Unmissable food and drink in London
Founded in Camden in 1987, Bintang is a Filipino and Pan-Asian fusion restaurant with a menu that has a diverse range of influence from the delicacies of the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, and Japan. The family-run restaurant has been at the forefront of Pan-Asian fusion cuisine during it’s time in Camden over the span of 30 years, and some of its influence has been taken from the innovative creativity of Camden town. The inside of restaurant is small and intimate, with a refreshingly authentic interior layout. However, there is also a large garden out the back which is perfect for a summer evening.
The menu is incredibly eclectic but most outstanding is the nasi goreng, the lamb rendang curry, and of course their signature coconut-y bintang sauce, either with rice or stir fried with noodles. Possibly worth mentioning is that it’s cash-only, but definitely worth mentioning is that it’s BYOB. What’s more, they’ve recently opened Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream next door, if you have an appetite for dessert. Mamasons is a Filipino take on an ice-cream parlour, serving ice cream with a colourful concoction of Eastern-influenced flavours such as ube (purple yam) pandan, or black coconut. It’s the first Filipino dessert parlour in Europe, and it doesn’t disappoint for novelty.
93 Kentish Town Road
The literal translation of Kua’aina from Hawaiian is “back country” or “child of the land”. It is generally used to describe someone who lives humbly in the country and is not used to city life, but native Hawaiians use it to describe someone who actively keeps Hawaiian culture and the spirit of the land alive. Originating in 1975 in North Shore, Hawaii as a fairly-priced, informal chargrilled burger and sandwich joint, the spirit of the original Kua’aina grill has stayed alive in London.
Centrally located off Carnaby Street in Soho, Kua’aina serves burgers and sandwiches with a selection of homemade seasonings that have an unmistakable lava-grilled taste. Including their unique signature burgers such as the fiery classic Kua’aina cheeseburger, and ‘The Duke’, a zesty bacon and avocado burger. They have an eclectic vegetarian menu also, which includes a delicious grilled halloumi burger, and a garlic and thyme infused Portobello mushroom burger. There’s even a breakfast menu now. The compact Carnaby street restaurant does not take bookings but everyone is sure to be seated swiftly. However, you can make bookings at the larger branch on Goodge Street, just a 10 minute walk away. Service is quick and friendly, and the casual atmosphere makes for the perfect lunch location. Also if my assurance of this quality burger isn’t good enough, perhaps it’s worth knowing that the original Kua’aina is former US President Barack Obama’s favourite burger joint whenever he returns home to Hawaii.
26 Foubert’s Place,
020 7287 7474
CRATE Bar and Pizzeria
Located on the ground floor of The White Building, a former warehouse turned centre for art, technology, and sustainability, is the CRATE Bar and Pizzeria. The space is unique, with seats made up of ratchet straps, and a bar made up of ladders and old railway sleepers. There’s some further benches outside overlooking the canal, which has boats to use in the summer, and a canal boat which serves as a secret bar in itself. Along with the opening of CRATE bar, evolved CRATE brewery and the Brew-shed. You can have a drink in the eclectic, industrial brew-shed, surrounded by a raw interior and shiny brew tanks, or even take a tour of the brewery itself. CRATE bar serves a range of meticulously sourced world beers, beers brewed on the grounds, and a small but supreme selection of wines and ciders. What’s more, within the CRATE space there is an open plan pizza kitchen with a stone bake oven. They serve hand-rolled pizzas ready to order, with completely fresh ingredients and an exciting combination of toppings. You can find the bar in Queen’s Yard in Hackney Wick along with a lot of other interesting establishments which share the space.
Unit 7, Queen’s Yard
Hackney Wick, London
Fri-Sat 12:00-00:00 (pizzeria closes at 23:00)
Besides the terracotta army, and for having one of the oldest and best preserved walls still surrounding the confines of the inner city, Xi’an is known for its street food. Most notably the yangrou paomo (lamb stew soup), the roujiamo (shredded meat sandwich), and most importantly, biang biang noodles. ‘Biang’ is one of the most complex Chinese characters, having 58 strokes in traditional Chinese, and 43 in simplified. The connection between the character and the noodles is unclear. Many say it is the sound people make when slurping the noodles, but others have said it’s actually the sound the chef makes when making the noodles, as they are hand pulled and then slapped onto the table. Another theory is that the character was fabricated by a student who was trying to evade paying a bill for the noodles. The noodles themselves have been compared often to a belt, due to their flatness and length, and they’re usually served in a spicy soup, topped with red peppers. It’s hard to find many restaurants outside of China that can replicate closely the street food delicacies of Shaanxi province, but Xi’an impression in Holloway does them justice. They serve all the Xi’an classics, including the best biang biang noodles I’ve ever had outside of China, in generous portions.
Head chef Wei is from Shaanxi himself, and the small, modest restaurant off Holloway Road looks refreshingly like a street food vendor you’d find in China. The service is incredibly quick, and they also deliver!
117 Benwell Road