May 2nd, 2011


As it comes to the end of the second bank holiday weekend in the UK in a row, it seemed ideal to finish off with a treat – a perfect (if windy) evening for it too as the streets seemed to be extraordinarily quiet, possibly the second long weekend in a row taking it’s toll on shoppers and tourists.

Decided to try out another highly recommended Japanese restaurant on my search for some new favourites, and sat proudly in the middle of Charlotte Street is a simple but elegant and charming restaurant. Nizuni are on a mission to become the best Japanese restaurant in London and seem to care immensely about service and quality.

We were greeted and seated by some cheerful and friendly staff who made some good suggestions on what might go better with our other choices from the menu and it wasn’t long before we were happily sipping hot sencha and eating edamame beans. You know when even the simple dishes taste like edamame taste better than you’ve had before that you know you’re going to be in for a good meal.

After much deliberation on the menu, we finally ordered:

  • Edamame
  • Ika Karaage (deep fried squid, served with a wasabi mayo)
  • Tori Tori (crispy deep fried chicken with a sweet chilli sauce)
  • Salmon skin maki
  • Seafood yaki soba
  • Nabe udon (udon noodles with prawn tempura & vegetables in a broth)

The deep fried squid with the slightly powerful wasabi mayo was tasty and crispy, the salmon skin maki was good and packed a lot of flavour, but out of the appetizers the winner had to be the crispy deep fried chicken which was in small bite size portions in a delicious sweet and sour sauce with a small punch of chilli.

I passed on trying the seafood yaki soba, that’s one dish that I’ve had several bad (and somewhat vomit inducing) experiences with elsewhere of recent. I was confidentially reassured that it tasted good though!

My udon noodles were fresh and perfectly cooked in a lovely broth. Most Japanese restaurants will serve your tempura in the broth, by the time you get to eating it they are normally soggy and disappointing, I was pleasantly surprised that at Nizuni they leave the tempura on a side plate for you to dunk in the broth at your leisure to get warm and still slightly crispy tempura.

Overall Nizuni really hits the mark, and at only £20 each for a fairly hefty meal.

They clearly invest in the quality of their food and the service which is honest, friendly and attentive. I think I’ve successfully found a new favourite.


April 30th, 2011

If you’ve been a keen follower of my past food ramblings you’ll probably have noticed that I have a rather large addition to Japanese cuisine; unfortunately though over the past few months a couple of my personal favourites in London have gone down hill.

Time then to discover some of the other Japanese restaurants out there; this evening was Kikuchi tucked away on Hanway Street a short walk from Tottenham Court Road. This small but elegant little place is subject to heavily contrasting reviews with some people rating very highly and praising the authenticity of the food and freshness of the sushi, with others saying that the service was appalling and the food bog standard.

When we arrived we were greeted by perfectly friendly staff but immediately told that there is a minimum charge of £25 per person – realistically if you’re hungry I’d recommend you budget higher than that though, and if you’re a fan of sake then considerably more.

The menu outside Kikuchi speaks of a bog standard lunch menu at any Japanese restaurant, however when you’re seated at the table you’re presented with a drinks menu that boasts a vast selection of sakes ranging from £30 to £500 for a bottle, and a food menu that basically leaves you bedazzled with the sheer number of pages and items.

Between two of us we ordered:

  • Salmon skin with ponzu
  • Grilled aubergine with miso dressing
  • Mixed tempura
  • Eel tempura with taro
  • The chef’s special sushi

The grilled aubergine was insanely good just as we both hoped it would be (unlike the disappointments at some other restaurants), the salmon skin was addictive and delicious as ever, the ell tempura was good too but the mixed tempura was pretty par for the course.

The sushi, well I guess that’s always going to be a subjective one depending on what tastes and textures appeal to you as an individual, but it wasn’t helped by the fact that we waited over an hour for our sushi to arrive and even then that was after chasing them for it.

For £30 we only got 12 pieces of generally uninteresting looking sushi; the salmon was good, the tuna was great, but the white fish (which I’m useless at identifying) didn’t really offer much in the way of flavour, the texture of the squid was a bit difficult to cope with, and the sea urchin, well, I’m probably not going to have sea urchin sushi again let’s put it that way.

All in all I’d say that the food is amazing and the slow service is something I would suffer through again to try some of the other interesting items on the menu, but I won’t be having sushi again – at least not the chef’s specialty.

Indian tapas at Imli

September 30th, 2010

Indian Tapas at Imli

For someone that really enjoys food and spends quite a lot of time and money ‘investing’ in London restaurants (that’s code for getting fat), I’d completely failed to get on the TasteLondon bandwagon (sorry, that’s now tastecard) – it’s the magic little black and green card that gets you either 50% off your food bill or 2 meals for the price of 1.

That’s all changed this week, tastecard were going a half price deal on their annual membership, and they’ve also announced that they are supporting Macmillan Cancer Support this year which is great news, I decided it was time to take the plunge!

My card arrived early this week with a nicely printed coffee table book of restaurants that makes your stomach beg you to go and fill it up, so I decided to break my tastecard virginity and book in at Imli, the Indian Tapas on Wardour Street that I’ve walked past many a time and thought ‘that sounds nice, if a little pricey’.

You need to phone in advance for most of the non-chain restaurants, which was easy and welcoming, however when we got to Imli we were made to feel a little bit uncomfortable by it being mentioned at least three times by two different waitresses that we were tastecard customers and what we could get 50% off on.

Swallowing my pride and assuming it was just their attempt at being clear, we looked around and saw an array of really delicious looking food, and we jumped into the menu ordering roughly three dishes each off of the a la carte menu.

We ordered:

  • Lemon rice
  • Potato naan
  • Stuffed paneer (spinach, mushroom, potato)
  • Chennai fish (I think?)
  • Lamb biryani
  • Chicken haryali
  • Duck with honey

The food arrived pretty quickly which was surprising, usually in an Indian restaurant you’re left waiting with the aroma of spices floating over you until you start to salivate (or until you get drunk enough to tolerate the food, in some restaurants!) – makes you question the freshness of the food a little.

Most of the dishes we ordered we actually quite nice, though some of the meat was a little tough, some of the non-spicy dishes were actually a lot spicier than they’d been described in the menu, and the fish is definitely an acquired taste – probably best avoided unless you’ve had it before and are used to the taste.

In retrospect we probably ordered far too much food in an attempt to try as much of the menu as we could, and we ended up leaving quite a lot. Still, that’s an easy mistake to make when you’re getting 50% off the food, a mighty saving of £20+.

It would nice to visit again and sample some of the vegetarian dishes, but maybe in smaller quantities rather than trying to eat the entire kitchen.

Fever Ray at Brixton Academy

September 8th, 2010

Fever Ray at Brixton Academy

It’s probably considered blasphemy by many to say this, but I was never really a great fan of The Knife until lead singer Karin left to pursue her own solo project as Fever Ray, but since then it’s fair to say I’ve been hooked.

What luck then, that on the night of Karin’s last gig as Fever Ray before she goes back to a new project with The Knife, that I happened to have a pair of tickets to the Brixton Academy show.

We got there predictably late and this turned out to pay off rather well as the general murmurs about warm up act Zola Jesus weren’t exactly bursting with enthusiasm, apparently she was bouncing around the huge stage wildly on her own whilst everyone else seemingly had no clue of what was going on.

The atmosphere really had some time to build up, for at least 30 minutes the audience was left with some eerie music whilst the academy was pumped full of smoke, I think even the folks in the front row probably would have struggled to see through the smoke and actually get a clear glimpse of the stage!

Then still in utter darkness came the alternating throbbing of ‘If I Had A Heart’, sending a chill over the crowd for two minutes before the lasers that have been a trademark feature of Fever Ray’s shows kicked in and gave us a glimpse of the stage.

The show was better than I could have imagined, whilst all the time being so stripped back and simple – something that should be easy for every artist to get right but actually pulled off well by so few.

The lighting was provided by lasers cutting through the smoke and forming patterns that looked like clouds floating across the sky, and the bass was punctuated by lampshades on the shade fading in and out with the heavy and lighter beats.

I don’t know how they did it but the bass was body trembling and intense, it felt like the music was trying to flow straight through us rather than just tingle our ear drums!

Highlights of the night were ‘Coconut’ (which I may have taken a sneaky video of), ‘Concrete Walls’, ‘Dry and Dusty’ and ‘Triangle Walks’ which all really seem to achieve that trance like state that the bass, awesome vocals by Karin and percussion bring together.

Looking forward to seeing what The Knife will get up to now that Karin has returned.

Cha Cha Moon

September 4th, 2010

Cha Cha Moon

It’s been a busy few weeks at work so I haven’t been very good at keeping my blog up to date, but I have managed to squeeze in a few meals at various restaurants with friends, which is probably the only reason I’ve retained any measure of sanity!

One notable spot recently is Cha Cha Moon, hidden away in Kingly Court just off of Carnaby Street it’s not exactly well advertised, it has all the makings of a true hidden gem (apart from the fact that it’s hugely popular and always packed full of noodle slurping punters).

There is a small outdoor area in the courtyard, and inside an interior that is sharp and clean, with a good layout of benches that are separated into fours so small groups get at least a small barrier from other diners.

The kitchen space is enviable, and you soon understand why your order reaches your table so quickly in comparison to the likes of Wagamama which often seems to have those long but thin kitchens that makes it impossible for anyone to pass each other.

The menu is primarily dedicated to a variety of noodle dishes such as noodle soups, lao mian and a huge collection of wok noodle dishes. They also serve up some curries with Thai influence, plus some mouth watering side dishes too.

Service is prompt, your drinks are brought to you quickly (in my case a huge pot of jasmine tea) and food follows shortly after with the now popular “dishes arrive at different times” warning attached to them. Quality doesn’t seem to be sacrificed in this speed, they genuinely seem geared at churning out good quality food quickly.

On the few visits so far some friends and I have tried mains of seafood ho fun, Fujian style udon noodles, jasmine chicken all of which were pretty decent and tasty… though a word of warning to those that are sensitive about spicy things, the level of spice does seem to vary so ask before ordering!

We’ve also tried the Szechuan won-tons (spicy but delicious), Taro cake (acquired taste – requires more than one person to eat unless you’ve got a really big appetite), Cha Cha mooli (very rich but really tasty) and the Chinese basil calamari (crispy joy!).

If you’re looking for somewhere quick to eat, or you’re a noodle maniac then you absolutely have to give Cha Cha Moon a go, and take some friends so that you can share the side dishes without feeling guilty!