Having bought the duck breast and kept in the freezer for some time, I finally decided to make it last night. Duck breast seems to be challenging to prepare, I heard that it takes longer to cook then other meat so I always felt restrained to try cooking it myself. I love duck almost in all forms but I have always enjoyed it in the restaurant. Nevertheless, every thing has its first time. I have searched online and found an excellent post on ‘how to pan roast a duck breast from Cookthink. Meanwhile, just like Marisa’s post in Slashfood, I did not need to put the duck breast into the oven but still could get the inside rosé.
LAST week I was in UK for a few days, I was really lucky with the weather as it was much better than the weather forecast and I was able to stay dry most of the time which enabled me to explore around a bit more. (I do not like getting wet!!!)
This time the place we stayed did not allow me to do much cooking, therefore very good excuse for me to explore some great eating places in London. It is definitely worthwhile to spend some time to do some homework (researching) rather than just run into any restaurants and ended up with disappointments or surprises (bad ones, I mean here) since dining out is not cheap in UK and we all want to have our money well spent, right? Whatsmore, a lot of good restaurants do need advance booking. Thanks to my UK blogger friends: Kang of LondonEater, Jeff & Ann of Pig Pig’s Corner and Helen of WorldFoodieGuide, their reviews have helped us tremendously in selecting where to eat. Helen even wrote an email to me for suggestions and we ended up meeting briefly in Soho for a coffee in Milk Bar, an Australian-owned coffee place where it was my first time to try Affogato al Caffè!
So without further ado, I would like to share snapshots of our London dining experience with you.
I had lunches at the following restaurants for a budget of around £10-20 per person:
- Restaurant TOKU (next to Japan Centre in Piccadilly): That was my first day, went to have a Spicy Cha Siu Ramen, very authentic but not that cheap for almost £10 a bowl of noodle but this is London and foreign food is never cheap. After lunch I shopped in Japan Centre and Oxford Street.
- Pearl Liang: Pearl Liang is located in Paddington Central. I am so glad to find a nice Chinese restaurant in Paddington, this is because coming from Maidenhead (where we stay) to London by train, the terminal is Paddington. It is great for me if I want something quick and descent without taking the tube. I ordered the Dim Sum Lunch Set 10 Items For £9.60, really good deal! Pearl Liang is popular for its dim sum, I would love to go again and try more dishes as this time.
After lunch I have explored the surrounding a bit, had a stroll along the canal, there is this place called Venice Walk where there are floating boats parked along sides of the canal, I have seen them in the past but only passing by with the car and this time I got a chance to walk along the canal. I felt it looks like Amsterdam more than Venice to me, and then I came across a small park which was renamed to Rembrant Park in 1975, so I am sure that I am not the only one who think this place looks like Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Anyway, it was very nice to find a quiet place in Central if you want to short getaway moment.
- Sushi Hiro: As a Japanese food fanatic, I am so glad to have been able to visit the hidden gem sushi restaurant in Ealing Common, Sushi Hiro, if you like authentic quality sushi, this is the place to go. For Londoner, this may be a bit far out of Central London but for me who comes from Maidenhead, it was pretty convenient for me. The sushi platter (13 pcs) cost £18, I think I do not need to write much, the picture speaks for itself.
the first evening, we were both tired, we had Sainsbury Indian Curry for Two, it was pretty good and really value for $$$, all we need to do was to reheat.
The second evening, I went to Bincho Yakitori located in Soho, Japanese food again!!! 15 years ago, Japanese restaurants were not common at all. Sorry it makes me think of the old days again, can’t help it. Yakitori is like Tapas to me, casual dining, a few skewers with a beer, perfect to go with friends.
So finally the highlight of this trip, was tapas dinner at Barrafina in Soho. The first time I read about Barrafina was a review written by Jeff from Pig Pig’s Corner, I immediately added to my “to-visit list”. It is best to arrive early otherwise you will have to queue up for along time, we arrived at 6;30pm and still had to wait for 45 mins. Yet you can enjoy a glass of wine while waiting. I have been to Tapas place in Spain & Switzerland and this one is very unique and contemporary. We were lucky to sit right in front of the chef and watching the great teamwork between the chef and his colleagues. I was also learning a few techniques & ideas of how to dress up the dishes, very inspirational. And here I have picked up a few of our favorites to share with you:
- Monk fish served on a baby spinach salad (daily special), the monkfish was really fresh!
- White asparagus with finely chopped paprika (daily special)
- Pimientos de Padron, you can eat this in other Spanish restaurants, this is just our all time favorite
- Ribeye beef, Piquillo Peppers, La Peral
- Chips with Brava sauce. You may think this is only chip or French fries, what so special about it? The essence was not the Brava sauce, it was the thyme garlic topping they have added. Absolutely divine and a surprise!!! We have always used rosemary with potatoes and I would not have thought thyme would be another great option that we should not overlook.
So that’s all for now and until my next visit!
If I am still living in Hong Kong, I would never or even have a slightest thought of making sushi myself. Living in Basel, it’s another story, it has already improved a lot compare to >15 years ago. Now you can at least find a few sushi places, although the choice is still limited but better than nothing. If I want more varieties or more fansy/ contemporary Japanese restaurants, I will have to go to Zurich or Freiburg (Germany) which both take about an hour to get there.
My hubby had to work until late tonight, by the time he finished at 10pm, it would not be easy to find some nice food this late anymore. Yes only 10pm, this is Switzerland. So in view of this, I offered myself to make some sushi tonight.
For rolls, I have made a few times but for sushi this is my second attempt. My Swiss friend was so surprised that I do not know how to make sushi. Who would need to learn when it is so easily accessible in HK?
Anyway, tonight, I was very happy with the results. Everything seemed to come together. I also made tamagoyaki for the first time. And guess where learnt these from? It was from YouTube !!! Therefore you will not see any recipes in this post, I just want to share my happiness and the satisfaction with you. I have also saved a lot instead of eating out. If we would have eaten in the restaurant, this would cost more than CHF 120 excluding drinks. Now it cost us just one-third of that, 2 plates of sushi combo and sashimi and a cumcumber salad (not shown here).
Sushi combo: salmon cucumber roll, tamago sushi, salmon, scallop & tuna sushi
Tamagoyaki: Japanese egg omelette
Kaisendon (Japanese sashimi rice bowl)
I love sushi and sashimi!!! Last week I was craving them again. Instead of going out and eating in a Japanese restaurant, I made kaisendon at home, it was a spontaneous decision, I did not want to make sushi rolls this time as it would be rather time consuming but at the same time I wanted to do something different instead of just eating as sashimi. So kaisendon can fulfil my desire, another advantage of kaisendon is that the rice underneath the sashimi is still slightly warm when served.
- 300g, two to three types of fresh seafood that is suitable for sashimi (e.g. salmon, tuna and 2 king scallops as seen above) or other white fishes such as yellowtail, kingfish, etc
- Nori (seaweed) (using a clean pair of food scissors, cut into thin strips)
- Sashimi/ sushi soy sauce
- Black and/or white sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
- 150g uncooked Japanese (short grain) rice
- Cook the Japanese rice in a rice cooker or a deep pan.
- Cut the nori into thin strips with food scissors
- Using a clean chopping board & cutting knife (best to rinse with hot water just before cutting and dry with kitchen paper), cut the fish into slices of about 0.7cm thickness and slice the scallops into 2-3 pieces.
- Half filled two big bowls with the cooked rice and lay and arrange the pieces of fish and scallop on top of the rice.
- Sprinkle some nori on one side of the rice bowls and then the sesame seeds as garnish if desire.
- Add a bit of wasabi to both rice bowls and serve immediately with some soy sauce on a small dish.
- Serve with green tea and enjoy with some cold/ hot sake if you like.
- English –> Japanese: salmon (sake); tuna (maguro); yellowtail (hamachi); scallop (hotate)
- You can also add some thinly strips of cucumber as well
Last week when I was in London, I was so glad to be able to meet up with my old friend who we have not seen each other for years. We both fancied Japanese food that day and she took me to Mitsukoshi London (located near Piccadilly Circus). If you would like a relatively quiet environment, this is the place you can choose. I saw a lot of Japanese people eating here, so it should not go too wrong.
I had an early bird dinner menu which cost £22, it includes a seafood tempura, sashimi, japanese pickles, a bowl of Japanese rice and a beer or a glass of wine. I think the price is reasonable for London and most importantly, the japanese food here is authentic. The shrimp tempura was very fresh and the batter was nicely done. The portion of this menu is probably more suitable for ladies than men.
That day I had a crave of sushi as well and have ordered 3 pieces: Uni (sea urchin), Hamachi (yellowtail), and Sake (salmon). Oishi!!!
Pity that they do not have my favorite black sesame ice-cream, so instead I had green tea ice-cream with red bean paste.
There is a sushi bar on the other side and a separate bar, they have a wide selection of sakes. If I revisit again, I may try Omakase* at their sushi bar or shabu-shabu (Japanese hotpot), for omakase they said I would need to make a reservation first.
Mitsukoshi London, Restaurant & Sushi Bar
14-20 Lower Regent Street
London SW1Y 4PH
*Source from Wikipedia: Omakase (お任せ) is the Japanese word meaning “entrust” or “protect”. It is most commonly encountered at sushi bars, where the customer may request お任せお願いします omakase onegaishimasu (onegaishimasu meaning “please do me the favor”) to give the chef authority to prepare what the chef wants to make for you at the price that the chef sets. Ordering omakase can be a gamble; however, the customer typically receives the highest quality fish the restaurant currently has in stock at a price cheaper than if it was ordered à la carte.
…. continue from Part I
I went to a Modern Japanese Restaurant called MEGU with my hubby for his belated birthday celebration. This restaurant was recommended by my friend that it’s currently very popular in New York that I should not miss.
There are two MEGUs in NYC, one in Tribeca and one in Midtown. I had no idea which one is better so I chose the one in Midtown for our convenience. I did not realise until I arrive the restaurant that the Midtown branch is located in The Trump World Tower. Andbelieve it or not, Trump was there too with his friends??!!
We were very impressed with the interior decoration, very contemporary and nice ambiance. I later asked what’s the difference of the two MEGUs and they told me that the Midtown one is a little more formal and quiet. This makes sense as it is located in the business area.
When I studied the menu, it seemed that there were too many dishes I would like to try. Then I recalled my friend had mentioned the Unami Prix Fixe Course. Unami n is actually like a tasting menu, it consists of a personalized arrangement of 6 of their signature dishes.
Of all the dishes, I like these two courses most:
Kobe Beef Slice Grilled Table side on a River Stone, the sauce was poured in front of you, be careful the flames!!!
Assorted MEGU sushi: The 2 pieces I liked most were the 2nd piece from the left that a small piece of chili was put on top on the Salmon Belly and the last piece on the right which was chopped seared kobe beef wrapped with seaweed and a small piece of roasted garlic placed on top.
Overall, the 6 courses had filled up our stomachs with the right portion of each course. The dessert was a multi-layered of very thin pancakes filled with cream. It did not look very special but when I tried the first bite, I wondered how they prepared it as it seemed a lot of work to make a cake like that. I would say this restaurant defintely worths a try if you want to impress your partner, friends, guests.
Later I noticed that they have opened another MEGU in Hong Kong end of 2007 in Elements, Kowloon. I hope I get a chance to try out one day then I can tell if it is better or worse than the MEGU NYC.
845 UN Plaza 47th Street (1st Ave)
New York, NY 10017
(The Trump World Tower)
I like Japanese food so much that I had Japanese food for both lunch and dinner in one day during my very short visit in New York.
I have been struggling for some time if I should write about these two Japanese restaurants in separate pages or combine together. First of all, I want to state that I do not mean to compare these two restaurants as they are of completely different styles. In the end I have decided to write them in the same page as they represent that special day that I had Japanese food for both meals.
I went to SUSHI JUN in 50th Street, this is a small Japanese restaurant in the corner of the street, not too noticeable but when I saw the Japanese chefs and the little open kitchen, I immediately thought this restaurant probably serves authentic Japanese food. As nowadays, a lot of Japanese restaurants are not run by Japanese people.
I was intrigued by the Chefs professionalism and their dedication in cooking.
MAGURO TARTAR: Chopped Marinated Tuna with Quail Egg Yolk
Needless to say, I was completely happy with both dishes, for the maguro tartar: the texture of avocado, tuna and quail egg yolk blend very well together. As for the tempura udon, there were 2 shrimp tempura freshly prepared and placed on top of the udon (Japanese white noodle), the udon were slightly chewy which is what I would expect with a nice authentic udon.
If you happen to be in the neighbourhood, you should pay a visit as the food is of high quality with very reasonable price. The dishes I had were from à la carte, they do have lunch menu. If I go to New York again, I would definitely revisit as there are many more dishes I would like to try. They even have OMAKASE (Chef’s Special Recommendation from the sushi bar) with price ranges from USD 35-60.
302 West 50th Street, New York, NY 10019
Tel: +1 212-315-4800
For Part II