Kopparberg Experimental Dining, Hoxton Grill

Strawberry compote

Photo: Prad Patel

English weather. A national stereotype. A common trope. Unpredictable, changeable – always make-conversation-able.

It’s not been doing too badly of late, but our summer temperatures are never worth shouting about. Let’s be honest – they’re really not much different from Scadinavian summers.

So when there’s such a thing as amazing Swedish cider, why not pretend we’re in Sweden? Yes, that’s a jolly good idea.

In fact… *drum roll*… Kopparberg have got us covered! They are running a pop-up Urban Forest at the Bootstrap Company’s space in Ashwin Street, Dalston. This is East London and so, of course, this event is too cool for school, with live music and street art, as well as food from Fika, the Swedish restaurant on Brick Lane (who, incidentally, do the best semlor in London). It’s open until August 3rd so hurry to check it out!

However, earlier this month, I was hanging out in a different neck of the East London woods. Continue reading

Review: Leong’s Legend, Chinatown

Lanterns pretty

I am in love with Taipei. It’s one of those places where as soon as you step onto the street, the energy hits you. I swear it vibrates with life. If you want to know what to see and do, you should read my travel feature on it for Kansai Scene.

Delicious chicken with coriander

Delicious chicken with coriander

As for eating out, it paid off to know where you were going. A Taiwanese friend of mine and her sister took me to what they termed a traditional Taiwanese restaurant – it was nothing fancy, and seemed more like a cafeteria in appearance, but the dishes were great (stinky tofu and bitter melon aside). Taiwanese food, although similar to Chinese in many ways, incorporates garlic and coriander, which add extra variety and depth, and please me no end. Continue reading

Byron’s World Cup Burger – The Ronaldo

Hey there, sexy ;)

Hey there, sexy 😉

*EDIT: It’s been kindly pointed out to me that this burger is about the Brazilian Ronaldo, not the Portuguese one (which frankly makes a lot more sense) but…. being the football expert that I am *cough*, when I Googled ‘Ronaldo’ only the Portuguese one emerged. Sorry folks! It’s still a great burger so you should EAT IT BEFORE THE WORLD CUP ENDS!!*

So I might be a little slow in posting this because apparently England are pretty much out of the World Cup and that has probably dampened football fervour. Or maybe not, judging by the cheering at a screen I passed by this evening.  Continue reading

Emporio Eivissa – Brugal Rum Rooftop Pop-up

I am the Brugal Rum Angel

I am the Brugal Rum Angel

Ladies and gentlemen, listen up! There is something new in town and it’s coming your way on June 6th.

Last month, I was lucky enough to win tickets, cocktails and food at Emporio Eivissa, an Ibiza-themed pop-up bar on the rooftop of East London’s Rockwell House, sponsored rather incongruously by Brugal rum from the Dominican Republic (thanks to London on the Inside – love their website). I guess a Spanish-speaking party island needs some Dominican rum, and who am I to question something awesome like that? Continue reading

Review: Sakura Festival at Saka no Hana

Cherry blossom around Hikone castle

Cherry blossom around Hikone castle

Sakura season – otherwise known as cherry blossom season – spreads like a fever for a couple of weeks in April. For those who haven’t been to Japan during this period, you will be unprepared for the sheer decadence of the scenery and the sheer reverence with which it’s treated. You should probably see my blog post here.

In honour of this time of year, upmarket and rather swanky restaurant Sake no Hana held their own sakura festival with their very own sakura menu. The interior was decorated with some rather realistic and beautifully lit cherry blossom trees, and with delicate sakura painted along the counter at the bar.

Photo: Betty Chen

Isn’t this gorgeous? (Photo: Betty Chen)

Continue reading

Review: Galbi Bros, Dead Dolls House Pop-up

Galbi Bros menu

Please study the menu above. Study it well. Feast your eyes upon it and notice words such as ‘spicy’ and ‘beef, and – for the really observant – “thinly sliced gochuchang smoked pork.”

Then, also notice the word ‘Korea’ and understand: HOW COULD I NOT ATTEND THIS EVENT?!!!

Not only does the menu involve ridiculous quantities of meat, and lashings of spice, but it involves Korean cuisine – three courses of it for only £20. And I’m a sucker for Korean cuisine – I actually don’t remember much from my one-week trip to Korea except stuffing as much food as I could into my mouth from bulgogi (grilled marinated beef) to dakgalbi (spicy stir fried chicken with noodles, sweet potatoes and loadsa good stuff).

Dakgalbi

Dakgalbi

Actually, I lie. I also remember hiking up Hallasan and a trip to Love Land, but that’s probably a story best told another time.

Getting it on at Love Land

Getting it on at Love Land

We arrive at the Dead Dolls House to find a hipster dressed as a soldier(?) acting as security(?) on the door, before being led into a room, with few furnishings as most of the ‘furnishings’ have been painted onto the walls in fiddly, black lines. Cue: discussion about how ‘poor’ and ‘poorly done’ becomes hip. Cue: stomach interrupts discussion and directs attention towards menu.

Lotus crisps and rice skewers

Lotus crisps and rice skewers

Lotus crisps and rice skewers

Lotus crisps and rice skewers

Having sampled the Galbi Bros’ ramen burgers and rice burgers at Urban Food Fest, I knew we were in for a treat. Starting off, we crunched our way through lotus chips, which – to be honest – are more crispy than tasty but great fun nonetheless. Then we sampled the dukkochi – the chewy rice cakes. These were definitely very chewy – perhaps a little too much so – but the spicy sauce from Moses’ hometown Yeokkok was like a drug. I wanted to lick my plate until I wore away the ceramic. Moses – please take me to your hometown. My life will not be complete otherwise.

These photos do not do this beast justice!

These photos do not do this beast justice!

Do I spy some gochujang smoked pork?

Do I spy some gochujang smoked pork?

Next up, the main course – the ‘Invincible Admiral Yi’: ‘beef marinated in homemade galbi sauce topped with thinly slice gochuchang sliced pork, cheese, kimchi, fresh vegetables’… with some ‘secret Brother sauce’. First of all, I should say that the Admiral is indeed invincible – he was demolished well and truly. However, in the flavour stakes, he truly is unbeatable. My dining partner turned to me, brow slightly furrowed in concentration, and announced: ‘This is the best burger that I have ever eaten!’ High praise indeed.

To begin, the homemade galbi sauce, secret Brother sauce or whatever sauce was on there was sweet and delicious with just the right amount of tang to give the burger that umami moreishness (or I could just be blagging it here, but you get the gist – it was awesome). ‘Gochujang’ is the ubiquitous fermented red chilli past in Korea, and it is simply delicious and not overwhelming in its spice levels. Basically, it’s a very good thing to coat smoked pork in. Surprisingly, the kimchi (fermented pickled vegetables, usually involving cabbage) was not nearly as sour or strong as the  kind I’ve previously sampled, but just provided a gentle flavour that occasionally came through the decadence of the rest. The only thing that didn’t quite work for me – whereas it was a high point for my dining partner – was the firmness of the beef patty. It had quite a dense consistency, whereas I prefer the softer kind. However, within the layers and layers of the burger, the consistency was so obscured and mixed with other items that it did not detract from my enjoyment.

Probably the most fattening fries ever. YUM.

Probably the most fattening fries ever. YUM.

The fries were topped with all kinds of amazing things – namely, more smoked pork and cheese – but sadly were a little cold by the time they reached us.

Dessert was: “A trio of handmade ice creams: wasabi with a drizzle of olive oil, almond with a splash of toasted sesame oil and roasted green tea with pine nuts”- and it seemed to divide people.  Many people were very taken with the wasabi, much to their surprise, but I loved the almond, which was far less popular.

Ice-cream

Ice-cream

Fortunately, this didn’t cause any riffs because we were all united: the Invincible Admirable was in our hearts. And he remains there to this day.

You can find the Galbi Bros here or follow them on Twitter here.