The Food Diaries

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. ~ Virginia Woolf

The problem with most places that I go to eat out at is that I have to be super careful with my allergies. It’s one of the reasons why I rarely visit Thai restaurants because of their use of peanuts. Nevertheless, I try not to let that stop me because then I wouldn’t go anywhere, would I?

Mutay and I always have monthly dinner dates (something I’ve mentioned before and is good for my sanity). Last month’s date took as to ROKA on Charlotte Street!

ROKA is a Japanese restaurant with spacious surroundings and a central, open top grill kitchen in the middle. You can see the chefs bustling around preparing everyone’s food, which is something I love watching. We had a table situated on the side, so we didn’t get to see much but it was still pretty cool.

ROKA specialises in robatayaki cuisine. 

In Japanese cuisine, robatayaki (炉端焼き, literally “fireside-cooking”), often shortened to just robata (ろばた in hiragana), refers to a method of cooking, similar to barbecue, in which items of food on skewers are slow-grilled over hot charcoal. – Wikipedia

We got a table through Bookatable, so ours was a special deal which meant we got 3 courses and a glass of bubbles for only £33 per person. 

The waitress explained that the majority of their starters used a fish based sauce, which was very unfortunate for me because I’m allergic to fish (honestly, I’ve no idea how I’ve survived on this earth for so long either, guys). Thankfully, she said that she would speak to the chef and they’d come up with a specialised menu. 

I particularly love that there wasn’t that much of a fuss made and I commend her for handling it so well – it happened again later with the dessert too because they used nuts in the dessert I wanted originally, but they made a special version of it for me, instead. 

My only annoyance was that I didn’t get to have the kimchi that I was so looking forward to because they used fish stock, but it was only a minor issue.

For the starters, our confusion was that we had to pick one, but the lady explained that everything on the list was a starter. Imagine our excitement! The original menu included kimchi, sashimi, beef dumplings, and sashimi tempura but with the alterations, it was slightly different.

We started off with these edible leaves with a really nice dressing. I’m sorry to say I don’t know the name of the dish, but it was very yummy! We also had gyuniku to goma no gyoza (beef, ginger & sesame dumplings), which is definitely something I recommend you try. Paired with the sauce, it was delicious. Next was the vegetable tempura, which was great! Tempura is just a dish of either seafood or vegetables battered and deep fried. It makes for a great snack, actually. Also, because I couldn’t have the sashimi, they made cucumber maki for me instead which was still yummy.

Starters! Not pictured is the cucumber maki.

There were no problems with the mains, so nothing was altered. I opted for gyuhireniku no pirikara yakiniku (beef sirloin, chilli, spring onion), which also came along with steamed rice. The beef was so tender, it practically fell off my fork. I’m not exactly sure of the sauce it came with, but it was extremely tasty and I’m guessing it was soy sauce based. You can’t really go wrong with rice, either. I wish the main course didn’t end so quickly, but I guess that’s because I wolfed it down like I hadn’t been fed in a hundred years. 

Look at the presentation! Amazing 😍

The last course was dessert, for which had to be altered, but I’m extremely grateful they went out of their way to do so. I went for hokkaido no yawaraka cheesecake (cotton soft cheesecake, robata grilled pear, cream cheese ice cream). It was a great way to end what was already a fantastic meal!

This was amazing cheesecake and paired with the crunchiness of the pears and softness of the ice cream, it was delightful!

We had a really enjoyable dinner, and I’d just like to bring up again how lovely the servers were and how accommodating they were. I absolutely wish more restaurants were like this – it definitely makes it a lot easier for people who enjoy eating out but are restricted by allergies. 

37 Charlotte Street
London
W1T 1RR
United Kingdom

T +44 (0) 20 7580 6464

Nothing gets much better than pizza. There, I said it. You can preach about everything being better than pizza to me, but I will resolutely stand by what I just said. Nothing is quite like a circular dough base covered in tomato sauce, cheese and any topping you want.

A new pizza restaurant opened up in Crystal Palace called Four Hundred Rabbits boasting their sourdough pizza and craft beer. Too right they should boast. They already have one branch in Nunhead, but as that is not a place I usually go to I am glad they opened up one in Crystal Palace, a place I frequent often. 

decor @ 400 Rabbits ft. my friend’s head

I’ve visited twice now, and I’ve been impressed both times. I was originally meant to visit around Christmas time with some friends, but when we arrived they had closed early for a staff Christmas party. Kind of sucked, but we did end up in Pizza at the Palace which was really good. That’s for another post, though.

Located on Westow Street, Four Hundred Rabbits serve delicious organic sourdough pizzas: “Lavish toppings come in the form of seasonal British produce, all complemented by San Marzano tomatoes and fior de latte mozzarella.” Mozzarella is honestly my weakness. I love cheese in general, but give me mozzarella and I’m yours forever.

My first visit I ordered their iberico chorizo, pickled chillis, tomato, mozzarella and basil pizza. I dreamt about it that night. I remember when I was younger I was never a fan of thin pizzas. Every time my Lola or my mother took me to Pizza Hut, I would always opt for deep dish. I only really started enjoying thin pizzas a couple of years ago when I went to Franco Manca. I’d been to Pizza Express before, but I’m not really a fan of their pizzas (shock, horror). The pizza at 400 Rabbits was really good, and it was just the right amount of spicy and if you want to add extra punch, they do have chilli oil, as well.

iberico chorizo, pickled chillis, tomato, mozzarella and basil 🍕

Alongside pizzas, they also have craft beers and dessert. I didn’t try any of their craft beers because I don’t really drink beer in general, but I did try their dessert. I didn’t get any on my first visit, however the server was really nice and actually gave me a waffle biscuit and said I could steal some of my friends’. 😂 My second visit I did end up getting two scoops of milk chocolate gelato topped with marshmallows. It was so delicious!

all the different craft beers available 🍺

honestly, their rabbit branding is so cute 🐰

The mini marshmallows were everything 😍

My second visit I ordered the ground, aged hereford beef, green chilli, onions, tomato and mozzarella pizza. So, so good! It is a pretty messy pizza, but in a good way. There was quite a bit of onion on my pizza, which gave it an extra crunch. Although like half the toppings would slid off when I grabbed a slice because the base was so thin so probably couldn’t handle all that, it was really tasty. 

ground, aged hereford beef, green chilli, onions, tomato and mozzarella 🍕

Overall, I really enjoyed 400 Rabbits both times I visited. The food was delicious and the servers were really friendly, as well, which is a plus. Would definitely be making this a regular haunt!

30-32 Westow St
London
SE19 3AH

T: 020 8771 6249

First things first – I hate being misled. If you’re offering all you can eat KBBQ for lunch AND dinner, that is what I expect to have when I turn up for lunch. It even advertises this fact outside the restaurant, too. I should have really taken a picture of the poster outside as evidence, but whatever.

Despite this misfortunate event, I still had a somewhat enjoyable experience at Kalbi Korean BBQ & Sushi.

Kalbi Korean BBQ & Sushi restaurant is situated in Islington and was fortunately only a one bus journey from where I live. From my research, it is also one of the very few places in London that do all you can eat KBBQ. Understandably, I was disappointed when I didn’t get to experience it but I will for sure be coming back in the evening to try it out.

We were lucky to catch their special 3-course lunch which included a drink, appetiser and main. The waiter also served as kimchi and kongnamul-muchim side dishes, which were so yummy! Depending on what you order, the lunch deal can be as low as £9.90! Kalbi has quite a selection to choose from, so I’ll start with the appetisers.

kimchi can leave me on read, m8

Appetiser

You can choose between: mandu, kkanpunggi, agedashi tofu, salmon & avocado roll, California roll

I opted for the mandu. Mandu are dumplings that can be grilled, fried, steamed or boiled. They are usually filled with minced meat, tofu, green onions, garlic and ginger and served with kimchi and a dipping sauce made of soy sauce, vinegar and chilli. The ones I were served were absolutely delicious and although it did take a while for them to come out, actually arriving AFTER my main, it was worth the wait.

My friend went for the kkanpunggi. Kkanpunggi is spicy garlic fried chicken stir-fried with vegetables and a sweet, sour, spicy sauce. She let me try a piece and I absolutely fell in love. It was delicious and the flavours in my mouth were delectable. Something tells me this dish would go great with an ice cold beer 😋

kkanpunggi :: photo cr; sharmayne

Main

It was quite difficult deciding what we wanted for our main as they several things to choose from including hotpot, bibimbap, and katsu curry. We had to send the waiter away several times because we still hadn’t decided what we wanted! 

Eventually, I ended up going for the sizzling bulgogi, specially marinated top side beef, and my friend went for the chicken teriyaki, grilled chicken thigh with teriyaki sauce. Both dishes came with a side of rice, which definitely made my day.

check out the smoke on that bad boy 😍

My dish was so tasty – I especially loved that when it arrived you could hear the sizzle of the beef indicating it was freshly cooked. The beef was tender and I loved the onions and vegetables that came with it. Paired with the rice, it was the perfect lunch. 

My only gripe, of course, is the advertisement of lunch KBBQ when in fact there was none. The service was also a bit slow. Other than that, the food definitely made up for these things, and I will definitely be coming back again!

36 Rosebery Ave
London
EC1R 5HP

T: 020 7278 0008

I always find there’s no need to go out and eat Filipino food when I can just get it at home. I actually only visited a Filipino restaurant for the first time in London a few years back – totally worth it; but you’d understand why I don’t need to really go. It’s like for our Christmas lunch at work, my colleague suggested a place called Dutchies that specialises in Jamaican food – again, why? When I get that at my Lola’s every week?

Anyway, I digress.

Whilst I was in the Philippines, I actually got to meet up with Tiff of The Pandie Explorer for lunch! It was so lovely seeing her again, and even nicer for the fact that I was on her home turf. Meeting up with bloggers in real life is so awesome. It’s so nice to put a face to the blog – like, even though you know what the person looks like already, it’s so much better in real life. I honestly can’t wait until I get the chance to meet even more bloggers 😊

We went to a restaurant called Victorino’s located in Quezon City, Metro Manila. I was lucky enough to have my Tito drop me off, so I didn’t have to brave public transport to get there. I would have totally got lost, I bet.

The restaurant is lovely and spacious. I actually arrived first and was seated in the front dining area. They have a little shop located in that area selling various products from Ilocos, which is cute. The waiter immediately filled my glass with cucumber water, and continued to do so throughout the entirety of the meal which was nice. My mum hung around cause she’s a loser and wanted to meet Tiff 🙄😂, but she actually bought a scarf from the shop whilst we were waiting for Tiff.

Once Tiff arrived, we immediately poured over the menu to decide what we wanted. Boy, was it hard. Everything on the menu sounded so delicious. I’m not an expert on food from the Ilocano region, so I settled on what I already knew which was a longganisa platter serving 3 different kinds of Ilocano longganisa (longganisa refers to sausages flavoured with indigenous spices, with each region or province having its own variation) alongside vinegar dipping sauce.

adobo rice × tender beef cubes in olive oil × longganisa platter

We also opted for the adobo rice, which had adobo bits with garlic chips and lastly beef salpicao, my absolute favourite dish of the three, which was tender beef cubes in olive oil.

The longganisa was so so tasty, especially dipped in the sauce and the beef was so tender and melted right in my mouth. The rice? You cannot go wrong with rice especially when it has adobo in it. Honestly, everything was so righteous and the portions were so massive we couldn’t even finish it all. I got to take some back in a doggy bag, and whilst the food was being packed away we were able to concentrate on ordering dessert (despite looking like I was about to burst 😆).

We tried the red velvet cake because I have a stupid weakness for red velvet, and my eyes nearly dropped out of my head at how big the slice we were given was! Were my arteries clogged afterwards? Yes. Was it worth it? Hell. yES. A good red velvet cake, in my opinion, has not-too sweet frosting with a perfect creamy consistency that it just slides on your tongue like butter. If this cake didn’t do JUST that 😍 Sigh.

hellooooo, fatties 🎶

Overall, my experience at Victorino’s was really good. Thank you to Tiff for recommending the place, and when I’m back in the PH I will definitely be back here to try some other Ilocano dishes.

11th Jamboree, Diliman
Quezon City, Metro Manila
Philippines


T: +63 2 922 8558

It’s been a century and a minute since my last post.

I briefly mentioned this restaurant in my Paris post, but I feel this place deserves a post all for itself. Hardware Société, located in Montmatre, is a café-inspired restaurant putting an Australian twist on French breakfast classics. Originating in Melbourne, the owners Will and Di decided to open up this restaurant in Paris after falling in love with the city (I can attest to that sentiment).

Picture this, it’s mid-morning and you’re starving, but you’re not really sure where to go because you’re not familiar with the city you’re currently in. In steps TimeOut and out comes Hardware Société. I wasn’t quite expecting such a queue when we arrived, but alas there was one, and a waitress to take our names whilst we waited for the table. 

I eagerly watched a couple eat a delicious looking dessert whilst sitting outside and tried desperately not to drool.

After a little while (somehow a couple who arrived after us managed to get a table before us, but I’m not bitter or anything), we were led to our table in the slightly elevated sitting area near the back. It was nice and airy, especially with the big windows complimenting the room. Made for a lovely view.

My only slight gripe is that it isn’t that spacious. The smaller tables for two are round and grouped close together with other tables, so it’s like you’re sharing your dining experience with people you don’t know and you can practically hear their whole conversation. Also, we had to do a bit of juggling when our food came to fit everything on the table. Nevertheless, I loved the decor in there: marble table tops and black and white tiled floors with tea cups hanging on the wall. Quaint, af.

I really need to talk about the menu, more specifically the quote by Virginia Woolf that is on the front page: “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Hallelujah, someone finally said it.

I immediately ordered a house-made chai tea latte, which definitely hit the spot and was almost too pretty to drink (almost), alongside a butter croissant that came with orange and grapefruit jam. I love that the word for grapefruit in French is pamplemousse. It makes me laugh so much. Paris definitely knows how to turn it up when it comes to pastries, and my croissant was soft, buttery, flakey and delicious. 

croissant

Obnoxious flatlay alert.

The fact that I have a stomach that never ends is what had me ordering my main: Pork Belly & Fried Eggs – potato and bacon hash, spiced tomato and apple relish, smoked sourdough. It was ridiculously good. I usually only have potato hash, so the fact this had bacon in it as well made me so much happier. The crispy skin on the pork belly sent me to lechon heaven and it took me so much strength to not swallow my meal whole. The relish complimented the food, and there were all these different flavours; sweet and savoury – so, so good!

img_2828

Exhibit A: Foodgasm

As we were in a rush to meet my cousins at Marché Bastille, we went and paid the bill at the counter where we came across this punny sign:

change

?

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience at Hardware Société and would definitely visit again! I would love to visit their first café in Melbourne, as well. The staff were really friendly and I loved the overall laid-back, friendly atmosphere, and it makes for an awesome place to have brunch. Bonus points for getting to see the Sacré-Cœur after you finish eating, too!

10 Rue Lamarck
Paris, France
 
+33 1 42 51 69 03