[London] October 2018 London roundup

As per the last one of these, here’s a summary of interesting things I ate in London in October. Would love to hear anything anyone has to add.

Crystal Rocks Cafe, 49a South End, Croydon, CR0 1BF

I’m a big fan of interesting breakfasts, especially when I get to eat them at actual breakfast time. Crystal Rocks Cafe is open from 7am on weekdays and does a nicely balanced Turkish breakfast (photo) that includes fried eggs with properly runny yolks, Turkish sausage, feta, olives, tomato, cucumber, walnuts, dried apricots, jam, and bread.

Trullo, 300-302 St Paul's Road, Highbury, N1 2LH (website)

This small Italian-influenced (not, I think, Italian-run) restaurant near Highbury & Islington Station got a lot of critic attention when it opened eight years ago. I’ve always thought I didn’t really like pasta or, indeed, Italian food in general, so wanted to test this out by going somewhere that seems to be universally considered good. Trullo changed my mind about pasta via a beautiful tagliarini with crab, chilli, and lemon.

The pasta reminded me more of very good noodles than of, say, spaghetti — thin, flat, narrow — and it was cooked soft enough for my taste (I’ve never got on with “al dente”). The sauce was creamy and well-suited to the pasta. The next day, all I wanted to eat was another plateful of this.

Windsor Castle, 114 Campden Hill Road, Notting Hill, W8 7AR (website)

Scotch egg (photo) was fresh-made, with a nice runny yolk on the egg and plenty of texture and flavour to the sausage coating. Good enough to forgive the presentation, on a slate with microgreens and artistically-drizzled brown sauce.

Sanxia, 221 Bromley High Street, BR1 1NZ (website)

A Sichuan restaurant with other branches in Fitzrovia and Deptford. I’ve been to the Fitzrovia one before, and liked it, though that was seven years ago.

This time, in Bromley, the stirfried shredded potato salad (炝拌土豆丝; photo) had perfect seasoning and texture: cooked much crisper than one would expect for a British preparation, and refreshing rather than starchy. Our other cold dish, sliced pork with crushed garlic (蒜泥白肉; photo) was also good, though perhaps could have done with a bit more garlic.

Sauteed vermicelli with spicy minced pork (“ants climbing a tree”/蚂蚁上树; photo) had a good flavour and a nicely bouncy texture to the noodles. Shredded squid dry pot (干锅鱿鱼须; photo) was disappointingly chewy and not enormously exciting, though I loved the braised celery pieces.

I also went to Roti Joupa, but I’ve already reported on that. And I went back to Santok Maa’s, first described in my August roundup, and can confirm that their garlic mogo (photo) and chatpate makai (photo) are also very good. And I went to Dalchini in Wimbledon, which has been hugely praised on Chowhound, but I think I ordered badly (I wanted a vegetarian lunch but was with a lactose-intolerant friend, so we were somewhat constrained) so will reserve judgement on that one.


I was also there in October and tried a new place called Park Chinois in Mayfair. The food was good but pricey. I especially liked the Peking duck, which was silky on the inside and crunchy on the outside, but at £100 it should be exceptional. The place is ultra chic with runway models serving (or so it seemed) in the bar downstairs. You can also order food down there and watch a burlesque show. Upstairs was teeming with young moneyed elite. I wouldn’t return, it’s not my thang. People watching is good though.

Enjoyed Fish! at Borough Market. I’ve previously been to Roast and Wright Bros there, and love those too. You can’t seem to go wrong in Borough Market. I walked by Padella Italian in the Market not long before they opened and the queue stretched a loooong way, probably long enough to fill the restaurant when they opened the doors. It must be fab.

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Blimey, yes, that does look expensive.

This reminds me that the Mandarin Oriental, which is currently being restored after a severe fire, will be reopening its restaurants early next month. I wonder if this includes their 40-quid Chinese breakfast (see previous discussion).

Padella is an offshoot of Trullo, so I’d certainly expect good things of it. (Apologies if you already know this — I mention it in case others don’t.)

Coincidentally I will be in the London Bridge area on Friday, but it will be 8am and I’ll be in search of breakfast, so Padella is out (not that I’d object to Padella for breakfast, but they don’t open until noon). I was thinking Leon, since I’ll also want to be able to sit around for a couple of hours with a cup of tea and my laptop after breakfast, but I’m willing to be steered elsewhere if anyone has a better idea.

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I’ll preface by saying I always find breakfast in London hard. But, since you have a bit of time, it may be worth a wander down Bermondsey Street. I imagine there will be a few places open, certainly cafes, where you could get something interesting.

Ah, I didn’t explain properly, sorry! The couple of hours on my laptop will be spent working, not killing time — so I won’t have time to go as far as Bermondsey Street, especially since I can’t walk very fast at the moment. Basically I’ll be getting off the train, having breakfast, working for a couple of hours, and then getting on a tube.

I dream of Roti Joupa’s Buss Up Shot. In the meantime, I can only go for the Malaysian roti canai, which is much lighter and lacked the density & more toothsome texture of buss up shot. My roti canai breakfast this morning:

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Ahh okay, that makes sense! It’s worth noting though that Bermondsey Street is only 2 minutes (regular speed) walk away from the St Thomas Street exit of London Bridge, if you’re coming in by train. I used to keep thinking of it as a long way away until I realised how close it actually is.

Well, as you may know, Maria’s Cafe is central to BM, but her breakfasts aren’t for the faint-hearted or picky. Perfect if you like bubble, black pudding, bacon etc. She and her (late) mother have provided me and my colleagues with occasional breakfasts for over 32 years. When our offices were very nearby she used to bring it in to our desks. Lovely woman.

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Good point, thanks! (Though it does then become a bit of a trek to get to the tube afterwards.) I had a look on Google Street View, and Bermondsey Yard Cafe and Black Swan Yard Cafe are both close to the top of the street, but the former doesn’t seem to open until 9am, and from looking at the latter’s Twitter account they seem to employ at least one complete asshole, so that doesn’t sound like the place for me.

I should definitely have a wander along the street some time soon, though — it’s been over four years since I was last down there!

I am 100% jealous of you! Hopefully I’ll have a couple of interesting breakfasts to report in next month’s roundup, but we still don’t seem to have open-to-the-public Malaysian breakfast in London.

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They’re good fryups, as fryups go, but I don’t like builders’ tea, and whenever I’ve been to Maria’s it’s been so busy that I really wouldn’t want to contemplate getting my laptop out!

Yup, the Malaysian High Commission seemed to have inexplicably tightened its rule on access to the Malaysia Hall Canteen. It’s not just Malaysian breakfasts that’s hard to come by in London, but Chinese breakfasts are also impossible to find, even in Chinatown where every other place is only open near noon.

@klyeoh I think I already told you this story but I remember getting excited about Chinese Laundry opening, since it specialised in Chinese breakfast food.

[Me] Oh, how exciting! At last I can get Chinese breakfast before work!

[Waiter] Uhh we don’t open until lunchtime!


Serve breakfast at lunch-time?! Chinese Laundry is a wash-out. :joy:

Actually they had to close after they were gutted by fire so a bit of washing out might have improved things!