Archives for category: My Bad Book

The Summer House is a pop-up restaurant near Little Venice. With tables by the canal, it was a great hit last summer. Back then, I went there with a group of friends and it was a lovely evening. It took me a month to arrange as it was so popular!

The Summerhouse
Sitting by the canal at the Summerhouse
This year, the Summerhouse was the top of my list when I came up with this impulsive idea of meeting my friend E on the longest day of the year. I was surprised that I could still book a table with only a day’s notice. Though it did not take me long to understand why. Read the rest of this entry »

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With an influx of people from mainland China, Chinatown has become more interesting recently. The variety of food has expanded from just mainly Cantonese to cooking styles from other parts of China. You can imagine my excitement when I heard that there was a new restaurant called Beijing Dumpling.

Like Dumplings Legend, Beijing Dumpling has a show kitchen. They were so determined to sell the idea of freshly made dumplings (Xiao Long Bao 小籠包) that they even used it as its shopfront. With that in mind, I ordered the classic dumpling with crab meat (蟹粉小籠包). How was it?

It was one of the ugliest dumplings I have ever seen served in a restaurant. The skin was not smooth but rough. Unlike the amazing dumplings at Din Tai Fung, I could not taste any crab meat inside. There was not much soup inside each dumpling neither. For a restaurant which put so much emphasis on dumplings in its naming and marketing, I expected higher quality dumplings than these. They did not even give us any vinegar with ginger as dipping sauce, which is the standard condiment for dumplings! (We had to ask for it ourselves)

How was the other food? Sadly, the menu mainly consisted of Cantonese dishes, a handful of Asian ones and even fewer choices from Beijing. With nothing new to try, we opted for the ‘All you can eat hot pot’, which was one of its speciality. For £20 a head, you are supposed to be able to eat as much as you want. You can order any of ingredients from the menu which is a selection of meat and vegetables- Well, that is the theory anyway!

For those unfamiliar with hot pot, it’s Chinese dish normally served in winter. Each table gets a large pot of simmering broth, and a selection of meat, fish and vegetables to cook in the broth. It’s a bit like fondue.

We made it clear to the waiter that right at the time of order that out of the 22 ingredients we could choose from, there were some ingredients we did not want and there were some we would like in a larger portion. We were told that we did not have a choice in the first round as EVERYTHING would come on one plate in default portion.

Little did we know that they meant all the raw ingredients would be ‘dumped’ onto the plate in one go. This was how it looked:

Hot pot for Beijing Dumpling
There was virtually no presentation! It looked like they just scooped everything out from a skip, with prawns flying around, raw lamb and raw beef all mixed up in a mountain of pink. I have had Chinese hot-pot many times in my life, and this is NOT how it usually looks like! And, just in case you think there is a lot of meat, think again! They used the classic trick of putting lots of vegetables underneath to create the illusion of volume! Continue reading >>


The Dock Kitchen is weird. Is it a good weird or a bad weird? I don’t know. It started as a pop-up restaurant but it is not a pop-up anymore. It does not seem to know what it is- is it a restaurant in a lighting showroom (you know, a bit like the restaurant inside IKEA)? Is it a brassiere? a canteen? a restaurant? After eating there twice, I still have no idea, and this bugs me.

The Dock Kitchen
The Dock Kitchen shares the same building as Tom Dixon, the lighting designer who sometimes also designs furniture and interiors. There is a staircase that leads you directly to the toilet and the lighting shop. Everywhere in the dining area, you can see Tom Dixon’s lights- A LOT of them. They are put in clusters in zones and the furniture (some also designed by Dixon) varies accordingly. The chairs on our table were not that comfy. The back was low and I had no idea where to put my long coat. (p.s no cloak room facilities) Some of the lights look tacky and it was hung so low that 2 of us hit our head by accident when we stood up to leave the table.

The service was borderline between amateur and bad. (I blame Michel Roux’s Service TV series for making me pay more attention to this) Continue reading >>

Heston Blumenthal's steak, ale and kombu pie
Heston Blumenthal, chef of Fat Duck ( the 3 Michelin starred restaurant and one of the top 3 in the world) and Dinner (which explores ancient British receipes) collaborated with high- end supermarket Waitrose to create a range of food products from condiments to pies. I have already reviewed his coriander and rose salt , Vanilla mayonnaise and Lapsang Souchong tea smoked salmon . The next one to try is steak, ale and kombu pie.

Kombu is a natural source of Umami, and is one of Heston’s favourite natural flavour enhancers. It is added to this otherwise traditional English pie in an attempt to create a twist. Did it work? Continue reading to find out >>

In his TV programme, Heston Blumenthal, chef of Fat Duck, the 3 Michelin starred restaurant, one of the top 3 restaurants in the world, proudly stated that he uses Kombu in his cooking because of Umami. The term Umami became trendy and attractive.

Umami is a Japanese word that means ‘good flavour’. This flavour is generated due to the detection of  glutamate. It was first identified by Kikunae Ikeda of the Tokyo Imperial University while researching the strong flavour in seaweed broth.

Recently, I discovered a new product called Taste No. 5 Umami paste. First impression was that it tried to sound like Chanel No. 5, the perfume . It contains tomato puree, garlic, anchovy paste, black olive, balsamic vinegar, porcini mushrooms, parmesan cheese, olive oil, vinegar, sugar and salt. Ironically, no seaweed extract which was the original ingredient that inspired the use of the word Umami! Tomatoes, porchini mushrooms, parmesan cheese naturally contain glutamate. I had high hope that this little tube would enhance the flavour of my meal. Continue reading >>

 

It is very rare for me to feel that the design of a restaurant and its management style can work so badly with each other that it turns the dining experience miserable, until I went to Dumplings Legend.

Its name suggested their dumplings, or Xiao Long Bao in Mandarin to be precise, are so amazing that they are legendary. It is hard to find great dumplings in Chinatown. Chinese Experience used to do the best ones but they folded last year, unfortunately. You can imagine my excitement when I first heard about this restaurant.

If you eat on the ground floor like we did, you would walk past a gallery kitchen in which the chefs prepare all the dumplings fresh. It was a pleasure to watch and certainly my appetite was stimulated. Promising start!

The restaurant is mainly decorated in white- white painted plastered wall with mirrors. It certainly looks smart and modern from Gerrard Street. But what the owner and the designer overlooked is that this kind of wall finishes are very bad in absorbing sound.  Continue reading >>

 

Koba is a small Korean restaurant just off Oxford Street. The decoration is modern and neat. The main dining area has a big rooflight- I can imagine the space being flooded with nice daylight during lunch time and mid-summer evenings. Booking is recommended as you will be asked to sit by the bar if this area is fully booked.

The menu is easy to understand as all the dishes feature photos. All the dishes are beautifully presented. Unfortunately, the food is not up to the same standard.

Yook Hwei (Seasoned raw beef with sliced pears) is a dish I always order in Korean restaurants as it can really distinguish a good restaurant from the ordinary. Koba’s raw beef is fresh but the pear pieces are too chunky. Even though the taste is good, the overall texture is less balanced- I have had better ones at Arang before.

Pajun (Korean Pancake with spring onion & seafood) is crispy on the outside and soft inside. With chopped chewy squid, it is a nice combination.

For Barbeque, we had Koba Modeum Gooi, which is highly recommended by the chef. It is a selection of rib-eye slices, beef short rib, pork belly slices,  chicken, baby octopus, prawns, melon slices, mushroom and onions. Pork belly slices are my favourite Korean barbeque meat but at Koba, it is a big disappointment. The pork slices are too thin and the dipping source had too much sesame oil in it. If I did not dip the belly slices into the sauce, the meat was tasteless. If I did, I felt like I was just eating oil. The rib-eye slices and prawns were dull. They were not fresh enough for me to taste the natural flavour. It was disappointing. Continue reading about Koba >>

Chef Marco Pierre White has worked in partnership with Russell Hobbs, a well-known cookware manufacturer, to develop a range of cookware called GreenPan.

“I have worked closely with Russell Hobbs and GreenPan to design and develop a range of professionally inspired cookware to help make life easier for you in the kitchen… when you try them I am confident you’ll notice the difference.” said Marco.

Russell Hobbs claims that this cookware is one of the FIRST in the world to use this UNIQUE, NEW, non-stick Technology: Thermolon™. It has no PTFE,  no use of PFOA and it has high heat resistance up to 450°C. It has exceptional non-stick capabilities. It is easy cleaning and it has life time guarantee.

I was very excited when I got hold of the 18cm GreenPan. With such a hype, you can imagine how disappointed I was when I found out how ‘sticky’ this non-stick pan actually was. I followed the instructions very carefully and made sure that whole pan was fully oiled before putting anything in. Result? I still cannot even fry an egg in it without getting egg stuck to the pan. I have to soak the pan each time after I use it before I can clean it. I cannot believe it!

I wrote to Russell Hobbs to raise my concern and inquired about the life time guarantee. I never got any reply back. Not only do they supply a product of poor quality, they have poor after sale service. Thumbs down!

In protest, I have also decided to boycott all Marco Pierre White’s restaurants. It is irresponsible for any chef to endorse a product like this!

I am going to stick to my Stellar hard anodised aluminium cookware for now.