Hankies

Meal courtesy of Hankies

Written by Ed @onehungryasian

It takes something special to standout amongst all the restaurants in the Soho area. And yes, Indian tapas is probably something you’ve seen and heard about a dozen times now, a popular trend that sees no sign of stopping.

But why should it? The bold and vibrant flavours lend themselves to small dishes well when diners want to pick at a dozen things, and each mouthful becomes a new experience in itself across a variety of dishes.

Hankies Café on Shaftesbury Avenue enters the fray, selling Indian street food tapas style from a rather nondescript venue despite the neon sign at the front. You’ve likely walked past it a few times without giving it a second thought, but you really should consider heading in.

At the heart of the menu lies the “hankies”, also known as roomali/rumali roti: thin flatbread quickly rolled, spun and baked on a grid and then wrapped up into a hankie shape for diners to enjoy with their curry.

DSC_9048Grab one, and use it as a vessel for the great variety of curries and dishes on the menu. Chutneys kick start the meal with tangy spiced chicken or mushroom, with fried pea poppers and dahl puri remaining some of the highlights of the entire meal, especially with an addictive tamarind mint chutney.

Chilli lamb chops are tender to bite and quick to finish with their marinated flavour, and the very popular lemon chilli & jaggery chicken were juicy and perfectly cooked. It was more than tempting to take a piece, dip it in the yoghurt sauce and shovel them into my mouth one by one.
DSC_9051
On the curries list, my personal favourite, a paneer tikka, was a great “wet” curry to dip the roti into. A crab and egg dry curry was a bit lacking in punch, but the kidney and keema curry pairs perfectly with the roti and is highly recommended.

Overall, the food here at Hankies is bold, packed with flavour, and great value for the portions. Tapas style generally invokes an internal cry of alarm of having to pay a bit more than you’d wish, but I could happy spend £8 in here for a roti, chutney and a dry curry and leave an extremely happy man.

Throw in an extensive cocktail list which mostly everything at £5.50 (with some real hidden gems in there), and you’ve got a great restaurant that is worthy of your attention. Don’t expect queues comparable to the other Indian sharing plate stalwarts in London either!

NY Fold

Meal courtesy of NY Fold

Attended and written by Ed @onehungryasian

dsc_4417London is pretty spoilt for pizza these days. You’ve got to contend with the old school classics; the guilty pleasure takeaways; the street food stalwarts going London-wide with multiple stores; newcomers with black charcoal based pizza (gimmick or no?); and, lo and behold, an ever growing awareness that there is indeed more than one style of pizza. Say it can’t be true?!

dsc_4428

Enter NY Fold, bringing a taste of NYC to the streets of London, and only a few minutes walk from the central theatre district. We were invited down for a meal to test out their flavours, and to get our hands on the infamous NY slices they’ve been churning out here, slices that are, as of earlier this month, award winning from the 2016 European Classic Pizza Championships for the UK.

dsc_4436The pizza here at NY Fold is huge, for a start. As with classic NY slices, these are cut from huge 16/20 inch pizzas and one slice is about as big as your face. They’re cooked up crisply across the whole pizza, but gives way to dense chewy bread, before layers of cheese (generally mozzarella) and toppings.

The base here is probably a bit thicker than a traditional NY slice, so while you can fold it in half lengthwise, it’s not entirely necessary as the crispy bottom holds up well when you lift it up. I’m a big fan of this change but beware if you go expecting an exact NYC replica!

dsc_4446We opted for 2 toppings on one 16′, with one half their special Hangover Christmas special, and the other half the Juliet.

The Hangover consists of egg, spinach, garlic, mozzarella, pecorino and oregano (the meat version has sausage instead of spinach). It’s basically brunch pizza, and it is incredible. It will kick your hangover to next week and wake you up. It’s punchy with the garlic, and loaded with enough carbs and cheese to cure any hangover guaranteed.

Our other half of the pizza was Juliet, a parma ham, fig jam, gorgonzola and parmesan loaded beast that was equal parts heaven and part guilty pleasure.

In short, NY Fold is churning out pizza to the London scene that is not only great tasting and unique, but great value. One slice is £3.95, 2 for £7.50 and I was pretty much full after 2 slices, not wanting to risk a third in case I fall asleep in a food coma during the show we attended after!

dsc_4420I’d not heard of NYFold much before my visit, but it definitely should be on your list, even if it’s to pop in for a flying visit to get your hands on one quick slice!

Oliver Maki

Oliver Maki (1 of 46)History and Background: 

Meal courtesy of Oliver Maki

Quirky. Contemporary. Flashy.

Oliver Maki, a family owned restaurant run by the successful Zeitoun brothers with four existing restaurants in the Middle East. Their first London venture starts with Oliver Maki, fusion sushi with a luxurious twist.

Another fine-dine sushi restaurant in London? Yes, probably. But I’d say this one is a little more out there. All dishes are delicately presented, pleasant to the eye and definitely very exquisite. Formerly at Nobu, Louise Kenji Huang runs its kitchen, combining eccentricity and luxurious ingredients together to create theatrical display of dishes. Out-of-the-box ideas and innovative dishes flood the menu.

Price range here is high for the average sushi joint and Londoners with generous wallets hit this spot like its local. Worth giving it a try and definitely great for a fancy date looking to impress.

The meal:

First off, it’s good to note that the soy sauce used here is blended with high quality olive oil. A healthier and less saltier alternative.

Oliver Maki (15 of 46)
The Oliver Maki Bento (A mixture of In the Box and Out of the Box)

With short intakes of breaths and gasps of excitement, this is probably how most diners would respond to the multi layered acrylic box of delights. Compartments of crispy salad, 3 pieces of chef’s special maki, 3 pieces of issai maki, chicken teriyaki, salmon teriyaki, seafood ceviche, 3 pieces of chef’s special nigiri and is exactly what we got!

The crispy salad was just as it was described, a healthy layer of seasoning with a cheeky topping of Japanese mayonnaise.  The salmon teriyaki and the chicken teriyaki were also cooked well and sat atop of their Oliver brown rice to complete the set. My favourite in particular was the crunchy maki which seemed like it was wrapped in some sort of fish skin over tempura on the inside. I’m not a fan of ceviche anywhere, most commonly a fusion Japanese-peruvian dish, nikkei cuisine. The 3 piece nigiri was good but nothing impressive, brown rice is deemed as healthier and not as filling but the way it is cooked in nature means it tends to not be as together and can be quite crumbly.

Oliver Maki (34 of 46)
The signature dish Oliver Maki Roll

Unfortunately this did not impress, at £15 for a maki roll it’s on the higher price range for rainbow rolls in other places and special rolls too. The flavour is quite tame albeit looking like it’s over seasoned. Too many things going on – on the plate. Don’t get me wrong, the sushi is good. The theatrical and impressive visual presentation allows you to make overestimated assumptions about it however. Everything from olive oil to truffle is incorporated within this roll, so best listen to the waiter’s explanation carefully!

Oliver Maki (43 of 46)
Green Tea Tiramisu

So desserts were of a similar caliber. Stunning visuals and very eye-catching. The Zeitoun brothers and Kenji-Huang partnership certainly were a very well paired one. Artistic styling for the desserts and at very high quality too. Tiramisu was on point, no coffee flavoured ones here, it’s all about the green tea. The aroma was subtle but it’s there. Could definitely add in more of the bitter sweet ratio to it for improvement.

I have to say the Yuzu Creme Brulee was also one of my favourites. Absolutely loved the texture. Subtle yuzu texture again but this time I preferred it subtle. Yuzu can be a very strong flavour which may not necessarily combine well with creme brulee which is often associated with caramel. The combination here was captivating, followed by a lot of onomatopoeic squeals of delight…

Oliver Maki (46 of 46)
Yuzu Creme Brulee

Service: Waiters are knowledgeable about the sourcing of their ingredients and food is served quickly, some could say it could be rather hasty. Potentially overstaffed given the size of the restaurant but wasn’t in the restaurant long enough to assess.

Bits and bobs:

  • They have a special tasting menu for certain guests who are a member or a certain special society…

Price: £££

Oliver Maki Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Square Meal

Superstar BBQ

Superstar (2 of 34)
Feels like Christmas already! Superstar BBQ at Tottenham Court Road

History and Background:

Meal courtesy of Superstar BBQ.

With an existing coup of Korean restaurants in London, the addition to Tottenham Court Road with Superstar BBQ doesn’t come as a complete surprise. With St Giles Street fast becoming a second Korea town (after New Malden), eyes were open, and ears were peeled to see what awaits in the St Giles Piazza.

An impressive menu at a very competitive price, the new restaurant in town is somewhat flashy too with intricate baubles hanging from the ceiling and its very own karaoke room. Although a BBQ restaurant, it is vegetarian friendly, family friendly and date friendly too!

Sophistication is what distinguishes Superstar BBQ between the rest, floor to ceiling windows and huge tables with a professional set of staff. A very westernised take on Superstar BBQ where no korean words are printed on the menu and staff who speak fluent English.

Korean BBQ has always been an on and off trend, with meat marinated and ready to grill at your ease with banchan (side dishes) to combine it with.

 

The meal: 

We had the option to go for any set meal for 2 – we chose set 3 which is £35.00. Below are what’s included.

Superstar (4 of 34)
Traditional Mandoo (Dumplings)
Superstar (6 of 34)
Pajeon (Seafood Pancake)
Superstar (8 of 34)
Yuk Hwae (beef tartare)

A very good yuk hwae, the sliced pears are sweet in nature and mixed with the raw beef is a perfect combination (and raw egg of course).

Superstar (9 of 34)
Kimchi (Banchan)

You will get another banchan which consists of namool. I believe these are seasoned beansprouts.

Superstar (11 of 34)
A large table to cater for all
Superstar (13 of 34)
Selection of meat dishes

Tiger prawn, sesame and garlic sirloin, rib galbi, wine pork belly and grilled vegetables highlight the BBQ meat section. Not quite your typical marinated dishes but at the same time a very good take on Korean BBQ. The tiger prawn ended up too dry and mostly due to us over-cooking it!

Superstar (14 of 34)
The other banchan – Namool
Superstar (21 of 34)
The way to do it!
Superstar (25 of 34)
Bibimbap

The bibimbap was slightly try for me, even with the extra gochujang sauce. This is most likely to do with the dry vegetables you get to mix within the bowl. All very cute though.

Superstar (30 of 34)
Black sesame ice cream

These desserts are probably one of the best I’ve had at a Korean restaurant. The black sesame ice-cream is strong in flavour and soft to spoon. The snowball (pictured below) deserves in own recognition. Quite literally a bowl of sugary goodness (a bit too much for me but most will like it), very much a Winter-y dessert.

Superstar (34 of 34)
Snow ball

 

Service: Just as good as most restaurants

Bits and bobs:

  • Right opposite Kanada-ya and Ippudo, you won’t be hungry in this area trust me.
  • booking system available
  • Party bookings available

Price: ££
SuperStar BBQ 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

Biju Bubble Tea Room

Biju Bubble Tea (1 of 47)
Nick (Founder of Biju) makes a shy appearance on eatwithsteph! (pictured far right)

History and background:

Drinks courtesy of Biju Bubble Tea.

For those who know me, you would remember when I would fanatically queue up for Chatime weekly due to consistent cravings for some Milk tea… those days were long gone once I found out how unhealthy those drinks really were.

By word of mouth however, friends mentioned of a new bubble tea place in town and before you know it, I was hooked on Roasted Ooolong Milk Tea!

Opened by Nick Phan late 2014, he introduced a new, healthier bubble tea concept to Soho with organic products and freshly brewed as soon as you order.

Biju Bubble Tea (6 of 47)
Biju is the real deal. See the tea leaves brewed in front of you in action.

Many people misinterpret what bubble tea is, which they deem as a drink with bubbles in it (with the bubbles referring to the tapioca pearls).

Bubble tea neatly explained by justopenedlondon are actually:

the practice of blending natural flavours, colours and ingredients into one of many types of tea, shaken and not stirred

So the tapioca pearls are an add-on!

Biju Bubble Tea (9 of 47)
Note the coffee/ espresso machine on the counter, there’s no use of powder, nothing is ready-made!

The cosy and uniquely decorated bubble tea room houses up to  30, where you’ll be greeted by friendly and enthusiastic staff upon your arrival.

Biju Bubble Tea (5 of 47)
My ‘eatwithsteph’ temps, regular eatwithsteph companions Tom, Fia and Louise

The drinks:

The following drinks have been customised by Biju, with toppings and flavours they recommend which would complement each other. A description of these drinks are very well explained by them here.

The pricing for your typical bubble tea:

  1. Regular (includes 1 topping of your choice) £3.45
  2. Large £3.95
  3. Toppings 50p
  4. Hot teas 50p extra
  5. Coconut water 50p extra
Biju Bubble Tea (26 of 47)
Vivid and vibrant colours! Little did we know how many bubble teas we would be drinking…

Intense flavours are brought out by the fresh brew with specially imported tea leaves, alongside the use of ‘nectars’ instead of white sugar and organic milk, Biju creates a whole new level of high quality, aromatic bubble tea.

Toppings are made in-house too, from your expected tapioca pearls to the popping fruits in mango pineapple, guava, Asian lime and other flavours.

Biju Bubble Tea (11 of 47)
Lychee Coconut Water (Iced) with toppings: Basil Seeds and Pearls
Biju Bubble Tea (12 of 47)
Black Mousse Tea (Iced) with topping of choice: Egg Pudding

Mousse teas are astonishingly dense and flavourful but at the same time, surprisingly light. One of eatwithsteph’s recommended!

The Hong Kong Milk Tea below is truly reminiscent of the teas people from Hong Kong brew, another favourite of mine – and a heavily recommended one.

Biju Bubble Tea (24 of 47)
The Classic: Hong Kong Milk Tea with topping of choice: Tapioca Pearls
Biju Bubble Tea (13 of 47)
Honeydew Melon Milk Tea (Iced) with topping of choice: Popping Banana and milk of choice: Almond Milk
Biju Bubble Tea (15 of 47)
Matcha Milk tea (iced) with Milk of choice: Almond Topping of choice: Basil Seeds Sugar of choice: Honey
Biju Bubble Tea (40 of 47)
Pineapple Coconut Water (iced) with topping of choice: Basil Seeds
Biju Bubble Tea (17 of 47)
Matcha Milk Tea (iced) with topping of choice: Pearls

I avoid matcha drinks in London as I feel they can be so terribly misrepresented, but no thick wallop of sugar is added here, you can really taste the matcha in your drink to its bitter extent.

If you want something very light after your meal, the wintermelon with herbal grass jelly is a good option, its light – but sweet.

Biju Bubble Tea (21 of 47)
Wintermelon Tea (iced) with topping of choice: Black Herbal Grass Jelly
Biju Bubble Tea (19 of 47)
Honeydew Melon Milk Tea (iced) with topping of choice: Egg Pudding
Biju Bubble Tea (34 of 47)
Taro Milk Tea (Iced) with topping of choice: Pearls
Biju Bubble Tea (39 of 47)
Apple Tea with topping of choice: Mango Jelly
Biju Bubble Tea (43 of 47)
Its the hot teas! Pictured left to right: Genmaicha, Matcha, Hong Kong Milk Tea, and Roasted Oolong Milk Tea
Biju Bubble Tea (44 of 47)
Genmaicha Milk Tea

Of course we had some hot drinks too, and I really can’t pinpoint a favourite here, the Hong Kong Milk tea, Gemaicha Milk and Matcha Milk tea were so aromatic I almost finished the drinks by myself…

Something that I would get even now despite the summer!

Biju Bubble Tea (45 of 47)
Matcha Milk Tea

Bits and bobs:

  • There’s wifi, ask for the password if you need
  • You can always customise your bubble tea at non-peak times
  • All sugar levels above were at normal levels – these too can be customised
  • Quiqup, Jinn and Deliveroo deliver bubble teas to your doorstep
  • Say hi to Norbert when you’re in, he’s the friendly supervisor there!

Price: £

Click to add a blog post for Biju Bubble Tea Room on Zomato

Percy and Founders

Percy & Founders (1 of 43)
Full house on what was a Friday night!

History and Background:

I came here for the 50% off soft opening week along with three others. Opened in April of 2015 at what was formerly the Middlesex hospital, the restaurant houses 200, though, for such a large restaurant, it can look very sparse and desolate when even half empty. Nevertheless, ideal for relaxed drinking and group bookings.

Diego Cardosa, is the new executive chef at P&F, known for working under Gordon Ramsay, and also running Murano. The founders introduced a new concept of pub dining as their main marketing strategy;

Experience the evolution of public houses

Upscale dining? Gastropub? Not sure here… but you can do the googling.

It might be worth to note though, the food is more worth the price I paid at its soft opening that at its full price, it is seemingly overpriced for what you get.

The meal: (Full prices are shown below)

Percy & Founders (5 of 43)
Starters: Crispy Short Rib – Radish and Mustard Creme Fraiche £8.50
Percy & Founders (10 of 43)
Ordered a feast between 4…something that happens when you eat with PYC

The crispy short rib, slightly eccentric design to start off with, and gave a good first impression too, crispy and crunchy. Potato skins below was one of my favourite nibbles, made as a bar snack to complement with cocktails if you’re at P&F for drinks!

Percy & Founders (12 of 43)
Snacks: Potato skins £3.00
Percy & Founders (14 of 43)
Snacks: Courgette Wafers with Cream Cheese & Iberico Ham £4.50
Percy & Founders (15 of 43)
Bar snack: Scratchings £4

Some more bar snacks ordered, the iberico ham somewhat forgetful, but reminiscent of the bread pillows and iberico ham that I had at Ametza.

Percy & Founders (16 of 43)
Bar snack: Burrata £4
Percy & Founders (20 of 43)
Sea Bass – charred broccoli, lemon and samphire £18.50

I ordered the sea bass since the others all ordered the lamb breast, samphire gave additional flavouring alongside this particular white fish, but for a main worth a near £20, I’m not sure it gave it its worth. Truffle fries are a must order here, so aromatic – if you are a regular reader, then you know that a meal consisting of truffle is a regular occurrence..

Percy & Founders (24 of 43)
Sides: Truffle fries £4
Percy & Founders (26 of 43)
Main: Crispy lamb breast, champ and gravy £17.50
Percy & Founders (32 of 43)
Chicken Wellington (£19 per person) – this is 2x (£38)

I don’t know why we ordered this, don’t ask me why, bar snacks, sides, main and desserts were more than enough, yet we ordered chicken wellington. Not a great fan of wellington and I may have been too full to like it.

Percy & Founders (36 of 43)
Desserts: Percy’s mistress’ and maple syrup butter £7.50
Percy & Founders (39 of 43)
Lemon and Yoghurt £7.50 (almond crumble and prosecco sorbet)

My photos don’t really do these desserts justice, but lets call it a bad photography day. Magdeleines were warm and served hot, alongside something called maple syrup butter…heavenly. Crepe Souffle, which I thought would be too creamy for my liking, but warm, sweet crepe cooked in its iron pan with meringue couldn’t have been made any better.

Percy & Founders (40 of 43)
Desserts: Crepe Souffle, and orange caramel £7.50
Percy & Founders (43 of 43)
The front interior of Percy & Founders, inside Fitzoy Place, a recently developed £750 million pound investment…

Service: Friendly staff all with probable previous restaurant experience. 12.5% service charge

Price: £££

Click to add a blog post for Percy & Founders on Zomato

Square Meal