Akoko, London 10-2020

I've relatively recently discovered African food (other than Ethiopian which I've known for a little while now) and am doing my best to try it more. There's been Nigerian, Ghanaian, and Eritrean (similar to Ethiopian). Some of the latest London places have the or more generic West African, and Ikoyi has been on my very expensive list for a while now but not sure if I'll ever get there. Otherwise Chuku's, Chishuru, Sweet Hands and African Kitchen Gallery are all still waiting too.

Akoko was a new arrival, opening up in the shoulder period between lockdowns. The soft opening offered 50% off the full set menu price of £59, a bargain definitely. It did however come with several service mishaps - but I suppose you have to expect that. Our dining colleagues wanted the meal to start at 8pm instead of 7pm (which the restaurant was happy to change), and they turned up around 8.15pm. It gave limited time for the mandatory 10pm shutdown, but the restaurant thought it would be ok.

However in starting later, they suggested we order the normal or vegetarian menu so it could be commenced for their arrival. Unfortunately communication between the staff was non-existent and whereas one suggested that, another we told and look confused, then another came and asked, and another then came after our colleagues arrived to officially take the menu. Drinks (cocktails were not yet served which was disappointing but acceptable) were then asked about 8 times by 4 different people (without exaggeration) in 10 minutes. Of these requests, about 4 of them came AFTER the drinks were already ordered within a 2 minute period. And despite all that, they didn't bring out my friend's drink until being reminded later. Hmmm.

The food:

- Isu, truffles - yam topped with truffles cream and shavings. Nice;
- Boli & epa - plantain crisp with peanuts. Not that sweet for plantains (more starchy than sweet) and heavy peanut coating overpowered any other flavours;
- Veal cheeks bofrot - veal cheek meat in a fried casing. They said there were vegetables inside too but couldn't really tell. It was served on top of some kind of inedible black pulse;
- Miyan taushe, crab - pumpkin soup with little crab bits at the bottom was quite good. Guinness bread was very spongy with a rind crust and really excellent. Butter very soft could have used a little seasoning. The shoehorn device to spread the butter was fun too; 
- Smoked jollof rice & goat - I was very much looking forward to this dish and the very nicely seasoned goat was tender and slightly spicy. Jollof looked good but not seasoned and overall a bit disappointing. Garlic flowers and leaves topped the dish and were full of flavour. I suppose maybe the rice blandness was to balance the other ingredients, but I hoped for more.
- BBQ quail yassa - a tender half quail and ridiculously tasty and flavoursome. Possibly the best I've had (my only comparison being Chinese or Vietnamese restaurants). My only gripe was the quails were different sizes for each serve (and I got the smallest one!);
- Burnt uda cream, Ghanaian cocoa butter, goat milk icecream - mild goat milk icecream was very nice. It sat in a sweet boat of cream. I expected some tartness (not entirely sure why) but there was none.

If I assume that the service improves to standard professional level, I don't think I would go back for the full priced menu. I did like some of the dishes, but others seemed to lack. Maybe I need to try the others first to compare. Or alternatively if they offered a la carte, then I could pick the dishes that worked for me.

Uncle Lim's, London 10-2020

There's not much reason to go down to Croydon other than the most available and not silly expensive (thanks corporations) visa centre in London. For this reason I've ventured once per year. The first time was a quick (other than the visa process) in and out job. The second found me eating at the new Boxpark eating area next to East Croydon station. The third time was brunch at The Breakfast Club in the same area. And this most recent one was a very early dinner at Uncle Lim's at the Whitgift shopping centre.

The shopping centre doesn't look all that flash in itself, and Covid times certainly haven't helped. But Uncle Lim's was the first place we tried after lockdown opened up in June, and so coming for a second time was an easy choice.

The Malaysian auntie is lovely and the seats are only available in the corridor part of the shopping centre outside the restaurant entrance. I suppose it technically counts as takeaway? In any case the first time was on a Sunday when they would normally be closed, but since it was their first day back and re-creating all their pastes, they were only too happy to serve us.

On that occasion, the laksa and char kway teow and teh tarik were the choices. This time laksa £7.5 and har mee £7.9 were chosen. The soups were all rich and spicy and flavoursome with a good amount of chilli, and the colour of soupy dreams. Laksa uses rice noodles (would prefer mix of egg and rice) and har mee uses egg noodles. A dessert of bobo chacha was nice and sweet, although less thick than the version I'm used to from my mum.

I'd happily come back for those noodles again, probably har mee over laksa if I had to pick one as it is much harder to find in London.

Uncle Lims Kitchen Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Nardulli, London 05-2020

Lockdown has been ongoing for about 7 weeks or so. One of the common questions asked is "what will you do/eat once lockdown is lifted?" There are many possibilities, but I stuck to a simple one - gelato outside.

With the weather warming up (although I accept gelato on a cold day when rugged up warm is probably better overall), a cool afternoon of 12C and the surprise discovery of the local gelateria being open meant serendipity. Apparently they had just opened over the weekend (this was a Monday) and the queues went all the way to the tube station in 2m intervals.

Unfortunately they were out of pistachio, a light green (maybe a little more green than I usually like) so will have to try that next time. Instead there was hazelnut and a yoghurt/cherry. The hazelnut was very mild in flavour, much more so than the true Italian nocciolas. The yoghurt/cherry was alright with the cherry being glaced but not like those horrid sweet bright versions. The textures were good and no ice crystals.

I'll be back to try the pistachio and to support the local business and my own gelato tendencies. Although I think I may need to get some Grom/Remeo/Waitrose pistachio for home anyway.

Nardulli Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Black Axe Mangal, London 02-2020

BAM has been on my eating list for quite a long time with the menu looking delicious of meats, offal and flatbreads. Finally on a rainy Saturday lunch we managed to get a table in the mid-afternoon just before they were closing and only after a short wait.

The menu is a real mixed bag - hints of Turkish from the mangal side, but influences from random places creating borscht, mapo tofu and other bits. Points for being creative if nothing else.

- Smoked pig's cheek & prune doughnut £8.5 - delicious and full bursting with flavour. A chunk of fat which was a bit less appealing, but overall really good;
- Oxtail & anchovy flatbread £13 - a nice bread with meat, anchovy, pickles, very mild chilli and parsley complementing well;
- Dextor onglet, roast bone marrow & green chilli, shoestring fries 23 - a very tender cooked meat with a chimichurri. The bone marrow didn't have that much flavour to it (not my thing I suppose) and one of the reasons we ordered it was seeing the next table have those fries. Unfortunately we expected freshly fried hot potatoes, but they were the dried form you buy in supermarket packets - disappointing.

I've been wanting to get my hands on a cookbook too, but might need to take a closer look to see how many of these things I can/will realistically try making first.

It was nice to tick it off my list finally and the food was great but probably not exceptional (probably the fries put me off). I'm interested in trying it for dinner sometime with the more extended menu. If I can get a seat.

Black Axe Mangal Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Udderlicious, London 02-2020

After a meal at Afghan Kitchen, it was time for an evening stroll and given we were moving from the area soon, it seemed a last opportunity to finally try Udderlicious. I had walked past several times before, but never stopped in for several reasons, some of which were it was closed after movies.

But I wouldn't be denied this time and the the perfectly pale brown pistachio was complemented by a chocolate. There was one or two ice crystals, but the flavours for good and reasonably strong, particularly the pistachio.

I would have no qualms (other than distance) to go back. I don't know if I'd try any of the creative flavours, but who needs to when you know what you like. I might replace the chocolate with hazelnut next time, if there is one.

Udderlicious Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Afghan Kitchen, London 02-2020

After walking past many times, trying to get in a few times, and finally discovering that they actually take bookings and so guaranteeing us entry the final time, we made it into this Afghan little eatery in Angel.

The food is good, particularly the lamb with spinach £8. Fish stew with potatoes £8 was ok too. The aubergine with yoghurt £8 was a overpriced for 3 pieces. The £3.5 evening bread was very impressive to see and alright. £25pp overall wasn't as cheap as I expected.

Overall decent and glad to have tried it and supported a local business. Would happily go back but wouldn't need to.

Afghan Kitchen Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

The Joint, London 03-2020

After starting work in Tooting Broadway, I was pleasantly surprised to find a host of food places in the Broadway market there (no relation to the fantastic Saturday Broadway market near Hackney). Quite a few were closed in the evenings and maybe because it was a weekday. After bypassing the nice sounding (but a bit expensive) Latin American El Chuzo, and noting the very cheap £1-2 takeaway Chinese boxes (not worth it really I found out a few weeks later), I sat down for some BBQ meats complete with the endorsements they list on the side.

Smoked crispy chicken wings £5 small with Korean sauce, toasted sesame seeds, spring onion was good. Crisp outside, a bit chewy on the inside though, and with a nice sauce that I expected to have more chilli/gochujang flavour to it.

16h Smoked pulled pork in homemade bun £8.5 spicy (ginger, spring onion, chilli, coleslaw, salad) was ok from a texture point of view, but the pork didn't really have much flavour to it. I ended up needing to request and add a lot of hot sauce to give it more character.

I suppose I still have to go back to try the ribs and best voted beef burger, but that time may not come and I don't currently feel I will have lost out if not.

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.

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

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