Duck & Rice – Adding on to the Alan Yau empire

Duck & Rice 

90 Berwick St, Soho, London W1F 0QB, UK

IMG_0736One of Alan Yau’s newest addition (not that new actually as it has been around for more than a year I think) to his empire, I just thought this would be a nice place to check out during the short stay in London with the uni bud! Chic, stylish and modern, Duck & Rice would be the place I would recommend if you long for something Yauatcha-ish yet not want to be in an overly crowded restaurant. Somehow, I felt the standard of Yauatcha has dipped a little when I revisited it in 2016 as it is always so busy. The Siu mai has shrunk, some of the dim sum became less flavourful; but having said that, the patisserie corner is still as perfect! Located just beside Yauatcha, Duck & Rice offers a similar or perhaps even the same menu and you might ask then what’s the difference? Well, it’s not as cluttered (though certain areas are a little), and that somehow leads to better execution – plump dim sum that appears more luscious.

IMG_0737IMG_0738IMG_0739Yeah, the same old scallop siu mai and venison puff. Perfectly flavoured and that consistency was just spot on!

IMG_0743Prawn toast with a solid filling of springy prawn paste in it.IMG_0744And these flaky, buttery super fragrant egg tarts. Delish!

IMG_0745My personal favourite – The Jasmine smoked ribs whose tender moist meat falls off the bone readily! Intense body of tea fragrance there which makes this a must order whenever I see it.

IMG_0746You know, this wasn’t the best claypot I felt though it was legit enough. Then again, only available for a limited period only during that CNY season and I decided to have it with the bud just for the atmosphere!

IMG_0750What are you doing?! The bud exclaims as I took this at a rubbish collection point! Unflattering angle too indeed…

Verdict: A good restaurant. 3.9/5.

 

Advertisements

A Wong – Fun looking dim sum

A Wong

70 Wilton Road near Victoria Station

img_0642A Wong, one of the newer establishments, that is being raved greatly by London Foodies and is really the other limited modern dim sum place that I know of after Yuatacha and Hakkasan (or basically the establishments under the famous Alan Yau empire). Perhaps one of the first, A Wong doesn’t require you to order a basket of 3 as the price of the dim sum goes by per piece. Yes, more variety that a small group could try and that is a strong selling point. Modern, loads of fusion and much thought evidently given to each morsel, some ticked while some felt… strange. My favourite still lies with Hakkasan, as every dish I got there randomly from its menu was just spot on. Well, lets take a look at some of the highlights / more interesting stuff at A Wong. £70 spent for 2 persons.

img_0648Minced rabbit meat in carrot. The plating – just too cute to be eaten so quickly. Great lightly chewy consistency in the skin of this fried dumpling while the flavour of the fillings hit the right notes, intense.

img_0662Shredded lamb in pan fried Chinese bun. Very Lamb-y, strong flavour and the different elements came together beautifully.

img_0660Wagyu beef fried rice. Not greasy, while the fried rice is filled with this coveted beef umami and strong wok hei, that is made refreshing when wrapped in that crunchy lettuce leaf. Looks Korean, doesn’t it but I thought the lettuce is just a good to have and not exactly integral.

img_0663That salted duck egg bun or liu sha bao was crazy delicious! Fluffy pillowy with a lightly crusty base, and packed with that thick, runny salted yolk.

img_0645Great ribs over here as the sauce ticks.

img_0657I was a little hesitant over this scallop salad with egg waffles though. Nice buttery crispy waffles over there but pairing it with a refreshing savoury seafood salad, I indeed have my doubts. Flavours seemed to have clashed and I think a heavy savoury pairing should work better.

img_0646This truffle xiao long bao clearly didn’t work as the truffle flavour seemed to have muted the sweet pork broth, or rather it could have been mellowed to bring out that faint truffle scent.

london-2017And the rest of the dim sum that were not too bad, very modern looking but wasn’t as impressionable as the first few.

img_0667But the toilet does have nice wallpapers for you to take a selfie. Alright, being totally random here.

A nice hang out this place is and it is part of the Michelin guide Bib Gourmand 2017, but I guess I will return to Hakkasan or even Royal China actually.

Verdict: A good restaurant. 3.6/5.

 

The Ledbury – The best meal in London this time round!

The Ledbury

127 Ledbury Rd, London W11 2AQ, United Kingdom near Nottinghill Gate station

l1Indubitably the best meal in London for us this time round. Awarded with two Michelin stars, rated as one of the top 5 restaurants in London, it is no wonder that the seats are usually snatched up the moment the reservation dates are released for the next month. Booked a month in advance and we failed to secure a weekend table at The Ledbury (it is really that competitive), I actually felt lucky that a Friday lunch slot was available! Largely painted in white while the service crew are all clad in black, it does render a plush ambiance yet still a relaxing one as the restaurant is filled with banter and laughter from the fully filled tables.

IMG_9219And we started the set lunch (£50) with this refreshing glass of cucumber kiwi juice.

IMG_9222French being themselves, the teasers served before the actual set was quite sensational indeed. Seaweed crackers and meat jelly pastry served, we were particularly impressed by the latter as meat was tasted in that jelly while the savoury moussed pastry was filled with an intense roast flavour.

IMG_9223A slight Asian slant over here as this dumpling was served with sour plum sauce on top of it.

IMG_9227Crapaudine Beetroot – Smoked bone marrow, pickled rose and rhubarb. Kicking the meal off with the lighter but vibrant starter that is perfumed throughout with the therapeutic rhubarb fragrance and balanced off adequately with the heavier tasting bone marrow.

IMG_9228IMG_9229Not to worry as the bread isn’t a course in the menu but definitely deserves a mention here. Freshly baked to a beautiful crust yet still retaining the pillowy texture within, this is made even more exhilarating with light tasting goat milk butter and sea salt that renders a creamy delicious slather for that perfect bread.

IMG_9231Roast Cauliflower – Crab butter, Parmesan and Basil. You can feel the flavours building up already in the second course as this tasted intense. Umami savoured in the cheese slabs, they were thoroughly infused with crab roe fragrance while that yellow, creamy crab butter sauce was emanating a heavy crustacean flavour, all these giving a much fuller body to that crunchy cauliflower.

IMG_9232Red Ruby Beef – Short Rib, New Season Garlic, Celeriac and Brussel Tops. Impeccably braised beef over here that has all the essence locked tightly within already and finished off nicely with that bed of smooth mash underneath, you know the lady was floored from her repeated exclamations.

IMG_9234IMG_9236Chocolate and Mint with Madeleines. Dainty madeleines served warm, while the smooth minty ice cream makes a refreshing finish to the entire meal.

IMG_9238IMG_9239And with another Asian touch over here again, the petite fours were simply fabulous. Yuzu with caramel waffle roll while the huge favourite was the yuzu with white chocolate that is coated with crunchy crumbs. Substantial yuzu taste there that is rightly balanced off with their sweeter counterpart, we love.

l2And the hand shot I thought looks interesting with The Ledbury hook.

Yes, a marvelous lunch we had here definitely that was filled with quite a few surprises along the way. Not just serving the set lunch menu, you could also opt for the degustation one or customise your own set from the ala carte menu! My utmost favourite of all – that lovely crab dish there!

Verdict: An excellent restaurant 4.9/5

 

 

Bao – The origin of all the bao concepts out there

Bao at Soho

53 Lexington Street near Oxford Circus Tube Station

bao1Recently turned into a cult food item, evidently so with its pervasive influence across the globe, creeping into Asia HK, Sg and even all the way down to the Southern Hemisphere to the Asia Pacific region, Australia. Otherwise a simple looking Taiwanese Street food that would have only appealed to the traditional, it has undergone a clever makeover under Chef David Chang who has reinvented the dishes, do away with the traditions to create a new generation of gua bao that has successfully attracted modern urban diners. Not just is its presentation made sleeker, the bun at Bao also expresses vividly Chef Chang’s witty interpretation of fusion and modern cooking. There we were, across the road on a chilly night of 8 deg waiting for two seats as the queue starts from the opposite side of the road.

IMG_9259Aged Beef Rump Cap with Aged white Soy Sauce. Actually tasting 80% raw with the outside slightly seared, these thin slices of beef rump was exploding with natural sweetness and umaminess together with that aged soy sauce. £6.

IMG_9255Taiwanese fried chicken with Hot Sauce. £5.

IMG_9261Sweet Potato Chips, Plum Pickle Ketchup. These were good, but maybe not so deserving of a huge rave as it could be found easily in most parts of Asia, and actually is a cheap snack in Sg (Old Chang Kee), all made magical with that sweet potato. £3.

IMG_9256But the first Classic Bao that we tasted next was quite sensational. Not a fan of the fatty pork belly, the waitress recommended the classic that uses leaner cuts that have been braised beautifully in the black stew. Very moist and tasting very tender already, it was further perfected by that generous topping of flaky grounded peanuts that gave it an extra nutty body. I am actually very impressed with the peanut there as it wasn’t bitty or grainy at all (unlike what we had at Bao Makers Singapore), that allows it to melt really easily. £4.

IMG_9258Moving on to the Lamb Shoulder bao, this was another intriguing one. Bao really knows the key to a successful bun – the sauce and the degree of moistness their meat should have. So tender the lamb shoulder has been braised to, the chef has also creatively slathered over it the luscious coriander sauce for a beautiful cut through the heavier tasting lamb. £5.

IMG_9265Guinea Fowl Chi Shiang Rice. That was the bowl that caught the attention of the old American couple beside us who eventually followed our choice. Together with the tender chicken drum or thigh, its garlic condiments and fragrantly fried shallots were all instrumental in making this work. And that yellow yolk there, lifted greatly the overall taste of this bowl with its creamy runny consistency. Definitely a dish where there isn’t a redundancy in any of the elements used. £5.75.

IMG_9268Fried Hollicks Ice Cream. I was very skeptical of this initially to be honest after a very bad experience at Little Bao Hong KongUnlike the ones at Little Bao whose buns are totally fried through without much thought, the ones over here are only fried on the outside while the fluffiness within is entirely retained. And together with the milky, creamy Horlicks Ice Cream, we enjoyed it thoroughly! £4.

bao2Some of the starters over here could have tasted simple but the real stars in the restaurants are the more complicated sides like the fowl rice and definitely like what the restaurant’s name suggests, the bao! And that was the queue when we left. 40min it should take if you are placed at the end.

Verdict: A good – excellent restaurant. 3.9/5

 

 

Barrafina – waited for 1.5 hr for this restaurant of the year!

Barrafina

54 Frith St, London W1D 4SL, United Kingdom near Leicester Square Tube Station

b1Hola! Barrafina it is as the next foodie stop in London. Crowned as restaurant of the year by timeout (I think), they have definitely attracted a huge beeline even before 6pm, when it could still be teatime for many. We joined the queue at 6 and were told very passionately by the waitress that there is a 2h wait.

b3If food and friends are the reasons why I extended the trip in UK, then I just have to grit my teeth and wait. It was lucky for the foodie buddy and I as it turned out to be a 1h20min wait before we were seated right in front of the head chef himself. Big hugs to the buddy who waited with me despite it being his third time here. Boisterous, bustling, these are the usual characteristics that you would expect from a Spanish restaurant but holding that spirit up for the entire lunch or night, I salute them. So much energy and passion flowing through every service crew’s body and even the ushering waitress, she uses all her mighty strength when she wipes every single dirt off the bench, ensuring that it is squeaky clean before it is set for the next pair of customers.

IMG_9179So amazingly plump these fried squids are that they had the perfect springy consistency while the light fluffy batter didn’t grease things up. It was good but perhaps needed a few speckles of salt more.

IMG_9180Gambas al Ajillo – A Catalonia cuisine that is flavoured up beautifully by the stir fried garlic and chilli, that yields the perfect sauce nicely assimilated into those crunchy prawns there. The strength of the fire was controlled so well that the shells turned edible for me, oh that crisp in the shells! £8.

IMG_9185IMG_9186Looking like a pillow or hand rest, the classic tortilla is really one of the must-order. It has always been the case for me at every Spanish restaurant I go to but out of so many in Singapore, only Binomio manages to impress. The one here tasted largely different as within that fluffy skin, you have that vibrant, viscous stew with intercalating slices of potato. So delicious! £6.50.

IMG_9182IMG_9183Ham Croquetas. Bitty ham smothered by the thick, savoury cream and finally all presented in that rotund crispy ball. Barrafina’s way of perfecting it? That thin crispy skin that makes the delectable fillings even more substantial. £4.50.

IMG_9184Pollock a la Romana – Two slices of lightly fried fresh, plump pollock cut through by that lovely capsaicinated sauce! £7.80.

IMG_9188Chicken Thigh with Romesco Sauce. Precised, spot on, that crispy skin was actually quite unbelievable and definitely on point! And that romesco sauce gave the tender meat a fuller, extra nutty body! £7.80.

IMG_9189Iberican Pork Fillet – Just fragrantly seared on the outside, the inner chunk was actually quite raw. This really isn’t beef we thought but that taste was completed together with the tangy dark sauce, and we grew to love it as we slice through that reddish tender meat. £10.80.

And so that’s the entire Spanish night we had! It is pricey and portions aren’t huge, but everything is on point which makes you feel the £30 you spent per person isn’t that bad actually!

b2With that crazy buddy that evening! Still the same despite not meeting up for almost a decade!

Verdict: A good – excellent restaurant. 3.9/5