Restaurants

Crunch crunch

Posted by Fuchsia on June 30, 2014
Hong Kong, Restaurants, Unusual delicacies / No Comments

Thanks to Lambda Li for sending me this video of a suckling pig being sliced at the Kimberley Hotel in Hong Kong! The whole point of this, as you will appreciate if you turn the sound up HIGH, is the amazing crisp, crunching sound of the skin being cut. Slurp.

(I was unable to video this myself because my iphone was too full of food photos at the critical moment!)

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The Long March of Chinese regional cooking in Britain

Dinner in Changsha, Hunan

You can read my article on the new Chinese regional restaurants in the Guardian here. I thought I’d use my blog to offer a bit more information.

So here are a few of the most interesting regional Chinese restaurants in London:

HUNAN: Local Friends (hu nan ren湖南人)

Chef Ren Jianjun, a native of Yueyang in northern Hunan Province used to work at the Shangri-La Hunan restaurant in Oriental City, Colindale. Ignore the entire front section of the menu and turn to the back, which is conspicuously RED because of all the chillies. Here you’ll find a wonderful selection of hearty Hunanese dishes which are among the most authentic in London.

Local Friends, 28 North End Road, Golders Green, NW11 7PT, 020 8455 9258

Local Friends, 132 Bethnal Green Rd, London E2 6DG, United Kingdom

020 7729 9954 Continue reading…

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Hutong at the Shard (or Chinese food at the top of the world)

Posted by Fuchsia on January 14, 2014
Chinese restaurants, Restaurants / 3 Comments

Well, I was a total shard-sceptic, but now, having been inside the building for the first time, I have to admit I’ve been converted. A friend of mine is working in the kitchens of Hutong, the Chinese restaurant on the 33rd floor, and invited me to lunch – and what a view! What a feast! We dabbled in the dim sum menu: opalesque, translucent orbs filled with colourful morsels  (‘crystal crab meat dumpings’); roast puff pastries stuffed with wagyu beef instead of the usual char siu pork; and pretty little bundles tinted with spinach juice, holding a mix of carrot and shiitake mushrooms. Judging by these, the dim sum here is exquisite and at least on a par with its closest London rival, the Royal China Club. Continue reading…

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Dinner at the Clove Club

Posted by Fuchsia on January 03, 2014
Restaurants / 2 Comments

Radical chicken's feet

There is only the slightest, most tenuous little Chinese excuse for writing about my recent dinner at the Clove Club on this blog, but it was such a fabulous meal that I’m going to anyway. My phone ran out of juice very quickly so I took almost no photos (which was actually a relief: Instagram is fun but can also be a self-imposed tyranny). We had the set menu, with a few extra tasters which were sent out by the kitchen.

The Chinese excuse lies in one of the extras, an ingenious little concoction of boned, deep-fried chicken’s feet, gently embracing a mushroom and chicken stuffing. This is the only time I’ve ever been served chicken’s feet in a non-Chinese restaurant, and these were divine: crisp, crunchy and totally unexpected. (Have any blog readers come across interesting chicken’s feet dishes outside the Chinese culinary world?) Continue reading…

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House of Ho

Posted by Fuchsia on December 16, 2013
Restaurants / 3 Comments

That marvellous egg pho cuon

A few years ago, I happened to be in an episode of Bobby Chinn’s World Cafe Asia when he was filming in Chengdu: you can watch our antics here (small fee required to watch the video). Anyway, turns out he’s opened a restaurant in London, and it was a lovely surprise to receive a phonecall out of the blue and an invitation to try some of the dishes at the House of Ho, opening this week in Soho, London…

The highlight was undoubtedly the Pho Cuon, a dreamy, ethereal parcel of rice pasta enclosing an egg cooked

Monkfish with lemongrass

long and slow, in a very delicate broth, but we also loved the smokey aubergine with warm scallion vinaigrette, the shaking beef, the lemon grass monk fish in a caramel sauce, and the stir-fried egg choyote, which was very simple and utterly gorgeous.

House of Ho, 55-59 Old Compton Street, 0207 287 0770

Apple-smoked pork belly, braised cabbage, egg

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News, tapas-style

Posted by Fuchsia on September 21, 2013
Barshu, Books, Cooking, Restaurants / 2 Comments

READING: I’ve been gripped by Anya von Bremzen’s memoir of eating in the USSR, ‘Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking’. The story of three generations of her family and a century of life in Russia (and other parts of the USSR), it’s darkly funny, richly informative and fascinating. The sweet-sour nostalgia for an era characterised by food queues, political doublespeak, black humour and deprivation reminds me a little of China, where some people still reminisce fondly about life under Maoism.
Continue reading…

El Bulli: Ferran Adria and the art of food

Posted by Fuchsia on July 10, 2013
Restaurants, Uncategorized / 5 Comments

Last week I went to the opening of this new exhibition at Somerset House. It’s a peculiar idea, an exhibition about a restaurant without anything to taste, and I have to admit I was sceptical. So what’s in the exhibition? Well, there is a lot of memorabilia: old photographs, menus and the like. But what I found more interesting were the explorations of the creative process at El Bulli: a display of multicoloured modelling clays that were used to make maquettes for every dish, so that the proportions of each ingredient, each colour, each texture, could be reproduced accurately in the restaurant; the display of custom-made serving vessels, including strange bits of mesh, and indented glass. And there were many small video screens showing films of the construction of El Bulli dishes, which were compelling. The exhibition certainly helps to stake Ferran Adria’s claim to be considered as a creative artist and not a mere cook – but it’s hard to convey s sense the magic and fun of El Bulli in a museum in London… Continue reading…

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Britannia holds her own in the kitchen – finally!

Posted by Fuchsia on January 29, 2013
Chinese food culture, Restaurants / 5 Comments

I made a point of trying to prepare my Chinese friends for our Sunday lunch at St John Bread and Wine. “It’s one of my favourite restaurants, and I think the food is wonderful, but you may find it a bit simple by Chinese standards. The kitchen is incredibly careful (非常讲究) about the quality of ingredients, and the founding chef was one of the catalysts for the renaissance of British cooking. I’m taking you there because I want to show you some of the best of our local cuisine, but it’s quite meaty. And even if you’re not crazy about the savoury courses, one thing in which they excel is puddings and other sweet things, so you must try them… Etc etc.” Continue reading…

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‘Dance’ by Matisse in Nanjing beans

Posted by Fuchsia on January 30, 2012
Regional cuisines, Restaurants / 1 Comment

A few pieces in the press over the Chinese New Year:

Chopstick tourism – about regional government restaurants in Beijing. You can see on the right some of the extraordinary ‘four-horned beans’ (si jiao dou 四角豆) we tried at the restaurant in the Nanjing Great Hotel. Don’t they look like dancing figures? They remind me of Matisse’s ‘Dance’ paintings. Below left is a pic of the fabulous steamed lamb with flower rolls at the Ningxia Hotel, and on the right some of the wheaten staples served in the same restaurant. (Financial Times)

Sizzling Sichuan - eating in my old home-from-home, Chengdu. (Observer)

The Chopsticks Effect - I’m quoted in this nice piece about the history of Chinese restaurants in London. (Independent) Continue reading…

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A Chinese view of Italian food

Posted by Fuchsia on November 13, 2010
Chinese food culture, People, Restaurants / 1 Comment

The pleasures of cheese

You can read my piece about eating my way around Piedmont with Chinese restaurateur A Dai on the From Our Own Correspondent pages of the BBC’s website. Or you can listen to me reading it myself on their podcast for today, 13 November, on this webpage.

I’ll try to post a suitable photograph later!

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