MADD, London


MADD (Mango + Addiction = MADD) on Rupert Street in Soho is a new establishment serving mango-themed desserts. I have long lamented the dearth of venues specialising in dessert in London, unlike in the States where dessert bars are a dime a dozen, so I was very happy to learn about MADD, which opened its doors only a few months ago. That mango is my favourite fruit only added to its allure. The brainchild of Ralph Monthienvichienchai, a young man of Thai origin of just 23, and a recent graduate from Imperial College London, MADD is minimalistically decorated; the tables adorned with board games.

MADDness: The Mousse + Mixed Fruits + Mango Pudding + Fresh Mango + Sticky Rice

We shared a Mango MADDness: Panna Cotta + Mixed Fruits + Mango Pudding + Fresh Mango + Sticky Rice. They had run out of panna cotta though, so replaced it instead with The Mousse: Mousse gone MADD with a crunch base served with fresh mangoes, berries & passion fruit sauce. We were happy enough with the substitute - the mousse was lovely - smooth, light, with a good, crumbly base, and a nice mango flavour. The Mango Pudding was also alright, if not nearly the best version I have come across. The fresh mango and sticky rice, however, were real disappointments. The mango was not at all sweet, and actually completely tasteless - you would have thought an outlet that hangs its hat on mangoes would at least be able to source some decent ones. The sticky rice, meanwhile, was too hard, and insufficiently coconutty – pretty poor considering the owner's Thai background.

In a nutshell...
Sadly, MADD wasn't great, but I am, nonetheless, very pleased to see it appear on the London food scene, if it heralds the start of a new trend - the long awaited dessert bar.


53 Rupert Street, Soho, London, W1D 7PH
+44 (0)2074343588
Average Price: £6

Madd on Urbanspoon

Uncle Lim’s Malaysian Kitchen

Uncle Lim's Malaysian Kitchen

Uncle Lim's Malaysian Kitchen is reputed to serve the best chicken rice in London, or rather in Greater London, as it is actually located in the Whitgift Centre in Croydon. It had thus been on my to-try list for quite a while now, and I eventually managed to make my way down there late one Saturday afternoon.

The place is a canteen, and from the looks of things, much of its business actually comes from its selection of ready-made dishes, mostly of standard Chinese takeaway variety - think sweet & sour chicken, black bean prawns and the like, slapped onto a plate with rice and/or noodles; hardly the stuff to herald great culinary talent. But I guess you gotta pay the bills, and if that's what the customers want...

There is also a selection of “Special Dishes”, of which the famed Hai Nan Chicken Rice took pride of place. I ordered one up immediately, only to be informed that...they had sold out! What?! I drag myself down here, after weeks (months) of procrastination, and they had sold out of the one, the only, thing I had come to try?! So, amid great disappointment, I was left with no choice but to opt for the lady's alternative recommendation, the Char Kuey Teow. It was very average - a bit too wet, and lacking any “Wok Hei” - the flavour imparted by a flaming wok, without which a char kway teow dish should never be served. The fact that I'm even calling this dish “average” despite the absence of “Wok Hei” only serves to show how much my accepted standards for this dish have slipped since coming to this country - there is only one place I have discovered in the UK that does this, one of my favourite dishes, justice, and that's Sedap on Old Street; everything else is a poor imitation, at best, and it was in that pile that Uncle Lim's version firmly sat.
The Teh Tarik I ordered to drink took an absolute age, despite there being no more than 3 tables of patrons, and by the time it came, I was practically done with my meal. It wasn't exactly worth the wait either, and I left more than half the cup. A fruitless visit in every way.

Char Kuey Teow

Having finally actually made it down to Croydon, I was determined not to let my momentum slip, and forced myself to return the next day, this time getting there well before 1pm. Surely they would still have some chicken rice available at 1pm! My heart skipped a beat when I placed my order but this time, all the lady said was "Please have a seat, it will be ready in a few minutes". Game on.

First spoonful of rice...hmm, decent flavour, but could be stronger? Second spoonful...a bit dry perhaps. Third spoonful...yeah rice certainly on the dry side, and definitely could be better flavoured. Onto the chicken...oh not bad. Not bad at all. Soft, and crucially, moist all the way through – definitely above average.
So on the whole, reasonable, but not great. Was it the equal of anything I've had in central London? Yeah probably. Was it better? Nah.

Hai Nan Chicken Rice

In a nutshell...
All in all, a rather unsuccessful journey out of London town. Uncle Lim's chicken rice was indeed amongst the best renditions of this much loved dish I have come across in and around the capital. If I lived in the area, I'd be here all the time. As I don't, I will probably never return, as I can get a similar standard at many a central London location. If you do visit, based on my Char Kuey Teow, I'd stay clear of anything else on the menu not named Hai Nan Chicken Rice.


Uncle Lim’s Malaysian Kitchen
1123-1124 The Whitgift Shopping Centre, Croydon, Surrey, CR0 1UZ
+44 (0)2086888378
Average Price: £6

Uncle Lim's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

My Old Dutch, London

My Old Dutch

My Old Dutch was first established in 1958, and continues to serve decent sweet and savoury pancakes 53 years on, now at three locations. We visited the newest of those locations, on Kensington Church Street, and opted to share one item each from the savoury pannenkoeken and sweet pannenkoeken selections.

My Old Dutch: smoked bacon, chicken, ham, sweet peppers, mushrooms, sweet corn & cheese

We started with My Old Dutch: smoked bacon, chicken, ham, sweet peppers, mushrooms, sweet corn & cheese, minus the sweet peppers, followed by Banana, nuts, chocolate sauce with ice cream for dessert.

Banana, nuts, chocolate sauce with ice cream

The servings were absolutely humongous (the size of a large pizza), and I’m very glad we decided to share them rather than have one each. Pancakes here are of the thin, crêpe variety, rather than the thick, fluffy type, and both the sweet and the savoury pancakes were pretty good - slightly burnt and crisp on the sides, with a nice, soft texture in the middle. Of the two, I preferred the sweet – pancakes just seem to lend themselves better to a sweet dish. Reasonable as they were, they still weren’t a patch on the excellent crêpes at the Kensington Crêperie though.

In a nutshell...
With titanic-sized, fair-tasting pancakes ranging from £6-£10, and just £5 all day on “Monday Madness”, My Old Dutch is very good value, and a more than worthy place for a quick, filling bite, or a lazy, leisurely meal.


My Old Dutch (Kensington)
16 Kensington Church Street, Kensington, London, W8 4EP
+44 (0)2079376090
Average Price: £10-£20

My Old Dutch - Kensington on Urbanspoon

Kimchee, London


With the probable exception of the Korean hotspot of New Malden (which I have yet to visit, and isn’t exactly a convenient central locale anyway), the quality of Korean restaurants in London leaves much to be desired (and I include in that the much raved about Koba, which for my money is just an over-priced, run-of-the-mill place with nice decor and really bad service). Kimchee on High Holborn was the latest name to throw its hat into the ring and try to address the issue.

Beef Dolsot Bibimbap

The restaurant, set at the site previously occupied by the Japanese restaurant Matsuri, is a modern, sleek space with dark wooden communal tables and outward looking counter seating by the window ideal for a spot of people-watching for those so-inclined. It was very reminiscent of Ping Pong, a comparison which in this (and only this) instance, is actually meant as a compliment.

Pa Jeon: Traditional Korean pancake with spring onions and mixed seafood served with a soy and chilli sauce

Beef Dolsot Bibimbap
was tasty, reasonably portioned, with a fair amount of beef, and complete with requisite crispy golden brown outer layer of rice. Pa Jeon: Traditional Korean pancake with spring onions and mixed seafood served with a soy and chilli sauce was generously filled but lacked slightly in crispness. The most disappointing dish was the Jap Chae: Glass vermicelli noodles stir fried in sesame oil and soy sauce with beef and mixed vegetables, which was desperately short of flavour, and contained no more than a few slices of rather tough beef. Nara near Oxford Circus, hitherto my go-to Korean restaurant in central London, does both the latter two dishes much better. So far, so-so. But the best was still to come.

Bulgogi: Thinly sliced beef marinated in a delicious blend of fruits, soy sauce, sesame oil, black pepper, onions and garlic served with crisp lettuce leaves

The barbeque here is done in the kitchen rather than at the table. As far as I'm concerned, they can do it anywhere they want if the end product that lands in front of me is as good as this. Bulgogi: Thinly sliced beef marinated in a delicious blend of fruits, soy sauce, sesame oil, black pepper, onions and garlic served with crisp lettuce leaves was tender, sweet, with a lovely charred taste to it. It was just delicious. Pork belly was a tad dry but well-seasoned and also very good.

Pork Belly

For dessert, Chao Ssal Ddeok: Soft chocolate rice cake with a light dusting of cocoa powder was lovely – light, delicate, with a soft, chewy texture.

In a nutshell...
I must admit - I was sceptical about Kimchee’s credentials. It was, after all, opened by the owner of the Wasabi chain, hardly a background to inspire great confidence. But I was wrong. Not everything was perfect – the Jap Chae was desperately poor, but the quality of some of the other dishes, especially the excellent Bulgogi, easily made up for that. Add to that the practically bargain prices, and fast and friendly service, and we definitely have a winner.


71 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6EA
+44 (0)2074300956
Average Price: £10-£20

Kimchee  on Urbanspoon

Pilpel, London


Pilpel was first opened in 2009 in Spitalfields by Uri Dinay, whose grandfather owned a falafel and hummous restaurant in Israel. Following the success of its first location, a second outlet recently debuted in Paternoster Square just a stone's throw from my place of work. A new weekday lunchtime option is always eagerly greeted (only for so many to then to prove themselves not worthy), and a similar welcome was thus afforded to Pilpel. I opted for a Falafel & guacamole: homous, guacamole, fresh salad & tahini + chilli sauce in a pita.

Falafel & guacamole - homous, guacamole, fresh salad & tahini   chilli sauce in a pita

The falafel was a bit denser, and on the whole just a little bit below the standard of the best versions I have discovered in London (Mr Falafel & Fala Fills), but was still a very good rendition. I was, at first, concerned that the pita would be a bit too thick, thus detracting from one's enjoyment of the falafels, but there was no such problem - it was actually very thin in the middle, and even the thicker edges were light and fluffy, yet made for a much more filling meal than your regular falafel wraps. The salad and guacamole was fine too. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the vessel, all the chilli sauce ended up right at the bottom, so I only got the kick right at the end.

In a nutshell...
There are (marginally) better falafels out there, but Pilpel's pita still ranks as a very enjoyable offering, and will certainly represent many a pleasing lunchtime meal for yours truly.


Pilpel (St. Paul’s)
Queens Head Passage, Paternoster Square, London
Average Price: £5

Hawksmoor Seven Dials, London

Hawksmoor Seven Dials

I have a confession to make. Up until about a couple of months ago, I had never been to Hawksmoor. I know - call myself a food blogger, and a steak-loving one at that, and I've never been to Hawksmoor?! Shameful. I finally addressed the issue with not one, but two visits to Hawksmoor over the space of three weeks, opting for the more central Seven Dials location rather than the Spitalfields original.

Despite Hawksmoor's renowned expertise with steaks, my first visit was actually inspired by a desire to try their burger (also critically acclaimed), as I was right in the middle of my burger quest at the time, and what burger odyssey would be complete without a visit to Hawksmoor. Having already sampled the burgers at the likes of Goodman, Bar Boulud, Hache and of course Byron prior to trying the version at Hawksmoor, many would argue that I left the best for last. The Hawksmoor Hamburger has made every top London burger list I have come across, and more often than not, the very top of those lists. Needless to say, I was very excited as I sat awaiting its arrival.

Hawksmoor Burger

As soon as I took sunk my teeth into it, I immediately thought - this is a higher class of burger. The meat, a secret mix that includes small nuggets of bone marrow, was full of flavour, perfectly cooked (requested pink), and oh so moist. I often bemoan the lack of a special sauce, or relish, in burgers that choose to do without it, but I had no such complaint here – the taste, and flavour of the meat was plenty sufficient. The bun wasn't the best I've sampled in London (that would be Goodman, followed very closely by Bar Boulud), but it was good enough. So was this it? The best burger in London?

Well, rarely, if ever, do wonderful first impressions sustain for the entirety of an experience, and I have to report that, rather than confirming my initial feelings, subsequent bites into the burger in fact sowed some seeds of doubt in my mind. The (slight) over-saltiness of the meat started to become apparent, and the moistness of the patty resulted in a soaked bun that could no longer be gripped about halfway through the burger - a rather annoying development that actually made you forget how good the first mouthful was. But I mustn’t forget that first bite – this was, despite its flaws, a top-notch burger; better, on balance, than Goodman and Bar Boulud. But I’m going to stop short, at this point, of declaring it the best burger in town, because it wasn’t so good that I could immediately anoint it the best having not tried some of the others, safe in the knowledge that there couldn’t possibly be a better one out there better. So watch this space…

I should also point out at this point that Hawksmoor also offers a Kimchi Burger which has been the beneficiary of a number of positive reviews too. The Triple Cooked Chips that accompanied the burger were hard rather than crisp – they were pretty bad.

Bone Marrow & Slow Cooked Onions

I then returned a couple of weeks later to finally try their much-vaunted steak. But first, Bone Marrow & Slow Cooked Onions for my starter was a success – smooth, slimy, full of beefy goodness and well complimented by the onions. And then, finally, the main event, the Fillet Steak...

Fillet Steak

I was disappointed. Very disappointed in fact. There I said it. The steak was cooked exactly medium rare as requested, but it was dry, which I think is fairly apparent in the photo, and lacked the chargrilled flavour I was expecting. It wasn’t a terrible piece of steak, but it did fall significantly below expectations. The Béarnaise sauce I almost didn’t order saved the day somewhat, injecting some much-needed moisture into the meat, but it shouldn’t have been required – I am firmly of the belief that a juicy, succulent steak, cooked well, doesn’t need a sauce.

I was hoping Hawksmoor would be the answer – a properly good steak in London, one to match the awesomeness of those available in the States, but it wasn’t. Flavour-wise, it paled even in comparison to Sophie’s.

Having been distinctly unimpressed by the Triple Cooked Chips on my previous visit, I opted instead for the Beef Dripping Chips this time to go with my steak, and they were much better. The chips were so big and thick they were almost like your Sunday dinner roast potatoes, but were at least crisp, which could not be said of the triple cooked version. They still weren’t as good as the ones at Goodman mind.

In a nutshell...
Hawksmoor is almost universally acclaimed as the best – the best steaks, the best burgers. The burger, whilst not perfect, did come close to upholding that status, but the steak on this occasion was far below that standard. Perhaps it was an off night. Because of its massive reputation, I’m willing to give Hawksmoor a second  (third) chance, but on the evidence of this experience, I can only really reach one conclusion - that Hawksmoor is overrated in the extreme.


Hawksmoor Seven Dials
11 Langley Street, London, WC2H 9JG
+44 (0)2078562154
Average Price: £40

Hawksmoor (Seven Dials) on Urbanspoon

Bubbleology, London


Bubble tea, for the uninitiated, is a milk or fruit-based tea drink containing chewy pearls made from tapioca starch. Originating in Taiwan, it took Asia by storm in the 1990s, before making its way over to the States, where it also built up a very sizeable following. That bubble tea is only now beginning to enter the consciousness of people in the UK is an indictment of how slow we are here on the uptake of Asian food trends compared to our friends across the pond, a fact that I always lament. But as they say, better late than never.

Bubbleology, which opened on Rupert Street in Soho in April (there is now a second outlet at Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge) , is not the first, nor is it the only place in town to serve bubble tea; but thanks to some clever marketing, and a more mainstream approach, it is the first to generate more widespread press and interest. Perhaps surprisingly, given its origins in Taiwan, the man behind Bubbleology is actually a British former investment banker, Assad Khan, who fell in love with the drink when he was working in New York. The idea behind the shop’s decor is very similar to that of The Chin Chin Laboratorists, with science lab flasks and beakers, ‘scientific’ formulas on the wall, and staff dressed in white coats. It’s no longer original, but rare enough that it still qualifies as an interesting and unusual concept that certainly aids in creating a strong, and memorable, brand identity.

Bubbleology currently offers 7 milk and 6 fruit teas, although their website hints of more variations to come. They also let you mix and match to create your own brew. I had a Taro Pearl Tea. Now I must confess, I’m not a bubble tea fan, but it was decent, as far as bubble tea drinks go.

Taro Pearl Tea

In a nutshell...
Any new opening that adds to the diversity of the London food and drink scene is very welcome, especially since a mainstream debut in the UK for something as popular in Asia and America as bubble tea, is long overdue. I’m personally not a huge fan, but I’m very happy it’s finally here nonetheless.


Bubbleology (Soho)
49 Rupert Street, Soho, London, W1D 7PF
+44 (0)2074944231
Average Price: £3.25-£3.75

Bubbleology on Urbanspoon

NOPI, London

Presa iberica carpaccio, manouri, pine nuts

All-day venue NOPI, which apparently stands for North of Piccadilly, is popular Israeli chef and restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi's newest venture, following the success of his self-named café/deli/patisserie chain. Set over two floors, the basement contains long communal tables with a view of the kitchen while the main dining room on the ground floor is a clean, stylish, all-white space with brass accents.

Twice-cooked baby chicken, lemon myrtle salt, chilli sauceRoasted beef sirloin, baby turnips, pecorino di fossa

The menu here is based on the increasingly in-vogue small plates concept with Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Asian influences; we were advised to order three savoury dishes each, so that's exactly what we did. Presa iberica carpaccio, manouri, pine nuts was light and zingy; Roasted beef sirloin, baby turnips, pecorino di fossa recommended by our waitress was ordinary, but an Asian-inspired Twice-cooked baby chicken, lemon myrtle salt, chilli sauce with soft and moist meat and crisp skin picked up the standard again. Last of the initial four dishes to be served was Burrata, white peach, fennel seeds - an interesting dish with the dome of burrata going well with the peach and fennel seeds.

Softshell crab, green tea noodles, peashootsValdeón cheesecake, pickled baby beetroot, walnuts

Softshell crab, green tea noodles, peashoots was diminished by a breadcrumb that was too thick, but Valdeón cheesecake, pickled baby beetroot, walnuts, probably my favourite dish of the night, was very nice - a delectable, airy cheese soufflé. Seared scallops, pickled daikon, green apple was also a hit, the appetising sweet chilli and curry paste bringing the best out of the perfectly-cooked scallops.

Seared scallops, pickled daikon, green apple

Chargrilled octopus, salmorejo sauce, morcilla was soft and almost spongy, completely unrecognisable from the usual, slightly chewy texture of octopus – different, but not in a good way. Slow cooked pig cheek, celeriac and barberry salad, was tender, reminiscent of a Chinese stewed pork dish.

Chargrilled octopus, salmorejo sauce, morcilla

All three desserts we sampled elicited largely favourable reactions. Doughnuts, plum wine anglaise, berry compote was decent albeit not the fluffiest of its type; Kaffir lime, meringue, tapioca, honey mango was tangy and crunchy and enjoyable, as was Pineapple galette, pandan, coconut ice-cream.

Pineapple galette, pandan, coconut ice-cream; Doughnuts, plum wine anglaise, berry compote; Kaffir lime, meringue, tapioca, honey mango

Hardly anyone comes away from a visit to NOPI without at least a minor complaint about its prices, and I was no different – with dishes costing around £10 each on average, it was most certainly on the expensive side. 
Service was slick, friendly and efficient.

In a nutshell...
There were no dud dishes but equally there were no particularly outstanding or memorable dishes either. A viable option for something a little bit different, but on the whole a none too impressive experience.


21-22 Warwick Street, London, W1B 5NE
+44 (0)2074949584
Average Price: £40-£50

NOPI on Urbanspoon

Scoop, London


The quality of ice cream parlours in London is much improved from just a few years ago and Scoop, with stores in Covent Garden and Soho, is considered by many to be the very best. I had Hazelnut and Pistachio, as usual, along with a Tiramisu flavour.

Hazelnut, Pistachio & Tiramisu

The gelato had a really nice, smooth texture; but the flavour of the ice cream was not as strong and intense here as at Gelato Mio or Oddono’s.

In a nutshell...
Good, but not the best in town.


40 Short’s Garden, London, WC2H 9AB
+44 (0)2072407086
Average Price: £4

Scoop Fine Italian Gelato on Urbanspoon

Cadogan Arms, London

Cadogan Arms

Cadogan Arms on King’s Road was a runner-up in the Best Gastropub category in the Time Out Eating and Drinking Awards in 2009, marking it out as one definitely to try, and I finally got round to doing so for lunch on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Hot smoked salmon rillette, baby pickles, toast

We shared a starter of Hot smoked salmon rillette, baby pickles, toast from the specials board that was lovely – the rillette was light and creamy – just delicious. For my main, I had a Roast leg of Herdwick lamb, Yorkshire pudding, mint sauce, roast potatoes, greens, gravy; the others had, both of which I tried, Roast fore-rib of British beef, Yorkshire pudding, creamed horseradish, roast potatoes, greens, gravy and Slow roast Kilravock Farm pork belly, roast potatoes, greens, crackling, gravy, the latter another special for the day.

Slow roast Kilravock Farm pork belly, roast potatoes, greens, crackling, gravy

All the meats were beautifully cooked – tender, moist, well-seasoned – just superb. Especially worthy of mention was the pork crackling – crispy but not the slightest bit hard, it was simply stunning. The rest of the accompaniments were good too, with the Yorkshire pudding really standing out - so light and airy, it ranked as one of the best Yorkshires I’ve ever had. The only item that was slightly short of impeccable was the roast potatoes; they were a bit over-cooked and a tad too hard on the outside which was a pity, but merely a tiny blip amidst some truly high quality food.

Roast fore-rib of British beef, Yorkshire pudding, creamed horseradish, roast potatoes, greens, gravy

A shared dessert of Sticky toffee pudding, vanilla ice cream, butterscotch sauce also did not disappoint – the pudding had a light and delicate texture, and crucially was not too sweet; yet another bit of excellence produced by the kitchen.

Sticky toffee pudding, vanilla ice cream, butterscotch sauce

The waiter who served us was absolutely brilliant – he noticed everything we needed before we even realised we needed it; offering more toast with our starter when he saw we were running out, and ordering up some extra gravy from the kitchen when he observed that our plates had been served up a little short of it.

In a nutshell...
One of the best Sunday roasts I’ve ever had. One of the best pub meals I’ve ever had. Outstanding service. Without doubt one of the best gastopubs in London.


Cadogan Arms
298 King’s Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 5UG
+44 (0)2073526500
Average Price: £25

The Cadogan Arms on Urbanspoon

Mooli’s, London


You don't have to venture far in the blogosphere to find a review of Mooli's, and it almost certainly will be a positive one. As I happened to be in the area, and was looking for a place to grab a quick bite, I thought I would give it a long overdue try. Mooli's specialises in a selection of Indian-themed wraps created by head chef Raju Rawat, who trained with the 5-star Oberoi hotel group in his native India, before doing a stint in the kitchen of Atul Kolchar's Michelin-starred Benares – high pedigree indeed.

Goat - Punjabi goat, cumin potatoes & salsa; Paneer - crumbled paneer, carrot & tomato chutney; Mango Lassi

I went for two mini moolis - Paneer: crumbled paneer, carrot & tomato chutney and Goat: Punjabi goat, cumin potatoes & salsa, and to wash it down, a Mango Lassi. The wraps were prepared quickly and deposited in my tray within a couple of minutes. The gentleman who brought the wraps recommended I start with the Paneer, as it was milder, so that's what I did. He wasn't kidding - it wasn’t just mild, it was absolutely tasteless, which for Indian cuisine, with all its wonderful spices and flavours, is quite an achievement. The goat wrap was much better, and quite enjoyable in fact - the meat nice and tender, and with decent heat, but still lacking the depth of flavours you usually associate with this genre of food. The roti used for the wrap was not bad. Still, as I sat there, I couldn't help thinking to myself that the food failed, singularly, to match the shop's colourful interior.

Paneer - crumbled paneer, carrot & tomato chutney

The Mango Lassi wasn’t great either – too yoghurty, and almost devoid of any mango taste.

In a nutshell...
Mooli's is not a destination restaurant; nor is it nearly as good as its many glowing reviews would suggest. But as an alternative to the likes of Pret, it certainly has its place, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a few more branches popping up soon.


50 Frith Street, Soho, London, W1D 4SQ
+44 (0)2074949075
Average Price: £5-£10

Mooli's on Urbanspoon

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