Brunch at Roka, Canary Wharf

Let’s face it, Japanese food is delicious and when you can combine it with unlimited flowing wine- what’s not to love? That’s why I decided to book Roka’s brunch whilst my dad’s in town.

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A bit of background story: My family is sort of obsessed with contemporary Asian restaurants. We’ve had our fair shares of Yellowtail with jalapeños and salmon tartares- it really is our go to treat, which is why I knew we all had to give it a whirl. Firstly, in terms of their package- I will say the price is actually pretty decent! Essentially it is either £49, £59, or £69 depending on what you pick as your main. Each menu has its own options. The price you go for will also establish what sort of wine you can have, but you can still pick between red or white. Most importantly, these are all free flowing for your two-hour slot. All menu choices include a Bellini (or champagne for the £69 menu), Green tea or a bloody Mary on arrival, as well as a selection of the starters in a buffet style by the kitchen.  To my surprise, there was actually quite an extensive array of options. In fact, by the time I had tried all the starters I wanted (which, let’s be real were most of them) I was already feeling a bit full… (oops we probably shouldn’t have ordered 5 MAINS THEN). All menu’s come with a tasty dessert platter for the table at the end as well. Those who opt for the £69 menu will also get a premium sashimi platter included, the option to have rosé, as well as choose exactly which desserts you want to try for the dessert platter. All in all, though, there is not much difference between the three.  I would suggest that if you are on a budget, you can still enjoy the brunch for the cheapest option as each person can separately opt for whatever menu price they desire.

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The Sashimi Platter: Salmon, Seabass, Tuna, Prawn and salmon tartare. The tartare was probably my favourite. 

My friends and I have done a lot of boozy brunches and I find that in London you usually have to compromise on alcohol or food quality. Luckily, at Roka, neither of these are sacrificed (praise the lord)! The service was prompt and polite, the alcohol kept being topped up so I kept believing my “one glass” remained the same – (obviously not but a great excuse in my eyes) and the food of high standard! In terms of starters, my favourites were the mushroom broth, the crispy chicken wings and the beef ginger and sesame dumplings pictured below!

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Certainly, there was a range of other tasty options, including udon, chicken karaage, sushi and sashimi amongst others. I was surprised to see a few tofu options and even more delighted that these were just as yummy. 

After feeling pleasantly satisfied, we each waited for our mains to be delivered.  As there were 5 of us in total (plus one child), we all got to share – (hello, my favourite! no food jealousy will happen under my watch!). We tried the:

  • Rice hot pot with crispy soy chicken and shiitake mushroom served with seasonal truffle (£69 menu)
  • Essentially a risotto style dish. Loved the taste but the truffle did come through a bit too strong and overpowered the other flavours. There were five of us and we couldn’t finish it.
  • 290-day grain fed black Angus rib eye served with wasabi ponzu (£69 menu)
  • YES, yes and yes. This was succulent and tender.
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  • grilled lobster with yuzukosho mayonnaise and fried shallots (£69 menu)
  • What’s not to love about lobster? I do wish that there was a sauce element with the dish rather than mayonnaise but that’s just my personal preference! DSC03823
  • Lamb cutlets with Korean spices (£59)
  • Juicy and flavourful! We were thankful for the smaller portion sizes as well. The waiter did advise us on portion sizes of each main so we purposely aimed to get some smaller than others.
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  • Black cod marinated in yuzu miso (£59)
  • Again, I can’t fault the black cod. The yuzu miso provided a tangy balance to the salty fish. Probably one of my favourite of the dishes!

Feeling stuffed and tipsy, I eagerly anticipated the infamous dessert platter (because scientifically we all have a second stomach for desserts, right?) As previously mentioned, because we had ordered a few dishes of the £69, we got to pick our desserts. We went for the almond crème brûlée with cherry blossom ice cream and a sesame biscuit, the chocolate to matcha pudding, as well as the banana ice cream with a salted cocoa crumble. Out of the three, my favourite was the latter! (although I must admit I also loved the chocolate pudding). It had little bits of sweet crunchy popcorn and the banana ice cream was fresh and creamy. The brûlée tasted a bit too much like marzipan for my liking but if marzipan is your thing, then hunni you’re gonna love it! The staff also kindly put in a cute birthday message for Mark….This was kinda awkward as he ended up leaving before it came out as he had an event to go to. Yes, Mark, we’re bringing up the guilt tripping yet again!

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Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our time at Roka. It may be a bit more expensive than other brunches available in the capital, but if you’re looking for exceptionally delicious food and good free flowing wine- Roka is the place for you!

Looking for Mexican food in London?

Hello, all!

Another post that is LONG OVERDUE. I have recently started working full time and as I know from interning, it becomes much harder to fit everything into your evenings when you get back home. I usually want to mong out and watch TV all evening. (Challenge accepted)

After my recent take on a vegan taco, (which by the way were delicious, super easy to make and can be found the picture is on my Instagram with the ingredients!), I was thinking about what my favourite Mexican place is in London.

As you may or may not know, I went to Mexico in September with a few friends. Once you’ve been there and tasted their fresh guac (among other yummy delights), you realise that a lot- and I’m not saying all! -chains here in London just don’t offer the same authenticity.  

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Take Lupita on Commercial street in Aldgate for example. I don’t’ usually call out restaurants in a bid to shame them and I don’t want anyone to get the impression that that is what I am doing (Ok maybe a little, though). All I will say is, the last time I went the food was pretty substandard. I just didn’t enjoy it and for a split second, I think I began to think that that was what Mexican food was SUPPOSED to taste like (which obviously it isn’t). SO, naturally, when I heard a few good things about Mestizo I knew I had to check it out. They even serve vegan/ lactose and gluten-free menu options for anyone that’s interested and looking for a restaurant to cater to your dietary needs! My sister and I were craving tacos and my mum was in town so we decided to kill two birds with one stone and give it a go!. It’s based near Kings Cross but I will say it is nestled on a busy road next to nothing particularly prominent. However, once you step inside, you are transported to an atmosphere that is quintessentially Mexican.

With its focus on Mexican cuisine, the restaurant serves traditional food as well as drink: TEQUILLA! There are tequila sours, various flavoured margaritas, tequila sunrise and tejito all on offer. Mexican beers are also available. Unfortunately, since I went to Mexico I must say I struggle with drinking tequila in any and all forms so I avoided these at all costs. However, if tequila is your thing, you’re particularly in luck here!

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In terms of food, we went for a few options. Guacamole for one is always a necessity when you get Mexican. Who doesn’t like guac? (If you’re reading this and you don’t then you probably need to reevaluate your life choices, -just joking).  I think when it’s made a simple way, with the classic flavours, it is actually probably the tastiest.  Then, because I LOVE CHEESE. -Yes, cheesy capitals for emphasis ( see what I did there…), I knew we had to try the Queso fundido (melted chihchuaha and oaxaca cheese) with chorizo all served with tortilla’s to dunk in and scoop up that goodness. This was also served with pico de gallo which does help to cut through all the richness of the dairy. Who knew a simple salsa would be so crucial!

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As for our main’s, we were (if you haven’t gathered) pretty decided on tacos. They have this cool option for “when you really want tacos” where you can have a tray with four different fillings – a quick way to try out a range of diverse flavours! My sister and I decided to go for these four:

  • Pollo con Mole (Shredded Chicken cooked in traditional Mexican sauce- one of the ingredients being chocolate) topped with queso fresco
  • Pastor (Traditional Mexican marinated pork served with pineapple chunks)
  • Arrachera (Beef marinated in beer, garlic, onion and spices)
  • Cuitlacoche (black corn mushrooms with onion, sweetcorn, chilli and garlic)

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The tacos were TASTY! I think my favourite was definitely the beef, however, that may be a personal preference because whenever I am making Mexican at home I always tend to go for beef as well. Ordering this was a great idea if you’re like me and you get especially bored of eating the same thing. By having it on the table, where diners help themselves also meant that you could customise and experiment until you reached taco perfection.

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Now, if you know me (and this is beginning to sound like Deja vu) I love desserts. Naturally, we all decided to order some to finish off our lovely meal. We decided to opt for the pastel 3 leches, as well as the buñuelos. These were essentially crispy dough fritters served with cane syrup and ice cream.

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The 3 leches cake was made with ‘3 milks’ – condensed and evaporated milk all topped with double cream!

DSC02872While the crispy dough fritters came off a bit boring, the 3 milk cake was delicious! Anything that has that condensed milk in it is going to taste yummy! The richness of the cake contrasted really well with the fresh double cream. I’d definitely recommend it if you have a sweet tooth. We were fighting over this dessert rather than the other that’s for sure!

So, it’s safe to say- If you’re looking for a Mexican restaurant in London, head to Mestizo!

Lunch at Palatino

Last week my sister and I went to check out Palatino, a new restaurant following Stevie Parle’s The Dock Kitchen, Rotorino, Craft London & Sardine. Palatino is an Italian restaurant with a focus on food from Rome. We have been to Rotorino before as it is an East London favourite (and five seconds from my house) and we love trying their different regional dinners from various parts of Italy, which they host at the end of every month. Knowing we have enjoyed it in the past, we decided to try our luck with Palatino.

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The decor is modern, with a mix of concrete fittings and warm yellow furniture and as we were seated we decided that in order to fully try out the restaurant’s new menu, we had to order a vast selection. We essentially picked our favourite dishes from each section and had a mini feast, (“it’s for the blog though”) opting to share each dish. I am currently unemployed (anyone looking for a brilliant worker hint hint?) and Rebecca has university so it is nice to be able to meet up in the day now that I am still searching.

For antipasti, we ordered Supli with wild mushroom & mascarpone £3 (essentially small arancini). These were delicious- mushroom and mascarpone are the perfect combinations, especially when fried into a small ball of greatness. Great choice for a sharing starter option.

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For pasta, we decided to go with Ravioli with spinach & squash £14 (main course portion). The pasta tasted fresh, the filling was flavourful and the sauce made a nice accompaniment. I always feel like, with ravioli, the mistake is having it with tomato sauce as sometimes that takes away from the flavour inside. My only complaint about this course would be that I wish there was more sauce as Rebecca and I were scraping the plate for more. Overall, though, coming from an Italian background and having tried a lot of pasta, this was pretty decent!

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Next, nothing seems more traditionally Roman than Saltimbocca, which is veal, surrounded by prosciutto, spinach, sage & Marsala wine £14.

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We also liked the sound of the fried potato gnocchi £4.

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Again, the veal was tasty! The meat was tender, the sauce was just right and the spinach on the side provided a bit of relief from the saltiness of the prosciutto. The fried Gnocchi were also extremely moreish and made a good alternative to having potatoes on the side.  However, I found that because they were bite size I kept going back for more. They were also covered in cheese and sage and who doesn’t love anything covered in cheese? (I LOVE cheese).

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As some of you will know if you read these posts often (and I’m not sure how many people that actually is.. Hey mum & Rebecca) I always love dessert and a meal is never finished without something sweet. We couldn’t decide between the Almond lemon & ricotta cake, rhubarb & creme fraiche or the chocolate cake, pistachio & honeycomb (both priced at £7) so we let the waiter surprise us. In the end, he picked the almond ricotta cake. This was light, tangy and the creme fraiche and rhubarb gave it some tartness. It was nice but not my favourite dessert I’ve ever had. Nonetheless, it was still worth it to round off an overall lovely meal.

If you’re looking for a cute Italian restaurant to bring you fond memories of a past trip to Rome, the food at Palatino will do just that.

 

 

 

 

 

Burns Night at Boisdale of Mayfair

On Thursday, I had the chance to attend the Burns Night at the brand new Boisdale of Mayfair, which has launched just in time for the Scottish celebration. The event offered an exclusive preview of the traditional Burns Night Dinner, a five-course set menu served at all four Boisdale sites throughout January. Asking if I could bring a plus one, I decided to bring Mark along with me. 

boisdale-231116_mayfair_520Upon arrival, we all mingled by the bar as we sipped on old-fashioned cocktails.  They were tasty! Strong, but with the right amount of sweetness that made me keep going back for more. Once we were given enough time to relax and warm up from the cold outside, we were all seated. The dinner started off with a welcoming speech from the owner of Boisdale, who explained the delicacies of Scottish cuisine and what inspired him to put the menu together. Together, we all clinked our glasses and begun our feast.

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To start, we had an assortment of fresh seafood to share, including fresh langoustines, rock oysters, Shetland mussels and Atlantic prawns, as well as luscious smoked salmon. Making sure I didn’t get to full on a first course, I tried to pace myself. Mark and I tried everything except the oysters, as we are still sceptical about them- (I know what you’re thinking, everybody loves oysters… I’m still undecided). Each of our courses was also served with a specially selected wine pairing and with the seafood, we inevitably sipped on crisp white.

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Feeling slightly tipsy at this point, having had little for lunch, I anticipated our second course. It was a mini roasted Blackface Haggis, served with creamy mashed potatoes and swede all served with a noggin of whisky. The owner suggested that we pour our whisky over to really accentuate the flavours and because it is traditionally what happens when one eats it. Now, having heard of what Haggis was made of, I was worried that I would perhaps not like its taste or texture. However, I was pleasantly surprised! It was flavourful, tender and really yum!. I am a haggis virgin no more, and I’ll definitely be eating one again. This was paired with a full bodied red and the more  I ate, the more I also drank- tipsy Sofia and Mark coming out to play! 

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However, Mine and Mark’s favourite dish of the evening was definitely the Aberdeenshire dry-aged fillet steak, served with green peppercorn & whisky sauce, greens and bone marrow potatoes. The sauce was rich, and the steak melted in our mouths, being the perfect medium. It was succulent and tender. I also loved the crispy, yet creamy potatoes. I’d even say it was the best steak I’ve had in a while. This dish was also paired with more red. (Mark… pss I think I’m drunk) While we dined, a talented man played melodious tunes with his bagpipes. What could be more Scottish than that?

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By this point, I was incredibly stuffed and knew we had two courses still to go. Of course being greedy and tipsy made me prevail and carry on eating. After all, I am the type of person who gets jealous or sincerely regrets not trying everything and anything offered to me. Oops. 

To finish, we had a tipsy scotch tart served with clotted cream and cheese served with chutney. Although I am not a fan of raisins, which were in the tart, it was still moreish nonetheless! It was filled with spiced nuts, encrusted in pastry and the clotted cream really helped to cut through all the richness. 

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Overall, we had a lovely evening in good company eating good food and drinking great wine. If the Burns set menu at Boisdale is meant to evoke and preserve the precise feelings that people get when they sit down and share a meal together then it does just that! The food was delicious, the choices on the menu varied and the atmosphere cheerful and comforting.

If you’re looking for a traditional Scottish evening to share with friends and family, I’d recommend it.

 

 

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)