I won’t call this a guide of what you should eat in London, because I only stayed there for six days and there were so many places I didn’t have a chance to try. But having known my stay in London was going to be pretty short, I did my fair share of research (actually now that I look back, I spent most of my summer just looking for… food) and I made an effort to try delicacies as diverse as possible when I was there. But seriously though, it was so hard to stick to my restaurants list because every turn of the corner you see adorable cafes, chic bistros, classy restaurants that just look too good to miss!
Anyway, here is a selected compilation of the restaurants and eateries I visited in London, in no particular order. There will be a separate post just on fish and chips, so stay tuned!
A relatively affordable Italian restaurant that gives you more bang of a buck than most other London restaurants, Polpo offers a nice variety of antipasti, desserts, and alcoholic beverages. The dishes came out pretty quickly, and the small plates are just right for those who have a small appetite but want to try everything without overindulging. Polpo prides themselves in their meatballs, but to me the meatballs tasted bland and coarse and were unmemorable compared to the other dishes. Try their octopus & fennel carpaccio, crab & chilli linguine and salads. Overall the food reminded me of good homecooked food, lack of a wow-factor but still worth the experience.
Located on the 33rd floor of the Shard, you get an almost panoramic view of London from the top in this Chinese restaurant. The environment is classy, the view is nice, the service was good and really friendly, but holy cow their food was so not worth the price. The dim sums’ skins were mealy instead of firm, and the vegetable fried noodles were appallingly tasteless and poorly executed. Even their signature Peking duck failed to impress, along with other classic Chinese dishes that were all pretty average. With this particular location and price range, Hutong could seriously do better.
3. Duck & Waffle
The highest restaurant in England, this place offers sophisticated European cuisine and is opened 24-7. The view is simply breathtaking, and the restaurant boasts a modern, slightly rustic interior and has a beautiful bar area. The food here is interesting, if not exotic. Their classics are all combinations of sweet and savory -duck & waffle, spicy ox cheek doughnut, bacon wrapped dates, etc. My favorites from the meal were the rosemary & garlic bread and the watercrest salad. As the staple item of the restaurant, the duck & waffle was a disappointment. The duck leg conflit was mediocre, the waffle was slightly sweet but too dry, and the combination lacked the surprise taste I had expected. Oh well, it was still a fine, classy lunch.
4. Dozo Sushi
I had a great meal at this fine Japanese restaurant located in Soho. I am a little over the Japanese food phase, but this restaurant delivers fresh and delicious dishes that really delighted my palette. They are a little pricey, I have to say, but it was totally worth it, especially when you are located in the heart of London. The Unagi Don was one of the best I’ve had, and the portion was pretty big too. Don’t miss this spot if you crave exquisite Japanese food and want a good dining experience.
5. Borough Market
Environment: N/A (It’s an outdoor market)
I LOVE THIS PLACE. It’s every foodie’s dream come true. Get your ass there if you’re like me, who loves gawking at the immense variety of food, feeling super indecisive, then finally splurging on as much food as your stomach can handle. There are french pastries, fresh grilled cheese, Turkish delights, Frankfurter sausages, loaves of bread… everything is fresh, and there are plenty of samples for you to try.The market has this chill, local vibe that I absolutely love, and even the rainy day that I went on didn’t dampen my mood at all.
6. Byron Hamburgers
This posh burger chain boasts “We make proper burgers” and damn right they do. They are located all over London, but that doesn’t change their quality and service. The patty is cooked to medium, fresh to order and very juicy and tender, the burger bun slightly toasted and won’t get soggy easily. Each restaurant has a casual, modern interior, and isn’t rowdy or noisy like some other burger chains. The price is a little high, £6.75 (USD$10.5, HKD $81) for a single palm sized burger that doesn’t come with fries. But it’s a tasty burger that is worthwhile to splurge on once in a while.
7. Mad Hatter Afternoon Tea at the Montagu, Grand Hyatt
I spent quite a lot of time looking up afternoon tea places in London and it was with great effort that I finally decided to pick the Montagu. The tea’s theme is Alice in the Wonderland, so everything was colorful and adorable. Even the menu was a big poker card, and almost each food item is inspired by a character or place from the story. The savory sandwiches and wraps are absolutely delicious, especially the crab sandwiches, and the tea and scones were all very fresh. But we could barely finish the sweet stuff because they were just so overwhelmingly sweet and undistinctive. The desserts’ taste were not on par with their appearances, as I would prefer an airier macaron shell and fluffier cake. The sweet items were mediocre, but the price per person of this tea was anything but. £38 (USD 60 and HKD 450) per person is definitely overpriced for what they deliver, but since it’s a hotel… I guess we were also paying for the fancy environment and exceptional service.
Apart from main meals, there were also other local delicacies that really highlighted my London food adventure. Here is a list of honorable mentions, don’t miss these out if you have a sweet tooth!
Gelato Mio Ice Cream (gelato)
Gelateria 3BIS (gelato)
Pink Lady apples
Clotted cream ice cream
Yogi (frozen yogurt)
Pastries (Patisserie Valerie‘s raspberry tart is really good!)
Thorntons (gelato and chocolate)