Recently, I have a big craving for both Korean foods and bun (which is more or less Chinese foods), so I decided to go to On the Bab - one of the restaurant on my extensive lists of where to go in London. Apparently, the lovely seasonings and flavorings of On the Bab are what differ it (a fusion Korean restaurant) from other traditional restaurants like Kimchee. So if you love to dig in a tray full of hotly-fried chicken and tasty bun, On the Bab in Covent Garden is the place to head to.
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Restaurant of the Week
Dozo South Kensington
Address: 68 Old Brompton Street, South Kensington, London, UK SW7 3LQ (nearest tube station: South Kensington)
Opening hour: Monday - Wednesday: 12pm - 3pm and 6pm - 10:30pm, Thursday - Friday: 12pm - 3pm and 6pm - 11pm, Saturday: 12pm - 11pm and Sunday: 12pm - 10pm
Telephone: 020 7225 0505
Address: 32 Old Compton Street, Soho, London, England W1D 4TP (nearest tube station: Leicester Square)
Opening hour: Monday - Wednesday: 12pm-3pm, 6pm - 10:30pm, Thursday - Friday: 12pm - 3pm, 6pm - 11pm, Saturday: 12pm - 11pm and Sunday: 12pm - 10:30pm
Telephone: 020 7434 3219
After I took my family to Dozo in Soho, my sister insisted on coming back to try again Volcano Maki, and without hesitation, we would come back to taste it again, despite the fact that I remember every single element of this dish now. Volcano Maki dish (Seared Eel, leeks, bonito flakes, eel sauce, avocado, mayonnaise, and cucumber) (£15.80) always receives tremendous compliment from both my family and friends. Even though it seems a bit pricey for only 8 small pieces, I can guarantee it has brilliant value for the quality and presentation of food. The food was freshly-made, and if you sit near enough to the food counter, you can take a look at how the food is prepared, cooked and presented beautifully. As the name suggests, the dish is like an explosion of tastiness. The combination of seared eel, fish roe, avocado and cucumber went perfectly well with the deliciously creamy mayonnaise sauce underneath. The sauce was so tasty that we kept eating everything else with it. Every element of the maki was so nice individually, not least when being put together. Next, I chose for myself Unagi Don (Grilled fresh Eel with eel sauce on rice) (£14.80) which was also a very nice dish, although I admit it is a bit expensive for 4 pieces of eel. Despite those facts, it tasted super amazing, particularly the eel. The skin was crispy and aromatic, and the meat was appetizing with the sauce. Also, even the Japanese rice was fragrant and the Miso soup served with the rice was very fresh. If you go to Dozo from Monday to Friday for lunch, the price for this dish will be lower for the same portion of food. Moreover, its Sashimi was particularly fresh, and I wondered how they could get that tasty seafood even though England is not so famous for tuna and salmon.
Address: 31 Camden Passage, London N1 8EA, UK
Opening hour: Sunday - Wednesday: 8am - 10pm, Thursday - Saturday: 8am - 11pm
Telephone: 020 7226 5454
I am not a morning person, so I either grab anything that I see on the table for a breakfast-on-the-go or treat myself a very decent meal in the morning. Stepping out of my bedroom in the morning takes me much courage, so having breakfast in a place as cozy as home holds much attraction, such as one that I just had in The Breakfast Club (TBC) the other day. TBC is not a new name in the field, with specialties like Pancake with Bacon and Maple Syrup, and Eggs Benedict being the subject of talks among my foodie friends from time to time.
The Breakfast Club has the winning formula: unpretentious and homey atmosphere, brilliant American comfort foods as well as welcoming service. One could not help being wakened up by the loveliness of TBC in every corner of it. As many people might do, we, a group of four, ordered Eggs Royale, the All American, Breakfast Burrito, and Pancake with Bacon and Maple Syrup, each averagely cost about 9-10 pounds. I am not the biggest fan of Eggs Royale here, since my heart has belonged to the one and only in Number Four in Shrewsbury. Its Hollandaise sauce was a bit too tangy and not rich enough for me.
However, it is the feast of the remaining dishes and a jumbo cup of hot chocolate with marshmallow that completely took my heart away. Not many things in lives are as satisfying as digging yourself into a combination that you have never thought it would be possible: bacon and maple syrup – the two grandest representations of the opposition of saltiness and sweetness. My cousin did not get used to this idea even after tasting it, but I found it totally worth a try, especially for someone who likes to take on a culinary venture. It is odd at the first bite, but the saltiness of the bacon is masked by the sweetness of maple syrup. Also strangely indeed, the bacon here is totally the opposite to what I always hate about bacon which are salty, hard and burnt. Also, unlike the normal sausage you may have in England, the sausage in the All American dish was not floury and I can even finish the whole sausage in one go without any difficulty.
If I could say which factor makes diners everywhere flock to TBC, it must be the creative design and interior which brings a comfortable and home-like feeling to anyone who steps in. A breakfast in TBC is more than enough to keep you from the blues of Monday morning.
Address: 2D Quang Trung Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Opening hour: 10 am - 2am
Telephone: 096 5511 5 58
Everybody feels intimidated from time to time when someone invites them to a Japanese restaurant, because I am sure your wallet will not be the same after you walk out the door. However, I have recently found one serving delectable signature foods of the "Land of the Rising Sun" without costing you a fortune. Many dishes are in small servings, so whether you go alone, as a couple, or with more people, you can find your fit. After two times here, the foods that attract me the most with both its looks and taste are Seaweed Salad served with Crab roe (90,000 dong) - crunchy and fresh, US Beef Bacon Hot pot - tender beef slices and nice broth with a lot of vegetables and mushroom and Plate of 5-type Sashimi (including Salmon, Octopus, Surf Clam, Herring and Tuna; 350,000 dong) - my sister recommended this. Apparently, it could not have the perfect taste of those in all high-class Japanese restaurants, but I think its quality surpasses the price. The restaurant is in a modern style in which you have lunch or dinner in a big room with other customers, rather than having your private room like you sometimes see in a old-styled Japanese restaurant. Another factor that makes me unable to not compliment it is the opening hour until 2am, so that young souls can have their belly fulfilled after a night out. It is hard to say the average price, but I think you are good to go when bringing 200.000 dong to this restaurant, if you order a bowl of rice and maybe salad.
Address: 3 Nguyễn Khắc Cần Street, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Opening hour: 9am - 11pm
Telephone: 043 8269 080
Menu (for food delivery): Facebook of Pane e Vino
Located on one of the most peaceful streets in Hanoi, Pane e Vino offers a tranquil and elegant atmosphere to all the customers that step their feet into the restaurant. Although its pizza is not something that I will enjoy as much as the one in Pizza 4P's, its taste and freshness still receive my deep affection. The BBQ Chicken pizza is a perfect example. Nice crunch of the crust, tanginess that only fresh tomato has, and the lovely last touch of the BBQ sauce with mushroom is all I need. I am not an obsessive fan of the Bolognese Spaghetti here, since the spaghetti's texture is a bit too hard for me, but the sauce is a great combination of nicely minced beef and tomato. I remember last time here, I ate a dish which is Parma ham and Pear, which is so good that I could not get it out of my mind sometimes. Pane e Vino is a place that renders you a serene retreat from the busy Hanoi.
Address: 96A Tuệ Tĩnh Street, Hai Ba Trưng District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Opening hour: 8am - 10:30pm
Hue foods have stolen my heart away when I first came to this city about a decade ago, so I found it so difficult to find a good Hue restaurant or food shop in Hanoi. After trying quite a few, I finally managed to discover one shop that is quite close to my imagination of appetizing Hue foods. Although Hue foods here are not 100% authentic, I feel that I can eat all bánh nậm (flat rice flour dumpling, wrapped in a banana leaf, and topped with minced shrimp and bánh bèo (small steamed rice cake, also topped with minced shrimp) on the table and not leave even one piece to my friends. Also, the bún bò Huế (rice vermicelli with beef) is clearer than the normal one, but it is still desirably spicy, sweet and sour. The bowl is also quite big with a lot of components, such as beef slices, ham hock, and blood cube. All the foods here are priced reasonably, at about 30,000 to 50,000 dong each dish. The shop is although small but has about four floors, and is very popular, especially during lunch; staff is also very attentive.
Address: 25 Lý Tự Trọng Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Opening hour: 10am - 10pm
Imagine that you can eat one of your all-time-favorite Japanese foods right in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City; the Japanese authenticity persists while the price is still very "Vietnamese". It is Marukame Udon, and from its name, everybody can guess that its specialty is udon. The three-storey restaurant always seems too small for all the guests coming in and out throughout the day. There are so many reasons to list down about this franchise's achievements, but it would be insufficient not to mention the fresh and high quality ingredients to make a bowl of udon noodle, as well as affordable prices (a bowl of udon costs about 60,000 to 80,000 dong), Also, there is an open kitchen which has various stations, so that customers can watch the making process of their dishes, from knitting the dough, cutting udon, cooking udon, seasoning, and putting meat into the bowl and pour the broth into the bowl. I personally like Tonkatsu Udon (udon, Tonkatsu seasoning and pork), because of the "milky" broth, tender pork, as well as the special ingredient which is garlic adding an exciting layer to the udon noodle. Because the udon is made daily, it is more chewy and fresh compared to those you buy in supermarkets. There are some more typical Japanese treats such as sushi, tempura, ... that you can dig in and enjoy. I hope one day, Marukame Udon will have a shop in Hanoi so that I do not have to resist my craving every now and then.
Address: 8/15 Lê Thánh Tôn Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Opening hour: 10am - 11pm
Telephone: 012 0789 4444
It gets pretty confusing to me when friends all over the place introduce Pizza 4P's like a local speciality in Ho Chi Minh City, similar to pho in Hanoi for example. Seeing this restaurant filled with hundreds of people and having to make a reservation for dinner at 9pm however convince me that my friends were not too exaggerating.
What is breathtakingly beautiful in Pizza 4P's pizza is a formula of dozens of components, that could be summed up in: fresh and organic ingredients + homemade cheese + exciting pizza toppings combination + on point flavor + crunchy and light crust + gentle service. My sister and I ordered half Burrata Prosciutto Pizza and half Flower pizza, as well as a chocolaty fondant cake, totally cost more than 300,000 dong. My only few advice would be: book early, keep your belly empty before going there, wait for the fondant cake to cool down a bit and "just enjoy the show".
Address: JW Marriott, 8 Đỗ Đức Dục Street, Mễ Trì, Từ Liêm, Hanoi, Vietnam
Opening hour: Monday - Saturday: 11am - 2:30pm, Sunday: 10:30am - 2:30pm (for dimsum)
Telephone: 043 8335 588
There has never been a time I am not excited about going to Crystal Jade for a meal with family. Lunch here with a wide range of dimsum selections as well as various Chinese foods like dinner time once again did not fail to bring a lot of goodness into my life and sooth away all my uncomfortable feelings. As mentioned in my last post about dinner in Crystal Jade, dishes of Suckling Pig, Fried rice with Shrimp and Scallops, Peking Duck and Vegetables with Glass noodles and Tofu in a sizzling stone bowl are always what make our hearts race. Also, the dimsum variety with freshest ingredients and artisanal tastes, especially Shumai entranced all our soul. The best dimsum should go to Steamed Cream Custard Bun with Salted Egg yolk for its beauty and tastes that took our breath away. The bun was as soft as a baby's check, with the filling of sweet cream egg yolk which was enough to enamor everybody's heart. Halving the bun was as exciting as opening a treasure box for many, no matter young or old. It is no wonder that so many people go crazy over this bun recently. The average price is about 700,000 dong/person, but surely can get cheaper if you only order dimsum.
*First photo credited to my lovely cousin Tuan Dung
Address: JW Marriott Hotel, 8 Đỗ Đức Dục Road, Mễ Trì, Từ Liêm, Hanoi, Vietnam
Opening hour: Monday - Saturday: 11am - 2:30pm and 5:30pm - 10:30pm, Sunday: 10:30am - 2:30pm
Telephone: 043 8335 588
Crystal Jade Palace is one of the rare Chinese restaurants in Hanoi that offer Chinese foods to my liking; both its authenticity and creativity are on point. Prices would not so much give you any invigoration, averaging about 700,000 dong/person, but the interplay of luxurious vicinity and delectable dishes hopefully will bring your soul back at ease. If I could come back here one more time, here are what I would choose without flipping back and forth the menu: Peking Duck for its crispy skin meeting the thin layer of fat that melts my mind and heart, Crispy Suckling pig for leaving me with a thought "there will be always more room for this dish", Braised vegetables because of the chef's ability to lift simple ingredients such as vegetables and tofu up to a new level of irresistibility, Stir-fried Beef with Aubergine for assiduous skills of keeping the beef tender and the aubergine silky and flavorful, and Fried rice with Prawn and Scallops for making every tablespoon of it a further step to heaven.
And then, I guess, Crystal Jade Palace simply touches my emotions. Enough said.