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Blog Reviews from TRUsocial

  1. Published : Wednesday, 18 February 2015

    Pacata | TRUsocial: When fusion goes wrong...

    Once again, I find myself with my burger buddy (a de facto label I'm sure she wouldn't much appreciate) as I follow this weeks craving for a succulent patty, today with a bit of a twist. Pitched up on New Row in Covent Garden, you will find Pacata, which offers an East meets West fusion menu, highly recommended by many a trusted London eatery guide and brought to us by the Boon Rawd Brewery (or as many of you will be more familiar, the beer giant Singha!). It is here where Thai meets Japanese and Indian, with an original and innovative conceptual menu that has been created by Yasuji Morizumi, the first Michelin starred ramen chef. Sounds awesome so far, right!

    As with most places I get excited about eating at, I can't help myself but to dive into the online menu before making an appearance, and this time, having recently established that Korean food is infact wonderful (later blog to come about that!), I neglect the other weird and wonderful concoctions in favour of the Korean Burger, which would hopefully be juicy, well seasoned and pink, cooked with a special recipe and twisted with a signature Korean chilli sauce - all this served with sweet potato fries for a very acceptable price of £10.50. What more could one ask for?!...

  1. So, I guess you could say that this was my first proper venture into quality fusion food a few years back and as such, it has stuck with me, leaving me in a state of wanton craving on more than one occasion. I should get it out there sooner rather than later though, as much for your benefit as for mine you see (in an attempt to curb the useless ranting), the Miso Cured Black Cod has penetrated my subconscious and has positively turned me into a dribbling fool! Thank you Asia de Cuba for tantalising my taste buds and allowing me to leer over your treasure chest of a rum bar...

    I promise not to rant as forewarned, but with a £33 price tag on the Miso Cured Black Cod, I do rather wish that this I-can't-afford-you restaurant would start dishing out free food on Mondays or something...I mean, noone goes out on a Monday, do they (let's ignore that we're in London eh)?! You need not get too charitable about it either and you definitely don't need to start handing out all of

  1. Published : Monday, 2 February 2015

    Dub Jam | TRUsocial: Dub Jam jerk and perks!

    After nurturing a rather prolonged craving for fried plantain, I recently took it upon myself to scour the streets for a Caribbean restaurant within a lazy strolling radius of the office. Thankfully for me, a dear friend whose never been adverse to shoving her face into a bowl of rice, chicken & peas, was due to celebrate a birthday, so I could think of no better opportunity to share the joy than by booking a table at the minuscule dining room of Dub Jam, a jerk BBQ and rum shack conveniently located in Covent Garden!...

    With a surf board for a demi-bar and an open kitchen (a kitchenette may be more accurate), this tiny hole-in-the-wall establishment is attached to The Adventure Bar and can seat no more than 20 people in close proximity, not too dissimilar to the average pokey pop-up du jour! With graffiti emblazoned over all walls, some smashing neon letter signs (I couldn't guess where they were all from, but the 'M' was definitely stolen from Ronald McDonald!), and a raggaeton h

  1. Published : Monday, 18 May 2015

    The Duck and Rice | TRUsocial: Duck & Rice Advice

    Scrumming my way off Leicester Square, through Chinatown (carefully avoiding my favourite char siu bao pitstop), and into Soho, I realise I've walked straight into an entirely different calamity. It's 18 April and a sea of moustache-twiddling craft ale supping hipsters have descended upon Berwick Street and are seeping through the arteries of Soho for Record Store Day 2015. It may well have been the worst day to visit the newly opened Duck & Rice then, but I was committed now and I'm no quitter!

    Char Shui Bun (£4.50)
    Brought to us by the stick of dynamite underneath modern Japanese monster-chain, Wagamama and Thai demi-giant, Busaba Eathai, Alan Yau is a London-based restaurateur extraordinaire from Hong Kong who didn't stop there - he also built a Michelin starred empire with dim sum house Yauatcha and upscale Cantonese Hakkasan, setting up in some of the most prestigious locations and 5* luxury hotels around the world. Lucky for us then, that this Pan-Asian virtuoso has struck out again on Broadwick Street, just next door to his Michelin accredited Yauatcha!...

  1. Sometimes I wonder how much my gluttonous cravings will get me into trouble, as the waistband increases, weekday bedtimes are pushed past a reasonable hour too often, and the bank balance teeters rather precariously between zero and minus sums. I am not at all helped either, by my natural propensity to say "yes" to almost anything socially adventurous, except of course, all things I unequivocally know would evoke anger, irrational fear and/or imminent displeasure (bungee jumping, eating insects, or visiting Benidorm, for example). I remember a time when all my spare pennies sank into a feckless pit of handbags, shoes, snakebite and dancing, then as I primitively evolved, I consolidated this into a colourful medley of cheap boxed wine and gin (not together, you understand!), flip flops in every colour, and a blatant travel addiction...these days, as the growing [old] continues, the burning desire to explore worlds unknown remains (albeit now with a little more philosophical retrospection and considered forethought), but the goon has been replaced by Chablis and 7p noodles have been gracefully usurped by culinary feasting! ..

  1. Published : Friday, 4 December 2015

    Jackson + Rye Soho | Why Jackson & Rye...

    Formally THE gritty sex pit of London, famed for its backdoor parties and sideshow debauchery, this city enclave may have swallowed a little too much mouthwash in recent years, but it's still a murky mecca for the masses! Soho covers an area no more than one square mile in the heart of the West End, south of Oxford Street mayhem, east of Mayfair sensibility, west of Covent Garden theatrics and north of Leicester Square insanity - there is debate as to whether Chinatown falls within the Soho borders of curiosity, but with such a similar tapestry of colourful soul and hardened charm, who am I deny its automatic in with the cool kids?!

  1. Published : Monday, 30 March 2015

    Tiroler Hut | TRUsocial: London Living and Austrian Eating

    y latest venture took me to Tiroler Hut, to enjoy some Austrian hospitality.

    I've been to Austria and gorged on bratwurst, sauerkraut, goulash and dumplings while drinking from a stein amidst cowbells before, but never have I been able to enjoy this kind of hospitality, food and beer accompanied by the gnashing beats of a Casio keyboard and the unbridled rasp of a saxophone! Entering from a tiny door on Westbourne Grove W2 that I missed the first time I walked up the street, we descended into a basement restaurant to be greeted by the most warm of welcomes from staff all with regional accents (always a good sign!). With low ceilings (oddly corrugated, but fine), dark wood beams and gingham everywhere, it was exactly what I wanted it to be so far...

  1. Published : Monday, 16 March 2015

    The Rum Kitchen Carnaby Street | TRUsocial: Rum Kitchen

    My ongoing plantain obsession has most recently taken me to Kingly Court, which incidentally, is now a buzzing hive of eateries that begs the question: when did all the boutiques get banished and how did all these grub holes pop up without me noticing sooner?! Perched on a mezzanine level balcony, you will find the Rum Kitchen lording over said hive below, positively oozing atmosphere above a backdrop of afro-funk melodies.

    Jovially welcomed through the busy doorway, I feel as if we'd just walked into the home of our most scatty friend with a medley of other friends, in unison, at that pivotal moment when the cream could burn, the fat might catch alight or the rice just stuck to the bottom of their favourite pot (possibly all of the above!). With a reservation firmly made though, we were whisked to our seats with some bright small talk and a subtle sigh of relief that we weren't just another group to whom the host had to instruct to wait by the open door or perch at the bijou bar. It was chaotic, efficient, friendly and alive so far and I'm smiling because the mania is a rouse - there may be a lot of people squeezing and snaking inbetween the tables or engaged in animated chit chat, but the hardy wait staff were prompt, precise and attentive throughout...

  1. Published : Friday, 30 January 2015

    Imperial China | TRUsocial: November 2014

    You can get Michelin star standard Chinese food and top quality fusion menus about town, but if you search heard enough and down the right alleyways, you may also find the best chow mein you've ever eaten. The latter may lack finesse and the finest ingredients, but frankly the flavour is all that matters when all you want is a vat of Szechuan King Prawn or wheelbarrow of Sesame Prawn Toast?! Like a humble British pie or roast dinner, a cracking Chinese meal is something that, for me, needs to be plentiful, flavourful and entirely fuss free! Dim sum however, is a niche and should be none of those things; it’s a mouthwatering talent (if you get it right), a precision art and a carefully considered delicate thing. Find a good dim sum chef and you’ll never look back. Imperial China may not give you the latter, but it definitely serves up the former and I’ll tell you why I liked it thusly…

  1. I've acclimatised to and even rather enjoyed a variety of odd food combos over the years and you'll be pleased to hear that some of them are not just a muddled composite of cheese and hope. Fusion or eclectic food has been on the rise in London and we are seeing more and more unlikely culinary blends, so when Kurt Zdesar lifted the lid on Japanese vs. Peruvian dining, who knew it would be such a golden ticket?! Welcome to Chotto Matte in Soho...

    Unveiled in September 2013, I first walked through the sleek glass doors on Frith Street in February 2014, my most recent visit was lastnight, and I still recommended it to all and sundry without a filter! At first glance it’s almost a little too Shoreditch grit and glamour for Soho's more recently gentrified grime, but you quickly realise that beyond the [exceptional] graffiti, clean wooden lines and a shiny black interior, the décor seems to reflect a fusion of culture as much as the food does. It's dark, edgy and inviting in the winter, but there is also a retractable glass wall at street level, open in the milder months, allowing for pavement dining and colourful people-watching. Live music emanates sometimes too and you'll never find me arguing with a harmonica!...

  1. Published : Friday, 30 January 2015

    MASH London | TRUsocial: Beef, beef and more beef at MASH London

    MASH still feels relatively new to this cavernous basement space in Soho, but having opened in 2012, it’s definitely overcome any growing pains it may have feared! It’s a beautifully masculine dining room and bar, with low lighting, dark wood and brass trimmings, a sea of cosy booths and a vibe that would be equally befitting of a business dinner as it would a date or catch up with friends; it attracts celebs, sports folk, and regular folk like me by equal measure, and it’s luxurious without being inaccessible. Rarely does such a place straddle such a myriad of social gatherings or clientele, but here we have it…I don’t know what else to say about the matter really! ...

  1. Published : Friday, 23 January 2015

    Opium Cocktail & Dim Sum Parlour | TRUsocial: Dim Sum Den!

    Discounting the swathes of taramasalata on butter-drenched toast, or every inch of the worlds cheese on a sweet Digestive biscuit, and the suchlike, one of my all time favourite snack foods would have to be dim sum and if I could make them at home, I would positively be in trouble. Much like the addictive canapé, dim sum incessantly serve to deceive you with their miniature allure - I can devour 3 mini pork buns before lids on the dim sum baskets have even been lifted, and before I know it, I've inhaled more than the average 2-course meal! It's only my minuscule sense of social decorum that prevents me from blatantly scoffing everyone else's portion too I'm afraid. Anyways, if you muddle all of that bite-sized joy with a bulging cocktail menu in Chinatown and you get Opium Cocktail & Dim Sum Parlour...

  1. Now, despite living around the corner from Camden (5 minutes by tube obviously now equates to around the corner because I've been living in London for too long and compared to the average 40 - 60 minute trek, this is but a stones throw away from my bed!), I rarely get too excited about the culinary scene outside of the plentiful, varied and colourful grab and go grub around Stables Markets, Camden Lock and inbetween!

  1. Published : Tuesday, 7 April 2015

    Yum Bun | TRUsocial: Street Feast Hawker

    A hipster homage to a traditional Singaporean hawker centre, Hawker House hosts a taste sensational selection of food stalls, with my clear favourite still being Yum Bun - if only my belly could fit in whole basket of those deliciously soft steamed buns (the crispy shrimp buns are unquestionably to die for!)...

  1. Published : Wednesday, 29 April 2015

    Bao Soho | TRUsocial: BAO bun fight!

    Is it a Japanese hirata bun, Chinese char siu bao or a Taiwanese gua bao?! Either way, this lip-smackingly good snack has long been my 'I've-missed-dinner-and-can't-be-bothered-to-cook' or 'I'm-too-wimpish-to-eat-dinner-alone' dish and dash solution. I may still need to weave through the hoards to get home, but no longer do I need to rely on a grubby hole in the wall off Chinatown to satisfy my gut-craving needs. Since the trend setting Yum Bun who have been gracing our streets and markets since 2010 (currently smashing it at Model Market in Lewisham, courtesy of Street Feast), Bone Daddies ramen shop has brought us Flesh & Buns, then Beer & Buns popped up and now BAO has opened up in Soho...

  1. It isn't all that often that your dining experience is muddled with social responsibility and penal reform, but last week I was fortunate enough to visit The Clink Restaurant Brixton where this particular brand of innovation was dished up in spades! I left feeling positively inspired and curiously determined to get involved; spending the remainder of my week focusing on whatever project management skills, academic background and/or network I may have to bring to this innovative know, those skills that somehow earn me just enough enough pennies to binge and guzzle my way through London, and scamper around the world...

    A concept developed by Alberto Crisci MBE while working as Catering Manager for HMP High Down, The Clink has become a beacon of hope for numerous inmates and the likes of me who has always fervently believed in the need to educate, empower and entrust our people if we want to prosper and evolve into the next generation, with more security, success and safety...

  1. I suspect that in any given week, I recommend Lancashire Court to at least five people, whether this be to colleagues, associates, acquaintances or friends, either by email, social media or my big mouth! I absolutely love it, with all it's cobbled glory, tucked away off New Bond Street (or Brook Street if you're coming in from the other direction!), crammed inbetween buildings on all sides and almost entirely immune to the hapless foot traffic of the average tourist. It's never anything less than a hive of apres workers, seated comfortably and happy to be sinking into whatever boozy potion takes their fancy...

  1. Since leaving Gordon Ramsey in 2010, Jason Atherton has taken the restaurant world by storm, soaring his way through Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, London and [soon to be] Dubai. It's been a while since I've been to Asia (when I was there, you probably would've been more likely to find me shoving my face into a bowl of street food instead of engaging in fine dining etiquette), but I have not missed the chance to sample his wares in London. Since the triumphant Pollen Street Social, we've seen the likes of Little Social, Social Eating House and City Social spanning across Mayfair, Soho, Fitzrovia, and into The City to create a demi 'social' empire. Not content with this though, he's now also pitched up camp at the Town Hall Hotel in the trendy east (filling the shoes of Nuno Mendes at Viajante), and the London Edition in the thriving West End. It is the latter that I nod my head today, after recently filling up at Berners Tavern...

  1. Published : Tuesday, 3 February 2015

    Copita | TRUsocial: Tapas courtesy of Copita

    On Friday, I ventured to Copita on D'Arblay Street instead, where we got crazy lucky with a table outside at 19:30 without a wait - it was extremely busy though, and I heard the wait thereafter was up to an hour. Moral of the story therefore, as with so many places these days, get there at a good time, take a risk and/or be prepared to stand around with a pint (or copita!) while you wait.

    The menu is so perfectly non-pretentious and easy, and despite my love of patatas bravas, I was actually pleased to see some really alternative small plates on offer - all the staff were Spanish too, which always seems like a good thing! The monkfish, caramelised onions and parsley was amazingly tender and only £5.95 for four small, yet perfectly formed succulent chunks; similarly, the venison steak with crushed potatoes was well cooked and really tasty (£8.10), and the chorizo de bellota was of exceptional quality, melt in the mouth almost...

  1. Published : Tuesday, 5 January 2016

    The Palomar | TRUsocial THE PALOMAR

    Do you ever have those moments when you realise that you have utterly lost any semblance of balance?! Apparently there are 8,760 hours in the average year and on the eve of Christmas Eve, as I stare at my uncharacteristically empty inbox and minimal to-do list in bewilderment, I surmise that the vast majority of these hours have, to a frighteningly significant degree, been spent either working or sleeping…yet again! As if we didn’t already know it, New Year’s resolutions are THE most pointless of ambitions, doomed only to failure unless yours was to wisely accept their futility and not bother.
    This year, I have travelled to 23 cities across 12 countries, I’ve given up at least 10 whole weekends to celebrate other peoples life choices (you’re welcome, by the way!), I’ve barely missed any birthday bashes (again, you’re welcome!), I’ve smashed 3 long weekends away (though I’m still not sure if Liverpool and Manchester count!), I’ve napped my way through 2 holidays and thoroughly enjoyed 1 staycation; and in between all of this, I’ve somehow managed to squeeze in a little (not enough) time with the dear family.

  1. Published : Tuesday, 1 March 2016

    Androuet | TRUsocial Androuet

    It’s been a while since I&ve visited Spitalfields and my, what a sanitised place it has become eh! I rather enjoyed my rainy stomp from Moorgate, navigating my way through all the roadworks around Liverpool Street and admiring Broadgate Ice Rink en route though. By the time I arrived, the market had all but packed up and closed, but the few permanent dining hotspots were starting to fill with the après workers all gagging for liquid sustenance and trendy nibbles. Elbows at the ready, I nudged my way into Androuet by way of their rustic cheese bar.

  1. Published : Thursday, 14 April 2016

    Gyoza Bar | TRUsocial Gyoza Bar just opens in Covent Garden

    Another day and another new opening in the West End. And what’s the only thing better than a dumpling den?! Obviously, it’s a crispy dumpling diner! Yes, I&m not entirely sure that’s a thing either, but it’s all a matter of semantics and I&m shying away from the proper debate because almost a year ago, I vaguely recall getting in a cuffudle over the char siu bao / hirata bun / gua bao distinction when Bao opened its doors in Soho – now I find myself in a tizz over the between the potsticker the gyoza since the opening of Gyoza Bar last month in Covent Garden, next door to Murakami.

  1. Published : Wednesday, 18 May 2016

    The Mayfair Chippy | The Tru Social The Mayfair Chippy

    I defy any self-respecting Brit to say anything remotely negative about a humble portion of chip shop chips in all their sweaty goodness, enveloped by paper, smothered with sea salt and saturated in the cheapest of malt vinegars; eaten with either yer grubby fingers or a crap wooden spork! Yes, that&s right folks, there&s a special place in my heart for a good chippy.