This food blog gig isn't too bad. Write articles every week, get mocked by colleagues and friends alike and don't make any money. Sounds good doesn't it?
Every so often I get lucky enough to be invited out for dinner and last week I went to Bangalore Express, a restaurant by Yogesh Datta.
The menu at Bangalore Express has been given a makeover with many new dishes. Bangalore Express now offers its customers a wide range of cuisines with the theme being, sharing and plenty of options.
Yogesh Datta is a name that I have heard of before and his credentials are strong. He brings a strong sense of tradition to his cooking and then brings a modern style and flavour too. Datta has worked in London, heading up the kitchen of Tabla, a modern Indian in the Docklands. Thereafter, he went on to open the widely acclaimed fine dining Indian restaurant The Painted Heron, which recently took the accolade of ‘Best Indian Establishment’ at The Food Awards London 2016
The drinks here do definitely distinguish Bangalore Express away from other Indian joints. I went for the Bangalore Summer and this was their signature cocktail with Gin, Coriander and Chilli. The chilli was the clincher here and it was tasty and had a good amount of gin too. I was happy to have a second of course.
The menu was quite complicated as it tried to incorporate a lot, from traditional favourites to new modern dishes. With so much choice I was a bit stumped initially and did not know where to start; I did not want the feeling of having missed out. The way the menu is presented you really want a bit of everything, from small plates to street food, sharing platters and big plates and even a chance to build you own curry. On top of this, you can order Dosa's and Thali's too. You really HAVE TO check out the menu.
I played it safe and went for a few of my own classics and ordered chilli paneer and lamb chops to start with. For the mains, i was a bit riskier with a Thali, an aubergine curry and a minced lamb Dosa. These dishes were more than we could handle and had Laura and I very full.
As it was a foodie event, we were sat amongst some really nice people and met some big players in the Indian food scene. We were sat next to Manju Mahli, British born chef and food writer and also Asma Khan, from the Darjeeling Express Supper club. They were both very friendly and kind and we were able to share our food between us. So I was able to sample some dumplings, fish and a curry as well as what we had ordered. Good food and good people = happy Life of Shayan.
I will have to come back to Bangalore Express because there is so much to choose from. The restaurant was a lot bigger than i thought and in a good location too, in between Liverpool Street and Bank station. Thank you to Humayun Hussain for the invite and to Yogesh Datta and the restaurant for good service, food and a lovely night. See you both soon I hope.
Wow, a bold name for a restaurant. To put Wow and Simply next to each other seems a strange juxtaposition. However, when trying to entice customers and tell them what you do, Wow Simply Japanese is a good one.
The name and the restaurant does deliver, Japanese food for you, from Sushi to Nigiri and all the specialities and classics. These also include Hosomaki, Sashimi, Donburi, Tempura, Noodles and Bentos too.
Basically it is just Simply Japanese.
We ordered many of the classics such as Salmon Sashimi (above), Spicy tuna roll, Spider roll, Prawn tempura roll and Prawn Tempura. Away from the classics we also went for a Godzilla Roll. The Godzilla roll had in it Sweet Potato and Prawn Katsu in an inside out roll topped with Beef Sashimi. I am always wary of these specials as i feel sushi is best kept fresh and simple. However this worked really well and was tasty. The glazed beef added a good element to the fresh fish which combined with the texture of the prawn gave it an added crunch and filled a good space in my belly.
The restaurant was quite busy on a warm Thursday night, however, we got a table quickly enough. The staff and service was good, not outstanding (this is not meant as a negative).
At £20 each and with our bellies happy, not stuffed, I would definitely recommend going to Wow Simply Japanese. Both my friends enjoyed it (I think) too and that was all I wanted. Fresh fish is the most important thing for Sushi and I felt that this fresh was not caught or cut on the day but was good enough. Value is important and here Wow is a good choice.
Leather lane is the place for street food. Lunch times are packed with workers looking for their next delight or treat. What is even better is when one of those lunch time traders sets up their stall permanently.
Kin, an oriental fusion trader has their restaurant on Leather Lane and I was encouraged to visit here with my friends and try out their green curry. I did as I was told.
I knew exactly what I was going to have that once I saw it on the menu, I closed it and ordered it. Green Curry please. My brother and friend who I were with ordered a selection of side dishes (Tom yung soup, chicken wings, crispy squid and pork wraps) and a Katsu curry.
The food came quite quickly so as I drank my beer I tucked into my lunch. The curry was served on a bowl separate to the rice and the first thing I did was to test the spice level. This is my test of how good a Thai dish is. It has to have a good level of spice but with flavour running throughout. Kin passed the test here; heat and good taste are winners in my book (blog).
I enjoyed the food here and it fitted well, time wise for a lunch time meal. The other dishes were all fresh and tasty and although most fusion places lack quality, Kin steps up and delivers. The chicken wings were good, the Vietnamese lettuce wraps with pork were good and although the squid was not the best ever, it was tasty. The soup delivered in the heat and flavour test and I was slightly jealous I didn't order it.
With competition on Leather Lane being so fierce the luxury of having a permanent location does help. To continue the success the food has to be good and Kin has that quality you need.
Sometimes a change of scenery is needed to get everyone excited, be it for a company or in this case, a restaurant. Chakra in West London have done exactly this and moved to a new location in Holland Street. Their new venue on Holland Street provides an intimate dining experience. the white walls and simple layout welcome you to a peaceful space.
Chakra brings fine dining to the Indian food scene and being near Notting Hill this restaurant does not feel out of place. Set on a nice road on Holland Street opposite the Elephant Castle pub this restaurants draw is their elegant menu. The menu appeals to your intrigue more than anything with crisp lotus, black cod, tiger shrimp and many others.
The style here is like a usual curry club where you order to share. we were advised to go for a dish each for the starter and main. I was slightly cautious about this and ordered an extra starter just because it looked so good. We went for crusted tiger shrimp, clay oven paneer and tandoori chicken.
These starters were all so tasty but quite similar in flavour. The tandoori mix seemed to be on all and I wish I had sampled different flavours. I think three starters were a bit much too; it's always good to listen to your waitresses especially after you have asked them for help.
For our main course we ordered just two dishes between us (as advised). For this we went for something a bit different than the usual and ordered Black cod, which was cooked in a clay oven and a Sweet Potato, Okra and onion salad. Two dishes you would not usually expect when going for an Indian, however they were very tasty. The different textures in the salad made it extra tasty and I am increasingly becoming a fan of okra. The Black Cod was light and delicate but had a different element, due to the fact that it was cooked in the clay oven. A hint of smokiness and a tender fish make this a good dish to share.
As a finale/dessert we had the chocolate soil and the Mango Kulfi. The Kulfi definitely stood out for its inventiveness and design. Usually Kulfi comes as a lolly pop style ice cream, this was completely different. Drinking from the tubes whilst gulping down the ice cream was an experience in itself and then having fresh mango on the side helped settle down the rest of the meal and evening. The chocolate soil was okay, I would not order it again but the name had enough appeal to make me order it. I would recommend having the Kulfi and Gulab Jamun when you visit.
I really enjoyed my visit to Chakra and was grateful for the invite. Good food with a relaxed and intimate vibe in the restaurant was nice. When you visit go for something a bit different as the chef here is aiming to impress. Expect good quality and good portions and be lazy after and get an uber home too. Live life and enjoy the ride.
I have waited over two years to go back to Morito and when i did it was their new branch. I do get lucky on my birthday and Laura said she wanted to take me out for dinner and straight away I chose Morito. Conveniently, I received an email the week before from them about their new branch on Hackney Road, I replied straight away to ask for availability.
Long story short, i managed to get a reservation for their soft launch and lucky for Laura it was 50% off. This was to celebrate and welcome the new restaurant. WIN WIN for everybody.
I was so glad to be back after two years. The new restaurant has a completely different feel to it. The smaller Morito was more cozy and felt that bit more exclusive and special because of it. However, on Hackney Road the open space and huge bar brings about its own prestige.
The food was good, especially the lamb and kid. I think we ordered a bit too much overall, the rabbit which I ordered was a lot. The staff had warned me that this was a big dish and we had eyes bigger than our bellies in this instance. I would not got for the rabbit again, but the salad was a tasty treat with the sesame bringing great texture, whilst the lamb chops were seasoned and flavoured perfectly.
I'm really happy that Morito now has two restaurants, which will make it easier to get a table and I will not have to wait two years before my next visit. It is all about progress and this restaurant is showing the right signs but the classic for me is still number one. Old habits die hard.