Sappho Meze Bar

The first time I had a meal out in London which was not take-away was Sappho Meze Bar – Greek place in Clapham North, hidden away, not really impressive looking from outside..but definitely an experience worth the while!

Sappho’s does not have a menu. Yep, you heard me. Huge chalkboards cover the two walls of the narrow restaurant and on one of them you have the option to choose between the meat or vegetarian meze for £13.50 each and on the other board, you have drinks options. That is it, no explanation of what mezes are included or anything!

By the time you’ve sat down and glanced at the menu the owner will have approached you and filled you in with Greek wisdom and filo parcels of heavenly treats and a plate of veges/olives. This is followed by a bowl of soup, we went for the meat option so we had a nice simple chicken soup. After this when you’re already quite content, comes the glory of mezes. I don’t think we counted how many we got, but let’s just say more than 6 different types of mezes and a loaf of bread. My favourites included the taramasalata, hummus, buttery garlic mushrooms and aubergine in this tomato-y sauce.

By this time I had done my restaurant party trick –  i.e. unbuttoned my jeans because there is realistically no chance I would be able to fit in any more food after the mezes. But since I had been there before I knew that the main was still coming! The main was chicken wings (usually it is chicken but not as wings rather as breast pieces), potatoes, succulent lamb, rice with peas and salad.

Since I had already been here once before, I knew the food was lovely and for £13.50 each, it was a bargain! Even with a bottle of coke, it as £15 each only?! But what makes my Sapphos experience whole is the service. The owner makes sure you not only are enjoying the food but are finishing it! He also told us about which ingredients were good for the immune system and where everything originated from.

Definitely worth a try and do not let the exterior turn you away!

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Meal Prep Sunday

Lately, I have been inspired to meal prep for the week at least for lunches. This inspiration has derived from having to journey further for work i.e. wake up earlier and go to bed earlier meaning I do not have too much time in the evenings to cook for the next day. The current workplace also does not have too many restaurants/cafes around, which I actually love as it saves a lot of money compared to when I was in the middle of Soho.

I am hoping this meal prepping is the first step of also getting into shape again, as come November I am hoping to settle down at my new job and finally have time to join a gym again!

Today I decided to meal prep a variation of chicken fajita.

Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts

one small red onion

bell peppers in all colours (who doesn’t like a colourful plate?) 

fajita seasoning

4 sweet skinny sweet potatoes  

bunch of asparagus

2 tablespoons of olive oil

salt/pepper/other spices to taste

grated cheese (optional)

 

This recipe literally takes 30 mins to prep which is amazing!

  1. Turn the oven to 180 Fan
  2. Start with the sweet potatoes first as they need to be in the oven longest. Dice the sweet potatoes evenly – I prefer thick but small cubes – cooks quickly but does not burn as easily as slices.
  3. Put the sweet potatoes in an ovenproof dish and drizzle with olive oil. Go over again and sprinkle generously with the fajita seasoning and any other spices you like and put them in the middle of the oven for 40-45 mins and move onto the chicken.
  4. Lay out your 4 chicken breast in another ovenproof tray and cut vertical slits into the chickens. Do not cut through the chicken but enough to be able to stuff in the peppers.
  5. Prepare thinly sliced onions and bell peppers.
  6. Drizzle chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle remaining fajita seasoning, make sure to get it all around the chicken.
  7. Stuff the vertical slits you made with the bell peppers and red onion.
  8. Put it in the oven below the sweet potatoes for 25-30 mins.
  9.  Check midway and make sure the sweet potatoes are cooking through and not burning – cover in foil at this stage if they seem raw but burning.
  10. Put in any remaining peppers, onions, and the asparagus in with the sweet potatoes at this stage.
  11. OPTIONAL: Take out the chicken when after 25mins and sprinkle grated cheese on top.
  12. Voila! Bon appetite!

*The vegetables taste nice with salsa and ground beef in texmex spice as well!

This recipe is super easy, tasty and actually fun to make!

Bibimbap

So anyone who has looked at my Instagram or read my posts or simply talked to me knows my love for Korean food. I already listed the three that I have been to, which I quite liked. But now I found a new one – Bibimbap!

This place I pass every day on my way to work, and since the name is literally the name of my favourite Korean dish I have been very tempted to go in during one of my lunch breaks, but afraid of the queues I waited until the weekend.

The restaurant itself was simple in decoration, some frames on the wall and pastel coloured tables, nothing extravagant like Bibigo for example. The waiters and waitresses were really sweet, answered my stupid questions with a smile on their faces.

We ordered the bibimbap, Korean Fried Chicken (KFC) with kimchee mayo (!!) and sweet chilli sauce and chilli chicken rice. The food was amazing, I could almost say that it was the freshest bibimbap I have ever had. The KFC was yummy, and I loved the kimchee mayo it tasted like the mayo from Big Macs (hmm maybe kimchee is their secret mayo recipe). All in all the food was really good, filling but did not make you feel heavy and the price for all of that + two cokes and service charge was £30.

 

 

 

BAO – is it worth the queue?

I have been meaning to go to BAO ever since I first tried bao buns at Camden, mainly because whenever I searched for top 10 Bao buns in London, BAO always came first.

I heard that there is a queue going into BAO, so I was pleasantly surprised when we managed to grab the last two seats by the window. I liked the ordering method, mostly because it reminded me of IKEA as you had to mark the menu by putting the quantity beside the food you wanted to order.

We wanted the fried chicken Baos because we had tried them at other restaurants/food markets and they usually are quite good. I felt a bit more adventurous and for my second one, I chose the lamb shoulder. We also had a side of sweet potato fries, which were nothing like anything I have ever had, they were deep fried in batter and tasted sweeter than usual. The menu also had a Bao filled with fried Horlicks ice cream on it…this sounds like a childhood dream come true and I definitely want to try it asap!

While we waited for our food, our lovely waiter made sure we had plenty of water. Trying not to stare at other peoples food, I decided to look outside, when I noticed the famous queue. There was a BAO ‘pit stop’ on the opposite side of the street, with a queue forming down. I think the queue had 10+ people at its longest. The waitress was great though and took their drinks order and took drinks out into the street. The turnaround in the restaurant was fast as well, so most of the people got seated by the time we left.

So is it worth the queue? YES from me. NO from my companion. I thought the chicken was amazing, the lamb was soft and melted in my mouth while the buns themselves were like chewing into what I imagine clouds taste like. All in all a perfect bao experience for me! My companion thought the food was great, but the portions did not make him full and at £5 a Bao, the portion to price ratio was not great. To be fair, I probably could have had two more Baos – but that has nothing to do with the size and everything to do with the taste – YUM!

 

Love for Korean Food

BIBIGO

My love for Korean food started at a restaurant my friend worked at called Bibigo in Angel. She used to get a heavy discount and she could bring friends. I was lucky enough to go multiple times and enjoy the amazing dishes.

The interior is beautiful, traditional with a modern spin and dimly lit. The seats were comfortable and the whole restaurant was very romantic.

My favourites: Korean chopped salad, Red Chicken (!!), Pajeon seafood pancake and traditional Bulgogi. The thing about Bibigo was that anyone I recommended it to loved it, I even ended up going there with my family and friends after graduating last summer.

Bibigo’s prices even without discount are reasonable, especially if you choose a set menu. But the portions are not big, so I would choose a side with mains.

They have two locations: Angel & Soho.

ASADAL

My love for Korean food continued at Asadal in Holborn. It was a random chance or fate as I would like to believe that we found a Korean place next to our new University.

Asadal from the outside looks unimpressive, possibly because it is right next door to Holborn station wedged between a takeaway Costa and the newsagents. But boy oh boy I am glad I did not let appearances deceive me. As soon as you walk down the stairs into the restaurant, it is like you stepped into another world. The decoration is traditional, nice with some Korean ornaments and with comfortable longer tables along the side and smaller tables for two in the middle.

The food…is amazing! This has to be my favourite Korean place in London! My go-to meals: beef bibimpbap with egg yolk (!!), beef bulgogi (which is cooked in front of you) with rice or/and Kan Poong Gi with rice.

The price/value is quite good, for two mains and cokes on the side, we usually pay around £38.

Location: Holborn, next to the station – you CANNOT miss it. Excellent for groups as well as just for two.

This place has become a Wednesday tradition for me, and I love how I can still walk past the next day and be hungry by the smell traveling out into the streets of Holborn.

 

 

KIMCHEE

My love for Korean food did not grow at Kimchee in Holborn. I had heard so many good things about Kimchee and it was right next door to my University (yes, Holborn is the place to be for Korean food) so I thought let me for once go there instead of Asadal. Maybe I did not enjoy it as much due to Asadal and my comparison to it, but I felt like Kimchee was nothing special and the food was far too westernized.

The interior is quite nice, again much of the same as the above two, however, the seating was uncomfortable with nothing to lean on and the stools themselves weighed so much I had trouble moving it so I squeezed myself in.

The food was okay, nothing special and as I said above too western to be authentically Korean. I had the Hot Pot Bulgogi, and though tasty it did not compare to the other two. Maybe I should go there and try something else, which I have no pre-emptive views on. I would definitely be willing to try it again as I everyone else seems to love it.

The price/value was good, again between £35-40.

Locations: Holborn and St Pancras (new).

Wing Wing

I tried out Wing Wing yesterday, a Korean chicken restaurant. The idea of the restaurant is to be a “‘chimaek” i.e. a chicken + beer (maekju) restaurant, a popular restaurant concept in America and Korea. We went in for the wings and the chicken bao buns, as Instagram seemed to have rave reviews.

The location is near Russel Square, which although a nice area near central felt secluded. It definitely felt more like you needed to know Wing Wing existed to find it there.

The interior of Wing Wing was simple, sort of a glorified take-out restaurant look. It got pretty packed when we were leaving, seemed comfortable for groups of friends, although would not recommend it for groups bigger than 8.

You can find the menu here: http://www.wingwing.co.uk/ . We ordered signature wings (soy garlic), seaweed fries, katsu bao and chicken burger. We received buzzers after ordering our food and waited maybe 5 mins until the food was ready.

I liked the seaweed seasoning on the fries, although to me it did not taste too different to regular fries. The katsu bao was nice, but I am a fan of the Taiwanese soft baos and these were fried and quite crunchy.  I loved the chicken wings, although they could have been hotter – nothing a little sriracha sauce could not fix!

All in all, I enjoyed my meal and the fact that their drinks machine was from the Coca Cola company and NOT from the Pepsi Company (this is coming from a girl who stopped going to Subway after they changed their machines over to Pepsi company. I would not say it was worth the hype I read on Instagram and online though.

Skewd kitchen

1 hour 15 mins googlemaps said. Was it going to be worth it for one dinner at Skewd Kitchen

I had never been to cockfosters and had not really heard about restaurants there. To be honest looking at the restaurant from the outside I was not too impressed, but it all changed inside!

The interior was modern, dimly lit and comfortable. We were there as a group of 12, and we fit perfectly. 

As Skewd Kitchen serves Turkish-Mediterranean food, I expected it to be tasty but not the best in presentation as the portions are usually quite big and meaty which is not the easiest to present in an “instragrammable” way. However, they proved me wrong! Everyones food looked fancy as well as mouthwateringly tasty! They clearly put energy into presentation and even the basket that the bread came kept us entertained. 

The food itself was well cooked, seasoned and overall lovely! I had a halloumi starter which was really fresh. I had the Ali Nazik as main with a fragrant side salad and a creamy dip.  My favourite part was the side salad with my main – pomegranates and lamb – yes please! Lastly, I had sütlach as dessert, so creamy.

 To drink I had a traditional yogurt based drink called Ayran – yum!  

So was it worth it? YES.