Salvador and Amanda – Bloomsbury

Reviewed on April 17th, 2014 by Dina

Salvador and Amanda is a Spanish restaurant focussing on tapas. It has more of a bar like informal environment. There are small booth sections on the raised levels. The little white washed alcoves have cushioned seating and small buffets. Even though the seating was supposed to feel quite relaxing, it was difficult to get comfortable.

Our tapas selection started off with some salted smooth Marcona almonds and grilled tomato bread. The artisan bread was toasted and topped with a paste of fresh flavoursome tomatoes.

The Spanish omelette was a classic choice and you can never go wrong with the potatoes teamed with the egg. It was crispy on the outside and not overcooked.

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The highlights of the meal were the two fish dishes. The garlic black rice was delicious with the squid and prawns. The rice was cooked so that it was not too soft. The pan fried cod with samphire was a fairly big portion. The cod was succulent and came dressed in a light sauce.

The staff were friendly although at times it was hard to get their attention. There were no complaints to be had at all about the food. It was served swiftly and it was all tasty.

Salvador and Amanda is open till the early hours, just in case you are looking for somewhere late at night. It can be spotted by the neon lit sign on the exterior.

Salvador and Amanda, 1 Vernon Place, Bloomsbury, London, WC1A 2EP

Rating: ★★★★☆

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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.

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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!

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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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