Monday, May 27, 2013

The World's End - Patching

For the bank holiday I made a late decision to visit my home town and enjoy a touch of summer. I took my boyfriend for a walk over Highdown Hill, which belongs to the National Trust. Its a scenic walk with a gentle slope to the summit, which overlooks Worthing, Littlehampton and Ferring. I have fun and happy memories of Highdown, one being that this was the house I was put into at school and secondly my friends and I used to go on adventures to explore as far as we could until the sun went down. This was when we stumbled upon The World's End pub, which was much easier to find now than when I was in my teens and so I decided to treat my boyfriend for lunch here.

The World's End sits on Arundel Road, opposite an under-path, which leads to Highdown. This pub is what you would envisage an English pub to look like, strong wooden interior, low beams, old portraits and paintings resting on the walls with a grand brick fireplace as the centre piece. The pub is family and dog friendly, to which they even stock dog biscuits behind the bar. This was the perfect place to spend a Saturday afternoon soaking up the sun.

For lunch I chose the sweet potato and red pepper burger, topped with baby gem lettuce, sliced tomato, mature cheddar, mayonnaise and tomato chutney served with chips. The burger bun was soft and floury with a tasty homemade vegetable patty inside. My boyfriend chose the hand battered fish and chips, coated in Tanglefoot ale batter and served with chips, garden peas and bread and butter. I wish the portion of the meal was slightly larger for the price we paid. I used to think pub food was a wholesome and heavy meal which filled you up for three days, but in recent times its all about less is more and I'm not so much a fan of that.  

Overall this is a charming English pub, which has a lovely garden to enjoy the weather and relax over an ice cold cider.

Sweet potato and red pepper burger
Hand battered fish and chips

Saturday, May 18, 2013

You Me Sushi - Marylebone Road

Every time I jump off at Baker Street to visit my local library I pass this sushi shop called You Me Sushi and always see their workers running out the shop, jumping onto their mopeds and ready to deliver food. After eight months of walking past You Me Sushi, I finally managed to eat here when my sister craved sushi on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

The shop is quite cosy with options to eat inside or out and even take away. I was quite surprised at the number of orders for deliveries as I didn't expect people to have take away sushi. My sister and I picked two pre-made sushi boxes from the fridge, both at £12 each and with free miso soup. On top of that they had a 20% discount for eating inside.

I was really impressed with You Me Sushi, the fish tasted good, it didn't have that "been in the fridge for two hours" taste like you get at supermarkets. The rice was still soft and the sushi rolls were well made. Not only that but I like the fact they provide you with free wasabi, extra soy sauce and ginger, I always expect these additions to be complimentary and have been to a few places in London where I've been charged and left disappointed. 

Overall I had a good experience, the staff were very friendly and the restaurant was clean. I would like the try ordering takeaway from here and see how prompt they are at delivering food and the quality.
Mix of tuna and salmon sashimi, nigiri and maki

Friday, May 17, 2013

Big Easy - Steak and Lobster

This is the second time I have eaten at Big Easy and its still overcrowded and the service is slow as ever. I went with a group of work colleagues and we booked a table for 7pm, which was downstairs in the tightest corner. There were four fully grown male gym enthusiasts all squashed along the wall with barely any space to move. 

We waited around forty minutes for our food to be served, which I think is a bit too long. I chose the deal of the day, which was lobster and steak for £19.50. The food was ok, the steak pieces in comparison to my friends were inconsistent. My serving looked like a meaty block, whereas my friends had what you would expect a steak to look like. I asked for the steak to be cooked medium-rare and this was done perfectly, so I couldn't fault that but the lobster was probably my favourite part of the meal, even though when it was served it looked like someone had taken a forkful already (see the photo below and you will know what I mean. The meat wasn't too messy to pull from the shell, I just wished there was more of it. 

I have to say that after finishing the meal I was stuffed, to a point where I couldn't eat or drink anything else or my belly would have popped. Would I come here again? Probably not and if so, hopefully not for a while. Not really a fan of dining in tight, uncomfortable spaces, especially with a heavy meal.
Steak and lobster for £19.50

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Essential Guide to Hawker Stalls

I have nothing apart from a lot of love for hawker stalls. They introduced me to new foods that my mouth has never touched, I saw things, which my eyes have never laid on and it showed me how street food can be lip smackingly good. Thank you!!

From my experience there are a few essential things in which you need to know before you eat at a Hawker Stall. Luckily I was with a local who got to show me the ropes before I was let off the leash and into the glorious world of yummy budget food.

First off, what is a hawker stall or hawker centre? To me they are basically rows of small stalls, where food is ready to be prepared or served. The space where people cook is tiny and crammed with cooking utensils, but it is amazing what they can do with fresh ingredients in a confined space. The stalls serve a variety of food from appetisers, main dishes, desserts and drinks. I found in Malaysia there were more outdoor hawker centres in comparison to Singapore.
An example of an outdoor Hawker Centre
So once you've arrived, you're probably going to be overwhelmed by the sheer variety of food and high on the different smells and spices. But you need to find somewhere to sit, so find a table and claim your spot by using a packet of tissues (yes, this is marking your territory and no one will dare touch it) or you can use an umbrella. I would also double check if the table has any advertising, as I found some tables belonged to certain drink stalls and you have to buy their drinks to sit there. Most of the time the tables are on a first come, first served basis, so stake your claim. Now you're ready to find some grub.

Hawker Centres are planned out nicely in a way that they are arranged like an outer circle and you can walk around and see everything, without having to backtrack. Each stall has the food menu plastered up where you can see the price and usually a photo of what it looks like. Don't be nervous when people start calling you into their stall, take your time and find something you want to eat. There is usually a wide variety of food from Malay, Chinese, Indian, Taiwanese and more, but don't worry you can always pick from different stalls at once. 

When you have chosen where you want to buy your food, they either serve your meal immediately or you can sit at your table and they somehow find you in the crowds. Once you are seated with your food, people selling drinks then move in.

After you are finished with your meal, you just leave everything on the table and soon enough the hawker stall staff will swiftly clean up after you. And that is pretty much the basics of eating at hawker stalls, its not as daunting once you start eating there regularly. To the locals this is just a way of life, so don't be shy. It would be a waste if us tourists didn't experience eating here, otherwise we'd have nothing to write about to home.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Nizuni - Fitzrovia

My boyfriend wanted to eat at Nizuni after reading a review on TimeOut, which listed it as one of the best Japanese eateries in London. I wouldn't have picked this place as its a bit more pricer than what I would pay, but as my boyfriend's boss was expensing our meal, how could I say no?

When we walked through the door and into Nizuni, the staff were so friendly and greeted us both before being seated. This is a pretty casual restaurant in a sense that you could have a relaxed meal with friends  or a dinner date. The restaurant is dimly lit and decorated using earthy colours, which just put you at ease. Prior to coming to Nizuni we had read reviews where many highlighted the length of time between the starter and main was long. We did not have the same experience, although we asked for our starters and main dishes to arrive at the same time but instead our mains came right after we finished the starters (3 minutes or so). 

So for our dinner we had the sakeawa (salmon skin, spring onion with spicy mayo), chirashi set and katsudon (pork cutlet with egg on steamed rice). I was really impressed with the meal, the sauce for the katusdon was sweet, full-flavoured and nothing like what I've tried at a Japanese restaurant. The pork cutlet was crispy and I was glad the egg didn't cover it all, as it can make it soggy and lose its crunchy coat. The chirashi set is pretty much what you see is what you get. There was a good variety of fresh sashimi, presented beautifully in a wooden bowl and both our mains were served with pumpkin croquette (which I loved), salad and egg. The portion sizes for both main meals were larger than what I had expected, especially after reading reviews slamming the sizes.

We both had a lovely dining experience here, the staff were attentive and kept topping up our wine and when we asked for the bill it came straight away. The food is fresh and I much prefer places like this than the chains like Yo-Sushi and Itsu. I would recommend Nizuni if you want good authentic Japanese food, fresh sushi in a relaxed restaurant, I certainly look forward to visiting again.

Sakeawa - salmon skin, spring onion with spicy mayo
Chirashi set
Katusdon - pork cutlet with egg on rice
Nizuni on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Haz Restaurant - St Pauls

I'm always spoilt for choice when it comes to dining out and indecisive in choosing where to eat, so I was in luck when my friend made the executive decision to dine at Haz Restaurant in St Paul's. Before dinner we had a cheeky cocktail after work at Madison, which is on the roof top of One New Change. I would highly recommend going up here, not necessarily to the bar but you can take the lift to the roof top terrace, which offers a panoramic view of St Paul's cathedral and London's skyline.

Anyway back to dinner,once we were seated the waitress placed on the table some flat bread, olives and a type of dip (maybe feta). I don't remember what these tasted like, as I was so hungry and I forgot to think about what the food tasted like. For started my friend and I shared the borek (filo pastry filled with feta cheese and spinach) and karides tava (sautéed prawns in garlic and tomato sauce). I thought the borek was a bit salty, but the prawns were just delightful! The sauce was sweet and had a bit of spice to it, I would definitely recommend this.

For my main I went for the cevizli kasarli kofte (minced lamb with walnuts and halloumi cheese), which in the photo doesn't look like much but it was quite a heavy meal. The kofte was quite tough and chewy, it didn't really have the wow factor and the rice was definitely lacking in portion size. I definitely think there are nicer places to try Middle Eastern food and for half the price. I think this place is expensive for what it is and they add a service charge of 12.5% to the bill! I wasn't overly impressed with Haz, the restaurant looks better than the food tastes.

Borek, prawns in tomato and garlic sauce
Lamb kofte with walnuts and pine nuts with my measly portion of rice

Haz on Urbanspoon