tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:/posts Eat Like Ushi 2020-04-01T13:07:07Z Ushi tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1526101 2020-04-01T13:07:06Z 2020-04-01T13:07:07Z Sunda, Melbourne 12-2019

Another modern Asian restaurant in Melbourne showing it still is the city leading the charge. For my brief stopover to Melbourne I had actually wanted to go to Longrain. However this was chosen as a close nearby place which happened to still be open to cooking for us at 10.30pm. Mind you we had to order within a few minutes, but the short menu made that easy.

- Rock oyster, coconut curry vinaigrette, shallot, Tasmanian pepper leaf $6 ea.
- Wagyu rendang pie, pickled radish, fermented sambal $10;
- Otak otak spanner crab curry, finger lime, rice crisps $29;
- Fremantle octopus, bush tomato, lemongrass sambal, onion;
- Rangers valley wagyu, strawberry gum, carrot, sunrise lime satay $50.

The modern take is using lesser known Australian ingredients into Malaysian/Indonesian fusion. It's beautiful, expensive and pretty good overall. I can't say I would rush to go back though.

Sunda Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato]]>
Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1526100 2020-04-01T10:56:05Z 2020-04-01T10:56:05Z Karlaylisi Restaurant Uyghur Cuisine, Melbourne 12-2019

Uyghur food has been hard to come by generally but with 2 places in London and 1 in West Melbourne, I'm starting to get a feel for the food.

- Pilaf;
- Lagman;
- Qong tahsilik tohu gosh kormisi - spicy chicken pieces with vegetables and homemade noodles;
- Tripe skewers;
- Lamb kidney skewers - not a favourite for most people but I don't mind at all the chewy texture and unique taste.

I want to go back again and try the nan, manta and samsas.

Karlaylisi Restaurant - Uyghur Cuisine Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato]]>
Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1526097 2020-04-01T10:40:15Z 2020-04-01T10:40:15Z Tiong Bahru Food Centre, Singapore 12-2019

Maybe Monday morning wasn't the best time to go. It seems many of the stalls are closed. That doesn't mean there's any shortage of things to eat, rather that some of the ones I had read about weren't available. Oh well. At least in the pouring mildly humid rain, it was quiet and relaxing enough.

Shui Kueh was a first for me. I had read it was a perfect breakfast item and although the rice semi-spheres are very plain on their own, the sambal that gets served with it is delectable. It really turns it into something else.

There's 2 lor mee places - one was closed (which is my brother's preferred one), so tried the other with its famed fried shark nuggets. The nuggets themselves are chewy bits of fish in a thick unforgettable batter. The thick sauce and noodles were ok but really, I can't see what the fuss is about.

The main drinks/fresh soy milk place was also closed, so this was another one with grass jelly. A bit expensive but alright.

The hokkien mee and char kuey teoh ones were also closed. The way the timings of these things work or don't work sometimes.

Singapore overall wasn't particularly special for food I think.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1526095 2020-04-01T10:31:11Z 2020-04-01T10:31:11Z Tiong Bahru Hainanese Curry Rice, Singapore 12-2019

Note the name isn't Hainanese Chicken Rice, it is Hainanese Curry Rice. In the end a stall serving a variety of dishes from the metal containers. Simple, fast and cheap.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1526093 2020-04-01T10:29:14Z 2020-04-01T10:29:14Z Wee Nam Kee Chicken Rice, Singapore 12-2019

My brother took me to his favourite chicken rice place. The enormous hor fun also came out and initially went to the table next to us - the 2 people there were shocked about how big it was before saying it wasn't theirs. It then came to us 2, and their shock continued.

- Half soya sauce chicken rice $16;
- Beef hor fun $13 large.

It was a lot to eat. Not bad overall.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1524768 2020-04-01T10:24:43Z 2020-04-01T10:24:44Z Opera Tavern, London 02-2020

 I'd known about Opera Tavern since 2012 when their Iberico pork and foie gras burger made headlines. Unfortunately they don't serve that anymore, but a half price Sunday deal got me there enjoying the Spanish fare.

- Jamon & manchego croquetas £7.5;
- Courgette flower, monte enebro & blossom honey £5.5;
- Chargrilled lamb cutlet, heritage carrot, sheep ricotta & offal meatball £12;
- Skrei cod, jamon sauce, chanterelle mushrooms & pickled iberico tomato £10.5;
- Patatas bravas £4.5;
- Cantabrian anchovies on straciatella with largueta almonds £9.5.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1523223 2020-03-24T13:22:53Z 2020-03-24T13:22:54Z La Nocciola Gelateria, Tirana 01-2020

A near perfect gelateria in Tirana that I stumbled across by accident. There's nothing like gelato on a winters day.

Excellent pistachio with a perfect colour (pictured with a decent chocolate) and also unpictured hazelnut (as expected from the name). A couple of ice crystals but otherwise perfect. 100 lek per scoop is remarkably cheap.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1523198 2020-03-24T13:18:25Z 2020-03-24T13:18:25Z Da Arturo Restaurant, Tirana 01-2020

A secret seafood restaurant that isn't known about by anyone except friends and locals? And apparently Italians too as our waiter said 50% of their clients are Italians from word of mouth (and because the owners are Italian). It seems impossible that after 13 years serving up what is considered the best seafood in Tirana, that there are no reviews, no listing on Google maps, and the tourists haven't found it - granted it is maybe also that Albania still hasn't been fully discovered I don't think. And it's a beautiful thing.

Our Airbnb host told us roughly how to find it. Forget Fishop and Fishland and go there instead. On Google map now it is located behind Bar Cafe Tuneli in a passageway with a door that advertises a travel agency. From the main streets you can either turn off Rruga George W Bush at Cafe Aroma or from Rruga Myrtezim Kellici and go straight into the passageway rather than following the road.

As my father went in and made a reservation, they asked him how he knew about the place. They must have been bemused. We went back for dinner the following evening. Luckily our young male waiter spoke broken English, enough to ask questions and order, although not quite enough for us to order properly. Sometimes when two dishes were offered and we wanted one, we got both anyway. In the end even though we wanted just seafood, there seemed to be a good insistence that we try the local Albanian dishes (which would otherwise have been fine had we not already had them before and really just wanted seafood rather than to fill up on those).

Nonetheless it was a grand feast in a simple setting. Warm bread rolls started the evening.

- Marinated artichokes;
- Radish leaves;
- Fergese (blurred in the photo background);
- Cuttlefish, squid and octopus in tomato sauce. Apparently spicy but not really for our palate;
- Pasta like small macaroni but a bit mushy, served with beans and clams;
- Ring pasta much better and slightly al dente, with a good savoury fish that had texture almost like meat;
- Cuttlefish, squid and octopus grilled. Enjoyed this much better than the tomato based version as the charred flavours and unique textures came through. The olive oil was perfect to mop up with a touch of salt and some bread;
- A cutlet of dentice (described as a big fish) was firm and a bit dry;
- A fillet of soil fish was soft and served in a butter sauce. Delicious;
- Sorbet and some fruit finished off the meal.

I was keen on the fish soup, but we didn't end up having any. Similarly they were initially going to serve us 2-4 bits of each fish and we had to tell them not to. We were simply too full.

It isn't cheap by any means, particularly for an Albanian restaurant. Nonetheless 10200 lek (€83) to feed 4 of us more than we could handle is pretty good in the overall scheme of seafood eating life.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1523222 2020-03-24T13:16:37Z 2020-03-24T13:16:37Z Ejona, Tirana 01-2020

For the last meal before our transport to the airport, a local nearby Italian restaurant seemed a good idea. In our area of Blloku, all located within a few minutes walk was Vila Golosa (but looked a bit fancy) and Ejona (which also looked nice but more staple). We were the only people eating at the early time of 17.15pm on rainy Sunday.

Warm olive bread with olives and grassy EVOO and a small bowl of pumpkin soup were the complimentary starters.

- Antioxidant salad (wild cabbage, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, baked chickpeas, cereals, aceto balsamico cream) 400 lek;
- Volcano salad (caciocavallo cheese, spinach, pomegranate, sesame, dry grape, cherry tomatoes, cereals, aceto balsamico cream) 450 lek;
- Tagliatelle with beetroot (truffle cream, champignon mushrooms) 420 lek;
- Tagliatelle with spinach (red & green peppers, sliced almonds, chicken fillet, curry) 480 lek;
- Ravioli stuffed with ricotta, spinach cream, walnut muscat, grana padano (gorgonzola, ricotta, spinach) 420 lek.

The salads were fresh with excellent ingredients including the creative cheese bowl. The pastas were a bit more average with the truffle cream and ravioli having very strong flavours, and the "curry" sauce a bit unusual. Nonetheless cheap and tasty.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1523189 2020-03-24T11:43:41Z 2020-03-24T11:43:41Z Oda Restaurant, Tirana 01-2020

It's nice and reassuring when a place you've read about online is also recommended by the Airbnb host and walking tour guide separately. After the very informative and quite tragic history of Albania's communist dictatorship, it was a pleasant change to walk past the many smiling faces of restaurant staff along Rruga Luigj Gurakuqi enticing us to sample the grilled meats on offer. Indeed if we were staying in that area or had a spare meal, I would definitely have gone there.

It was surprising to find Oda so empty during lunchtime. Maybe because it's a tiny bit difficult to find as the entrance is off the main road. Or maybe people seek it out but end up in the meat places instead.

- Fergese (cottage cheese, peppers) 360 lek - cottage cheese with delicious colourful peppers. Simple and eaten beautifully with the bread that resembled more of a scone or cake with nice crust;
- Lamb cooked in wooden stove (300g) 700 lek - very soft meat and strong flavour;
- Village chicken cooked in wooden stove 1500 lek - a whole chicken which was a bit chewy but not dry at all. Probably because it's been running around making full use of its life. It had a delicious natural flavour.

There's plenty of other dishes I wanted to try - stuffed eggplant, head of lamb, maybe even lamb innards - but those will have to wait until next time. Although I'd have to get through the street restaurants first I think.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1513190 2020-02-24T22:53:15Z 2020-02-24T22:58:32Z Mullixhiu, Tirana 01-2020

I can't remember how to pronounce the name of this place. But it's well rated everywhere you read and our Airbnb host recommended it also. It's also in the park in south Tirana making the atmosphere around. In fact in this January winter, it was actually sunny and warm enough to sit outside - although after a while as the sun set, it seemed a less bright idea. Nonetheless modern Albanian food (although probably a very very heavy Italian influence) was appealing to try.

It's a little more expensive than other places, obviously for the quality and the fresh pasta being ground and made continuously. You can also buy their pasta (and also some bakery items) to take home to cook for yourself - incredibly their fresh pasta is actually cheaper than pasta from a supermarket. Who knew?

Boze was a corn drink, but sweet with mild corn flavour. It was really excellent. Some delicious warm bread with outstanding crust was served to eat with quality grassy olive oil, and a little dish of warm pumpkin soup.

- Petka with duck & porcini 750 lek - flat pasta with strong duck strands and mushroom flavour;
- Jufka with wild berry 700 leg - thin fettuccine type but unfortunately the pieces were all broken up. It had a milder flavour overall;
- Goat brain with pickled cabbage 550 lek - deepfried in flour but overall a bit indistinct, not like the characteristic flavour and texture of lamb brains that I'm used to. Plum sauce was sweet and strong and underneath lay marinated lettuce;
- Grilled goose 1200 lek - soft tender meat and delicious. It was quite similar to duck if I'm honest, but a little stronger in flavour.

A free dessert finished, much like the bread and soup started. Although by this time my company was cold and really wanted to leave, so it wasn't so enjoyable.

The service was always friendly and attentive. No issues there.

There were so many other dishes I wanted to try, such as baby goat pie, beef cheek, quail and more. However the fresh pasta was actually a bit disappointing, not very al dente and also weak to the point of breaking. Maybe next time I'll stick to the meats... and I'd allow more time to enjoy the park too.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1513178 2020-02-24T22:23:41Z 2020-02-24T22:23:41Z Dr. Falafel, Ohrid 01-2020

I was really surprised to find a tiny falafel joint is the TA #1 in Ohrid. Considering the lake and therefore seafood, as well as the town is probably visited by less budget-conscious tourists made it unusual. Even still the restaurants aren't that expensive, so why is this takeaway place so high?

A lady and her child sat inside waiting for the diners to come - it was a bit early at 5.45pm. But for 170 den, a serve of hummus & falafel (bread 100g, falafel 6x 15g, tahini 15g, salad, chickpeas 100g) was served. The 4 of us shared 2 of these and ordered another 10 falafels to share.

They were good cheap small falafels, a bit salty alone but good with the salad and bread. The tahini was excellent and thick. Salads are quite simple but pickled cucumber is nice. However the bread is served cold and not very soft, which is the only let down.

It's a good change from typical Balkan food and the price is great, although I'd had much better at Pilpel in London and also a random place in Amman. Not essential to try.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1513174 2020-02-24T22:04:31Z 2020-02-24T22:04:32Z Restaurant Sveta Sophia, Ohrid 01-2020

January was a beautiful time to be in Ohrid - cool temperatures however we were blessed with sunshine and perfect weather to wander around the cobblestoned town. After watching a marvellous sunset from the Church of Saints Clement & Pantelemon, it was time to settle for dinner. Unfortunately a lot of restaurants are closed during this quiet period, including Kaj Kanevce which was the one I wanted to try most in Ohrid. Next to it is Kaneo, which I had also read a lot about, however the prices are significantly higher and our host didn't rate it. Since it was a bit late and we were feeling a little lazy, we ended up at this restaurant right outside Saint Sophia church.

It had been recommended by our host and additionally the place was actually quite busy, much more than any other restaurant we had walked past.

A good local wine was served by the glass at 180 den for 0.2L. Bargain.

- Eggplant with seeds & mayonnaise;
- Eel in a pan 660 den for 300g - baked and served in a claydish with soft thick cuts and charred flesh. Excellent;
- Fried carp 420 den for 300g - like a soft schnitzel with simple flavour and ok firm flesh. Simple garnishes. It must be price per kg for the plate (as it can't be 300g fish);
- Ohrid cake - burnt hard caramel with walnuts, soft cake, chocolate coat.

A good meal and I did enjoy the eel from Ohrid Lake. It does remind me of the Butrint Lake eel I enjoyed in Albania not so long ago (https://eatlikeushi.posthaven.com/the-mussel-house-ksamil-09-2019).

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1513162 2020-02-24T21:48:26Z 2020-02-24T21:48:27Z Leonardo Pizza, Ohrid 01-2020

After plenty of Balkans cuisine it was time to have something a little different. Ohrid has a lot of pizza places for whatever reason and everyone from our transfer driver (Cosa Nostra) to our apartment host (Via Sacra) to a lady on the street (Leonardo) had their recommendation.

We tried Via Sacra first but unfortunately they were closed (well it looked open but the door wouldn't) and so wandered down the cobbled streets to Leonardo.

- Lasagna boloneze (meat sauce, pasta) 250 den - strong crusty cheese, meat sauce, and soft sheets served in an oven dish. Really excellent and would make Garfield proud;
- Pizza Leonardo (tomato sauce, yellow cheese, ham, mushrooms, hot sausage, sour cream, olives, hot peppers) 290 den - a little unusual in that the crust had sesame seeds. The ingredients were ok and as expected. Passata was served additionally which seemed a bit odd;
- Macedonian salad (roasted peppers, tomato, onion) 120 den - fine.

A standard pizza and salad held up by an excellent lasagna. I would come back here for the lasagna alone, but otherwise would try a different pizzeria next time.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1508212 2020-02-10T20:06:38Z 2020-02-10T20:06:38Z Hotel Dva Bisera, Ohrid 01-2020

After the morning seeing the Bay of Bones museum and then the peacocks at St. Naum Monastery, it was time for lunch and enjoying the winter sun. I had Ribar on my list, but our driver called and said they were closed. There was also Rritja e Koranit found from Google maps, but it was on the other side of St. Naum to our return to Ohrid.

Our driver took us here. The hotel part and the higher end decor inside did make me wonder. He did choose the place as it had a terrace across the lake, which meant braving the smoking section. But as the sun gleamed through, it was worth the compromise.

Ohrid bread came out first which was a crispy pretzel with sesame seeds. Really nice and went well with the trout soup.

- Trout soup (trout, carrot, lemon, flour, spices, pepper, oil, salt, parsley) 160 den - thick and delicious with chunks of fish flesh and flavoured with the vegetables and butter. Really really good;
- Ohrid trout style (trout, peppers, tomato, onion, oil, salt, paprika, lemon, potatoes, broccoli, parsley) 1580 den/kg - trout came served whole but already despined. It was expertly grilled until the flesh was firm but not overcooked and not burnt at all. It had good flavour cooked with onion and yellow peppers inside until those additives were sweet. I can't remember how much we ordered, but I think about 500g (of the dish, not the fish alone);
- Fried belvica (belvica, salt, oil, potatoes, lemon, broccoli, tomato, flour) 1900 den/kg - fish seasoned and fried to a crisp skin. Flesh was very soft although not much flavour in itself. Again, not entirely sure how much we ordered but I think about 500g was the 4 fish and sides;
- Salad for 4.

It was a nice lunch even if the terrace sunshine meant smokers were near us. The food was good though and fish very well cooked.

Our driver did say that food was much cheaper on the Albania side of Lake Ohrid and often they are hired for a full day tour of the lake and so have lunch after crossing over. Trout fishing on the Macedonia side is regulated and hence the availability is less and the price higher. In Albania, it is lawless (so he said).

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1508188 2020-02-10T18:42:55Z 2020-02-10T18:42:56Z Hotel Tiffany, Prizren 01-2020

Because of the quiet season in January, the Prizren Free Walking tours were not running. However after a Facebook message, Erdis was happy to run the tour for 4 of us (https://www.facebook.com/FreeWalkingTourPrizren/). At the end of this, he asked what our budget was (I said €5pp - although probably could have been a lot less given the cost of living there) and he recommended lunch for us at Tiffany. I originally had Te Syla, Besimi Beska or Marashi on the list, but given there's little information generally for Prizren and Kosovo, I was happy to try a local recommendation. (Looking at TA now, Tiffany does come in at #2 so maybe it isn't so hidden after all. The other 3 places are 4, 3, 1 respectively).

I was a bit skeptical initially from the white table service, the unmarked door and the booking.com (high) rating noted. But hey, we were here and so be it.

Turkish bread was served initially piping hot and soft, with two cheese dips. The dips were a bit too strong in the liquified cheese form, similar to the dips from Le Snack. But the bread with grassy EVOO was a great start.

- Bean salad €1.5 x2 - big salad of fresh ingredients dressed with a little vinegar and oil;
- Xhyveq with chicken (tomatoes, onions, leeks, peppers, garlic, carrots & spices mixed & cooked in a wood oven) €7.9 - baked vegetables with tender chicken like a simple ratatouille;
- Elbasan with veal (special traditional cream with garlic, cooked in a wood oven) €7.9 - very tender veal in an earthy tangy yoghurt sauce;
- Mantia (fried mince meat & onions, wrapped with pastry & topped with yoghurt & garlic, baked in a wood oven) €7 - meat in a pastry like burek topped with yogurt. Incredibly delicious from the fried pastry to the meaty filling and the cleansing yoghurt for balace.

I really enjoyed the whole meal, in particular the mantia. It makes me wish we had stayed in Kosovo longer to try these dishes more. Given the similarities in culture (since the people are mostly ethnically Albanian), it reminded me of the food delights awaiting us in Tirana.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1508164 2020-02-10T17:40:33Z 2020-02-10T17:40:33Z Gradska Kafeana, Skopje 01-2020

After several days of eating out in a row, we felt like eating in. Unfortunately noone could be bothered going to the supermarket and with the effort of buying ingredients including condiments and cooking, compared to the prices of restaurants in The Balkans it almost didn't seem worth the effort.

I wanted to wander around the Art Bridge at night with the lights over the statues, and so found a Macedonian restaurant along the way. It doesn't look like much from the outside and when seeing the red sign (before the yellow sign) it looks like the subterranean place is very closed. However pass the corridor toilets and into the restaurant, and you get to an open room with a large tree in it. I think that makes it count as technically outdoor and so people do smoke in there.

- Grilled vegetables 150 den - simple and delicious;
- Tavche gravche 100 den - standard. It's the 2nd time we'd had them and probably don't need to again;
- Grilled trout 800den/kg (290g) - salty crispy outside. Inside was a bit dry. Potatoes good but could've been crisper and charred;
- Risotto with mushrooms 150 den - loads of mushrooms in a stock that wasn't too strong. Not al dente, but a nice dish overall.

It wasn't the best meal we'd had and the risotto and grilled vegetables were probably the nicest of the night. We had intentionally tried to order a few different items to the mainly meats so far for the variety. Nonetheless still a hearty dinner and incredibly good value.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1508139 2020-02-10T17:14:32Z 2020-02-10T17:28:53Z Old Bazaar Baklava, Skopje 01-2020

The Ottoman rule of Macedonia means Turkish influence is noted in the cuisine throughout. Surprisingly there weren't that many Turkish sweets shops around and I was fortunate to find this lady selling freshly made product. I have no idea what the name of this stall is, and it certainly doesn't come up on Google maps (to be fair most of the Old Bazaar doesn't) but at 300 denars/kg and 10 pieces of baklava costing around 200, it doesn't get much cheaper than this.

The baklava had a small amount of pistachio on top and a thicker layer of walnuts in the middle. Generally I do like the ones with pistachios in the middle too, but this is a cheaper alternative and still good. The syrup had just the right amount of sweetness and the pastry still had some crispness to it.

It lasted a good few days and then all gone...

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1507517 2020-02-08T16:50:38Z 2020-02-10T17:29:03Z Kaj Serdarot, Skopje 01-2020

After the relatively interesting (and long 3 hour) Free Walking tour, we ended up in front of the fortress. A leisurely stroll back down through the Old Bazaar took me past a baklava place, a lot of jewelry and ornamental stores, a fresco, and finally for lunch. I had two options in the Old Bazaar - Destan or Kaj Serdarot. I picked Serdarot for no particular reason, maybe because Serdarot had better Google ratings (acknowledging the limitations of that approach) and Destan has a few other branches to try if I really want to (including 2 much closer to the Airbnb).

It's a simple place and looks like a family one. The older male seems to be the host and waiter and the female seems to be the cook. Of course the food here is the kebab/kebap/cevapi simply grilled. Between the 4 of us, we ordered teleski (10 kebabs and sides), one sharska burger, a grilled cheese and bread. They all came out served together on a nice big platter.

The kebabs were a very smooth beef. Burger was actually a similar mince meat patty pressed flat but with cheese in between. The fries were very. He warned us the ajvar was spicy, but unfortunately it wasn't at all for us, however nonetheless very good and flavoursome with peppers. Grilled bread was very good topped with grated cheese. Grilled cheese was soft and salty.

A very good and cheap hearty meal. I was stunned they didn't have ayran - I can't imagine why especially for a grilled meat place. Ah well.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1507323 2020-02-07T16:16:02Z 2020-02-10T17:28:47Z Cardak, Skopje 01-2020

The area around Bohemian Street is full of lively restaurants (well, less lively on Sunday in winter) but there's plenty around and lots of lights giving atmosphere to the region. I can only imagine what it would be like in summer. Our Airbnb host had recommended finding something and that area and coincidence would mean that Cardak was already on my list. Gostilnica Dukat was also semi-closeby and is rated TA #2, but didn't make it there.

That evening our waiter was very impressive, chatting and joking with us, and also mentioning that a group in the next (smokers) room singing and playing instruments had been in the restaurant for 10 hours already...

- Macedonian salad (tomato, roasted peppers, onion, parsley, oil, spices) 120 den x2 - had a double serve of a simple delicious fresh salad;
- Sarma (stuffed cabbage leaves with rice & meat) 80 den x2 - really nice with meaty juices coming through onto the charred leaves;
- Tavche gravche (traditionally Macedonian beans stew in claypot) 130 den - a simple dish of beans in a mild pepper sauce;
- Braised veal in mushroom sauce (veal, fresh mushrooms, sauce, spices) 330 den - tender veal (shin I suspect) with a thick mushroom sauce;
- Pie with leek 150 den - they are well known for these "pies" and compared to previous versions had thinner rounds, crisper shell, and simple leeks. Overall very good.

A very good meal for me, a great meal for the rest of the family.

We even ended up going back a couple of nights later. This time was a different waiter, also friendly but less skilful English made it a bit harder.

- Sarma (vine leaves with rice & meat) - very good with nice mince. I think the cabbage one was better overall (and cheaper);
- Grilled fresh mushrooms 140 den - standard and nice;
- Claypot Cardak (veal, chicken, pork, button mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, zucchini, pepper, tomato, onion) 600 den - a mix of meats in a meat-flavoured broth which was too salty and had a strong base, like ham. Some of the meat pieces were thin and had been cooked into disintegrating slightly. It really felt like too much leftovers put together;
- Pie with leeks - this time the dough was a bit doughy and a bit undercooked i think. Flavour still good. 

Not the same experience as the first time. Still an ok meal though overall.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1507306 2020-02-07T15:29:17Z 2020-02-07T15:29:17Z Gorchim, Sofia 01-2020

After a long morning of driving to Rila Monastery and marvelling at the beautiful colourful frescoes surrounded by mountains, trees and snow, it was time for lunch. Although there are reviews of restaurants at Rila Monastery itself, the ratings tend to be low. There looks like a donut(-type) shop behind the monastery which had popular queues, but it isn't lunch and we didn't really feel like queuing.

There's 3 well rated restaurants (on Google at least) on the road toward the monastery. They are Magic of Rila, Gorchim and Хан Дяволски води (something like the Devil's Waterfall, as it is near a waterfall). Our driver took us to Magic first which he recommended. It was closed. He took us them to Devil's Waterfall which he also said was good (although many restaurants in the area are similar). That was closed too. So finally he took us to Gorchim ("the bear one") which he and his customers haven't tried before. I wasn't too fussed as any of the 3 seemed alright.

It's "the bear one" because there is a large wooden sculpture of a bear out the front to greet cars. The terrace part is shielded which is great to sit when it's cold outside, although less so because it counts as an outdoor smoking area. Only moderate English was spoken, but certainly good enough to get by.

The main dish of the area is to try local trout, farmed up there in the cold mountainous waters of the river that runs by many of the restaurants.

- Tripe soup 3 lev - very mild flavour of the tripe and ended up being very milky, and tasting like a savoury milk. A bit disappointing;
- Mushroom soup 2.98 lev - very good and lots of butter;
- Grilled trout 10.5 lev - grilled well with soft flesh, although some parts of the skin were a bit too burnt. A simple dish;
- White cheese of the Shope region (white cheese, eggs, tomatoes, pepper) 5.69 lev - from the picture I was expecting a tomato stew with cheese. In fact the dish was quite different as a big mass of white cheese (very salty like feta) with some tomato slices on top. I thought there was some red pepper from the picture but it was a big chilli pepper added on top instead. Quite disappointed at what it ended up being;
- Tsar's pot (mushrooms, bacon, lukanka Bulgarian salami, mashed potato, sour cream, yellow cheese) 7.9 lev - strong ham bits with a lot of cheese, similar to a very hammy pasta carbonara;
- Flat bread with yellow cheese 2.6 lev - very nice with salty cheese.

Overall wasn't too impressed with the food here. If I ever find myself back, I'd try for one of the other two.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1506923 2020-02-06T08:59:43Z 2020-02-06T08:59:43Z Shtastlivetsa, Sofia 01-2020

For the one slightly fancier meal in Sofia, the option was between Shtaslivetsa and Hadjidragana, both well rated online and both conveniently located close to our Airbnb near Vitosha boulevard. Our Airbnb host independently recommended Shtaslivetsa and even though the place was fully booked on Saturday night, the nice decoration enticed us to book for the Sunday night.

It was very busy inside, with what seemed to be both tourists and Bulgarians. After entering the passageway from the boulevard, it opens up into a large room with even an upstairs, therefore initially hiding just how big this place is. It is adorned with bright lights, art work, some local TV showing food and travel things. Even though the dining was more upmarket, the prices were far from expensive in relative € terms, although a bit more than other local places.

Our waiter (and overall service) was less friendly. I don't think it was a matter of just being a stern faced local, because we'd certainly had smiles elsewhere.

- Hominy (kachamak) with butter & white cheese 7.9 lev - simple with a baked feta-type on top;
- "Caprese" aubergine (roasted aubergine stuffed with mozzarella, smoked yellow cheese, served with tomato sauce, mascarpone & basil) 15.9 lev - nice and rich savoury tomato sauce and a few spotches of plain mascarpone;
- Homemade grilled sausage 15.9 lev - I think it was a very lean beef mince, quite dense and not moist enough. They probably could have used a fattier cut of meat for this;
- Baked duck kebab with porcini & field mushrooms 18.9 lev - I expected a grilled kebab style, but instead received this stew-like dish with tender meat and a decent mushroom sauce.

Overall the setting and food are good. The price difference is really for the setting though. I'd have to say the dishes weren't remarkably better than the other cheaper local Bulgarian fare restaurants we tried. And the service certainly wasn't included in the price.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1506375 2020-02-04T20:17:54Z 2020-02-04T20:17:55Z Izbata Tavern, Sofia 01-2020

I hadn't heard of Izbata but it was recommended by the Free Walking Tour Sofia group. It is located in the hip part of Sofia just south of Cathedral St. Alexander Nevsky, which is where the tour finished at around 12.30pm. After a quick look around the cathedral, it was the perfect time for lunch.

It's a little cosy place that had quite a few tourists there, some American, some Chinese, some Spanish, but also some Bulgarians too. I suppose not surprising that tourists all read and receive the same recommendations.

- Home singed purlenki (typical Bulgarian bread with white cheese) 4.5 lev - charred bread with salty cheese. Very good;
- Fire-dancer's hotchpotch (chicken fillet, potatoes, peppers, mushrooms, French beans & olives, with tomato puree & hot pepper) 14.5 lev - chicken really nice with lots of peppers, paprika and potatoes. Unfortunately "hot" in the Balkans is not hot or spicy;
- Kavarma Radomir style (pork, onion, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, red wine, all baked with egg & hot pepper) 14.8 lev - pork tender with a nice milder flavour. The hot pepper on top whole this time was by itself a bit hotter than mixed in the chicken above. Still not too much though;
- Kebapcheta 12.8 lev - minced pork kebab with bouncy meat lots of flavour. Mild potato beans and thin crisp bread;
- Rice with blue plums & spinach (with garlic, dill & walnuts) 8.5 lev - very nice rice with slightly sweet plums.

Overall an excellent meal with very large servings that more than filled 4 of us after the walking tour. I found out later that there are a lot of chillies grown locally (Chilli Hills Farm Shop is a nice place to visit for chilli products and gin).

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1506333 2020-02-04T18:15:01Z 2020-02-04T18:15:20Z Sofiyska Banitsa, Sofia 01-2020

This banitsarie (is that a word?) is also known as Софийска Баница.

A good banitsa. A whole one just over a kg was 10.3 lev. They only had cheese or spinach/cheese. It's lighter and more aerated than burek with therefore a milder and less buttery flavour in the pastry.

I probably do prefer the unhealthier heavier burek style personally.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1506331 2020-02-04T18:11:11Z 2020-02-04T18:11:12Z Happy Grill, Sofia 01-2020

It couldn't be sheer coincidence that the internet, our Airbnb host and tour guide all independently recommended Happy for local Bulgarian food. Indeed the place was full of people on this Friday evening, with the locals smoking away in the front section, and the more touristy people trying to escape it at the back. This branch is located directly opposite St. Kyriaki Cathedral too which gives some nice atmosphere walking to/from.

There's a very relaxed vibe and it feels like TGI Friday. With smoking. All the waitresses grace wearing red and short skirts as the uniform.

- Chef's Salad (tomatoes, cucumber, baked cheese, fefferoni peppers, red onion, corn bread, eggplant mousse, parsley) 8.29 lev - good mix with fried cheese crumbly sort of like feta. Very good grilled peppers;
- Polenta with boletus aka kajmak (with baked white cheese, wild mushrooms, red pepper, parsley) 8.99 lev - good mushrooms but not enough of them. Thick cheese grilled layer on top of the polenta;
- Bansko style beef shank 11.99 lev - average overall flavour with some crisp bits but also some dry bits;
- Pork shank with sauerkraut & rice 11.99 lev - outstanding pork tender flavour, which was rich and balanced by mild tangy sauerkraut and rice;
- Milk pie (with homemade vanilla cream, icecream & caramel) 6.49 lev - like a flan flavour with some crumble.

Overall a very good and very cheap meal in a local environment. Would happily come back.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1504881 2020-02-01T10:44:24Z 2020-02-01T10:44:25Z Delhi Grill, London 01-2020

After watching the incredible Jojo Rabbit at Vue Islington, the first dinner of the New Year needed something tasty and convenient. I'd regularly walked past Delhi Grill but never been inside. It has a modern look about it amongst some of the grunge of Chapel Market - not sure if that's necessarily a good or bad omen, but I suppose in a nicer area we prefer a nicer looking place (that isn't anything near glamorous).

Inside the TVs are all playing Bollywood.

- Vegetable samosas (potato & pea) £2.95 - simple and nicely done;
- Kurkuri bhindi (fresh okra fried in crispy batter) £4.5 - fine but a bit expensive;
- Railway lamb on the bone (spicy lamb & potato slow-cooked with tamarind) £9.95 - a deep earthy delicious curry;
- Chicken biryani (marinated chicken cooked in layers of basmati rice served with raita) £9.5 - decent with a slightly milder flavour. More on the wet side, which I didn't mind but others might prefer the classic drier basmati texture;
- Garlic & chilli naan £2.75 - ok but could use more garlic and chilli.

A good local option for curry.

Delhi Grill Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato]]>
Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1504880 2020-01-31T16:40:44Z 2020-01-31T16:41:03Z Hache Burger Social, London 10-2019

It has arrived - a vegan burger that tastes like meat. I would even go so far as to potentially choose this burger over a beef one (not only for ethical reasons but even taste). However the cost then becomes a factor...

I had seen the name Beyond Burger but didn't know what it meant up until now. Elements combined together to form a vegan patty to resemble the atomic structure of meat. A 50% lunch offer at Hache to promote it was all I needed to try it. After a wander around Camden and a massage, the holistic day brought us to Hache. It is otherwise a relatively expensive French gourmet burger place.

Beyond Le Fume (Beyond Meat vegan patty, grilled aubergine, smoky semidried tomatoes, Violife Cheddar, zucchini straws, Rubies in the Rubble mustard mayo, toasted ciabatta bun, presented in a smoke-filled dome) £13 full price is majestic and has it all. Theatre, taste, dripping "meat" juice and accompanying grilled smoky vegetables to help. It is wonderful and flavoursome more than I thought. It has taken over the #1 vegan meat patty burger title from the tomato-based one at Temple of Seitan/Camden (https://eatlikeushi.posthaven.com/temple-of-seitan-london-09-2018).

Truffle fries were alright, but the truffle oil was very strong and made it all seem a bit too fake. I'll stick with the burger. At £13 and more expensive than any meat one, it takes some consideration though.

Hach Burger Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato]]>
Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1504879 2020-01-31T16:33:42Z 2020-01-31T16:33:42Z Kahani, London 10-2019

A fancy Indian restaurant in Chelsea opened by a Michelin-star chef who used to be at Tamarind. The somewhat discreet location off the main road and the prices probably mean it really is a fancy dinner place generally, which is why the offer of 50% weekday lunch came about and worked well for me. Even half price with a cocktail and service charge is not a small number - although to be fair we almost certainly over-ordered.

(Prices are before 50% discount)

- Soft shell crunchy crab with Mangalorean spices, kachumber, smoked tomato chutney £12;
- Smoked Malabar prawns marinated with fresh turmeric, coconut, curry leaves £16 - big juicy firm-texture prawns that are really excellent;
- Guinea fowl tikka, chettinad spices, smoked tomato makhni sauce, Ajwain roti £20;
- Tandoori Somerset lamb chops with Kashmiri chillies, Nagercoil clove £16;
- Lobster tail, tossed with shallots, brown garlic, crushed peppercorns £28 - nicely cooked with meat that had texture and wasn't mushy, but probably a bit expensive still and wouldn't get it again;
- Hydrabadi Biryani with Prawn, braised fragrant basmati rice, exotic spices, mint, coriander £25;
- Garlic naan £4.

The food is good, what can I say. Probably not that much better in my mind to justify a return at full price over the cheaper options (probably equal to the half price amount) as say Dishoom, but I would gladly return if the special was running again. Although at full price, I'd still have difficulty choosing it over Farzi.

Kahani Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato]]>
Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1479137 2019-11-18T12:53:58Z 2019-11-18T12:53:58Z Fiesta del Marisco, O Grove 10-2019

I've wanted to go to this seafood festival for many years now, since about 2012 when I first read about it and was planning some food holidays. Unfortunately it never happened, mainly because I like travelling in September and so going in early October can be difficult. But finally, the stars aligned and I managed to get there in 2019.

After flying into Santiago de Compostela and driving down to the lovely seafood town of O Grove, I realised that tourists really don't go there. There was us 2 tourists, and we met one Dutch journalist who was passing through for work. Every single other person was Spanish.

The seafood market in O Grove is small, but has lots of high quality ingredients at reasonable prices. I only had a short lunch to cook some razor clams, percebes and scallops. I would have liked to stay longer and take advantage, but maybe that's for another time.

The town is obsessed by seafood with homages to the crustacean located around the place.

How was the fiesta then? Average unfortunately. Despite all the great local ingredients, only a select few are presented at the fiesta and only cooked in specific ways. There's some impromptu groups of people singing and dancing, and at night there was some reggaeton singers for the underage smokers and drinks (and the older ones at the back) for more entertainment.

Don't get me wrong, the seafood isn't bad, on the contrary it is decent quality, but there was nothing special there that I haven't seen before. The local mussels are large and delicious and the arroz (rice) and fideos (noodles) were full of flavour. Also the bread was excellent, but it's not great if that's a highlight in a seafood place. Razor clams were ok, clams and mussels small but flavoursome (oysters better). The scallops were tiny little things grilled and shrivelled. Considering the quality and breadth of the market, couldn't they have expanded the dishes a bit more? There was also a lobster tank and another crustacean I've never seen before (can't remember the name) but they weren't being served. The tease.

There's also commerative earthern ware and cups to take home for the memories.

I'm glad I've tried it, but I won't be back for the fiesta. Maybe just Galicia again for the seafood markets to enjoy.

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Ushi
tag:eatlikeushi.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1479131 2019-11-18T12:40:02Z 2019-11-18T12:40:36Z D'Berto, O Grove 09-2019

Apparently D'Berto was rated the Top Seafood Restaurant in Spain 2014. That's a huge accolade considering the seafood quality in Spain generally, particularly in Madrid and Galicia. I had been somewhat underwhelmed by the seafood fiesta in O Grove, and although part of me wanted to buy seafood to cook at home, part of me also wanted to go to a restaurant to see what they could do (in what would be probably the last night in O Grove for my lifetime).

Then there was the choice between restaurants, the more standard ones with standard prices, or D'Berto with its reputation and premium prices. I managed to get a Saturday night booking by calling on Friday. Considering it was the seafood fiesta opening weekend, there's a few interpretations - it really isn't that busy a town anyway, or people are happy eating locally rather than paying premium. Maybe a bit of both.

After finding a street carparking spot (not realising until a few minutes later they have their own private carpark), we walked past the front and were immediately confronted by very large crustaceans. The lobsters and langoustines in the tank were enormous, almost certainly the biggest I've ever seen. Once walking inside, some huge clams and percebes were in the display also.

The wait staff spoke English and were very friendly. Essentially they have no limits - order as little as you want of each dish and they will do it for you. Flexibility is always appreciated.

- Galcian broth €6;
- Oysters €4 each and Warty venus clams (carneiro) €2.5 each - both were good with nice flavour. The clams weren't as big (they seemed to not give us the giant ones) or as strong as those I have in London. It was one of the few places where I've preferred the oysters over the clams. I thought the clams were the spiky shelled ones (but I was clearly wrong);
- Percebes grande from Cedeira €19.8 for 100g - quite large, but not the biggest they had there. The largest one served was about thumb sized. It was definitely more satisfying than the thin types I got from the seafood fiesta. They were also cooked in very salty water, maybe just a little too much;
- Crab (necora) €27 - this tiny crab was coated in salt and had crystals on the shell. It made it difficult to eat and stung our lips. I mentioned it to them and they didn't really say anything. I probably should have been more insistent;
- Clams to the Frying Pan €15 for half portion - standard. Didn't need both these and the raw clams;
- Scallops "The Original" €6 for 2 - these were actually very nice grilled (with butter I think) scallops that retained their thickness through the grilling. Very good;
- Fried lobster (bogavante) €44 for 500g - the smallest lobster they had, which was fried in butter. Very nice too. Oddly served with freshly fried chips, that weren't cooked properly such that several were stuck together and therefore soft;
- Cheesecake (tarta de queso) €7 - unusual in that it had a very strong milk flavour to it.

For €159.3 for 2 people, there was good variety but it just didn't seem worth the money. I suppose it feels like they are priding themselves on the size rather than the cooking quality. In fact most things are raw, boiled in very salty water, and the few extras are fried (which is a bit better). For comparison, I'd have to say Ramiro in Lisbon is better (https://eatlikeushi.posthaven.com/cervejaria-ramiro-lisbon-10-2013).

I was disappointed to find they also had charged €1.5pp for the bread and €2 for tap water. That is not a standard in the region and probably should have limited my tip. Oh well. I won't be back.

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Ushi