Wednesday, September 7, 2016

UK Food #1: London (Chinatown Bakery, Keu, EAT, Borough Market, Nando's, Greggs, Greenwich Market, Paul Rhodes Bakery, Istanbul Cafe, and Harrods)

I recently took a trip to the United Kingdom. Most of my time was spent in London. This is part one of the food I ate while in the city. The post is long, rambling, in no particular order, but is filled with lots of delicious British food picture...

Chinatown Bakery: 

This was the first place I ate once arriving in the UK. I flew London, checked into where I was staying, and then decided to take a walk and start exploring my surroundings. I ended up in London's Chinatown.
I walked by a very busy place called Chinatown Bakery. Along with all sorts of baked goods, they were making little custard filled fish called Tai Taki at a machine in the window. I was intrigued.

The tai taki were pretty tasty. The cute little fish waffles were filled with very hot, creamy custard. I burnt my tongue on the first one because I wasn't expecting the filling to be so hot.


Keu:

Not long after I had the Chinese fish pastries, I ventured into a nearby Vietnamese restaurant called Keu. I'm still fuzzy on where one neighborhood of London ended and where another began (is neighborhood the proper word?), but I believe this restaurant was in Soho.
I had a banh mi at Keu. The sandwich was not unlike the banh mi sandwiches that I've had back in the US. It was pretty standard with various parts of pig and pickled vegetables served on a French baguette.  The first sandwich ever put into my stomach from Europe filled me up!
It was in this restaurant that I realized I really didn't know proper tipping customs in England. Turned out my server got a very nice tip on top of the included gratuity on the bill...


YHA London Central:

I stayed at a few hostels while on the trip to save money. My first dinner in London was at the restaurant in the hostel I was staying at that evening. I had the Mile End Pizza. The menu described it as black olives, brie, and spinach. I really didn't taste much of the brie, but there was way too much mozzarella. The pizza was a bit of a cheese overload...
I tried a soda called a Tango. It was orange soda...



EAT:

The next morning I had breakfast at a restaurant called EAT. Turned out these were a chain that seemed to have locations around every corner. I ordered an egg pot. This consisted of a poached egg, served over baked beans and topped with avocado and ham hocks. I like the whole beans for breakfast thing.


Borough Market:

I stumbled on Borough Market my accident. It wasn't initially on my list of places to see in London, but walked into it on my way somewhere else. It was a good find because I returned a couple more times during my time in London.
I would rank Borough Market as one of the best food/farmers market I've come across anywhere in my travels so far. The closest food market I've come across to compare was Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, but Borough Market far surpassed it. They had every sort of food imaginable, both ready to eat and fresh.
The first food I had from Borough Market was from a booth called Pieminister. They had all sorts of meat pies.
I tried the Matador. It was filled with British beef steak, chorizo, olives, and butter beans. I had it with a side of creamy mash and gravy.
This pie was delicious. I wish I could find pies like this back home...

I had food from a booth called Nana Fanny's on the second time I visited Borough Market. This booth served an interesting combination of salt beef and falafel. I was tempted by the falafel, but the salt beef preparation looked more fun.
I ordered a sandwich on rye bread. I had the option to get it on a bagel, but the rye seemed more proper for this type of sandwich. The sandwich consisted of thick slices of the salt beef, cheese, cabbage, pickles, and mustard. The beef was sliced right there, as was the cheese (from a huge wheel), then melted with a blowtorch. It was entertaining to watch when a paper plate caught fire a couple sandwiches ahead of mine.
It was similar to a New York style Kosher deli sandwich, only with cheese and more toppings. I liked it!


Nando's:

This was a chicken chain and I saw several locations throughout London. I ended up at a Nando's right up the block from where I was staying. They had a strange setup that perhaps is a British restaurant thing, but I was unfamiliar with this restaurant custom. Nando's was set up like a fast food restaurant where you order at a counter, but they have a host that seats you and gives you menus. You are seated, read the menu, figure out what you want, then go up to the counter to order. I made the mistake of just walking over to the counter to order. They didn't like that very much...
I had a quarter chicken with peas and chips for my sides. There was sauce on the chicken that was pretty tasty. Unfortunately, it didn't really permeate inside the chicken and it was dry and bland below the surface of the meat. Luckily they did have lots of extra sauce around to remedy the bland chicken. I wasn't very impressed...


YHA London Oxford Street:

I stayed at another hostel in Soho while in London where I purchased breakfast one morning. It included a croissant, cheese, and tea. Not much, but it did the trick for breakfast.




Greggs:

This was a similar style coffee/breakfast shop to Eat, but not nearly as prevalent. Greggs had a little more of a Dunkin Donuts feel. I had a bacon and egg sandwich with brown sauce. British bacon is interesting. More like ham that was cooked until crispy rather than the American style fatty bacon. 




Greenwich Market:

Greenwich Market (or all of Greenwich in general) was another place that wasn't on my list of places to visit in London, but I'm glad I found it. My plan for the day was to take a train somewhere out of London, but I was given the suggestion to do that the next day and go to Greenwich for their Saturday food market. After an interesting train ride (switching from the underground subway type trains to elevated driverless trains), I arrived and decided to get lunch from a booth serving Ethiopian food 
The booth had several pots of various meats and side dishes cooking. I ordered the mixed meat box.
When I overwhelmed with what I should choose, they made me a dish with a little of everything in it. There was chicken, lamb, potatoes, spinach, lentils, and more that I'm forgetting, all served over half rice and half couscous. It was all delicious!


Paul Rhodes Bakery:

While wandering around Greenwich after leaving the market, I walked past Paul Rhodes Bakery and saw a tower of some of the most beautiful meringue cookies I've ever seen. Their window display worked because I went in and bought a raspberry meringue. Unfortunately, they looked better than they tasted with a very weak raspberry flavor and the chalky texture got old quick.


Istanbul Cafe & Bistro:

I went to a Turkish restaurant for breakfast one morning and didn't order any Turkish food. I had an English Breakfast. It came with an egg, sausage, bacon, baked beans, toast, and a garnish of arugula. It was very nice. I like beans as a breakfast food...



Harrods:

I almost skipped London's famous department store. When I walked past on my way to a museum, I decided to step inside on a whim. I didn't realize the huge food section that they had in here! Upon seeing all the deliciousness, I found myself at the pastry counter and ordered a cream cheese & peach vatrushka.
I'm not sure if I've ever had a vatrushka in the past, but the thin slices of peach over a cheesy filling, all in a cake-like bread was very tasty!

Part Two of food from my UK Trip is coming soon...


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