Wednesday, 31 May 2017

T(r)ips around the world - London's best ethnic restaurants


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For a culinary crusader London's ethnic restaurants are a treasure trove. Here are my favourites!

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London is one of my old stomping grounds and a place that will forever have a special place in my heart. 

Though, while a city of endless possibilities (especially on a Saudi gazillionaire's budget), England is not exactly a place where people travel for foodie feasts. Unless, of course, you're a culinary crusader like me and travel everywhere in search of food.

Its long colonial imperial history and substantial immigrant population make it, however, a brilliant destination for foodie travels around the world. 


While some of them do offer Michelin-standard fine dining, London's ethnic restaurants tend to be both authentic and surprisingly affordable. 


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London's Brick Lane - curry lover's paradise


Many immigrant communities have settled in certain parts of London, which often translates to a hub of restaurants of particular ethnic origin.

One of the most famous ones is Brick Lane in East London, populated by South Asians (closest tube stations Aldgate East or Liverpool Street). 



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The portion sizes are often so generous that one dish feeds two. Do note though that all the pappadums and other extras they so eagerly bring over tend to cost extra.

While every single one of them proudly advertizes themselves as the purveyors of the best curry in the city, the quality is rather, well, varied. One steady (though slightly pricier) favourite is  Dishoom (with 4 different branches).


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Beigel Bake - piece of New York in London


Brick Lane is also home to Beigel Bake, a delightful piece of Jewish New York. A popular place, so be prepared queue (and be elbowed by your fellow diners and yes, occasionally shouted at by the staff). Luckily this local institution is open 24/7.

Perfectly chewy bagels yet surprisingly cheap (salmon and cream cheese for instance is your for mere £1.60!). Do go for the salted beef. Do.


Oy,vey - London's Jewish soul food classics


If you fancy an in-depth expedition into the heart of Jewish cuisine, head over to North London's Golder's Green, popular among the Jews.

In Central London you'll get some of that feeling at Monty's Deli.


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Best Turkish food in London


If you crave Turkish food, your best bet is North London and Harringay Green Lanes region (stations: Manor House or Turnpike Lane).

In case you're not up for the travel,  don't you worry: Islington's Antepliler (tube: Angel) is the home of best pides and lahmacuns this side of Bosphorus. 

What ever you order, make sure you'll leave some room for their baclavas.



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Middle Eastern food in the middle of London


If, like me, you love Middle Eastern food, you're in for some serious treats. Lebanese Yalla Yalla is good and affordable place for meze overload. 

Try lahmacun's Lebanese cousin arayes and chicken liver with pomegranate sauce.

My old home, Edgware Road is full of Lebanese restaurants too and another easy destination because of its central location. Al Arez for instance is a familiar, good no-frills place.

A brilliant place for sampling the flavours of Eastern Mediterranean is Bib Gourmand-awarded Palomar, located near Leicester Square (reservation recommended, though bar also accommodates walk-ins). 

It's hardly surprising I love them as much as I do - their sister restaurant MachneYuda in Jerusalem is one of my favourite restaurants in the whole of Israel. 



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Ah, how about some Afghan food?


If you're in the mood for something a little bit more exotic, you should try Afghan cooking, such as Ariana in Kilburn (bus no 16).

Namesake to its Manhattan-based sister restaurant this establishment does not serve any alcohol, but operates a BYOB policy (no, that's not "Bring Your Own Bomb squad"). 

And what to have here? Aushaks, meat or vegetable-filled dumplings.


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London's Chinatown - dim sum and then some


London't Chinatown settled in its current location in Soho back in 1970's and has become a popular tourist sight - during Chinese New Year celebrations you can't even breathe here.



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My recommendation is to skip the main street Gerrard Street and head over to adjacent Lisle Street's dim sum heaven. Dim sums are usually served daily until 5pm. My favourite is Young Cheng (popular among actual Chinese people, too) where you might have to queue, especially around lunch time. 


Extensive selection (anyone for some marinated duck tongue?). All the dishes €4 or under, so even a lunch for 2 (with beers) will set you back less than €40.


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In London's Japanese restaurants ramen reigns supreme


Japanese restaurants aren't gathered in any particular area, but owing to massive popularity of ramen they keep popping up everywhere.

Some places cook their stock for 3 days, some compete with the elaborate process of making their own noodles, so there's something for everyone. One tiny and extremely popular place worth recommending is Kanada-Ya.

Nobu is a world famous gourmet restaurant where, after the hype of initial years, its possible to get a reservation rather easily.

Another place for those in the market for a bit more contemporary take on things is Roka
The Aldwych-based restaurant is located smack in the middle of London's Theatreland, which means that early in the evening they serve affordably priced pre theatre-menus.


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African food in London


The african restaurants in London tend to specialize in the delights of Northern and Eastern Africa. If you like Ethiopian food, give Eritrean a go, too. 

A good place for this is Mosob in Westbourne Park (close to Notting Hill).



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Street food festivals bring the whole world together


London is also home to several street food festivals which offer the chance to sample different cuisines. South America and Asia tend to be particularly well represented. Vegans don't have to go hungry either. 

Urban Food Fest, held in Shoreditch each Saturday, is one of the best ones and one of the reasons why this eclectic neighbourhood (with its run-down bohemian vibe) has become one of my favourites. 


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Best of the British - from pie & mash to Michelin stars


Ok, so what ever they might say about the British food, there's time and place for that, too. 



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Located in the heart of Covent Garden, Battersea Pie Station is a must for anyone like me; always ready to worship the Holy Trinity of pie, mash and gravy.  

Oh, and make mine a Winstone.
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And no trip to London would be complete without a leisurely pub lunch. Fulham's Harwood Arms even has a Michelin star! (Want to feast on a budget? Check out their lunch). 

Reservation practically mandatory.


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Duck & Waffle is another great place which combines robust English traditions with continental influences (Foie Gras Crème Brûlée, anyone?). Worth the trip for its spectacular views alone (courtesy of the restaurant's location on 40th floor).

And the best part? Open 24/7!



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How about it? Anyone else hungry? What are your London favourites?

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ANYONE FOR SECONDS?
  

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