Sun’s out, Bun House!

You know the saying – sun’s out, buns out!

And I know just the spot to get your bun fix – Bun House!

Bun House / Cantonese-style steamed buns / Soho, London

Light and airy, Bun House isn’t very big but the menu is every steamed bun lover’s dream come true.

Bun House / Cantonese-style steamed buns / Soho, London

The bun selection is rather wide: there’s pork of course, but also lamb, veggie, fish, as well as a couple of sweet options.

Bun House / Cantonese-style steamed buns / Soho, London

All steamed to order and ready in minutes.

Bun House / Cantonese-style steamed buns / Soho, London

We made the most of a quiet Monday lunch service to try it all…

Bun House / Cantonese-style steamed buns / Soho, London

Veggie? Good.

Fish? Good.

Lamb? Gooooooooooooooood!

Bun House / Cantonese-style steamed buns / Soho, London

The pickled daikon is a great way to keep things fresh.

And the lotus crisps are simply too good to pass.

Bun House / Cantonese-style steamed buns / Soho, London

Take it all down with many a cup of tea… and there you have it: the perfect London lunch in the sun!

Or the rain. Or even in case of a return of the Beast from the East…

Bun House, 24 Greek St, Soho, London W1D 4DZ

Where else’s good near Bun House?

Xu, Chinatown

Kricket, Soho

Temper, Soho

Palomar, Soho

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Sun’s out, Bun House!

You win sum, you dim sum

…not quite the traditional saying, but far more appropriate when it comes to dim sum at Mayfair Garden.

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

Once you’ve made your selection (I advise to take a few friends so you can order EVERYTHING!) and placed your order, sit back, relax and take in the sleek, minimalist decor.

And before you know it…

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

The table will be covered in a variety of dumpling plates.

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

Don’t miss out on the classics: plump prawn & chive dumplings, golden prawn spring rolls, gorgeous har gau…

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

… prawn shu mai…

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

… generously-filled deep-fried prawn dumplings…

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

… superb (and incredible value) king prawn cheung fun…

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

…and my favourite – golden-fried turnip cakes!

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

But enough talking – time to dig in!

The menu’s not especially long (perfect for the indecisive kind!), nor is it comprehensive in any way (the lack of chicken feet is apparently a big deal…), but everything on there is pretty special…

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + WhiskyYou win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

The baked venison puffs are exceptional – the best I’ve had in London sofar.

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

I don’t usually like char sui buns, but Mayfair Garden’s are fluffy, sweet-and-sour pieces of meaty perfection and play in a league of their own!

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

The Xiaolongbao are as delicate and fiddly as you’d expect…

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

… and the scallop shu mai is the perfect bite to finish things up with a touch of luxury (and a very full stomach).

But no empty stomach – surprisingly enough, dim sum is very well priced, with most 3-dumpling plates around the £5 pricemark.

See I told you – no matter what you order at Mayfair Garden, you win some, you dim sum!

Mayfair Garden, 8-10 N Audley St, London W1K 6ZD

You win sum, you dim sum

Hot Pot restaurant, Chinatown

I had one of the most exciting meal of the year at Hot Pot in Chinatown last week.

It wasn’t at a fancy, expensive restaurant.

But it was something totally new and that I had never done before – and when you eat out as much as I do, that’s something to celebrate!

Hot Pot restaurant, Chinatown ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

The first outpost of a 150-something-strong Thai-based franchise, Hot Pot specialises in… well… hot pots.

Hot Pot restaurant, Chinatown ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

The ultimate social eating dining concept, hot pot brings family and friends together around a broth-filled pot and a variety of toppings to cook in them.

Hot Pot restaurant, Chinatown ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Once you’ve chosen your broth from the 5 daily-made varieties and a few too many toppings from a 60-something strong list, all you have to do is sit back and relax.

All whilst nibbling on some fantastic Thai-style chicken wings and prawn toast (not pictured but absolutely delicious).

Hot Pot restaurant, Chinatown ● London restaurant review ● Cake + WhiskyHot Pot restaurant, Chinatown ● London restaurant review ● Cake + WhiskyHot Pot restaurant, Chinatown ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

When you’re doing that, the kitchen will get everything ready, pouring, crushing, peeling, chopping and mixing the many many ingredients necessary to craft Hot Pot’s signature broths.

Hot Pot restaurant, Chinatown ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Before you know it, a big steel pot of fragrant broth will appear in the centre of your table, alongside the freshest selection of toppings.

Hot Pot restaurant, Chinatown ● London restaurant review ● Cake + WhiskyHot Pot restaurant, Chinatown ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Pork, beef, fish, vegetables…

Moderation was never my strong suit, so we went for quite literally all of them, and I strongly recommend you do the same!

Hot Pot restaurant, Chinatown ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Then it’s time for you to get cooking by adding whatever toppings you fancy into the broth.

Hot Pot restaurant, Chinatown ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Add things one at a time or really go to town and put a little bit of everything inthere at once, there’s really no wrong way to do hot pot.

Plus, the more things you cook in the broth, the more layers of flavour you add to your initial broth, which means the more you eat, the better it gets!

Hot Pot restaurant, Chinatown ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

A meal that’s meant to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace, hot pot is all about gathering your favourite people around a table create delicious food memories.

Definitely the hot (pot) place to be this winter!

Hot Pot, 17 Wardour St, London W1D 6PJ

Hot Pot restaurant, Chinatown

Spicy Pork Dumplings

I’ve been on a dumplings roll lately.

Har gau, siu mai, gyoza and then sum… I just can’t get enough!

Spicy Pork Dumplings • Recipe • Cake + Whisky

So just 2 days after gorging myself with some of London’s best at the Chinese Food Festival, I found myself roaming the aisles of See Woo in Chinatown for some dumpling wrappers…

… and the rest, as they say, is dim-story!

Spicy Pork Dumplings • Recipe • Cake + Whisky

More seriously though, homemade dumplings are easier to make than you think (I should have listened to my friend Vivian on that point! and so much healthier than their take-away counterparts!

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Spicy Pork Dumplings • Recipe • Cake + Whisky

Carby, meaty, fragrant, sweet, salty and spicy all at once – these spicy pork dumplings are the ultimate comfort food and then sum!

More recipes

Miso ramen with prawns and scallops

Satay chicken salad (GF)

Spicy Xi’an style noodles (VG)

Spicy Pork Dumplings

Dumpling Feast at the Chinese Food Festival

Considering the enchanting weather we’ve been blessed with lately, with threatening cloudy skies garanteeing the wonderful alternance of pouring rain and roasting hot sunshine, you’ll have to come up with a pretty good excuse to convince to get out of the house.

Hint – Chinese food is an excellent one.

Dumpling Feast at London's Chinese Food Festival • Cake + Whisky

Which is how last weekend, I found myself by the River at the Chinese Food Festival, sampling all the goodies from London’s best Chinese food stalls and restaurants.

Obviously, there were noodles…

Dumpling Feast at London's Chinese Food Festival • Cake + WhiskyDumpling Feast at London's Chinese Food Festival • Cake + Whisky

Steamed buns.

Dumpling Feast at London's Chinese Food Festival • Cake + Whisky

Stir fry.

Dumpling Feast at London's Chinese Food Festival • Cake + WhiskyDumpling Feast at London's Chinese Food Festival • Cake + Whisky

And my favourite – dumplings.

And not just any dumplings – Ugly Dumpling!

Dumpling Feast at London's Chinese Food Festival • Cake + Whisky

Judging by the queues, I’m not the only one smitten with them!

Dumpling Feast at London's Chinese Food Festival • Cake + Whisky

I popped by the Lee Kum Kee stand to grab the best dim sum dipping sauce

Dumpling Feast at London's Chinese Food Festival • Cake + Whisky

… and commandeered a table to enjoy my loot with the most amazing views!

Dumpling Feast at London's Chinese Food Festival • Cake + Whisky

Foodies could also get an introduction to the basics of Chinese cuisine courtesy of the School of Wok and learn how to make a very simple Szechuan chicken stir fry – perfect for those rushed midweek dinners!

Dumpling Feast at London's Chinese Food Festival • Cake + WhiskyDumpling Feast at London's Chinese Food Festival • Cake + Whisky

And of course, all the secrets to dumplings folding!

Not that there’s much of a secret – seeing it done is helpful, but in the end, is all about practice.

Dumpling Feast at London's Chinese Food Festival • Cake + WhiskyDumpling Feast at London's Chinese Food Festival • Cake + Whisky

… which I definitely need more of.

Not that it’s really a problem as more dumpling folding means more dumpling eating – totally fine by me!

Dumpling Feast at the Chinese Food Festival

Spicy Xi’an Style Noodles (Vegan)

When my Chinese-food-loving sister last visited London (back when I was living in Islington), we took her to Xi’an Impression for dinner.

Spicy Xi'an Style Noodles (vegan) • Recipe • Cake + Whisky

Located right across the Emirate Stadium, this un-impressive, barely better than your usual Chinatown joint -looking Chinese restaurant is a true hidden gem.

They specialise in dishes from the Xi’an province and that’s where I had my first taste of Xi’an style noodles. Hot, salty, with a strong taste of garlic and warmth of chilli, it’s China’s answer to Italy’s aglio e olio.

Needless to say, it was love at first bite.

Spicy Xi'an Style Noodles (vegan) • Recipe • Cake + Whisky

And as it turns out, Xi’an-style noodles also happen to be an excellent budget recipe, being entirely made up of store cupboard ingredients. (I added pak choi, but feel free to switch for any leftover greens you have  or to skip it entirely)

So next time you’re in the supermarket, I recommend you pick up the below ingredients.

Udon know when you might need a quick & easy dinner recipe!

Spicy Xi'an Style Noodles (vegan) • Recipe • Cake + Whisky

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More easy dinner recipes

Spring vegetable quiche (V)

Gnocchi with tomato & wild garlic (Vegan)

Tomato-coconut pasta (Vegan)

Spicy Xi’an Style Noodles (Vegan)

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

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Jen Café, Chinatown, London | Cake + Whisky

Jen Café, Chinatown