Experimental Cocktail Club

The girl on the door, so I hear, can be a bit of a "Nazi".  I haven't personally experienced this, but I can believe that to be the case for some people.  The first barrier to entry is finding the unmarked door.  This accomplished, you need to get past the clipboard.  After a once over, the better half and I were admitted entry, it was early, 8pm on a Friday night.  Up the stairs, check the coat, and the main bar is jumping.  We found a couple of foot stool sort of seats and had a look at the menu.  This wasn't really comfortable, so we grabbed the passing waiter, and he found a space for us 1 floor up.  This waiter turned out to be CoCo.  You can't miss him.  He's like a little German leprechaun of drink serving delight.  That's not meant to sound offensive, he's great.  The drinks are all around a tenner, and have all been very good thus far.  CoCo will happily have something made something up for you too, if you tell him what you like.   Definitely going to return - but early - £5 cover after 11pm.

Creamy Madras something or other?

Experience No. 2

Basil Smash

Two True Shokutsū Two True Shokutsū Author

Leong's Legends

Ground Pork Rice Bowl
My better half first encountered XLBs in Taiwan a couple of years ago.  She's been looking for something comparable in London ever since.  I recently visited Leong's Legends II with TehBus for lunch, and thought I'd go back to the original with the wife for dinner.  We visited on a Friday night, so were ready to wait before being seated.  You don't queue outside though, you get ushered through the restaurant to line up on the staircase which leads to the lavatories and kitchen.  You can also order a drink at this point it seems, which will be served to you on the stairs.

Leong's Braised Pork Belly
The line moved relatively fast, and we were seated right at the top of the stairs - hungry patrons ogling our table :-).  We started with Ground Pork Rice Bowl.  The meat is seasoned with star anise - I'm really not a fan of that particular spice.  This dish is not for me.

The dishes arrive as they are ready.  Next to show was Leong's Braised Pork Belly.  This was more like it.  A lot of fat going on here, but a decent amount of meat too.  Absolutely delicious.  You might want a side of rice too.

Pan Fried Garlic Shoot
Or, as we chose, the Pan Fried Garlic Shoot.  This was really delicious, and a welcome change in texture from the pork belly (note that this dish is not available at Leong's Leegends II).  It's so simple.  But it's so good.  Fresh, cripsy, and really cuts through nicely.

Onto the main reason we were here, the XLBs.  Or is that SLB?  Leong's Siu Loung Bao were I'm afraid  just too doughy tonight.  They needed to roll them a little thinner or something - I haven't actually watched the creation process of yet, so I have no idea if they are rolled - but the chef's are on display, so I'll have a look next time.  The ratio of soup to dough is just a little off unfortunately.  The delicate soup inside though is delicious, with hints of lemongrass and ginger, and the meat texture completing the package.  Just be careful - they can be hot!  They are good, and I will have them again.  I suggest you give them a go.

Leong's Siu Loung Bao

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Two True Shokutsū Two True Shokutsū Author


The fact that the telephone number on the sign sticking out into the street, and on the glass front window, is at least at least 11 years old (if not more - 0171 phone numbers were replaced with 0207 on the 22nd April 2000!) definitely means that Sakana-Tei is not interested in taking bookings from passing business.  For a Wednesday night, the place certainly had quite a few patrons.  So I guess they don't have to worry about.

Upon entering, you're either welcomed up a few steps, or sent to the basement.  We were assigned the latter - so I never even got a look into the main floor.  I'm assuming this is the more desireable section of the restaurant.  We descended some relatively steep steps and were assigned a table.  The basement is pretty brightly lit with a good 10 or so tables of varying sizes, including some booths.  There's not really a lot of ambience going on here. It's pretty functional.
We sat and were served an amuse bouche - a little broth containing daikon, carrot, bamboo.  This was simple and quite tasty indeed.

The specials board contains about 40 items on average - and it's only in Japanese.  So if you want to try something not available on the regular menu, you better bring a friendly translator.

Chirashi don
We ordered some Shishamo to kick off the evening.  Quite the Japanese delicacy - and full of eggs.  Which is a little weird, I must admit.  I left most of this to my better half.

Another "side" of squid, crab and cream croquets.  These were rather overwhelmingly creamy, but the meat textures came through, and the crust was perfectly crispy.

Sushi nigiri special
For mains, Y went for chriashi don, and I the sushi nigiri special.  Unfortunately for me, this is where the meal turned south.  I was around halfway through my sushi selection, when I took a bit of the single piece of flounder.  I found this had a distinctly chemical taste.  So much so that I had to remove it from my mouth.  I'm at a lost to explain what was went on here, it didn't smell off, it looked alright - but that taste was just... scary.  Needless to say, this sort of spoiled my meal.  The rest of the sushi was just ok.  As you can see from the pic, the rolls were poorly put together, and were falling apart on the plate as they were placed in front of me.  The chirasi was seemingly generous, and again, the review was just, ok.  We're still sticking to Atari-ya for regular sushi outings for now it seems.

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Japan finds the recipes and does the cooking, England takes the pictures and writes the words. Then we both eat the results!