Monthly Archives: September 2010

Toku @ Japan Centre, London

Sexy Sashimi

Sexy Sashimi

Another sushi day. I worry that my sushi habit is quickly becoming an addiction. I don’t seem to let a week go by without having a plate of sushi, or dim sum to that matter. Lets face it, I’m just plain addicted to food. Sushi is one of the few foods that I don’t attempt to cook at home. It just seems such a faff and there are plenty of opportunities now to grab some good sushi even outside of London.

I still love the Japan Centre though, it recently moved from a rather pokey mini department store of all things nipponese to a food only store on lower regent street. It is full of every japanese ingredient you may want including sushi grade fish, finished sushi, dim sum and complete chinese lunch boxes such as pork tonkatsu. Next door is the bright and modern Toku restaurant which we visited on opening day. Presumably they didnt get their alcohol licence sorted out in time as we were prompted to buy beers next door at the store and bring them in to drink which was fine.

Tempura served with curry powder

Tempura served with curry powder

We started with a subtly flavoured miso soup with nice big chunks of smoked tofu. We then had a wonderfully fresh plate of sashimi of salmon, tuna and yellowtail served prettily on a bowl of crushed ice. We also had a super generous plate of sushi, fish was firm and fresh and rice not over chilled. The usual suspects were there including lovely salmon eggs and eel. To accompany this we had a portion of ebi tempura which was wonderfully light and greaseless and interestingly was served with the usual dipping sauce and curry powder to sprinkle on.

This is really good sushi and I will definitely be back. It was rather empty on opening day but I’m sure that this will pick up.

Score 8.5/10

Toku, Japan Centre on Urbanspoon

Zaza’s Whitechapel

Mixed Grill

Mixed Grill

Talk about bad timing. We decided to cycle from Clerkenwell to Whitechapel to sample the famous Tayyabs lamb chops. This was during Ramadan and we got there just after fasting broke and a sea of hungry Muslims headed for the green neon of Tayyabs. We were shown inside by someone I assumed worked for the restaurant and we joined the end of a huge queue that snaked around the restaurant. I had to admit that the plates of food being brought out looked spectacular but the fact that the queue so constricted the dinners elbow movements, we decided that it really wouldnt be worth it so we left disappointed.

However our man that showed us in seemed to know what to do with overflow diners and told us about a similar restaurant that had opened on the Whitechapel Road. He gave us directions and we headed there but I was a bit suspicious of his motives thinking that he probably got a kick back from the restaurant and mentioned to Rich that we should perhaps go to Lahore Kebab House, but unknown to me our man was walking behind us and literally insisted on delivering us to the restaurant. When we got there things looked up. It was full of locals enjoying breaking their fasts and we were shown to the most spectacularly wobbly table I have ever sat at.

This was soon fixed by efficient waiters and we started with a mango lassi (no alcohol allowed) which was served in the steel cups that they were prepared in, they were creamily delicious. Feeling like the only outsiders we compounded this by ordering poppadoms (I know!) and mixed grill. The poppadoms were fried and horribly greasy. The pickle tray majored on raw onion and was not particularly impressive but I’m guessing that they rarely served it to locals. The mixed grill however was spectacular. Probably not as good as Tayyabs but extremely enjoyable. It consisted of lamb chops, lamb kofte, chicken tikka and wings marinated in a spicy yoghurt sauce and grilled to a good char.

Keema Lamb

Keema Lamb

For main course we had chicken sag and keema. Both dishes appeared worryingly quickly and were disappointing. My keema was very salty and Rich’s chicken tasted pretty generic and didnt have a fresh zing.

Throughout staff were pleasant and we were made to feel very welcome. It was pretty cheap and the waiter looked suprised to be tipped. I wonder if that happened often. I probably wouldn’t go back as only the mixed grill was good and I’m sure Tayyabs do it better.

Score 6.5/10

Zaza’s Grill

108 A Whitechapel Road, London, E1 1JE

Giant Robot – Clerkenwell, London

Good 'balls!

Good 'balls!

When I first moved to Clerkenwell, one of the draws was its proximity to Islington and its numerous eateries. In truth I rarely head there to eat preferring to try out some of the fine restaurants nearby. The Clerkenwell set are notoriously cool and fickle so new bars are extremely busy for the first few weeks and Giant Robot was no exception.

We cycled down from the flat (Thanks Boris!) and parked up right nearby. It was pretty busy as expected on a Friday night but we had a hold on the next table and had our cocktails down in the bar area. The cocktail waiters are extremely diligent and made two great Mojitos and one lethal Dirty Martini. The room is achingly trendy with a 50’s diner feel and huge lit menu boards like the title boards outside of a cinema.

Inside the Robot

Inside the Robot

The menu is eclectic to say the least. Meatballs, sliders, salami, cheese. Kind of like food that you would grab from the fridge before you sit down for you favourite movie. Which is not a criticism at all especially when the food is done this well. We settled on the crostini starters and large meatballs and spaghetti for main. The crostini each had complicated toppings which I can’t recall probably because they were instantly forgettable and rather poor value. The meatballs and pasta were excellent though. Hand rolled meaty meatballs, perfectly cooked pasta in a spicy rich tomato sauce. Kind of like the sort of after work supper that a friend who knows how to cook would serve you. Again, this is a good thing! No room for pud so did wobbly cycle back to flat.

Will definitely return, especially as local residents get a discount card loaded with £20 instant credit to spend in the bar!

Score 7.5/10

Giant Robot on Urbanspoon

My Old Dutch Pancake House – London

My Old Dutch Pancakes

My Old Dutch Pancakes

A late train down to a torrential London meant shortly after meeting Simon at Holborn station we had to literally run to the nearest eatery. I used an app for my iPhone called Vouchercloud which listed the usual suspects such as Strada and Pizza Express but interestingly threw up ‘My Old Dutch’ pancake restaurant which was a short sprint away. Are the Dutch really famous for their pancakes?

We were welcomed warmly and after depositing brollies we were shown to our table in a surprisingly full room. On our way to the table I was amazed by the mind boggling size of the plates and the huge pancakes that were balanced on top.

Chilli con carne pancake

Chilli con carne pancake

The menu is decidedly odd. Split into Sweet and Savoury the idea presumably is to have one of each but the portion size would mean skipping lunch to attempt this. I went for the mexican which was stuffed with a pretty tasty home made chilli con carne and sides of tortilla chips, guacamole and sour cream. Simon had the My Old Dutch which is bacon, chicken, ham, corn cheese etc etc. Rich had the seafood special which looked pretty gross and had tuna, prawns and olives on a tomato sauce base. He also asked for capers and anchovies which I presume he regretted as I watched him scrape them off and leave them in a neat pile on the corner of the plate. Basically the pancake is turned into the base of the pizza and toppings are generously applied. Simon finished with a waffle with ice cream and hot fudge sauce which we watched him eat partly jealously, partly disgusted with him and we got the bill. They doubled up my 10% voucher to 20 so all in all it was a very reasonable deal.

Score 7/10

131-132 High Holborn
Holborn
London
WC1V 6PS

Tel: 020 7242 5200

Nearest Tube: Holborn Station – Piccadilly Line & Central Line

Opening Hours
Mon-Sat 11:00-23:00
Sunday 11.00-22.00