Ethos

Meal courtesy of ETHOS

Attended and written by Verna Gao

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While you all indulge on Christmas and wishing all the Christmas calories didn’t count, I’m here to attempt to lure you away from all the mince pies and pigs in blankets with my night of eating well at the stylish veggie/vegan heaven, located centrally and tucked away behind Oxford Street.

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Upon arrival, you are greeted by some very cosy interior design, which in this day and age, is a big selling point for just about anything. #totallyinstagrammable! And since ETHOS is dedicated to a plant-based diet, the place is full of trees and plants, reflecting fully on the nature scene.

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Let’s move onto the main focus – the food. I don’t even know where to begin. In truth, I was a little overwhelmed with all the variety of food on offer. Everything looked vibrant, fresh and nothing like the salads you usually see in supermarkets! The combinations were also nothing I usually have in mind when I think about vegan / veggie dining. There were flavour influences from Asia, the Middle East and also the Medittereanan.

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If you were wondering what I ended up going for, well, take a good look. I absolutely piled my plate with just about everything I could fit on it, and more (with it hanging from the edge!). Honestly, everything on this plate was so flavoursome and tasty, I did not for a second miss meat – I almost forgot that this was a meat-free restaurant, and that is a major thing for me, for I am a meat-lover.

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One of my favourite mains from ETHOS, which I keep telling all my friends about, is the scotch egg. That runny yolk. Say no more! The butternut squash salad, the cauliflower salad, the veggie chilli con carne, the sweet potato chips –  everything was perfect. It even had me picking up some inspiration for my future meal prepping and January detox.

Dessert wise, there was also a lot of choices on offer. Aside from the usual carrot cakes, flapjacks, brownies, cupcakes, there were also a few very interesting offerings, such as matcha protein bars, and also “unicorn” squares.

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Personally, I could not resist “the Unicorn” – I mean how could you? The layers of raw blueberry and coconut was perfectly balanced, not too sweet, with a smooth texture for the berry layers and a little bite with the coconut at the base. The matcha protein bar, as well as its berry flavoured sibling, were also interesting items that I enjoyed, though the texture is slightly dry.

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Aside from food, ETHOS was also very kind in offering the chance to try their juices and cocktails, which are also healthy and virtuous for you. Of the drinks that I tried, the cucumber G&T was definitely my favourite – super refreshing and highly recommended!

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Overall, my experience at ETHOS was way above my expectations. The staff were friendly, giving me lots of information on what the dishes were and advising me on what desserts would be good for my taste buds etc. Additionally, ETHOS operates on a self-service and pay-by-weight system, allowing diners full control of what goes on their plates and into the stomachs, at the same time minimising wastage. I must say, this is a dangerous thing for someone like me, who has eyes bigger than her stomach. Then again, everything here is healthy and wholesome and good for you, so who cares if I accidentally slipped a little too much roasted aubergine onto my plate?

Aubaine UK

Meal courtesy of Aubaine

Attended and written by Daisy, @petitediningroom and published by Steph

History and background:

Aubaine is a classic, elegant Parisian salon with a relaxed ambience. A chic contemporary French restaurant, boulangerie and patisserie serving simple, classic dishes with 9 branches in London and 2 branches in Dubai, whereby most are located in the central and the southwest. It is a perfect dining place for date nights and celebratory events.

Superb food, urban yet rustic interiors and personable service give Aubaine an air of relaxed sophistication and an aura of chic

The meal:

Offering the Summer en Provence set menu, the executive chef created 3 courses of traditional Provencal dishes for us to experience the taste of south France.

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Goat cheese, pepper puree, basil, cherry tomatoes with edible flowers to kick off the starters. It’s a refreshing salad with a kick, mainly from the pepper puree. Light and appealing for the taste buds.

Aubaine (2 of 12)Bayonne ham, kidney beans, Marconi, pesto soup

There is a strong pesto flavour, which can get slightly heavy for the starters so I would suggest to get something lighter for mains if you choose this dish.

La petite bouillabaisse

It is a traditional Provencal fish stew with sea bass, red mullet, mussels, squid and potatoes. This is one of my favourite French cuisine dishes. A beautiful dish, not the best I have had, but it is amazing for this price.

Aubaine (12 of 12)Roasted corn fed chicken breast with green olives and rosemary, toasted fregola

Chicken was juicy and moist. First time tried the fregola and it went very well with the dish.

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White chocolate fraisier

A twist of the classic fraisier, combining the white chocolate into the crème patisserie with fresh strawberries,topped with an olive oil glaze and with a soaked syrup sponge.

Personally, I prefer the classic Fraisier, which is light and fresh. I was surprised that the olive oil glaze goes really well the cake. I would recommend this for people who have a heavy sweet tooth.

Raspberry tart

This is not on the menu, a classic raspberry tart, filled with almond paste and crème patisserie. The acidity of fresh raspberries on top balanced out the sweetness of the tart and cream.

I would recommend to try their lavender cocktails, we went for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc , sweet and fruity , goes well with our dishes. Crisp and refreshing, perfect for the current summer weather!

Service: Amazing service, special thanks for the manger. Very welcoming, helpful with the food and wine choice, friendly staff.

We went to the branch in Dover street, slightly quieter than those one on the main street i.e. Selfridges. A great location for a date night. The 2-course meal for £15.50, 3 course meal for £19.50.

Available from now to 30th Aug.

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Frescobaldi

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Meal courtesy of Frescobaldi

Event attended and written by blogger Vicky Dalton-Banks, published by Steph

History and Background

Ristorante Frescobaldi is the first UK restaurant from the famed Tuscan wine making family the Frescobaldi’s. One of Italy’s most celebrated wine dynasties dates back 700 years and 30 generations. Today the Frescobaldi family own 11 estates in Italy including 10 in Tuscany.

The restaurant holds Winemakers Dinners to introduce guests to wines from their Estates served alongside their Tuscan-inspired food. This particular evening showcased their Attems Estate, located in  the Collio district of Friuli. Head Chef Roberto Reatini created a special 4-course menu to complement the fine wines.

On arrival we were greeted with a lovely cold glass of Attems Friulano 2014, Collio d.o.c. Being a lovely warm summers evening we enjoyed our aperitif and canapés outside. I love London when you can do this! The little biters consisted of juicy melon and proscuitto, cool cucumber and little moreish mouthfuls of croquettes.

After catching up with some familiar faces we made our way into the restaurant. It is beautiful; walking in you feel like you are entering an elegant fairytale. Tables covered with crisp white linen, an almost tree trunk style beacon in the centre of the room with greenery and fairy lights filling the ceiling. It felt quite magical!

The meal:

The Winemakers Dinner comprised of 4 courses paired with Attems wines with a special guest red wine from Luce della Vite. Let’s begin!

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Our first course was sea bass carpaccio with cherries. This antipasti course was served with Attems Pinot Grigio Ramato 2014 and also a glass of Attems Sauvignon Blanc 2015. I love sea bass carpaccio and this did not disappoint! I really enjoyed the cherry, it added a nice tanginess to this fresh dish. To be honest I didn’t enjoy the Pinot Grigio to begin with but after tasting the food and taking another sip I really enjoyed it – it brings out the cherry and was clearly paired very well.

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Next we were served courgette ravioli with veal ragu and almonds. The rich veal worked very well with the smooth courgette. The crunchy almonds were a great addition too, adding a nice texture to the dish. The two wines with this course were a little weightier: Attems Cicinis 2013 and Attems Pinot Grigio 2014. Cicinis is one of their greatest wines, and I can see why, it was smooth and rounded and perfect for this course.

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The Secondi Piatti was a lamb rack with pea puree and dauphinoise potatoes. This was another beautiful dish! The lamb was full of flavour and ever so juicy. The earthiness of the pea cut through the richness of the dauphinoise and lamb. It was so good I even ate the last bits of meat straight off the bone! I think the wine made me do it… With this course we were served Luce 2012, Toscana ‘20th anniversary’. This medium bodied red had delicate hints of spicy clove and black pepper. It was rather aromatic and slightly smoky, a great match for this lamb dish.

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It was getting rather late but before I turned into a pumpkin, dessert was served. This semifreddo with melon was my least favourite dish of the night. I enjoyed the fresh melon and sorbet but the rest didn’t really do anything for me, though I was so full by this point I didn’t mind! I did however savour the wine served. To finish the Winemakers Dinner we were served a glass of Attems Picolit 2011. It was sweet and smooth and not sickly at all, it had a richness rather than a sweetness. Very good indeed. Apparently there are only a few hundred bottles of this made a year so I felt very lucky to be enjoying a glass of it!

The service: The service was attentive without being annoying, the staff were friendly and happy to help with any request. They also have very swish toilets – something I always notice!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my evening at Ristorante Frescobald from start to finish. There was a great atmosphere in the restaurant, maybe it was the wine or maybe everyone was content and full from all the delicious food, either way I think at £80 the Winemakers Dinner is great value.

The next Winemakers dinner will take place on October.

The price: £££

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The Cavendish

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Credit: photos taken by Ed

Meal courtesy of 35 New Cavendish, JPR Media Group

Attended and written by Ed from @onehungryasian and reviewed by Steph

100 layer lasagna? 100 layer lasagna?! 100 layer lasagna! That’s pretty much how my reaction played out when I heard about chef Douglas Santi’s signature dish at 35 New Cavendish, where he’s recently taken over and brought his mix of quality Italian cooking with refined touches to the masses.

We were invited to a bloggers dinner to show off their new menu, featuring not only the 100 layer lasagne, but a whole host of luxurious and comforting food. Think lobster and avocado rolls, beef sliders with jalapeño mayonaise, prawns with quinoa and steak tartare.

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‎Proceedings kicked off with a welcoming negroni and our first dish, mini lobster and avocado brioche buns. Absolutely beautiful to look at right? One thing’s for sure, chef Santi has an eye for beautiful plates! The lobster was fresh and succulent but lacked a little seasoning and the brioche was unfortunately dry. Still, they were a pleasure to eat and they disappeared fast. Hot on their heels were beef sliders with cheese and a jalapeño mayo, and these were perfect. Cooked with a special grill that sears them instantly (I didn’t get the name as I was stuffing my face), these burgers were right on the money! The jalapeño mayo was lost in the flavour of the beef sadly but this is just a minor fault.

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The dishes that followed though were similar stories to the lobster roll. Great ideas, but would be even better with improvement. The croque monsieur was sadly not particularly flavoursome and the steak tartare needed a little more seasoning. The prawns and quinoa‎ didn’t quite seem so fresh and could use some more acidity. The tuna and avocado dish was a nice touch but the avocado overpowered the dish, tasting mostly of avocado. Again, meat took the crown with a ribeye steak as a standout dish with incredible depth of flavour. The triple cooked chips were overcooked and very crunchy.

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And the 100 layer lasagna? Douglas Santi showcases this dish with a bit of a twist, a lasagne – instead of pasta sheets, he uses essentially, crepe, for layers. An innovative idea indeed, though the crepe came off  eggy and instead of making for a lighter lasagna texture, it had the opposite effect and turned it quite dense. Still though, the quality of the meat here shone through and the red Bolognese sauce was fantastic.

The mini desserts that finished off the meal were little parfaits and cheesecakes that catered for those with sweet taste-buds!

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All in all, 35 New Cavendish has a solid menu that reads and looks like a dream. Steak, pasta, burgers and all the comforting foods that make you want to order everything at once. Big shout out for the meat, which was clearly of high quality, and was allowed to speak for itself in its burgers, steak and tartare. With a bit of fine tuning, great potential to what is a brilliant place for relaxation, drinks and catch-ups.

Price: ££

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Yauatcha

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Star quality dim sum at Yauatcha

History and Background:

1 Michelin Star

Meal courtesy of Yauatcha Soho. The dim sum at Yauatcha represents an oasis of calm and beauty within the vibrant city of London. Opened in 2004, it’s no stranger to the Chinese dining scene, with a recent new opening of its second branch within The City, Liverpool Street. Below, a video from the Yauatcha website, a video that best represents the wealth of expertise and reputation Yauatcha currently holds in the restaurant and food industry.

Yauatcha Kitchen from Touchfood on Vimeo.

Yauatcha’s dim sum teahouse offers all day luxurious dim sum distinctive from its Chinatown competitors. Perfect for a family meal, with friends, large parties and celebrations. Cantonese dishes flood the menu, with influences from all parts of China slightly altered with a modern touch. The traditional tastes remain.

Renowned for their 38 types of tea, their cocktails and their patisserie. See this post for a more inclusive summary of what their patisseries have to offer.

The meal:

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Sauces served at the table prior to ordering
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茉莉香片 Jasmine Green Tea from Taipei, Taiwan – £3.80 per pot

With an extensive tea menu, you can order pots of different types of tea such as green tea, white tea, black tea, dark tea, flower tea and more. They notably have the Dan Cong Song Zhong tea from Guandong, China priced at £13.30 a pot. There is a reason for this expensive price tag, the Dan Cong Song Zhong tea leaves are harvested from 200 year old trees from the Song Dynasty. Song Zhong is considered the best of its variety, and are heavily treasured by the Chinese. It has a distinct orchid-like sweet taste.

We ordered the Jasmine Green tea. They’re taken from Jasmine blossoms, it is subtly sweet – Jasmine tea is one of the most famous teas in China. Highly fragrant and aromatic!

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油烹麥片鮮魷 Fried chilli squid with oatmeal and curry leaf £11.20

Between the two of us, we chose 4 dishes (you would want to make some space for the desserts to come). The fried chilli squid was finely crisped and had plenty of crunch. A generous portion that satisfied our stomachs, it wasn’t very spicy though! We had the sauces on the side to increase the spiciness levels however.

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腐皮蝦腸粉 Prawn and beancurd cheung fun £8.20

This is the real deal. I’m a massive fan of bean curd and prawn and beancurd cheung fun is something I always order at restaurants. Done very well here, crisp but chewy, the addition of the prawns created a very smooth texture overall. Light, sweet soy is usually poured on to these give it the extra sweetness.

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豬肉蝦燒賣 Pork and prawn shui mai £5.90
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薑蔥龍蝦魚子餃 Lobster dumpling with tobiko caviar with ginger and shallot £9.80

I have always been awe of the dumplings and siu mais sederved at restaurants within the Hakkasan Group. Elegant and exquisite, the prawn shiu mai, is an open topped steam dumpling made with wheat flour wrapper. The lobster dumplings for me was something new, the filling was rich with lobster meat and the orange touch of tobiko caviar finished off the colour co-ordination for this dish. The translucent wheat starch skin was stretchy, chewy but not tough. Perfectly steamed alongside the succulent lobster filling.

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The chopstick shot!
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The intricate layers of the beancurd
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Exquisite dim sum designs from Yauatcha

Desserts at Yauatcha are highly recommended, I won’t go into it too much here as there is a separate post for this, but here’s a taster of what’s to come!

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Service: The waiters here have a breadth of knowledge, ask them anything and they’ll recommend you dishes suited to your taste buds!

Bits and bobs

  • A great selection of teas, some are slightly pricier than others but their teas are a must try!

Price: ££

Click to add a blog post for Yauatcha on Zomato

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Yauatcha [Desserts]

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The Yauatcha extravagance
History and Background:

1 Michelin Star

Desserts courtesy of Yauatcha Soho. For an introduction into Yauatcha, see here. Its a rarity to see the combination of Chinese dim sum and European patisserie work together, and Yauatcha is a true example of this.

This distinctive trait is what sets Yauatcha apart from the rest, a characteristic worthy of its accolades. The video below is shared from its own website, go ahead and click play!

Yauatcha Sweets from Touchfood on Vimeo.

Executive Head Chef Graham Hornigold leads the pastry team and highlights 3 main characteristics that the Yauatcha desserts have;

  1. Should act as a palate cleanser and should not be overly sweet
  2. Should be light, dim sum and Chinese food can be carb heavy, aerated mousses and citruses are therefore used
  3. Correct balance of flavours to off-set the strong flavours from the dim sum

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Rainbow coloured macarons
The desserts:

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The Yauatcha Mooncake, £3.00 retail, £6.20 served with a vanilla ice cream and crème anglaise
As we are currently nearing the Mid-Autumn festival period, Yauatcha has released their take on the moon cakes. Moon cakes have been a long standing tradition at the Mid Autumn Festivial and are regarded as an indispensable delicacy.  The exterior, made like the crumbly, sweet pastry you would typically have, filled with thick Chinese custard for its interior. Usually, traditional moon cakes consist of a lotus seed filling and main contain yolk from salted duck eggs.

These small Chinese pastries are spherical in shape to represent the full moon and unity.

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Passion fruit mango dome £5.90 (the price between Monday to Thursday)

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Chocolate pebble £5.90 (the price between Monday to Thursday)

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Red fruits fromage frais £5.90 (the price between Monday to Thursday)
The Red Fruits Fromage Frais and Raspberry Delice caught our eyes, so these were the ones we ordered. The Raspberry Delice consisted of raspberry, Madirofolo chocolate and lychee. The intricate design with the touch of a silver leaf is always an eye opener. The mousse is light and the intense chocolate sponge can be tasted. The lychee pannacotta is creamy and complements well with the lychee flavoured ice cream. The Red Fruits Fromage Frais is equally as spectacular, fresh fruits and white strawberries are even used! The layer of pistachio at the bottom surprised me, adding further flavour to the dish. The mousse was light and fluffy with a subtle hint of soft cheese.

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Raspberry delice £5.90 (the price between Monday to Thursday)

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Raspberry delice £5.90 (the price between Monday to Thursday)

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Chinese custard filled moon cake
Our choice of cocktail came from the Hakkasan Signature – the Earth Asian. This was made up of mount gay black barrel rum, apricot jam, lychee juice, lime, jasmine syrup and black walnut bitters. It was surprisingly a really refreshing drink and not too strong.

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Earth Asian £11.00

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Who can’t resist a box of moon cakes? Best served warm (heat in microwave for a few seconds)
Of course, we brought some mooncakes back for the family as well as buying some of their signature macarons. £1.80 per piece of £9,70 for 6, which is a pretty reasonable price in comparison to some other bakeries. What makes Yauatcha’s macarons distinctive is the influence of Asian tastes incorporated into each flavour. Toasted Rice, Sesame Cashew, Sesame, Coconut Lychee and Pandan are just a few they sell. Traditional favourites such as matcha pistachio are also available on the menu.

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Brought some macarons home too!
Service: The waiters here have a breadth of knowledge, ask them anything and they’ll recommend you dishes suited to your taste buds!

Bits and bobs

  • A great selection of teas, some are slightly pricier than others but their teas are a must try!

Price: ££

Click to add a blog post for Yauatcha on Zomato

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Arirang

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Poyee and Amy digging in to their food
History and Background:

The restaurant is named after the word Arirang, which derives from a Korean traditional folk song. Opened in 1975 as the first Korean restaurant in the UK (as they said ‘ the UK’, I assume this also means that Arirang preexists before the collective group of Korean restaurants in New Malden).

A family run restaurant focusing on Korean BBQ, popular for the locals and Koreans, and able to cater for private parties up to 30.

They also have a menu page dedicated to Japanese dishes, such as sashimi and tempura.

The meal:

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Pa Jeon (Seafood pancake) £8.50
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Kan Poong Gi (Deep Fried Chicken with Special Sauce) £8.50
This is very much like sweet and sour chicken Hong Kong style, something that is very familiar to me, with my family previously having owned Chinese restaurants…

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Tok kuk (Sliced rice cake with Beef soup)
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Chap Tang Bab £11.50
Chap Tang Bab consists of shrimps, sliced squids, beef, mushrooms and vegetables with rice and soup. Kimchee Jige below, Kimchee soup with pork, rice, side dishes and soup. There were only 2-3 pieces of pork though in the entire bowl, not sure if it’s worth getting.

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Kimchee Jige £11.50
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Squid with soy sauce £7.90
Basically, you can’t not have Korean BBQ when it comes to eating at Arirang, it’s almost compulsory! We had a selection of a few different types. See picture captions. Unfortunately we didn’t actually have a great experience with this place, the service used to be so much better. Momo ordered a bibimbap and they forgot about it, and 45 minutes in we were still waiting. Once the bibimbap was brought over, it was the wrong type… but we didn’t want to follow it up any further.

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Chicken £8.50
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The staff does everything for you – but you can request a DIY
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Thin sliced spicy pork £8.50
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THIS WAS SO GOOD YOU CAN NEVER GO WRONG WITH BULGOGI
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Amy’s maturity level… lettuce/ cabbage you need to pay extra, but compared to the other Korean restaurants, they’re big. (Which is good – greater filling)
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Dol Bibimbap £11.50
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One of my favourite Korean dishes – hot stone bibimbap
Service: As explained above, a careless error degraded my experience at Arirang – also not the same as it used to be, but you’re here for the food, not the service

Bits and bobs:

  • Gives you cutely cut up oranges after your meal

Price: ££

Arirang on Urbanspoon