All hail the Roti King

The Roti King (aka Kalpana Sugendran Sugendran) does not have a food truck. He does not have an Instagram account or a twitter feed. Despite this, anyone who’s been to his small restaurant in Euston would be fast to agree that he makes some of the most authentic Malaysian food you’ll find outside Malaysia proper, that talent trumps trendy and that the hipsters are missing something big here. He does have a Facebook page.

In fact, when I first set out on this adventure, a good friend of mine (conveniently, Malaysian) was quick to suggest an excursion to the Roti King – I couldn’t believe I had twelve letters to eat through first.

At first glance it might look like a bit of a dive – don’t let the somewhat unbecoming exterior put you off. Once you get down the stairs and past the sign above the door that reads “Euston Chinese” you will not be disappointed – unless, of course, you’re looking for Chinese food. Inside the decor is clean and basic. If you are lucky enough to not have to wait for one of maybe ten or twelve tables, you’re in luck. If you’re really impatient, they also do takeaway.

When Stella and I arrived for dinner on a Wednesday night the restaurant was already full. We didn’t have to wait long, but as we did, a robust queue built up behind us, growing long and out the door into the bitter winter night. (I’m a bit late writing this post). Joining us in line were two of Stella’s friends from Malaysia – one of them here visiting the other for a short holiday. We arrived at the same time by chance – seems like much in the same way as Canadians in London wear plaid and say eh, Malaysians go for roti canai at the same spot. Seems like I’m not the only one reinforcing stereotypes, although plaid is my favourite colour.

Roti canai is the buttery, stretchy, delicious flatbread  born of Malaysia and sold in mamak stalls throughout; also known as the roti prata in Singapore, it is one of the top reasons why I gained so much weight when I lived there. Calling it my roti baby doesn’t even make it sound cute.

As we waited, we watched as the dough was masterfully kneaded, stretched, flipped and folded. I’d fasted all day in anticipation of my Roti King flatbread, and apparently I’d come to the right place.*

Although I came for the bread, which comes served with a small bowl of curry, there are a number of other traditional Malaysian dishes on the menu. We went for the nasi goreng, not because we needed it really, but because we’re [a little bit] greedy. To drink, the signature cincau, or grass jelly – a drink considered “immortal” and popular among women trying to conceive (don’t get excited mom). Made from a herb plant called mesona chinensis, it does not actually contain any gelatin. In Malaysia they sometimes add soy milk, and call it a Michael Jackson – a reference to his changing colour and/or the song “Black & White.”

Our food came quickly and I was delighted that I had ordered a meal and a half all to myself. The roti canai is generous, but the curry portions are small.

FullSizeRender

FullSizeRender1

At £6 a head, one could be forgiven for wanting to eat here every day. And in fact, I must confess, between my first visit and the time of writing I actually went back to “scabby old Euston” for lunch. The first time I visited Kuala Lumpur, I was unable to locate real proper local phayre – the street food of KL which is almost legendary. I don’t know how this happened – total amateur fail. Doesn’t matter now though – because the Roti King, or Euston Chinese – now that is a real find.

*That’s a lie, I didn’t. I thought about it though.

Need to know:

Roti King

40 Doric Way, NW1 1LH

07966 093467

Nearest Tube: Euston

Closed Sundays

How many brains did you sell tonight?

Alternate title: L is for Levant or, This Entry is a Total Cheat.

Two years on and I’ve reached the letter L. What I did not want to do for this post: Latvian food: meat, fish, boiled potatoes, potatoes boiled then fried. Lithuanian food: potatoes boiled then fried. It’s post-Christmas, and I’m looking for something light and healthy to eat – barking up the wrong tree here, no offense to either my Latvian or Lithuanian friends (I do have both of these). Liberian food – I’m not even sure that’s a thing. I briefly contemplated covering Lebanon by going mad clubbing and getting a kebab on the way home, but really, I didn’t want to do that either. I go to bed at 10.

What I did want to do was try The Palomar, a new entrant in London’s modern Jewish food scene.

The Levant is a historical designation for a geographic area covering both the Eastern and Western Mediterranean, a.k.a the Middle East. This includes countries such as Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Syria and Turkey, among others. Considering the likelihood of me readily locating a Jordanian and/or a Syrian restaurant in London, I thought it worthwhile to attempt covering the region all in one go, and, at the risk of being mistaken for some kind of restaurant critic, ticking a hot spot I’ve been wanting to try off my list on a cold January night. And as Palomar means “Dovecote” in Spanish – a place of refuge for a traveler – I couldn’t help but think it was the perfect place to take solace from what has always otherwise been a nasty month.

Recently awarded the ‘I Love You, You’re Strange Award’ by Independent columnist Grace Dent in her round-up of London’s best restaurants of 2014, it took us nearly two months to get a table at a time where we actually wanted to eat.

And no wonder – when we arrived at 7 pm on a Wednesday night, we were escorted past first-come, first-serve counter seats (which were full) where joyful patrons watched chefs cook in a small open kitchen – to an even smaller dining room.

Now I may have waited yonks for a table but not everybody wants to do this, or has to. Counter-style eating has become the norm across London, from prominent sushi counters to American diners to oyster bars, and I quote Tim Hayward (who has bar none the coolest job/credentials in the world):

“Our requirements from public dining have changed. We have grown self-confident and no longer necessarily need the class-riddled fawning of traditional restaurants. Good food at reasonable prices is almost a given in the current restaurant market, so perhaps we’re looking for more. The theatre? The experiential element of being right on the edge of food preparation? Maybe [Ozersky] is right: maybe it’s the democratic buzz of being shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow diners and face to face with the cook.”

As reservations are not taken at the counter, this is your best bet if you want to try and snag dinner at The Palomar off the cuff.

The atmosphere in the dining room itself is intimate and friendly – i.e. you will be sitting very close to other people. To my left was a couple who I swore were famous, and to my right, a solo diner eating two desserts. Good start.

The concept here revolves around small dishes meant to share, inspired by a Sephardic style of cooking and based on recipes spread across the Jewish diaspora. Many familiar ingredients and flavours dot the menu – preserved lemon, cardamom, sumac, dates, aubergine, couscous and latkes (yay!) all feature, in various incarnations.

We started with the cocktail list. Does this approach to eating mean we order five cocktails and share those too? I asked.

Since this was probably a bit excessive for a school night, I chose the ‘Garden of Eden’ – extra dry rum with elderflower cordial, velvet falernum (what this means is beyond me), lime juice, maraschino and grapefruit bitters.

This was truly biblical, which explains why our celebrity friends to the left had them coming at very regular intervals.

The waitress came to take our order, advising us of the nightly special: brain, coated in paprika breadcrumbs with confit garlic and chickpeas. She said this as if it was nothing: you know, brain. We both had some questions.

Q: What kind of brain is it?

A: “Pork, and it’s bloody lovely.”

Q: How many brains have you sold tonight?

A: “I’ve sold one in the restaurant, but it’s a very popular dish at the bar.” Still not sold.

We decided on four more standard dishes to share – the shakshukit, a deconstructed kebab with minced meat, yogurt and tahini; the octopus steak with cherry tomato confit and houmous; the morning glory and tenderstem broccoli with fried glass noodles, cumin, cashew and basil lime vinagraitte and my favourite, the butternut squash risotto with mangetout, pine nuts and parmesan labneh foam.

IMG_2874

With some bread to start, of course – I was excited to try their challah bread, having recently tried my cousin Jennifer’s homemade version.

“Tonight we also have a kubaneh – a soft, pot-baked buttery bread of Yemeni origin, served with tahini and grilled tomatoes,” the waitress intercepted, lest I order something as run-of-the-mill as my favourite braided egg bread. Alas, she had me at butter – a modern manna from heaven.

IMG_2870

The verdict – as with the reviews of the restaurant I’d read beforehand, our views were mixed. On the night, we both really enjoyed the food, the atmosphere and the unpretentious service. Looking back on the meal, my husband found the food to be very good, but average, while I remember it as being very creative (top marks for presentation) and very tasty, with unusual blends of flavour. The labneh foam was definitely memorable – it sounds pretty inconspicuous (labneh is basically strained greek yogurt) but a good example of what this restaurant stands for – solid, unassuming Middle Eastern food, prepared with care. A good choice for a date, a business lunch, or a quick pre-theatre bite. Next time I’ll sit at the bar!

Need to know:

The Palomar

34 Rupert Street, W1D 6DN

020 7439 8777

http://www.thepalomar.co.uk

Nearest tube: Picadilly Circus

Living the Amerikorean dream, or Seoul Food

I went to Korea once. I had a 17 hour layover, on a cheap flight from Bangkok to Montreal, via Seoul and Chicago. I had grand plans – palaces, temples, more palaces, stand on the border of North Korea and South Korea and hop back and forth, saying “North Korea, South Korea, North Korea, South Korea,” over, and over again. I know you can picture me doing this.

I learned one thing from my brief stint in this bustling Asian megacity – don’t bother going on a Monday. Everything is closed. Palaces – closed. Temples? Closed. DEMILITARIZED ZONE? Closed! Hopes – dashed. There would be no hopping.

But, the bus from the airport is free. I suppose I could have gone to Gyeongbokgung Palace – that one is closed on Tuesdays – but instead, I wandered aimlessly through the eerily quiet city center, flip-flop-claden on a chilly November day. I lasted about 4 hours, and then went back to the airport to use the free wifi – I’d been backpacking for 10 weeks, and thought it was a good idea to let my parents know I was on my way home. Plus this was 2008 – they didn’t have wifi in temples back then.

P1040927

What I didn’t do in Seoul (why??) was have a meal. So, have I actually been to Korea? I’m not sure if this pit stop counts, if I apply the criteria that I normally use to determine whether or not I’ve really, truly visited a country. These criteria being, mostly, did I eat?

I was, in fact, introduced to Korean food a few years earlier by my friend Jane, who, incidentally, is Korean. She prepared a Korean feast for me and four other friends in her small Ottawa apartment on Valentine’s Day – her Korean pancakes, or “jeon” would become legendary in our circles. She dazzled us with her chopstick skillz, and left us in awe of her flawless ability to converse with her mom in two languages, when she called home to ask a question about one of the recipes. “Jane, it’s probably very early in Korea,”  I reminded her as she picked up the phone. “Don’t be stupid,” she reminded me back, “My parents live in Yellowknife.

Fun fact: According to a 2011 census, the total number of Koreans living in Yellowknife is 30.

There is no shortage of Korean food in London – it’s like, a thing. All of the hipsters are eating it! Well, they’re eating a hybrid of American and Korean street food which is mighty, mighty tasty. Some of the most popular Korean food traders right now include Kimchinary (otherwise known as Korean tacos otherwise known as the best idea ever) and Busan BBQ, a cross between Texas and Seoul (or Pyongyang) in a burger.

There are at least three reliable choices for a good bibimbap near my office – I eat Korean food a fair bit now, thanks to Jane. The aptly named Bibimbap in Soho is a good spot for beginners. My favourite part is the rice crust at the bottom of the bowl.

The one Korean delicacy I hadn’t had the pleasure of trying before my current culinary journey was Korean barbecue, or gogigui, which means simply meat + roasting. I love Asian languages – the literal translation of the Chinese word for popcorn, for example, is exploding rice flower. They said it like it is, which is a quality I like in a nation.

Usually prepared on a charcoal grill built in to your table, I wasn’t 100% sure that in the UK this was allowed for health and safety reasons, but what the hey?

Myung Ga in Soho was chocablock at 7 pm on a Monday night. The first thing I noticed when we arrived was that the only table left was the one that I had booked – night saved! The second thing was that all the other diners were Korean. I took this as an excellent sign, until the table next to ours just wouldn’t stop eating which diverted the waiter’s attention away from you know, me.

We decided to order a mix of gogigui and other mains and small dishes. For the barbecue which, to the regulator’s delight, was of the less traditional variety – gas vs. charcoal, we chose two beef dishes and one chicken – the kalbi (beef ribs), bulgogi (thinly sliced beef) and dakgui, or “chicken marinated for the BBQ so that the weird girl who doesn’t like beef can eat.” To start, we ordered some fried tofu and kimchi jeon – Jane’s old staple, the Korean pancake, prepared with kimchi – if I said kimchi was a staple of the Korean diet, I’d be vastly underestimating its importance. Did you know that the average Korean eats approximately 40 pounds of kimchi every year? They also say “kimchi” instead of “cheese” when taking photographs. It’s very high in fibre, and low in fat.

Just in case this wasn’t enough, we ordered a portion of dak galbi – “chicken specially prepared in a Korean way with spicy sauce” – and bibim naengmyeon, a dish of cold buckwheat noodles in a hot sauce.

The food was delivered in an orderly fashion, beginning with the small dishes and the non-barbecue chicken; based on my limited experience (being Jane and less than six hours in Seoul) Koreans are nothing if not extremely efficient. The jeon, predictably, was delicious, although disappeared mysteriously quickly. The chicken specially prepared in a Korean way with spicy sauce was not in the least bit spicy; coated in a syrupy red sauce, it was undeniably sweet, but ravishingly so. My teeth will forgive me tomorrow, I promised myself.

Once this first stage of our meal was complete, the waiter arrived to turn on our grill. With a flick of a switch, the first small platter of beef was a-sizzling. We were brought a bowl full of lettuce – I wasn’t allowed to put this on the barbecue (but everything goes on the barbecue) but instead was to use it a wrapper for the meat, like so:

bbq3

“Like a taco!” I exclaimed with delight. Tacos are my favourite thing ever.

While the plates of meat were somewhat small and once again a little on the sweet side, and the noodles, when they arrived, a bit on the awkward side to slurp, I would consider this a very fun and intimate experience to share with good friends. And, a learning experience : one, I did not know about the technique of cutting meat up with scissors. This is genius. Two – tinder! For a girl who has been in a relationship for more than six years, this was news to me. For a married woman out for dinner with her girlfriends, this dating app turned out to be the equivalent of the iPad game for cats – “all the fun of your cat chasing a laser pointer, without any of the work.”

Massive apologies to Rosie. I hope the guy without teeth doesn’t contact you again.

The verdict: Definitely a successful evening, but maybe more so because of my friend’s willingness to let me accept and reject her potential future soulmates on her mobile. At £16 a head (without alcohol) I thought this was a pretty good value meal; that said, I imagine you can find good value barbecue elsewhere with bigger portions, and less sugar.

If a Korean meal isn’t enough for you, the London Korean Film Festival is on until November 12th. If you happen to be reading this whilst currently IN Korea – Paktor is the South-East Asian version of Tinder. I kid you not – good luck!

Need to know:

Myung Ga Restaurant

1 Kingly Street

020 7734 8220

Nearest tube: Oxford Circus or Picadilly Circus

Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 12pm-3pm, 5:30pm-11 pm, Sunday 530 pm-1030 pm

Excellent restaurant downstairs

Following on the theme from my last post – where Julia Roberts doesn’t get enough to eat in Bali because she ate too much in Italy and had to buy new pants, I was very much delighted last week to come to the conclusion that the time had come for me, too, to buy new pants. Like many other brides-to-be, two months before my wedding and I have quit the gym and put myself on a strict diet of carbohydrates and cookies.

Italian restaurants are a dime a dozen in most cosmopolitan cities. Pizza, pasta, garlic bread, cheese. Wine, throw in some more cheese and maybe a Peroni – I’m a happy lady. But truth be told, most of the time, one bowl of pasta, as satisfying as it may be, tastes the same as the next. Zizzi, Prezzo, Strada, Spaghetti House (ew, seriously) – hearty yes, good value definitely, but a quality meal which transports me to a land where the sun shines brightly over vast vineyards and the modest yet romantic olive-skinned son of the local milkman wins the heart of the fashionista daughter of the regional mafia boss and, most importantly, where FOOD means BUSINESS – probably not.

Le Marche is one of the many (20) regions in Italy that I didn’t know existed. I’ve been to Italy once – to Venice, as an exchange student, when I was fifteen. We stayed in a converted convent, drank a lot of contraband alcohol, and played mean tricks on the kids who fell asleep first. It wasn’t exactly the cultural experience that I imagine having there today and I spent a good chunk of my time being terrified of pigeons pooping on me.  The only thing I learned how to say in Italian was: “Could I please have two scoops of coffee ice cream in a cone.” I ate only pizza (all I could afford) and drank a lot of wine and Fanta because both were cheaper than water.

It’s not even a fact, you know, that pizza was invented in Italy; the ancient Greeks lay claim to this too.

For more common stereotypes about Italy and Italians that may or may not be true, click here.

Rossodisera on Monmouth Street features in my new favourite book, Secret London: Unusual Bars and Restaurants – you will probably see further entries from this guide in future blog posts. The owners, Igor Iacopini and Samuele Ciaralli, come from Le Marche, which is on the eastern side of Central Italy, incidentally – and have done no less than transform the basement of an English deli into their own little slice of Italia in Londra.

From the outside, Rossodisera looks like your average deli/sandwich shop come tourist trap in Covent Garden. It is a sandwich shop, yes, and it is also in Covent Garden, but beyond the meat counter and down a narrow flight of stairs is the “excellent restaurant” itself – a tiny, warm, inviting (did I say tiny?) space full of hungry Italians looking for a taste of home. OK, so there was one table of loud Americans. We’re talking theatre district, after all.

rosso

The room is tastefully designed to resemble an Italian country house and is decorated using actual stone from the actual owner’s actual father’s actual house. I forgot that I’d never been to real Italy (having concluded that Venice doesn’t count, sorry Venetians and your blinds) before I could even begin to remember that, in fact, I had.

We ordered the obligatory selezione di formaggi  to start, which arrived on a slice of olive tree from Le Marche. We were served two hard cheeses and two soft – what they were exactly I couldn’t tell you, the waitress had a pretty thick accent from, you guessed it, Italy – paired with confiture and a beautiful clear honey. We also ordered the cheapest bottle of red wine on the wine list – we have no reservations about looking cheap – and it more than did the trick.

We both chose pasta for our main dishes. I chose the orecchiette rossodisera – a small, oval-shaped pasta with a generous serving of extra virgin olive oil, soft ricotta cheese, sundried tomatoes and fresh basil. Not to detract in any way from how nice the sauce was, but I really like this pasta shape because it looks like little ears. In fact, I would wager that the direct translation for orecchiette is little ears. I’m not even going to bother looking this one up.

Duncan ordered the chitarrina sibilla – a homemade egg pasta with a cream and truffle sauce, a roulade of pork belly direct from La Marche,  mushrooms and ‘scorzone’ truffle shavings.

rosso2

 

Now, my other half is not one to dish out praise lightly.

“This is the best pasta I’ve had in years,” he exclaimed. I couldn’t have agreed more; made fresh in-house with great quality ingredients, this really gave new meaning to the word homemade.

When the waitress came to clear our plates, Duncan was quick to let her know that this was, in fact, “the best pasta he’d ever had.” I was very close to suggesting we order another plate each, or move to Italy. (Dunc – if you’re reading this – is this an option?)

Sitting next to me while I write this, Duncan says:

“It was the dog’s bollocks. Quote me, will you?”

You can’t get any more Italian than that.

Another good option for authentic Italian food is La Polenteria on Old Compton Street. I don’t know why so many people are adverse to polenta. Maybe because it looks a little bit unappetizing – like a large, creamy plate of baby food. Sure, it’s stodgy – but when prepared properly it can be a light, fluffy and extremely healthy alternative to rice (unless, like me, you enjoy covering it with cheese).

Polenta is actually a cornmeal boiled into a porridge, which you can either eat straight up or fry (yup), grill or  bake. In North America, we eat this with maple syrup. Then again, in North America we eat everything with maple syrup, the greatest thing ever to come from trees.

I visited La Polenteria one rainy lunch break in April, with two girlfriends who both opted for the restaurant’s very economical lunch deal (two courses for under a tenner) while I selected a salad of fresh greens, grilled polenta, sundried tomatoes and scamorza. I had food envy instantaneously – Harriet’s vegan caponata and Stella’s pollo alla romana consisted of a generous (maybe too generous for lunchtime) helping of fluffly polenta basically smothered in ratatouille and chicken regu, respectively.

photo-4

OK, so it was a killer salad.

Historically, polenta was served as a peasant food in Europe, but don’t let that put you off – hipsters eat this now. This is a nice little spot for a cheap and cheerful lunch of either a top salad (I got over my envy once the girls started letting me pick off their plates) or something a bit different – polenta doesn’t deserve such a bad rep.

Need to know:

Rossodisera

5 Monmouth Street

020 7240 3683

Nearest tube: Covent Garden

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 8 am-11 pm, Saturday 930 am-1130 pm, Sunday 930 am-1030 pm

http://www.rossodisera.co.uk

Reservations recommended

La Polenteria

64 Old Compton Street

020 7434 3617

Nearest tube: Leicester Square

Opening hours: Mon-Thurs 830 am-1130 pm, Friday 830am-12 am Saturday 12pm-12 am, Sunday 12 pm-11 pm

http://www.lapolenteria.com

 

Feed me Bali

I watched Eat Pray Love when my boyfriend was away on business one time – shitty Julia Roberts movies are among my many guilty pleasures (Teen Mom 2) reserved for Jo only days. I got caught on this one though – I did NOT know about the Netflix content tracker – I tried to pass this watch off as “research on food” for our forthcoming trip to Bali in September, but he totally didn’t buy it. Regardless, the film made me super excited for Indonesia, even if Elizabeth Gilbert opted to stop the “eat” part in Italy – her loss.

I’ve had Indonesian food once before – on a trip to Amsterdam with my friend Harriet at around this time last year. I liked it so much that not only did I come away eager to try making some of it myself, but couldn’t wait for the time when I’d reach this point in the alphabet so I could give it another go. Since another trip to Amsterdam wasn’t exactly on the table, Harriet and I decided to keep it closer to home and head to Warung Bumbu on Lavender Hill.

Indonesian food is so diverse that I couldn’t even begin to try to provide any kind of synopsis. Also I’d only had it once before last Friday night – I am no connoisseur. There are, however, certain dishes which are commonly associated with Indonesian cuisine, such as sate, nasi goreng, and gado gado.

A warung is a type of traditional foodstall, usually family-owned and which sometimes doubles as both a cafe and a shop selling sundries. Bumbu is a municipality in the Funa district of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is also a herb mixture used in Balinese cuisine. Confusing, I know.

So what was I to expect then, of Warung Bumbu in Clapham? Situated in a slightly out of the way location, the restaurant is housed where the former Battersea incarnation of my favourite Japanese canteen, Fujiyama, used to live. If you’re not local, you probably wouldn’t happen upon it – in fact I once marched Duncan and my out of town parents all the way from Clapham Common down to Fujiyama’s sister Miyajama, only to discover it was no longer there.

Luckily for us, when we showed up at 7 pm, Warung Bumbu was still there. Good sign. I’d actually called for a table in advance, if only  to make sure of the fact. Probably not necessary – we brought the total number of diners on a Friday night up to four when we arrived. Bad sign.

Although the restaurant filled up quickly, it wasn’t all smooth sailing ahead. The one thing I knew I wanted was a nice cold bottle of Bintang. Of course, they were all out.

“We order two boxes every month,” our waiter told us. “You would be amazed at how fast they go – this month they were all gone in three days!”

Surely that’s a sign that you need to order more boxes?

I was pretty keen to tell our waiter that I was going to be going to Indonesia later this year. Call me excited, but I thought that maybe if he knew about it, it would make it come faster.

“Oh, you will love Bali,” he exclaimed. “Just make sure you leave several days at the beginning for your sickness.” He had just been home to Jakarta, and had been ill for five days. “Everyone gets sick when they go to Indonesia for the first time,” he explained. “Sometimes it is the pollution, and the food – sometimes they have problems with hygiene.”

Great. I opened my menu.

To start, we selected the obligatory sate and an order of perkedel – otherwise known as potato cakes, which were good, but didn’t exactly set my world on fire. The sate was lovely – the peanut sauce which accompanied was so delicious that I would have licked the little bowl clean if Harriet had let me.

For the main course we ordered ayam bumbu rujak – a mild chicken curry, garnished with crispy shallots and galangal, served wth nasi kelapa, or coconut rice. Up until this point, sitting on one side of a long shared bench, I could well have been at Wagamamas, but all similarities ended there. While Wagamams and other Asian chains often leave me walking away thinking that I could have made their dish better on my own, this one was tender, fresh and cooked to utter perfection – could have used a smidge more spice, but I live with a man who buys hot sauce with health warnings on it, so my tolerance for heat is higher than most.

We also shared the gado gado, a vegetable dish served with tofu, tempeh, boiled potatoes, egg, spicy peanut sauce and kecap manis. This was the very dish I’d had in Amsterdam, and which made me an Indonesian food convert. I tried making it myself after my trip – in this instance, I do actually think mine was better, but that could be partly because I think tempeh tastes like feet.

The verdict: A solid choice for a good bite to eat if you’re in the area, but not life changing. (Where’s Javier Bardem when you need him?)  Still – did leave me wanting more of the same, so it’s a good thing that the street food scene in Seminyak is meant to be awesome, and it’s a good thing I don’t have much longer to wait. Watch out Bali – this girl can eat.

Need to know:

Warung Bumbu

196 Lavender Hll

020 7924 1155

Nearest tube/rail: Clapham Junction

www.warungbumbu.co.uk

Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday Noon-3pm, 6-10:30 pm, Sunday-Monday Noon-3 pm, 6-11 pm

 

 

My Shayona

It wasn’t until recently that I started to feel the desire to travel to India.

I blame Rick Stein for this. Now, all I want to do is explore the backwaters of Kerala aboard a locally-owned houseboat.

Indian food is a totally different story – my interest in Indian food is not new. I could eat Indian food every single day; luckily, you can’t walk more than 100 meters in this city without stumbling across a half decent curry house. You don’t need to go anywhere near Brick Lane – some of my local favourites include Elephant in Brixton Village and Maharani on Clapham High Street – Tooting is also awash with choices for Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani food, such as Lahore Karahi and Mirch Masala. I swear, it’s a wonder that I haven’t morphed into a giant piece of naan bread by this point.

Like this one:

IMG_1936

So clearly, grabbing a bhuna on my way home from work wouldn’t make for a very interesting story, would it?

BAPS Shri Swamimarayan Hindu Mandir, or Neasden Temple, is one of the largest Hindu temples outside India, and has also being credited as being the largest ever concrete pour in the UK, at 4500 tonnes.

The first BAPS mandir opened in the early 1970s, in a converted  church in North London. As its congregation grew, the temple moved to a disused warehouse in Brent in 1982 and in 1995 opened its doors in its current incarnation – an amazing piece of architecture designed and constructed entirely according to ancient Vedic texts. Using no steel whatsoever, the temple is made from 2828 tonnes of Bulgarian limestone and 2000 tonnes of Italian marble, originally shipped to India to be carved by a team of 1526 scultors. I read this on Wikipedia – it’s true.

And, the temple has a restaurant.

So one chilly Saturday afternoon, Duncan and I hopped on the train towards Stonebridge to check it out.

“Wow, it’s far!” Duncan exclaimed, upon boarding the Northern line and examining the map.

“Oh, yes, it is,” I confirmed. “And, it’s vegetarian.” And he thought I was being mysterious that morning – not, just withholding information.

But the experience is worth the schlep  – a visit to the temple itself is pretty awe-inspiring, and despite its rather bleak and incongruous surroundings, it is a beautiful building to visit, whatever your religion. Entry is free – after going through an almost airport-like security check, I might add (glad I wore my funny socks) – and staff members are quick to make you feel welcome. You aren’t allowed to take photos, but I won’t be fast forgetting the intricacy of the marble carvings or the legend of the…something. I guess I couldn’t process the stories over the rumble of my HUNGRY STOMACH.

Shayona serves only pure vegetarian, sattvic food – food which is light and easy to digest, brings clarity and perception and “has the potential to unfold love and compassion in the individual.” Vegetables considered to be “pungent” such as garlic and onion, are excluded – that’s no wonder. I don’t generally see much potential for love after eating a massive hunk of onion bread lathered with creamy garlic dip. Tastes good though.

In the practice of alternative medicine in India, food is grouped into three categories: sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic – foods in the modes of of goodness, passion and ignorance. According to this tradition, onions and garlic are classified as rajasic and tamasic, thus increasing passion and ignorance. Looking at my diet, this actually explains a lot.

We didn’t know about this no onion, no garlic caveat when we set off, and wouldn’t have been any the wiser if we hadn’t have read a Time Out review posted on the window on our way out. The menu is pretty extensive and includes a range of dishes that I’d never heard of before, all of which sounded appealing and smelled even more tempting. To start, we opted for the punjabi samosa chaat – samosa served with potato, chickpeas, yogurt and tamarind sauce – and an order of crispy potato bhajia served with chutney. Top tip – if there’s only two of you, you don’t need all of this. The portions were hefty and I was glad I had insisted that neither of us eat anything else all morning. (“But I’m hungry,” says Duncan. “I don’t care,” says Jo.”)

IMG_0669

IMG_0670

Following this, we selected a paneer tikka masala and a lentil curry, accompanied by rice and (not garlic) naan bread. Truthfully, onion and garlic aside, this was probably one of the best vegetarian meals I’d ever had, aside from that one time in Hong Kong where I ate lemon-dusted tempeh at a restaurant called “Vegetarian Restaurant” and El Piano in York, which dishes out some of the most amazing vegan/gluten-free/organic food ever.

IMG_0671

Unfortunately – or fortunately – for us, our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, and the better part of our main course was left when the waiter came to clear our plates – we were pretty full up after polishing off that giant plate of potato fritters. We brought the rest home, let our stomachs rest for a few hours, and then turned on The Voice (yes I watch it, it’s Tom Jones, don’t hate) and got back on it, the hour and then some journey home long forgotten. Now that’s my idea of a good Saturday night.

The verdict – I can get great Indian food a lot closer to my house, but my visit to Shayona was part of a unique and culture-filled day. At £40 for what was effectively two large meals, I’d say it was a steal and I’d go back again, perhaps with an out-of-town guest – but perhaps, next time, in the car.

Need to know:

Shayona Restaurant

54-62 Meadow Garth

London NW10 8HD

02089653365

Nearest tube: Either Stonebridge Park or Neasden

http://www.shayonarestaurants.com

Opening hours : Monday to Friday, 11:30-10:00, Saturday and Sunday, 11:00-10:00

Like a goose eats a noodle

In Hungary there is, apparently, a saying:  “Like a goose eats a noodle.” It means eating so fast your food doesn’t touch the sides. I’ve always had a certain affinity for things Hungarian – for one, my aunt Judy’s mother Amalia was Hungarian, and she was an important part of my childhood. A survivor of the Holocaust, Bubby Leah moved to Montreal from Budapest in 1952 with my then very small auntie, bringing with her a culture and tradition that would come to define my perceptions of Europe as a young adult.

Secondly, my homegirl Sydney – the Amy to my Tina – is also of Hungarian descent. When we were sixteen, I was her date to St. Stephen’s Ball at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, where she was participating as a debutante. This night made a big impression on my light-purple-prom-dress-clad self.

Having made dinner reservations at The Gay Hussar on Greek Street – where British politics meets Hungarian cuisine – Sydney wrote me with some food for thought – some history and context for my evening meal, with some running commentary on the side.

1. Hungary is one of the oldest countries in Europe. It was founded in 896, before France and Germany became separate entities, and before the unification of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. (Sydney says: Haha! Suck it, Europe!)

2. Hungarian language is known as Magyar. It is the direct descendant of the language spoken by the Huns, and is therefore not an Indo-European language. It has only two related languages in Europe – Finnish and Estonian. (Sydney says: It is really a beautiful language to listen to, but really very difficult to learn. Too many ‘sz.’)

3.  One third of the nearly 15 million Hungarian speakers live outside of Hungary, mostly in Romania. (Sydney says: The Hungarian section of Romania is where you will find Transylvania and the vampires. We are all very suspicious of them. But I once wore a Transylvanian dress to an event and I looked adorable. I was 14 and I had green/red/white ribbons braided into my hair.)

4. Hungary was one of the first Communist-era countries to oppose the Soviet regime during the Cold War, notably with the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. (Sydney says: Haha!! Suck it again, Europe!)

5. Hungary has the 5th most Summer Olympics medals. They also invented the Rubik’s cube, the ballpoint pen, and the theory behind the hydrogen bomb. They also have the lowest unemployment rate in the European Union. And a buttload of thermal baths. (Sydney chose these facts at random because she likes them. Except for the bomb part. She doesn’t like WMDs as a general rule.)

Fermium Ivy Mike

The Gay Hussar is a long-standing Soho haunt steeped in history, a well-known institution of the British left, regularly frequented by politicians and a variety of other strange people. Although traditionally a Labour hangout – it was over dinner here that Tony Blair was first encouraged to run for the leadership of the Party –  rumour has it that in the eighties members of the Conservative Wets (I haven’t lived in the UK long enough to understand what this means) met here to discuss their plans to bring down Margaret Thatcher.

Mick Jagger was also once nearly charmed into standing for Labour MP at the Gay Hussar. Also, my friend Jon’s dad, who, in a previous life, was one of the bigger employers in the Tower Hamlets area, used to meet with local councillors and local politicians here to discuss things like working conditions and employment regulations.

But you don’t have to be either important or strange to eat here. Using my trusty little friend called the Internet, I booked a table for two on a Monday night with no questions asked – I thought it was only fitting to ask Jon to accompany me, although I probably would have rather asked his dad.

When we walked in the door, I immediately felt as if I were somewhere I shouldn’t be. The restaurant was already nearly half full at 7 pm, with wooden pews lining a central aisle occupied by hungry diners of various shapes and sizes, tucking in to a myriad of interesting-looking dishes and looking like they had important business to conduct.

We were seated side by side on one of the benches towards the back of the restaurant on the first floor, facing an empty chair and a very narrow space to pass. I stared at the walls, which were covered in caricatures of Labour politicians, courtesy of Martin Rowson, visual journalist extraordinaire. As fascinating as these are, I wasn’t sure how comfortable I was going to be bumping elbows with my dinner companion and staring at a series of cartoons all night.

Can one of us sit on the other side? I asked our rather stern looking waiter.

“No.”

We asked if we could be moved, and were shown up the stairs to a table in what I can only hope is the very same private dining room where Mick Jagger sat down with Tom Driberg, and presumably ordered a goulash. The atmosphere upstairs was more austere than the first floor dining room – I felt inclined to turn off my mobile and speak in soft whispers. At the same time, I could very well have been in my grandmother’s kitchen, with its traditional Eastern European knick-knacks and hand-painted porcelain dishes – all that was missing was the obligatory set of nesting dolls.

To start, Jon opted for the seared Hungarian foie gras, served with caramelised onion, tokaji and black truffled jelly on toasted brioche – I’m telling you, this place doesn’t mess around.  Fact: 30,000 goose farmers depend on the foie gras industry in Hungary. It’s our duty to support them.

I declined to have an appetiser – I was saving room for the main event, which for me was a generous portion of chicken in a creamy paprika sauce served with galuska, which, as it turns out, is some kind of cross between a noodle and a dumpling, not unlike gnocchi, but nicer and easier on the estomac. Jon, without hesitation, opted for the venison goulash. I was also saving room for dessert – an order (or two) of sweet cheese pancakes, which I had been looking forward to all day. Other tempting options included a poppyseed strudel with vanilla ice cream, and a chestnut puree flavored with dark rum and vanilla.

IMG_0587

IMG_0588

True, the food at the Gay Hussar may have been secondary to the actual experience of dining there – regarded as a “national institution” by some, there is something truly special about the restaurant’s air of familiarity and unique tradition.

It’s also Eastern European comfort food at its absolute best.

But alas, the restaurant has been trading at a loss, and has been put up for auction, in a sealed bid to be held by Christie’s next week. News of the sale saddened many of London’s most prestigious food writers, and is a lesson for  a novice like me, a lowly Brixton foodie wannabe with a rapacious taste for new and interesting restaurants – when it comes to your local gem – either use it, or lose it.

IMG_0590

Need to know:

The Gay Hussar

2 Greek Street

020 7437 0973

Nearest tube: Oxford Circus

http://www.gayhussar.co.uk

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 12:45-2:30, 5:30-10:45

Reservations recommended

A burger fit for a president

I’d like to preface this post by saying that I am aware that Hawaii is not a country. In high school, my best friend was adamant that Chicago (also not a country) was a state, and refused to be told otherwise. We made fun of her for years – this is not going to be one of those cases. I can’t count very well and sometimes at work I have to sing the alphabet song to myself (under my breath) but when it comes to geography, I’m pretty ace. Not only do I know where Hawaii is, I’ve even been there – if you count the Honolulu airport, that is. The little lady signs on the bathroom doors all wear cute little hula skirts.

In 2008, Barack Obama was pictured ordering 24 burgers and 20 portions of fries for his staff at Kua ‘Aina in Honolulu. (I’m willing to admit that I read this in the Daily Mail. We all fall down sometimes.) It’s a well known fact that the man likes a good burger – and who can blame him?

Obama Burger hold the government #food #democr...

Now, Obama has also been snapped making a lunchtime pit stop at Five Guys in Washington, but after reading this review of the fast food chain’s new London outpost, I wasn’t so inclined – with “posh meat” joints cropping up left and right, it takes more than a long queue to make your mark.

I myself haven’t been feeling very presidential of late – for anyone who may (or may not) have noticed my conspicuous absence from the blogosphere over the last few months, this is because I got engaged in May, and have a wedding to plan. Now don’t get me wrong, this is fantastic news, and I’m over the moon and can’t wait to be married – but I bet you the Obamas had a wedding planner! No one told me how many moving parts a wedding has, and sometimes it feels like I have a second job. In a good way, obviously, but sometimes cocktails are needed.

Blue Mist

So, with a giant pitcher of Blue Hawaiian top of mind, Duncan and I headed to Kua ‘Aina‘s newest outlet, tucked away just off Carnaby Street in Soho. I was pretty pumped – who doesn’t want three pints of sickly sweet alcohol on a Tuesday night? Also, I used to love that movie Blue Crush. What is Kate Bosworth up to these days, anyway?

We expected a wait, but were lucky to snag a table downstairs right away. Our friendly (non Hawaiian) waitress presented us with our menus slash placemats, and asked if she could take our order. Being the slow decision maker that I am, I asked for a few minutes, knowing that really, I don’t eat burgers, and mostly wanted to get my hands on that big blue drink.

IMG_0551

The couple next to us ordered the big Blue Hawaiian – we’ll have that too, I informed the waitress. But alas, after she scoured the kitchen and the cavernous bench under my bottom for more liquor, it turns out that THERE WAS NO MORE MALIBU RUM. You know, I didn’t even know there was Malibu rum in a Blue Hawaiian. I didn’t care. I just wanted the blue.  Instead, I had to settle for a Hawaiian craft beer, which, when we received the bill, turned out to be Asahi. Middle class problems, right?

But Kua ‘Aina’s menu is unpretentious, and its atmosphere as laid-back as a Jack Johnson tune. During the years that I spent employed as a professional beach bum, I passed many an early afternoon hour rehydrating (sometimes dehydrating) at beach cafes and bars, and this could have been any one of them.

photo 1

We passed on the light pupu (Hawaiian for appetiser) and skipped right to the main event – for Duncan, a half pound, lava-grilled beef burger topped with avocado and bacon and served on a golden bun. For me – a teriyaki chicken sandwich on rye with grilled pineapple. To my absolute delight, the menu suggested I “add more sun” in the shape of a slice of Monterey Jack cheese – which up until now I did not even realise existed in England. The Internet suggests I use gouda as a substitute in recipes where Monterey Jack is called for – doesn’t even come close.

IMG_0553

Accompanied by an order of crispy sweet potato fries, our food went down a treat. Duncan’s burger was juicy and enormous, and my sandwich totally hit the spot. The ingredients used seem top quality – fresh, well-seasoned and plentiful – except, of course, for the rum, which they’d ran out of at 7 p.m. on a school night.

IMG_0552

The verdict – maybe not a top pick for date night, but a fantastic spot for a quick bite after work or shopping in Central London. Would I go back? Absolutely, if only for the Monterey Jack cheese.

Need to know:

Kua ‘Aina

26 Foubert’s Place

0207 287 74 74

Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus

Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday 8 am-10 pm, Friday 8 am to 1030 pm, Saturday 10 am to 1030 pm, Sunday 11 am to 7 pm.


Get me to the Greek

My best friend is married to a Greek man – like, a real one. His parents don’t speak English very well, being from Sparta and all – Sparta, like SPARTACUS. His name is Nick – incidentally, my best friend’s cousin is also married to a Greek man, whose name is also Nick. I think, in turn, his brother is called Nick.

When I received the invitation to Melanie and Nick’s wedding, I accepted immediately and sent my RSVP card with “vegetarian” marked under “dietary restrictions.” I got a phone call from Mel.

“I got your RSVP! I’m so excited!” she said. “But, you know that the vegetarian option at the wedding is fish, right?”

“What kind of wedding has fish as their veggie option?” I asked, baffled.

“A Greek one,” she answered – fair play.

At home, there are many many Greek eateries, Montreal being a city populated by many many Greeks. I used to skip school regularly to go to Villa du Souvlaki on Sherbrooke – I’d still do that today, if I a) still lived in Montreal and b) still went to school. Their crinkle cut fries are so GOOD. Souvlaki George is another NDG staple – even a suspicious fire couldn’t shut that shit down. For the real deal, there are endless numbers of authentic Greek taverns sprinkled around Parc X – the types of places where you don’t order off the menu and where Greek families convene to celebrate memorable occasions, like the addition of a new Nick to the clan. Places where I am prepared to go to great lengths – including eating octopus – to have someone take me there. Good bets include Tripolis on St Roch or Mythos on Parc.

That time I ate octopus

That time I ate octopus and thought it was chicken

In London, the only Greek restaurant I’d come across in my nearly four years of living here was The Real Greek, and not once can I say it ever crossed my mind to go in there. So when time came to cover Greece for this project, I asked my friend Elena for a recommendation, and landed at Lemonia in Primrose Hill.

Even the name Primrose Hill sounds like something out of a fairy tale. Primrose Hill, says Wikipedia, is one of the most expensive and most exclusive residential neighbourhoods in London. Present and past residents include Sienna Miller, John Cleese, Jeremy Clarkson, Boris Johnson, Daniel Craig, Friedrich Engels (author of The Communist Manifesto) and Harry Styles.

Clearly Lemonia would be no down and dirty diner – and my meal was not going to be cheap.

It was busy when we arrived – booking ahead had been a must on a Friday. We were seated near the back of the restaurant, which felt very much like a cross between a traditional Greek tavern and a subtropical rainforest.

IMG_2444

Our first serious choice was whether to have Greek wine, or Cypriot wine. Cyprus-Greece relations somewhat escape me – the more I eat and the more I write the more it occurs to me that I know less about the world than I thought I did . Anyway, I think Leon Uris wrote a book about Cyprus once. It was good. On this occasion, I wasn’t going to go there.

Since Elena is Cypriot – Greek Cypriot, to be exact – we went with a dry Cypriot white, called Aphrodite. I felt like a goddess already.

Speaking in tongues with our waiter (I am NOT talking about you, she assured me – I’m still unconvinced) Elena ordered our starters – an aubergine salad, an octopus salad that I was reluctant to try because it looked very squishy, tzatziki and pitta and my personal favourite, spanakopita. These came swiftly, and I might describe them as little triangular bundles of spinach-filled joy.

IMG_2446

For my benefit, our entire party decided to go “Greek Veggie” for the night, meaning everybody but me ordered fish – predictably, I ordered the chicken shashlik. Once again Elena communicated with our waiter in secret code, making good use of the word “innay,” which I understood to be the Greek translation of “innit,” a word I am very much still struggling to understand.

As we waited for our food, Duncan made brief eye contact with our waiter and a second bottle of wine appeared and I was very pleased that we had reached this level of mutual non-verbal understanding with the staff. Who needs languages, eh? It was a good thing too, because we waited a while. Nevermind – I can never fault a long linger with good friends, especially when there’s pitta.

“I should have warned you, the portions are small,” Elena said when our food finally did arrive. Although my chicken and Elena’s grilled fish came with rice and salad, the grilled squid was served all by its lonely self, and there wasn’t much of it. The food was very good, albeit not inspiring – charcoal grilled meat is charcoal grilled meat; what matters is where you’re eating it, and my night out at Lemonia is the closest I’m going to get to Sparta this year.

The damage – not awful, but not inexpensive, at £70 a couple including service. I wonder if Boris runs a tab…

Need to know

Lemonia

89 Regent’s Park Road

02075867454

http://www.lemonia.co.uk

Nearest tube: Chalk Farm

Reservations recommended

Georgia on my mind

Legend has it that when God divided the world among the nations, the Georgians were busy feasting elsewhere and were late for the ceremony. When they eventually arrived, all of the pieces of property were already handed out. God then decided to give to the Georgians the piece of land he kept for himself – an amazing country with fertile orchards, sunny coastal regions, breathtaking mountains and mesmerising valleys.

Source: http://www.globalgeorgia.co.za 

When my friend Georgia found out about my blog, she suggested we go to Tbilisi on Holloway Road. Georgia wasn’t initially on my list of countries to cover for G – I had meant to do Ghanaian next, but never got around to it – it would have been cheating anyway, because Ghanaian food is something which is delicious and not new to me. Want to try it for yourself? Spinach & Agushi run a stall at both Exmouth Market and Broadway market at various points throughout the week. Have the peanut chicken.

I was not surprised that Georgia wanted me to try Georgian food. If I had a cuisine named after me, I would want to eat it too. The closest I think I can get is Joanna’s in Crystal Palace – but this is not a cuisine, it is a place.

I know very little about Georgia. The fact that I had to look it up on a map made it all that much more intriguing. Plus, MY FRIEND’S NAME IS GEORGIA. How could I say no?

Disclaimer – Georgia is not Georgian. She’s British, of Egyptian origin. I could have easily gone for Egyptian food again.

Georgia gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991; considered a “transcontinental country,” it straddles Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia and is still trying to make friends with Russia following a long and violent dispute over territorial boundaries. Georgia is home to one of the world’s oldest Jewish populations – convenient, because I am Jewish, so if I like the food so much I want to move there, I will fit in. That covers pretty much all I know about Georgia. That, and it has a reputation for great food and wine. Or, so I’m told.

IMG_2437

When we arrived at Tbilisi early on a Tuesday evening, we were the second party to arrive, though the restaurant would not be empty for long, despite its location in a relatively dingy part of Highbury. The first thing I noticed when we were seated was that my feat did not touch the floor.

“Do your feet touch the floor?” I asked Georgia.

“Yes,” she replied, “but that’s because I’m an adult.”

I assume Georgian people are very, very tall. I must look into this.

To start, we ordered two glasses of Georgian house red. I’d thought to order a bottle – Georgia (being the adult, and all) declined – it was a school night, after all. I was a bit disappointed, because this girl likes to pair wine with food – but lucky for me, the food would be so good that I would fast forget all about the liquid part of my meal – nor would I  have room for it.

While perusing the menu earlier that afternoon, both of us had been drawn to Tbilisi’s carb and cheese-loaded appetisers – we figured it would take a lot of self control not to order one each. So, we ordered one each. The lobiani – a griddled flatbread filled with spicy red lentils – went down well, but not as well as the acharuli – a generous portion of doughy cheese bread topped with raw egg. Who needs vegetables? In Eastern Europe, potato is vegetable. In our case, bread is vegetable.

To be fair, we were given some vegetable even though we didn’t order any – our waiter brought us a complimentary order of baked aubergines topped with herbs and pomegranates. Perhaps he though we needed at least one of our five a day.

After all the bread, I could have gone home a happy girl. Despite knowing more food was coming, I couldn’t help myself from polishing off the acharuli – maybe it was the fact that it was shaped like a banana boat, but I couldn’t let any of it go to waste. There is something about bread, cheese and egg which sounds very generic – I can assure you that this dish was anything but.

IMG_2439

For her main course, Georgia ordered the khinkali – seasoned beef mince, wrapped in a “tasty casing.” This turned out to be dumplings, and she couldn’t have been more delighted. Out of an ample selection of chicken and vegetarian dishes, I opted for the satsivee – chicken in walnut sauce, served with ghomi, a rice and cornflower puree which tastes like polenta. I had no idea what to expect, having never been either to Georgia or to a Georgian restaurant – but if our starters were promising to say the least, then the main would certainly not fail to impress.

IMG_2441

I had expected to receive a chicken breast, either covered or marinated in what I thought walnut sauce should look like, not that I knew what that was. Kind of like pesto, I guess, just brown. Instead came a steaming hot clay dish containing what looked very similar to an Indian curry but which had a very intricate flavour that was hard to pin down. I loved the earthy flavour – it was almost – well, nutty. Clever, I know. Thank goodness this is only a hobby. Honestly though, I would not have picked out the walnut flavour if my day job depended on it. Delicious, nonetheless.

The verdict – an unusual meal which was a steal at £25 each including service. Much like other food from that part of the world though, it is heavy – and a giant serving of cheese bread each is probably a little bit unnecessary. When the dessert menu arrived, I couldn’t even look. Top tip: Arrive hungry!

Need to know:

Tbilisi

91 Holloway Road

02076072536

Nearest tube: Highbury & Islington

Opening hours: Daily 6-11 pm.