I keep thinking about what George Bernard Shaw said about food. “There is no love sincerer than the love of food”, said he. It’s a universally acknowledged love that certainly brings people together. Then there is this exceptional city we find ourselves living in; a multi-cultural hot pot that is renowned the world over. With that comes culinary influences from around the world shaping and re-shaping the landscape continuously. So, it’s fair then that many acclaimed chefs would showcase their cuisine here. I’m fortunate that I get to experience much of it in my line of work. So I want to share with you ten dishes from around the world that you cannot miss in London. Oh, and also where I found them.
Vietnamese prawn rice paper rolls
Gôi cuôn is a traditional Vietnamese spring roll filled with pork, vegetables, prawns and noodles wrapped in rice paper. In Vietnam they are always made fresh and served at room temperature. Head down to Bar 31 in St. Thomas Street in London Bridge to get a taste of these beautifully translucent snacks. The bar’s proximity to Borough Market means all of their produce is delivered fresh daily. Yes please!
Bar31 is located at: 31 St Thomas Street, London SE1 9QU
Japanese beef toban-yaki
Experience the traditional Japanese cooking method of toban-yaki which means to roast on ceramic plates. The dish consists of thinly sliced beef served with shiitake mushrooms in saké seasoned with citrus fruit or plums. Ukai in Notting Hill is a great place to experience this dish in all its glory. It arrives still sizzling in its ceramic dish.
Ukai is located at: 240 Portobello Rd, London W11 1LL
Basque Country rack of lamb
It’s raining Michelin stars in the Basque region; 19 restaurants share 28 stars. The region’s cuisine is based around rich local produce. Grilled lamb, cured meats and fresh fish take centre stage and you can go high or low without missing the spot. Where can you can get a taste of the region in London? Try the rustic rack of lamb served at Basque chef Eneko Axta’s London restaurant Eneko Basque Kitchen & Bar. It’s served with a perfect sauce and there’s a great choice of side dishes to choose from.
Eneko Basque Kitchen & Bar is located at: London WC2B 4BZ
There was a time that we associated good sea food with tropical climes and far away places. Proof that good food needn’t travel far is at Ting at Shangri-La at the Shard. Taste the best of British sea food expertly cooked at Ting. Their direct links with Borough Market means everything on the menu is locally sourced and fresh.
Ting is located at: Level 35 of Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard, London.
Socarrat from the Spanish verb socarrar means to singe. As paella is traditionally cooked in a large shallow pan the singed rice crust is an essential part of paella-making and eating. Experience the best of socarrat paella made under the instruction of three Michelin starred, mohawk-sporting chef David Muñoz at Street XO London in Mayfair. Best of all, it’s on their £25 express lunch menu and served with roasted chicken wings and Japanese white sesame dressing for good measure.
StreetXO London is located at: 15 Old Burlington Street Mayfair London W1S 2JR
American mac ‘n cheese
Want to taste the great all-American classic Mac ‘n Cheese? Avenue on St. Jame’s has a great version on its A La Carte menu. Made with truffles, wild mushrooms and Westcombe Farmhouse Cheddar cheese it’s an absolute dream.
Indian rabdi falooda
No list of London restaurants can be complete without an Indian dish in it. Get your authentic fix with the Indian favourite dessert rabdi falooda. Fitzrovia newcomer Lokhandwala has the most incredible version with goji berries and toffee sauce. What else? It’s served with chillie chocolate. Yikes!
Lokhandwala is located at: 93, Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London W1T 4PY
British walnut whip
The great British childhood favourite, the walnut whip, gets a Michelin star makeover at Alyn Williams at The Westbury. If you enjoyed this whirly chocolate marshmallow confectionary as a child then you will definitely want to try this upgrade. Michelin-starred Alyn Williams has transformed this humble saccharin-loaded sweet in to a sophisticated signature dish; it’s a light as air dessert topped with edible gold leaf.
Alyn Williams is located at: 37 Conduit Street, London, W1S 2YF