"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!"

School of Wok – Woking with Jeremy Pang

Posted on Friday, 18th November 2016

SCHOOL OF WOK

School of Wok in Covent Garden has been doing some fine work in recent years. Founded by Jeremy Pang who comes from a long line of Chinese restaurateurs, School of Wok has been running for about 4 years and is one of the few Chinese Cookery Schools in the UK. Before opening School of Wok, Jeremy was already teaching students Chinese cookery at homes, trying to share with them the true essence of Chinese cooking. His enthusiasm of the subject matter is striking and is a testament to why School of Wok has seen such success.

School of Wok - London Food Blog - Woking with Jeremy Pang

School of Wok – Woking with Jeremy Pang

Last week I attended an event at the School of Wok to learn some wok skills from Jeremy. The class was called “Understanding the Wok” and was to showcase the new Dexam School of Wok wok range, made by Dexam in consultation with Jeremy. The woks are made with carbon steel to heat up quickly and bamboo handles for easy handling. What’s more, the woks are light, to enable the cook to lift the wok and easily toss the food!

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The Frog Restaurant

Posted on Saturday, 12th November 2016

THE FROG RESTAURANT

The Frog is the latest restaurant by Adam Handling, one of the most notable young chefs on the London restaurant scheme. He first came to fame as a finalist in the 2013 series of Professional Masterchef and was the youngest person to be tipped by the Caterer magazine as one of the ‘30 under 30 to watch’ in the 2013 Acorn Awards. In September 2014, he became the head chef at The Caxton Grill by Adam Handling in the St Ermin’s Hotel, a fine dining establishment for which he was awarded three AA rosettes. Adam was also recently featured in ‘The World’s Best Food Magazine’ FOUR, as the ‘one to watch’ for 2016.

With The Frog, Adam brings his love of Asian flavours and techniques to his menu which is very in vogue, with small sharing a la carte dishes priced at around £10 each, as well as a daily-changing tasting menu priced at £45 per head. The restaurant itself, located in Shoreditch, is much more low key and rather eclectic in taste. The floors are concrete and the finishings are bare. It feels grungy, made somewhat odder by the mismatched outdoor space perched under an awning.

The food was very good, and in some places great. There was lots of skill and flair on show, even if I did occasionally find the dishes somewhat heavily seasoned in parts. We had the tasting menu which began with a number of canape sized snacks. The first was chorizo, cheese and onion, a lovely and crispy croqueta made with chorizo and served with treacle for a touch of sweetness and some onion puree for contrast.

Other snacks included a delicious and freshly dressed crab with seaweed and green apple. This too was tasty if a tad salty. My favourite of the snacks was a beef tartar with egg yolk perched upon a beer cracker. The beef was meltingly tender and packed a punchy flavour. Warm bread made from hackney flour followed, served with a delectable chicken butter.

The Frog - London Food Blog - Crab, seaweed, apple

The Frog – Crab, seaweed, apple

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Raffles Hotel Le Royal Phnom Penh

Posted on Saturday, 5th November 2016

RAFFLES HOTEL LE ROYAL PHNOM PENH

Raffles Hotel Le Royal Phnom Penh was built for luxury, and for years has been THE premier hotel in the Cambodian capital. The colonial design of the hotel – an artistic combination of Khmer, art deco and French influences – has instilled it with a sense of gracious elegance. The hotel opened in 1929, and since then it has been the ‘go-to’ hotel for many famous guests. It was once the only place that the Cambodian Royal Family would invite their foreign dignitaries to stay at, including the former American First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in 1967.

Raffles Hotel Le Royal Phnom Penh - London Food Blog

Raffles Hotel Le Royal Phnom Penh

Raffles Hotel Le Royal Phnom Penh is located a short distance from the city centre, across the road from the American embassy. This landmark luxury hotel offers easy access to the Central Market and the local sights of Wat Phnom, the Royal Palace and the National Museum. Other must dos in Phnom Penh include the “Killing Fields” memorials, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Choeung Ek Museum, both of which offer much insight into the genocide during the years of the Pol Pot regime. These are also easily accessible by tuk-tuk or taxi from the hotel.

Raffles Hotel Le Royal Phnom Penh - London Food Blog

Raffles Hotel Le Royal Phnom Penh

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Lao Cafe – Laotian masterclass

Posted on Friday, 28th October 2016

A few weeks ago I attended a masterclass in Lao cuisine hosted by Saiphin Moore, Chef and Co-Owner of Rosa’s Thai Cafe at the School of Wok. Born to a native Lao family in Thailand, Saiphin has a diverse understanding of both Thai and Laotian cuisine. And on the back of her success of her pop-up restaurant Lao Cafe earlier this year, Saiphin will open a new Laotian restaurant called Lao Cafe at 60 Chandos Place in Covent Garden later this year.

I love Laotian food for its freshness, spiciness, herby fragrance, acidity and other things nice such as ginger and garlic. I travelled through Laos last year and therefore had a great chance to taste the best of Laos – you can read about my Laotian eating experiences in Luang Prabang in Laos last year in this blog post here. But more to the subject at hand – on the night of the masterclass Saiphin took us through some of her classic family recipes including free-range chicken soup with black sesame seeds, mixed mushrooms curry with ant’s eggs, and the most classic of Laotian dishes, a salad of laab pork Laos style.

Lao Cafe - London Food Blog - Chicken soup

Lao Cafe – Chicken soup

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Koji – Visit no. 2

Posted on Friday, 21st October 2016

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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Lonely Planet and KinoVino – A Journey Across Spain

Posted on Friday, 14th October 2016

Lonely Planet, one of the planet’s most well-known travel books, has launched a series of cookbooks called From the Source that aim to discover the classics of various countries, right from their source. The first is From the Source Spain (£19.99), which offers a collection of mouth-watering regional classics gathered from the some of the best cooks in Spain. This highly versatile book also seeks to show the diversity of Spanish cooking by showcasing recipes ranging from local home comfort cooking to high-end Michelin fine dining, thereby offering a little something for everyone.

Lonely Planet - From the Source Spain

Lonely Planet – From the Source Spain

Recipes include dishes such as one of my all time favourites and one of the most revered Spanish dishes, Paella Valenciana (paella with chicken and rabbit), a selection of pintxos (Basque tapas), and cochinillo (suckling pig).

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Mestizo

Posted on Tuesday, 11th October 2016

MESTIZO

Last month, Mestizo, Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar, celebrated Día de la Independencia (The Mexican Independence Day) with a special gastronomic week. One of the most traditional, authentic Mexican restaurants in London, the week was designed by Mestizio to showcase the diversity and depth of Mexican food by curating a regionally inspired menu that took guests on a culinary journey around Mexico. For this purpose, the menu included such dishes as pescadillas from Guerrero, to a warming Pollo con Mole from the highlands of Puebla, to the Mexican lamb stews from Birria.

Gastronomic Week at Mestizo is long over, but it was still a good opportunity to experience one of the most authentic Mexican dining experiences one can get in London. Mestizo first opened its doors in 2004, and has long been one of the leading ambassadors of Mexican food in London, often championing this diverse cuisine through special gastronomic events such as the Gastronomic Week seen last month and other events organised in conjunction with the Mexican Embassy. Moreover, Mestizo, has the largest tequila selection in the UK (some 260+) and is proud to share the Mexican’s love of its iconic national spirit through the various tequila Masterclasses, tequila tasting experiences or ‘Tequila and food pairing experiences’ at Mestizo.

Mestizo - London Food Blog - Tequila Bar

Mestizo – Tequila Bar

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Cha Chaan Teng

Posted on Monday, 3rd October 2016

CHA CHAAN TENG

Note: KK from Russian Revels and I (Agirlhastoeat) attended a bloggers dinner at Cha Chaan Teng together. This is a guest blog post written predominantly by KK, with input from myself.

Meet Jeremy Pang, the man behind School of Wok, a British Chinese guy with generations before him who have cooked and worked in Chinese restaurants. Chinese cookery is in his blood, and having opened his own Chinese cookery school, he is now also the consultant chef of Cha Chaan Teng, an unashamedly ‘inauthentic playful’ take on the popular Hong Kong tea houses (cha chaan teng translates literally as ‘tea restaurant’) which began springing up in Hong Kong in the 1950s. Effectively ‘Chinese-style Western food’ (and not Westernised Chinese food), they are a Hong Kong institution in themselves, serving a form of fast food that where diners can eat quickly and leave. Given its popularity in Hong Kong, surprisingly, this is the first ‘cha chaan teng’ of its kind in London.

Housed discretely in the basement of the never-quite-upcoming Holborn, Cha Chaan Teng is a glitzy affair, combining the comforts of booth seating with glamour of the huge mirrored bar and white lanterns. Style-wise, it is a far cry from the cha chaan tengs you get in Hong Kong. You’re not just going to be drinking tea here, darling! Already in the second week of opening, there was a buzz with an eclectic mix of people in crowd. What a great start to a new restaurant opening.

We attended a bloggers dinner, dining on a banquet chosen by Jeremy himself, around a tall round table with two lazy susans in the middle (which were a bit too lazy as they almost didn’t move too well!) Generosity and sharing are part of a traditional Chinese meal, no matter how far the recipes have travelled. There’s a huge disclaimer on the menu that the menu at Cha Chaan Teng isn’t intended to be authentic (whatever authentic ‘Chinese-style Western food’ is), and so we tried not to compare to the food might have tasted like in Hong Kong. Even so, it was fun to think back to Agirlhastoeat’s childhood years spent back in Hong Kong when she use to eat in a cha chaan teng as a child. However nostalgia can play a part in defining one’s connectedness to the food eaten. As for the menu itself, it draws inspiration from some classic cha chaan teng staples such as French toast and macaroni soup, as well as a smattering of other Chinese dishes.

Before we began stuffing our faces, Jeremy gathered us up to show how bao buns, the steamed rice buns that have been so trendy in London lately, are made. We prodded, sniffed and stretched the brilliant white dough, to get the feel for this all-important base food. Special, super fine, flour is often used (often bleached back in Hong Kong, a technique which is banned in the UK). Jeremy’s team had spent weeks perfecting that one skill of making bao. In themselves the buns are rather bland, all the better for carrying fillings with strong flavours.

We were ‘allowed’ to choose our little appetizers, either bao or a crusty roll. Our duck bao with hoisin sauce, cucumber and carrot pickle (£5.50) was a lovely mini manifestation of the classic high street staple of crispy duck. It was a good flavour, if a bit too dry.

Cha Chaan Teng - London Food Blog - Crispy duck bao

Cha Chaan Teng – London Food Blog – Crispy duck bao

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