Jen Café, Chinatown

If you make abstraction of the tourists flocking to the area every day to take pictures in front of the majestic gates, Chinatown is one of London’s most intriguing area.

Jen Café, Chinatown, London | Cake + Whisky

Home to a very close-circled community of Chinese immigrants, it’s a place like no other.

And an excellent spot for some of the city’s cheapest and most satisfying food.

Of course, not every place is good. Most of the restaurants in the area are really just tourist traps to be honest, but there are some real gems to be found if you know where to look.

You know how it goes… You dim sum, you loose some!

Jen Café, Chinatown, London | Cake + Whisky

Ignore the ‘all you can eat’ buffets lining up Gerrard Street and head straight for Jen Café instead.

Jen Café, Chinatown, London | Cake + WhiskyJen Café, Chinatown, London | Cake + Whisky

If you come early enough, you’ll be able to catch the house speciality, Beijing dumplings, being hand-folded in the restaurant’s window.

Jen Café, Chinatown, London | Cake + Whisky

And while I could have stood there all day, looking at the dough being cut, rolled, stuffed and folded into rows and rows of delicious little bundles of joy, I truly recommend you only do that for a while before getting a seat.

With only a handful of table & a strong popularity with those in the know, Jen Café fills up quickly!

Jen Café, Chinatown, London | Cake + Whisky

Don’t spend too much time pondering the (many) options on the menu either.

The Beijing dumplings is what Jen Café’s known for, and they’re definitely what you should get!

Jen Café, Chinatown, London | Cake + Whisky

Juicy, fragrant little parcels of pork mince with lemongrass & ginger wrapped in the thinest sheet of soft dough, they’re comfort food at its very best (especially when topped with a generous spoonful of chilli oil!).

Jen Café, Chinatown, London | Cake + Whisky

And at £5 a plate (which will leave you pretty full if, like me, you’re a rather petite eater), it truly is one of the best value meals to be found in London.

Jen Café, Chinatown, London | Cake + Whisky

But then, that’d mean you’d miss out on the pan-fried dumplings, and that would be a bit of a shame…

So better make sure you take a dumpling partner-in-crime with you!

Jen Café, Chinatown, London | Cake + Whisky

Plus good company will only improve the warm feeling you’ll get from munching on dumplings, sipping on bubble tea & watching in awe as skilled cooks folded dozen after dozen of dumplings.

So if you’re ever looking for the spot in Chinatown to satisfy your dumplings cravings, Jen Café is the place.

Handmade, traditional, fresh and such good value, it’s all that and dim sum!

Jen Café4-8 Newport Pl, London WC2H 7JP

PIN FOR LATER:

Jen Café, Chinatown, London | Cake + Whisky

Jen Café, Chinatown

Roti King, Kings Cross

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Very good general advice, even though its applicability is debatable when it comes to London restaurants.

It is, however, very much true in the case of Roti King.

Roti King, London | Cake + Whisky

Hidden behind a Gentlemen’s Night Club on a small side street near Euston station, in a cramped, shabby basement you can only access by a small, metal staircase, it’s fair to say it’s not the most dreamy of settings.

And yet, there are queues at the door, day in and day out, for both lunch and dinner.

And you know what? Roti King is very much worth the queues.

Roti King, London | Cake + WhiskyRoti King, London | Cake + Whisky

The food they serve might be simple, but it’s stellar in its simplicity.

Especially if you forget about anything listed as a main course and focus all your attention (and appetite) on the staples of Malaysian street food: roti & dhal (sambar).

Roti King, London | Cake + Whisky

The eponymous roti are as good as they could be. Feather-light, soft, thin, buttery and super flaky, they’re any carb-lover dream come true.

Roti King serves a few versions of those, from the traditional Roti Canai (plain roti served with a side of excellent, lightly spiced sambar), to egg, cheese or spinach stuffed versions.

Roti King, London | Cake + Whisky

Get the cheese-stuffed one and a side of sambar, and you’re all set for the best (and cheapest) lunch in a 5-miles radius.

Aaaah, it’s good indeed to be king!

Roti King, 40 Doric Way, Euston, London NW1 1LH  Roti King Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Roti King, Kings Cross

BiBimBap Fitzrovia

What did you do with the extra 24h you got this #LeapYear?

You know me, I took advantage of it to stuff even more food into my life.

So I met with my favourite foodie sidekicks for a taste of Korean food at BiBimBap.

BiBimBap, Fitzrovia | Cake + Whisky

The restaurant itself is a bit clean-lines meets K-Town.

Understands fairly basics but with a Korean pop-star fan club touch ??

BiBimBap, Fitzrovia | Cake + Whisky

And the cutest, most kawaii menu EVER!

The restaurant takes its name from bibimbap, a signature Korean dish of fried rice, topped with vegetables and soy sauce, served in a hot stone bowl.

BiBimBap, Fitzrovia | Cake + Whisky

Each bibimbap bowl comes with a rainbow of thinly sliced vegetables (carrots, daikon, cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, spinach…) and there’s a huge variety of toppings for you to choose from, ranging from Kimchi (chilli-spiced fermented cabbage) to seafood, spicy pork, beef and much more.

BiBimBap, Fitzrovia | Cake + Whisky

The whole lot is brought to your table in a blisteringly hot stone bowl. So hot in fact that you can hear the rice sizzling!

BiBimBap, Fitzrovia | Cake + Whisky

A very good thing as it means that while you make your way through the layers of flavourful marinated meat and colourful, artifully arranged vegetables, the thin layer of rice will continue to cook and turn crispy, making for the most wonderful of surprises when you reach the bottom of the bowl!

A much healthier (and vegetarian friendly) version of crackling, but just as addictive!

While the many variations of the humble bibimbap lead the show at the eponymous restaurant, there are also plenty of sides to choose from.

BiBimBap, Fitzrovia | Cake + Whisky

Pork & vegetable dumplings (lovely and crispy)

BiBimBap, Fitzrovia | Cake + Whisky

Sweet and salty Korean Fried Chicken.

BiBimBap, Fitzrovia | Cake + Whisky

Just look at that shinny soy sauce glaze!

BiBimBap, Fitzrovia | Cake + Whisky

Kimchi pancakes. Spicy and comforting at the same time, and my absolute favourite.

BiBimBap, Fitzrovia | Cake + Whisky

My verdict? BiBimBap was a great way to wave February goodbye. Relatively healthy food, excellent value, great company and many a giggle… Quite a brilliant way to use that extra leap year day (or any other day, really!)

BiBimBap, 10 Charlotte Street,Fitzrovia, London W1T 2LT  Bibimbap Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

BiBimBap Fitzrovia

Cheesy date at Melt Room

Nothing beats a cheesy date.

By which I don’t mean an amalgam of all the cliches you see in movies.

Nop, no red roses, candlelit restaurants or gondola ride for me. Instead, loads and loads of melted cheese and bread.

Melt Room {Restaurant review} | Cake + Whisky

Melt Room is London’s first grilled cheese sandwich shop.

Melt Room {Restaurant review} | Cake + Whisky

Yes, you read that right. They only serve grilled cheese sandwiches.

Melt Room {Restaurant review} | Cake + Whisky

Melt Room {Restaurant review} | Cake + Whisky

And a few other things on the side…

Melt Room {Restaurant review} | Cake + Whisky

Melt Room {Restaurant review} | Cake + Whisky

The atmosphere is very in phase with the menu…

Melt Room {Restaurant review} | Cake + Whisky

In an American diner meets your wildest childhood dream kind of way.

Melt Room {Restaurant review} | Cake + Whisky

Service is friendly and really quick.

Those guys sure understand that cheese cravings don’t wait.

Melt Room {Restaurant review} | Cake + Whisky

The cheese fries arrived first.

Crispy, yet soft in the middle, and covered in the most sinful puddle of cheese sauce, they were simply delicious.

Melt Room {Restaurant review} | Cake + Whisky

And even more so when combined with the homemade relish (that thing is gold, do get some!)

Melt Room {Restaurant review} | Cake + Whisky

The Mac ‘n’ Cheese is a must-order.

Melt Room {Restaurant review} | Cake + Whisky

Golden toasted sourdough bread, sandwiching a generous serving of Mac ‘n’ Cheese (with added chorizo because YOLO).

Come on, you know you want to.

Melt Room {Restaurant review} | Cake + Whisky

Or will it be the Pastrami (with mushrooms, horseradish, red leicestershire and cheddar)?

Melt Room {Restaurant review} | Cake + Whisky

Melt Room also does a brilliant tomato soup + classic grilled cheese sandwich deal for £5.

That’s your lunch break (and all of your cheese cravings) sorted then.

Melt Room, 26 Noel Street, Soho, London W1F 8GY  Melt Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheesy date at Melt Room

Kensington stroll and night at the BBC Proms

It’s Proms season!

Actually, it’s been for quite a while, but I hadn’t managed to make my way to the fanciest of all music festivals.

Or so it was until yesterday, when I left work early and Uber-ed my way to South Kensington for an evening of classical music at the Royal Albert Hall.
A Night at BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London | Cake + Whisky Continue reading “Kensington stroll and night at the BBC Proms”

Kensington stroll and night at the BBC Proms

Kensington stroll and night at the BBC Proms

It’s Proms season!

Actually, it’s been for quite a while, but I hadn’t managed to make my way to the fanciest of all music festivals.

Or so it was until yesterday, when I left work early and Uber-ed my way to South Kensington for an evening of classical music at the Royal Albert Hall.A Night at BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London | Cake + WhiskyA Night at BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London | Cake + Whisky

Founded in 1895, The Proms is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts held annually in the Royal Albert Hall.

A Night at BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London | Cake + WhiskyA Night at BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London | Cake + WhiskyOften described as “the world’s largest and most democratic musical festival”, it’s a very civilised affair indeed; no mud or camping here; it’s all about the Champagne and classical music.
A Night at BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London | Cake + WhiskyAnd to some extend, the queues… But well, when the best tickets in the house are only £5, I suppose it’s only fair game.

A Night at BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London | Cake + WhiskySouth Kensington Natural History Museum, details | Cake + WhiskySouth Kensington Natural History Museum | Cake + WhiskyHaving picked up a couple of raffle tickets, we left the Royal Albert Hall behind and raced off towards South Kensington to pick up a few bits for a little pre-concert improvised picnicLa Patisserie des Reves, South Kensington, London | Cake + WhiskyAfter contemplating our many options for a quite a while (and deciding that a pudding-only meal wouldn’t be reasonable despite how delicious everything in La Patisserie des Rêves‘ window looked), we settled for an old favourite: Comptoir LibanaisComptoir Libanais, South Kensington, London | Cake + WhiskyComptoir Libanais, South Kensington, London | Cake + WhiskyWe picked up enough baba ganoush to feed a small army (and a few baklawas too, I simply couldn’t resist that amazing window display) and carried our feast back to the Royal Albert Hall. A Night at the BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London | Cake + WhiskySoon after we returned, we were led into the Royal Albert Hall.
A Night at BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London | Cake + WhiskyA Night at BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London | Cake + WhiskyFrom then on, my jaw didn’t stop hitting the floor for the entire evening.

The architecture, the music, the company… Everything was perfect and made for one of the best nights I could ever have wished for.

For obvious reasons, I didn’t take pictures of the concert so I’m afraid you’ll have to go check it out for yourself some time soon!

Have you ever been to the BBC Proms? 

Kensington stroll and night at the BBC Proms

Dinner at Ben’s Chili Bowl | Washington DC

On our only night in Washington D.C., it didn’t take us long to decide where to go for dinner.

When we did our pre-trip research, there was a place that kept popping up as the must-visit restaurant. So after a day of exploring in the rain, we made a beeline for a true local gem, Ben’s Chili Bowl.Cake + Whisky | Dinner at Ben's Chili Bowl Washington DCHome of the best chili dog in the country and well worth trying.Cake + Whisky | Dinner at Ben's Chili Bowl Washington DCIt’s a classic American diner sort of affair – very low-key and nothing fancy about it at all, but if the locals love it so much, there must be a reason for it, and we were very much in the mood to see it for ourselves. Cake + Whisky | Dinner at Ben's Chili Bowl Washington DCWe perched on one of the bar stools and sipped on sweet tea (served in cups bigger than my head of course!) while perusing the all-American menu.
Cake + Whisky | Dinner at Ben's Chili Bowl Washington DCCake + Whisky | Dinner at Ben's Chili Bowl Washington DCMinutes later, the most delicious chili dogs were placed in front of us.Cake + Whisky | Dinner at Ben's Chili Bowl Washington DCAnd those babies are well worth their reputation: sausage grilled to perfection, moist and with just enough kick from the chili topping… Perfection in a bun! Cake + Whisky | Dinner at Ben's Chili Bowl Washington DCEven better (if that’s even possible) were the chili fries: Crispy fries, cheese sauce and the most balanced chili sauce EVER… so good I almost ordered a second serving!Cake + Whisky | Dinner at Ben's Chili Bowl Washington DCFor those of you who are not as dedicated to the cheese fries cause as I am, I’d definitely recommend the chili bowl. Basically the best chili I’ve ever eaten (I’m going to try and make this at home soon!) with loads of fresh toppings on top… Summer comfort food at its very best if you ask me.

Meanwhile on the outside, another summer storm had started and with every drop of rain, more people found shelter into the small diner, which was filling up by the minute with table after table of regulars chatting happily with the lovely waiters and creating the most enjoyable of atmospheres.

I could have happily stayed there forever, but by the time we were finished eating, the storm had calmed down so we sayed our goodbyes and raced to our home for the night to pack and try to catch some sleep before getting up before the sun to fly back to New York in the morning.

Dinner at Ben’s Chili Bowl | Washington DC

Wahaca | Mexican Market Eating | Islington

I initially didn’t plan to write a review of Wahaca (hence the terrible picture quality). We went there kind of by default on a Sunday evening when there simply wasn’t enough food in the fridge to cook dinner, and everything else in the neighbourhood seemed to have already closed.

But then, just like the first time I visited, the utter brilliance of it all hit be. I tend not to be the biggest fan of so-called “chain restaurants” (which I most often than not find a bit “meh”) but Wahaca is most definitely an exception to that rule. So I obviously HAD TO write about it. Also I fell in love with Frijoles, and that was in itself enough of a reason for a review!

I usually blame chains for lacking in originality and/or authenticity and lower-than-standard food quality. Wahaca however definitely can’t be fault on either of these points. Also, they do cracking little cocktails!
Cake + Whisky | WahacaThere were many treats on the cocktail list (Margaritaaaaaas! 🍸) but my eyes were drawn to the Rhubarb Mezcalita special… Cake + Whisky | WahacaAnd God, was I glad I went with it! It was perfectly balanced, which I always find somewhat tricky with rhubarb. Also tried the Hibiscus Mojito, which was refreshing but would have benefited from more hibiscus flavours to make it truly interesting. If I manage to get my hands on some hibiscus flowers, I might actually give it a go as it truly is an interesting flavour combination! Cake + Whisky | WahacaWith obligatory Guacamole (read “I’ll never EVER pass on an opportunity to get guacamole”), we had all we needed to survive the dreaded test of menu-picking.Which I must admit I didn’t get very involved in because 1. I wanted everything 2. I was much too busy scooping guacamole on tortilla chips.

Also, I must confess this was actually one of the best guacamoles I’ve eaten in restaurants sofar. I pretty much gobbled up the entire thing all to myself (#sorrynotsorry), so I don’t know how credible I still am saying this, but maybe a touch more lemon/lime juice would make it absolutely perfect to my eyes. Cake + Whisky | WahacaCake + Whisky | WahacaApparently I was right not to get involved in the whole menu-picking thing, as I was soon faced with quite literally ALL THE TACOS! 🙌Cake + Whisky | WahacaWe started off our little improvised feast with the Chicken Pipian, which paired really well with Wahaca’s own hot sauce. I had sort of mixed feelings about this one: on one hand, I absolutely loved the nuttiness brought by the pumpkin seeds as well as the crunchy red cabbage topping but found the chicken a bit dry…Cake + Whisky | WahacaFollowing up with the Pork Pibil, which was already pretty great by itself, but reached new highs when paired with the fruity hot sauce! Cake + Whisky | WahacaBut the dish to rule them all was the MSC Fish Tacos. Deliciously crispy panko-crumbed cod with the freshest slaw I’ve ever eaten, balanced out with creamy-hot chipotle mayo and tangy pickled cucumbers; there simply was no faulting them on anything. I can only urge you to get your hands on some!Cake + Whisky | WahacaMy one true love though? See that brown-ish paste on the right handside of the picture. Yes really. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s dream-material. Or Frijoles, as people who aren’t quite as obsessed with the magnificent butteriness of this rich blackbean stew call it.Cake + Whisky | WahacaRounding it all up with a slice of the Chocolate Tres Leche Cake. Unfortunately, I don’t think I will order this again as it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. From the description I was hoping for a slightly sticky, intensely caramel-flavoured cake but it rather had a sponge-y texture I found a bit dry… Now that I think of it, I come to wonder if the cake is made with chocolate or cocoa…

What: Fresh Mexican small plates (best excuse ever to taste everything!) that might very well surprise you!

How much: About £40 for 2 people (with drinks)

Tip: If you have the chance to put your hands on the Rhubarb Mezcalita, go for it, it’s GREAT! I’d also advice you to get a double portion of Frijoles (one per person might seem a bit excessive, but I’d rather skip dessert than share those!). Actually, that’s probably what I’ll do next time!

Where: Wahaca, 68-69 Upper Street, London N1 0NY

Wahaca | Mexican Market Eating | Islington

Battersea Pie Station | Covent Garden

Covent garden has been near the top of my absolute favourite places in London since the first time I went there back in 2011. I tend to hate touristy places, especially when they’re really crowded, but there’s something about Covent Garden I simply can’t resist.

As for most heavily touristy places, food is still a bit meh around there though. And/Or rather expensive. But, as for any general rules, there are always exception and I think I’ve found Covent Garden’s!
Cake + Whisky | Battersea Pie Covent GardenBattersea Pie‘s shop is a tiny unassuming shop located on the lower level of Covent Garden’s Plaza. It is really easy to miss it as everything else around is so buzzy and colourful and loud, but somehow, I always find my way there when I’m in the neighbourhood. Most probably because it’s the best value-for-money meal you’ll find! And also, PIE
Cake + Whisky | Vegetarian fod at The Gate IslingtonNo-nonse there: as soon as you get through the door, you’re greeted by those golden beauties! And there begins my your agonising mission of choosing just ONE of them to inhale bring home with you!Cake + Whisky | Vegetarian fod at The Gate IslingtonCake + Whisky | Vegetarian fod at The Gate IslingtonCake + Whisky | Vegetarian fod at The Gate IslingtonDecisions, decisions… Cake + Whisky | Vegetarian fod at The Gate IslingtonThe whole place is pretty simple. It’s all white tiles, marble-like tables and wooden stools. Plus all the necessary condiments. Which is perfectly fine by me (for some reason, I rather like this no-fuss look).Cake + Whisky | Vegetarian fod at The Gate IslingtonBut what I like even more are the pies, that are really quickly brought to your table by one of the lovely, always smilling members of staff. From then on, it becomes really difficult to resist the urge to dive in. Which I somehow managed to do for a few seconds to click those pictures (what a dedicated blogger I am!!) before I gave in to buttery, flaky pastry encasing the most moreish mince beef and onion filling. Hot, salty and very satisfying, there isn’t much more to ask from a pie, is there?
Cake + Whisky | Vegetarian fod at The Gate IslingtonThe pastries aren’t bad looking either! And from what I’ve heard, really good too!Cake + Whisky | Vegetarian fod at The Gate IslingtonWhat: The best cheap meal on the Plaza.

How much: Pies are around £5 (prices vary according to what you get, and also if you eat in or take it away). £10 should be more than enough for a very filling, satisfying lunch of pie, mash, gravy etc…

Tip: If the weather happen to be nice, I’d really recommend you take your pie(s) to St Paul’s Churchyard and enjoy it in the sun. Best lunch break ever? I sure think so!

Where: Battersea Pie Station, 28 The Market, Lower Ground Floor, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8RA

 

Battersea Pie Station | Covent Garden