Posts for the 'Soho' Category


Oliver Maki

OLIVER MAKI

Oliver Maki, a Japanese restaurant located on Dean Street, Soho, was founded by Lebanese-Canadian Oliver Maki and his family. The Zeitoun family come from a long line of olive grove farmers (Zeitoun means ‘olive’ in Arabic) and the influence of olives can be felt throughout the restaurant, from the impressions of olive trees on the mirrors in the restaurant, to the use of the word Oliver in the restaurant’s name (alluding to the word olive). But even so, the restaurant is about combining the traditions of Japanese food with modernity. At the helm is Executive Head Chef Louis Kenji Huang, formerly a sushi chef at Nobu in Las Vegas.

Oliver Maki has a number of branches throughout the Middle East, and the Soho branch is the first in Europe. The restaurant is set on two levels and is modern, understated, chic and comfortable.

The menu is deal for sharing and is divided into various sections, ranging from the Cold and Hot Appetisers, to the signature sashimi to the mains, but to name a few. The first was Filo Ebi Tempura Shots (£12.90), consisting of three beautifully presented pieces of prawn, wrapped and fried in vermicelli rather than the traditional batter, and served semi-submerged in a spicy creamy sauce in a shot glass. The prawns were perfectly cooked and worked well with the hint of chilli in the sauce. On the side was a yamamomo peach which was a nice accompaniment as it offered a touch of acidity.

Oliver Maki - London Food Blog - Shrimp tempura shot

Oliver Maki – Shrimp tempura shot

Hamachi Chilli Sashimi (£10.90), slices of yellowtail dressed with ponzu, extra virgin olive oil, slices of jalapeño and coriander cress proved to be very tasty and well presented. The yellowtail was fresh, but had been cut quite thin, perhaps a touch too thin, but it went well with the acidity of the ponzu and the hint of chilli.

Oliver Maki - London Food Blog - Yellowtail sashimi

Oliver Maki – Yellowtail sashimi

Unagi Tacos (2pcs – £8.60) was a fine dish using chopped eel, avocado, spring onions, cucumber and wasabi emulsion, the use of which combining to create a lovely explosion of flavours on the tongue. The tacos themselves were a little too thick in texture, but otherwise this was a very enjoyable dish.

Oliver Maki - London Food Blog - Eel taco & nigiri

Oliver Maki – Eel taco & nigiri

We tried a selection of nigiri including sea bass (£3.50), a nicely proportioned piece of fresh seabass on well vinegared rice. The aburi o-toro (£6.50), a torched flame fatty tuna was delicious, although the aburi wagyu beef (£8) was decidedly chewy and difficult to eat.

For maki we chose the interesting sounding wagyu burger maki (6pcs) (£18.00) made from Australian wagyu with a mushroom sauce, avocado, Japanese pickles, tomato and cucumber on a base of rice. We weren’t particularly impressed with this dish. Expecting a more luxurious texture from the fat content that is typically found in wagyu, we found the beef to be a tad dry.

Oliver Maki - London Food Blog - Wagyu maki

Oliver Maki – Wagyu maki

To the mains, and a matcha yuki udon (£13.70) consisted of stir fried homemade green tea udon with thinly sliced scallops, shiitake, black truffle oil and dill. The scallops were over cooked and overall the dish was very salty, resulting in the flavour of the truffle oil being lost. Conceptually the idea was good, but the execution could have been better.

Oliver Maki - London Food Blog - Green tea udon

Oliver Maki -Green tea udon

Gindara (black cod) shiitake (£27), a dish of miso grilled black cod with shiitake, was a very well cooked dish. The fish was moist and succulent, and the miso sauce was lovely and rich.

Oliver Maki - London Food Blog - Black cod

Oliver Maki – Black cod

For dessert we opted for the Terrarium matcha tiramisu (£8) made up of fresh mascarpone, white and dark chocolate, green tea, and “rock” chocolate on the side (chocolate made to resemble the appearance of a piece of rock). Served in an elongated see-through glass jar, the presentation was made to look like a garden and was very appealing. What’s more, it tasted delicious, although there was some unevenness in how the tiramisu had been layered.

Oliver Maki - London Food Blog - Green tea tiramisu

Oliver Maki – Green tea tiramisu

From the mochi (£3 per piece) selection we chose green tea, mango and toasted sesame. These were excellent with the right level of consistency in the rice casing and each filled with delicious and well-made ice cream.

Oliver Maki - London Food Blog - Mochi

Oliver Maki – Mochi

Oliver Maki makes a nice mark in the world of Japanese fusion cuisine, balancing traditional Japanese food with a contemporary culinary approach. On the whole, the food was well prepared, interesting and affordably priced, especially for a Soho location. The menu including the drink menu was very extensive, meaning diners are spoilt for choice. There were a few elements in the food that we didn’t like (avoid the wagyu), but overall there was a high level of consistency in the well judged cooking.

We liked the service, finding it very effective and appealing.

Summary Information:
Likes:
1. Filo Ebi Tempura Shots
2. Unagi Tacos
3. Hamachi Chilli Sashimi
4. The matcha tiramisu
5. The mochi

Dislikes:
1. Aburi wagyu beef nigiri
2. Wagyu burger maki
3. Matcha yuki udon

Food rating: 3.75/5
Service rating: 3.5/5

Prices: about £40 to £50 per head. Excludes drinks and service.

Website: http://www.olivermaki.co.uk/

Square Meal

Oliver Maki Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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Bo Drake

BO DRAKE

Found in the heart of Soho, Bo Drake is the brainchild of Jan Lee (a former chef de partie at Roka). Bo Drake opened at the start of 2015 and is a modern East Asian restaurant with a Korean-style anju bar. It draws predominantly from Korean and Japanese inspirations with a bit of a European twist thrown in. The result is a contemporary experience that combines, for example, the sweet and pickled influences from Asia with slow-cooked BBQ methods of the West.

The interior can be best described as a sleek casual hipster joint, with exposed bricks, pipes and tungsten lamps. The centrepiece is the bar fashioned from iroko with tall bar stools. Alongside it is simple wooden tables and there is a small dining area at the back.

On the whole Bo Drake offered a fine eating experience. The dishes were well presented, nicely cooked and creatively constructed. The menu is essentially a sharing one, with la carte dishes priced at around £10. It was an enticing menu, covering a good choice of smalls, meat, fish, veg, bowls and sides.

We began with some smalls. The first was the bugolgi beef sliders (2pc – £10.80) which were excellent and the star dish of the day. The minced beef was succulent and moist, and had been topped with some delicious caramelised red onions and crispy pancetta, all sitting in a warm and gently toasted brioche bun. It was well presented with some miso mayo on the side which was tasty.

Bo Drake - London Food Blog - Bugolgi beef sliders

Bo Drake – Bugolgi beef sliders

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Social Eating House

Located in the heart of Soho on Poland Street, Social Eating House was the third restaurant in the portfolio of celebrated Michelin starred chef Jason Atherton, once a protégé of Gordon Ramsay.

Set over three floors with a basement chef’s table, a group floor restaurant and a top floor bar, Social Eating House offers a contemporary bistro menu and currently holds one Michelin star. I loved Jason Atherton’s food when he was still cooking under Gordon Ramsay at Maze, before he got financing and expanded internationally. His restaurants can now be found not only in London, but also in Asia, New York and as far afield as Sydney. It’s not easy to maintain high standards when chefs expand so rapidly. Too often I find that with such expansion the food develops a formulaic feel to it and lacks the sense of heart and substance that won the chef his accolades in the first place.

We went to Social Eating House and dined on the special prix-fix menu which was priced at £29.50 for 2 courses and a cocktail or £34.50 for 3 courses. The vibe was informal and quite buzzy, with a fun and funky energy. It was all very nice if a little too noisy. We found the experience to be acceptable relative to the price we paid, but didn’t find it particularly special for a Michelin starred restaurant. Sure we only had the prix-fix menu, but we hadn’t expected to find errors in the food.

Starter number one was the Normandy chicken with BBQ sweet corn, popcorn, strozzapreti pasta and laksa sauce. The chicken was pleasantly cooked, but the sauce was quite strong which ended up overpowering the chicken. There was also quite a lot of the sauce which didn’t help matters. Moreover the sauce hadn’t been heated up properly and so was slightly cold. I didn’t much like the popcorn in the dish either – it did not taste as it had been freshly popped. However the pasta was lovely.

Social Eating House - London Food Blog - Chicken with laksa sauce

Social Eating House – Chicken with laksa sauce

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Hoppers

Sri Lankan restaurant Hoppers is the latest successful story by the Sethi siblings, the team also behind Gymkhana, Trishna and Bao, Located on Frith Street, Hoppers takes over from what was once Koya. Hoppers is named after the Sri Lankan food of the same name, a fermented rice and coconut milk pancake shaped like a bowl which serves as the accompaniment for other Sri Lankan dishes.

Hoppers is a no-frills sort of restaurant. It operates a no reservations policy so the queues can be long. We waited for an hour and 15 minutes, but the wait times can vary of course as on a previous attempt to visit the restaurant we were told the wait was to be 2 hours.

But Hoppers was well worth the wait. The food was great, and what’s more, it was also very good value for money. The highlight of our meal at Hoppers was, without a doubt, the bone marrow varuval with roti (£6). Beautifully roasted bone marrow had been smothered with a glorious coconut based curry made from toasted rice and coconut cream. This dish was divine, with the rich, sumptuousness of the fatty bone marrow marrying beautifully with the flavoursome, well spiced and lusciously creamy curry. The roti was well made and was perfect for mopping up all the sauce. We enjoyed this so much we went for seconds. This was a 5/5 dish for me.

Hoppers - London Food Blog - Bone marrow

Hoppers – Bone marrow

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Morada Brindisa Asador – Calcotada

Morada Brindisa Asador is part of the Brindisa family, but instead of focusing on tapas, it brings Castilian tradition to London with an emphasis on roasting meats in an “asador”- a vast wood fired oven.

Morada Brindisa Asador - London Food Blog

Morada Brindisa Asador

We attended a traditional calҫotada earlier this month, held at the restaurant only on weekends in February and March. A calҫot is a Catalan onion, described as a vegetable somewhere between a spring onion and a leek. We could have never imagined this vegetable could be such a highlight in the delicious, social gathering that the calҫotada is.

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Zelman Meats

Zelman Meats is part of the Goodman Restaurant Group, the team behind the Goodman steakhouses in Mayfair, the City and Canary Wharf, as well as the hugely successful Burger and Lobster chain. It takes over the spot which was once Rex & Mariano, also another venture from the Goodman Restaurant Group. At Rex & Mariano, the focus was reasonably priced seafood which unfortunately didn’t take off. With Zelman’s Meats, the group has shifted its focus to meat, but again with an eye on reasonable pricing.
The décor at Zelman’s Meat is sleek with a tinge of industrial chic. The restaurant is spacious with an open kitchen, dark red leather booth seating, industrial-style lighting and exposed ventilation. In place of traditional paper menus are blackboards on the wall with that day’s offerings. There are three main cuts of meat, picanha (£6 per 100g), chateaubriand (£9 per 100g) and ribs (£12 per piece). The first two are priced by weight with the minimum portion size being 200g.

We ordered the sliced picanha and the chateaubriand, and we enjoyed both of them. The beef came out medium rare, was well seasoned and boasted of a robust charred flavour. Although both cuts of meat were tasty, the chateaubriand was unsurprisingly the better of the two. It had a better flavour as well as being the more tender. We also ordered some sauces to go with the beef, these being the bernaise (75p) and the chimichurri (75p). The bernaise was good with a nice hint of acidity, however the chimichurri was bland.

Zelman Meats - London Food Blog - Picanha & chateaubriand

Zelman Meats – Picanha & chateaubriand

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Bao

BAO

Bao, the Taiwanese sensation that is the talk of Soho, was everything that I expected it to be and more. Bao serves BAOs, Chinese steamed buns with a variety of fillings plus a number of other Taiwanese specialties. It’s a no frills kinda place, simply decorated, tiny and cramped with little wooden stools. Yet all this matters not when you taste the sensational flavours that Bao dishes up. Little wonder that there are constant queues lasting for upwards of an hour out front.

Bao came from humble beginnings, more specifically from a Taiwanese trio in their twenties (including a brother and sister). The three first set up a food stall in North-East London and quickly gained a loyal following. Enter, the Sethi family as backers, the people behind the Michelin starred Trishna, Gymkhana and Lyle’s, and Bao on Lexington Street was born.

Everything was really, really good, but the classic bao (£3.75) with slow braised pork belly, preserved vegetables and peanut powder was my favourite. The pork was superbly tender with a lovely sweet tenderness to it. The bun was light, airy and sweet, and I loved the aroma and nuttiness that the peanut powder provided. Finally, the preserved vegetables added a touch of acidity to cut through some of the richness of the pork. This was nothing short of spectacular.

BAO - London Food Blog - Classic bao

BAO – Classic bao

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Antidote

ANTIDOTE

We had a gorgeous meal at Antidote Wine Bar recently, a lovely little number just off Carnaby Street in the heart of Soho. Although a wine bar, there is a strong focus on food at Antidote as well. Antidote’s Head Chef is Michael Hazelwood, who cooks under the guidance of Mikael Jonsson, the Chef Patron of Hedone. More than just a one Michelin star restaurant, Hedone is also ranked as the number 60 restaurant on the ‘World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ list.

On the ground floor is an all day wine bar offering cheese, charcuterie and small plates, and on the first floor is the restaurant which offers both an a la carte and a tasting menu. The wine list focuses mainly on French wines with a select few options from other countries. All the wines at Antidote are organic and biodynamic with no artificial additives used.

Our excellent meal began with some lovely breads and butter from Hedone. Mikael Jonsson studied the art of bread baking with one of the finest bakers in France, Alex Croquet, and much has been written about the bread at Hedone. Suffice to say, the bread was delicious with a light springy texture.

Antidote - London Food Blog - Breads by Hedone

Antidote – Breads by Hedone

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