Posts for the 'SW6' Category


Koji – Visit no. 2

KOJI

I first tried Koji Japanese Restaurant in Parsons Green last year, not long after it first opened and had a fabulous dining experience. Koji was a collaborative effort between Nobuhisha Takahashi, the former sushi head chef at both Nobu London and Nobu Cape Town, and Mark Barnett, the former proprietor of the now closed Mao Tai Chinese restaurant.

In January 2015 Rolando Ongcoy joined the ranks, replacing Nobuhisha Takahashi, and took the food at Koji up another notch. A Japanese chef for some 33 years, he began his career in the Philippines before coming to London. In recent years he has also been the head sushi chef with both the Nobu group and Uni in Pimlico.

The ethos at Koji is to provide diners with first class Japanese food in a highly elegant setting, but without any pretentiousness. The Koji menu centres around contemporary Japanese cooking, ranging from fresh sushi and sashimi, to meat and seafood on the robata grill, to a variety of modern Japanese dishes that draw upon European and South American influences.

Second time round, and I found Koji to be that much better than first time round – no mean feat considering that the benchmark standard had been set pretty high during my first visit. At Koji, only the finest ingredients are used. This coupled with the finest of techniques makes for splendid dining experience.

We shared a variety of dishes as is customary with Japanese food, and one of my favourites of the evening was the salmon tartare with caviar umami jelly (£19). This dish was divine. The salmon itself was fresh and flavoursome, but it was the umami jelly – a thin layer of jelly placed over the salmon – which electrified the tartare. The umami jelly was abundant with flavour and it paired perfectly with salmon.

Koji - London Food Blog - Salmon tartare

Koji – Salmon tartare

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Koji

KOJI

Koji Japanese Restaurant in Parsons Green is a joint collaboration between Nobuhisha Takahashi, the former sushi head chef at both Nobu London and Nobu Cape Town, and Mark Barnett, the former proprietor of the now closed Mao Tai Chinese restaurant. The Koji concept centres around contemporary Japanese dining, ranging from fresh sushi and sashimi being carved out at the beautiful sushi bar, to meats and seafood caramelising sweetly on the robata grill. On the a la carte menu is an array of modern Japanese dishes that draw influences from South America and Europe.

Koji offers a sophisticated yet relaxed atmosphere. Towards the front of the restaurant is a cocktail bar offering light snacks and the sushi bar where diners can choose to eat their meal whilst watching the sushi craftmen at work. In the restaurant proper is a buzzy restaurant where diners can relax in well-appointed surrounds.

We started with the summer roll with soft shell crab (£15) which was gloriously fresh and summery. The crab was sweet and meaty with a crunchy coating, and it had been paired with seasonal asparagus, tangy pickled ginger and some fragrant shiso leaf. To hold together all the deliciousness was an outer roll of beautifully made soft Vietnamese rice paper. A yuzu dressing added a citrusy and refreshing touch to the roll.

Koji - London Food Blog - Summer roll

Koji – Summer roll

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Claude’s Kitchen

Claude Compton previously cooked at Petersham Nurseries and Club Gascon, and with his restaurant Claude’s Kitchen, he now combines his Michelin experience with beautifully fresh ingredients to produce a wholesome British menu. The fish is brought down daily from Cornwall, the meat is organic and free-range and he also makes wonderful use of seasonal greens throughout his dishes. Claude’s Kitchen is located on the first floor of the Amuse Bouche Champagne Bar in Parsons Green. It’s a cozy little outfit – uniquely comfortable and wonderfully relaxed.

The menu was not extensive but everything was wonderfully inventive and creative. There were touches of the fine dining to it with inclusion of elements such as dehydrated olives and parsnip foam. Yet the food was rustic and comforting and unpretentious. But best of all it tasted incredibly fresh. An inventive dish of raw beef fillet (£7) with blackberries, red onion, dandelion, chicory and horseradish was delectably interesting. The beef was meaty and tender and beautifully balanced against the sweetness of the berries and blackberry sauce. There was also an earthiness coming through from the dandelion and chicory and a gentle hint of heat from the horseradish that rounded off this refreshing dish.

Claude’s Kitchen - Beef fillet

Beef fillet

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Blue Elephant

Blue Elephant is one of London’s most iconic Thai restaurants. It opened its doors over 25 years ago on Fulham Broadway but moved to Imperial Wharf in January 2012. The new space is luxurious and beautifully glamorous and was refurbished based on ‘Saran Rom’ Palace in Bangkok, previously the seat of Thailand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. Décor aside, another strong selling point is that the restaurant is positioned on The Thames, offering those who sit outside on a nice sunny day wonderful views of the river. As an extension to the Blue Elephant restaurant, the Imperial Wharf location also runs a newly created Thai cookery school.

The menu is vast and diverse and is divided into three key sections: Thai cuisine of the Past, Thai Cuisine of Today, and Thai cuisine of Tomorrow. There are also a number of tasting menus including a vegetarian option.

Chef Nooror’s Ma Auan, steamed minced chicken with crab (£14) yielded a good crab and chicken flavour. It had been flavoured with foie gras although this was difficult to detect in the dish. Accompanying the dish was a very tasty sweet and spicy sauce.

Minced chicken with crab & foie gras

Minced chicken with crab & foie gras

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Manson

Every time I have gone past Manson Restaurant on a Friday or Saturday night it always seems to be heaving with people. And with good reason. Perched on Fulham Road in Parsons Green, it has a ‘neighbourhood’ feel to it with the exterior exuding a certain charm and warmth which makes it hard to ignore.

The interior of the restaurant is just as pleasing on the eye. There is a separate bar area and lots of wooden touches throughout the restaurant to round of its cosy appeal. Stopping by for a Sunday lunch, I was pleasantly surprised the quality of the British cooking. A dainty looking dish of caraway cured sea trout (£7) was lovely. The tanginess in the side of pickled cabbage worked well with the fish, and the use of dill added a lovely fragrance to the dish.

Cured sea trout

Cured sea trout

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Harwood Arms – The Return

The first time I went to the Harwood Arms (click here to read about that meal), I was bowled over by both the wonderful quality of the food and the very reasonable pricing. Resident Harwood Arms chef Stephen Williams trained under Brett Graham at The Ledbury which now holds two Michelin stars. So while the Harwood Arms may be a collaboration between Brett, Mike Robinson from The Pot Kiln and Edwin Vaux from the Vaux brewery, it resonates with Brett’s trademark cooking. It’s little wonder then that the Harwood Arms won its first Michelin star earlier this year.

With its new star rating, bookings have gone through the roof. Its focus has switched solely to the food, and so it’s dropped the gastropub label. There is still a bar area at the Harwood Arms, but this is mainly used for pre-dining aperitifs with casual pub drinking now being frowned upon.

My last visit to the Harwood Arms was over a year ago, and ever since then I have yearned for their wonderful venison Scotch egg (£3). A perfectly cooked runny egg encased in beautifully seasoned venison meat and coated with crispy breadcrumbs delighted once again. However, from memory there use to be more meat to be had.

Scotch egg

Scotch egg

Scotch egg

Scotch egg

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Marco at Stamford Bridge

Foie gras terrine

Foie gras terrine

The last couple of meals that I had with LD (at The Cadogan Arms and Le Café Anglais) proved to be somewhat unsuccessful. This seemed to have the effect of putting a dent in my ‘restaurant choosing capability’ as this time round she suggested (insisted) that she pick the destination for our next meal out. With a sniff, I agreed. I obviously don’t get it right all the time, but I like holding the mantle of ‘restaurant picker’ amongst my friends, even if it is self-bestowed, and it isn’t a title that I wanted to relinquish easily.

So this is how, at LD’s suggestion, we ended up at Marco at Stamford Bridge (sniff). The restaurant is a collaborative effort between Chef Marco Pierre White and as you might have guessed, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. The restaurant has the look of money behind it. The room is filled with leather cubicle seating and glamorous black and white photographs of celebrities from a bygone era. It’s dark and decadent, and if cigars were allowed, I would have almost hazarded a guess that this was an old-fashioned gentlemen’s club house.

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Harwood Arms

Wild rabbit starter for two

Wild rabbit starter for two

I suffer from a disposition that I call ‘geographical disorientation’, an affliction which I liken to not ‘knowing’ where something is. It usually strikes when I am trying to remember where I have last parked my car, and most inconveniently when I am in a desperate hurry to go somewhere. I usually can’t remember, a debate ensues, which ultimately results in me having to guess. Living smack bang in the middle of my street, there is roughly a 50/50 chance that I have parked the car either to the left, or to the right of my flat. But it is not unheard of for me to occasionally guess wrong, which means that I invariably have to walk back on myself. Sigh – what to do?

The situation wasn’t particularly different when, over coffee the other day, I was trying to tell a foodie friend of mine, D, that the next restaurant on my agenda was the Harwood Arms in Shepherd’s Bush. ‘Oh no, it’s in Fulham’, she said. ‘No, I’m pretty sure it’s in Shepherd’s Bush’, I insisted, and so it went. But now that I have actually been to the Harwood Arms, the consequence of which was that I had to drive to, umm, Fulham, and not Shepherd’s Bush (and this was after finally locating my car), I now have no option but to swallow my words and admit to D that she was correct. Sigh, what to do?

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