Dotori – Finsbury Park, London

Getting a table at Dotori in Finsbury Park is like seeing  a unicorn. Okay – maybe more like seeing a shooting star.

No one ever picks up the phone, you cannot just rock up because its always booked up, and when you go there you need to go during their opening hours and book at least 1 week in advance.

You hear stories about people going Dotori and having such a good time and it sounds like its a fairy tale or a myth!

Well, my turn has come to tell my tale of the time I finally got a table at Dotori.

Emma and I went for our housemate Christmas Meal at the end of last year. and we got ourselves a feast of glorious Japanese/Korean goodness.

20151220_193402The Salmon Temaki (£3.80 each) is a salmon and roe hand roll which was a refreshing start to the meal – the seafood is so fresh I would definitely recommend some sushi/sashimi/temaki with your meal. The Tofu Jeon (£4.50) was a bit more bland than I thought it would be so I wouldn’t recommend.20151220_194406

20151220_194541Samgyeopsal (£7) is a Korean style BBQ pork which comes with lettuce leaves that you use to wrap around the pork (like a fajita, ish) and that was gorgeously flavoured and came served on a sizzling hot plate. The Ebi Tempura (£7.50) is a prawn tempura dish which was crisp and authentic.

And finally the Haemul Pageon (£7) a seafood pancake which is a favourite of mine and it comes on a massive dish so its perfect for sharing.edited_1450639613067If you have the opportunity to visit the legend that is Dotori – You must! It is a tiny little place, always super packed but the service and food are fabulous!

 

http://dotorirestaurant.wix.com/dotorirestaurant

https://www.zomato.com/london/dotori-finsbury-park

Potato Head Beach Club – Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia

20150625_172044Potato Head Beach Club is a restaurant and bar with a pool and day beds. Jack and I went after a day of surfing for a bit of a lounge around, drinks and ended up staying on for dinner as well.

It is such a nice atmosphere with music playing and a pool to jump into when you are hot and the restaurant faces the sunset which is beautiful.20150625_182630The cocktails are out of this world amazing! They manage to put a special touch to every single one of their drinks which I absolutely adored about the place. For example, my Bloody Mary came with chopstick, wasabi and soya sauce, a sugar cane stick with the Mojito and they would put fresh fruit out with the fruity cocktails. 20150625_184004We started with the Krupuk crusted Pacific Ocean squid, squid ink aioli and sweet chili (Rp90,000) and the Papua mangrove soft shell crab, steam buns, cucumber, wasbi, spring onion, coridander (Rp140,000). Both of which were served with amazing presentation and absolutely gorgeous flavours.

We shared a main of Slipper lobster roll, thousand island dressing, blue swimmer crab claws, butter lettuce, avocado (RP220,000) and some Rustic fries (Rp40,000). It was the perfect amount of picky finger food to go with all our cocktails. The lobster roll was so fresh and tasted like the sea!

A little pricey for Indonesia, but worth the cost. If you are ever in Bali, I definitely recommend going.20150625_193523

http://www.ptthead.com/

https://www.zomato.com/bali/potato-head-beach-club-seminyak/menu#tabtop

 

Warung Murah – Seminyak, Bali

On the way to Double-Six Beach in Seminyak, there is an open aired restaurant which has a buffet of mouth watering Indonesian food behind a glass window where you point at what you want and the servers add it to your rattan dish.

I always choose the red rice (which has a deliciously nutty flavour), some meat (usually grilled chicken) and some stir fried vegetables. It is healthy, full of wonderful flavours and spices, and costs me only Rp.20,000 (£1 – yes ONE BRITISH POUND!).

Belly is full and happy and ready for some lounging on the beach.

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https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g469404-d1182597-Reviews-Warung_Murah-Seminyak_Bali.html

Honest Burger – Camden Lock, London

I was told that I HAD to go to Honest Burger becauset the burgers were out of this world amazing! I even have friends with Honest Burger obsessions. I could even go as far as calling them addictions as they seem to go through Honest Burger withdrawls when they haven’t had one for a whole month.

So, I needed to try this raved about meat sensation.

Renata and I went for our first Honest Burger experience together along with Emma (a solid Honest Burger fan) in their Camden Lock branch which is situated within the hustle and bustle of the touristy Camden markets.

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I took a bite and knew it wasn’t going to be a burger that I would be having burger dreams about or drool at the thought of another one. Was it a case that everyone had talked it up so much that I imagined it to be something that it wasn’t?

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I ordered the cheese burger with mature cheddar and onion relish which came with rosemary fries (£9). £9 for a burger and chips is a good deal for a burger in a restaurant in London. So that is a positive. The burger itself though – not so positive.

Firstly, the burger meat was thick but smaller than the bun (my burger pet peeve – I mean, why get a bun that is bigger than your burger meat? Who wants to just eat burger bun bread?).

The meat was nice and pink on the inside and it wasn’t dry, but there was nothing special about it. Yes, it was good burger meat, but I thought it was going to be glorious burger meat. I thought it was going to be the kind of burger meat that was so juicy that it basically had its own gravy on the inside that dribbles out once you take a bite (now that is what I call a glorious burger). The cheese was melted wonderfully over it and I did really like the red onion relish but the bun was dry so I did not eat that.

I must, however, give a big round of applause to the rosemary fries. Bravo! Bravo! They are great. Especially with a side order of chipotle mayonnaise.

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Another disappointment were the onion rings (£3.50) which were basically large donuts with a thin onion ring on the inside – I mean how much batter done one onion ring need??

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Overall, it was good burger, not a glorious burger. I say go for the fries and mayo but don’t rush to book a day off from work for the rest.

 

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Double Six Beach Bakso Street Stall – Bali

Once upon a time in a far far away land, there lived a man and his wife who worked, everyday without fail, at their own magical noodle soup street stall which cures all hangovers of all the village people. All the people from the village would travel from far and wide to come and try his magical noodle soup after their village parades and fetes…

Is what would be a great start to a wonderful fairy tale. Instead I will tell you about the real noodle soup stall that I am absolutely in love with.

On a beach called Double-Six Beach in Bali, Indonesia there is a street stall which call themselves Bakso Gerobak Biru, which makes such a great Indonesian meatball noodle soup. Eating this, while sitting on the beach and looking out at the waves, in the sunshine, seriously is the best hangover cure. The meatballs are the bouncy oriental type and the noodles are a mixture of egg noodles and rice noodles which comes in a broth soup. He has the best homemade chili sauce that I love to pour all over it for a bit of spice. Costs just 50p (Rp10,000).

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While sitting on on Double-Six Beach you will definitely have a coconut seller come up to you. My advice – GET ONE! It costs a mere 50p (Rp10,000)A fresh young coconut that someone has cut open right in front of you is definitely better than any of those packaged drinks from the supermarket. This refreshing thing, partnered along with that gorgeous bowl of noodle soup, is the answer to all your hang over questions… best cure ever!

You just need to get a flight out there.

Finks Salt and Sweet – Highbury, London

In Highbury, nestled in the suburban townhouses, the is a very small cafe called Finks Salt and Sweet that I would absolutely recommend. In the summer there are little tables outside so you can sit out in the sunshine.

They do a great cup of coffee and they have a simple fresh menu and are so well priced.

I ordered the avocado, rose harissa and goats cheese on sour dough toast £5 and I asked for some smoked salmon £1.50 to go on top. I was surprised how well the harissa went with the avocado and added an element of Mediterranean spice to it but still had a freshness to it. It definitely kept me full for ages and tasted amazing!

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As I have realised my obsession with mashed avocado on toast, to end to end this post I have written:

An Ode to Avocado on Toast

You are bright and beautifully coloured,

You are healthy and so super great,

You taste fresh and fill me up,

And you look perfect on a plate.

Avocado,

When you are smashed,

When you are mushed,

And you are bashed,

You are absolutely wonderful to me.

 

http://finks.co.uk/

 

What They Don’t Mention About The London Dream

Maybe I was just tired this morning, but as I walked to the tube station looking up at the grey London sky above me (most likely filled with a mixture of pollution and rain) and the trash filled streets around me and the parade of other people also marching towards the tube, I thought to myself – surely this isn’t all that life has to offer?

As I was moved by the crowd of people through the station barriers and into the platform where I wait (still in a crowd) for three trains to pass by while standing behind a woman who keep flicking her hair into my eyeballs and mouth before I get pushed and shoved into the next train – my face firmly put in a gentleman’s armpit who is holding onto a pole/handrail above me, on my other side a woman yawns into my face and I can actually smell the coffee on her breath, while I try to use the crowd of people and my leg muscles to balance myself as there is no space for me to breath let alone hold onto any poles. This whole experience costs me £130 per month for a zone 1-2 travel pass.

The tube stops in the black tunnel mid-journey and I hear the muffled voice of the tube driver and I just about make out something about someone pressing the emergency alarm on the tube in front of us.

As I sprint from the tube station to my office (perspiring even in the middle of winter) worried about being late and having to explain myself even though I had no meetings this morning and even though I stayed in the office late and continued working at home until I went to bed (as I do most Mondays to Wednesdays) for the salary that just about covers the London living costs.

These London living costs are for example – the norm of a good deal of a room for £700 per month bedroom in a shared house before bills in zone 2 (yes, that is just for the bedroom and no, don’t even think about moving to zone 3 for £10 per month cheaper rent because then your travel costs go up by £50 per month), the £130 per month for travel, the ridiculously priced gyms that cost on average £85 per month (yes, in London there are gyms that market themselves as cheap and still cost £45 per month).

Then there are what I like to call the self-inflicted costs of London living. They say London is a vibrant city where there is always something to do and something going on – whether it be a food festival, a new brunch restaurant, a gig, or a cool new speakeasy cocktail bar.

Bare in mind – for just a burger at a food festival you pay £7 and chips on the side will be £5, the brunch spot will be £10 for just a Bloody Mary (which of course is a must at a brunch), the gig costs a minimum of £40 per ticket and £5 for a warm, flat beer served in a plastic pint, and the cool speakeasy cocktail bar charges £15-25 for one cocktail!!

Hence my blog being about the wonderful AFFORDABLE places to eat in London that are family run or started as family run businesses.

I went up to a small village in the North of England the other weekend and I felt like I was robbing the pub when I got a round of drinks for 8 people for £15. There were no trash filled streets. The air felt fresh even though it was cold. There was space to walk around without anyone’s pony tail being swished in my face (I could do jumping jacks in the street and not hit anyone in the face). People lived in houses, not rooms, not broken down houses with mold hidden by a layer of paint and where the living room has been changed into a bedroom so they can afford to live in it, but a whole actual real person house! I feel ever so slightly cheated.

Tuesday-Winter-Morning Blues.