I actually wanted the chicken…

So after going for a walk over my lunch break I decided after thinking about it for a while that I fancied something spicy, so decided to visit Nusa Kitchen.

Nusa Kitchen

It’s at times like this that I really should read my own blog, as on my previous visit there I wasn’t impressed.

My initial reaction on opening the box was one of disappointment, I was expecting grilled chicken, it wasn’t grilled, well it might have been but there was no grilled look or flavour. The sauce was scattered across the chicken, however it lacked flavour. I couldn’t detect the coconut in the coconut rice, but it was otherwise cooked well, nice and separate and not sticky. The salad was fresh and interesting. Even with the disappointment of what it looked like, alas the eating experience didn’t change my perspective, and it was a disappointing meal overall. I don’t think I will return.

One of there reasons I blog about my eating experience is to remind me not to buy and eat at places I had eaten at.

So forgetting about my last experience completely I went there again. I vaguely remember eating from there before, but I couldn’t recall exactly what I had ordered and what it had been like… simple solution read my own blog!

I chose the Vietnamese Chicken, fragrant flame grilled chicken served with coconut rice and salad, which is what I had before and was disappointed with.

This time I was disappointed again, not because it wasn’t any good, but I never got any, as they had sold out of the chicken.

Looking over the menu I went with the Asian Inspired Tofu & Mushrooms.

Asian Inspired Tofu & Mushrooms

The tofu was interesting, but the mushrooms lacked flavour.  The sauce was scattered across the tofu and the mushrooms (as before) and it also lacked flavour. The menu describes the rice now as just rice, no mention of coconut, this was cooked well, nice and separate and not sticky. The salad was fresh and interesting. 

However as before the overall experience was this time just okay. I must remember both this meal and the previous one, next time I go out for lunch.

Argentine Steak from the market

Near the office there are plenty of places for lunch and on Wednesdays in New Street Square there is a street food market. On my most recent visit to the office I had forgotten about the market, so it was a nice surprise, when popping out for lunch that the market was running.

There were a wide range of stalls with a variety of choices. I was tempted by the Polish pierogi stall, then there was the Bao stall, I do like a nice steamed Vietnamese bun. I quite liked the look of the paella as well. In the end I went with the Argentine Grill, Criollo. They had a steak sandwich or a steak and salad box on their menu. I went with the steak and salad box.

Criollo street food stall

It comprised a box of mixed green leaves, cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers with grilled bavette steak cooked with cheese. It was served with a fresh chimichurri sauce.

steak and salad box

This was one tasty box, the steak, though not melt in the mouth, was tender and full of flavour. The salad was fresh and delicious. The salad was simplistic, but complemented the steak and cheese. I think the only thing missing was some staple, I actually popped into Coco di Mama and bought some bread to go with my lunch.

Overall I was pleased with the dish and enjoyed it.

Time for an Italian salad

Fetter Lane

When the weather is hot and sunny and I am working in London, I usually prefer to have a salad for lunch rather than a hot lunch. Near the office there are plenty of places for lunch and lots have a wide choice of salads. I have enjoyed those from the Natural Kitchen where you choose from a selection. Another place I have had salad a few times is the branch of Coco di Mama which is close to the office. They have a wide choice of pasta dishes as well as salads.

I decided to have the Sun-Sational Speck & Bufala Salad. This has crispy speck, bufala mozzarella, mixed Italian beans & quinoa, mango, avocado, pepper pearls, capers, pesto-harissa and pea shoots. It was quick and easy to pay and the service was warm and welcoming.

Sun-Sational Speck & Bufala Salad

It was a really tasty salad, it didn’t overdo the mixed leaves unlike some pre-packed salads I have had from other places. I like the use of mixed Italian beans in the salad which was something I do have at home, but not often seen before. The mango added colour an sweetness, as did the pepper pearls (with a hint of heat).I like pea shoots and these were really nice and added a distinctive flavour to the salad. I wasn’t enamoured with the buffalo mozzarella, and I didn’t think the crispy speck added anything to the salad, I would have preferred to have fresh speck. Having said that, these are minor criticisms, of what was a really tasty salad. Something I would certainly have again. As well as tasty food, they have great service, so a return visit is very likely.

Time to grab some Thai

One of my favourite places to eat Thai food is Sais’s Thai in the covered market in Oxford. I now rarely get the chance to eat there having stopped working in Oxford in 2015. I did manage a return visit earlier this year and it was just as tasty as I remembered it.

Looking for somewhere to get some lunch when working in our London office I found GrabThai on Fleet Street. Looking at the menu it bought back memories of the delicious Thai food from Sais’s Thai.

Grabthai on Fleet Street

There is quite a bit of choice, from stir fries to curries to pad thai.

So what of the food?

I went with the Pad Prik King Pork, this is pork and fine bean stir fry in red curry paste and kaffir lime leaves served on a choice of rice. I went with the brown rice and extra cashew nuts.

Pad Prik King Pork

It didn’t look anything like the image on the website or on the menu, which was disappointing.

Pad Prik King Pork

Well it was quite nice, but I had such high expectations that no wonder I was slightly disappointed. There was a nice spiciness to the dish, the pork belly was tender, though I think I would have preferred it meatier or even slightly chewy! The brown rice was tasty and added texture. I did ask for extra cashew nuts, these were scattered on top, so I needed to mix it into the stir fry. There was a good proportion of stir fry to rice, sometimes I have found places give you loads of rice and very little of the main dish.

Would I go again? Well I think I might, but with so much choice in and around Fetter Lane, it might be some time before I go back.

Time for some delicious pasta

Paesan restaurant close to the Exmouth Market

I seem to be spending more time in London these days, and generally I am only up there for the day. Last month I was there for most of the week so stayed overnight. I was staying in a hotel that I actually wasn’t expecting to stay in, so I hadn’t had the time to do much research about places to eat nearby and I really didn’t want to end up at the hotel restaurant, as they can be terrible food and over-priced.

I really liked the look of Paesan close to the Exmouth Market as I walked past on my way to the hotel, and decided that this was certainly a possibility. I also liked the look of the menu at Paesan, simple yet sounding really tasty, as well as authentically Italian.

Inside the plain brick walls, wooden floors and simple furniture gave the place a rustic warm atmosphere. You can see into the kitchen and see what the chefs are doing.

The staff were friendly and welcoming and I was shown to my table and I looked over the menu.

I was tempted by lots of the small plates, particularly the carpaccio or the calamari alla griglia. To be honest I think I could have quite easily ordered all of them, however I wasn’t hugely hungry and I was on a budget.

There was a wide range of pasta on the menu, in the end I ordered the a large portion of the orechiette pasta with nduja, pancetta & cime di rapa.

orechiette pasta with nduja, pancetta & cime di rapa

I could see into the kitchen and it was interesting to watch the chef cook my food.

Paesan restaurant close to the Exmouth Market

The food arrived in good time and looked great. I did expect it to be slightly larger than it was, but glad I didn’t go for the smaller “primi” size (which would be ideal for smaller appetites or lunch).

To be honest this was the best pasta I have had from any restaurant. The fresh pasta was cooked to perfection, al dente, the sauce was just about right.

I finished my meal off with a very Italian espresso, more like a ristretto.

Ristretto coffee

The menu changes quite frequently so I am tempted to go back and try something new.

Some good, some not as good as it could be

The last time I went to Wahaca at their Soho branch was in January this year and I enjoyed the dishes I had.

Though I was less impressed with the steak tacos I had, especially as I had really good steak tacos the week before at Charlotte Street.

Though I had completely forgotten about that when I visited the Soho branch for some lunch last month.

The Soho branch I suspect must get busy at lunchtime with tourists, but as I was eating just after the lunchtime rush, the place was quite empty and quiet. I find that each of the Wahaca branches has their own particular style which makes each of them a unique interesting place to eat.

I ordered three dishes, one of which was tacos with chargrilled steak served with grilled cheese & fresh guacamole

Tacos with chargrilled steak served with grilled cheese & fresh guacamole from

There use to be some really nice grilled steak tacos, I had these quite a few times. There were three soft corn tortillas which came with flash-grilled skirt steak with chipotle & tomatillo salsas with optional grilled cheese (I always avoided the cheese).

The new recipe called The Rib Eye, consists of two larger corn tortillas with chargrilled steak and is served with grilled cheese & fresh guacamole.

You do get more steak and it is very tender compared to the skirt steak they use to do, but it is also more expensive, about three pounds more than the old steak tacos price (60% more expensive).

It’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the tacos, I did, but I felt that the original recipe was really good and this wasn’t much of an improvement and certainly not a 60% improvement. I probably wouldn’t order them again.

My second small plate order was something I had ordered before which was buttermilk chicken flour tacos served crispy fried with pink pickled onions & spiced mayo.

Buttermilk chicken flour tacos served crispy fried with pink pickled onions & spiced mayo

This was again two larger flour tortillas with buttermilk friend chicken. I did think the chicken was slightly over-cooked, but it was crispy and the mayo and onions added flavour and texture.

My final small plate order was new on the menu, crab tostada dressed in chipotle mayo, served with pink pickled onions.

Crab Tostada dressed in chipotle mayo, served with pink pickled onions

You got two crispy tortilla with crab. I really enjoyed these, you could certainly taste the crab and it was a fresh tasty dish.

The only thing that let the meal down was the service, it took some time for my order to be taken and I had ordered some tap water with my meal and that was forgotten about, so I had to ask again. The fact that I had been seated around the corner meant that there wasn’t always an opportunity to get the attention of a member of the waiting staff to either place my order or ask for the water.

Overall the food was great and very tasty.

Time for some crown prince squash

Back in March staying over in London close to Oxford Circus I had plenty of choice for somewhere to eat but decided to go with Wahaca as I did quite fancy some tacos.

I find that each of the Wahaca branches has their own particular style which makes each of them a unique interesting place to eat. The Oxford Street branch is no exception and had a certain vibe. The place was quite busy but the friendly waiting staff managed to find me a table.

I usually order three dishes from the small plate street food menu and on this visit I did exactly that.

I really enjoyed the chargrilled crown prince squash.

Chargrilled Crown Prince squash grown by Riverford Organic, served with kale & cashew nut mole

The squash was grown for Wahaca by Riverford Organic and served with kale & cashew nut mole. I really enjoyed this dish, was full of flavour and very tasty. I think it could have been improved if the squash had been peeled, but the flesh of the squash did come away from the skin despite this. I really liked the chargrilled aspect of the dish and you could taste that in the squash. This dish is advertised as vegan, and I suspect people might avoid it, but if it comes back onto the menu, go for it, it was delicious.

I also went with the chargrilled steak Baja Tacos with avocado & chipotle salsas.

Chargrilled steak Baja Tacos with avocado & chipotle salsas

The steak was perfectly cooked and the tacos were very tasty.

I also ordered the chicken and avocado tacos with ancho rub, guacamole & green tomatillo salsa. Another tasty dish full of interesting flavours and textures.

The service was excellent and I really enjoyed my meal.

Overpowering

I’ve had the sushi quite a few times from Wasabi at Paddington and have enjoyed it. I liked the look of their hot dishes, but respecting my fellow travellers I avoid eating hot food on the train.

Needing lunch, and having enjoyed the sushi I decided to try one of their hot dishes. I went with their sweet chilli chicken.

As I was hungry and had been some time since breakfast I went for a large portion, which was of a decent size and proportions of rice to chicken.

sweet chilli chicken

I quite like sweet chilli chicken, but in this case the sauce was overpoweringly with sweetness and stickiness, even with the heat of the chilli.

After eating I felt that I really needed some green vegetables or some salad.

I really don’t think I would be buying hot dishes from Wasabi again.

So what did you have for breakfast?

Since our London office moved to Fetter Lane and I have been working in London significantly more, I have been intrigued by the breakfasts on offer at the local eateries around the office.

One thing that I see a lot of is poached egg pots, this kind of breakfast dish is starting to take off in Bristol too. These pots usually consist of a poached egg and then some stuff.

I have to say that by the time I get to London I am not usually looking for breakfast and generally just go with a coffee.

The other day though I was somewhat peckish. I was tempted to visit Yolk, but there was a bit of a queue, so decided to try the poached egg pots from Coco di Mama. I went with the mushrooms and power beans.

Breakfast pot

The pot contains a big portion of mixed beans in a smokey tomato sauce topped with spinach, cooked mushrooms, lightly roasted cherry tomatoes, a poached egg and some greens which could be micro herbs.

It was certainly an interesting experience, the beans were tasty and had a kick to them, so much nicer than regular baked beans. The egg was nicely cooked. I did think the mushrooms were overcooked and be careful as the tomatoes were very hot (and I nearly burnt my mouth on them).

For a hot breakfast dish, I thought it was really nice, I thought the portion size was ideal, though the proportions were slightly out for me, too many beans. I think next time I might add an extra egg for a pound.

Fresh and full of flavour

steak and fries

I was in London for the day I had two meetings, but with a long in between, I was thinking about where to have lunch. The weather wasn’t brilliant, but at least it wasn’t raining (yet).

I wasn’t expecting it, but just down Tottenham Court Road was a street food market hidden on the side. Called the Goodge Street Market it’s in Fitzrovia, London and the stalls surround the church there.

There wasn’t a huge market, but there is certainly enough choice of different kinds of food.

There was a quite a choice, but one stand stood out to me, which was the Argentinian El Parrillon stand. As with other stands they were offering free samples and I took a sample of steak.As well as steak, their menu also offered Chimichurri chicken in a box, or you could have a mixed box.

I really liked the sound of the steak and fries, so I ordered that. The service was efficient and friendly.

The steak was cooked to order on a plancha. It was then cubed on the grill and once finished was served with fries and salad. You had a choice of Aioli, spicy sauce or Chimichurri. I went with the Chimichurri.

The steak had lots of flavour and was very tender. The fries were a little over-cooked for my liking, but were crispy. The salad was somewhat disappointing consisting of mixed leaves and nothing else. The Chimichurri was really nice and fresh and enhanced the dish.

I really enjoyed the steak and fries, with the Chimichurri adding flavours and freshness.