"After years of continuous eating,'A Girl has to Eat', a self-confessed food lover and eat-aholic, has been spurred on to create her own food guide & blog. Read about her fabulous (and sometimes not so fabulous) culinary adventures in her restaurant reviews. This and more!"

Sakagura

Posted on Saturday, 20th May 2017

SAKAGURA

Sakagura is an upscale Japanese restaurant snugly hidden behind Burberry’s flagship store right off Piccadilly. The street-side entrance does in no way betray its interior: a glitzy post-modern izakaya with strategically positioned lighting and judiciously chosen Japanese memorabilia. The management team are from Kyoto, the original Japanese seat of the imperial court, where a high culture of luxury and sophistication has matured over one thousand years. Those influences of high culture were apparent throughout our dinner at Sakagura.

We started with maguro tartare with yuzu dip (£16) which was served on a tiny wooden tray lying on a bed of ice and decorated with multi-coloured edible flowers. There was also a layer of black capelin roe which added an exquisite visual touch as it created a contrast with the tuna’s pink. The tuna was delicious, as was the yuzu dip. The array of accompanying Japanese condiments that came along with it – wasabi, pickled ginger, toasted sesame seeds – also worked really well with the tuna.

Sakagura - London Food Blog - Tuna tartare

Sakagura – Tuna tartare

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Firedoor – Sydney

Posted on Saturday, 6th May 2017

FIREDOOR

I recently had a fabulous meal at Firedoor, a slick and modern outfit located in the Sydney suburb of Surry Hills, close to the heart of the Sydney Central Business District. Firedoor is a very unique restaurant in that it serves an entirely fire-powered menu. The first of its kind in Australia, each dish is cooked to order and powered entirely by wood fire. The kitchen draws upon a collection of different woods every day, purposefully used to create a certain effect from the coals that best enhance the natural characteristics of the ingredients on show.

The head chef is Lennox Hastie who spent the early part of his career working at various Michelin Star restaurants across the UK, France and Spain. The pinnacle was the five years that he spent at one of the best grill restaurants in the world, the much-touted Asador Etxebarri located in the Basque country. A one Michelin star holder and a regular on the 50 Best Restaurants in the World’s List, Asador Etxebarri readily makes use of wood-fired grilling. Here, Lennox spent five years working with Victor Arguinzoniz, honing his skills on working with an open flame.

Lennox opened Firedoor in April 2015. Focusing primarily on seafood and vegetables, he has transported his unique understanding of wood fire cooking to Firedoor, His talent was recognised when the restaurant was nominated for the Best New Restaurant in the 2016 Australian Gourmet Traveller Awards. Firedoor currently holds a chef’s hat in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide and sits at number 17 on the Australian Gourmet Traveller Top 100 Restaurants.

We shared a selection of dishes and all were fabulous, starting with the albacore tuna with radish (A$27) which was sensational. Wild caught Mooloolaba albacore had been grilled (seared) over apple wood and was meaty and ripe with flavour. Texturally the albacore was heaven and a joy to each. The fish was served with shaved fennel and breakfast radishes that were fresh and lively, and a well-judged grilled lemon dressing which provided the right hit of acidity. Everything on the dish came together superbly.

Firedoor - London Food Blog - Albacore tuna

Firedoor – Albacore tuna

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Yardbird – Hong Kong

Posted on Saturday, 22nd April 2017

YARDBIRD

Yardbird in Hong Kong ranks as one of the hottest restaurants in Hong Kong. It’s a perpetual hit with the Hong Kong in-crowd, helped in no small part by the slick urban design and the all too-cool wait staff. Yardbird has a no booking policy and given its popularity, this often means that there is a timely wait. But notwithstanding its coolness, it’s popularity is understandable when one comes to learn that the head chef at Yardbird is Canadian Matt Abergel who has previously cooked at leading Japanese/Japanese-fusion restaurants such as Masa in New York and Zuma in Hong Kong.

The menu is fashioned on the Japanese style of “izakaya” casual eating with small plates for all to share. Predominating Japanese in flavour, Abergel also draws on other Asian influences, bringing in items such as KFC, a dish of Korean fried cauliflower (yes cauliflower and not chicken) which was an absolute treat.

Yardbird makes good use of the chicken, endorsing a head to tail concept of eating. We saw just about every part of the chicken on the menu, with the thigh, breast, wing, heart, liver, gizzards, you name it, all being skewered for yakitori grilling. Of these we tried the Chicken meatball yakitori served with egg yolk (HK$48 – about £4.80).

Yardbird - London Food Blog - Chicken meatballs

Yardbird – Chicken meatballs

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El Pirata

Posted on Thursday, 30th March 2017

EL PIRATA

If your means are not too constrained, El Pirata in Mayfair can be a good choice for those times in your life when you develop a craving for some excellent home-made food but don’t feel like cooking yourself. This rustic comfortable Spanish restaurant churns out reliably tasty and homely tapas and other classical Spanish dishes, all served with the sincerest of smiles from their knowledgeable staff. The interior leaves no doubt that this is a Spanish eatery – the walls are literally smothered with various reproductions of works by famous Spanish painters. Queen’s Brian May is reported to be a very satisfied customer of El Pirata.

First arrived bread – a thoroughly enjoyable plate of crispy crust and fluffy centre – topped with a smartly undersalted, moist and fresh tomato topping (£2.65). Because the latter was rather lightly seasoned, it enhanced, rather than upstaged any other dishes we might have had alongside it.

El Pirata - London Food Blog - Bread & jamon

El Pirata – Bread & jamon

It was accompanied by a platter of super-fancy ham with a name as long as Picasso’s: jamón ibérico pata negra, gran reserva “don agustin, iberico summon guiguelo. We were counting on a fountain of flavour and lush unctuous texture, perhaps close to that of the French Noir de Bigorre or of one of those eye-wateringly overpriced Spanish jamons in Borough Market. However, this hope did not quite materialise into reality. It was good, solid, but rather very run-off-the-mill stuff, the kind you could buy pre-sliced at El Corte Ingles in Spain. In all honesty it was not quite worth the £19.95 price tag.

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Cinnamon Kitchen

Posted on Wednesday, 22nd March 2017

CINNAMON KITCHEN

Cinnamon Kitchen is an upmarket Indian fusion restaurant in the Liverpool Street area. Bearing the word “Cinnamon” in its name, it is part of the Cinnamon Collection, a group of Indian restaurants run by Vivek Singh, restauranteur, and a celebrity chef regular on a number of television cookery shows such as BBC’s Saturday Kitchen. Vivek first made his name with his flagship restaurant Cinnamon Club by championing a brand of modern, innovative Indian cooking. His contemporary approach has further translated into his other restaurants including Cinnamon Soho and Cinnamon Bazaar.

As we walked into Cinnamon Kitchen, we were immediately seduced by both the aroma of the tantalising smells wafting through the restaurant, as well as by the excited murmur of happily munching clients. The interior is both smart and trendy, and gave both a happening vibe with a balanced sense of a cozy intimacy.

To begin our meal we were offered some miniature spiced potato fritters on a curly bamboo stick as the complimentary amuse-bouche from the chef. Usually, such throw-ins are an opportunity to showcase the chef’s best skills or new, novel ideas, to dazzle and intrigue customers into coming to try more next time. This one was a little bland and unassuming and tasted like a deep-fried ball made of faintly curried mashed potatoes.

Next we tried a variety of chutneys with naan. Of the three chutneys that arrived, the most memorable was the tomato one. With just the right level of hotness, it treated tomato as what it technically is: a fruit, which is that it was intensely rich with flavour and naturally sweet. The naan that accompanied the chutneys was pleasantly spliced with fennel seeds.

Cinnamon Kitchen - London Food Blog - Naans & chutneys

Cinnamon Kitchen – Naans & chutneys

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Tootoomoo Islington

Posted on Monday, 13th March 2017

Tootoomoo

Tootoomoo offers a Pan-Asian Tapas-style menu designed by Chef Ricky Pang. The restaurant appears to have more of a reputation as a takeaway; however, the Islington branch was well located (a few minutes from Highbury & Islington station) and reasonably popular on the weekday evening we visited. As the menu covers key dishes from different parts of Asia, we were eager to order dishes across the breadth of the menu.

Tootoomoo - London Food Blog

Tootoomoo

The drinks list was not extensive but covered a handful of classic cocktails, wine, beer and spirits selection enough to cover most tastes. To begin with we were offered cocktails (all priced at £7.50) and we chose the Elderflower Tootoomoo and a Lychee Caipirinha. Both were served as long drinks in glass jars. They were refreshing, quite sweet but balanced. We could not taste the lychee in the caipirinha and wonder if it was missed by accident.

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Bella Cosa

Posted on Monday, 27th February 2017

BELLA COSA

Bella Cosa is an Italian restaurant located within a few minutes walk of South Quays DLR station, close to the heart of Canary Wharf. It’s an elegant venue, split over two floors, with the first floor offering a fine dining service, and the ground floor reserved for a more casual Italian experience of antipastas, cold cuts and pastas.

Japanese born Executive Chef Kentaro Torii graduated from culinary school in Tokyo after which he made a move to Italy to follow his passion of Italian cookery. Chef Kentaro has also worked at various Michelin restaurants including Bvlgari il Ristorante in Tokyo, Els Casals in Barcelona and Keisuke Matsushima in Nice. And so it is the combination of his roots, his Italian cookery training and his grounding in fine dining that defines the elegant ‘Italian with a Japanese twist’ menu at Bella Cosa.

I attended a bloggers’ dinner at Bella Cosa recently and we were firstly treated to some excellent canapes including some delightfully fine and crispy black ink chips filled with mascarpone and salmon roe which offered an interesting contrast in flavours. Also very tasty was the cannoli with ricotta, walnut and beetroot powder, with the cheese pairing well with the nuttiness of the walnut.

The amuse bouche was cooked scallop, with cannellini puree, truffle, lardo and olive oil powder. The scallop had been beautifully cooked and contrasted well with the creaminess of the puree and the fattiness of the lardo.

Bella Cosa - London Food Blog - Scallop amuse bouche

Bella Cosa – Scallop amuse bouche

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Remedy Wine Bar

Posted on Monday, 20th February 2017

REMEDY WINE BAR AND KITCHEN

The Remedy Wine Bar and Kitchen in Fitzrovia is a cosy, intimate collaboration between David Clawson and Renato Catgiu. The pair met while working together at Terroirs, a Covent Garden restaurant and wine bar which, as most foodies will know, is regarded as having pioneered the “natural” (organic and/or biodynamic) wine movement in London. At Remedy, the team have lovingly curated a list of some 100 natural, low intervention wines from both classic vintages and maverick producers from around the world, and all sold at reasonable prices.

The menu at Remedy is an all-day one, ranging from breakfast to dinner. The morning offering consists of coffees from Climpson & Sons, juices, pastries, breads and such like. For lunch there are tasty sounding sandwiches and reasonably priced mains. The evening menu at Remedy is more comprehensive and included a range of snacks and sharing boards with cured meats from the Ham & Cheese Co and cheeses from Androuet. There were also oysters, seasonal small plates and a delicious sounding array of sausages.

We began our meal with a rabbit terrine with crostini (£5) which was absolutely delicious. The terrine was tasty, moist and well-seasoned, with just the right of amount of fat for flavour. Yet at the same time, it wasn’t overly fatty which terrines can sometimes be. This terrine was pure flavour and a true joy to eat. This was some heartfelt cooking at its best.

Remedy Wine Bar - London Food Blog - Rabbit Terrine

Remedy Wine Bar – Rabbit Terrine

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