Princi, Soho, London

Princi is Soho always packs a crowd. There’s ample seating for them too, as well as plenty of happening Italian menu items on offer. All the food’s mostly ready, so it’s efficient to order and take your seat. As a result, there’s not much in the way of service. The interior and vibe at Princi is quite nice, even with the loud company and a quirky tableside drinking fountain art piece thing. At least I think you can drink from it. I ordered in, one vegetarian lasagna and a side salad (which you can get two options for). This was slightly over the £10 mark. Creamy, cheesy, well-made. I would have liked a bit more variety beyond the green beans (only mild gripe) and like all lasagna it does feel quite heavy. The pasta was fresh and tasty. The side salad was a complementary lightness, you don’t get too much of it on this size though. Pizzas are the most popular as it would appear and there’s plenty of sweet (Italian) treats on offer too. Nice meal, go join the crowds and check out Princi one lunchtime.

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8/10

Princi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cafe de Nata, Hammersmith, London

Could I pass up the chance to try one of the best Portuguese tarts in London? Nata. I don’t usually strike a blow in Hammersmith, but my friend Judy and I were passing through. Our final destinations being Kew Gardens, yes! We picked up a few treats from Cafe de Nata before making our trek, although I only sampled two flavours. These are priced at £2 each. Or fill up with three for £5, etc. Pastéis de nata, by it’s traditional name, is a baked custard tart. There’s a signature crispy, flaky pastry and it first originated in Lisbon. Here in London they feel more modern with updated flavours like berry, chocolate and caramel. And the nata is excellent, the best I’ve had to date (although I haven’t had many). I enjoyed the pastry, it’s a departure to the ones I’m used to ingesting at the Chinese dim sum places. And the creamy custard in the nata was also delicious, surprisingly filling. Well worth checking out if you’re passing through and if you’re lucky, you might even get them straight out of the oven.

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Cafe de Nata Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Shake Shack, Covent Garden, London

Cheese, cheese, everywhere. That’s the good part. Everything else about Shake Shack was disappointing for me. Originally starting out in Madison Square Park in a literal shack, the chain had exploded globally and eventually found it’s way to Covent Garden here in London. As with any lunch time, it’s busy and there’s a chunky queue. My order was for the ShakeMeister single patty for £6.50 and a Cheese fries (£4.00). You get given a buzzer when you order as there’s a bit of a wait until it’s ready. The burger feels very small and sloppily prepared. You can’t quite see it, but there’s the tiniest of squirts (remind me how much I hate that word) of the ShackSauce. The meat wasn’t in a patty form either, it was split in pieces. It felt like a such a greasy eat. I felt unclean. The shallots were nice and the fries were as expected. The two storey venue does feature some fun people watching.

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5/10

Shake Shack Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bone Daddies, Soho, London

I haven’t found much ramen in London that floats my boat, but Bone Daddies remains one of my current favourites. It’s a busy venue, in Soho, and there’s been a bit of a queue on some evenings. I evaded that with a lunchtime visit and ordered the Tonkotsu ramen for £11. Bone Daddies is not your typical ramen destination. By it’s own description it’s New York inspired and your ramen purist might roll up their eyes by the mere sound of that. Give it a chance though and it’s still a great shade of one of my favourite dishes. Fresh notes, flavourful broths and some of the best fried pork belly that I’ve had in this form. The twenty hour broth is bright not only in appearance, but in flavour with some punchy savoury seasonings. Some of the richest soups I’ve had and it won’t break the bank.

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8.5/10

Bone Daddies Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Egg Break, Notting Hill, London

The humble egg has always been an integral part of my family’s cuisines. No matter what meal of the day or what occasion, it’s there in one form in another. A quaint little cafe that celebrates the egg in London is Egg Break, based in Notting Hill. For £10 I had the Sweet potato rosti with goats cheese, honey, pinenuts, dill yoghurt, and poached eggs. I love all the ingredients on this list, but the dish didn’t wow me as much as I was hoping for. The goats cheese slice is extremely thick and that dominates the flavours on the plate. My main disappointment was that the poached egg was less than stellar, the white was a bit all over the place which didn’t make for the most appetising execution/ appearance. The rosti itself is nice, I could have done with less of the kale bed and a touch more crispiness. Good size for a brunch and the setting and staff are perfect for this time of the day.

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Egg Break Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Vietfood, Chinatown, London

Take a break from the crowds of Chinatown and get into Vietfood. Great value Vietnamese cuisine in an antique-styled setting. The owner formerly worked as the Chef de Cuisine at Hakkasan and earned a Michelin star. The experience here at Vietfood is much more laid back. No booking required, find a table downstairs or up before the staff will whisk over a menu to you.  I went for the lunch special Com Hộp (£7.90) with the lemongrass chicken option. All the specials get served with a salad of salad, and rice. Both were worthwhile mentions, the rice has a nice soy seasoning (with garnish) and the salad has a tasty dressing. The piece of chicken isn’t huge, but together it’s enough for a lunch. The seasonings were very Vietnamese and tasted authentic. And with just a touch of char which brings out the smokiness of the sweet lemongrass marinade on the chicken. More then satisfactory.

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8.5/10

Vietfood Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ping Pong, Soho, London

The number eight is an auspicious number in Chinese culture, it reflects fortune and wealth. And triple 8 is even better. It also happens to be the price of Ping Pong’s current lunch special. Only £8.88 for your fusion-Asian dumpling fix. There’s two basic options, one meat, one vege. I opted for the latter which gives you four dumplings and two sticky rice parcels. That’s definitely not enough for one appetite, let alone mine, so I supplemented the BBQ pork buns (£4.10). Ping Pong (the restaurant, not the sport) is quite prolific here in London, with nine stores and all the gravity of such a footprint hence deals – and marketing!

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On Sundays they offer a make-it-or-break it bottomless brunch dim sum option for £25. That has been tempting. The food is all steamed right in front of you. It’s fast and the dumplings and buns were great. The pastry is sticky but manageable and the fillings are flavourful and interesting. Even the rice parcels had some vege paste inside which made them enjoyable (I had anticipated plain-ish rice). And I was very content with the pork buns too. The fillings are proper and meaty and didn’t taste dodge as they can (and do) in some places. So I’d be bouncing back to Ping Pong in no time.

8/10

Ping Pong Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Yum Yum, Pimlico, London

Not quite as yum as they name suggests, but nice and fast. From my last JustEats delivery fail I had a bit of credit to use up, and went for Yum Yum which is of close proximity to the flat. It’s double quick, the food was ordered and delivered in a thirty minute timeframe. Nice. For a little over £15 I had an order of the lemon chicken, egg fried rice and beef flat noodle. You get three well-sized battered breasts for the chicken, but the sauce is a tad more tart that the ones I’m used to. The rice was rather plain, only the occasional traces of egg in rice. Some mixed vegetables or variety would have been nice. You get a lot of food at Yum Yum for the price, and there was enough to go around the flat for sure. Last up with the flat noodle, the flavours were a bit underwhelming and it ending up tasting quite plain. I may have made the wrong choices, but with so menu options its hard to know. Fine for the price and efficiency, but the food wasn’t the best. yumyum.jpg

6/10

Yum Yum Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gelupo, Soho, London

I have a new favourite gelato place in London. And I’m not the only fan. One of the busiest gelaterias in central London is Gelupo. Gelupo has only one store, and that’s in Soho. That is already a good sign. Why do I like this place? The gelatos have immense flavour, they come in a variety of revered and unusual flavour combinations and the soft, creamy texture is great. It is very melty, so make sure to eat up quick. The Island Poke (pineapple and chilli) sorbet has a wild kick worth trying, but my preference is in the gelatos. Of that, the ricotta and sour cherry is my favourite. They offer samples, although the salted caramel never disappoints. I can’t remember the name of the rich, chocolately flavour one I had – that seemed to have doses of everything and is an extremely indulgent dessert. Almost like a gelato fondant. Prices are fair, £3 ,£4, £5 for one, two or three scoops, and although there’s a queue at busy times it is always worth the wait.

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9/10

Gelupo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Banh Mi Bay, Holborn, London

The Vietnamese baguette is a simple dish, but with varying levels of success. Always ideal for a lunch and just a step beyond the usual sandwich. Generally, the ones in Melbourne have been outstanding. It’s a mix of quality bread with wholesome fillings and flavours. And over in Toronto they’re a little modernised but still worthwhile. Unfortunately, I can’t say the one from Banh Mi Bay was as enjoyable. I do rate their meat and rice dishes, but the caramel pork (£5) was a bit of a letdown. The bread isn’t a proper crusty French baguette and the meat was unsatisfying. Cold (but this is advetised) and a bit dry. Also, butter and pate aren’t staples in the filling, they cost extra. Either would have definitely helped as the pork was a tad monotone in flavour without these additions. I request no chilli and ended up with chilli in the roll. I’d return for the rice meals at Banh Mi Bay but would give the banh mi itself a miss.

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6.5/10

Banh Mi Bay Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato