Gyoza Bar

Meal courtesy of Gyoza Bar

Written by me!

dsc07479When a restaurant is talking bao, ramen, gyoza and dumplings this obviously calls for a party. JT and P joined me at Gyoza Bar to try a variety of what they had to offer.

Gyoza Bar is a relatively new addition to the West End scene, and with many Japanese restaurants competing in the area, Gyoza Bar sets itself apart by specialising in gyozas, (i.e. Japanese dumplings). The menu is small and simple but it covers everything you need. It is Murakami’s sister branch – of which is conveniently situated next door should you want a second dinner and some sushi!

dsc07474Minimalist. A rectangular room lined up with Japanese sake bottles and a semi open kitchen. The wooden flooring and furniture provides it with more of an izakaya – Japanese feel.

Food:

A decent establishment and one yet to make a dent in London but it has a promising menu which hits all the right spots.

dsc07471Gyozas: we tried the moriwase gyoza which is an assortment of different types of flavours, vegetarian, shrimp and pork. Aligned delicately around an iron pan, the gyoza skins were thin and crispy and made a great starter dish.

Alongside the gyozas we were served with some great red wine, one of the better bottles I’ve drank in restaurants and must say their craft beers are of fine quality too.

As a side dish we opted for Japanese fries (sweet potato fries) though there wasn’t anything particularly Japanese about it, but made great sharing plates also.

Baos: With 3 different types of bao’s on offer we opted for one each, each with a different flavour. The baos itself was fluffy and pillow-like, soft to the touch with great fillings, pork belly, pulled pork and chicken katsu.

dsc07457Ramen: A big bowl with a generous portion of noodles which are made fresh from the chefs (visible from the open kitchen), each ramen bowl consists of the same ingredients broccoli stem, spring onion, beansprout and shoyu tamago. You then have a choice of Chicken, Char Siu and Pork Belly. I opted for the chicken ramen, the chicken was fried in batter and was tender on the inside. Unfortunately I was disappointed with the soup broth as it could have been thicker and more flavourful, nevertheless the bowl was a very hearty affair and my belly was satisfied!

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NOTE: 

I believe they’re available on tastecard with 50% off your bill. Check it out.

No booking system so pop by whenever you have cravings – they’ll be ready for you!

Amici Miei

Meal courtesy of Amici Miei

Written by me!

Arrived to a nice surprise on a road which consists mainly of Vietnamese restaurants, conned by many as the ‘pho mile’, Amici Miei is situated just at the bottom of this road offering Italian cuisine.img_0001

Amici Miei, which translates to ‘my friends’, have been around for years offering regional dishes with fresh and seasonal ingredients.

Classic italian dining ususally consists of 4 courses and by no means was this any different from Amici Miei, an extensive menu, more so on the pizza and pasta side offering classic and also unique flavours such as carbonara pizza and calzone.

We arrived at 7pm and by 8pm the entire place was full, with waiters amongst the hustle and bustle and aromatic pizzas coming straight out from the wood fire ovens. Definitely a local favourite.

Of course, we had to try one of their pizzas which have been acclaimed by many as different from your typical sourdough pizza. The dough goes through a 72 hour slow rise process and you do really taste the difference when eaten.

NOTE:

There is 30% off your bill all day every Monday!

img_0008I saw burrata on the menu and had to order! Also recommended by the waitress I found the burrata (with heritage tomatoes) to be one of the freshest I’ve had. A pretty big portion too and definitely one for sharing. Also from the antipasti we had the Carpaccio di Polpo. This was octopus carpaccio, fennel and soft potato. The carpaccio was sliced slightly too thin but otherwise complemented the soft potatoes well.

From the pasta dishes we chose the ravioli (small) which consisted of burrata, king prawns sauced in cherry tomato, basic and garlic. Big ravioli with generous burrata filling and the prawns are wrapped in whole, the dough itself was boiled just right.
You can’t leave Amici Miei without trying the pizzas of course, so we opted for the healthier topping, mortadella. Mozzarella with a tomato base, mortadella ham and puntarelle. First time trying puntarelle which is an Italian green, light and refreshing. The toppings we chose ewere light enough to enable us to taste more of the ham and sourdough base.

img_0011img_0014Last but not least comes dessert, we had a stab at seadas di ricotta. An interesting sweet ending, warm puff pastry filled with ricotta, cinnamon and lemon zest served with honey. Not too sweet and not too heavy. The honey and lemon zest slightly masked the ricotta (but ricotta doesn’t hold too much flavour anyway). Unfortunately I wasn’t a big fan of the traditional tiramisu and could have had more coffee flavour to it, the cream was also too rich and dense for my liking.

Overall a great place for a catch up and great pasta and pizza selection. A definite recommend especially if you’re in the area.

Cafe Monico

Meal courtesy of Cafe Monico
Visited and reviewed by Vicky
cafe-monico-soho-2Cafe Monico is part of the Soho House Group so you know it’s going to be a polished affair. And it was.
We were shown to our table on the mezzanine floor right by the window so we could watch the buses and tourists go by on one side and on the other we could see the enormous and stunning chandelier leading your eye down to the central bar on the ground floor.
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There is white linen on the tables, green leather chairs, good music playing, nice staff and a wonderful atmosphere. It feels like a wonderfully stylish place to brunch.
The Food
This European brasserie serves French-Italian dishes from breakfast through to dinner, seven days a week. Inspired by the original Cafe Monico, established nearby in 1877, the menu consists of shellfish, pastas, salumi, grilled meats and fish.  We were dining from the Sunday Brunch menu.
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There are of course the standard brunch items on the menu at Cafe Monico – croissants, eggs, french toast and fruit – but I like having the option of having a heartier brunch every now and then. And this menu is great for that.
Whilst we perused the menu we enjoyed a glass of prosecco and snacked on the bread and gorgeous salted butter. We ended up with a very seafood-centric order!
To start we ordered the cured salmon and cucumber and a portion of calamari friti with aioli. I couldn’t believe the size of the portion of salmon that arrived. Thick slices of fish partnered with sweet pickled cucumber was a lovely way to start the meal.
The batter surrounding the calamari was light and crisp and who doesn’t like a whole pot of aioli to dunk it in!
I usually ask the waiter what they recommend when I dine somewhere new, and this occasion was no different. Our friendly waiter was happy to help and talked us through all his favourite dishes! He pretty much professed his undying love for the crab ravioli so we knew we had to order it.
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These perfectly cooked parcels of pasta were stuffed full of delicate crab meat and dressed simply with butter, black pepper and chives. The flavour in these ravioli was just remarkable, I’ve been thinking of them ever since!
The veal milanese was also a recommendation and it was very good too. I drenched the crispy breadcrumbed veal in lemon juice. I find it so moreish!
To finish we ordered dessert that we really didn’t have the space for! The apple crumble coup was fine, though too rich for me with the whipped cream. The absolute winner was the scoop of mandarin sorbet! A beautiful palette cleanser and just such a sweet flavour.
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The Verdict
The menu is not ground breaking, but does it always have to be? I can’t even find the right words to describe the incredible flavour packed into the crab ravioli and the mandarin sorbet was utterly delicious!
There is a great atmosphere in here. That kind of atmosphere that you can’t put your finger on what makes it a nice place to dine but it just is.
I am going to have to come back, just to try the Sunday roast – we saw a few come out and they look pretty epic. They serve yorkshires almost as big as your head, always a good sign.