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

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

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

Misato, Chinatown, London

Dining at Misato brings me back to the days of being a student. But in the best possible way. It’s some sorcery that the restaurant is able to offer food as cheap as it is. In fact, Misato’s been around twenty five years now so they must have some formula worked out. I ordered the chicken torikaraage (£4.50) and a serve of six avocado maki (£2.50). There is a minor (optional) service charge, but this is an incredible value meal. Especially considering the location in Chinatown and wider Soho London. And the food is solid. Both dishes arrived lighting quick and are gigantic serves. The chicken has a nice crispy coating and the flavours are mostly there in the proper tasting meat. The maki roll is freshly rolled and tastes great. The sheer range in the menu is also a delight. No frills, just great times. Misato’s definitely on my list for returning based on high value for money, speedy service and a top location. Notes: there’s queues on busy days and it’s a cash only enterprise.

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9/10

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

Mother Mash, Soho, London

My friend Davina, from Canada, but these days Melbourne, was in town for the week. We had spent a busy Monday morning being tourists around London. And like many tourists we were after a lunch with that British edge. Something traditional, something local. We ended up in Soho. And we found ourselves at Mother Mash. Mother Mash is a venue that celebrates the humble mashed potato. And a major way. It’s a three step process but your first big decision is what type of mash to go for. There’s eight (!), and the mashes are made to order. Some include vege, cheese, or are of the sweet potato cut. I liked both the Cheesy Mustard and the Colcannon ones that we got. These are some fun and worthwhile twists on the regular. And your other choices are for the main (sausage or pie) and one of five gravy options. The vegetarian sausages are executed well. And the gravies are delightfully savoury and there’s plenty of it. My pie was the special Lamb Hot Pot and this was tasty. It’s meaty, chunky and some awesome flavours (only downer is it might be ordered in). For £9.25 – £9.95 the price is reasonable and can understand it being a popular haunt for the work-time lunch.

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Mother Mash Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Snog, Soho, London

So much food, so little time. I’ve been procrastinating on checking out Snog for a little while now. Snog is right next to the regular street food market and on the times I’ve been interested, the size of the queue been a little off-putting. According to the locals in the office, it’s a bit of a hangouts for the teens and tweens. Snog plays the angle of “less guilt” desserts, the frozen yoghurt is fat free and sweetened with agave nectar. I can’t be bothered Googling if that means it is healthy or not so I’ll reserve my judgment there. I went for the salted caramel pour in classic size (£3.50) and I wasn’t feeling any of the toppings so went plain. It’s fine, it’s a mooted salted caramel taste and the colour is very pale. Not overly sweet, not salty at all. It’s all too boring on its own and the toppings are rather expensive, even two additions will set you back an extra £1.50. I’d like my froyo to be able to stand out without the toppings. So I’ll pass on the next go.

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6/10

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

Wagamama, Holborn, London

Despite my internal protests, part of me is magnetised to Wagamama’s. I end up eating there more than I realise. My big brother was visiting me from all the way from Aucks, and for whatever reason, it was the choice of location for our first catchup meal. I had a voucher too. That was probably it. Waga’s is close to my work, the service is (normally) fast and I’m familiar with most of the dishes. Except not any more, there’s a few new additions. First up was the beef tataki (£6.35) a chill dish, that I’ve grown more fond of in my later years. It was colder than the ones I’ve had but the flavours were nice, the sear is a little more apparent than in other places. The two mains was the chicken katsu curry (£10.50) and the (new) sticky pork belly (£11.95). It’s a citrus and teriyaki glaze on the belly, with a lot of miso aubergine slices. Not sure I loved it, it was a hard dish to share and there was too much aubergine and not enough pork. Especially for a main. The flavours were fine, if not a tad too strong. Overall, the same level of happiness for my typical Wagamama outing.

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7/10

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

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Timmy Green, Victoria, London

I’m always a fan of an eye-catching brunch session. And reminiscing of lazy mornings in Australia. Timmy Green in Victoria is brought to you by the Australians behind the Daisy Green chain of cafes. Cue colourful, bright interiors with perky staff and food that pops from the plate. And it did remind me of Melbourne. My order was for the coconut bread French toast (£10.80). This is served with Greek yoghurt, raspberries, coconut, mango, bee pollen and maple syrup. The food comes quick and I had a coffee along the way too. Just as good as any other Antipodean brew. The pour-your-own maple allows you to control the sweetness and the coconut notes in the bread are a nice diversion. I’m not sure the texture of the French toast was quite right, it ended up being more cake like in consistency and crumbled a bit too easily. The mango is a single slice which sits somewhat awkwardly, could have been integrated a tad better. The flavours are pleasant enough and it’s a good sized serve for French Toast. Timmy Green also offers a £39.50 bottomless brunch for those looking to get their share of a pour. A perfect spot for chilling out on a morning with friends.

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7.5/10