Monday, April 22, 2013

Lima: Authentic Peruvian Cuisine in Fitzrovia

Shortly after my first experience of Peruvian cuisine at Coya, I got a chance to visit Lima, another Peruvian restaurant in Fitzrovia. The two couldn't be more different. Coya is all glitz and glamour, chandeliers and sumptuous surroundings, luring you to spend all your money while Lima has a more wholesome, authentic feel to it with all the focus on the food. The restaurant space has a simple clean design, the service is friendly and Lima seems to modestly downplay the fact that they have quite a prestigious pedigree with chef Virgilio Martinez.  Virgilio Martinez  is chef-patron of Central and previously executive chef at Astrid y Gastón – both highly rated restaurants in Lima, Peru.

Scallop Tiradito & in the background, Sea Bream Ceviche

I went a little overboard at Lima. Having fallen in love with ceviches and tiraditos at Coya and comforted by the fact that the prices at Lima are a bit cheaper, I took this as licence to order as much as I could. I like how the menu in Lima is short and concise – Coya has extensive menu which can be confusing and redundant at times.

I absolutely loved the Scallop Tiradito - slightly sweet scallops drenched in this gorgeous vibrant yellow aji pepper sauce. The Sea Bream Ceviche was brilliant as well – raw fish in Tiger’s milk (a citrus marinade of lime and chilli peppers) with red onion and corn. 

Attempting to eat lightly I decided to have the organic Salmon Tiradito as a main while my dinner companion had the Hake with Rocoto pepper served on bed of potatoes. I had a bite of his dish and wished I had more! It was much too small a bite.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Wild Honey: Pricey Modern European restaurant in Mayfair

Main course: Roast chicken and in the background,
Slow cooked Ox tongue

Wild Honey is known for their French inspired menu which uses seasonal British ingredients. The restaurant on a quiet street near New Bond Street in Mayfair and has a slightly low-key appearance from the outside. Inside you’re transported to an old-fashioned gentlemen’s club with warm wood-panels, comfy leather booths and striking paintings on the walls.

I decided to be adventurous and have the Lamb sweetbreads with sheep’s curd, spinach and fennel as a starter while my dinner companion went for the Scottish crab with avocado and green mango. The sweetbreads were tender and the sauce slight sweet and as far cooking thymus glands go, these were done quite well. I also tried a bit of my companion’s starter which I really liked – you can’t go wrong with fresh crab paired with avocado.

For the mains, we switched a bit and I played it safe with Roast chicken with morels and gnocchi which was nice but nothing spectacular and I struggled to finish the plate. My companion had a much more livelier dish of slow cooked Ox Tongue. I've never had ox tongue before but based on my experience of trying lamb tongue at St Johns, I was quite convinced I wouldn't like this dish. Nonetheless I have to say it was cooked well with a pleasing texture.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Roka: Sleek and Stylish Japanese cuisine in Canary Wharf

Roka is one of the more popular Japanese restaurants in London. With excellent food and a sleek stylish ambiance, everyone wants a piece of it - so much so, that I’ve never been able to get a reservation at their restaurant in Fitzrovia. Then they opened another Roka in the high-rise little isolated island of Canary Wharf which makes it so much more easier for anyone who works (or shockingly even lives) in Canary Wharf to sneak in a reservation without waiting the usual two weeks.

Roka Canary wharf Gin Fizz Girl

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Coya: Fine Dining Peruvian Style in Mayfair

 Our dinner at Coya was superbly awesome! I’ll be honest, I went expecting it to be a bit over-hyped, possible pretentious and terribly expensive. It is rather reminiscent of dining at Nobu or Zuma. But despite the high price tag, Coya scored well by  showcasing good quality ingredients, beautiful creative plates of food and the right atmosphere and service to ensure you’re having the best possible dining experience.

You enter one of the townhouses on Picadilly opposite Green Park, walk down the stairs into a cavernous basement which holds a huge dining space.  To be honest, it didn't start on a good note as we ended up sitting next to a couple who were talking incredibly loudly. I started feeling intensely cranky about the whole situation while my friend valiantly tried to keep up the conversation but it was of no avail – we couldn't beat that decibel level and fell silent. The thought of being forced to listen to this non-stop flow of inane conversation for the rest of the night freaked me out and as politely as I could, with desperate begging eyes, I asked the waitress if we could move. And thankfully she understood and moved us to another table. So 10 points to Coya just for that single act of kindness.