Tag Archives: Asian

Sushi Samba

Sushi Samba… Doesn’t the name just excite you? A fusion of Japanese, Brazilian, and Peruvian cuisine to make your taste buds jump. Clearly I’m a fan.

After  living in London for a while, we were craving some mochi and decided to have lunch at the restaurant. After booking a few days in advance, I feel like you have to book at Sushi Samba not matter the time of day, we were riding the stupidly fast elevator up to the restaurant.

We arrived a few minutes early and decided to have some cocktails. I had the Kaffirinha and Lee the Plantain Punch and they were delicious. A great way to start lunch, as the cocktails arrived the table became ready.

I’ve been to Sushi Samba a few times, but this is the first time I had a table right next to a window with a view and it’s definitely something to enjoy on a Friday afternoon: great cocktails with a clear view of London.

While sipping on the cocktails, we ordered a few dishes to share: plantain chips; lobster taquitos; wagyu gyoza; lamb chops; and the Tokyo Sky Tree.

One of my favourite dishes from Sushi Samba is the plantain chips. It’s a crispy dish that’s enhanced with aji amarillo sauce. A sauce that’s spicy and creamy. In case you don’t know, aji amarillo is a pepper that’s found in Peru. It’s spicy but it also has a fruity flavour (which makes it a bit sweet). That’s why I enjoy the plantain chips. The dish provides crunchiness, spice, and sweetness. And I can easily go through a plate by myself.

Next the wagyu gyoza arrived. And that blew my mind. Combined with the kabocha (a Japanese squash), the gyoza was meaty and delicious. The sesame and su-shoyu sauce added saltiness. The dish definitely hit the umami and salt taste areas.

The lobster taquitos were disappointing. The taquitos were crunchy but the fried lobster was odd. I think the taquitos were saved by the aji amarillo. It’s definitely a dish I wouldn’t order again.

And then onto the biggest mistake I made: ordering the lamb chops. Zuma has ruined any other restaurant’s lamb chops, but these lamb chops were of poor quality. The chops were fatty and difficult to eat. And the portions that were edible were few and far between. Without a doubt, I would never order this again. Never! I should’ve complained but waiters were difficult to find.

The last dish was the Tokyo Sky Tree and it was delicious. I enjoyed the spicy and crunchy lotus root, the crunch of the fish, and the spiciness of the mayo. Overall a delicious sushi dish. And one that I’d happily order again and again. And it’s quite filling.

After the dishes were done, I ordered another cocktail (the Shiso Fine – excellent again) and we ordered two mochis for dessert. I’ll be honest, the only reason we came to Sushi Samba was for the mochi (soft Japanese rice cakes filled with ice-cream). The dessert came with three mochi flavours: pineapple and coconut, mango, and green tea. While the mochi was fresh and yummy, the white chocolate sauce was limited. I’ve been to Sushi Samba earlier this year and they weren’t so stingy with the white chocolate sauce.

I never noticed before but the dishes at Sushi Samba are either hit or miss. A dish is either done brilliantly or not. And for it’s reputation, it is a bit disappointing. But given the price point, I guess it’s not the crème de la crème of Asian Fusion restaurants in London.

What did annoy me was the service. From entering the restaurant to ordering and receiving the main dishes, the service was fantastic and fast. It was easy to get a waiter. But after the last main dish, service definitely slowed down. It took approximately 15 minutes to find a waiter to order dessert and another 15 minutes to find a waiter to ask for the bill.

After all of that, will I be back? Yes. While Sushi Samba does have it’s faults, some of its dishes are well-worth the hassle. And I’m well aware of the dishes that never disappoint. One top of the food, the cocktails are great and on most occasions, the service is great.

Sushi Samba is located in Herron Tower and gives you a fantastic view of London, if you’re lucky to get a table next to a window.

I give Sushi Samba 3 cupcakes

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Review guide:

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No rating (read: why have you even bothered to open)

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Poor (read: shit)

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Average (read: meh)

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Good (read: above mediocrity)

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Very Good (read: fling your money at them. It’s worth it)

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Extraordinary (read: if you have to make a sacrifice to be here, do it)

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Chino Latino

In London you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to food, which makes it an adventure to try out as many Asian fusion restaurants as possible. One that I stumbled upon was Chino Latino, a Japanese-Peruvian restaurant located in Embankment (in the Park Plaza Hotel, to be precise).

As the restaurant is located in a hotel we didn’t expect it to be bursting with colour. The hotel itself was quite vibrant inside, making it difficult to concentrate as you walked up the stairs. But the restaurant itself has a relaxed atmosphere, mostly due to the red lighting and decor. Being a Wednesday night, the restaurant was not busy but the music from the bar definitely set the tone.

After being seated with a view of the street (if you’re at the bar you can get a view of the river) we ordered cocktails and a few plates to share.

Cocktails were the Secret Geisha (a gin based drink) and Laced With Trace (a bourbon based drink). The Secret Geisha was sweet but enjoyable. The bourbon cocktail was a bit too strong for me (I’m not a bourbon type of girl) but my boyfriend starting enjoying it after a few sips. I thought it could put hair on any chest. Overall, the cocktails were great.

For the food, we ordered: wagyu beef taquitos; edamame, amarillo maki roll; duck breast; moqueca camarão; and calamari.

Surprisingly, the amarillo maki roll was the first to arrive at the table. Since we were starving, we dug right in (at least I remembered to take a photo). The sushi burst with flavour, due to the freshness of the fish and aji amariilo. I’m not a fan of tuna, of any kind, but I would happily eat more.

The edamame was also tasty and well-coated with salt. Many places don’t get this right and you have to dig for the salt at the bottom of the bowl.

I wasn’t too much of a fan of the calamari, that was coated in tamarind and served with tomato, red onion, and mint. I found the tamarind overwhelmed the calamari (which was cooked perfectly) and the tomato, red onion, and mint did not add flavour. I did, however, enjoy the crunchiness of the calamari.

My favourite dish was the wagyu beef taquitos. The taquitos were crunchy and were oozing with flavour. It definitely had enough spice and the beef was tender. I’d have this dish over and over again.

The duck main course consisted of an aji amarillo and marjorama. It was a tasty dish and the duck was tender, but I found it to be a bit too sweet for me.

The prawn main course (Moqueca camarão) on the other hand was divine and warmed you up. It was a simple coconut curry but the prawns were firm and plentiful. And the dish had a bit of heat.

Throughout the dinner, the service at the restaurant was great. Until we were done with the main dishes. At this point, it became difficult to find any waiters and we waited about 10-15 minutes before a waiter emerged. This was quite frustrating, as we had finished eating and were now just waiting. Once we had paid the bill, we had to look for the host to get my coat. Once at the front of the restaurant/bar, we couldn’t find anyone to assist us.

I would like to go back to Chino Latino because of those taquitos and the sushi. The service was also good until we were ready to order dessert/tea and pay the bill. But I think it may be best to go when the restaurant is a little bit more busy and more waiters are available.

Based on my experience, I’ve given Chino Latino 3 cupcakes:

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Review guide:

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No rating (read: why have you even bothered to open)

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Poor (read: shit)

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Average (read: meh)

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Good (read: above mediocrity)

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Very Good (read: fling your money at them. It’s worth it)

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Extraordinary (read: if you have to make a sacrifice to be here, do it)

Momo Baohaus

Bao… You know that soft steamed Chinese bun filled with delicious ingredients. The bun is light and airy and oh so delicious. Yeah that good stuff. I’ve been having difficulty finding good bao in Pretoria so when Momo Baohaus caught my eye as I was passing Greenside in Joburg I knew that’s where I was having lunch.

Momo Baohaus serves Asian dishes and specialises in bao, bowls (rice, noodles, and wokked greens), and sushi. And every dish on the menu looks tasty.

Some treats before ordering

From the street the restaurant looked empty but as soon as we were standing outside my friends and I were shocked by how full the restaurant was. We got the last table! And we still had to turn it into a table for 3.

As soon as we were seated menus appeared and a couple minutes later (yes, two minutes) a waiter was ready to take our drinks order. A friend and I decided to be adventurous and tried the Turkish delight lemonade and the lemongrass yuzu ginger beer. Surprisingly, the lemonade wasn’t too sweet. And it was tasty. The ginger beer was also tasty and had a bit of a tart taste and a bit acidic. But both drinks were delicious and refreshing.

Lemongrass yuzu ginger beer and Turkish delight lemonande

For food we wanted to order everything or at least I wanted to order everything. We started off with tapas: Korean fried chicken wings (spicy, crispy and dripping with sauce. So yummy); stir fried greens spring rolls (bland but the sweet chili sauce made it enjoyable); and the szechuan prawn wontons (the best of the 3: spicy, tender, and mouth-watering). The wontons are a must.

After that tasty treat we ordered bowls and bao. The Kung Pow bao definitely has a kick, thanks to the  gochujang (a red chili paste that is sweet, savoury, and spicy). The beef was crunchy and the bao was tender and sweet. It was perfect.

For the bowls we ordered the szechuan (chicken with noodles); Bangkok (beef with jasmine rice); and Seoul (beef with noodles). The szechuan bowl was the best of out all 3. The chicken was tender and spicy and the sauce was delicious. Definitely a dish to try. The Bangkok was also delicious but it could’ve had just a bit of sauce. Nonetheless the beef was delicious. The Seoul dish was also tasty. Although I having more than one shiitake mushroom would’ve been great and the beef was a bit too crunchy for me. Still, all the bowls were cooked well and were unique and tasty.

The food at Momo Baohaus is delicious and flavourful. Many of the dishes leave you craving for more. And the dishes are huge so you have enough for later in the day or for the next morning (when the flavours will be even stronger).

The service is also great! There was almost no wait between the dishes, which created only one problem: we ran out of space on the table.

I give Momo Baohaus 3.5 cupcakes (and order the wontons):

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Review guide:

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No rating (read: why have you even bothered to open)

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Poor (read: shit)

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Average (read: meh)

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Good (read: above mediocrity)

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Very Good (read: fling your money at them. It’s worth it)

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Extraordinary (read: if you have to make a sacrifice to be here, do it)

Manga, Cape Town

I love anime and manga. My favourite anime is Blood Plus and manga is Death Note. So it made sense that a restaurant called Manga would peak my interest.

Manga is located in Mouille Point in Cape Town. As soon as you walk through the sliding glass doors, various images of anime characters  appear before you. If you enjoy anime, it’s an amazing sight.

After finding a seat, we waited. And waited and waited. Eventually, we managed to get the attention of a waiter to find out how ordering works. At Manga your order is placed on the menus provided. We thought this was the case but there was nothing to write with.

Once we ordered the dishes, we were keen to order some sake. However, the waiter had no idea what type of sake was unavailable. After going to check with the bar our waiter returned with no sake. There was none as the restaurant had run out. So we ordered juice because the next thing we ordered wasn’t available as: passion fruit and lemonade.

As soon as we had our juices, the food arrived. It wasn’t a long wait. We ordered quite a bit: edamame beans with miso salt, crispy calamari, Manga rainbow reloaded, salmon nigiri, sticky pork belly, sakura crunch roll and rocket wasabi roll.

The best dish out of all the dishes was the crispy calamari with garlic chips, coriander, spring onion and hoisin. It was nice but nothing to get excited over.

Crispy calamari

The rest of the dishes were poorly executed: The sushi was also decent but it didn’t taste fresh; The pork belly was spicy and crunchy but it was too crunchy. It became difficult to eat and we eventually gave up and lastly, the edamame was, for lack of a better word, dead. There was barely any salt on it. It also wasn’t an enjoyable dish.

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Sakura Crunch Roll
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Manga Rainbow Reloaded
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Salmon Nigiri
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Rocket Wasabi Roll

Manga could really be an interesting restaurant. It’s situated in a beautiful part of Cape Town and you can have a bit of an ocean view from the restaurant. Once you have a waiter, the service is great. But it is disappointing when you try to order something and it’s not available or the waiter has no idea what is available.

In terms of food, there was only one dish that I almost finished. The rest were not tasty. And as the fish was not fresh, Lee became sick. Not something you want when you eat at a restaurant.

Based on my experience, I give Manga 1 cupcake.

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Review guide:

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No rating (read: why have you even bothered to open)

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Poor (read: shit)

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Average (read: meh)

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Good (read: above mediocrity)

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Very Good (read: fling your money at them. It’s worth it)

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Extraordinary (read: if you have to make a sacrifice to be here, do it)

Paulina’s Restaurant Review

Keeping in theme with Women’s Month in South Africa, I reviewed Paulina’s Restaurant located at Rickety Bridge in Franschoek. Paulina’s is named after the owner Paulina de Villiers who was the first women farm owner in the winelands. The only daughter among 3 brothers, Paulina de Villiers was granted part of the land in 1757.

IMG_5396IMG_5400A friend of mine and I visited Paulina’s under the recommendation of another friend, who mentioned that it normally gets quite busy. Under this assumption, we phoned ahead and booked a table 20 minutes before we got there. Thinking that the restaurant was quite accommodating, we were excited. However, upon arrival the waiter who assisted us had no idea of the booking. Nonetheless, they managed to accommodate us, giving us a reserved table which we were pretty sure was originally reserved for us.

Menu
Menu

Having a quick look at the menu and we were ready to order. I ordered the pork belly, served with sweet potato and ginger puree, and my friend had the cajun grilled baby Patagonica calamari. Both of which were full orders (Paulina’s also offers half meals so that you can sample more meals).

Pork belly with Foundation Stone Red wine
Pork belly with Foundation Stone Red wine

The pork belly was delectable. The pork was tender and the pork crackling crunchy. The ginger sauce with sweet chili provided a hint of spiciness without being overpowering. The sweet potato and ginger puree was a bit bland and had a hint of ginger, which I thought it needed more of. The exotic mushrooms accompanying the dish consisted of enoki mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms and were delicious. The mushrooms brought about an earthiness to the dish complimenting the pork belly, while the bok choi was crunchy.  The individual elements complimented each other well, pulled together by the ginger that was infused into the various elements of the dish. It was a good thing that the puree wasn’t overpowered with ginger ;-).

The pork belly was paired with the estate’s vintage range, the Foundation Stone Red wine, which is named after the foundation stone upon which the farm was built. On it’s own, the wine was tart with strong dark berry and chocolate flavour coming through. Paired with the pork belly, the wine became less tart. However, the wine overpowered the meal. I feel that the pork belly could have been paired with a better red wine that compliments that dish better.

Calamari and chorizo with Rickety Bridge Chardonnay
Calamari and chorizo with Rickety Bridge Chardonnay

I tried my friend’s calamari and must admit that the dish was not as mouth-watering as the pork belly. The calamari was grilled and cooked well. But was unseasoned and required the green chili sauce, that came with the dish, to make it palatable. However the chorizo stole the show, supplied by Pierre’s Cured Meat (upcoming blog). The spiciness and smokiness of the chorizo was appetizing, making you wish there was more of it on the plate. The dish also came with a salad but why the cherry tomatoes were slightly cooked was beyond me. It added nothing to the dish, whereas having uncooked salad elements added freshness. Once all elements were tried together, without the tomatoes, the dish was tasty, with all elements falling into place. The calamari and chorizo was paired with the Rickety Bridge Chardonnay and the wine’s fruitiness paired well with the calamari.

Overall, the food at Paulina’s was delicious. Add to this the ambiance of the Franschoek mountains and your experience is magnified. The service was a bit slow but the restaurant was busy. However, the willingness of the waiters to answer all your questions and give you tastes of the wines makes Paulina’s a restaurant that is worth visiting again.

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I give Paulina’s 3.5 out of 5 cupcake

Review guide:

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Fair                Cupcake-Outline-Vector colour Cupcake-Outline-Vector Cupcake-Outline-Vector Cupcake-Outline-Vector Cupcake-Outline-Vector

Good             Cupcake-Outline-Vector colour Cupcake-Outline-Vector colour Cupcake-Outline-Vector Cupcake-Outline-Vector Cupcake-Outline-Vector

Very Good    Cupcake-Outline-Vector colour Cupcake-Outline-Vector colour Cupcake-Outline-Vector colour Cupcake-Outline-Vector Cupcake-Outline-Vector

Excellent        Cupcake-Outline-Vector colour Cupcake-Outline-Vector colour Cupcake-Outline-Vector colour Cupcake-Outline-Vector colour Cupcake-Outline-Vector

Extraordinary Cupcake-Outline-Vector colour Cupcake-Outline-Vector colour Cupcake-Outline-Vector colour Cupcake-Outline-Vector colour Cupcake-Outline-Vector colour

Cape Town Street Food Festival

Hi everyone,

This is my very first blog. As in EVER! I’ve had a passion for food since my teens, however ever since moving to Cape Town in 2012 I’ve become obsessed with street food and, in particular, food trucks. It’s come to a point where travelling to foreign countries involves exploring the street food.

So you can imagine my excitement when I found out about the Cape Town Street Food Festival a few months ago. The festival took place on Sunday, 26th July 2015 at the Side Street Studios in Woodstock (Hipster central. I think there needs to be a saying that where there’s a hipster, there’s amazing food 😛 haha).

Getting there just before lunch, with the backdrop of the gorgeous Table Mountain, the place was swimming with people. While the turnout was fantastic, the lack of space left me feeling claustrophobic.

Entrance of Side Street Studios
In the thick of it

However, that couldn’t deter me from exploring the area. Most of the food trucks in Cape Town were there – Lotus Food Truck, Didis Bitchin’ Burritos, Stack That, Wahine, Pizza Piaggio and Meisies Kitchen Food Truck. Since the lines at the food trucks were either super long or sold out,  I opted for dim sum from Yum Dim Sum, which only does catering. Nonetheless, the Dim Sum was great! The fillings were interesting (one had spinach and feta, and the other salmon), while the duck succulent. If they had a regular place I’d be there often.

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Yum Dim Sum and Hope on Hopkins Distillery

Although, that didn’t count as a meal for me. So I grabbed an Asian wrap (pork) from the Lotus Food Truck – my go to when in doubt. As usual, the wrap was fresh and crisp thanks to the vegetables and the pork tender (although there’s was more fat than needed).

This amazing food was topped off with a gin cocktail from Hope on distillery. A craft gin that I’ve come to enjoy after being introduced to it at Mother’s Ruin Gin Bar.

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Waffle on a stick. Unfortunately sold out before I could get to  it.
Waffle on a stick. Unfortunately sold out before I could get to it.

All in all, it was a great day out. The once-in-a-while warm winter weather of Cape Town, the buzz of Capetownians, the amazing food and thirst-quenching drinks contributed to the success of the second Cape Town Street Food Festival. However, I think a bigger venue is needed for next year.