MUGA Ramen Bar

MUGA (11 of 21)
MUGA Ramen Bar

History and Background:

Meal courtesy of MUGA Ramen Bar.

A ramen bar and an open kitchen with minimalist design is situated on Panton Street, a new opening for 2015, MUGA Ramen Bar.

Joining the ramen craze alongside the front runners Kanada-Ya and Ippudo, London is spoilt for choice when it comes to this particular Japanese specialty. Upon entry I was greeted with the usual ‘irrashaemase’ which means welcome in Japanese. something of common courtesy in Japan, which has been well adapted here in London!

As I walked in, I soon realised I was the only one in the restaurant, awkwardness crept over me as I worried about the quality of the food and why it would so empty in the early evening. By the end of the meal however, groups of people seated themselves behind the counter as the night seeped in.

A very convenient spot at the heart of the West End Theater District, food is served quickly and in generous portions. The prices are also very competitive too!

The meal: 

MUGA (5 of 21)
NAMBANZUKE (COLD) £3.90

Deep fried whitebait in vinegar sauce topped with spring onions and slices of carrot. I think it was the first time we had whitebait in that style, not too fishy and perfect for sharing as an appetizer.

MUGA (7 of 21)
TAKOYAKI £4.50

This was one of my favourite things on the night and I’m also weak towards takoyaki (fried octopus in batter). Served elegantly on a marbled plate topped with Japanese mayonnaise, takoyaki sauce and Katsuobushi. The actual takoyaki balls are dashi flavoured batter with bits of octopus meat inside. Definitely a must-try!

MUGA (12 of 21)
TONKOTSU £9.90

Tonkotsu Ramen:

Tonkotsu (Pork bone broth) based Ramen Noodle Charshu Pork, Ajitama, Kikurage, Takana, Beni shouga, Spring onion, Sesame seeds

Charshu Max:

Aburi Charshu (4pcs), Mixed vegetables, Spring onions, Leek, Garlic chips, Egg and Sesame seeds

Many ramen joints in London specialise in particular traditional Japanese noodles such as tonkotsu however, MUGA serves a variety of traditional style ramen.  You could have a chance to try salt (shio), soy sauce (shoyu), miso or tonkotsu based noodles with various sizes of thickness.

MUGA (14 of 21)
SHOYU £9.90 with CHARSHU MAX £4.90

Shoyu Ramen:

Shoyu (Soy sauce) based Ramen Noodle Charshu Pork, Ajitama, Menma (Seasoned bamboo shoots), Nori, Leek, Spring onion, Sesame seeds

When the shoyu based ramen with charshu topping came, exquisite presentation wasn’t the only thing we were surprised about. The rolled charshu layered up in circular form topped with freshly cut spring onions is a definite jaw dropper! The charshu itself was tender and soaked in broth for a number of hours meant it just rolls of your tongue.

MUGA (18 of 21)
Massive portions! Compare that to the cup of tea!
MUGA (20 of 21)
MOCHI ICE CREAM £3.90

Being full by this point was an understatement but we had to try some desserts. The mochi ice cream consists of soft rice cake stuffed with vanilla ice cream, topped with Kinako (soybean powder) and Kuromitsu (molasses sugar syrup).

The mochi ice cream was too frozen and slightly hard on the teeth but with kinako powder was an added bonus and wins me over any day!

MUGA (21 of 21)
DORAYAKI WITH £3.90

I admit I’m not a fan of dorayaki in general since I’m not so fond of the texture, but at MUGA, the dorayaki is served warm with a generous filling of azuki allowing the dessert to be light and sweet at the same time.

The bits and bobs:

Service: It’s quite a large ramen bar place but the waiters friendly. Minimal interaction but attentive. 12.5% service charge.

Price: £
Muga Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hakkasan Hanway Place

Hakkasam (16 of 32)
A well known establishment in London, in the hidden backstreets of Fitzrovia.

Background and history:

Meal courtesy of Hakkasan Hanway Place.

One Michelin Star

Dim lit room, black square tables and wall panels highlighted with intricate swirls, and complimenting funky music is now the signature look of Hakkasan restaurants worldwide.

We all know my love for the restaurants within Hakkasan Group, notably HKK which is now headed by Chef Tong Chee Hwee, who brings his expertise over from Hakkasan. An instrumental figure throughout his time at Hakkasan, and with that, carries great expectation.

The forefront of Chinese cuisine and quite rightly so holding its first Michelin star in 2003.  Their dim-sum is world class, with a “lunch event ‘dim sum Sunday’ which is staged every Sunday from 12-5″

The meal: Dim Sum Sundays (12-6.45pm) £58

Hakkasam (5 of 32)
Kowloon Cooler, Coco Passion

We started with mock-tails the Kowloon Cooler and Coco passion, which refreshed our tastebuds while we started with crispy duck salad.

Crispy and sweet with the meat tender, and complemented well with a light salad. Dim sum platters were next on the list, with chinese chive dumpling with prawn and crabmeat, har gau, scallop shiu mai, duck and yam bean dumpling.

Hakkasam (9 of 32)
Crispy Duck Salad
Hakkasam (13 of 32)
Dim Sum platter

As fore-mentioned the dim sum platter was served soon after the crispy duck salad. The scallop shumai I’ve had many a time here and never fails to please, the scallop so delicately placed above the shu mai itself and enveloped with thin lye water dough. Even though I was born and raised in London, with ethnic Chinese roots, you can say that it would be natural to have a higher standard of expectation. The har gau was another pleasing affair, with shrimps soft plump with the outer layer steamed crystal skin wrapper.

Hakkasam (16 of 32)
Fried Dim Sum platter
Hakkasam (19 of 32)
Royal King Crab and Truffle Roll

Dim sum double! The fried dim sum platter consisted of Royal king crab and truffle roll, Baked venison puff, Smoked duck and pumpkin puff and Golden radish crab meat pastry. I don’t even think I can even start to explain how good the truffle roll was. Crispy with a crunch with the truffle aroma defusing through the outlayer…

Hakkasam (20 of 32)
The insides of the smoked duck and pumpkin puff
Hakkasam (21 of 32)
The Mains
Hakkasam (23 of 32)
XO seafood and water chestnut lettuce wrap

The mains consisted of XO seafood and water chestnut lettuce wrap, Stir-fry black pepper rib eye beef with merlot (we had the jasmine chicken with satay due to dietary reasons), Chopped asparagus, Ginger and spring onion fried rice.

Unfortunately the ginger and spring onion was lacking in taste, which although looked pleasing, tasted just like boiled rice but with a bit of salt. The other mains made of for it though with a fancy looking water chestnut lettuce wrap that complemented very well with the rice – and chicken.

Hakkasam (26 of 32)
Jasmine tea smoked chicken in Satay Sauce
Hakkasam (27 of 32)
Jivara bomb

I don’t tend to use slang in my posts… but Jivara bomb was certainly ‘da bomb‘! Popping rice crackers fired away within your mouth with an extra bit of sweetness to it, led from hazelnuts and crushed raspberries. Inside this little orb, was hazulnut icecream topped with melting milk chocolate running down the side.

Hakkasam (32 of 32)
Apple tatin

Apple tartin wasn’t as glamorous as the ‘Jivara Bomb’ but nonetheless a desert well enjoyed.

Service: Service is impeccable as always, with 12.5% service charge. There is even a DJ every week!

The price: £££

Hakkasan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Square Meal

Chakra (Closed)

Chakra 1 (1)
Grand interior at the heart of Notting Hill

History and Background:

Meal courtesy of Chakra. Apologies for the lack in photo quality as I was having serious issues with the camera!

Around the scene since 2011, Chakra opens up to the Indian restaurant scene to a whole new level of fine dine, with chandeliers, sleek presentation and a delicate interior!

At the heart of Notting Hill, classic dishes with modern twists flood the menu. Probably a phrase that we hear all too often but having said that, it is worth checking out.

All of our dishes are based on the traditions of the Royal Maharajah Kitchen.

Highlights of regional specialties and traditional street food completes the Chakra experience. Indian cuisine in particular focuses on one important attribute, the flavour. This was the one thing I look to at Chakra was the essence of flavour. See more below! Adam Varma leads the kitchen with flamboyance and grace, balancing the fusion between Indian and British cuisine.

The meal:

Chakra Interior 2
An elegant interior, tables lined in superb fashion
Chakra (3 of 15)
Samosa £7.75

We were first served with poppadoms, a very generous amount in which we engulfed within minutes. Following that, our starters came, the Samosa, Chole Aur Tikki Ki Shaan and Reshmi Kebab.

Chakra (5 of 15)
Reshmi Kebab £9.95

The Reshmi Kebab was the tandoori chicken breast with fresh cream and coriander chutney.  The meat was tender and complimented well with the sauces. Usually I’m not a fan with coriander but the coriander was more subtle in taste than expected when dipped in fresh cream topped with sesame seeds. Another starter was the Samosa, the vegetable samosa consisted of aloo tikki, tea blackened chickpeas and tamarind chutney. The samosa was stuffed to the brim layered by fried flour shell, giving it a crunch texture.

Chakra (9 of 15)
Feasting like its christmas

Unfortunately, I found some of the dishes for the mains to be sub-par, notably the saag aloo, the spinach lacking in flavour and coated with oil. Nevertheless we had our fill with their heavenly naan. We had our fill of Cheese and Peshwari naan…can never go wrong with that!

Chakra (10 of 15)
When we thought we couldn’t finish anymore…
Chakra (14 of 15)
Melted Brownie

A very un-Indian like dessert but I guess this is where the fusion comes into play! Hands down, the best brownie I have ever tasted, warm, gooey and not too strong. Didn’t quite take the ice-cream to as high level of satisfaction, but this brownie definitely topped our meal.

Chakra (15 of 15)
As traditional as it gets – Gulab Jamun

This delicacy is made with khoya and dipped in very sugary syrup. I could only really have half of one before I reached out for water! Albeit my dislike – this is still a must try.

Service: Small team of waiters but nevertheless very welcoming.

Bits and bobs:

  • 2 minute walk from Notting Hill Station
  • Caters for events

Price: ££

Chakra Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Square Meal