[London] September 2019 London roundup

As previously, here’s a summary of interesting things I ate in London in September 2019.

These posts don’t seem to be drawing much interest, so this is the last one I’ll be doing, at least in the near future. I was hoping they’d spark interesting discussions, and although they succeeded a few times, it doesn’t seem to have happened recently. I will have a think about whether there’s a better way to achieve that goal.

Familia Cafe, 180 Forest Lane, E7 9BB (website)

A tiny cafe perched on a corner opposite Forest Gate Station (not to be confused with Forest Hill Station). Spanish breakfast consisted of good-quality toasted bread, some properly ripe tomatoes grated up with just the right amount of garlic, and good-quality olive oil on the side. It was simple but very good, with everything in balance and all executed perfectly. This was just £3, with £1 extra for an optional slice of Serrano ham.

Lao Cafe, 60 Chandos Place, WC2N 4HG (website)

Kai khem som tumm (papaya salad with salted eggs) was again simple but good, with fresh ingredients and well-controlled saltiness. “Brown” sticky rice seemed to actually be a mix of white and black, but was cooked just right and had a nutty but not overwhelming flavour.

Black Dog Beer House, 17 Albany Road, Brentford, TW8 0NF (website)

Rice and wakame stuffed cabbage roll with miso-roasted king oyster mushrooms, miso-roasted tofu, avocado, cucumber, and ponzu dressing was bordering on incoherence, but just managed to stay on the right side of the line. The cabbage and rice were both quite soft and soggy, and when I mentioned this to the server, they said the chef did it like that on purpose to give a contrast in textures; I do think they went too far on the soggy side though. The mushrooms were great, with plenty of flavour and a substantial chewy texture. Overall I wouldn’t order it again because of the sogginess factor, but I’d like to try more from this very unusual pub menu.

Communitea, 80 South Norwood High Street, SE25 6EA (website)

I am unable to be objective about this super-lovely little place near Norwood Junction Station — the owners are incredibly nice, always say how pleased they are to see me, and let me host a messy child-filled craft session there at the last Croydon Fun Weekend. I have previously enjoyed their “Good Sandwich”, which lives up to its name, but this time I had the “Fulosophy”, i.e. ful mudames, with perfectly softened beans, distinct spicing, pieces of lightly cooked onion that retained just enough crunch for a good textural contrast, and a drizzle of tahini on top that went really well.

I also had breakfast at Vasanta Bhavan, 206 High Street North, High Street, E6 2JA, but have posted about that in the breakfast thread, and lunch at Warisan, 190 Sussex Gardens, Paddington, W2 1TU, but have posted about that in the Warisan thread. And I had yet another sublime fried-egg sandwich from Golden Chefs Cafe, 18 London Road, Croydon, CR0 2TA, which is 5 minutes’ walk from my house but honestly this sandwich is worth getting off the train for (though you have to have it with brown bread as their white isn’t as good).

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Nice write up, and wonderful photos.

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Made a note of the Black Dog.

My stays in Brentford have probably come to an end (as I’m no longer researching at the National Archives), but I had started to get bored with the food offerings there, so it will be nice to try somewhere new if I’m that way again. .

I can’t remember if it’s you or your dining partner who doesn’t drink alcohol, but on the off-chance that you like beer and/or cider, I’ll mention that the real ale and cider selection is top-notch.

It’s me that’s on the wagon.

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That looked absolutely amazing. :heart:

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@Kake I follow your posts fairly religiously. Unfortunately, I’m in Boston and not in London. We have a trip coming up where we will have one full day in London so I’ve been revisiting your wonderful posts. So even though I don’t actively contribute or reply, I feel like I’m benefiting whether or not we make it to any of the places you’ve mentioned in your roundups. We had a Boston HO (@passing_thru) who did similar write ups and unfortunately didn’t get a lot of feedback which is our collective faults. I think these kinds of posts are tremendously valuable. Thank you!

And of course I will post about our trip.

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tagged by this one by @digga, so i’ll put in my two cents. (Sorry, I never read the UK/Ireland boards!) I can totally understand when you do extensive posts and get little response and you start to feel whether it’s even worth putting in the time, and only you can ultimately decide whether or not you want to keep doing it. It sure can be sort of frustrating. But looking through your posts they seem really solid + valuable + interesting and will undoubtedly be a great resource to anyone here who visits your city, so it’s not like they are in any way pointless. I’ve been bookmarking posts by @klyeoh for some time now in hopes of finally getting to tour some of the places he covers! Gonna do the same now for yours, so I’ll hope you keep doing them. But if you don’t feel like it, that’s understandable.

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Interesting discussion, I’ll like to add that restaurant posts that have few feedbacks do not mean there are no audience, klyeoh’s post are the highest view posts on HO by external users. I also believe in helping each others, meaning I can contribute in a certain area of this forum, but receive help in another topic or another area when I need to travel in the future. I learn a lot especially on food culture in regional restaurants reviews.

It is true that restaurant posts take up a lot of time in writing, but I slowly start to enjoy, and it is like reliving the experience a second time. I do not have a very systemic way to file my restaurant experiences, HO serves as an archive that I come back often, when I need to see my older restaurant notes.

Sorry that this is the not best place to express. Maybe the topic should have its own thread.

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I use HO to diarise my food discoveries, an old habit from my Chowhound days. Pity CH was spoilt by the new folks, and all those years of effort have now gone down the drain as the communities disappear (we had a vibrant one on the China/South East Asia board).

I now turn to HO, use it to build up a knowledge library on food places and their history instead. Oftentimes, visitors come and encounter our street foods and the street vendors looked anonymous/faceless. I sought to give identities to those people who cooked the food we ate.

If you ever come to Penang or Singapore, drop me a line!

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Thanks all for input! The main thing I miss about Chowhound — and that I had hoped would come over here too — is the back-and-forth of conversation, with lots of different people reporting on interesting things they’ve eaten. My goal with these posts was not so much to have lots of people reading and appreciating them in silence (or even out loud), but to encourage and motivate other people to write about food in London too.

Some of the London Chowhounders have started writing for paid outlets like Eater London instead of posting here. I totally understand why people would prefer to be paid for their work, and I do feel they’re doing good and worthwhile work, but the one-way nature of it means it can’t be a replacement for what we used to have.

Others are posting on Twitter and Instagram instead, but those venues are both very ephemeral and also based around individuals rather than communities.

I do recognise that people like the idea of having a bank of information building up here for future visits to the UK, but things in London change so quickly (since I made this post, Familia Cafe has already closed) that it doesn’t make sense for me to put in a lot of work now posting about things that may not even exist when you get here.

Having said that, I do still intend to keep documenting my food and pub adventures on the Randomness Guide to London (though this is mainly aimed at Londoners rather than people unfamiliar with the city), and I’m always happy to answer questions about London on this board.

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Fully understand this. And, for me, even Chowhound got nowhere near the useful activity on egullet. The latter, although small in its number of contributors to the UK board, had much more useful activity than CH, in that the contributors were almost all “active eaters” living in various parts of the UK. It meant the information held on the board was quite wide in terms of geography and level of restaurant. It’s where I would look for help if I was visiting another part of the country. CH and, indeed, HO are poor by comparision but I think that’s partly (or mainly) due to the slow death of the forum format.

I don’t have much to add in response, but do find these posts interesting! Hope you continue. I’ve only been to London once but hope to return and eat my way through.

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In Singapore, we have a group of foodies from Makansutra, a local version of Chowhound, who meet to chowdown every now & then.

It took me 7 years of living in Kuala Lumpur, wondering where all the CH-like foodie community on the Web was, before I realised that they were all actually on Instagram! There, you find ex-Chowhounds, restaurateurs, chefs, foodies, food columnists/writers/journalists. We forged a loose group of like-minded gourmands from there to chowdown occasionally.

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Yes, Chowhound was much more London-centric than eGullet. Which made it a lot more useful than eGullet for me, though obviously less useful for you!

Another thing that bothers me about, as you put it, “the slow death of the forum format” is that (with my local historian hat on) the heavily Javascript-reliant websites that are currently in fashion are becoming less and less archivable. In 50 years’ time, will historians have any sources available to tell them what people were saying about food in the UK in 2019?

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Just a remark, HO doesn’t function well without javascript. Try to disable it in your browser, and you’ll see.

It’s quite readable though, and the information is all still there. Here’s a screenshot of a recent Harters post as viewed in the text-only “lynx” browser.

I hope so. I used to have my own website (not food related). It suffered a major crash months back and it couldnt be rebuilt. Fortunately, I submitted it to the British Library a few years back and they took a full copy to archive - nearly 3000 pages.

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I only call out HOs that I admire/respect. :wink:

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Oh man, I just went down the RGL rabbit hole (when I should be researching Fuerteventura). What an awesome resource. We still haven’t decided which area to stay in on our last day in London before we head back to the States on Nov 20th. Perhaps our meal decisions can help us decide (B’s preference will always be a spring onion-friendly pub with good food). Which is the way we used to travel - for example, we took a detour to Penang on our way to Palau some years ago primarily to eat. Good old days! Of course now these days, we have to couple a good meal with a kid-centered activity. Which helps us focus.

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