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London: The Capital of Food!

My besties know that the only obsession that matches my interest in travel is my love of food. London is my favourite culinary city and London Foodies are fun and gregarious companions.

London has been a melting pot for cultures since the early 17th Century and all of those cultures brought their own spices, flavours and tastes to the capital of the British Empire. At its height, the British Empire was, by far, the largest that the world has ever known. In 1920, the British Empire covered an astounding 35.5 Million square kilometres (13.7 Million square miles) and held 412 Million citizens – 23% of the world’s population! Representatives of that vast community came to the capital to transact business and the food of their cultures soon followed them.

Indian Curry

Indian curries are the nation’s favourite

The finest example of those tastes coming to London must be Indian curries. Curry is the most popular food in London and, indeed, in all of England. Legend has it that the British introduced cricket to India and India returned the favour by introducing curry. I think the Capital received the best end of that bargain! Hugely successful is Dishoom. Opening In 2010 in the trendy Covent Garden area of London, the chain now boasts eight locations in major cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh.  You can sample classics with British twists within a modern café style environment producing excellent quality and taste.  Dishoom pays homage to the old cafes of Mumbai. They’ve won many prestigious awards throughout the years!

Here’s a pro-tip: Dishoom doesn’t take bookings for dinner and there are always long queues. So, book breakfast or lunch if you want to guarantee a curry!

The second best example of imported tastes in London must be Chinese food. London’s Chinatown offers many authentic examples of the Far East’s notable delights. I prefer something a bit more nouvelle in my Chinese food and my favourite is Hakkasan, which has two locations in London. Hakkasan always reminds me of Xi’an because of its opulent style. You can often find me enjoying a cocktail at the bar in Hakkasan Mayfair right before enjoying a fabulous meal! The chefs at Hakkasan produce modern twists on classic dishes and their sommeliers have produced a fantastic wine selection to accompany the food treats. A close second for me is Park Chinois, which is in nearby Berkley Square. This upscale restaurant recalls the heyday of Shanghai in its décor and has an opulent menu and wine list!

Although it was never part of the British Empire, Japanese food is ubiquitous in London. My favourites include Zuma and Nobu, they both make exquisite delicacies in a fun and vibrant atmosphere.  From classically trained Sushi chefs, to the yells of “Irasshaimase” when you arrive, these two are world-class in the quality of ingredients and service levels. Their cocktail bars are also a fun place to hang out with excellent selection and quality! I especially like the raw fresh wasabi that both restaurants provide. If your only brush with wasabi is a nasal assault, sample the expensive and hard to source original and you’ll be a convert to this delicate and aromatic treat! While Nobu is a chain, it is hard to obtain a booking, so plan ahead when you know you’ll be visiting the area. Novikov is also one of my favourites – when I can find a booking!

Sushi, Japanese food

Sushi makes Miso happy!

Here’s another pro-tip: Not all high-quality sushi needs to be from a pricey restaurant. Try Sanjugo in Shoreditch, Sushi Samba in Covent Garden or SticksnSushi in Soho for a casual atmosphere and fantastic quality!

Arabic flavours are so versatile and tasty!

The British controlled much of the Middle East during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Middle Eastern food, and especially Lebanese food, are a real treat in the Capital. Lebanese food in London means Maroush.  Everyone knows how much I love Beirut and the food at Maroush always brings back happy memories! With its many outlets in Knightsbridge and Edgware Road, Maroush is the home of scrumptious favourites like Tabbouleh, Mohumara, Shish Tawouk and Shish Kebab. While often overlooked, the restaurant’s fish and prawn specialties are fresh and perfectly seasoned. Service is excellent at all Maroush outlets and there are a great many serving the local Arab community. Dodge the super-cars parked outside most outlets and enjoy the hospitality of this London tradition!Column content

Moving to the New World, London has a fantastic range of Caribbean food and Latin American restaurants. My favourites include the ultra-casual Rudie’s where you can experience the ultimate in Jamaican food while enjoying that country’s music. I recently wrote about my love for Jamaica and Rudie’s transports me instantly to that relaxing locale! A close second for me is Mama’s Jerk because it features “Biriyardie” a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Middle Eastern Biryanis which combine rice-n-peas with jerk chicken, sweetcorn, plantain and pepper-pickle. It is delicious!

London food doesn’t have to be expensive in order to be great! Food trucks or stalls experiment with new flavours, ingredients and styles.  These casual dining experiences have made an explosive arrival to the decent fast food scene in places like the famous London Borough of Camden and Hackney Markets.  You can find every type of food from American burgers to chicken wings, pho soup, bao buns, noodle bars, vegan dishes, fish fry , Bombay street food and everything in-between!  My crew loves El Pastor taco shop and we always visit it when we are together in the Capital. El Pastor is part of a small group that includes Casa Pastor and Tortilleria EP. All are excellent and also have a cool selection of Agave-based alcohols including Tequila, Mexcal and even Sotol!
Jamaican food, London Foodies

Market food is excellent!

The introduction of BoxPark in London has seen this ever-growing London food culture rise to unprecedented heights.  The BoxPark concept came to London’s Shoreditch  in 2011 and is constructed entirely from old shipping containers!  It brings together street food and shopping and is reminiscent of the “Ruin Bars” in places like Budapest. Since the success of their first venture,  they’ve opened two more locations in Croydon and Wembley.  You will find young trendy crowds enjoying food and drinks on every night of the week!

food markets in london

Borough Market is great for shopping and food!

The British Empire may be receding, but London is still the Capital of Food!

 

Love,

 

Isabella

 

Isabella’s Checklist

For excellent Indian: Dishoom (https://www.dishoom.com/)

If you want Chinese: Hakkasan Mayfair (https://hakkasan.com/mayfair/)

When Japanese is the taste: Zuma or Nobu (https://zumarestaurant.com/, https://noburestaurants.com/)

Lebanese comfort food: Maroush (https://www.maroush.com/)

The best authentic tacos: El Pastor (https://www.tacoselpastor.co.uk/)

Scrumptious street food: Camden and Hackney Markets and BoxPark (https://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/food-and-drink/food-trucks, https://www.boxpark.co.uk/)

London is a foodies dream!
Isabella’s Checklist

For excellent Indian: Dishoom (https://www.dishoom.com/)

If you want Chinese: Hakkasan Mayfair (https://hakkasan.com/mayfair/)

When Japanese is the taste: Zuma or Nobu (https://zumarestaurant.com/, https://noburestaurants.com/)

Lebanese comfort food: Maroush (https://www.maroush.com/)

The best authentic tacos: El Pastor (https://www.tacoselpastor.co.uk/)

Scrumptious street food: Camden and Hackney Markets and BoxPark (https://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/food-and-drink/food-trucks, https://www.boxpark.co.uk/)

London is a foodies dream!

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