After our 4-day stay in Dublin, Pickles, Dolph and I returned to London and settled into our accommodations for the next three weeks. Since our breakfasts were included in the costs of the program, we only had to take care of our lunches and dinners. For me, this inevitably lead to overconsumption of my favourite Starbucks drink (the iced chai latte), as well as some cold ready-to-eat items from M&S Simply Food. London was abnormally warm during our stay, often going over 30° Celsius (or 86° Fahrenheit if you’re Celsius-illiterate like I am). Cold pasta salads from M&S were my saviour when I wasn’t in the mood for a hot meal, which was often.
Still, once in a while, you’re just in the mood for a warm dinner, so the three of us decided to go eat at Misato, a Japanese restaurant in London’s Chinatown, which Dolph had visited earlier in the week. After consuming so many prepackaged sandwiches and pasta salads, I was excited to have some warm steamed rice and yummy Japanese food.
Pickles decided to indulge in Japanese-style comfort food with the Chicken Katsu Curry with Rice (£6). She was more than pleased with her meal, which was a better value for its price than pretty much any other meal we’d had so far in London. The chicken was crispy and well-fried, but also moist on the inside, while the rice was warm and comforting. The curry tasted mildly salty as opposed to sweet, which I found different than the other Japanese curries I’ve tried, but we still enjoyed it nevertheless. The little salad accompanying her meal was fine, but nothing memorable, and honestly, the chicken and rice were more than what we’d expected for the price.
Meanwhile, Dolph ordered the Tempura Soba (£5.50). She regretted this afterwards, saying that she wished she’d gotten a tempura udon instead, but no matter. The three of us agreed that we all enjoyed soba served cold, as in zaru soba, but I guess that’s just personal preference. Since the tempura was served in the soup, it was naturally soggy, losing its crispiness. While the portion size was large, the broth was predominantly salty and had little else in the way of flavour. Out of the three dishes we ordered, I guess I would have to say that this was the least satisfying, although it might be just our personal preferences.
Lastly, I had the Grilled Mackerel with Rice (£4.50). Since about a week earlier, I’d had an intense craving for grilled mackerel, which my mom cooks up for me on a regular basis at home. I’ve noticed that a lot of people I know tend to shy away from mackerel, probably because of its intense fishiness, but that’s exactly what I love about mackerel–besides, why eat fish if you’re afraid of the fishiness? In any case, I had to order the mackerel once I saw it on the menu, and I was both pleased with the huge portion size as well as the price, which was only £1 more expensive than that Starbucks chai latte I mentioned earlier. In any case, the mackerel was obviously a bit oily, as it was fried, but it was both salty and satisfyingly fishy, as mackerel should be. It was also easy to eat, as there were no noticeable bones, and the lemon slice helped to alleviate some of the fishiness. The salad was more or less the same as the one included with the chicken katsu curry. Although this made me miss home more than ever, I still was comforted by the idea that I could find something similar to my mom’s home-cooked meals in London’s Chinatown, of all places.
Overall, I was really happy with our meal here. Out of the restaurants I ate at during my three week stay in London, I would have to say that the prices at Misato were the best fit for my broke-student/broke-tourist budget. I know that the cost of living in Vancouver is quite high and often a source of stress for me and my fellow Vancouverites, but sometimes the food prices in London just baffled me, especially once I learned to intuitively apply the correct conversion rate. Of course, London is a huge city with many different types of cuisine to offer, but if you’re on a budget and near Piccadilly Circus, I would highly recommend Misato, which is not only a frugal option but a tasty one as well.
11 Wardour Street
London W1D 6PG
Hello again! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful week, even though the next long weekend we have to look forward to in Canada is about a month from now. To help tie you over, here’s a food post (because food makes everything better)!
Because of finals, we couldn’t celebrate Jess’ birthday with her last month, so we decided to do it this month. I was pleasantly surprised with Jess’ restaurant choice in Phnom Penh Cambodian food, as I had heard very good things about both the food and service there. So without further ado, here’s Jess’ birthday post!
I was quite shocked when David and I drove by and saw a few groups of people waiting outside the restaurant for seats. I knew the restaurant was popular, but I had never been, despite passing all the time when my mom and I go grocery shopping in Chinatown. Inside, the restaurant was just as crowded, with all the tables and the waiting area packed full of people. In fact, it was so busy that we (Jess, Angie, Hui, Su, Pickles, Dolph, Jeri, David, Darek, Chan and I) had to wait a while before being seated, even though we had a reservation.
Jess had ordered in advance 3 of the #71 Marinated Thit Bo (Marinated Butter Beef), so these arrived soon after we sat down. Served with their house special sauce, and a ton cilantro and fried garlic, this was a really great appetizer to start off our dinner. The beef was mostly raw with a little cooked strip, and was quite tender. Although the beef wasn’t very buttery, it certainly wasn’t lacking in flavour, as the tangy, vinegary sauce coupled with the toppings made for a very impactful bite.
Jess ordered the Deep Fried Chicken Wings beforehand as well. Served with a lemon-pepper dipping sauce, these super crispy wings were brought over fresh from the kitchen. In terms of flavouring, I detected a slight lemongrass hit in addition to the garlic, chili peppers and other spices that were plated with the wings. It’s pretty hard to screw up chicken wings, and I’m glad to say that Phnom Penh didn’t fall into that sad, sad category. Our group demolished nearly all 4 plates, so I think it’s safe to say that we enjoyed them. My only complaint about this was that there were a lot of wing tips mixed in with the wingettes and drumettes, so that the plates were deceptively full.
Our sole rice dish was the #35 Com Bo Luc Lac (Filet Beef Luc Lac on Rice). This was served with a side of vegetables (a cucumber is missing because Chan stole it before I could take a picture) and a perfectly fried, sunny-side-up egg. Our general consensus was that this plate, while good, was nothing spectacular; in fact, some thought that it was a little too hyped up. I liked the slight sweetness of the sauce; when mixed together with a generous portion of tender beef and egg, there was just enough flavour, and nothing was too overwhelming.
For our soup, we had the #46 Phnom Penh Hot+Sour Soup with Prawns. This was a far cry from the starch thickened tofu, bamboo shoot and wood-ear mushroom soups I’ve been accustomed to. Instead, this was a broth characterized more by its tartness than spiciness. In addition to the prawns, there were also tomatoes, and (surprisingly) pineapple chunks. It was seasoned with mint and a variety of spices, including lemongrass. Darek commented that the pineapples made it a little too sweet for his taste, and I have to say I agree. Overall, I thought that this soup was pretty interesting (I’ve never had such a sour soup before), and while it tasted good, I wish it were more spicy, as there was barely any heat to it.
Next up was the #72 Hao Chien Trieu Chau (Fried Oyster Cake), which was a large pancake-like dish made with oysters and topped with cilantro. I liked that the edges of the pancake were crisp and that there were a lot of oysters; Dolph and others, though, thought that it was a little bit “snotty” in the middle (as in, it was goopy and thick). This was probably due to the large amount of oil used to fry up the pancake, making it, as Darek dubbed it, perfect hangover food. In general, we thought that this tasted as it should.
One of the last dishes to be served was the #81 Cary Ga Nam Vang (Curry Chicken Hot Pot). There was no absence of coconut flavour or heat in this curry, making it a very tasty dish. There were a lot of ingredients in the pot, including onions and yams– I was surprised that they used yams instead of potatoes in the curry, but it certainly provided a different texture to the dish. We actually ordered a side of plain rice to go with the curry so that we could enjoy more of the sauce! Finally, we had the requisite veggie dish in the #90 Cai Lan Xao (Sauteed Gai Lan). We thought this was pretty standard, albeit a little on the oily side. The gai lan was cooked just right, retaining a healthy crunch.
Overall, I thought that our meal was pretty decent, although some things were a little too oily for my taste. The service was more than adequate, considering how busy the place was, and also that it’s family-run. My favourite touch is that the restaurant turns off all the lights when they bring out the birthday cake, and the servers (along with many other patrons) sing happy birthday to the birthday person– it makes for a very warm and friendly environment that I would definitely go to again, even if it’s slightly out of the way. I can definitely see why Phnom Penh is so popular!
Phnom Penh 金邊小館
244 East Georgia Street