When in LDN: How to Eat Like a Local


This is Tower Bridge. Not London Bridge. You can tell because it has towers. Duh.

I get asked a lot what the best restaurant in London is and where tourists should go. The former I find a bit tricky to answer (and we’ll get to that in a minute) and as for the latter, I’ve sent out that list of ‘must dos’ so many times in the past year you’d think I’d have written this post long before this point. I hadn’t because I tend to steer away from this becoming a review blog – I review restaurants in my day-to-day so like this to be my own space; this time it’s a plea.

Guys, you have no idea how infuriating it is when somebody visits London and their response is, “meh, it was okay, the food is terrible, though”. What do you mean the food is terrible?! Where did you go? What did you have? Why didn’t you like it?! I usually find out it’s because said individual wanted to “eat like a local” and this meant dodgy fish and chips, watery tepid tea, a big name chef’s restaurant which did not live up to the hype and at least one obligatory pub lunch where everybody around them seemed more interested in drinking than eating; it drives me insane. When I see tourists lining up around the block at Planet Hollywood or the Hard Rock Cafe I want to grab them by the shoulders and shout, ‘WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO YOURSELF’ and the truth is they do it because they simply don’t know otherwise. We all know that feeling – you’ve been walking all day, you’re tired and you spot a beacon of familiarity amongst a land of grey and people trying to get from A to B: it happens. But did you know that just around the corner there’s a place which is a million times better and half the price? Probably not or you wouldn’t be subjecting yourself to tourist traps.

Well, that’s why I’m writing this, but first take every pre-conceived idea of “London” out of your head and throw it away: we’re not all friends with the Queen, my school life was not a scene out of Harry Potter, we aren’t obsessed with William & Kate’s every move and we don’t drink tea by the gallon… well, okay, we probably do the last one but we don’t go out for afternoon tea all the time. Now listen carefully because I’m about to blow your mind.


A Little Slice of Americana – Spuntino, Soho


Hello. If you don’t remember me I’m the girl that used to blog over here. Hi. How ya doin’.

Sorry I’ve been away for so long – I took a wee break from blogging as there are quite a lot of things going on with me at the moment. I’ve been to a lot of events lately (which I will be writing up very soon), have declared my self-employment and started a new job, am moving out and moving house in mid-June, and have been so crazy busy it’s been a little ridiculous. So no wonder I’ve disappeared from the blogosphere for a short time.

Today I’m not giving you anything fancy, this is good, honest food, located in the heart of London’s Soho, and really at times like this that’s what you need.


Yo? No! – Yoshi Sushi, Hammersmith


It’s January which means that summer is still a good five months away. Boo for the old tan and venturing out in t-shirts and shorts, but hurrah for continuing with comfort foods and warming meals! Not that it makes much of a difference anyway, as I’d happily nom them all down, regardless of the weather.

Yoshi Sushi has long been a favoured haunt of mine for sushi and Japanese food, but it wasn’t until fairly recently that Momma Lee & I actually tried some of their other fare. Y’see, they also do some Korean food, and, more importantly, they do an awesome Shabu-Shabu.


18 Ways To Be Delicious – Hunan, Pimlico Road


Course #1: signature soup with minced pork.

I know it’s ironic, but for one of my first posts of the new year I’m looking back on a meal from the year just gone. When we herald in the new year there’s always an influx of over-ambitious new year’s resolutions, a flurry of excitement about things we wish we could do better, stop doing, do more, etc. This year I haven’t made any resolutions because I don’t need to pin my hopes on the romantic adventure of a lifetime; I do need to exercise more, but saying ‘I will go to the gym/Bikram yoga more’ is one that’s going to get broken – it’s inevitable; and all other material things are just resolutions that I figured would fall by the wayside within hours. Instead I have only this: I will take all experiences, good or bad, and I will grow from them, because that’s something I can definitely stick with.

Food-wise, I only hope that I can continue to eat the best food I can get my hands on, and if that’s one of your “resolutions” too then you need to make a trip to visit Hunan which was one of the best, and definitely the most interesting, meals I had during 2010.


I’ll Take My Christmas Pizza To Go – Fire & Stone, Spitalfields


Every so often in life two great pairings come along, ones that blow your mind and change the course of life as you know it. Romeo and Juliet. Fred and Ginger. Sonny and Cher. Cheech and Chong. Starsky and Hutch. Turner and Hooch. Christmas and pizza.

Wait, what? That’s right, Christmas and pizza. When I heard that Fire & Stone had a special Christmas pizza on offer that boasted a gravy base with turkey, roast potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing and brie on it, I called up the Young & Poor team and demanded that we have our Christmas party there. Christmas pizza?! How could you not be intrigued.


On Friends & Pho – Mien Tay, Shoreditch


Spend ten minutes with my friends and I and you’ll fast learn that there are two things we like to do: make fun of each other and eat… usually at the same time. Sometimes we even making fun of the way we eat. And when we’re together we just can’t seem to stop laughing, drawing attention to ourselves, or saying the most inappropriate things in public (the last time we ate out together I somehow managed to blurt out the sentence, “next time I text you it’ll have something really exciting in it! Like willies! And knitting!”), and we all love to eat. It goes without saying then that we always have a fantastic time.

For a while now Sam had been saying that she’d heard about this awesome Vietnamese place in Shoreditch that she really wanted to try out, but for whatever reason we’d been putting it off. I was busy, she was busy, everybody else was busy; until finally Sam put her foot down, we were going and she was going to book it, full stop, no excuses. I’m not really sure why we’d put it off that long – I love Vietnamese food, specifically I love pho. I’ve waxed lyrical about the joyous wonders of pho before, but y’know something? It’s really hard to find good pho in London… and I know my pho: when I lived in Malaysia I had amazing pho. So I think the main reason why we kept delaying it is because Shoreditch is, as Brother put it earlier, the “arse-end of East London”. It’s just so damn far away from everything. Or at least far away from me, who lives and works in the arse-end of West London.

But Sam finally booked it, and so on a cold, snowy, blustery day in London I trekked across the city… to the best damn bowl of pho I’ve ever had in London. It was like coming home.


The Grand Opening – Quantus, Devonshire Road


The plight of the food blogger as restaurant critic is a strange one. I very rarely confess to the venue I’m reviewing that I am a food blogger (although, at times, the picture-taking does somewhat give it away), and it’s because reviews should be authentic; you should receive no more special treatment, should not put any more pressure on the staff than is already on them. That’s how I like to operate, how most critics do, I imagine, and I will never expect anything more, because I am nobody, really. Just another food blogger eating my way around town.

At the end of the road where my day job is situated there had been some buzz over the past few weeks about a new restaurant opening. The word was that it was French/Italian, they had a really good chef in, there were some problems which had delayed the opening, but it was finally going to open its doors on Tuesday night. Great, I thought, I’ll pop along after work and try it out. Opening night, even better, and then I called Momma Lee & Brother to join me.


Uno Mas Por Favor – B@1, Spitalfields


I don’t come from one of those families that has a million and one relatives and cousins. I remember when I was growing up there was a girl I was pretty good friends with who had her cousins over all the time, always different cousins, always visiting from one country or another, always getting in the way of us hanging out. Mostly I remember being jealous that she had other people her age to hang out with, to be close with, to be sisterly with.

Then my baby cousins Lorraine & Justine were born. This was particularly exciting for me, as since I only have the one older brother the concept of having two baby sisters was amazing: I could teach them the ways of the world; I could dress them up and teach them about make-up; it would be like having two living dolls. The only flaw in this plan was the fact that they lived halfway across the world in LA, and I was in London. However, the seed of an idea was planted, and the first time they visited us in London I distinctly remember dressing both girls up in flouncy party dresses and plastering play make-up all over their faces, then parading them in front of my (slightly amused) aunt and uncle, and my (completely horrified) parents.

Said baby cousins are now 20 and 19 (although in my mind they will be forever 6 and 5, asking Brother and I to tuck them into bed and kiss them goodnight), both at college (sob), and the eldest studying for the semester in Paris. She popped over for the weekend to see us in London, and I knew that finally I would be able to take her out to a bar or two and continue my older cousin/big sister duties. There was one place and one place only that I had to take her to: B@1, Spitalfields Market.


Go Get Some Snacks – Yuforia, Beak Street


Yikes, this post has been a long time coming. What with Project Food Blog taking over my blogging life in the past month and a bit, my poor little blog has been sorely neglected with regular postings. And there is so. Much. To catch up on. 

I feel particularly bad about this one, because the absolutely lovely Raphael & Lovie at Yuforia, Beak Street were incredibly charming, friendly and helpful, really generally awesome, I promised them a blog write-up and then what did I do? I only went and left it two months. So I am so sorry guys – I owe you both a massive apology. And y’know what’s even worse? Yuforia is definitely a place you have to check out, because it is, in a word: fantasmorgasmic. Yes, I know that’s not a real word, but it should be, because that’s how fab they are. 


The Chiswick Thai Festival


Buddha Is The Chef of Life, originally uploaded by jaxies.

The other week as I was heading home from work I saw some folks putting up a fence around the green round the corner. On the fence they were pinning signs which proclaimed that the Chiswick Thai Festival would be setting up there the following day, a day which happened to coincide with my day off. With my love for Thai food (of which there guaranteed to be plenty) it wasn’t exactly a hard decision.

Because I wandered around taking so many photos I’m actually not going to say very much in this post (surprising, I know). Instead I’m going to leave you with a lot of photos of the day – it was fun and the food was uber tasty (even though between Momma Lee & I we only had £15 to spend so couldn’t gorge ourselves as we would have otherwise). Enjoy the photos.


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