Yaki – Goodge Street

Reviewed on January 6th, 2014 by Dina

Yaki is a Japanese eatery and bakery in central London. It seemed like a good place to go for lunch especially as they did a One Bowl Meal on rice!

The Oyako-Don was a combination of chicken and egg cooked in Japanese seasoning served with rice. It also came with some pickled ginger and edamame. Although the dish had a good flavour, there was not enough chicken and egg and so most of the meal was the rice.

YakiYaki Oyako DonYaki 2Yaki InteriorYaki Tai YakiYaki Latte

One specialty of Yaki is their Tai-yaki. This is a fish shaped waffle with a savoury or sweet filling. Originally, I was going to choose the green tea custard azuki filling but then did not fancy the red bean with custard. The Tai-yaki was served warm with its filling of green tea custard white chocolate. The fish waffle was a lot bigger than I had expected and it was not overly sweet.

Yaki is a small place with only a few tables and chairs inside. There are some window seats. Luckily, it was not too much of a cold day, so we were able to sit outdoors.

A warming drink was needed so the green tea soya latte was chosen. This drink seemed more to taste of the milk rather than the green tea which was surprising as it was made with macha green tea.

On a positive note, the food is cooked fresh to order. The staff were friendly and after placing our full order, the various items were brought out to us.

If you want something different for lunch, Yaki also does the omelette style Okonomi-yaki, baked octopus balls Taco-yaki and also Rice Burgers!

Yaki , 53 Goodge Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 1TG

Rating: ★★★½☆

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Hiba Express – Holborn

Reviewed on September 15th, 2013 by Dina

Hiba Express always seemed to me that it was a takeaway place. This is the impression that I got from its name or maybe because at a quick glance, it looks like a really small eatery. But this is definitely not the case. It is a proper restaurant and it also does takeaways.

There is some cordoned off seating by the entrance and inside the restaurant it is a lot bigger than first expected. All the food is cooked fresh and I got the impression that it would be fairly busy at lunchtimes for takeaways, as there were dedicated order points and collection points. At the back of the Hiba Express, was a colourful display of all the fresh fruits that would be used for the fresh juices and for desserts!

A selection of hot and cold mezze were ordered. You can never go wrong with the classic Moutabal Baba Ghanouj with its creamy consistency of the puree of the grilled aubergine with sesame paste and lemon juice. It was topped with the red jewels of pomegranate!  Another favourite was the Grilled Halloumi Cheese. There is the option to have it as a fried dish if that takes your liking!

Hiba ExpressHiba Express InteriorHiba Express Interior 2Hiba Express Grilled Halloumi CheeseHiba Express MezzeHiba Express Bammieh B’ZeitHiba Express Fresh JuiceHiba Express Fruit PlatterHiba Express Mint Tea

The Batata Harara were cubes of sauteed potatoes with garlic, coriander and red pepper strips. The mezze was completed with the Loubieh B’Zeit French beans cooked with tomatoes and onions. It all came with a basket of warm flatbread. The dishes were delicious and very filling so much so that we were not sure if we would be able to manage the main course.

Big chunks of okra in a tomato and onion based sauce made up the Bammieh B’Zeit. It was served with a dish of vermicelli rice. The main course had a lot of flavour to it and it is always nice to have the different type of rice combined with the noodles.

The food at Hiba Express was cooked fresh and there were fairly big portions. The main course was served while we were still having our mezze, so we asked the staff if they could keep it warm until we were ready for it. They kept it covered with foil and on their hot plate until we had finished the starters.

To finish the meal and to have something a little palate cleansing, the Fresh Fruit Platter was chosen. This was a selection of sliced banana, melon, pineapple and orange. It was nice that we could see the staff preparing the fruit at the fruit counter.

For drinks, it had to be one of the fresh juices and the combination chosen was mango and pineapple. Another good drink to end the meal was the mint tea, which was served by the pot!

Hiba Express gave us good service and quality food in a relaxed environment! It will be tempting to go back there for a takeaway meal. One thing to note is that it is open until the late hours!

Hiba Express, 113 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6JQ

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Joe Allen – Covent Garden

Reviewed on May 9th, 2013 by Dina

If you didn’t know that Joe Allen was along this very small quiet side street, it would not be the obvious place to look for a restaurant. It is hidden away from the all the main restaurants in Covent Garden.

Joe Allen is on the lower ground floor and the red brick walls leading to the the restaurant are full of framed posters. The same style of wall decor is continued throughout the whole of the dining area. The restaurant area is quite big with round wooden tables and there are a couple of alcoves as well. The service was good and the staff were friendly and professional.

The menu was interesting and varied with seasonal daily specials. The quinoa and garden pea fritters were just that, as in they were not mixed with any potato. Hence, the fritters had a very crumbly texture to them when they were cut into. The sweetness of the peas was lovely.

Joe Allen InteriorJoe AllenJoe Allen EntranceJoe Allen Quinoa and Pea FrittersJoe Allen Minted New PotatoesJoe Allen Apple and Blackberry Crumble Cake

The heritage carrots and parsnips that made up some of this dish were roasted nicely. This meal was a vegetarian’s delight! The pea cress and the mint and coriander sauce completed the dish. The side of minted new potatoes were a nice accompaniment to the meal!

Our meal ended with some dessert! The combination of crumble and cake is a match made in heaven! The apple and blackberry crumble cake was a big portion. A thin layer of crumble topped the chunky fruit pieces. The cake portion was soft and light. It was served with vanilla cream.

The only thing that did bother me with Joe Allen was that the restaurant was too dimly lit. It may have just been to the particular place that we had been seated. It was to the point where it seemed that we were eating our meal with the aid of a single tealight. We couldn’t really see what was on our plates and what we were actually eating. So it was a kind of a hit and miss with each mouthful, wondering which vegetables were on my fork!

Apart from that, everything was nice at Joe Allen’s from the quality and freshness of the food, the ambiance and the friendly staff!

Joe Allen, 13 Exeter Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7DT

Rating: ★★★★☆

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