Panda over the Summer

Panda’s exploits in June, July and August!

 

London

Bang Bang Oriental

Bang Bang Oriental brings together over 20 stalls in a large UFO like building (designed by architects Sheppard Robson), hovering above the local Morrisons at Colindale. On our visit, a week after their opening, some stalls were still finding their feet and the food quality varied quite a lot. On weekends the place can be jam packed and stalls seem to take a break around 3/4pm. Whilst there isn’t anything that will blow you away and prices are not necessarily cheap, it’s good to finally get back an Asian food hall in the capital, that’s decidedly more sleekly designed than before. Now, let’s bring back the supermarkets as well!

 

Bob Bob Exchange

I was slightly disappointed with Bob Bob Exchange. I was expecting a lush and lavish experience but in their basement red room, things were slightly amiss. From the rather muted environment to the constant clanging of waiters dropping plates the whole experience felt decent but not special, even when I ordered the supposedly show stopping BBR Signature Chocolate Glory! The food was passable but unmemorable and the “Press For Champagne” gimmick, was barely visible on our table. A disappointing miss.

 

Bun House

This ‘street cafe’ is a welcome addition to the Soho scene. We savoured 6 different buns in their upstairs dining space as well as their house fries, the duck tongues. I applaud them for creating subtle twists to classic buns. But while all the buns were nice, none were particularly outstanding. It’s a shame that they don’t have more tea varieties to really get that tea house experience. I’ll definitely give their downstairs tea room a try in the future.

 

Dinerama

It might come as a shock to some but I’ve never been to a dedicated street food “arena”, as Street Feast like to call it, in London. Well, I guess you can count Bang Bang Oriental. I must admit, I hate crowded street food places. I prefer the relaxed environment of dining in a restaurant setting. We tried a number of stalls, including Lagom, Prawnography, Yum Buns and Yumpling. Whilst the food was decent, my fave was Lagom’s riblets, all were overpriced, especially Prawnography’s XL Tiger Prawn. Feeling decidedly ripped off we went to Boxpark to be further ripped off…

 

Lao Cafe

This Laos focused restaurant is by the co-founder of Rosa’s. I’ve never actually been to Rosa’s or tried Laotian food but found their menu to read like a Thai menu. Sn some ways the dishes were possibly exact replicas. There are definitely a lot of Thai influences in the cuisine so you’ll be more than comfortable with the flavours. It’s a nice addition to expand the variety of the London food scene.

 

Machiya

A cheap…ish Japanese restaurant from Kaneda-ya focusing on Japanese home cooked foods. Everything is decent but the quality is reflected in the price. It’s not a bad place to get your Japanese fix and we were actually pleasantly surprised by the portions but it’s no more than a prettified but homely, standard Japanese restaurant you can find across the capital. But a meal for 2 coming in below £25 is a rarity in central London these days, especially for decent Japanese.

 

Shikumen

Taking advantage of their 50% off offer we went to the recently opened Aldgate branch. It’s within the Dorsett Hotel so is a little awkward to access, feeling more like a hotel breakfast buffet. Service was friendly but the staff were a little green. The dim sum is generally well made, above the standard Chinatown fare, with some interesting additions that we’d love to see more in London but it does not warrant its full price. For that price bracket, I’d go to Yauatcha.

 

Tombo

I finally got to try out Tombo in Museumland, South Kensington, for a quick afternoon break. Our main mission was matcha matcha matcha! Sadly, I felt the matcha flavours didn’t come through enough. The matcha sponge part of our cake also wasn’t as light and airy as I’d expected. It was a standard Matcha experience but I was expecting better.

 

Wing Wing

Chimaek (fried chicken and beer) is a Korean cultural phenomenon, Wing Wing gives this a British twist. Whilst I’m still looking for the kind of Chimaek I had in South Korea, Wing Wing does a decent fried chicken that’s crispy and juicy. The drumette is better than the actual wing though. Expanding the flavours and adding toppings would be a great next step but for now, it fulfils a quick fried chicken fix.

 

Nottingham

Cod’s Scallop

It has been over a year since news caught that Cod’s Scallop in Wollaton won 3rd Place at the National Fish and Chip Awards (yes there’s an awards ceremony for it!). After a few unsuccessful attempts at scoffing myself silly with a chippy, we finally made our way up Wollaton. It was definitely a good piece of battered fish, though a little oily towards the end but the battered scallops were a treat.

 

Cream’s

This chain is rapidly expanding wherever I go! So I decided to give it a try. Generally, the quality of desserts were good, though I find the decor a bit garish. The waffles are light and crispy though could be a tad sweet depending on the toppings. In a slew of similar dessert chains Cream’s doesn’t stand out but you should be able to get a decent sugar fix nonetheless.

 

Curious Manor

Whilst we didn’t have the afternoon tea it feels like a great place to savour a tea time treat with their quirky decor. The food, however, is a little overpriced, so I’d recommend this place as a light afternoon treat with some nibbles.

 

Delilah Fine Foods

A great little spot for brunch or a casual afternoon. The relaxed environment above the deli is a good way to while away an afternoon whilst browsing the interesting ingredients on offer.

 

La Rock

The culinary hotspot of Nottingham. The food here is well considered and crafted. Go here for a relaxed fine dining experience. Be sure to check their opening times as they aren’t always open.

 

Nottingham Street Food Club

I didn’t manage to come here during the first weekend of its launch due to the relentlessness amount of work my degree enforces! But after five weeks I managed to get here on a weekend (they are only open then). The selection of street food is limited to four rotating stalls with some more regular than others. On our visit, we tried a little from each, whilst not all were resounding successes none were real duds either, Homeboys are definitely one to try. Whilst it might not be the best lunch we’ve ever had I love being able to try a little of everything! It’s really exciting that Nottingham finally has a place like this and with some tweaks, it’d be great to see the street food scene grow here.

 

Sexy Mama Love Spaghetti

The Sexy Mama is a beautiful little restaurant in Hockley serving Italian food just as if you had an Italian mama fattening you up. The food, on the whole, is well cooked, if not a little homely but if you’re looking for a little romance without breaking the bank, make a beeline for Sexy Mama.

 

Son of Steak

Son of Steak is providing cheap steak to the masses, selecting cheaper cuts like Flat Iron steaks. Whilst there’s definitely a market for this I’m still of the opinion that if you want a good steak you’re better off forking your money out. If Flat Iron failed to impress, Son of Steak was going to have an uphill battle to climb. Personally, I found my Lomito a bit bland and the cooking of steak a bit patchy.

 

World Service

The restaurant seems to be caught between three worlds; a historic dining room, a terrace bar and a rather oddly reflective modern dining area. It all seems rather odd for a fine dining institution but the service here is friendly and the food, in general, is decent.

 

Folkestone

Rocksalt

Located in a great setting along Folkestone Harbour this restaurant serves up classic British fare. Whilst prices are not cheap the portions are very generous and you can easily order up a feast. On a sunny day, it would be a lovely place to dine al fresco on their terrace overlooking the harbour.

 

Sheffield

Tamper: Seller’s Wheel

We loved being here for lunch and a coffee. A great atmosphere and great food. The mince on toast sounds basic but is a beautiful and moreish treat. This is a must for anyone in Sheffield.

 

Oisoi

The missing market is a disappointing omission, for it was what drew me here in the first place. Otherwise, the food here is good, using fresh ingredients but not amazingly so. The decor is beautifully designed by Schweitzer Projects.

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