This past summer, I (Chinese) spent a couple of weeks in London and had some really great food experiences. I did a lot of research prior to going so I would be able to hunt down the best food spots because that is the most important part of spending time abroad, of course. Today I have compiled some of the best things I ate while in London in this food diary.
One of my absolute favorite things to do on a Saturday was to visit Broadway Market. This market in the East End was only a short bicycle ride away from my house. I highly recommend biking here on a summer’s day – it’s a lovely outing. It’s safe to say I visited many – if not all – (food) markets London has to offer and Broadway Market was by far my favorite. The selection of stalls is lovely and ranges from fresh bread and cheeses to colorful meringues and also cute jewelry and homeware. Halfway through the market you can take a rest at the Vietnamese coffee stand which has amazing iced coffee. You could also opt for any of the cute restaurants dotting the street, but my personal recommendation is to walk all the way to the end of the market and into the little schoolyard – there are even more food stalls here. You should take your food to go and find a place in the adjoining park, it’s lovely. This is exactly what we did – and this day I had one of the best ‘burgers’ of my life. I’m a sucker for duck in any form, and this duck confit burger from The Frenchie’s food stall was just amazing. The duck confit is topped with crispy duck skin scratchings, chutney, rocket and your choice of cheese (I went for goat’s cheese w/ truffle honey) on a brioche bun. Simply delicious!
A lovely and critically-acclaimed restaurant in London’s China town goes by the name of Rasa Sayang. They serve great Malay and Singaporean food for a decent price. We went for the satay as a starter (which is one of the best I’ve ever had) and then each had a noodle dish – mine was char keow tow, which is basically my favorite type of flat rice noodle in a soy sauce-based sauce. My favorite part of visiting this restaurant is their choice of desserts. The best thing they have is their homemade klepon (rice balls w/ coconut and palm sugar), but since they were out for the day we opted for the pandan pancakes which were great too. Pair it with a cup of kopi (a Malaysian coffee) and you’ll be very happy.
If you happen to be in the Holloway area, there is a lovely little Japanese place called Roll Papa. Although I wouldn’t go out of your way to visit this particular joint, if you need to find a quick place to eat on Holloway road this is the place to be. I had an amazing udon noodle bowl with chicken katsu (Japanese fried chicken). I think this type of Japanese food is so underrepresented in The Netherlands, whereas in London you could get it on every street corner. I need more udon in my life!
Box park is such a fun place to go with a group for drinks and a bite to eat. I went a number of times and one of the tastier things I ate was this korean rice ‘bowl’. The place I got this from is called Korrito and they are famous for their korean bulgogi beef burrito. I however opted for the korrito fillings on top of rice. It was very tasty but not freshly made (I was a bit disappointed the beef wasn’t made/grilled to order). Still, I would recommend trying this (or the burrito!) with a beer on the side.
On a day I went shopping I treated myself to a lunch at Comptoir, just off Carnaby Street. I believe this is a chain, but I think the concept is super nice. They had a lot of Lebanese dishes I had never heard of before and I was really excited to try something new. I had a fattet, which is basically pieces of fried flatbread topped with in this case lamb kofta, warm tahini yoghurt and fried onion. It was really delicious and flavorful, although halfway through I was kind of bored. That’s why if I were with someone else I would have loved to order one of the mezze platters to taste different things. Also try one of their homemade lemonades, the one with pomegranate was really nice!
As a true foodie I of course had to visit London’s famous Borough Market. I visited 2 or 3 times and quite enjoyed it but wasn’t blown away or anything. I loved nosing around the stalls but never really bought anything except for spelt bread, which I hadn’t found in normal supermarkets. I also bought three Hass avocados for 1 pound (sounds like a great deal right?!) but they were all brown and gross. The courtyard area is definitely the best part of the market, since this is were you can find lots of stands for a (not-so-average) quick bite. My first visit I went for the raclette, because I am obsessed with cheese (but not as much as Cheese is, get it?). The raclette was beautiful and bubbly and melty as they scraped it off and onto boiled potatoes and cornichons. It was delicious, but also quite boring and bland once you get through the first half. The same stand sells some sick-looking grilled cheeses which I unfortunately did not get to try but would recommend based on what I saw. Just look for the stand with the longest queue and you will have found cheese heaven!
Spending time in the UK meant I had to try a traditional Sunday roast. I visited a friend in Edinburgh and on a Sunday morning we had a massive roast in a local pub. I initially wanted the roast that came with a lamb shoulder but unfortunately they were out of lamb and I went for the roast beef instead. This came with all the trimmings: gravy, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, roast carrots and parsnip and some cabbage. I was a bit disappointed when I saw the lamb shoulder at another table (it looked a lot better than my beef) and the venison my friend had was also tastier than mine. Gravy-heavy meals are typically also not my thing but as I said, the meal was incredibly satisfying after a night out. Especially with a huge class of coke on the side.
One thing I loved about London is the wide variety of on the go meals and snacks. I think it is so nice that you are able to get something tasty on every street corner without it being super unhealthy or boring. One of the cutest snacks I came across was this “shwrap” or sushi wrap from Abokado. I love sushi any time of day and although this is of course not the freshest sushi you will find, it does satisfy the craving!
Another great (no, AMAZING) breakfast I had after a night out was at a nice little cafe called Friends of Ours in Hoxton. Their menu is so great, especially since I am very much into big, savory breakfasts and brunch (yes to fried chicken for breakfast!). I had the day’s special which was truly one of the most satisfying breakfasts I’ve ever had. If I remember correctly it was sticky glazed pork belly with parsley potato pancakes, poached eggs, pork crackling and balsamic glaze (insert heart emojis here). Damn, I love pork belly so much and having it for breakfast was such a treat. I would definitely recommend going here, they also have great coffee.
Some other really great places I would recommend eating (or drinking) at in London are:
– Pitfield on Pitfield St. for (iced) coffee and strange furniture: a chill place to sit if you have work to do
– The Jones Family Project on Great Eastern St. for nice cocktails and great atmosphere (lavender mojito was yum)
– The London Coffee Club for very reasonably priced salads and sandwiches
– Keu! on Old Street for amazing banh mi sandwiches
– Cay Tre, Vietnamese food on Old St. with a very extensive menu and wonderful staff