MUGA, London


The day is getting shorter, the weather is getting colder. Days like these are when you want to be slurping a bowl of hot sizzling ramen. For me, ramen is not a seasonality food. I like it through out the year whether it's in the summer or winter, it is a comfy food.

I am no expert in ramen but I do know what I like in ramen and am able to spot a good bowl of it. MUGA, just off Piccadilly in the heart of theatres land is a Japanese ramen bar. It's particularly pleasing seeing that there is no queue. No queue for a ramen, that is questionable.... Well, who would want to queue up in the cold weather?

Toyo Bijin Junmai Ginjo Sake

I started to learn about sake (Japanese rice wine) this year, before that I always thought sake was a strong spirit drink. I was totally wrong and now becoming a sake enthusiast ever since my first sake tasting. Reading the sake list, I still get seriously confused like being in a unknown territory. We went for a half bottle of Toyo Bijin Junmai Ginjo sake. Aroma is rice, koji and fruity citrus with flavour of sweet rice and alcohol. Finish is sweet and lightly boozy. Nice but not great.

Agedashi Tofu


Sometime I feel sceptical that somethings that are supposed to be street food snacks appearing on a restaurant menu. For instance, I find it weird whenever seeing takoyaki on a menu. You are supposed to be standing on the street munching it and not seated in a restaurant with cutlery. Decent takoyaki, ball shaped batter usually filled with diced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger and Spring onion; then brushed with takoyaki sauce and mayonnaise. I definitely had octopus, not too sure whatelse was in my takoyaki and very generous in the dried bonito flakes. The agedashi tofu was tasty, lightly dusted silken tofu deep fried and served in a dashi with grated daikon and bonito flakes. A simple classic Japanese dish that is light in flavour.

Seafood Delight Ramen in Shio Based Broth

Charshu Max Ramen in Tonkotsu Based Broth

The ramen menu at MUGA is different compared to other ramen joints. Here, it involves pick the soup base, spicing it up (going large essentially) or adding additional toppings. There is always a lesson that I never learn and neither does Mr. T. Greed is never good and it is damn to be wasting food. 

We both spiced up our ramen, meaning the toppings of our ramen was beaming to the edge. The waiter recommended one of us to try the shio based broth as MUGA is the only ramen joint in London that does it. Shio means salt and this is traditionally the way ramen soup is flavoured. The salt doesn't affect the appearance of the broth and therefore shio soup tends to be light in colour and the flavour can be a tad saltier. It is usually made with chicken broth then seasoned with salt, in this case I'm not actually too sure but it is not as salty as you would expect. Spiced up with a seafood delight toppings, a mixture of seafood and vegetables. I can never seem to opt away from tonkotsu. The broth is of great standard, rich in taste but light in heart (still not comparable to my favourite Kanada-ya). It was a mistake to spice it up with the chashu max topping, so much chashu and vegetables. Good flavour chashu and not too lean, but the vegetables was a bit oily and we both prefered our noodles being hard (or al dente).

Green Tea Ice Cream

Dorayaki with Sesame Ice Cream

Not that we wanted to stuff our face, how can you resist desserts when it is offered to you? Mr. T had the green tea ice cream and I had the dorayaki (two pancakes sandwiched with azuki bean paste) with sesame ice cream. Decent green tea ice cream, given any day I would prefer sipping matcha than having green tea/matcha flavour dessert. Dorayaki is my childhood snack, made famous by the anime/manga Doraemon. To me dorayaki is a snack (traditionally Japanese sweet confectionary), not a dessert so even with a sesame ice cream it does not work as a dessert. The sesame ice cream was good, I think it can be more nuttier the flavour. We could barely move by this point, just overly too much food that we had.

I am not sure how I bypassed MUGA beforehand, it is pretty unknown to the foodie world. Is it more or less authentic to the other ramen joints? I have no idea. If offers a good solid ramen selection and the noodles are made onsite. They have a selection of sake with decent price to accompany the food. Price is very friendly too with all ramen being under a tenner, unless you spice it up to a super size bowl. What I also like too, there's no queue. That plays a huge factor for me, whether I want to try a place or not. This is a place that I will sure come by if the queue is too long at my all time favourite ramen joint (kanada-ya, no one can beat you yet).

Score: 3.5/5
Price: £10-15/head

I was invited to review.

Muga Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food The South American Way


Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way by Luiz Hara

It was not until the end of last year that I started to notice a type of cuisine called Nikkei when there was a boom of Nikkei restaurants opening in London. It is not a new cuisine but one where not many people known of it. The word Nikkei is derived from the Japanese word nikkeijin referring to Japanese people who migrated overseas and their descendants. It is fascinating to know Brazil has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, with the arrival of about 800 Japanese in 1908 to the present of 1.5 million Japanese living in Brazil.

The author Luiz Hara, is a food writer, the man behind one of the top London food blog "The London Foodie" and the hugely successful Japanese Supper Club from his home. The author's grandparents migrated to Brazil and he was raised in the Brazilian city of São Paulo. He moved to London 20 years ago working in investment banking before moving on to his dream of training at the culinary school of Le Cordon Bleu.

Deep-Fried Chicken Nanban / Nikkei Piri-Piri Poussi

Here, the Nikkei cuisine refers to the cooking of the Japanese diaspora with the usage of local ingredients but cooked in the Japanese way. For over the century, the cuisine has evolved megering the best of two cultures. Now with a popularity of Nikkei cuisine restaurants in London, maybe it is time to explore cooking Nikkei food at home.

Grilled Aubergines with Miso Dengaku & Mozzarella

I am fortunate to know the author himself personally and have sampled his supper club food on different occasions many times. His food never failed to amazed me. Predominately the food is home style cooking with a touch of French classic technique. The book features over 100 recipes, with interesting blend of Nikkei twists on traditional recipes to more simple and complex to salivating the page. The book is broken down into sections of small eats, sushi, tiraditos & ceviches, rice & noodles, soups & hotpots, mains, vegetables, salads & tofu and finally desserts. 

There will definitely be a recipe that will tempt you into making it. I decided to recreate a dish that I had at his supper club (above photo) before which is a clever twist on a very classic Japanese dish, Nasu Dengaku. It is essentially grilled aubergines with a miso glazed, what Luiz did was he added mozeralla on top and it was like a marriage in heaven (I am over exaggerating but it works brilliantly).

My interpretation on Luiz's grilled aubergines 

Grilled Aubergines with Miso Dengaku and Mozzarella

Ingredients: (serves 4)
2 small aubergines (eggplants)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
100g ready-grated mozzarella cheese
1 tsp toasted white sesame seeds, to garnish 

For the dengaku miso paste:
4 tbsp brown miso paste 
4 tbsp mirin
4 tbsp water 
4 tsp sugar

  • First, prepare the dengaku miso paste by mixing all the ingredients in a pan, warm until the sugar has dissolved and all the ingredients are well combined. Then set aside, the sauce can be made days in advance and keeps for weeks in an airtight jar in the fridge.
  • Wash te aubergines (eggplants) and pat them dry. Cut them lengthways, without removing the stems, into equal halves. Using a sharp knife, make criss-cross incise into the flesh of each half without tearing through the skin.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and preheat the grill (broiler) to hot.
  • Meanwhile, in a larger frying pan (or skillet) (with a lid), heat the oils until smoking hot. Lower the temperature to medium, place the four aubergine (eggplant) halves on top (flesh side down), cover with a kid and fry for 5 minutes. Turn the aubergines (eggplants) over, re-cover the pan and fry for a further 10 minutes. The aubergine (eggplant) halves should be very soft by this stage; use a wide spatula to transfer them a roasting tin (this time, skin side down).
  • Apply a thin layer of the dengaku miso paste over the cut side of the aubergine (eggplant) halves using a knife or teaspoon. Cover the aubergine (eggplant) halves with the grated mozzarella and reheat them in the oven for 5 minutes.
  • Remove the aubergine (eggplant) halves from the oven and transfer straight under the hot grill (broiler) for 3-4 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and browned. Served immediately with a sprinkle of toasted white sesame seeds.
My interpretation of this recipe is slightly different with the use of Korean Doenjang which is similar to Japanese miso paste since I only had that on hand at home and omitted the sesame seeds which I did not have any. Nevertheless, it was still very tasty.

The book is available to buy on Amazon, published by Jacqui Small.

I was sent a copy to review by the publisher Jacqui Small.

Arbutus, London


"Wait, you never been fine dining before?" I was surprised to hear from my friend that he'd never been to a high end restaurant. I knew I had to take him somewhere, a place that would not break our wallet. What's more, he is leaving me behind in London and moving to Chicago. It needed to be a leaving celebratory meal.

It was not easy to pick somewhere that would not cost the bomb, finally settling on Arbutus for their valued set lunch deal. What's more, Arbutus is a one star Michelin restaurant in central London of Soho focused on modern European cooking from the brainchild of Anthony Demetre and Will Smith (not the huge Hollywood star) of Wild Honey and Les Deux Salons. I may have not heard much about Arbutus before, but I am one of those people that will studied the menus in advance. Going for a set menu, usually meant there are less choice but that is fine with me when the prices are so much reasonable than the not so affordable a la carte menu.


It is not really fine when there is no amuse bouche. I love amuse bouche, I love the surprise that you get and it is always so tasty. Some places gives a lot of amuse bouche and some gives you nothing, it is underwhelming. You always expect surprise from a high end restaurant given that you are paying for so much and it is a showcase of what the chef can offers. The bread was good, so good with the butter that we had a second plate of it.

Pressed Confit of Rabbit, House Made Pickles

Salmon Tartare with Cucumber and Olive Oil

It wasn't until Mr. T told me, his pressed rabbit dish was plated like a rabbit shape. I was having a blonde moment there, not that I am blonde. He liked it, saying the flavour was good just not an outstanding dish. Whereas the salmon tartare that me and Calvin both ordered was overwhelmed by the olive oil taste which totally overtook the salmon taste. The cucumber gave it a good crunch and I loved the crispy salmon skin. It tasted just like those deep fried crispy fish skin you get in congee or noodle shops in Hong Kong (having a bit of nostalgic moment).

Thinly Sliced Creekstone Black Angus Beef, Smoked Aubergine and Peanuts

Cod simmered in Salted Butter, Necteraines, Fresh Peas, Romanesco

I knew I should of have went for the beef as my main, just look at that piece of meat. The boys went for the beef, it was so tender, juicy to medium rare and full of flavour. It was not really a thin slice not that anyone was complaining. It took us a while to work out what that greyish slab of thing was on the plate which was aubergine as it didn't have much taste to it. Looking at my fish, it was definitely in the shadow. The cooking of the cod was perfect, but overall the dish was lacking bold flavours even though nectarines and cod miraculously somehow works together.

Summer Berries, Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate

Olive Oil and Pistachio Soonge, Peaches, Yoghurt

Sometimes, you don't need a fancy dessert to end the meal. You would want something hearty and something that taste good. The desserts was simple but made with skills. Seeing how Mr. T was licking every spoonful of his summer berries and vanilla ice cream, you know it was very good with the chocolate soil. The dessert me and Calvin both opted had an aquired taste, the olive oil sponge had a sponge texture that you'd never had before and it was slightly on the dried side. Without the sponge, the peaches and yoghurt (it was like a sorbet) was perfect. I think I can have a bowl of it on its own, just minus the sponge.

We went on a Sunday lunch and the restaurant was quiet and empty. We didn't order any drinks knowing it would had bump the cost up marginally as we were trying to keep it as low as possible. Although a glass of Pinot Blanc would have been perfect with the fish. The service was very much tailored to your table, given there was only like 3 other tables with diners. The food was uninspiring, it tasted perfectly wonderful just missing the enjoyment and surprises. £25 for 3 course would be a fantastic steal if the food was truly amazing. Arbutus is definitely miles better compared to my own western cuisine cooking. I felt there are better cookings from lesser known and not award winning restaurants but probably not at this price. 

Score: 3/5

Mas Q Menos (Soho), London


I do love Jamón Ibérico, and if I can I would love to buy the whole leg of it to take home. Whenever I feel like nibbling, I can carve thin slices of it. It does taste better when the ham is freshly carved or sliced.

Mas Q Menos is a tapas bar in Soho (also with branches in Holborn and City), the name translating to more for less. Before stepping inside, I was not aware how well known Mas Q Menos is in Spain. With over 30 Tapas bars as well as another 11 restaurants in Barcelona owned by the Cacheiros family. I knew I was in ham heaven when I saw legs of Ibérico hanging on the wall.

Blue Devil & Bloody Mary 

We started with two cocktails for the night. Mr. T has a tendency of trying out Bloody Mary at every available places, and somehow it also made me turn into a tomato juice person (I hated tomato juice before). Two decent cocktails I would say.

Jamón Ibérico 

Jamón Croquettes 

I am not self proclaimed expert on hams, but I know a good ham when it tasted good. Mas Q Menos pride themselves on their quality of Jamón Ibérico. What gives that rich flavour taste of the jamón ibérico is the free-range pigs diet of only acorns. A good ibérico ham has regular flecks of intramuscular fat, and that fat is good for health. The ham is machine carved, it takes years of training to be able to carved nicely by hand. It's much oily when freshly carved, and it melts in the mouth along with artisan bread spread with tomatoes and bread sticks. The waiter recommended the Jamón Croquettes, glad I listened to him. It was crispy with potato and ham oozing out from inside.

Galician Style Octopus “Pulpo Gallego”

White Anchovies in Vinegar

Foie Gras served with Figs Jam &Toast

Pulpo Gallego, a simple octopus dish with olive oil and speckle of sweet Paprika. Tender pieces of octopus and nicely seasoned. Anchovies is something that I cannot resist, and you rarely see it as a dish on its own on the menu. Good acidity to the anchovies, not overly pungent. I feel wrong eating a slab of foie gras, but for Mr. T it is his devil's dish. I wish it was actually toast that came with it rather than bread sticks which was left clueless.

We didn't have dessert, feeling full already and I do not remembered much of that evening beside the tasty jamón ibérico. Service was friendly and casual but lacking attentiveness sometimes, it was made up be their knowledgeable skills. It is definitely a place for drinks and a plate of jamón ibérico to share.

Score: 3/5
Price: £30/head

I was invited to review.

Mas Q Menos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Take Eat Easy - Food Delivery Service


Everyone has a moment in life where they are too lazy and tired to cook at home, right? You reach out for your phone, dialled the number for a greasy takeaway. Hold that thought for now. A new food delivery service has arrived in London, Take Eat Easy and it is also taken by storm around Europe. 

No more greasy food, but a premium restaurant food delivered to your home. Launched in 2013 in Brussels by four childhood friends set out on a mission to find a better way of getting food delivered from independent restaurants to people's homes. Delivering food can be a complicated system. Take Eat Easy goes a step further by allowing customers to follow their courier in real time and to know the exact arrival time of their food. The unique dispatching algorithms developed by the team, allow the company to deliver meals in as little as 17 minutes. What's more, it is all delivered by a team of cyclists. 

I thought living in central London would have meant I had a lot of choices. There were only two restaurants delivering to my post code. Plan B, have it delivered to my work where East London seems to be a bustling food scene at the moment. I was swamped with choices and found it difficult to pick. 

I opted for Chinese from Sichuan Folk, specialised in hot and spicy Chinese food from the Sichuan region. I don't usually order rice for takeaway since I prefer cooking that myself.

The website was easy to use. Once the order was made, an email and text will confirmed that the order had been received. I received another text with a link to track the order once the restaurant had acknowledged the order. 

It was fun being able to track your food on a real time map, when it left the restaurant and how far away. I was surprised to see the courier using bike to deliver the food, but then again it is easier to get around London with bikes. My food arrived within 30 minutes, hot and fresh. Tasted very good too.


  1. YOU ORDER - Order from one of your favourite restaurants on their website or mobile app. Enter your address, pick a restaurant, select your dishes and confirm your order in just a few clicks.
  2. RESTAURANTS PREPARE YOUR FOOD - Take Eat Easy has partnered with the best restaurants in your city. They will prepare each of your orders with love, and pack them carefully.
  3. THEY DELIVER - Bike couriers are fast, passionate, and just the nicest. Your courier is assigned to your order in real-time, through a custom mobile app. On average, Take Eat Easy couriers deliver your food in ten minutes, from the restaurant to your door.
  4. YOU ENJOY - They believe mealtimes are special moments of the day, made to relax and simply enjoy. Moments that should be about great food, great company, and nothing to worry about.

Sorry for my terrible photo of the food, I ordered a lot of food. The food tasted great and the service was fast and reliable. If you are in the catchment area, it is a delivery service that I would highly recommend. Even better, they're offering free delivery charge until 2016 and by clicking here you can get £10 off with your first order.

Maybe I should cheekily order something now after writing about it....

I was invited to review.

The Fire Station, London


The Fire Station is a long standing institution, at Waterloo. Back in the late 80's The Fire Station was one of the first gastropubs. To many commuters delight after an one year extensive refurbishment, it has re-opened. The vintage fire station memorabilia sets the finishing touches to the fabulous refurbish. There is no fireman's pole that you can slide down, but with details such as vintage fire extinguishers, fire hose chandeliers, tap coat hooks, and a wall panel of the 1666 Great Fire of London.

The small menu feature highly on the current food trends of wood fired pizzas and sumptuous burgers. The drink menu is interesting, with in house smoked cocktails and if cocktails are not your thing, there are of course wine and craft beers available too.

Glazed Short Rib

Buttermilk Chicken

Black & Gold

Smoked Mackerel, King Prawns, Confit Garlic Butter Base, Marinated Mozzarella, Mascarpone, Rocket, Soft Boiled Egg

I was the odd person out, ordering the pizza rather than the burgers. It really did put me off when I heard the burgers are done well, not medium rare. I don't like my meat to be tough and dry, at least retain some moisture in the meat. My pizza was palatable, the downside was being ultraly thin and crisp. With all the soft textures of the topping, it sort of work against the crispy base. I do perhaps want a bit more chew to my base.

Moving on to the burgers, I do love a good burger. The expectation was sadly not met. Presentation wise, the burgers looked awfully lifeless. The bun is often overlooked, in this case it certainly was overlooked as it was uninteresting. The meat patty was overcooked, the buttermilk chicken was forgotten. To have a winner burger, meat needs to be medium to medium rare and a decent bun like demi-brioche. You can't go wrong with that recipe.

Spicy Coleslaw

Mixed Fries

The sides played a less important role to the point it felt meaningless. It was pretty average, not like we wanted to demolish it like a hungry beast.

Pink Duchess

Pineapple & Black Pepper Margarita

Château Cruzeau, St. Emilion Grand Cru, France 2010

The best thing about the pub, are the drinks. Who would not like the smoked cocktails? I didn't have a chance to try the smoked cocktails but the cocktails that I drank was decent enough just wished they'd filled up the whole glass. We also had a Bordeaux wine from St. Emilion region. Full bodied with a nose of plum and at £45 per bottle, not bad at all.

Overall, I felt let down by the food especially the burgers are overpriced. In terms of value, it's good especially for the drinks and given the area that it is in. I would come back from drinks and may give the food a second chance if I'm in the area again.

Score: 2.5/5
Price: £10-15/head

The meal was complimentary for soft launch.

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Crab Tavern, London


How much do you know about crab? Did you know the collective name for a group of crabs is a cast? When a crab lose its claw, it grows back easily? The two things that I know about crab, it is very delicious and it gets very messy eating it.

Given the name, there's no prizes for guessing what a lot of the dishes will feature. Crab Tavern is an all day seafood restaurant, with an American surf and turf concept tucked in the redeveloped Broadgate Circle in the City of London. It is rare to find crab on the menu in London's restaurant with the crab meat still intacted with the shell. So, it is time to get our hands dirty...

Oysters Of The Day

Hand Chopped Steak Tartare with King Crab

West Coast Clam Chowder

For someone like me and my friend Ronson, we are like a newbie when it comes to removing the shell of the crab. Meanwhile, Mr. T would proclaimed himself to be an expert especially in hairy crabs (a speciality crab from China). It was on Mr. T's hand to do the dirty job of decluctering the shell for us.

Before that, we shared the starters. Not too sure what kind of oysters it was but it was good, lovely natural sweetness. Because we are in a seafood restaurant, we opted to add king crab meat to the beef tartare. It does not make any difference when mixed together beside the price, you can't really taste the crab meat as the beef have overpowered the whole dish. Nevertheless, it is a tasty beef tartare. The clam chowder had a lot of chunky seafood over swimming the plate, so much so it was lacking the soup. It was decent, not mesmorising.

Singapore Crab

Best Legs in Town

Moules Frites

French Fries

Warm Asparagus & Green Beans

If you never had Singapore crab, this imitation may pass your mark. If you had the real deal in South East Asia, this definitely have failed it. The crab should be stir-fried in a semi-thick, sweet and savoury tomato and chill based sauce. In no way is the crab coated in the sauce, it was more like the crab sitting on a tomato dressing and no hint of chilli. The crabmeat itself was creamy and rich, along with the crabmeat from the leg of king crab. Which you don't get a lot of legs, given there's not a lot of meat on them. The moules frites, aka mussels and fries was so forgotten, we barely touched the dish. It is something that you can whacked up at home easily and taste more delicious. All you need is mussels, butter, shallots, white wine and parsley. Simple as that, or you can always add some garlic to it.

Too immersed in our conversation, we only had mojito, Bloody Mary and a peroni. That is as far as I can remembered.

We went during the soft opening, I will not blame the staff for their lack of knowledge of the food and drinks. Service is fine, what you'd expect from a typical restaurant. The big question is the price, is it because it is in the city where all the big businessmen would come dine and drink that you can put a ridiculous price tag on some dishes. Not all dishes are overly expensive and I don't think the price justified for the execution that was received. Crab tavern does have a unique selling point and London does lack restaurants that focus on crab. You can have restaurants that focus on lobster, why not crab? It is still early day, too early to see the foresight.

Score: 2.5/5
Price: ~£40/person (50% soft launch, ~£90 for 3 people)

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