After surviving our food-binge weekend in Lille, my friend Ying escaped to travel through Spain, Italy and France (in relative gastronomous sanity) before stopping by London for another few days enroute back to Oz. She gave me a day, 20 hours to be precise, in which I could take her to my favourite eat-outs. I protested vehemently that 20 hours is merely a fraction of what I needed, but hey, I can improvise.
Yes, this is how we roll in the catty life.
7pm: Dinner at Inamo
We started with dinner at one of my favourite Soho haunts, Inamo. I know there are Inamo bashers out there, but I for one have never had a bad experience (oh wait, there was the time that they ran out of tea pots and we couldn’t get our tea until other guests had finished with their tea pots), ok so I’ve never had a bad eating experience there. Plus its projection-onto-your-table and self-ordering system is a huge novelty and even now I still get all giddy excited when I see the colourful images of my meals splashed across my entire table. Gawd, if only my meal was really that huge!
Although Inamo‘s ordering system and table layout is not condusive to sharing, Ying and I managed to order three starters to share. Mandatory on my list is the truffle marble beef, paper thin slices of beef served with truffle vinaigrette, crispy garlic and mixed cress. This time round there may have been a hint too much of something like sesame oil, but the texture of the beef is so soft, you have to be extra careful with the chopsticks when guiding the goodness to your food hole. We also ordered the baby crispy prawns with Thai mango relish, which are ever so lightly battered and come out fresh hot, and the seared scallops with yuzu and wasabi dressing. I’m sorry marble beef but seared scallops actually take the prize for best starter.
Hailing from Brisbane, the city of… I don’t know what Brisbane is famous for (except the 1988 Expo where I, all of two feet tall, stood next to the tallest man alive) but anyway, hailing from Brisbane, where their culinary choices are still somewhat limited, I encouraged suggested demanded Ying order the black cod, marinated in spicy miso. This dish is a copy of Nobu‘s black cod miso, and while ok it’s not exactly Nobu standard, it’s pretty fricking close, it’s one third the price and no you don’t need a four week reservation lead, you can have it today! Anyway, I’m glad I made Ying order that, she loved it, loved it, and when she finished her cod, ordered bowl of plain rice, just to soak up the miso sauce goodness! Ying if you love me you’d comment on this post because I’m sure everyone thinks I exagge-ma-rate my way through this blawg, but I don’t! I swear you almost licked the plate!
My main paled in comparison to Ying’s excitement over the black cod. I ordered a whole Shanghai snapper, because I’m a sucker for whole fish, which was cooked in a soy mirin and ginger sauce. It was ok, but why, why did I order a Chinese style steamed fish in a fusion restaurant? Imma go to Chinatown and get me a steamed coral trout in ginger and shallots. That would have totally kicked butt.
After Ying successfully cleaned up every last grain of rice (and again, no exaggeration), we tackled dessert. Fresh mango and sticky rice rocks my socks, and Inamo does it well, serving it with a scoop of lime sorbet to neutralise the sticky sweetness. We also shared a new comer to the menu, pandan macaroon with white chocolate mousse. I mean, you can see how my eyeballs propelled themselves from my head when they saw macaroon. It was ok, the presentation of the dish was superb, but truth be told, the white chocolate mousse was a total overkill, the macaroon could have held its own just fine.
134-136 Wardour Street
Soho W1F 8ZP
0207 851 7051
10am: Breakfast at Lantana
Question: are the meals at Lantana on steroids? Because I honestly sweareth upon the grave of my favourite childhood toy Mampi (while other girls played with Barbies, I had me a white fuzzy gorilla called Mampi) that the meals. They are enormo. After our three course dinner at Inamo, you’d think Ying and I would still be relatively full. Nu-huh. We went home , watched Twilight on bluray and I wanted to take a bite out of Edward Cullen so badly that I instead harnessed my frenzied energy and focused on breakfast at Lantana.
Besides, fried haloumi… Edward Cullen… fried haloumi… I think fried haloumi actually wins.
I’m blessed to live literally two minutes from Lantana and have had many a breakfast there. I don’t have a usual order, I flick between the haloumi with sauteed spinach and mushrooms, french toast with caramelised plums, and toasted muesli with shredded apple and have even had the odd flirt with the bacon and cheese croissant. I don’t remembering having ordered the corn fritters before, and if I had it was nothing like the monstrosity that arrived on our table that morning last week.
I say monstrosity with much love, by the way. The gigantic stack of fritters, lightly fried with fresh corn came covered with a corn and red onion salsa, accompanied with lime aioli, served on a bed of fresh avocado. Absolutely divine. It was so good that my attention was more than momentarily diverted from my usual love, the grilled haloumi, which is served with sauteed spinach, mushrooms with herb pesto, poached egg, roasted tomatoes and sour dough. Grilled haloumi is seriously the epicurean discovery of the millenium ~ I love it just on its own with a squeeze of lemon juice, and as part of this breakfast at Lantana, it will always be a winner.
1pm: Lunch at Sketch Parlour
After some heavy shopping along Regent and New Bond Streets, Ying and I decided we should eat, not because we were hungry but logistically, we had to fit lunch in and cake from Hummingbird and time definitely waits not for food fools. I suggested Sketch, another London must-go, and hoped to God that lunch in the Parlour would not cos as much as that degustation. Indeed it did not. In fact, I was very pleasantly surprised.
Still full from the monster breakfast, Ying and I opted for light and healthy. We shared tuna sashimi, served with tuna cream, rice paper with lime and espelette pepper, and roast scallops with cauliflower velouté and seaweed butter toast. Light and refreshing, our lunch totalled below £30 (including two drinks), which I thought was reasonable considering the funky atmosphere of the front room in Sketch’s ex-Christian Dior building.
Incidentally, when you’re next at Sketch Parlour, make an excuse to visit the bathroom. It’s so bizarre, and worth the little scare when you hear some foreign woman speak to you while you’re doing your business in an egg.
9 Conduit Street
London W1S 2XG
0207 659 4500
3pm: Cake at Hummingbird Bakery
Are you exhausted? I am. Last but not least, we hit Hummingbird in South Kensington (much much better than the Notting Hill branch), after another spot of shopping in Harrods where I managed to buy a pair of 7 For All Mankind skinny jeans that I don’t need to take up! People who don’t know me, you have no idea how excited I am. I have never ever had a pair of jeans which I didn’t need to take up, and so all my skinny jeans are not that skinny, and to have a zipper detail at the hem? In my dreams! Or at Harrods as it may be!
This totally called for celebration, so we made our way to Hummingbird and indulged in a giant slice of red velvet cake, which I still think it is just chocolate but red, but regardless, it is always delicious.
Cake in our bellies, we rolled to the tube station, down into the tube and all the way home. Ying actually went out for dinner that night, kudos, I think I went home and died. Oh wait, I did laundry. Same same.
47 Old Brompton Road
South Kensington SW7 3JP
0207 584 0055
*I desperately wanted a gelato fix at Oddono’s as well, but alas, we ran out of time.