Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Parlour - Canary Wharf

My friend arranged a long awaited meet up with our University friends at a restaurant/ bar called The Parlour by Canada Square. My first impression of this place was modern, up beat and just damn cool. I loved the interior and how on each table there is a cute flowery jug of water, herb plants and oversized menus with a miniature peg attaching a note of the special dishes. 

We started off our lunch with a round of cocktails, the menu had a decent selection and the bar staff can make bespoke cocktails upon request. When we ordered, what I was most impressed with was the presentation of the food. It was original, simple and looked inviting enough for you to engulf with your mouth. For example fish and chips was served in a metal cooking tin, the chips were served in plant pots or cups and burgers were dished up on plastic trays. It was major food porn and I was impressed that a bar like this would deliver something this imaginative and tasty.

They apparently have other chains dotted over the city, one of which I think is The Folly by Monument station and I'm not sure of the rest. 

Would I come here again? Most definitely yes, for both the food and drink. I think I enjoyed my experience more in the fact that we were in the city on a weekend, which usually means restaurants and bars are a lot quieter and you don't get swept up in the fast paced city life.

Cocktails o'clock
Salmon and lemon fish cake with tartare sauce
Fish and chips

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Yayoiken - Bugis

This was a cute Japanese restaurant we found in Bugis Mall called Yayoiken, where we were visually drawn in by the yummy fake plastic food on display at the front. I saw this a lot in Japan and have noticed the trend following overseas. 

I ordered mackerel cooked with miso, which came with boiled rice, miso soup and tofu. My boyfriend had the pork tonkatsu and chicken gyozas. The meal was simple, something which you could easily rustle up at home so I wasn't going to praise it much. 

Chicken gyozas
Pork tonkatsu

Monday, April 22, 2013

Chilli Crab in Singapore Chinatown

I've read about chilli crab being a super popular dish in Singapore so knew I had to try it out and where better to than in Chinatown. It was so difficult to choose a place, as most restaurants served the dish and I didn't want to eat somewhere where I would be disappointed.

It took me a good twenty minutes to decide on a restaurant, I'm not even sure what the place I picked was called but at first glance I was attracted to all the strange and colourful plaques on the wall and it looked clean, there were fresh crabs and wasn't overcrowded.

After were ordered the waiter went outside and took a live crab from a trolley full and showed me what I would be eating, I said my peace and eagerly waited for it to be dished up. 

Oh my the chilli crab was delicious. It was cooked in a sweet and spicy chilli and tomato sauce, which went so well with the fried rice. The crab meat itself was soft and tender, it was a bit fiddly and not to mention messy to have to crack open the shell to get the meat. However this is a very worthy dish to try in Singapore, I paid around $32SND but I think prices vary depending on the season. 

Chicken and chilli
Egg fried rice
Chilli crab
Fresh crabs in a trolley
Shop front with a trolley full of live crab

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sakae Sushi - Malaysia

I got taken here by a friend who lives in Malaysia and absolutely loved it. If I had one word to describe Sakae Sushi it would be "cool" and I don't mean the temperature kind. This place is modern, clean, gives off a friendly vibe and is exactly what I would expect a restaurant in Japan to look like. Inside Sakae Sushi there was a long conveyor belt stretching through the restaurant and each table had a interactive TV screen where you could order food. 

From a tourist's point of view, I thought this could be a pretty cool place to take a date (not sure if to Malaysians or Singaporeans whether this is a budget place or what). I ordered a set meal, which came with battered seafood, rice, curry, this egg dish, miso soup and salad.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lunch on the beach

After a long trek through Penang National Park; playing on rope swings, being hissed by monkeys, being manhandled by monkeys and close to dehydration we found a lovely little spot to enjoy a well deserved lunch. The restaurant was pretty much on the beach, some customers whilst waiting for their food decided to go for a swim.

I was really on holiday mode at this time, sipping my ice cold Coca Cola, enjoying my sandwich whilst listening to the sea and watching people wander by.

Chicken burger with fries
Smoked salmon sandwich with fries

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Restoran Kumar - Cameron Highlands

Restoran Kumar wins first prize in Tanah Rata for having the most persistent and enthusiastic staff to entice customers into their restaurants. I ordered the "banana leaf" as they called it, which was chicken curry, rice, chickpeas, dahl, pickle and poppadoms served on a banana leaf. When the food arrived I could smell the aromatic spices flowing through my nose, enough to taste. It was good and very spicy, I kept looking over the next table watching the locals eat with their hands and trying to imitate them. I failed miserably and ended up with messy fingers.

The chicken tikka had been char-grilled and was bursting with flavour. It was slightly charred to a point where you could taste the smokey-ness but still enjoy the spices marinated in it. A wonderful place to try cheap and cheerful food.

Chicken curry with rice and many other side dishes
Roti and chicken tikka

Rosette Cafe - Cameron Highlands

When it comes to Tanah Rata after a day or two you would probably recognise every restaurant in town. Tanah Rata is tiny but the main road is lined with colourful restaurants and cafes with enthusiastic people trying to win you into their restaurant. Today we travelled from Kuala Lumpur and felt fatigued, so picked the first place we saw, which was Rosette Cafe

I really wanted to get stuck in, in trying authentic Malaysian foods and went for the asam laksa, while my boyfriend the less adventurous one chose Thai red curry. The asam laksa was made with thick rice noodles in a aromatic, full-bodied fish and coconut milk soup. It was delicious and had a punchy fishy flavour to it with a little spicy kick. I loved finding flakes of fish mixed in with the noodles as I slurped away. I will definitely try this dish again and can understand why its so popular. The red Thai curry was ok, I wanted the sauce to be slightly thicker and spicier, but overall I had no complaints with the food. My boyfriend was especially pleased with the strawberry pancakes. These were made fresh and the strawberries were locally sourced making it even tastier.

Its a lovely restaurant with a decent array of foods on the menu. The price was ok for a restaurant, but of course doesn't beat Hawker stall prices by a long margin.

Thai red curry
Asam laksa
Strawberry pancakes

Cameron Highland Tea Plantations

The sole purpose of visiting Cameron Highlands was for the tea plantations, I never realised that tea plants are grown at different altitudes to create different flavours, but this is what travelling is about, picking up random knowledge, which will never come to use. 

Our first visit was to the Cameron Valley (Bharat) tea plantation, which was an adrenaline filled walk from Tanah Rata and down the busy, meandering road towards Ringlet. It took us about 40 minutes to walk along the side of the road and with each passing car my heart jumped, as they would rocket past us. It was good to see that we weren't the only crazy tourists doing it. When we arrived at the tea plantation the panoramic views were breathtaking, I loved the fact that we were pretty much in the clouds.

The cafe itself was busy and full of tourists, but you could walk though and down into the plantation. It's a great spot to take some amazing photos of the landscape. After taking in the beautiful scenery we of course had to try the tea here. Our choices were cardamom tea (which tasted so much better when milk was added) and honey and ginger tea, which was the best I've ever tried. It tasted sweet but at the same time had the strong taste of ginger, which stuck on your tongue. 

Bharat tea plantation is worth the trip, a taxi from Tanah Rata costs about 10 ringgits and from Brinchang Bitang, 20 ringgits.

Bharat tea plantations
Cardamom tea and ginger and honey tea
Entrance to the tea house

Friday, April 12, 2013

Hard Rock Cafe - Kuala Lumpur

Predictable, expensive, over the top but I love it. Whenever I see a Hard Rock Cafe in another country I have the urge to go so I can check it off my "Hard Rock Cafe list". I know exactly what to expect from this chain; loud rock music, friendly staff with over pinned lanyards, Fenders strung up on the wall and a big hearty meal. 

I chose the lamb burger (not sure what it was called but it substituted the pulled-pork sandwich) and it was good! It was topped with a creamy sauce and came with fries, coleslaw and beans. As usual the burgers are huge and I have to cut it in half to eat it in a civilised manner. My boyfriend chose the twisted mac, chicken and cheese, which was scrumptious. I've never tried this dish here but it didn't disappoint. It was flavoursome, rich and tasted better than I expected. 

I don't know what else to say about this Hard Rock Cafe, as they are all pretty much the same. I think I go more for the novelty factor and that I know what I want and what to expect.

Twisted mac, chicken and cheese with garlic bread
My lamb burger

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Holiday time

I'm off to Malaysia and Singapore tomorrow and cannot explain how excited I am and not to mention relieved to be getting out of London. I will be heading to Kuala Lumpur first then travelling around Malaysia before flying to Singapore for two weeks and two days.

I look forward to trying Malaysian dishes and eating at hawker stalls, where I have heard the food is just sublime and made fresh by the locals.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Trying more food - Nasi lemak

My first nasi lemak in Malaysia, which consists of a fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk with chicken, poppadom, fried anchovies, hot chilli sauce, sliced boiled egg and cucumber.This is a popular Malaysian dish, which I really enjoyed.

We also tried a dessert, where fried dough pieces are dipped into the soy milk. It's not my type of thing, I ended up drinking more of the soy milk

Nasi lemak
Chicken and rice on a hot plate
Soya bean and some fried dough

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Craving sushi right now

The first time I went to Japan was in 2007 and tried some amazing sushi dishes. My favourite in particular was chirashi sushi, which is vinegared rice topped with sashimi slices and other tasty pieces of seafood. What I love about this dish is the colours, looks like a piece of art.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Maroush Gardens - Edgware Road

I met up with a few friends down on Edgware Road and my friend suggested eating at Maroush Gardens by the Marble Arch end. I walk past this place a lot and it never really caught my eye as the building looks outdated and kind of grimy. However inside its a different story, it looked classy, stylish and beautifully decorated with flowers and plants. There was also a fish pond and skylight to give it that outdoor garden feel. The clientèle Maroush Gardens attracted was definitely different from the crowd you would find in the more casual restaurants down Edgware Road. 

The food was presented in large copper looking pots and an abundance of rice was provided. Also placed on our table was a basket of vegetables such as whole peppers, celery, cucumber, carrots and lettuce. I thought the food was really good, it was well presented and there was a fair amount of meat in ratio to the sauce.

After the meal a plate of fruit was provided with strawberries, pineapple, grapes and melon. Although after checking the bill, £2 was added per person for the bowl of vegetables and plate of fruit and on top service charge, which I thought was a bit cheeky.

Lamb with Vegetable and Rice
Special plate of the day - Lamb meatballs with yoghurt and rice