It is no surprise to most people when I say that London is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. While this is a brilliant fact for several reasons, I particularly love how this effects their food scene. Last week in Part 1 of this food series, I shared with you some of my favorite, more traditional English restaurants.
While looking through photos of my trip, I quickly realized how many Asian restaurants I went to. If you know me at all, this really isn’t much of a surprise so I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you this week!
The Drunken Monkey is about a stone’s throw away from Shoreditch High Street tube station so you know it’s going to be pretty damn cool. This Chinese-style bar and restaurant really has it all with a giant menu offering delicious and (extremely) well priced dim sum, noodles, rice dishes, and cleverly named cocktails. I shouldn’t have been surprised, any restaurant with the word “drunken” in their name was bound to be awesome.
As you can see above, my friend and I ordered the beef ho fun noodles (go for the Singapore noodles if you want something with more spice!), vegetable gyoza, steamed chicken buns, and honey smoked crispy chicken. These four dishes were definitely enough for the two of us and didn’t cost more than 10 pounds each. If I can walk away from any London restaurant without spending more than a tenner, I’m a happy girl. The honey smoked crispy chicken was our absolute favorite dish and my only regret is sharing it.
My favorite part about The Drunken Monkey has got to be their happy hour. I consider myself a happy hour connoisseur in Los Angeles but since Londoners really don’t need an excuse to drink early, you won’t find many happy hour deals in London. The Drunken Monkey surprised me when I saw that they have an ALL DAY Happy Hour on Sunday, Monday – Friday from 5 – 7 PM and Saturday from 12 – 8 PM. You can order 4 beers for 10 pounds or any of their cocktails for 4.50. I was sold.
This cosy little restaurant is located just off of crazy Oxford Street, making it a perfect place to grab some food and rest your feet after shopping which is just what I did! Their Soho location is just one out of 8 locations in London, the newest one opening in Chiswick this month. I had to throw that in because I used to live in Chiswick last year!
I made sure to try a few of their starters for, you know, research. I found out later that their starters are all under 200 calories so that made me feel much better. I would definitely recommend mud chien (fried baby squid) and goi cuon (rice paper summer rolls with chicken) pictured above but my favorite was the hem hai san (large crispy spring roll with tiger prawn, crab, and pork). Of course I wasn’t able to take a photo of that because I ate it in seconds. Maybe next time…
You obviously cannot leave without ordering a giant bowl of pho which is a Vietnamese noodle soup. I also heard that the bun bo hue (hot and spicy brisket beef) that I ordered is a great hangover cure. Things can start to get a bit splashy while eating pho so they kindly offer bibs. Yes, bibs! I’m not joking. Another favorite (again, not pictured, gone in 30 seconds) was their fresh apple, mint, and lime juice. I’m a fan of all things apple so these three flavors together were perfection. Also note that every pho dish is under 500 calories. I try not to count calories while I’m at a restaurant (or ever) but I thought this was pretty impressive. There’s also no way you’ll finish a bowl of pho in one go so they’ll kindly offer you a takeaway box which was very much appreciated.
If that wasn’t enough already, this beautiful green pancake magically floated over to our table. Banh la dua is a pandan pancake with roasted coconut served with honey and ginger ice cream. Yes. A million times yes.
I thought I’d shake things up a bit, step far outside my comfort zone, and take a cooking class! Best decision ever.
Famous British Chef Jamie Oliver opened Recipease in Notting Hill almost two years ago. Here you’ll find a beautiful food and kitchen shop where you can eat (their breakfast in AMAZING), learn to cook, and shop your little heart out. I chose the cooking option and was excited to attend their Thai Dinner Feast cooking lesson. I had taken their Mexican Street Food cooking class before and loved it so I had high expectations this time around. I wasn’t disappointed.
Simon, our wonderful cooking instructor, had set up a station for all 10 of us with everything we were going to need for the day. Don’t be intimidated by the fact that you’re cooking in this gorgeous open kitchen while customers are eating all around you. I was terrified at first seeing as how I can barely scramble an egg but you do not have to be a skilled cook to take this class. Simon explained to us that Thai food is all about a balance of flavors: sweet, spicy, sour, and salty.
We had an hour and a half and three courses to make. Simon would make one course at a time and show us each step, then send us off to our station to cook our meal. He was extremely knowledgeable and passionate about cooking and would walk around making sure everyone understood what to do. In the end, we had made a delicious Thai feast which consisted of a sweet and sour prawn (shrimp to us Americans!) soup, sticky stir fried beef, a Thai inspired salad with long stem broccoli, pak choi, spring greens and a coconut rice pudding with spicy pineapple on top that Simon had made for us.
We dug right in and ate with the class which was a wonderful experience. I especially recommend these classes to any solo traveler as a way to meet some great people. Everyone agreed that the sticky stir fried beef was the winner; the beef was so tender with the perfect balance of flavors that we learned about. Luckily, Recipease will email you the recipes so you can re-create these dishes at home for your family and friends. I cannot recommend these classes enough. They start at around 45 pounds and have deals somtimes where you can save money if you bring a friend. I learned a lot, I ate a lot, and even walked away with a couple of new friends!
I’ll be back soon with Part 3 which will be my last post in my London food series. Trust me, I saved the best for last! What are your favorite restaurants in London? I’d love to know!
*Note: I did receive a complimentary ticket for my Recipease Thai Feast Cooking Class. Opinions are entirely my own. I would only ever recommend something that I actually enjoyed and support!