I'm cookingthebooks from London. I've been Qyping since 14-05-2010
Cooking The Books
- Reviews: 15
- Friends: 2
- Invitations: 0
- Photos added: 0
- Videos added: 0
- Places categorised: 0
- Events added: 0
- Checkins: 0
- Compliments received: 8
- You're hot:0
- You're hilarious:0
- I agree with you:0
- Write more:0
- Cool guide:0
- Awesome group:0
- Amazing profile:0
- Great photo:0
- Well written:2
- That's useful!:6
cookingthebooks's Qype profile
av. la mar 770, miraflores, 18 Lima
Possibly my favourite restaurant in the world, definitely in the top 3. Miles away from any touristy areas of Lima but worth the trip (we used one of those mini-buses you flag down and cram on). Seems to be out in an industrial area but is packed full of well dressed Peruvians.
The ceviche is truly amazing, from the standard white fish and prawns through to octopus, sea urchin and conches negras (a freshwater black clam) everything is as fresh as can be and packed with flavour. The little shots of ceviche liquid called leche de tigre are well worth a go too, a taste explosion that's meant to cure your hangover.
Expensive by Peru standards but cheap by Western ones. I believe it's only open for a couple of hours a day over lunch time and get there early as it fills up almost as soon as it opens.
Diputacio 269, nahe Passeig de Gràcia /Eixample, 08007 Barcelona
Tapas24 is sister restaurant to Comerc24 and ran by former El Bulli chef Carles Abellan, so one would expect some little twists away from the norm. It's unassuming from the front, just being a couple of tables on the pavement and a door leading downstairs, and pretty unassuming when you get inside too with a few tables dotted around and an open kitchen and bar surrounded by folk drinking wine and eating tapas. We decided to join the bar dwellers so we could watch the chefs do there thing.
When we sat down the couple next to us were eating a plate of red slices of something that looked rather good so I directed a customary 'Que es?' to the waiter and failed miserably in understanding his speedy reply. Luckily for me the lady of the couple must have heard my inquiry as she pushed the plate towards us, now sporting a lone slice, and said 'Try it, it's fish' before telling us at a much more ear-friendly speed that it was called mojama. After devouring this lone slice - and deciding to order more - we turned to the menu and found the unassuming ex- and interiors belied a rather fantastic menu. Una tapeta
The classics were there, sure (your patatas bravas and your tortilla), but they sat alongside mini-burgers with foie gras and ham and cheese sandwiches - bikini - with black truffle, not to mention jamon iberico and buffalo mozzarella. We decided to supplement the mojama with the bikini comerc 24, the McFoie, some Padron peppers, a Russian salad, Braves, Pa amb Tomaquet (tomato bread) and some cava and red wine to wash it down.
The mojama came served with darkly toasted almonds and a drizzle of strong olive oil - it was fantastic stuff. The initial taste was like an expensive ham, salty and melting on the tongue. Up to this point you'd be forgiven for not thinking it came from the sea but the aftertaste quickly stopped these thoughts as a strong, but pleasant, fish flavour came through.
A bikini is a cheap eat by the beach, €3 of plastic bread and plastic cheese to fill the gap between a vast late breakfast and an evening of grilled seafood. Here it was transformed to posh tapas though with some top draw ingredients. The bread was still mass produced - would anything else work? - but the ham was now jamon Iberico and the cheese buffalo mozzarella, black truffle added its inimitable muskiness. It was very good. If I was being critical the one thing I would say is the use of a squeezy bottle of melted butter to grease the outside left butter hot-spots that were literally soaked in the stuff.
This was my first encounter with Padron peppers and I loved every one. The sweet earthiness was a delight and the tentative Russian roulette of waiting for a hot one certainly didn't detract. The occasional tingle of warmth suggested my time had come but then the one truly hot one showed prior peppers had been false alarms.
The McFoie was billed as a mini-beefburger with foie gras minced into the patty and the fatty liver making a second appearance in thePa amb tomaquet accompanying mayonnaise. I watched this being made and at one point it did look like a normal burger, sat inside a tall bun, but a few minutes inside the contact grill left it flat and crispy. The foie gras definitely added some fat to the patty but I found the taste a bit lost, this could have been due to the preceding hot Padron pepper though.
Pa amb tomaquet (pan con tomato/bread with tomato) was simply the best I've eaten. The usual slices of country style bread replaced with a thin, ciabatta like loaf cut into top and bottom. It was crunchy and sweet, which is how I like it.
The low point of the meal for me was the patatas bravas (or Braves) on the menu. The potatoes were chips, and good ones at that, but there was just far too much mayonaisse for my tastes, they were literally swimming in the stuff.
Braves aside it was a fantastic start to what turned out to be two days of culinary delights in Barcelona. It was pretty cheap too - a pair of cavas, a pair of red wines and all the food working out not a lot more than €20 a head. Definitely recommended and, if you eat at a UK time seemingly OK to get a seat - at 8.30pm on a Saturday we were seated instantly.
For some photos of the food see my blog:
Calle Sagristans 9, 08002 Barcelona
Fantastic little tapas bar somewhere in the backstreets of Barcelona's gothic quarter. Smoky, busy and noisy and managing to maintain a local feel lost in most of the establishments in the area.
Search it out, grab a seat at the bar, some Iberico ham to nibble on and some cervezas to drink and enjoy.
26 Maddox Street, Mayfair, London W1S 1QH
Without doubt in the top two steak restaurants in London, along with Hawksmoor.
Steaks are big, well aged and charred to perfection by the Josper grill. To maximise enjoyment order a selection of steaks for the table, getting some corn fed USDA, some grass fed from these shores and, if you can, a mix of dry (on the bone) and wet (off the bone) aged. These bits of beef really are special.
On the topic of beef their burger is arguably the best in London, made from the same aged meat as their steaks, incorporating fatty offcuts from the joints. It's big, bloody (if you order it right) and smoky. The price doesn't change when you add toppings so for £12 you can get a cheese and bacon burger with chips, something many of the gourmet burger chains won't do for that price.
Sides are good too, ranging from chips, through truffle oil macaroni cheese, to rich, creamed spinach.
The wine list is big with some really nice stuff at the cheaper end, at around £26 the Don David Malbec is perfect with the red meat.
11 Old Jewry, City of London, London EC2R 8DU
The interior of the new branch is much like the original Mayfair establsihment, albeit with a bit more of an industrial feel with the exposed pipes near the ceiling. There's the dark leather, dark wood, some booths and a bar. One welcome addition though is the huge window to the meat aging room. A dining room table sized opening into a world of stainless steel shelves and vast lumps of beef in varying stages of controlled decay.
With London's proper steakhouses (Goodman, Hawksmoor, ?) it's good to share and we did just that ordering a Wagyu ribeye (300gr), 2 x USDA Ribeye (400gr), a USDA sirloin (350gr) and a USDA on the bone sirloin (650gr), aiming to stick it in the middle so everyone could try the different cuts. Everything was ordered around medium-rare to let the marbling melt down nicely. We had wanted to try the grass fed Belted Galloway - as recommended to me by the Goodman grill-man himself - but alas our procrastination in ordering led to them being sold out, a 650gr on the bone rib would have been perfect too.
The wagyu was a melt in the mouth delight, the meat was tender but the most amazing thing for me wasn't the effects of the intramuscular marbling - as gorgeous as it was - but the intermuscular fat. This was the softest, most tender fat I've eaten, collapsing under the teeth and probably so soft (alas I didn't try it) to suck through the teeth. I enjoyed the sirloin, especially the dry aged on the bone, but for me the star was the rib-eye, having the perfect combination of juicy fat and meaty chew, not to mention the perfectly seasoned and charred outside common to them all.
As it was soft opening when I went there was 50% off food and our bill of 3 starters, steak, a few sides, 2 puds and some dessert wine was a very good value £43 each. Without the soft opening it would have been nearer £70 but even then I'd definitely have felt I got my money's worth and will be returning in the not too distant future to try their grass fed offerings at full price.
For some photos of the food see my blog here:
40-42 Willesden Lane, London NW6 7ST
The first thing one notices about X-Burger House, the new Brazilian burger house in Kilburn, is that it is in the middle of nowhere. Well to those that live in Kilburn or Willesden (or wherever it is to the south of these) it won't be but if like me you've come from the West End you're talking 7 stops on the Jubilee line and a 10 odd minute walk from the tube station. A veritable marathon. I've just changed team at work though and a long goodbye lunch was on the cards so I grabbed a couple of colleagues and set about the journey.
Once you've made the trip it's a pretty nice place, decked in clean lined modern furniture and light and airy from the large south facing windows. The kitchen is open and a till area deals out takeaways to what amounted to 4-5 people in the hour we were there.
The X in X burger is short for Xis, or Cheese, and every burger here has the magic ingredient. On top of this we're treated to various toppings from the usual bacon and fried egg to the less usual chicken hearts, peas and sweetcorn - which I'm guessing show off the Brazilian heritage. Sides again run from the usual chips and onion rings to the less usual polenta chips and chicken hearts. It is cheap dining, with burgers running from £4.50 to £7 something, sides about £2 a glass of coke a quid. The menu also had some steak sandwiches and hot dogs but I didn't get to try those.
I decided to eat the bacon X (cheese) burger and went for the 7" - over 5" - option. I wasn't sure if the " was a dodgy shorthand for oz or if the burger would be 7" tall, out the two I was guessing 7oz but it may have meant 7" diameter as this was the widest burger I've ever seen. With such width, 7oz of meat or not, it has got to be a thin burger and my guess would be around the centimetre mark, it definitely looked like it had been made fresh though, the rough edges a tell tale sign of something hand shaped or squashed flat on the griddle.
We weren't asked how we wanted our burgers cooked and mine arrived moist with the slightest hint of pink. With such thin burgers it's going to be hard to have them much less done if you want a decent amount of charring though, which is pretty important for flavour and definitely wasn't lacking. Unfortunately the burger seemed to carry on cooking at the table and whilst the first half was pretty moist it got a bit dry towards the end. From the toppings bacon was streaky and salty and and in decent quantity and cheese of the thin sliced real variety, sliced tomato added to the moisture.
All in all it was a decent burger, although I would've preferred it less cooked through.
Sides were pretty damn good. Homemade chips were crisp on the outside and fluffy inside, quite roast potato like in flavour. Onion rings had a great crunch but maybe lacked a bit in onion. Polenta chips were a revelation, perfect chip shape with crisp exteriors that gave way to buttery soft polenta - get in there quick though as by the end the last couple had lost their crunch due to the steaming middle. One criticism of all three would be the portions were a bit small (we only ate two polenta chips before I took that photo), this criticism certainly couldn't be levelled at the chicken hearts with onion though which - at less than £4 - was absolutely huge, literally hundreds of the things griddled till brown and with a hint of thyme - absolutely gorgeous.
Whilst it may not be the best burger in London X-House Burger is a cut above the average burger bar and definitely superior to the average Kilburn offering. The Brazilian influence makes for a really interesting menu, with great sides, and I may even return to see what peas and sweetcorn are like on a burger.
For some photos of the food see my blog here:
12 Upper St Martins Lane, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9FB
So far I've only eaten breakfast so can't comment on their curries and the like.
They're bacon naan is to die for though. Salty, crisp bacon sat between a freshly tandoored flaky naan with coriander and a sweet chutney. Was it for this alone the place would have 5 stars but the sausage naan didn't work quite so well - I found the seasoning of the English banger clashed a bit with the Indian flavours. A great addition to the breakfast options in the West End though.
I shall definitely be returning though, especially when they start serving these takeaway - they'll be a regular appearance in the office.
25 Newport Court, London WC2H 7JS
Everyone should try Sichuanese food. A lot of British folks only experience of Chinese food is very Cantonese, and whilst I'm a big fan of that there's so much more to Chinese food - this is a country of over one billion people who had domesticated the pig about 7000 years ago - and for me Sichuan food is at the top of the vast variety. Gone are bright red gloopy sauces, replaced with many layered dishes: sweet, sour, salty, numbing, warming... So many different flavours and sensations combined into one dish and sitting perfectly together. Whilst Baozi Inn may not be the pinnacle of Sichuan food (it's not even entirely Sichuan cuisine, Beijing gets a look in too) it's damn tasty and cheap and a real one of a kind place in London, which I guess means the UK.
My favourite dish is the Fragrant and Hot Pork Noodles, one of the few dishes on the menu bearing a warning red chili next to its name, and it's a well deserved warning too. Cubes of tender pork in an umami rich sauce laden with chili, served on top of the very distinctive wheat noodles served in this place.
The baozi in their name is a type of filled steamed bun, the pork filling comes with masses of spiced minced pork and the egg filling very interesting, scrambled egg heavy with garlic, chives and spring onion. Their Three Sliver Salad is crunchy carrot, squeaky seaweed and rice vermicelli dressed in sesame oil with an undercurrent of chilli. So fresh tasting, full of interesting textures and a great palate cleanser - a must order. Chendgu Dumplings with Red Oil are pork in chewy boiled dough served in a puddle of fiery chili oil.
The restaurant is nicely decorated, lots of dark wood and Chinese revolution posters (plenty of Mao). Service tends to be efficient and quick whether you're eating in or using their takeaway service, which I do frequently.
Noodles cost about £6, smaller dishes around £4 and Baozi maybe £1.20. At lunch a set meal of main dish, salad and soup come in at £8.50, stupendous value for money.
For some photos of the food see my blog here:
27 Wardour Street, London W1D 6PR
I love Hung's, I've been coming here for years, watching it change name, be redecorated and change name back again.
It's from the functional school of Chinatown dining, melamine tables that can be wiped down between customers. Like a lot of the Chinatown establishments solo diners looking for a quick fix sit downstairs with larger parties ferried upstairs to the top two floors and bigger tables.
The food here is Cantonese and it has one of the best selections of noodle soups for lunch, anything from the usual won ton and roast meats through delectable king prawn dumplings before getting to the more obtuse tripe, tendon and pigs knuckles - all worth a go.
Main dishes have the usual standards, although why would you order sweet and sour chicken when prawn stuffed tofu in black bean or ong choy with fermented bean curd were available, let alone starting with spring rolls instead of soft shell crab?
Come Chinese New Year they stick on a special menu so it's well worth popping down then for some fat choi (hair fungus), lettuce and pig's trotter.
A collection of photos of the food can be seen on my blog here:
4 Macclesfield St, London W1D 6AX
The dim sum menu at Leong's Legend is a lot shorter than most Chinatown dim sum menus but even its reduced list threw up quite a few dishes I'd not seen before, most of which ended up on our order. The waiter said we'd probably ordered too much, advised us to drop a dish or two and said we'd still need to move to one of the bigger tables as our order wasn't going to fit on the two person table we had. This necessitated a move to a four seater in the window, which had the added bonus of fantastic natural light for photographs. Leong's Legend's interior is highly stylised by Chinatown standards. Whilst I love the functional nature of the cafe style melamine interiors it is nice to go a bit upmarket sometimes too and the wooden furniture and mood lighting here (and in Baozi Inn) make a refreshing change.
For food I tried to order things I'd not really had before, the menu isn't the most descriptive though and so we ended up with some har gau (down as prawn dumplings, I should've figured really) which wasn't a bad thing as they were good har gau. A glutinous wrapper with distinct prawn and crunchy water chestnut filling.
I'm a big fan of turnip cake but the menu had a crispy fried turnip dish on, which I'd never heard of before, and so we got our turnip fix for the day there instead. This consisted of a gloopy grated turnip filling surrounded by a buttery, flaky pastry outside. Quite delectable. A cheung fun of pork and preserved vegetable was also new to me but not quite as detectable. I was hoping for pungent, salty vegetable but whilst it added some crunch I found it was a bit bland.
I couldn't let the Taiwan Kebab Roll pass me by and I'm glad I didn't, a sheet of char siu bao style dough was wrapped around a melt in the mouth slice of braised pork belly, salted vegetable provided both texture and piquancy to cut through the rich meat.
Sui Long Bao (soup filled dumplings) only came in a portion of eight, so large by dim sum standards, but there was no danger of them not being finished. The pastry was delicate and the ginger vinegar added a welcome sharpness to the savoury broth as they burst into your mouth.
It wouldn't normally be something I ate with dim sum but my brother loves fried rice and so we ordered a portion. There was none of his favourite egg fried rice and so we went with chicken fried rice instead, a dish that gave me my first ever encounter with pine nuts in Chinese food. I'm not sure if they're a traditional ingredient or a bit of fusion cooking on their part but they were a welcome addition, adding both texture and a lovely toasted nutty element where they'd browned against the wok.
The mushroom and ham roll was a dish I'd never heard of before. It turned out to be leathery beancurd skin rolls wrapped around a filling of shredded wood ear fungus. I couldn't find any ham although its meatiness was discernible in the taste. A corn starch thick sauce and enoki mushrooms finished what was a very nice dish.
Won ton in spicy oil were in an egg-free wrapper and filled with pork. The spicy oil had a good kick to it, too much for my brother but perfect for me. The final dish was char sui bao, a common favourite and another request of the brother. They were pretty decent char sui bao, not out of this world bu good eating nonetheless.
We both really enjoyed our meal there, even if it was a bit of a struggle to get so much food down our throats - so much food that after a midday meal we didn't feel the need to eat again till gone 8.30pm. I think the fact that we did is testament to the quality of the dishes. Well worth a visit if you want a change from the usual Chinatown dim sum.
For photos of the food see here:
- Leicester Square, London 3 reviews
- Mayfair, London 2 reviews
- Soho, London 1 review
- Dalston, London 1 review
- Brixton, London 1 review
- Bayswater, London 1 review
- Covent Garden, London 1 review
- Kilburn, London 1 review
- City of London, London 1 review
- Ciutat Vella, Barcelona 1 review
- Eixample, Barcelona 1 review