I decided to document where we ate during our Europe travels so that the next time a friend asks for recommendations, I can simply point them to the blog entries! Also, it is a lovely reminder of our holiday and the yummy food we had. If you notice carefully, we did not eat fish and chips everyday?! London is extremely cosmopolitan with a melting pot of cultures and people so finding comfort food that is familiar is not a problem at all. Also, do note that this is written based on our personal experience as tourists in London. Here goes our food diary in London:
Bill’s (Covent Garden)
As I was jetlagged and awake at 4am, I decided to google for breakfast places while waiting for the boy to get up. Can’t remember how but I settled on this place called Bill’s located at Covent Gardens which is within walking distance from where we were. The fact that it opens at 9am was probably a huge plus point. (Many places don’t open till at least noon!). We got there at about 8.45am so had to hover around to wait for it to open. The moment the clock hit 9am, I was right at the door 🙂
I loved the restaurant’s interior! All the store-made jams, chutneys, etc were on sale and I was tempted to buy them all (but I didn’t). There was also free wifi for customers (woohoo!) so that’s a nice touch.
The food did not disappoint (check out breakfast menu here). Just look at it! We had a lovely hearty breakfast and were happy campers for the rest of the day, never mind the crazy cold weather. Oh and for the record, that glass of hot chocolate was DIVINE and that big breakfast you see there (the one with the bacons, sausages, eggs and baked beans)? That’s for me. The boy had the ‘smaller’ breakfast. We have since observed that I’m usually the one with the bigger portion of food. I wonder why…
Verdict: Must go! Best to be kiasu and turn up super early like us (the restaurant was filled about half hour it opened!) or make a prior reservation. They have a few branches
Bill’s (Covent Garden)
28 St Martin’s Courtyard (off Long Acre)
London WC2E 9AB
Tel: 0207 240 8183
Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 8am – 11pm | Saturday: 9am – 11pm | Sunday: 9am – 10.30pm
Four Seasons (Chinatown)
Everyone I spoke to about eating in London would tell me: GO AND EAT ROAST DUCK AT FOUR SEASONS!! So we did. There are 2 outlets in London, one at Bayswater while the other’s at Chinatown. The original outlet at Bayswater is further away so we decided to head to the one at Chinatown which is closer to the tourist areas.
It may seem odd to have chinese food in London but hey, when it’s 2 degrees outside and you’re hungry, fluffy steamed rice with hot chinese tea will sound like a damn good idea 🙂
We ate at Four Seasons twice during our trip. Our second meal was just before watching Les Miserables at West End because it is within walking distance and we did not have the luxury of time for a long-drawn fancy dinner.
Verdict: The roast duck was good but I guess we are spoilt in Singapore with equally good, or even better roast duck. We also had a side of char siew which was pretty decent. I wouldn’t go out of the way to eat at Four Seasons but if you are in the area and would like some comfort (Chinese) food, it is a good place to go.
Four Seasons Chinese Restaurant
12 Gerrard Street
London W1D 5PR
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 12.00pm – 12.45am | Sunday 11.00 am – 12.45 am
Punjab Restaurant (Covent Garden)
It’s probably the cold weather but it made us crave for hot food. Decided to check out Punjab Restaurant for lunch one day because on its blue canopy were these words “The UK’s First Punjabi Restaurant” and it was apparently established since 1946.
Service was good and we were seated immediately in a warm, toasty room.
We ordered (clockwise from top-left): a starter of Pakora (onions cooked in chickpea batter with herbs and spices), followed by Gobi Aloo (cauliflower and potatoes lightly spiced and sautéed) and Chicken Tikka Masala (chicken served in tandoori masala & tomato-based sauce) with a serving of naan (garlic and plain ones). Writing this entry is making me salivate. I wanna eat them again!
Verdict: Very good! The Pakora was crispy and crunchy with just the right amount of spices without being overpowering. Naan was freshly made and when eaten with the accompanying dishes, it was heavenly.
80 Neal Street
Tel: 0207 836 9787
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 12.00 pm – 11.30pm | Sunday 12.00 pm – 10.30 pm
This was recommended by a friend after I posted on Facebook asking for recommendations. Prior to our trip to London, I made a table-for-2 dinner reservation at the original restaurant located at Hanway Place. Now, I was told that this place is a little chi-chi so we made an effort to dress a little bit better and not like something the cat dragged in.
The restaurant is situated in a little street off the main thoroughfare and at night, at about 7pm, it was really dark and near impossible to find. In fact, when we were right in front of it, I wasn’t even sure if it was the correct restaurant until I saw the hostess and a burly-looking bouncer standing outside the tiny entrance. Ah, this is Hakkasan indeed.
Upon entering the extremely dimly-lit restaurant, I could immediately tell that this was a place where people come to be seen. There was a welcome reception areas where you would wait for a bit before being shown to your reserved table. I don’t have any pictures of the environment because it was soooo dark! Tables were placed pretty closed to one another, but far enough so that you wouldn’t eavesdrop on the other table’s conversations.
We had a lovely male waiter who came by to take our orders and since it was our first time, he made some recommendations. We were told to try the Peking duck with black truffles and the waiter kindly asked if we are ok with the strong taste of truffle because it may come across too strong for some. Thumbs up for service! These are the best pictures I took in the super dim surroundings.
And here’s what we had (clockwise from top-left):
- Lamb salad with spicy peanut dressing – I’m not a fan of lamb but this was DELICIOUS! There was no gamey taste and the spices made it succulent and tender. I wish I had another portion of it but we wisely decided against over-eating.
- Tofu, aubergine and Japanese mushroom claypot with chilli and black bean sauce – This was another winner. The smokey taste from the claypot gave the dish a slightly charred flavour. I just wished it had more sauce as it was heavenly with steamed rice.
- French beans with dried shrimp and minced pork wrap – I cannot remember exactly what this is but it was yummy as well. Reminded me of the way chinese restaurants here fly the leftover duck meat after you order Peking duck.
- Black truffle peking duck – This was THE highlight of the meal. Meat was tender and nicely roasted. The taste of truffle may be a tad overpowering for some as mentioned by the waiter but the boy LOVED it. He ate up most it and declared it SUPER YUMMY.
We don’t remember how much the meal costs but it was definitely not a cheap meal. It would be a place for a special occassion where you don’t mind splurging a little and getting dressed up.
Verdict: If you’re looking for a fancy place to dine at in London, this is worth checking out! Just remember to make reservations beforehand and if you are unfamiliar with the area, leave a little extra time for hunting down the nondescript restaurant entrance.
Hakkasan Hanway Place
8 Hanway Place
London W1T 1HD
Tel: Phone: 0207 927 7000
Opening hours: Generally 12.00 pm – 4.15pm on weekends, 6.00 pm – 12.00 am (check their website or contact them for details – they have a mind-boggling range of opening hours for each day!)
We met up with a friend, Stephanie, who is working in London. It is always nice to see a familiar face in a new city. Even better when she takes us out to dinner! See how cold it was? The sculpture behind us has ice on it!
Originally, she suggested Bill’s but since we have already had breakfast there, we decided on ramen instead. We met up with Steph after she ended work and then walked briskly to Shoryu. Apparently, this place gets insanely crowded at meal times! When we arrived, we had to wait for a bit before we got an empty table.
We ordered starters to share – gyozas and burgers…
And we each had a bowl of ramen. Check out the boy’s giant bowl of ramen! And for the record, he ate it all (!!).
Verdict: I love ramen (I’m ramen monster on Whatsapp) so I’ve eaten my fair share of ramens. The ones from Shoryu are pretty decent with springy noodles but I prefer my ramen broth to be thicker and more flavourful. Perhaps it’s just a different style of ramen. However, as I’ve mentioned earlier, hot food in very cold weather always hits the spot so we quite enjoyed it.
9 Regent Street
London SW1Y 4LR
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 11.45 am – 3.00 pm, 5.00 pm – 11.30 pm | Saturday 11.45 am – 11.30 pm | Sunday & Bank Holidays 11.45 am – 4.00 pm, 5.00 pm – 10.30 pm