X’mas Eve @ Bernerds Tavern, Edition Horel

Merry Christmas, everyone!
Hope you are having a joyous holiday with your loved ones.
Hubbie & I are having a lazy lie-in this morning because we stayed up rather late last night. We celebrated our Christmas Eve at Berners Taverm, The London Edition on Berners Street.
I was eyeing this particular restaurant with curiosity every time I caught a glimpse of their amazing looking dining room through the windows. So when Hubbie asked me where I would like to be taken to for the dinner on the 24th, I didn’t hesitate to nominate the place.

We arrived at the hotel at 19:00 sharp. The hotel was a stone’s throw from the Sanderson, by the way…

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A funky looking Christmas tree graced the lobby…

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The restaurant was busy with brimful of diners already…

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Don’t you love their decor?…

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Shortly afterward, we were led to our table…

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Every space on the walls was hung with frames arts and it was quite a sight…

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From my seat, I could get a glimpse of their sleek kitchen and I loved the contrast between modem and old-fashioned…

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For starters, I had “Orkney scallop ceviche, avocado, radish, baby gem, jalapeño and lime ice”…

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I had no idea what to expect from the description on the menu. It was best described as “a mini salad arrangement for finicky eater”. The green blob in the middle was avocado sorbet. It was a fun to eat dish.

Hubbie opted for “Egg, Ham & Pea”…

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Deep fried Clarence Court duck egg, mushy peas and crispy Cumbrian ham. It seemed to be the most popular starter and everyone else was ordering it too.

The service at the restaurant was an absolute top class…

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The staffs were very knowledgeable and attentive. Discreet yet very amicable. We had a few brief but entertaining chat with them.

For main course, we decided share “Roasted shoulder of Romney Marsh lamb, chargrilled cabbage, roasted parsnips and mint pesto”…

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When the dish was brought out to the table, I went momentarily speechless because it looked HUGE!
The waiter carved meat off the bone and distributed it on our plates. Can I manage it? I was in serious doubt…

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The lamb tasted delicious. It was succulent and flavoursome. The mint pesto was minty but not overpowering. And the duck fat chips, they were divine! I ate as much as I could, but yet again, I was defeated by the volume of the serving. Across the table, I could see Hubbie was struggling with it too. While his jaw moving mechanically, his eyes were fixed to no certain point and glazed over, as if he was contemplating when to throw the towel in.
I patted his hand which was clenching a fork and whispered, ‘You can put it down now. Or otherwise you can’t have dessert’.

Then, it was time for dessert. I opted for “Warm cinnamon donut, 70% chocolate ganache, almond sorbet”…

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When it was brought to me like this, I wasn’t very impressed. But who wouldn’t? A ball in the dish and 2 scoops of plain-looking sorbet in a separate bowl???
I just looked up at the waitress with a perplexed expression. And she nodded at me with a sympathetic smile, ‘I know. Just break the donut and have it with the sorbet. They taste amazing together’.

So I did exactly that…

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And she was right, it tasted fantastic!!
The person who invented it was a genius. It blew me away. The harmony created by bitter chocolate ganache, cinnamon and almond was distinctive yet complimentary. And eating a freshly made hot donuts with ice-cold sorbet was amazing.

While I was raving about my dessert, Hubbie quietly enjoyed his “Toasted coconut crème brûlée, pineapple,,coconut and Malibu sorbet”…

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Have you ever seen crème brûlée in a square shape?

With our tummy more than full, we walked out to the lobby. Then, I noticed a large egg shape mirror suspended from the ceiling…

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Why didn’t I spot it when I walked in? I was too hungry to see anything else other than the entrance to the restaurant!

After picking up our car at his office, we detoured to Trafalgar Square…

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It started to rain hard and the square was completely deserted. Still, I was very happy to see the tree illuminated eventually…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Yoshi Sushi @ King St, Hammersmith

The winter is really here, isn’t it?!
Last Thursday, I couldn’t stop shivering while I waited for my friend Fei at Hammersmith tube station. We hadn’t seen each other since the last pop-up event, Wild Kingdom. She managed to navigate her cab driver around the murderously busy Hammersmith roundabout and we rendezvoused safely. What shall we eat? It would have to be something soupy and spicy, we agreed. I was not at all familiar around Hammersmith, therefore, she suggested that we could eat at a Japanese / Korean restaurant on King Street.

Yoshi Sushi was situated near Hammersmith Town Hall.
The place was quiet when we scurried inside, rubbing our frosty fingers together.

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Customary appetizers were brought to our table. Small plates of Kimchee – pickled spicy Chinese cabbage and soy sauce marinated bean sprouts…

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For starters, we ordered Tori Karaage – fried chicken…

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And Haemul Pajeon – Korean pancake made with seafood and spring onion…

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Their karaage was probably the least we liked amongst the counterparts we had tried in all over London so far. It was not crispy enough and the meats underneath the coating were too fatty and tasteless. On the contrary, their pancake was the best we had ever tasted. It was sumptuous and the amount of the seafood inside was generous.

For the main course, we ordered a bowl of Jjigae each. I ordered Kimchi Jjigae – Kimchi stew with pork dumpling and tofu while Fei opted for Sundobu Jjigae – spicy soft tofu soup with seafood, spring onion and egg…

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The stews were accompanied by small bowls of steamed rice which lessened the spiciness of chilli. My stew was infused with the segments of green chilli which gave out an intense burst of heat every now and then which made me gulp water and dab my nose with a napkin! In the end, our chilled bodies were sufficiently warmed up from the inside by our spicy dinner…

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After leaving the restaurant, we travelled to Gloucester Road by tube in order to attend her friend’s pop-up event at the restaurant, L’Etranger. At the venue, we ogled a gorgeous fur collection by Rachel. I was especially taken by a knitted mink snood in cobalt blue…

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The. Snoods could be worn like this! Don’t we resemble two happy & funky Eskimos?

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We had one cocktail each at the bar and decided to call the day.
But oh my, how cold the walk from the station to my doorstep was! It was freezing. Then, my sneezing started. At home, I wrapped my neck with a cotton scarf and hugged a hot water bottle in bed. However, I woke up with a proper cold in the morning. Let’s hope that Hubbie won’t bring home any American cold from NYC. Because I have had already enough cold for this winter…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Korean BBQ @ Tohbang, Clerkenwell

Gee…, I don’t think I can eat or drink in public until this sudden bout of cough is resolved. I’ve just had one and it was UGLY.
Listen everyone, if you don’t want to repeat my experience yourself, wash your hands and gargle often & diligently…

Since I won’t be dining out anytime soon, I shall recount about the dinner Hubbie & I had at Tohbang on Clerkenwell Road a few weeks ago. That Friday, Hubbie didn’t drive to work because he was to give a lecture in the early evening. It was raining and I offered him a chauffeur service, provided we could eat out on our way home. Hmm.. What do we fancy? Japanese? No, not tonight. Italian? Meh. Chinese? Don’t fancy it. How about Korean? Oh yeah, it’s been a while since we had one last time! So we settled on Korean BBQ.

The restaurant, Tohbang, was a small but lively eatery on Clerkenwell Road…

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Because of super chill-sensitive Hubbie, we picked our order very carefully from the menu…

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For starters, a plate of Modum Namul – three different vegetables seasoned Korean style…

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And Hubbie’s must have, Pa Joen – spring onion pancake with mixed seafood and vegetables…

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Followed by Goon Mandoo – pan-fried pork & vegetable dumplings…

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Comparing with the counterpart at Sedap, this dumpling was closer to the Japanese version. The skin was thinner and the filling was a mixture of pork mince and finely chopped chives. It was tasty all the same though.

Then, les plats de résistance, Korean barbecues!
Bulgogi – beef marinated with soy sauce, pear juice & sesame oil…

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Samgyupsal – sliced pork belly…

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Galbi – beef rib marinated with soy sauce, pear juice & sesame oil…

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When those three sizzling dishes were brought to our table, the first thought flashed in my mind was not “Yipee!” but “Can we manage them all?!” I honestly thought we might end up having to ask for a doggie bag.

We also ordered Sangchu – a basket of lettuce to wrap barbecue with soybean paste…

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Mmm… It tasted so good.
We also favoured the way they served their barbecues – cooking it in their kitchen instead of grilling it in front of us. It produced much less fume in the dining area, therefore, our hair and clothing were free from the smoky odour.
Another thing I liked about my BBQ not being cooked on the spot was it allowed me to dine in a more leisurely manner. At some other Korean restaurants, a staff, armed with a pair of tongs, mans a piping hot grill on each table and turns the meat systematically. As each piece becomes ready to eat, the staff hands it out to waiting guests in turn, but I find the way they do it tends to be too efficient and hasty. I just can’t help but feel obliged about keeping up with the pace the meat is served. And I don’t find it relaxing, unfortunately.

With the barbecue, we also shared a bowl of Dolsot Bibimbab – beef, egg & vegetables on rice in a hot stone bowl…

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We really thought we could never finish all the dishes, but we did it!
However, I could feel my stomach was truly stretched to its maximum capacity, and the sketch from Monty Python movie – “Mr.Cresote Blows Up” did cross my mind. Oops…

As we walked out of the restaurant, bidding goodnight to the staff, we encountered an extraordinarily spectacle…

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A police officer was arresting a man right by our car!
To be more precise, a guy with a beanie was pressed against the rear of our car while an officer was trying to handcuff him. As the guy swore and struggled, he dropped two small sachets and kicked them into the underside of the car. So Hubbie walked up to them and told the officer what we just saw. The guy swore at Hubbie in retaliation but Hubbie stood his ground, staring back at him really hard. Even though he wouldn’t even kill a fly, being 6’4″, he could tower over most guys and be rather intimidating. Once the guy was handcuffed and subdued, another officer pulled on a pair of purple rubber gloves and got ready to crawl under the car to retrieve the sachets.
“Do you want us to move the car?”, I asked the officer. “Oh yes, that will be great!” He was very happy for not having to crawl on the wet tarmac. Didn’t they realise the car was ours? Until we identified ourselves, they probably thought we were overly nosy bystanders! Hubbie climbed behind the wheel and reversed the car and the officer collected the evidence safely. Shortly afterward, a police van arrived and the man was bundled in and driven away. So that was that. I had never seen anyone arrested right in front of me. And it was rather exciting!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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