With such a huge cosmopolitan population and an array of authentic, world-citizen chefs throughout the British capital, choice of restaurants isn’t easy. Why not start right here and let us know what you think.
If you’re into plate-sharing, this is the place, as generous helpings means you can try more items together. Dishes come well-presented as befits Turkish food by way of Dubai (Rüya’s original outlet is in Dubai’s Grosvenor House Hotel). The menu is comprehensive, encompassing delectable items such as wagyu kebabs, lamb-stuffed lahmacun, monkfish buğlama, even a 24-hour, slow-cooked beef short rib. We opted for black cabbage sarma, spiced minced meat inside a cabbage leaf with rice and lamb jus; Umut’s Bayildi, grilled confit of aubergine, slow-cooked onions, tomato sauce and goat’s cheese; and pide with homemade sausage sucuk. Be aware, delicious bread baked in an open oven, is a mighty temptation.
If kebabs are your thing, be pleased. You have many to choose from including the cağ genre with marinated chicken, Adana with spicy minced lamb and burnt tomato and ali nazik with smoked aubergine, roasted garlic and yoghurt.
Enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail at a chic bar complete with chandeliers, raised banquet-style tables and velvet armchairs with scatter cushions. Ottoman Old-fashioned and Turkish colada with oolong tea are popular tipples.
Featuring low ceiling lights and book-lined glass shelves, esoteric decorations include sculptures of riders on horses and a Maharaja in full traditional dress, framed paintings of India and colourful Rajasthan handmade wall tapestries.
After being seated by amiable Nepal-born manager, Mohan Senchuri, we scanned the cocktail menu, I choosing a powerful chilli tamarind whiskey sour comprising Woodford Reserve, tamarind, egg white and Kashmiri red chilli powder, and my companion one poetically entitled ‘Serene Valley of Flowers’ consisting of Tanqueray gin, ginger liquor, chartreuse, lime, mint, ginger fresca and nutmeg.
Our dinner began with a selection of keema samosas alongside poppadums (simple, black pepper and spicy), with lime pickle, mango chutney and mint raita. New Delhi chef Arun Kumar has created seven distinct curries as main dishes including lamb, chicken, vegetarian, beef and fish, with an option to select a Thali of three.
We opted for the traditional Natal lamb curry, Kerala prawn from south India and vegetable korma with fried paneer, onion, peas and mushrooms.
Paired with Bouchard Finlayson Blanc de Mer from the hotel owners’ vineyard in South Africa, our evening turned mellow and multi-cultural – a blend of England, Africa and India.
On most nights live jazz music upstairs in the New York Bar drifts down to The Curry Room. For dessert, nothing competes for authenticity like kulfi ice-cream though that’s not to say you can’t try fresh papaya and sorbet or baked vanilla cheesecake.
A wide, open space on the ground floor of a mixed-use development with a curved bar at its center, this Nordic restaurant features an exposed industrial-style ceiling and tan wood chairs with rattan seats.
One of several London restaurants opened by Danish-born restaurateur Soren Jessen, this one was launched in collaboration with workspace trailblazers FORA Space.
Its décor emanates an informal, leisurely atmosphere with rows of slender bronze rods, some bordering the stairs leading to meeting rooms and Wellness suite below.
Opting for a health-conscious meal (no better place than a Nordic establishment) we scanned the menu and were not disappointed. Curried herring celery apple and boiled egg and dill; another version of the fish with tomato, onion and cress; butternut squash with kale, lingonberries and roast hazelnut and mushroom and chestnut kroppkakor (Swedish potato dumpling) with roast squash, sage cream, Vasterbotten cheese and pine oil. Not to mention a light, tasteful soup of the day, a prawn bisque.
A popular Scandi-staple is smørrebrød, a buttered slice of homemade rye bread with delicious toppings of meat, vegetables or fish. For carnivores there’s the classic frikadeller (veal and pork meatballs) with mashed potato, gravy, lingonberries. No sweeter dessert than ‘kladkaka’ sticky chocolate cake. Borealis is easily reached, it’s right opposite Borough tube station.
Click and pictures of menu items appear, simply click again to order. The table is multi-purpose, creating a kaleidoscope of patterns, including sea creatures and verdant landscapes. Choose one to suit your mood by simply clicking on an icon. You can also watch live video of chefs in the kitchen, learn what music’s playing overhead, draw digitally on it or play Ping, table football, or a challenging memory game.
Pan-Asian in style, a varied selection of dishes are offered. We feted on Singapore noodles, egg and vermicelli noodles infused with an oyster and ginger sauce with pork belly, prawn, chicken, crunchy peppers, beansprouts and fried shallots, as well as Sechuan chicken – hot and spicy chicken bites with chilli garlic sauce, ginger, onion and peppers. Whetting the appetites of vegetarians is the sizzling mushroom Toban Yaki with shitake, shimiji, enoki, chestnut, field, and button mushrooms all served in a sizzling soy and Japanese sweet-rice wine glaze.
Other dishes range from chicken satay to miso soup and yuzu salmon. Take your time in ordering. They might all come at the same time.
Such is the delightful task facing you at Murger HanHan, a Xi’an restaurant between Regents Street and Piccadilly Circus. It’s cosy, intimate and often lively, with tables tucked close together.
Two solemn-faced, life-size Zhian warrior statues greet you in the entrance hallway leading you to either a basement section or a narrow room with windows facing the street. The four-page menu is easy to handle, with the highlight being handmade noodles. Biangbiang noodle is my worth first choice, extra wide with braised pork, tomato, egg sauce and chilly oil,
Of course, it’s forbidden to leave the premises without trying one of the hallmark murgers, stewed pork in crispy bread, basically a flat burger. They’re tasty, so much so you may have more than one, savouring the juices that’ll probably run down your fingers. For the more adventurous, there’s the ox skewers, tripe covered in a spicy sesame sauce.
If you’re lucky, Ken, a friendly waiter from Hong Kong, will be on hand to give you inside tips. Try the Xi’an rice wine, it’s light, aromatic, cloudy and somewhat sweet.
Central location within a minute’s walk of busy Piccadilly Circus makes this two-year-old Taiwanese restaurant a popular venue. For greater space and privacy, choose the corner tables left and right as you enter. From here you can enjoy street action.
Try Taiwanese sausage taro dumplings – earthy, sweet from the sausage, herby from the oil, spicy from a shred of pickled chilly-pepper. Follow that up with Master stock goose, pan-seared breast slices, slow cooked with jus on top and charcoaled spring onion. Glutinous mushroom rice is served in a basket wrapped in a leaf. Other meat dishes include 28-day pork dumplings that are literally bursting with flavour as they are fried not steamed and served with chilli oil.
As for desserts, two stand out. Ma Lai – steamed brown sugar cake with condensed milk and butterscotch, and fried cinnamon-coated mochi.
Libations are plentiful: five kinds of sake: plum, strawberry, cherry, citrus and melon; wines from France, the US, Chile, Italy and Austria; seven different cocktails; and five varieties of tea (you can even order tea pairings). For something stronger, try a Kavalan whiskey from Taiwan. Friendly Siri Nguon Bunna is ready to help with wines and we delighted in a satisfying Evidencia from the hillsides of the family-owned Clos Lapeyre vineyard in southwest France.
Specialising in Cantonese food, this international restaurant chain already operates six venues throughout London. We popped into the one on Baker Street, which boasts the largest seating area, accommodating 250 people.
It’s a friendly, family venue with chef Pak Kuen Ng from Hong Kong serving up diverse dishes ranging from duck and lobster to scallops and jellyfish.
For openers, we went to sea, ordering sauteed squid, peppers and black bean sauce and jellyfish tossed with cucumber. However, being big duck fans, we lingered over the tasty crispy aromatic and Pai Pa varieties, with fried rice thrown in for good measure. The former comes in quarter, half or whole. There’s no shortage of choice at Royal China, with seven appetisers alone including deep fried baby squid with spicy salt, baked pork chop with chilli and sesame prawn toast. Vegetarians are well catered for, with sautéed Chinese broccoli, braised bean curd with mushroom strips and a stir-fried mix among items on the menu. Noodle lovers will have a field day deciding between Singapore rice vermicelli, fried udon with assorted seafood and the crispy variety with beef or chicken in black bean sauce. Depending on your calorie count, you can binge in sweet heaven on banana in toffee syrup, or choose almond tofu with fruit cocktail or fresh mango and grapefruit tapioca.