hakkasan is known for its impeccable quality and I couldn’t agree more. My favourite would have to be the Wagyu Beef, they were so soft and tender. Although, each and everyone one was distinctive in flavour and mouth watering!

If that wasn’t enough to entice you from the a la Carte menu, we had the Crispy Duck Salad with Pomelo, Pine Nut and Shallot, as well as Jasmine Tea smoked Wagyu beef ribs. The Duck Salad at Hakkasan is so moreish and the beef ribs melted in our mouths!

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Next, we were served two tasty mains as well as three side dishes. For the expensive price, the amount of food and its quality was worth it. It is the type of place which would always ensure you truly enjoy a special occasion. The mains were steamed Dover Sole with Pumpkin, Shitake Mushrooms in a Soy Fish sauce and Wok -Fried Tiger Prawns with lemongrass and chilli.

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Out of the two, the Dover Sole was more complex in flavours and not to mention- cooked to perfection! I loved all the accompaniments that went with the fish, especially because I would have never paired pumpkin, mushroom and fish together. The prawns were succulent so I don’t have any complaints, only that they were a bit less original if ya’ know what I mean. This was all served with yummy fried rice with salted egg, braised Chinese vegetables and braised abalone.

For desserts, we were served a clever and theatrical dish- probably my favourite in terms of unique plates. Called the ‘Golden Feather’, it was shaped like an egg. The shell  was caramelised white chocolate, the outside ‘whites’ were ginger pannacotta and the centre was a mandarin core.

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It had just the right amount of sweetness and the mandarin added a tart finish. Deciding two desserts are always better than one, we also went for one dessert of the a  La Carte menu.

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The Lemon tart was served with lemon, meringue, crumble and mascarpone ice cream. Considering they were both citrus based desserts, I do have to say I preferred the a La Carte dessert. Maybe this is because I love the combination of creamy mascarpone and lemon. Who knows. Either way, both were luscious.

To round off a wonderful evening, we were asked to write our New Year’s wishes on a piece of bespoke papers, which were then hung all over the famous Hakkasan lattice cages. A perfect end to a perfect evening. Hakkasan always provides exceptional flavours and the New Year’s Menu was a chance to try something new and different. Always a win in my books!

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East London Food Girl Abroad: Nobu, Doha

 I’m back bitches! But seriously, It’s good to be back in the Middle East after not visiting for a year! 

For those of you who don’t know, I grew up in Bahrain, a small island connected to Saudi Arabia by bridge. My dad currently lives in Doha and will be moving to Oman so I wanted to try to see everyone before the big move. For the next week and a bit I am visiting friends and family. Naturally I thought it would be a good idea to blog and document all the good food we’ll be eating. I mean, this is a food blog after all!

Last night, I had the pleasure of dining at Nobu in Doha (the biggest one in the world apparently… look that shit up, it’s a real fact). My dad and Amel like to go quite a bit so it did feel slightly cool when the head chef casually came and sat with us at our table. Elegantly drawn out over three floors, facing the sea, I knew we were in for a real treat. Apologies for the low resolution images, Nobu is one of those dimly lit restaurants and I felt bad shining my light and disturbing the ambiance (haha sorry not sorry).

Whenever I’ve been to Nobu, we always tend to go for the same order. Spicy Edamame to start, the Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna as well as Spicy Salmon (A MUST) and the Mini Tacos (ALSO A MUST).

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My favourite tacos are the Wagyu Beef with Spicy Ponzu, but the King Crab with Tomato Salsa and the Salmon with Spicy Miso are also incredibly delicious too. In addition (and in commemoration of Rebecca’s absence) we also got Wagyu Beef Tataki. If you’ve never had wagyu beef (which to be fair, a lot of us haven’t) it literally melts in your mouth. It is luxurious for a reason because it is probably the softest piece of beef you’ll ever have. However, I was a little disappointed with the beef this time round, it was super chewy and did not do the usual dish any justice. Usually it is thinly sliced and requires little effort to eat. However,  we did speak to the chef after and he said they were having a problem with their usual supplier… so I suppose I can forgive ya.

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We also then got the Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño. So good! Especially if you’re a seafood lover but find yourself sticking to salmon all the time. I love the combo of coriander, the spiciness of the  Jalapeño all pieced together with some delicious fish. I also had to go for some Rock Shrimp Tempura with Spicy Sauce because… who doesn’t love deep-fried prawns. I realise I sound like an absolute fat ass by now… oops. Oh well. We all are at heart.

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For our mains, we went for two off menu items. One was a Whole Lobster, prepared ‘new way’, boiled and served with saffron and mushrooms. We also had the Razor Clams, which were also prepared in the ‘new way’ lightly sauteed in olive oil and sesame, topped with ginger and sesame, also served with lightly sauteed mushrooms. I had never tried razor clams before and I think trying them for the first time at Nobu was probably the best decision ever. They were tender and full of flavour! The lobster was also soft and rich, making every bite as tasty as the last.

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Finally, the chef picked our deserts (actually a winner in my books because I am always so indecisive and tend to stick to the things I know). He went for a creamy cheesecake with raspberry sorbet and another off menu item. It was AMAZING. The off menu item consisted of chili infused bananas, layered on top of a brownie and served with green tea, vanilla bean and chocolate ice cream. A true comfort food option. If I were to usually order a desert, I’d always go for chocolate instead of fruit, but this dessert cleverly combined all the elements into one!

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Nobu is definitely a pricy option, we all know that, but it also ensures you will eat yummy and satisfied food every time. A win in my books and a must try if you haven’t been and if you want to treat yourself for a special occasion. There are rumours that a Nobu in Shoreditch will be opening later this year. If this is true, that’s my excuse to try it. After all, East London is the best place to live.

 

A favourite Korean Restaurant of Mine: Jinjuu

Checking up on the status of my blog, I realise I haven’t blogged in a while, but in my defence, I have recently been ill and only ate what I could chew, which thanks to my wisdom tooth infection was not a lot.

Anyways, as I sit here at my desk, I started thinking about what sort of food I was craving. I am currently in the fifth week of my internship at the Culture, trip and I usually spend most of my day looking at food articles and images, which doesn’t help my obsession with eating food – now, I have to look at tasty dishes constantly too. Doing this made me think of my last delicious meal I enjoyed and immediately, Jinjuu came to mind. Mark and I went a couple of weeks ago, and while I Instagrammed a picture of our meal, I never got round to writing about everything we ordered (as well as what I liked most- because that’s what we all care about the most right?)

Jinjuu is situated in Carnaby, next to Oxford Circus, the perfect sort of place to visit if you are shopping and you need a good meal after scouring the clothes rails of your favourite shops. It serves modern Korean food, and since Mark had never been and I had been introduced by my friend Amar, I was excited to return.

Regarding drinks, we decided against the alcohol (shocking for us) and went for a delicious honey & lemon tea. For food, we wanted to get a range of different items, so we carefully went through each menu item before making our decision (not shocking at all). We decided to go for a variety of dishes. These included:

  • Jinjuu’s signature fried chicken paired with two tasty sauces: Gochujang Red & Jinjuu Black Soy. £9.50
  • Pork Belly Tacos marinated in Korean spices, apple, kimchi & Asian slaw. £8.50
  • Short Rib & Kimchi Mandoo crispy dumpling stuffed with braised beef, mushrooms & kimchi with spicy dipping sauce on the side. £8
  • Bibimbap filled with white rice & seasonal vegetables and served with gochujang sauce on the side. Topped with a fried egg. £9 (We took the option of adding some bulgogi beef for an extra £2.50)

First off, let me start by saying that every dish was mouth watering! But, if I had to rank them in order of preference I’d start with the short rib dumplings first. The softly braised beef combined with the crunch of the fried dumpling and the sauce on the side were the perfect mix. 

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I also loved the fried chicken and how it came with two little sauce bottles, not only making the experience more enjoyable but ultimately letting you decide which and how much sauce to use. I always find that with the sauce it can either be TOO much or TOO little and I liked that we could have it with both.

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Next, I would say the Bibimbap- the sauce came on the side which I liked because if you can’t really handle a bit of heat you can adjust it to how you want. The beef was also wonderfully tender, and the whole thing was presented in a traditional bowl which made the bottom of the rice go nice and crispy (my favourite part)!

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Lastly, I would have to say the tacos, only because there was more Asian slaw than marinated pork slices, but that being said, they were fresh and light and still tasty nonetheless.

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Although I was full, vowing how I couldn’t eat another thing, we obviously had to order a dessert. I honestly have such a sweet tooth and feel like I need it to finish any dining experience.

We decided to share one (the only way I could get Mark in on it, so I didn’t feel like a total fattie (To be fair I do still end up eating most of it)… no shame! I decided to go for the Snickers Hotteok, which essentially is a Korean doughnut, stuffed with salted caramel, roasted peanuts, peanut parfait, chocolate ganache, praline & Nutella powder. £7

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Obviously, if you don’t like peanut butter, this dessert probably isn’t for you. However, if you are obsessed with all things peanut butter like me, it is perfect. Nutella and peanut butter also go together so well and throw in a salted caramel doughnut in the mix? Well, you’re sorted. I’d highly recommend the dessert, it’s super yummy.

Overall, I would recommend Jinjuu for anyone looking for good Korean food, the prices are good, and despite its touristy location, the food is moreish and delicious.

In case you were worried about my wellbeing, I am also better now thanks to a week dose of antibiotics so i’m back to my blogging game,

did you miss me?

xoxo gossip girl (sorry that’s just how I envisioned a gossip girl episode to end and if you haven’t seen gossip girl, well we can’t be friends)

 

 

 

 

 

Anniversary dinner at Yauatcha, Soho

On Friday, Mark and I officially celebrated our four-year anniversary together. –(I know! I don’t think we can still quite believe it either, where has the time gone?). Naturally, we thought it best we celebrate by having a nice dinner together with some drinks. We decided to go to Yauatcha, Soho.

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Mark and I had already been here once before. Picture this: me and mark four years ago trying to be fancy as fu*k on my 19th birthday and realising we were desperately out of our depth. For one, we had little (if any) idea of what to order and we were also not yet used to London’s extortionate prices, still adjusting to our newly found university freedoms.  We both shared a gasp of shock and horror when we realised drinks were £11.50+ and allowed ourselves to only have one each.- No one on Instagram will know! Yet, I still want to applaud my former, younger self for taking the chance and finding the restaurant. Props to you girl. A foodie and you didn’t even know it.

This time round, we were well equipped, prepared and looking forward to taking full advantage of the food. Although we were thirty minutes late (my bad- I am never on time) we quickly sat down and tactically scoured the menu. Mark had the chai la la cocktail (Belvedere vodka, black grapes, oolong tea, apple juice and champagne) and I the Lemonberry Martini (Ketel One Citroen, raspberry, vanilla, lemon and cranberry juice). Mark loved his and mine similarly went down a treat because I was drinking them like they were water and kept on ordering more.

For food, we ordered a selection of dumplings, these included: the pork and prawn Shui mai (£5.90), the Striploin beef and enoki mushroom Cheung fun (£9.80) and the fried Roasted duck pumpkin puff with pine nut. (£5.80). My ultimate favourite was definitely the roasted duck pumpkin puff which was crispy and flavourful, although I have to say that I really enjoyed all three and because we chose each from a section on the menu, we had the perfect assortment of dim sum.

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Roasted Duck Dim Sum

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Prawn and Chicken Shui Mai

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For our mains, we decided to go for the Stir-fry rib eye beef in black bean sauce (£21.20) and the Kung pao chicken with cashew nut (£15.90). We did initially want to try the sweet and sour pork but were told that as it was quite heavy and a greasier option. I’m glad we were given that advice because my preferred out of the two was the chicken. However, the beef was also succulent and tender, and both dishes were perfected to a high-quality standard. We also decided to order an accompaniment of egg white fried rice with dried scallop and asparagus(£10.00). This side dish was more expensive than the other more simple egg fried rice option, but I am not usually a big fan of rice, and I found I particularly enjoyed the twist on a classic and had no problem topping up my plate with more. I would like to say that while it was fantastic Chinese food, the mains were not the highlight of our visit and next time I think I would like to try more of the dim sum instead. The dim sum list is extensive and from what we tried, each moreish and delectable in their own way.

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Stir-fry beef in black bean sauce

Mark always tries to avoid the dessert part but guess what it’s a celebratory dinner Mark, and I call the shots. (joking… sort of). For dessert, we had the Milk Chocolate, Jasmine and Honey. This was a silky milk chocolate and jasmine flavoured mousse with a caramelised honey pannacotta and popping candy. I spent a good fifteen minutes at this point asking myself if I was drunk or if I could ACTUALLY sense some popping candy. While Mark had absolutely no idea what I was talking about it turns out I was right- even when tipsy, go me. This dessert was delicate, creamy and decadent. I loved it.

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Overall, it’s safe to say we had a lovely evening over a yummy dinner set in the perfect ambience. We decided to continue the night back at mine with some red wine. Two glasses in and I… was ready for bed.

Happy four years to us.