Chick 'n' Sours, London 03-2017

To celebrate the month of March and Cook for Syria, Chick 'n' Sours have advertised a giant new burger. I haven't had the chance to try their fried chicken but the whole fried Sunday special looks like a definite winner for next time. What's impressive visually is just how much crispy surface area the bird appears to have, something only KFC seem to do. What's different is the coating of chilli (and other) sauce that it gets served with. Next time.

The Machonacho burger £14 is very expensive for a burger. It reminds me of Bar Boulud prices back in 2013 that I remarked about ( Given the £10 offering at Bleeker St (which is incredibly good mind you...), it's funny how times and prices have changed so quickly to keep up with the gastro demand and the fashionable queues in London these days.

Anyway back to the burger, I'll admit it is a big unit. It's served on a cold (not sure why...) bun, with a crisp chicken thigh, kimchi cheese (I've read, although I think the waitress said gochujang - whichever it is, the cheese and sauce is creamy, a little tangy and otherwise very mild), Vietnamese salad (could use more herbs to really stamp the flavour). The chicken seems to be minimally seasoned, with the batter not really having much flavour. Perhaps it is used more as a vessel for the chicken and sauces. Either way the meat is good quality but I would prefer stronger tones in each element.

I'm still very keen to try the fried whole bird. Let's see how that goes.

Chick n Sours Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

The Windmill, London 03-2017

I don't think I've really walked through Mayfair before. So many times I've been close along Regent or Oxford Streets, but that corner I've always associated with the last blue tile for $400 on the Monopoly board. Not to mention afterwards I wandered down Saville Row knowing I can't afford anything there.

Anyway it is British Pie Week and all lists have The Windmill in it. They also make sure to mention their award winning pie status. And yes, I joined their pie club expectantly. For Mayfair, I was rather pleasantly surprised that the venue was a sports pub, showing rugby and a more civilised clientele than the typical sporting pubs. Maybe in the evenings or in bigger matches that might change. I suppose the £14 pie price makes it a certain type of person who would go there anyway.

The award winning Steak & Kidney pie came with mash (recommended over the fries for a bit of extra moisture in the meal). I was tempted to get another side of salad but the lovely waitress told me it would be enough food without it. The pie is excellent. The most exceptional part is the suet pastry crust, of which I recently learnt suet is animal fat. The pastry is a complex mix of crisp but not flaky, on the contrary it's chewy. It didn't have the real buttery texture or flavour of pastry I'm used to liking in Australia. This was different and really really good. I may have enjoyed the pastry more than the filling. It was a reasonable quality beef (not the most tender but fine) with some mushrooms and kidney pieces with that unmistakable visceral taste.

To finish things off, I was awarded a mini Chivas Regal to celebrate pie week.

I'll be back for the pies, specifically the pastry with whatever filling takes my fancy at the time.

The Windmill Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Holborn Dining Room, London 03-2017

To celebrate British Pie Week, I read quite a lot of articles on the best pies in London. There were numerous contenders, mostly leading to The Windmill, but many others had their accolades too. It's surprising how much a pie costs around here - I suppose it's a far cry from the old AFL footy Four'n'Twenty ones. It isn't common at all to get pies as a sit down main in Australia (maybe at a pub with peas and mash) but I've always preferred them from bakeries with their exquisite skills in buttery pastry.

But when in London during British Pie Week, fork out for a pie. And fork out I did at the remarkably fancy looking Holborn Dining Room. The scene and setting is beautiful - there's no doubt about that. A continuous series of taxis and chauffeurs bring diners or hotel guests back to the safety of this compound.

Unfortunately what I was most looking forward to was the craft pie menu they have online, particularly the multi-pork version with 4 different cuts. However there were no special pies available, only the standard menu Curried Mutton Pie with mango salsa £19. It's a very high price for a pie with no sides. They told me each one is made to order. I suppose that adds a bit of price to it.

The pie is quite nice with a thick-ish pastry that is more on the crisp side than the chewy. The pastry wasn't overly rich or buttery. The filling was a very mild flavoured but reasonable quality cut of lamb, with an also mild curry sauce. The mango gives a bit of sweet contrast. Overall it was nice but nothing too special.

The other items tried were the Chicken Salad (with avocado & smoked bacon) £10 (ie. a fancy person's caesar), a Mac & Cheese that lacked the strong umami cheese flavour that it desperately needs, and an excellent umami Truffle & Parmesan Fries £6 that really made up for the weaker flavours in the other things.

The setting is lovely, the service is really exceptional and attentive, and I can't doubt that the cooking skill is there. But I'd much prefer to spend that amount of money elsewhere for the amount of pure flavour the food had.

Holborn Dining Room - Rosewood Hotel Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Pilpel, London 02-2017

This review is for the Aldgate branch that currently doesn't have its own Zomato entry.

I think I've finally found it. I've had two Middle Eastern dreams over the past 3 years. One is the incredible 25cent falafels I had in a tiny hole-in-the-wall in Amman, Jordan back in 2009. It was the first time (well, second after a street vendor somewhere around there) I had a freshly fried crisp falafel crushed in a pita and so pleasurable. The next was at the now closed Shoreditch pop-up of Yalla Yalla ( Since then I've tried but failed to find an equivalent falafel. Until now.

Pilpel has excellent reviews for the best falafel in London. After trying it, I can't disagree.

The recipe is an Israeli one from many (many, many) years ago. At £5.80, it probably is the cheapest and best quality lunch available in London. Vegetarian also - chickpeas, salad, pita. The falafels are an exquisite combination of seasoned crisp dark sesame coatings and green slightly chunky blended insides. The humous, large pita and salad complement it well. I also got smoked aubergine but it wasn't necessary in the end.

I'd definitely prefer much more yoghurt sauce and chilli sauce with stronger impact to balance out the salty falafel and fresh salad. But it's a very good start.

Pilpel Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Homeslice, London 02-2017

I distinctly remember going to the original Homeslice in Covent Garden a couple of weeks after it opened back in 2013. I hadn't tried the foodtruck before, but sometimes you just feel like a 20" pizza to yourself.

In my opinion the pizza quality itself wasn't in the realm of Franco Manca, but what they did have was an excellent creative bunch of toppings that was quite left field. Back in 2013 it was a half bone marrow/spring onion/watercress and half pork belly/chimichurri/smoked onions.

This time is was a half chorizo/corn/coriander and half xo pigs cheek/collard greens/crackling furikake. The 20" size and thin floppy crust means that each 1/8th slice is easiest eaten almost folded over into triangular sandwich. The toppings are nice and a little sparse for the size. The crust is reasonable but without much intrinsic chewiness and salt to it.

It still looks mighty impressive. Even though the toppings are different, I can't say I enjoy them more than the standards or even standard gourmet pizza toppings. I'll wait to go back to Franco Manca to pass my judgement first, but I can't see Homeslice being my go-to pizza place in London.

Homeslice Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Hoppers, London 02-2017

I've been targeting the London curry houses in the past month. Hoppers was one of my favourite meals from the June visit ( and so naturally it was high on the list.

It's good to see the familiar items are on the menu and prices have increased by 10-20% in 6 months. The only other noticeable menu change since my last visit is that the buffalo biriani has been changed to short rib. I have to admit I was engaged in a lot of conversation so other than thinking the food was good, it is hard to recall too much specific details of the dishes.

- Lamb kothu roti £10;
- Duck heart chukka £6 - not as deep in flavour as I remember, but still delicious and chewy;
- Lotus root, cashew and ash plantain fry £3.5 - tasty crisp little chips;
- Short rib buriani, duck egg kari, yoghurt, brinjal moju £18.5.

I do have to return to properly reassess the buriani, try the Ceylonese chicken and a mutton roti. I only have the old favourite Dishoom and the untried Kricket left to go. Hopefully not too long.

Hoppers Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Kanada-Ya, London 02-2017

It might sound very odd but I'm part of a ramen Facebook group. I was invited after a discussion with a mutual Bone Daddies fan. In essence the group just posts photos of ramen for voyeuristic pleasure.

I was surprised last year to find out this mutual friend thought Kanada-Ya may have surpassed Bone Daddies as his favourite. How very tempting that sounds. On the Sunday night after Sadiq Khan presented the powerful The Salesman in the cold and drizzle of Trafalgar Square, a warming bowl of broth beckoned. Luckily this popular place so near had no queue. Excellent.

The tonkotsu is good. The broth is extremely porky, like a pig had been blended. It's quite heavy and thick almost like a medium gravy. Very tasty but almost a little much. The only other real downside is the meat is served very cold which also means the broth (at the top at least) is not boiling hot.

I can see the yuzu version being a better option with the citrus balancing out the flavour. I wonder how it will compare to the other fluro green yuzu tonkotsu in my (previous) life - (

After the meal I settled for a dessert of fried chicken. Light crisp textured batter, very tender chicken and a nice yuzu mayo. Definitely a gluttonous treat that I wouldn't opt for by myself again.

Kanada Ya Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Bone Daddies, London 02-2017

It's been a trying 2+ years since I last tasted the Bone Daddies broth. It was the most frequented food I had (other than my local curry house) before I left at the end of 2013, and in June 2016 I didn't make it in time to the soft launch of the Old Street branch to beat the queues and take advantage of the 50% special. But I found myself needing to go to Argos Old Street and that was the perfect opportunity.

Since then it's been a tumultuous ride of ramen places. My tastes have certainly evolved in this sphere. From reminiscing about my more green days when in Kyoto (, to what is probably Melbourne's best tonkotsu (, to discovering the black garlic and yuzu varieties that add edge (, to realising I like a nice thick chewy noodle but that could only be found in a non-tonkotsu venue ( and then to trying Singapore's best chain and having the Japan standard of unlimited boiled eggs ( That's a lot.

I'd also tried Kanada-Ya the night before as the moderator on my Facebook ramen group (yes, I'm in one) thought it might be better than even his beloved Bone Daddies.

Old Street served my ramen in record time - it literally took 2 minutes to serve. I guess they had noodles ready to go? I'm not sure. Similar to the previous night, the meat was cold and had to be dived under to warm up. The broth was nice and on the thicker side. Noodles and meat good. I didn't ask for shichimi this time just to embrace the broth. It's less flavoured and less thick than Kanda-Ya but probably easier to eat for that.

I followed it up with the spicy pig bones which was saltier/soy and less sweet than I remember, but again drenched lovingly in sauce. One of my ribs had no meat which was a shame...

I don't think I liked the dishes as much as I remember in Soho but maybe that's reflecting my ageing preferences and can't detract that the food remains very good. It's still a favourite nonetheless.

Bone Daddies Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato