Delightful culinary variety in London

As I’ve mentioned several times in this blog already, I recently had the opportunity to take a trip to one of my favourite cities in the world, London.  The last time I was there was about two years ago and it was so wonderful not only to be there again but also to realize how many people I knew there and explore the city as a potential home for me at some point.  Of course, exploring any city involves food, and London, contrary to popular belief, has quite a spectacular range of restaurants.  I unfortunately didn’t get to do extensive research beforehand since I was so busy at work, but I still managed to get to a great variety of places, from pub food to Moroccan to Italian to fusion.  I will outline a few of them below…

The first place I went on my very jetlagged first evening there was to Sushisamba, in the trendy East London area.  I didn’t realise that there are actually a bunch of locations in America too, but despite my slight aversion to chain restaurants this one looked extremely swanky and was a fitting spot for a much overdue reunion with a friend. (It’s a bit difficult to see anyone with any regularity living in Australia.)  The concept is Japanese Brazilian fusion which is certainly quirky, but I like that.  It’s also very sophisticated and clearly draws trendy customers.  Its location on a high floor means the views are fabulous and the decor in general is very chic.  So all of this probably contributes to its fairly pricey dishes, but they were delicious and definitely innovative.

IMG_5926Simple yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno and lemongrass.  Yellowtail is my absolute favourite type of sashimi and this didn’t disappoint – it may have been the best dish actually

IMG_5927A Neo Tokyo roll, which is a very fancy spin on a tuna roll basically that had some crunch in it and plenty of super fresh tuna.  And of course some standard edamame in the background as I am incapable of not ordering edamame when it’s on a menu.  Honestly, all the rolls were a bit too avant-garde for my taste – most of them had mayo in them which I hate and a lot of them had fried stuff which I also kind of dislike in sushi.  In my opinion sushi rolls should stick to amazing combinations of very fresh fish and not add all sorts of sauces. I probably should just go to a fish market in Tokyo (it’s on my list)

IMG_5928Wagyu gyoza with a kabocha puree and a bit of crumbled cheese.  Ok this was fusion I liked.  I love anything with wagyu really.  In fact, the only time I eat meat tends to be when it’s wagyu. (I’ll stop now for fear of sounding just a bit too first-world.)

IMG_5929On the left, a Padron pepper with sea salt and lemon, and on the right, very fancy tuna ceviche with watermelon foam and sauce, pickled watermelon, wasabi peas, and basil.  Aside from the rather surprising colour, the ceviche was awesome as I love anything watermelon flavoured…but I still liked the simple yellowtail more.

IMG_5930Amazing asparagus grilled over some special Japanese charcoal and served on a skewer in a sweet soy and sesame sauce.  This was asparagus done right.  Loved it!

Later in the week, I had an entirely different but perhaps even better experience at a charming Italian restaurant in Belgravia called Como Lario.  I had not been to this neighbourhood before and I was utterly taken by how charming it was.  There were so many adorable shops and specialty food markets and intimate restaurants.  This was definitely some of the better Italian food I’ve had in a while – it was incredibly authentic and it just looked beautiful (and naturally made me long for Italy per usual).  We decided to order a bunch of antipasti and then just share a main (since lots of little dishes is always the way to go, especially when I’m with good friends).  We ordered four and they were served to us on this amazing platter.

IMG_5972Going clockwise starting in the back, there was fresh artichoke hearts sliced and mixed with chicory red lettuce and dressed super lightly in truffle oil, proscuitto with some seasonal fruit (it’s covering it), roasted vegetables marinated in olive oil with lightly grilled goats cheese, and charcoal grilled aubergines (aka eggplant) with parma ham, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and basil.  Um, YUM.  Everything here was utterly amazing although the eggplant may have been my favourite.  I also like goat cheese only in little bits typically so the hit of grilled goat cheese was so rich, but I’ve never had goat cheese prepared that way so it was amazing, particularly when taken with a bite of the vegetables too.  Everything was just really fresh and delicious.

IMG_5973And for the main we split linguine sauteed with with prawns, courgettes (zucchini, you Americans), and saffron, which lent the dish that amazing yellow colour, with a side of thin green beans.  The saffron in this dish was amazing.  It’s the gold of spices for a reason – it just makes everything taste exotic.  And the pasta was perfectly al dente too of course.  So good!

IMG_5975And I had to devote one picture to my amazing food in the Virgin Clubhouse at Heathrow which is the best lounge I have ever had the privilege to be in.  Their food is so delicious and the entire ambiance just makes you feel like a big deal.  Yay for my gold status!  I got some little steamed chicken gyoza, sugar snap peas with a lemon gremolata and sea salt, a seaweed and cucumber salad, and a prawn fresh roll over Asian greens.  Not exactly your typical lounge food, right?

My time in London was amazing and has convinced me that if I do end up living there I am going to have my hands full with the very busy food scene!

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