Tonkotsu, Soho (London)

It was a bustling Friday night and we were headed to Soho in search of  Koya, a casual Japanese eatery that has great reviews for its udon noodles.  When we reached Koya, we were dismayed to see a gigantic queue. The thing about London is that people will happily queue down the street to get into a place to eat!

In this instance, the queue stretched out the door and along the footpath.  We were both too hungry to wait for an hour in line and chose to walk around instead.  A few minutes later, we stumbled across another Japanese place which also had a queue but it was shorter.  We ended up waiting about twenty minutes in line before squeezing into the small restaurant.

Ramen in London is pricier than in Sydney and the servings are a bit smaller too.

My friend ordered the Tokyo Ramen (£9) which has a soy sauce base:

I ordered the Tonkotsu ramen (£11):

We shared the chicken karaage (£6):

I wasn't overly impressed by my tonkotsu ramen. The broth didn't have much depth of flavour and I prefer my tonkotsu bases to have a thick consistency.  This one was quite thin and milky. My egg was cold and the centre wasn't oozy.  I have high standards for my ramen!

Would I line up again for Tonkotsu? Probably not.

Tonkotsu on Urbanspoon

Byron Burger, Angel (London)

While I was out and about exploring London, I saw this burger chain called Byron Burger often enough to pique my interest.  I looked it up online and found mixed reviews.  Funnily enough, the most negative reviews were focused solely on the decor - people strongly disliked the intentionally rundown interiors.

I decided to see for myself.  I visited the Angel branch of the chain and to be honest, I thought the interiors looked like any number of cafes in Sydney.  Isn't rundown the new chic?
The menu is fairly short and you choose your burger, sides and dessert.  Oh, and milkshakes of course.  Everything comes separately - I don't think they do meal combos. 

I ordered the Oreo milkshake and my friend had the Vanilla. Both milkshakes were huge and I couldn't finish mine, despite desperately sucking as much as I could through the wide straw.

Oreo and Vanilla milkshake (£4.25 each)

All of their meat patties are made with freshly ground beef from Scotland and is usually cooked medium.  I decided to have their Cheeseburger and selected American cheese. Why American cheese?  There is just something about the almost fluroscent cheese that makes a burger, a burger.

Cheeseburger (£7.95)
served with lettuce, tomato, red onion and mayonnaise

It arrived on a wide plate with a pickle on the side.  The burger was on the smaller side and for £7.95, it wasn't cheap.  On the whole, I thought it was a nice burger.  Nothing unexpected.

French Fries (£2.95)

We also ordered a side of French Fries to share and they were your everyday fries.  The bowl was on the smaller side as well so I would recommend getting your own serving if you're hungry.

The service was fast and friendly.  I would probably go again, but there is a Shake Shack in Covent Garden that is calling my name so it may be a while until I revisit Byron Burger...

Byron on Urbanspoon

The Breakfast Club, Angel (London)

Since moving to London, I have become accustomed to doing things by myself.  Don't get me wrong, I have some friends here but I think being new to a city is one of the best reasons to try things by yourself.

I was staying in Angel when I first arrived and it is a melting pot of restaurants and pubs in a dense little area.  There is a small alleyway called Camden Passage near Angel tube station and it comes alive with little shops, cafes and pubs.  The restaurants aren't as busy during the day and one place that caught my eye was The Breakfast Club.

After reading some reviews, it seems like The Breakfast Club gets queues out the door on weekends.  So I decided to take advantage of my traveler status and visit by myself for a nice weekday 'lunch'.

The tables and seating is packed in so you are almost rubbing elbows with your neighbours.  There are a lot of kitschy knick knacks adorning the walls.

 Flat white (£2.50) and Maple Syrup
Although it was lunchtime, I decided to order one of their breakfast dishes.

Veggie All American (£9.60)
Pancakes, eggs, veggie sausage, mushrooms, home-style fried potatoes

It was a big , American style fry-up and there was no way on earth that I could finish it!  I tried best efforts and found all items on the plate to be decent, but not amazing. Just your usual. 

The potatoes were nice and crispy.  The veggie sausage was a bit dry on the inside.

Would I come back? I definitely wouldn't queue up and I think there are too many other places in London to visit so I probably won't be back for a while!

Breakfast Club on Urbanspoon

Yum Cha Silks & Spice, Camden (London)

As a new expat on a tight budget, I find Time Out London's list of 'Cheap Eats' to be a godsend.  I read about Yum Cha Silks & Spices, a cheap and cheerful Chinese restaurant which offers 50% off dim sums from Monday to Wednesday nights.  It is close to the Stables Market in Camden (closest tube is Camden Town) and offers a wide range of Chinese dishes.

We didn't even bother looking at the regular menu - we were there to eat half price dim sums! We ordered exclusively from the dim sum menu.

Here are the pics of what we had - descriptions as they appeared in the menu and prices pre-discount

Left to right: Scallop prawn dumpling (£3.80), Prawn dumplings (£4.00), Steamed chives prawn dumpling (£3.80), Steamed bean curd roll (£3.80)

Steamed char siu buns (£3.80), Prawn pork shu mai (£3.80), Salt and pepper ribs (£5.25)
Some of the dim sums were far better than others.  I didn't like the pork ribs which had too much fat and not much flavour.  My favourites were the prawn dumplings.

We also ordered Jasmine Tea at £1.50 each.  The service was very prompt and the staff kept coming around to our table with hot water refills.

I was pleasantly surprised with the bill at the end of the meal. Even though I knew it would be half price, it was cheaper than I expected.  The total (including service charge of £3.10) came to £20.25 for the two of us.  A bargain and we both felt absolutely stuffed.

I have noticed that eating out casually in London can get quite pricey, especially when compared to eating out in Sydney.  I would be happy to come back to Yum Cha Silks & Spices! (on a Mon-Wed night during the half price deal)

Yum Cha on Urbanspoon

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