As a fairly popular contender on the burger scene, I visited Tommi’s Burger Joint on a friend’s recommendation last summer. Hailing from Iceland, it takes a stripped down, minimalist approach to the burger. Continue reading “Tommi’s Burger Joint, London”
Review: Leong’s Legend, Chinatown
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.
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 “Review: Leong’s Legend, Chinatown”
Review: Galbi Bros, Dead Dolls House Pop-up
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Patty and Bun, Liverpool Street
Warning! There are going to be a lot of BURGERS appearing on my blog on the next few posts. But burger off if you don’t like it!
The burger trend continues and Patty & Bun have *finally* got around to opening up a second branch…right opposite MacDonald’s.
Patty & Bun are well-established on the London burger scene with a branch on James Street, just near Bond Street. I first tried their Ari Gold burger at Feast at Tobacco Dock in March 2013. I found it a little vinegary due to the pickled onions, but I’ve been meaning to give them a second chance ever since.
To celebrate their Liverpool Street launch, they hosted a publicity event of spectacular proportions – not 100 free burgers, not 500 free burgers, but ONE THOUSAND FREE BURGERS were being given away.
Of course, the queues were ridiculous and my co-diners and I shuddered as we worked out the cost-time trade-off of queuing versus just going the next day and buying one. *ahem* Anyway….
We finally got there, ordered burgers to take away, and waited. We peered in the window…
and watched the production process…
… and checked out the sauces…
And then we got our food!
This is an Ari Gold Cheeseburger (£7.50) with bacon (+50p), salad, pickled onions, ketchup, and smokey P&B mayo served in a brioche bun. Doesn’t it look beautiful?
The consistency was beautiful, the bun held the patty well, and – although still messy – it was actually a lot easier to eat than a lot of burgers I’ve recently tucked into.
The patty was without doubt the highlight. It was perfectly cooked – medium-rare – and was beefy and succulent. I would go as far to say that it was the most delicious burger patty that I’ve eaten!! <– Yes, everyone, please recover your jaws.
However, the tiny, tiny problem was that the accompaniments just don’t quite cut it. The pickled onions are just far too pickly and all of us picked some – if not all – of them out.
Then, the rosemary-salted chips (£2.50) were soggy and we all sighed wistfully at the thought of Honest Burgers’ (reviews here, here, here, and here. Feel free to laugh at me – I’m already aware I’m a fangirl).
Saying this, I really want to try their ‘Jose Jose’ chilli burger with chorizo (£8.50) and their ‘Winger Winger Chicken Dinner’ (£5.50), a pot of smoked confit wings with BBQ sauce & spring onions, sounds very interesting indeed.
For now, however, the jury is out… but I want their patties oh-so-much.
Patty and Bun 3/5 – Magnificent patty, mediocre chips and maliferous onions.
Where: Liverpool Street, London
When: Mon – Wed 11.30am – 10pm; Thurs – Fri 11.30am – 11pm; Sat 11.30am – 9pm; Sun 11.30am – 6pm.
The Hawksmoor Five Pork Burger: Bring out your inner pig
Burgers have undergone a transformation in the past couple of years. From an unhealthy option associated – understandably – with greasy fast food chains, they are now so gourmet that Gourmet Burger Kitchen is considered fairly low-end.
As well as touting quality, newly-founded burger joints are fighting to distinguish themselves through their creativity. At one end of the scale, there is Haché Burgers. Their branches are decorated with fairy lights and flowers to add a soft, ‘feminine’ touch and boast an extensive menu with burgers ranging from the ‘Steak Mexican’ (cajun spices, salsa, guacamole, jalapeño peppers, sour cream) to the ‘Steak Louisiana’ with crunch peanut butter. At the other end of the scale, there’s Honest Burgers with its simple aesthetics and a simple menu offering just three kinds of beefburger, and one monthly special.
Of course, any meat-oriented restaurant with an eye on the market will understandably jump on the bandwagon and get their menus on trend. The Seven Dials branch of Hawksmoor, the legendary steak restaurant with four branches across London, offers three burgers – a classic beef version, a kimchi burger that taps the current popularity of Korean cuisine, and a special.
And there have been no holds barred on their most recent offering: the Five Pork Burger. If you’re a self-respecting carnivore who lives in or will visit London in the near future, take yourself to Hawksmoor Seven Dials for a proper pig-out.
I had the Five Pork Burger (£15) last night. I have narrated my experience several times over to everyone in the Wozedu office. And so here I am, sharing it with all of you.
The first thing you should know is tha,t although it’s pitched as the Five Pork Burger, the version I had was a SIX Pork Burger. Oh yes.
The burger begins with a base layer of greenery and mustard mayonnaise – a variation from the homemade apple ketchup usually served. It then has a succulent Tamworth pork patty topped with smoky, salty pulled pork. Next up is a patty almost as large, which is actually sausage stuffing. This is then topped with rashers of bacon and draped with melted cheese. All this meatiness is contained in a brioche bun and served with beautifully crispy pork crackling and peppery pork gravy. I elected to continue with the gluttony and ordered Hawksmoor’s triple cooked chips on the side.
This burger was delicious in a crazy kind of way. It was a porky flavour explosion, and very decadent and incredibly messy. Each pork product came through at different stages of the mouthfuls and at different stages of the entire eating process but, underneath it all, the subtle sage tones of the stuffing were always present.
For me, the mustard mayo didn’t quite strike the right contrast with the burger; I believe the apple ketchup would have been preferable. Also, the salt content was almost off-the-scale: the Five (or Six) Pork Burger must be consumed with at least 2 litres of water – although this definitely makes it moreish.
One final point – does anyone really need a burger this big? As my co-diner pointed out, he’d happily have paid two-thirds of the price for half the burger. And just as our waiter warned us, consuming this burger will basically write off the rest of your night – the resultant food coma is too intense to be fought.
I’m sure Hawksmoor wouldn’t encourage this, but my advice is to share the burger and order a couple more sides. That way, you can still enjoy plenty of pig and walk out of the restaurant, rather than waddle.
All things considered though, I would definitely pig-out again.
Where: 11 Langley Street, London WC2H 9JG
Review: Holborn Dining Room
The stretch of road from Holborn station towards Chancery Lane is a bit of a no man’s land. You’ll find the standard lunch time take-out shops, a stationers targeting students and… not a whole lot else. Once the sun goes down, sleepiness properly settles in. It seems strange given that the area is a stone’s throw from Covent Garden and Tottenham Court Road. Of course, there has to be a divide somewhere… but perhaps it shouldn’t feel so much like a provincial town. Some people, somewhere, obviously agree as the area is currently part of a ‘Go To Midtown‘ campaign – an effort to rebrand and invigorate the area.
Perhaps cottoning on this, or perhaps just trying their luck, Rosewood Hotel opened in October 2013. Naturally, this also entailed an restaurant – the somewhat functionally named Holborn Dining Room.
Holborn Dining Room appears every bit the well-furnished modern brasserie in its style – bare bulbs on metal frames throw shadows over the dark wood counters and tables that are surrounded by plush red leather seating. It’s tastefully done and consistent.
Swish interior and dim light aside, on entering the restaurant, we found the atmosphere to be relaxed – Holborn Dining Room could easily be a place to go for drinks and a catch-up with friends but it would equally work for a date. So far, so good.
The staff were on their best behaviour, probably because we were visiting for the soft launch; they attended to us with wide smiles, and created the illusion of automatic doors. Service was just below the overbearing mark, and they’ve probably all calmed down a bit by now.
My dining companion and I are FIENDISH meat eaters so there was only one thing on the menu that we were going to be ordering: the Roast Rib Eye ‘Club Cut’ with pepper sauce and crispy onions (£26.50). This is a giant chunk of tender roast beef served up like a steak, topped with thin onion rings. The flavour of the meat was beautiful, but it was a tad overcooked: I asked for mine medium-rare and it came medium, whereas my companion’s came medium-rare, despite asking for it rare. Nevertheless, we happily devoured our chunks of meat with some sell-executed chips (£4.25) and some delicious steamed spinach (£5.50).
For dessert, I tucked into an absolutely brilliant Valhrona chocolate pot with sweet cream (£6.50), which was essentially a very rich chocolate crème brûlée with a fantastically crisp top.
My companion was less lucky with her Bakewell tart and raspberry ice-cream (£6.50). In an attempt at a modern twist on the classic, the chef had produced a giant puff pastry version, which inadvertently created the game of ‘hunt the filling’ in the midst of a desert. Thank goodness for the ice-cream.
Holborn Dining Room 3/5 – Whilst the food is of decent quality, it is far from exceptional and, at those prices, it can’t really afford not to be. It made us very grateful for the soft opening offer!
Where: 252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN
When: Mon – Fri 7am – 11.30pm; Saturday 8am – 11.30pm; Sunday 8am – 10.30pm
Dum Dums Donutterie, Shoreditch Boxpark
There are some new doughnuts in town…..but they’re not just any doughnuts. Oh no, these are doughnuts from artisan doughnut chef (yes, that’s what the website says!) Paul Hurley, who has been making doughnuts since 1997. These are breaking away from the stereotype of fat American cops munching them police cars. These doughtnuts are not fried; they’re baked. Apparently, this means only 6 grams in a jam doughnut compared to an average of 17g of fat in their American counterparts.
That’s quite impressive – but what do they taste like? The dough is like a soft roll – almost like the texture you’d expect from an ice-bun. As a person who usually finds doughnuts unpleasantly heavy and chewy, this was perfect.
We also sampled their zebra cronut, which was far lighter than I expected – the chocolate cream was the perfect balance to the pastry. I’m still not what sure I make of cronuts but this was definitely one of the favourites I’ve tried.
Can you think of the problem of healthy doughnuts? Well, they’re in Shoreditch and when doughnuts are hip, they come at a price…
For all doughnuts fans out there, Dum Dums Donutterie is definitely worth a visit.
Head to Shoredtich Box Park or from March 27th, find them at King’s Cross.
Honest Burgers March Special: The BrewBurger
It’s impossible to ignore the burger trend across London. To be honest, if you want to ignore it, you probably shouldn’t be reading this blog; I’ve done my best to consume as many burgers as possible in one giant burgery bonanza.
One of my favourite places for a burger in London is Honest Burgers. They’ve got a quality product pitched at the right price, and, as a result, their empire is expanding – expect the sixth branch to open near Oxford Circus later this year.
I fell in love when I first when I went to their Soho branch, and then had a passionate affair with their Christmas special, before drooling over their HOT February special. Their regular menu may only contain three different types of beefburger but their monthly specials really keep the romance alive.
Their latest offering has got me punch-drunk in love. For starters, it is possibly the first burger ever to require an ID to order it.
Honest Burgers have taken things to a new level this March and have collaborated with the awesome BrewDog. BrewDog is a Scottish craft beer company that is taking over the world with quality beer and their very own chain of bars, stretching from Shoreditch all the way to São Paulo! (Japan fangirl squeal: And they’re also in Roppongi in the expat area of Tokyo!) Even if you’re not a beer fan, you have to love BrewdDog because they took on Putin’s homophobia and produced the world’s only beer that’s definitely, absolutely and certainly not for gays – the Hello, My Name Is Vladimir!
Hello, my name is Vladimir. I am a beer for uber hetero men who ride horses while topless and carrying knives. I am a beer to mark the 2014 Winter Olympics. But I am not for gays. Love wrestling burly men on the Judo mat or fishing in your Speedos? Then this is the beer for you!
I think they’ve got their sales pitch spot on, don’t you? Now onto the BrewBurger itself….
This is one incredibly boozy beefy treat: it’s a 150g aged beef patty with Comté cheese and bacon candied with BrewDog’s amber ale, 5AM Saint. It’s then topped with beef dripping and beer fried onions using BrewDog’s flagship Punk IPA and a BBQ reduction made from BrewDog’s Paradox cask-aged Imperial Stout. And, just in case that wasn’t beery enough for you, it’s served with Bourbon Baby, a 5.8% barrel-aged baby scotch ale that Brewdog created just for this collaboration. All this for £15.
Oh….this was a beery burgery beauty. For me, the bacon got a little subsumed by the other flavours but those beer-fried onions were fantastic. All of this, of course, comes with Honest Burgers rosemary-salted chips. After a BrewBurger, you will wake up seriously thirsty but smugly satisfied.
Get yourself along to a branch of Honest Burgers before April 2nd. And don’t forget your ID!
The Breakfast Club’s Pancake Day Challenge 2014
It’s Pancake Day! Rejoice! Finally, we can give these simple floury, eggy, milky creations the full appreciation they deserve.
Why then, am I looking so anxious at the giant stack of pancakes in front of me? Because I had to eat them ALL in 15 minutes – that’s why.
Every Mardi Gras, The Breakfast Club really does take the day at it’s literal meaning – ‘Fat Tuesday’ – and presents customers with an ego-massaging, or ego-destroying, Man V Food eating competition. The rules are as simple as the ingredients: eat all the pancakes within the time limit and pay nothing; fail and pay £17.50 to Rays of Sunshine children’s charity (so basically, it’s a win-win situation).
Last year, I wolfed down 12 pancakes in 20 minutes, earning myself some applause and this wonderful footage of me
gagging bravely struggling.
This year, the challenge was tougher: just 15 minutes for 12 pancakes. And they were definitely bigger and eggier than before.
I knew before I started that defeat lay ahead of me, but how much did I enjoy getting dirty?!
By ten minutes in, I settled for defeat. Quantity was not the problem so much as sweetness and dryness, and swallowing pancakes mixed with water was not agreeing with my stomach. By taking the sensible decision to quit, I a) didn’t feel ill all afternoon and b) got to take away what I didn’t finish – win! Pancake Day is lasting that bit longer for me and I’m looking forward to breakfast!
Apparently, there is no such thing as too many pancakes…
Review: Honest Burgers February Special
Yes, I hear you. I’m fully aware that I am a huge Honest Burgers fangirl. I’m clearly not the only one, though. A legion of loyal London supporters have led them to expand their brand from their humble beginnings in Brixton Village to Soho, Camden, Portobello Road and King’s Cross, with a sixth branch opening near Oxford Circus later this year. They use Ginger Pig meat – which is enough to earn the trust of any sceptic – and they keep the menu simple: three burgers, one chicken burger and a veggie fritter.
Does that a little monotonous? Fear not! Firstly, I would be shocked by anyone who got bored of their delicious burgers with rosemary-salted chips. Secondly, they have a magical, rotating special every month!! I got a wee bit excited about their Christmas special of deep-fried Camembert with cranberry sauce, and may or may not have eaten it three times.
In the nick of time, I have just tried their February special and it is also worth raving about: beef, Applewood smoked cheddar, The Rib Man’s ‘Christ on a Bike’ hot sauce, smoked bacon, griddled courgette and lettuce.
For those of you unfamiliar with The Rib Man, you can find him around London serving up the most delicious ribmeat that looks like this (which will be in Honest Burgers’ April special eeeeeeee!!):
He is s0mewhat (in)famous for his hot sauces, particularly their creative names. Their names mean business. Their names may also cause minor embarrassment when ordering.
Me in Honest Burgers: Is Christ on a Bike hotter than Holy Fuck?
As it turns out, the answer to my question is the affirmative. The waitress advised me to order the sauce on the side because she”d ‘seen people cry’. However, I must have become some kind of spice fiend and not only did I smother my burger wutg what surely must be one of the tastiest chilli sauces I have ever tried, but I asked for an extra pot and downed half a shot. The burger itself is a master of taste perfection – the courgette is absolutely perfect with the sauce.
You have until Friday, February 28th to try this god. After that, there is another deity – a collaboration with BrewDog, which sees the world’s first burger that requires ID to purchase it! Tomorrow, I get a sneak pre
viewtaste – watch this space 😉