Monthly Archives: March 2010

Sedap

102 Old Street
London EC1V 9AY
020 7490 0200
http://www.sedap.co.uk/

Opening Hours
Lunch:
Monday to Friday 11.30-2.30pm
Dinner:
Monday to Sunday 5-10.30pm

We first heard about Sedap from our good friend I. Many food bloggers have also given positive reviews about this place, such as theboywhoatetheworld. So when I met up with my old friend Ch for lunch, I promptly suggested Sedap to him, and we went forth to try it out. 

Sedap is situated along Old Street. It is a short distance from Old Street tube station, and is not hard to find at all. The only problem is that the northern line is so complicated and troublesome, it’s quite a hassle to get to; and Ch happens to stay at Earl’s Court, so it was quite a journey for him to get to this side of London.

We reached the restaurant at about 1.30pm and there weren’t many people there for lunch. We were seated in a nice corner, and jumped straight into the menu. I always find it hilarious to look at the prices of the dishes in Singaporean-Malaysian restaurants in London. You get one portion of archard for £2.80, one small cup of teh tarik for £2.10, a plate of char kway teow for £6.95 etc. These prices are definitely reasonable for London standards, but I can’t help but compare them to the 20 cents archard, 80 cents teh bing and $2 char kway teow we get in our beloved kopitiams back home. Ah… how I miss home.

Anyway, I have been craving for Laksa for ages now, so that was the obvious choice for me. The laksa broth was good. It didn’t come with cockles as it usually does in Singapore (I’m allergic to them anyway), but it was still very flavourful. It tasted really decent, and almost like home, truly an achievement since other restaurants in London which attempt to serve Singaporean Laksa just get it so wrong. The spiciness was just right, but I wished there was some extra chilli on the side so that I could add it into my soup to give it that extra kick. The noodles weren’t very chewy though. They tasted like the ones from prima-taste, which are sold in spaghetti-like packets. That being said, I think that is probably due to the limitations of available ingredients in this country. I have never seen fresh white thick beehoon noodles sold in Chinatown or supermarts, so I guess that aspect can be forgiven.

Ch chose the Seafood char mee which was described in the menu to be ‘Stir fried yellow noodles with prawn, squid, fishcake, seafood stick and vegetables’. I thought that it sounded like the fried hokkien mee we get back home, but I was too optimistic. The dish had some good flavours though. Ch remarked that it was not bad, but not anywhere near mind-blowing.

I also had the teh tarik, which tasted quite good. But it came in a stingily small cup. For the price, this was not worth it at all.

Because K stayed at home to wait for QJ, I ordered the char kway teow take away for him. The char kway teow had some good charred flavour to it, and I’m sure K would want to make a trip down to try a hot version of it.

All in all, Ch and I had a good meal in Sedap, eating foods we’ve been craving for. The cooking is definitely not exactly the same as what we get back home, but for those who are in search of some comfort food regardless, Sedap is the place to go.

Food: 6.5/10
Service: 7/10

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Pearl Liang

8 Sheldon Square
Paddington Central
London W2 6EZ
207 289 7000
http://www.pearlliang.co.uk/

Opening Hours
Monday to Sunday 12-11pm

We had dinner at Pearl Liang today with our good friend D. He told us that he had gone there once with his friends, but since they did not make a reservation, they had to go elsewhere for dinner instead. Today, we made sure that we made a reservation before heading there. The entire restaurant was surprisingly empty though when we arrived, and even when we left at 8 it wasn’t even half full.

Pearl Liang sounds like “Piao Liang”, which in mandarin means beautiful. Indeed the interior of Pearl Liang is quite classy, and we felt slightly underdressed, in our hoodies and trainers. The service was rather inconsistent. We had initially a server who wasn’t very helpful, but halfway through the meal she disappeared, and an older server came along. She was all smiles and from then on the service was greatly improved.

The food at Pearl Liang is outstanding. This could be the best Chinese restaurant we’ve been to. Everything we had was delicious, and most importantly, exquisite and lovingly prepared.

 

We started with the Roasted Baby Squid in Szechuan Chilli Spice. We weren’t sure what this would be, but we were all delighted when it came, as this was exactly the dish that we love – the fried baby squid with salt and pepper that we always order in Chinese restaurants. We’ve mentioned that the version at Four Seasons is one of the best we’ve had. Now we have to declare that this version at Pearl Liang is the ultimate best version we’ve ever had. It smelt so delicious that we almost didn’t wait for A to finish taking her photo before starting. It was perfectly fried, and the addition of the ma la (numbing) Szechawn spice was pure genius. We don’t usually enjoy the ma la spice, as the numbing sensation can get very unpleasant. However, this was so subtle that it worked perfectly well. The squid was a very nice bite-sized, unlike the one we had at Four Seasons, so that’s another major plus point.

 

We all loved as well the Pan Fried Shanghai Dumplings. It was D’s favourite dish of the whole meal. Indeed, it was very good. We all loved the way it was fried on the outside, yet on the inside the dumpling remained moist and soupy. Our Shredded Taro Crispy Prawn Rolls were good too. This was actually just spring rolls with taro and prawn. Strangely, the taro was almost non-existent. A couldn’t even tell that there was taro in them. Nevertheless, they were well fried – not too oily yet very crispy and yummy.

 

Our Shanghai dumplings with pork were excellent. There was a very good amount of soup in the dumplings, and the skin of the dumplings was suitably thin, unlike the ones we had in Leong’s Legend. This came 3 in a basket, and 2 of them were put slightly too close together such that the skin tore when we tried to pick one of them up. The soup was very quickly saved by stuffing a spoon under the broken dumpling, and all was well.

 

We also ordered a Fried Ho Fun with beef. This is one of K’s favourite noodle dishes, and he absolutely loved this dish. It wasn’t oily, and came with such a good amount of beansprouts that it almost seemed healthy! For the price (£6.80), this was a very generous portion. The noodles were very flavorful and the beef was very tender.

 

QJ came to Pearl Liang a while back, and told us that the roast duck there was comparable to Four Seasons. Hence, we ordered it to check it out. Indeed, this was simply amazing. D commented that it was almost like having both the wonderful goodness of roast duck and Peking duck at the same time. Definitely so. The skin was so unbelievably crispy that it was reminiscent of Peking duck, and the meat was tender and well cooked. The most incredible thing about this dish was that it didn’t taste oily and unhealthy at all. There was a visible layer of fat on the duck, but that was easily removed, but beyond that, the sauce was light and not oily at all, and we were amazed to find very fresh non-oily vegetables sitting under the duck! In other restaurants when they put vegetables under the duck it’s usually very soggy and oily Chinese cabbage; but here at Pearl Liang the vegetables were themselves worthy of being a side dish of their own. We might actually have to revise our opinion that Four Seasons serves the best duck rice of all time after having tried this dish at Pearl Liang. However, it must be said that the flavour of the duck in those 2 restaurants is quite different.

 

For desserts, we couldn’t resist having mango pudding. D and K both had that, and D remarked that it was the freshest mango pudding he has had in London. This was indeed excellent, and the mango bits were juicy and just perfect. We also had the Sweet Sesame Ball. This was nice and hot when it arrived, and just simply oozing with sesame goodness. It wasn’t too sweet, which was very good since it made the sesame stand out against the soft skin and the peanut and coconut flakes.

 

All in all we have fallen in love with Pearl Liang. We are currently planning our next visit there, to possibly try more of their dim sums. Everything we had was very good, which is rare for a restaurant which tries to do both the standard Chinese fare and dim sum at the same time. We will highly recommend this restaurant for good high quality Chinese food.

Additional note: We had 25% off our food bill from booking through their website.

Service: 7.5/10
Food: 8.5/10

Four Seasons

12 Gerrard Street 
London W1D 5PR 
020 7494 0870

We’ve always been going to Four Seasons at Bayswater whenever we want to have Roast Duck Cantonese style. However, we were told that the Four Seasons at Chinatown is equally good, so we went to try it a couple of months back, and indeed it was. Since then we’ve just gone to the Chinatown branch since it’s far more convenient for us than Bayswater is.

K insists that this is the best roast duck in the whole wide world. He could be right. Today we went with the same 2 friends we had dinner with at Koba. They had a long day sightseeing in London – Changing of guard, Harrods, British Museum, so we wanted to end the day nicely for them, and brought them to Four Seasons for arguably the best duck rice in the world.

 

We had the Convolvulus Malaysian Style, which once again, is not the kind that we’re most used to in Singapore, but was nicely cooked anyway. The vegetables still had a crunch to them. The ginger slices were quite unnecessary, and a generous dose of sambal balachan was lacking, but that would have turned it into a completely different dish altogether.

 

We love squid fried with salt and pepper, and the one at Four Seasons is one of the better, if not the best one available. Today’s squid was delicious, as always, but the squid pieces were slightly too big. It would have been nice having bite-sized pieces that would fit immediately into your mouth, instead of having to split each piece into more than 1 bite.

 

We also ordered Ma Po Tofu. One of our friends commented that it was too salty, but we felt that it went very well with the rice. Eaten by itself, it was indeed on the salty side, but I guess this dish is meant to be eaten with rice, so the rice can balance the saltiness of the tofu.

 

The star of the night was the Roast Duck. When it came, our friends were surprised by how large the duck was, and thought that we had ordered far too much food. However, once they started eating, they all exclaimed that the duck was indeed fantastic, and in no time at all we finished all out food. What is so fantastic about the roast duck in Four Seasons is that it’s incredibly juicy and tender. The skin is usually very crispy and the sauce is extremely yummy. Yes, the ducks they use tend to be very fat, but that makes for an even more delicious meal doesn’t it? Those who are more health conscious can just remove the fats before eating the meat, while those who truly know how to enjoy life will just enjoy the whole thing as it is.

In general, the quality of roast duck is quite high in London, as compared to what we have in Singapore. K doesn’t like the duck in Singapore at all, as it tends to be very dry. Here in London, he absolutely loves the roast duck at Four Seasons. We’ve also eaten at Goldmine in Bayswater, which is just a few shops down the road from Four Seasons, and apparently there’s some history between the chefs at both restaurants. Whatever that rivalry/friendship may be, the ducks at both those places, and the one at Chinatown, are excellent. We’ll gladly go to any for our roast duck fix. However, since the Chinatown branch is nearer to us, we’ve been going there much more this year.

A quick note about service: they are very quick to sit you when the table is ready, and to take your order. The food arrives in record time as well. The downside is that they also expect you to eat quickly and leave quickly. Even before we finished our food a plate of oranges was put on our table, signifying the end of our meal, and even before we finished that plate of oranges the bill was given to us. No sooner had we paid that they came over and cleared our table cloth from right under our noses. It was something we were used to, having eaten there for many times already, but it was hilarious to watch anyway.

Service: 6/10
Food: 7.5/10

Leong’s Legend

4 Macclesfield Street
London W1D 6AX
020 7287 0288

We’ve been to Leong’s Legend when it first opened. At that time, the food was pretty bad; however, they provided us with one of the better services you could get in Chinatown. Today, the food has improved dramatically, and it has found a niche – selling Taiwanese food, which is something you cannot find elsewhere in Chinatown – kudos to them for that. However, we’re sorry to say that their service has gone seriously downhill. You’ll never find a waitress who’ll smile at you at Leong’s Legend. It’s as if they’re just doing their rounds, waiting for their shifts to end, and are upset by the fact that you’re there to give them more work to do.

But back to the food, since that’s the real reason why we keep going back there despite the poor service. Most of the dishes at Leong’s Legend are pretty good, and we order them all the time we’re there. Today, our friend C came down from Oxford, and we went over to Leong’s Legend for lunch.

 

For dim sum, they do a very good Char Siew Sou (baked char siew puffs). The pastry is flaky and buttery, and there is a very nice glaze on top of each puff. The char siew in the puffs is also very good, and though it could do with much more filling than pastry, this is still very good.

Their Xiao Long Bao (steamed pork dumplings) used to be pretty bad, but the ones we had today were better than average. The skin of the dumplings was still too chewy and thick, but they contained a lot of delicious soup in them. Our main complaint though, would be that when they place the dumplings in the steamer they pack them too closely, so that the skins of the dumplings touch each other, hence when you pick them up they’ll tear easily and you’ll lose the soupy goodness in them.

 

Their Siew Mais and Har Gaos are about average, but for the price you’re paying, it’s great value for money. Their fried turnip cake is actually one of the better ones around we feel, though it’s very strange why this dish always arrives last, very much later than all our other dishes. Surely frying these 3 pieces of turnip cake shouldn’t take much longer than making a plate of fried noodles!

 

We had the century egg and pork congee today, and boy was it bad. It was utterly tasteless, and even the addition of soya sauce couldn’t save it. The congee wasn’t the correct consistency, and it was too watery and lumpy, instead of being smooth as it should be.

 

We always order the bamboo sticky rice, and the fried glass noodles with pork. These 2 dishes we feel are the best dishes available in Leong’s Legend. The bamboo sticky rice was unfortunately a little bland on top, but it got much more flavorful once you got past the top layer. There’s always a generous portion of sticky rice in the bamboo container, and K absolutely loves this dish. Today we found a lovely big chunk of dried scallop in the rice, which was quite a delight!

The fried glass noodle at Leong’s Legend is also a very good dish. We love the addition of the little crispy dried shrimp in the noodles, and the whole dish is very tasty.

 

Today we decided to try something new, and we went for the fried noodles with beef in satay sauce. We were all pleasantly surprised by how tasty it was. There was a good amount of vegetables fried in the noodles, and the sauce was just the right amount to compliment the dish. We also love the vegetarian fried bee hoon, which we didn’t have today, but have tried on previous occasions. Our friend QJ commented that she could taste that the noodles were fried with a good amount of heat, and we agreed with her on that. In general, eating at numerous cze char stalls in Singapore in your lifetime trains you to be discerning in that aspect.

Overall, we hate the service at Leong’s Legend, but for the food, we don’t mind going back. They have a pretty limited dim sum selection, but it’s sufficient for our needs. The fried noodle dishes we’ve tried have all been pretty good, and they’re definitely unique in the sense that they’re very different in style from your typical Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, which serves Hong Kong Cantonese cuisine.

Service: 5.5/10
Food: 6.5/10

Koba

11 Rathbone Street
London W1T 1NA
020 7580 8825
http://www.koba-london.com/

Recently, we’ve cut down the number of times we’ve been eating out, as A feels that we’re getting fat, and need to eat more healthy home-cooked food where she has every say on what goes into each meal.

 

However, today, 2 of our friends flew into London today for a holiday in Europe, so we decided to eat out, and have dinner at Koba, which was a good choice location-wise, since it’s just a few minutes walk away from where we stay. Since this was a last minute decision, when we called to make a ‘reservation’ we were told that we could go anytime, but we would need to return the tables by 8pm. That wasn’t a problem at all, since service was quick and the food didn’t take too long to arrive. Besides that, we didn’t pay much attention to the service, as we were busy chatting away, so the service rating in this entry might be a little inaccurate.

 

Our waiter brought us this little dish with 4 small round white marshmallow looking things, and proceeded to pour some hot water over them while they expanded. He told us what it was, but 2 of us at the table heard him call it ‘radish’, and were extremely intrigued by it, and asked him if we were meant to eat it immediately.  Turns out, there were not radishes, but ‘wet tissues’. That was quite an embarrassing episode, and it was a good thing none of us tried to eat it.

 

Anyway, we ordered some dishes which we have read so much about from other food blogs. First up was the Jab Chae (Stir fried vermicelli with beef & vegetables), which was stickier than what we expected. However, it did have a lot more ingredients in it than the version in Bi Won, but we felt that we preferred the texture of Bi Won’s slightly better.

 

The next dish was the Kimchi Pancake. The pancake was delightfully crispy, even the pieces in the middle, and definitely less oily than the pancake at Bi Won. We all loved this dish, and even the carnivore we were dining with had to admit that he liked it, despite the Kimchi.

 

K was very excited to order the next dish, which was Yook Hwei (Seasoned raw beef with sliced pears). This came delicately assembled, with the beef stacked nicely on the pear, and the raw egg yolk balancing on it all. However, we were only given 2 seconds to look at it before our server mixed everything together. It was definitely a pity not being given the chance to admire it a little more, and to take photos of it before it was mixed together. Our 2 dining companions were very apprehensive about this dish, since the beef was obviously raw, but they gamely tried it, and kind of liked it. We absolutely loved it, (being far more adventurous) and were very surprised by how the pear added another dimension to the dish. The beef didn’t taste raw at all, and it wasn’t too overpoweringly marinated, as many tartar dishes are. In comparison, the French beef tartar is one dish that tastes raw, and is very strongly seasoned. We felt that this dish was successful without being clichéd, and loved the pear with the beef.

 

Our Kanpooggi (deep fried chicken in batter with sweet chili sauce) was alright. A thought that the crust was a little too hard. We also had some barbecue dishes, which we asked them to cook in the kitchen, as we didn’t want our clothes to smell of bbq.

The Dak Bulgogi (sweet and spicy chicken) wasn’t spicy at all, but was well marinated and tender. It wasn’t an outstanding dish though, and didn’t leave a lasting impression.

The Joomulluk (marinated beef) was very flavorful, and it overcooked while we waited for our rice to arrive before digging into it, which was quite a pity. It was definitely better than the abysmal one we had at Bi Won, and we could see that if we had eaten it immediately when it first arrived, that it would have been very, very good.

 

We also had Bokeumbap (Koba special fried rice) and the Yookhwei Dolsot Bibimbap (steamed rice with raw beef and vegetables in hot pot). The fried rice was full of flavor, and, to the carnivore’s dismay, filled with vegetables. He spent most his time trying to pick the vegetables out of the rice, and soon gave up. (Moral of the story: make your kids like vegetables!) The bibimbap came with an absolutely generous amount of vegetables and raw beef, which cooked very nicely in the hot pot. We both felt that the bibimbap was far better than the one at Bi Won, as it had so much more depth and flavor. The only flaw perhaps, was that, just like Bi Won, they gave far too little sauce to mix the rice with.

Overall, we feel that the food at Koba is more sophisticated and well presented than Bi Won. However, Bi Won has a very homely charm about it, which is what Koba lacks. We’d be very happy going to either for our Korean fix, depending on whether we’d like to have a simple, rustic meal, or a more refined, well thought out meal, for that day.

Service: 7/10
Food: 7.5/10

Haché

24 Inverness Street
Camden Town
London NW1 7HJ
020 7485 9100
http://www.hacheburgers.com/

Haché has been given extremely good reviews for its burgers, by many food blogs. We went there today for dinner. Did it live up to the hype? Definitely so.

 

Haché is on Inverness Street, just behind the stalls at Inverness Market at Camden. In the day it would be easy to miss it, as the market definitely gets more attention than the restaurants behind it. At night though, when the stalls are gone it’s possible to see Haché from the main road. The restaurant isn’t very big, and the tables are slightly too close to one another. However, this makes for a very informal dining experience, and we didn’t mind getting a ‘preview’ of what our food would look like by glancing at the table beside us.

We ordered the All Day Breakfast (Bacon, Portobello Mushroom topped with a fried egg) and the Cheeseburger (Topped with two slices of premium melted Mature Cheddar Cheese) with English Garlic Button Mushrooms toppings added extra. We also got the Potato Wedges (with garlic mayo and salsa) and the Onion Rings.

All our food arrived together, and what a sight it was. The burgers were enormous, the potato wedges looked fantastic, and even the onion rings were massive. We took our first bite into the burgers, and understood immediately why this place is so highly regarded. The burgers were the best we’ve ever had. The meat patties were cooked just the way we wanted it – medium, and tasted of real meat. It was a beautiful piece of thick, juicy, proud meat. This was as masculine a patty as it could get. The manliness of it all was quite exhilarating.

 

Both our burgers were excellent. The All Day Breakfast came with a fried egg, which was slightly runny, and hence perfect in my books, and the Portobello mushroom really made it special. Surprisingly, the bacon took very much a backseat in this burger – I usually find myself drawn to, and focusing on the bacon in any dish that contains it, but not this one. Every component went well together to create that perfect burger. The Cheeseburger was also excellent, and the Garlic Mushrooms we added on as toppings, but which came as a side, were very good too. We thought that the buns were not too hard, and allowed the meat to fully shine. They managed to hold our burgers together throughout the meal, so kudos for that!

 

Our potato wedges were crispy and yummy, and the garlic mayo and salsa dip was good too. We had a little issue with the onion rings though – we felt that they were slightly too big, and we got sick of it quite quickly. This was the only thing we didn’t finish, but that could also have been because we were very, very full by the time we finished our burgers.

We feel that Haché fully deserves every single positive review about its burgers. We intend to check out the other burger places that have been given good reviews to judge properly if this place serves indeed the best, as they claim to be.

Service: 7/10
Food: 7.5/10

EAT

Discovery of the day: EAT makes good Matcha Latte!

We read about this from catty life, and being huge fans of matcha, we wanted to try one immediately. EAT has so many branches around London, and we walked into one almost immediately, on Oxford Street where we were at this afternoon.

The Matcha Latte was nice and milky, not overpoweringly sweet, and towards the end you could really taste the grittiness of the Matcha, which was surprisingly satisfying. We felt it was sufficiently thick, but strangely, it wasn’t scaldingly hot, as most hot drinks are immediately after they’re served – not that we minded. It is surprising that we haven’t manage to find a matcha latte until today.