One of the nice things about visiting London is that it is one of those metropolitan cities that still has a real Chinatown (well, like most any Chinatown, it is in constant flux and has a mixed history, like how it’s also the home of some of the French historical sites, like the Church of Notre Dame De France), and that means a chance for dim sum. This wasn’t our first London Chinatown dim sum foray (that being New World Chinese a few years back), but more than a few of London’s more reputable review sites all age that Imperial China is the ne plus ultra of London dim sum joints (hey, I can use French, it’s literally across the street from the French church!). So when my brother and I wanted to take my parents out for a Sunday dinner after church, we wandered over to Chinatown to check out Imperial China.
And we always like to go to at least one higher-end restaurant every time we visit London. This time, my brother picked Bocca di Lupo ("Mouth of the Wolf") in Soho, with a lunch reservation (since it turned out that, six weeks out, a reasonable dinner reservation for four was difficult) for lunch. In any case, Bocca is regarded as one of London’s best Italian Restaurants, despite the issues in getting a seat (although the brave and the individual traveler should note that Bocca di Lupo’s bar overlooking the kitchen is reserved for walk-ins). It’s also one of the places that seems to be embracing the open kitchen concept. While that concept has been raging in the US for several years, it doesn’t seem to be nearly as common in the UK, but at Bocca you can see most of the cooking happening mere feet from some of the diners at the bar (not always to ones’ benefit, since at one point someone working the line obviously burnt some onions).
Our next evening in London was a bit of an exploration. We started off by heading to Seven Dials for drinks at Detroit. Despite a name that makes most Americans snicker, it’s actually a rather good cocktail bar, and for bonus points, we got to meet up with Richard Barnett, the author of the most excellent Book of Gin. After Detroit, we decided to do dinner in the area. The immediate Soho/Covent Garden area has rather a few decent Indian places (in particular, we’ve previously enjoyed The Punjab, London’s oldest Indian restaurant, which was booked solid this time). We ended up at Mela, an Indian place on Shaftesbury that has a rather good reputation as well.
The next day in London, we decided to go on a walking tour of the London Underground from London Walks, which was a rather insightful romp through Baker Street, King’s Cross, Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Embankment, and Westminster Tube stations, and one I highly recommend. But at the end of our tour, we found ourselves by Piccadilly Circus and hungry for lunch. With the fond memories of our trip to Bone Daddies still fresh in our head, we were again hungry for Ramen. This time we checked out Shoryu, who has one location a short walk from the Circus.
Since my last visit to London, a new ramen shop has opened up in Soho, and it’s been getting a lot of coverage in the various review sites, like TimeOut London. I always like a good ramen joint (heck, I found a truly excellent one hiding in Canton, MI), and while there are several decently-rated ramen joints in London still on my hit list, after reading Krista’s review of Bone Daddies on Passport Delicious, I decided to bump it up to the top of the list, especially after hearing how much she enjoyed the eggs.