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Ping Pong, London

After a few meals in London, we were starting to crave something Asian so when my boss spotted Ping Pong in Soho, there was no doubt where lunch would be.

The restaurant’s decor is quite chic to be honest, and very much different from usual Chinatown joints with its sleek black accents. But from thereon after, things didn’t quite impress as much anymore. The reception was lukewarm to be honest and our waiter seemed to be quite abrupt and indifferent. I even had problems trying to hail him down to refill my tea’s hot water! But on that note, must commend the supervisor for stepping in to do so.

Our drinks – Lychee & Grape & Flowering Jasmine. Both were very refreshing.

To start, salt & pepper pork crackling. Reminds me of the ones we get in Bali, perfect to go with beer but these were not as crispy as I hoped. Still, an interesting starter.

Shrimp Toast, topped with sesame seeds. Bouncy and crisp.

I can’t really remember what dumpling this is anymore. If i am not mistaken this was probably the spicy hot vegetable dumpling. Still, it looks pretty inviting, hehe.

Soft Shell Crab. Looks good but tasted so-so. The Japs do it better 😛

Translucent chive dumplings with king prawns in them. Beautiful to look at and one of the better tasting ones.

King prawns & scallop sticky rice with carrots and bamboo shoots. Definitely an upgrade from the usual sticky rice parcels we get back home. Quite nice.

Some mixed vegetable spring rolls. A bit smaller than the ones back home but no scrimping on ingredients.

This was something I really wanted to try when I saw it on the menu, a lobster dumpling but it was unavailable so snapped this off the menu instead. Perhaps the lucky ones who tried it can tell me how it was!

Our lunch for 4 came up to about £190 including drinks & VAT. Overall verdict, dim sum was mediocre and overpriced. But if you’re big on presentation and ambience, this is a nice place to be dining at.

Ping Pong (www)
45 Great Marlborough Street
Soho W1F 7JL
Open : Mon-Sat 12pm-12am; Sun 12pm-1030pm

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Flatplanet, London

We were looking for breakfast around the Soho area when we spotted Flatplanet. As we entered to check out their handwritten menu on the blackboard, the guy behind the counter offered us a taste of their breakfast flatbread. And after that, we needed no further persuasion, heh.

So Flatplanet serves a range of wheat free spelt flatbreads with a variety of toppings but unfortunately for us, they only have the breakfast topping then. The other varieties are from lunch onwards. But whilst waiting, we enjoyed exploring around. The decor here is very much like the kitschy cafes that are slowly appearing in Malaysia – mismatched furniture, old school chairs, nolstagic olden day items… It was all very cosy. And I noticed another flight of stairs going down, where the washroom was located. But that was not all, they had a bigger seating area, with more retro furniture and even a pinboard with random snippets of stuff. How interesting. Could easily see myself spending time here with my friends, catching up.

So the only breakfast item was the All Day Breakfast flatbread which uses pancetta, free range egg, tomatoes, some brown sauce & onion marmalade as the topping. We loved it. Crispy flatbread base and fresh toppings was quite a winning combination.

And the coffee’s not bad too! Hope to be back again to try some other toppings!

Flatplanet (www)
37-39 Great Marlborough Street,
London, W1F

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Zuma, London

Have heard loads about Zuma being THE japanese restaurant in London to go. And when we were told we were having a business dinner there, was quite excited to see what the fuss is all about. Zuma prides itself as the informal izakaya where executives, professionals i.e. white-collars gather after work to catch up. I was expecting a restaurant that’s more relaxed and casual based on that but the atmosphere was much more chaotic than I hoped. “Bustling” is what comes to mind when I first stepped into the place. I could barely see past the group of people waiting at the reception area.

When we were seated, could finally have a good look at the restaurant. The bar area was packed! And then we were told that the sake & cocktails here more sought out than the food. Heh. As the interior was done by super potato, naturally it was very clean with lots of wood and stone accents.

We started off with edamame, which was lightly dusted with salt.

Then maguro no tataki, which is seared tuna with chili daikon and ponzu sauce.

Next, some ika no kari kari age. crispy fried squid with green chilli and salt. Served piping hot, it had none of the rubbery texture but I felt I preferred the chinese style of cooking squid with pepper & salt more. Also had arjun cho toro which is prime tuna with thinly sliced spring onions.

This is tenagaebi no tempura or fried langoustines with red chili dashi & onions. The langoustines, or more known as scampis was succulent and juicy. Probably my favourite for the night.

Our London associate highly recommended the marinated black cod in hoba leaf. The fish is very tender and rich to taste. Love the glazed skin.

Suzuki No Osashimi, thinly sliced seabass with yuzu and truffle oil.

Ise ebi, lobster with spicy ponzu sauce. I think was expecting a bigger lobster, but the sweetness and succulence of the meat on this baby sure made up for it.

The highlight of the meal was definitely the dessert boat. Look at that spread! Their most popular desserts along with tropical fruits are all featured in one setting. It’s indeed an explosion of flavours and textures. One could try all their signature desserts such as the molten chocolate cake, tropical chawan mushi with exotic fruits, sorbet, green tea & banana cake etc. Most of the exotic fruits were of course not so exotic to us Malaysians as it’s what we get over here all the time – rambutans, dragon fruit, passion fruit etc. But I can understand their appeal to the Londoners.

Overall, I applaud Zuma for having beautifully presented dishes. But I believe the tastiest sashimi is still best served fresh, with no frills. In fact I believe for the same price, we can get fresher seafood with more choices back here or even in Japan. Service wise I applaud our waiter for his patience with us. But for the others who served our dishes, the food was just plonked on the table without a single word. I guess they are so overwhelmed with the crowd that they are trying to serve everyone in time? The tables were cleared quickly which seems to nudge us to making way for the next party. As we were leaving, we were barely given a glance by the cloakroom people even. How’s that for being “memorable”? Lol. But still, it was interesting experiencing Zuma…

Zuma (www)
5, Raphael Street,
London SW7 1DL

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Hix, London

I have been meaning to blog for a while. But an impromptu work trip that brought me to London (!) right before CNY threw quite a lot off balance, schedule wise. Got back in the evening of the eve of CNY eve, which saw us “transiting” before catching the first flight back to Miri for CNY. All this excitement must have done me in as I fell sick immediately after I got back to KL. Even that took a while for me to recover.

But now that the dust has settled, am going to quickly share about my London meal experiences before I start forgetting! Most of the meals were with clients/suppliers so it wasn’t easy to capture proper shots so please excuse the blurriness. 🙂

The work site was situated in London’s Soho area and acting on the concierge’s recommendation, we went to Hix. Reservations are encouraged and we were very lucky to get a table for lunch even without one. Only upon googling for reviews after my Hix lunch did I find out that it’s one of the few restaurants that is owned by British chef Mark Hix. He’s known to be famous for English classics.

The design of the restaurant was somewhat quirky with all kinds of hanging mobiles and installations from the ceiling. The entrance itself is quite a statement as it’s this gigantic, full height wooden door that is easy to miss as part of a feature wall. Lucky we had a guy with us as it wasn’t easy pushing the door open! We were early but as the lunch crowd started filling in, the noise level became considerably higher so our work discussion gradually gave way to more casual subjects.

The menu at Hix changes daily due to the availability of ingredients and seasons, but some favourites are regularly available as they are pretty much the comfort food for the English who frequent this place. I wasn’t sure about photographing the food in front of people I have just met for work so I only managed to sneak a shot of the roast pork belly I had.

It was served with snails and baby carrots. The beautiful, crisp skin you see if worthy of a mention. And as delightful as the pink, juicy pork was, by the time I was halfway through the slab of meat, it was starting to feel a bit too much.

One of our London associates had the classic Fish fingers with mushy peas and it looked really inviting. Coated with breadcrumbs, the fish fingers were moist and perfectly cooked. We all shared the chips, which was satisfyingly addictive.

The reviews of this place is pretty mixed, with some loving it, and some preferring other Hix’s restaurants. As for me, I enjoyed whatever I had tried during this lunch, but believes that I haven’t tried enough “signature” dishes here to give my verdict so that alones warrants a revisit, no?

Hix (www)
66-70, Brewer Street,
London, W1F 9UP
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