The Hungrier Guide To London! London is an international melting pot and with this comes many restaurants of diverse cuisine. From a surprising national dish – curry (because of the vast Indian population), to Ethiopian Injera, Caribbean Roti, Turkish Pancakes, Dutch Poffertjes, Korean Bibimbap, Thai Laksa, French Crepes and great Japanese Sushi to Britain’s own favourite, Fish and Chips. The city is filled with great restaurants and London will always leave you hungry for more.
Mornings in London are anything but boring. As the city wakes, the smell of freshly brewed coffee and warm croissants linger in the streets. Or is this just my hunger playing tricks on me?…
Wake up at one of the many lovely cafes for a traditional English breakfast, like at the Caravan Kings Cross where they step up the English breakfast game and house their own coffee roastery! Another lovely cafe is The Wolseley located in Piccadilly. Here class meets tradition and they have even won best breakfast in London 2005 and 2009. You will have to reserve well up front but there are a couple of tables near the entrance up for grabs, as there are only two you’re best to call ahead and check for any openings.
If this doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can always make your way to Le Pain Quotidian for lovely artisan bread, fry-ups and sandwiches (on the lunch menu you will find stews, soups and quiches) or have breakfast at my personal favourite, The Breakfast Club. Admittedly, you may have to queue for a little while but the stacks of American pancakes drenched in Maple Syrup and topped with Crispy Bacon are well worth the wait. There is a little something for everyone; Bircher Muesli, Club Sandwiches, Breakfast Burritos, Apple and Cinnamon French Toast, Huevos Rancheros (Spanish eggs), Greek Yoghurt with Fruit and many many (many) more delicious dishes to wake up to. The Breakfast Club can be found in Angel, Battersea Rise, Hoxton, London Bridge, Soho and Spitalfields.
By this time your stomach is sure to have warmed up and lunch is on its way!
Located near London’s bustling tourist area Leicester Square, in “little K-town” you will find a little tucked away gem – Seoul Bakery. Unlike the name implies, Seoul Bakery is not actually a bakery. Here you won’t find cakes and bread but dished like Bibimbap, Kimchi Pancakes and their ever so popular Aloe Honey Tea. The restaurant’s walls are lined with post-it notes with drawings and messages from restaurant-goers. There are only two main tables on which everyone sits together (unless you are lucky enough to get a seat at the little bar-like table for two) and downstairs you will find a little K-pop shop selling everything from boy band socks and posters to DVDs, calendars and little knick-knacks. Seoul Bakery is just lovely, not to mention it is incredibly cheap! NOTE: Seoul Bakery has moved to 14 Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3NH!
One of my go-to lunch places is the Hare and Tortoise Bloomsbury. Here you will find mostly students lining up around lunchtime as it offers cheap, great and “fast” food. They serve Asian dishes with such favourites as Pad Thai (delicious!), Curry Laska, Sushi, Chicken or Salmon Teriyaki, all sorts of noodles and great little snacks.
Coming from Amsterdam sushi was not a dish regularly eaten as it is so damn expensive and lacks quality. However, here in London, there is no shortage of great sushi restaurants and they are quite cheap may I add! It’s a little out of the way but well worth the trip, Cafe Japan in Golders green (one stop after Hampstead). Here they serve the best sushi I have had in London! Lukewarm, fluffy rice, great quality fresh fish and plenty of dishes to choose from. The only thing I will suggest when ordering sushi with tempura is to ask when it was made. They get so busy that they sometimes prepare some of the tempura a little up front and this can affect the quality. For something a little more central, check out the Eat Tokyo branches dotted all over London. Great, affordable Japanese food!
If you are looking for bang for buck, I suggest going the extra few bus stops to Atari-ya supermarket in Temple Fortune (Atari-ya can also be found at Oxford Street, Swiss Cottage, Hendon central and Ealing common, but these are not as cheap as they are actual restaurants, not supermarkets). Admittedly, it’s a little out of the way but this “supermarket” houses a sushi bar with fantastic sushi for very little money! They only have two tables available so call ahead for a reservation if you don’t want to get a takeaway.
Continuing the Asian-streak, head over to Leicester Square’s China town for amazingly delicious dim sum at London Jade Garden. The restaurant is filled with Chinese which I always think is a good sign as they know what they’re talking about. The dim sum is delicious and reasonably priced even though it is in THE tourist area of London.
When it comes to dinner you don’t muck about.
Probably my favourite restaurant in London, Clos Maggiore in Covent Garden, has not only been named London’s most romantic restaurant but has also received three AA Rosette awards, the Wine Spectator Grand Award and Wine List of the Year UK all in 2014. Serving French orientated foods, great wine and amazing desserts. As you can imagine, Clos Maggiore is rather busy so definitely call ahead to check for any openings and make a reservation well up front (potentially weeks or even months ahead!).
Curry is London’s most popular dish and it’s no wonder with the Indian population in the UK being over 1.4 million people! When walking over Brick-Lane, (also known as ” Little India)”, the owners of the restaurants will offer you all kinds of discounts and offers like a free bottle of wine, 25% off and even 2 for 1 in order to persuide you to come in and dine with them. This in combination with the fragrant smells will entice you in and you’ll be happy you did.
Last but definitely not least there is The Little Thai in Belsize Park (a couple of stops after Camden Town) where they serve great Thai food for small prices. My favourites are the Laksa (a must!), the Green, Red and Penang Curry and let’s not forget about their amazing Coconut Rice!
Head over to lovely Hampstead, also known as “Little Paris”, for a La Creperie Hampstead. This creperie has been here for over 30 years and there are always people queueing up to get one of these delicious pancakes filled the things dreams are made of. Nutella, Belgium Chocolate (White, Milk or Dark), Banana, Sugar and Lemon, Rum, Raisins, Maple Syrup and much more; they also have savoury toppings like Spinach, Ham, Mushrooms, Cheese, the list goes on and on. My favourite is the triple Nutella (and no, that’s not a real thing but it never hurts to ask..)
Just down the road from La Creperie Hampstead, you will find Tinseltown. An American diner where you can have great milkshakes like Oreo Cookies and Cream, Ferrero Rocher, Skittles, Kinder Bueno, Nutella, Snickers, Bounty, Tolberone shakes and much more.
Stuffed, tired and ready for another day of great food in delicious London!
Also check out: The Hungrier guide to london – part 2