Busaba – London

Today, I want to talk about one of my favourite place to eat in London!

Busaba is an Asian/Thai chain restaurant located in different areas of the city, so it won’t be too hard to find one! 

Shoreditch has a magical atmosphere, the restaurant has a romantic atmosphere created by dim orange lights and little bamboo fountains with pink flowers floating on the water at the entrance. It’s a place where you can go either for drinks with your girls or for a date. I went some time ago with some work colleagues for a birthday and I really enjoyed it. They have lots of vegan and vegetarian options, so it won’t be a struggle to choose what to eat. 

Bond Street is more suitable for work lunches. The restaurant itself is not really big, but the disposition of the tables is very practical. The service is fast and the waiters are polite and friendly. You will see that their clientele is pretty much corporate people working in the area. I went for the first time with my parents, they never tried Thai cuisine before and they were happily surprised.

Shepher’s Bush is located just before Westfield, so it’s ideal for an informal lunch before going shopping or a nice dinner with friends after going to the movies. I went to Busaba in Shepherd’s Bush many times, especially when I was living in the area. What I can say? It never disappoints me!

With fresh crunchy veggies, crispy tofu, garnished with crushed peanuts and fresh spring onions, this Pad Thai is a classic are you’re gonna love it. You can add soy sauce for an extra taste, but it’s delicious even keeping it basic. Among the soft drinks Guava Collins is the best, not too sweet and so refreshing!

The Sriracha Ho Fu Noodles are a flavor explosion in your mouth. Stuffed with wok-fried mushrooms, red peppers and baby spinach seasoned with sweet chilli, soy and ginger sauce will fill your belly guilt free.

Fried to perfection (who likes oily fingertips?!), the Por-Pi Jay are crispy vegetable spring rolls with Thai sweet chilli sauce, ideal as a starter or for sharing. The spicy and super creamy Green Curry Jay is infused with lemongrass, chilli and ginger garnished with courgette, peas, zucchini, aubergines, onions, bamboo and sweet basil. It’s accompanied by a small portion of rice of your choice, I had coconut milk rice and it was delicious, down side: the portion was pretty small. A hearty dish that will make your heart sing!

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Al Waha – Notting Hill W2

My parents usually come to visit me every two years. The first time they came, we did all the most touristy things, so this time I decided to show them my favourite places in London. The area I love the most is Notting Hill: so pretty, so quiet, so classy, so clean, so white (ehm, ehm). It’s funny though, because most of the people I have been talking to say they just go there for the Carnival. I have been to the Notting Hill Carnival once, and I thought it was ok, but I guess is a bit too much for me, too crowded, too many drunk people, too many hot and shirtless honeys… God, I was going crazy with all those abs popping out! 

Anyway, I took my parents to the area, because I really like it and because I wanted to show them where I was living two years ago. Every time, I say to people I was living in Notting Hill their eyes enlightened and I imagine them thinking about Blair Waldorf, I mean we are both brunettes with an expensive taste…

What I was saying? Oh right, so we went there and I was planning to take them to my favourite vegan restaurant, but unfortunately it was fully booked, so we decided to walk around and look for a place with enough options for me. I mean my mum is literally a copycat, I have the feeling that for her just because I live in London everything I do is super cool, so when we are together she has to try all the things I eat, like even hummus is a major thing, because in Italy you can’t easily find it, unless you make it at home. My dad instead is the typical Italian, with strong food traditions that no one can touch and he always feels the need to make stupid jokes about it. But fortunately we found a place that could satisfy everyone.

Al Waha is a Lebanese restaurant located in the middle of Westbourne Grove in Notting Hill. You can see that Al Waha it’s not a franchise restaurant (like everything in London), from its outdoor aspect: the full building has a violet pastel colour that clashes completely with its surroundings. The decor inside is a bit cringy too, most probably the restaurant has been open for quite a while and now it would be the right time for a full renovation. But, please don’t be discouraged by the looks, because it would be a shame! The place is pretty small and quiet and the staff is remarkably polite.

After ordering your food, the waiter will bring you a very healthy appetizer: a bowl with some lettuce, a whole unsliced tomato, some carrots and a piece of cucumber with some olives. I guess you can decide either to leave it or starting munching on the veggies like a bunny!

Their food was simply amazing! They have a vegetarian tasting menu, with a little bit of everything you could find on the a la carte menu: falafel, hummus, Babaganush, mixed pickled veggies and fatayer. Most of these dishes are pretty common in our lives, but the quality of the ingredients is to the next level, nothing comparable to what we can find at the supermarket. Since I always like to try what is exotic and unusual to me I decided to order the Moussakaat Batinjan; a small bowl with fried aubergines, chickpeas, onions, tomatoes, garlic, and spices. It’s a cold starter and it seemed that has been taken out from the freezer just before serving it. The dish itself was delicious, but due to weather conditions (Summer WTF?) and my personal taste, it could have been a little bit warmer.

Fatayer is a hot starter made of puff pastry stuffed with spinach, onions, pomegranate, pine nuts, and walnuts. The taste is delicate and simple really homemade style. Probably something that our grannies could do.

The baclava, at the end of the meal, are on the house. Beware: they are super duper sweet and I don’t suggest you try them unless you have a sweet tooth (really, I just stared at them). It’s really difficult to find some genuine place here in London, so I was quite surprised when I tried Al Waha. I strongly suggest you go and see for yourself. The prices are slightly cheaper than other restaurants so it’s a win-win situation!

Let me know in the comments if you ever tried Al Waha restaurant. I am curious to know your opinion!

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222 Vegan Cuisine – West Kensington W14

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222 is a vegan small restaurant located in West Kensington. I went for the first time with a date and it gets easily over crowded, we had to wait for more than one hour, even we booked a table for two. The place itself is a rectangular room that’s probably more suitable for a café rather than a restaurant. The place was very busy and it seemed like they overbook, accepting also customers with no reservation. The tables are so attached to each other that you will probably have dinner with a stranger: we could clearly overhear other’s conversation. So, it’s not the best place for an intimate candlelit dinner! The place has basically no decor, apart from some long mirrors hung on the walls. I guess, the purpose is to give the impression of a bigger space, well mission failed darlin’.

We were definitely starving after more than an hour waiting outside so we decided to have a starter and some smoothies before our food. We chose the raw vegetables appetizer with three different dips: red bell peppers hummus, guacamole, and cashew cream. The texture of the sauces was intense and enveloping, the type you can easily binge on if you just have had tortillas instead of cucumber and zucchini sticks! I ordered detox smoothie, because I love my veggies, you know! The glass was gianormous, I wasn’t able to finish it, but anyway it was nothing special… I mean you can make the same stuff at home with a blender (no, a Vitamix is not required), spending way less money. My date had a protein cocoa smoothie. The taste was really chocolatey, but not super sweet like industrial milkshakes, the consistency was really smooth and silky, and  so thick it has its own thighs. Basically, it could have been a post workout meal, no doubts.

As main dish I had the mushroom and seitan stroganoff. It’s kind of a wintery dish, very hearty and super filling. The seitan had a strong meaty texture and was properly cooked. The cream was so delicate that was simply like a taste of heaven and it was full of fat meaty mushrooms. The dish had also a small cup of wild rice, even though as a proper italian I would have preferred some freshly baked bread to do some scarpetta with the delicious cream. 

The prices are slightly expensive, but totally worthy for the quality of the ingredients. This place is super recommended if you will be patient enough to wait! 

Cruditees with three dips
Mushroom & Seitan Stroganoff

ITA

222 è un piccolo ristorante vegano situato a West Kensington. Sono andata per la prima volta per un primo appuntamento e devo dire che si riempie molto facilmente, abbiamo dovuto aspettare più di un’ora, anche se avevamo prenotato un tavolo per due. Il posto in sé è una stanza rettangolare probabilmente più adatta ad un bar piuttosto che a un ristorante. Era molto affollato e sembrava che avessero accettato piu’ prenotazioni di quanta disponibilita’ realmente avessero, accettando anche clienti senza prenotazione. I tavoli sono così vicini l’uno all’altro che probabilmente si avra’ l’onore di cenare con degli sconosciuti: si poteva chiaramente sentire le conversazioni degli altri tavoli. Non il posto migliore per un’intima cena a lume di candela!

Il locale non ha alcun elemento d’arredo, a parte alcuni specchi lunghi appesi alle pareti. Immagino che lo scopo sia quello di dare l’impressione di uno spazio più ampio, beh non ci sono riusciti affatto! Dopo più di un’ora in attesa fuori stavamo morendo di fame, cosi’ abbiamo deciso di prendere un antipasto e alcuni frullati per iniziare. Abbiamo scelto l’antipasto di verdure crude con tre diverse salse: hummus di peperoni rossi, guacamole e crema di anacardi. La consistenza delle salse era intensa e avvolgente, tipo che se avessi avuto dei doritos invece di bastoncini di cetriolo e zucchine, mi ci sarei abbuffata! Ho ordinato un frullato di disintossicazione, perché adoro le mie verdure, lo sai! Il bicchiere era gigantesco, non ero in grado di finirlo, ma comunque non era niente di speciale … Voglio dire, puoi fare le stesse cose a casa con un frullatore (no, non è necessario un Vitamix), spendendo molto meno denaro . Il mio appuntamento aveva un frullato proteico al cacao. Il gusto era davvero cioccolatoso, ma non super dolce come i frullati industriali, la consistenza era davvero liscia e setosa, e così spessa che ha le sue cosce. Fondamentalmente, avrebbe potuto essere un pasto post allenamento, senza dubbio. Come piatto principale ho avuto il filetto alla Stroganoff di funghi e seitan. È una specie di piatto invernale, molto abbondante e super abbondante. Il seitan aveva una forte consistenza carnosa ed era ben cotto. La crema era così delicata che era semplicemente come un assaggio di paradiso ed era piena di funghi grassi e carnosi. Il piatto aveva anche una piccola tazza di riso selvatico, anche se da vero italiano avrei preferito del pane appena sfornato per fare un po ‘di scarpetta con la deliziosa crema. I prezzi sono leggermente costosi, ma assolutamente degni per la qualità degli ingredienti. Questo posto è super consigliato se sarai abbastanza paziente da aspettare!

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Where The Pancakes Are – London Bridge SE1

ENG

Where the pancakes are is a very instagramable little place, with a clean and easy design and touches of peach pastel color, located 10 mins walking from London Bridge. It’s situated inside a small outdoor street food market, the perfect place for a beer during summer, keep it in mind for the next one… 

Since the place is really small, you would probably need to book in advance. The menu isn’t too complicated as you have two sections, sweet & savoury, and there are five to six options for each section and they also have a vegan batter. For vegan folks, it would be even easier since the range of options are literally two, but at least one is a full rich breakfast so if you are planning to go on a Sunday morning, the risk to be starving afterwards is really low. The American classic consists in four-five savoury pancakes topped with maple syrup and fruit and a dash of icing sugar. The pancake batter is sweet and savoury, something that left me and my taste buds happily confused, like you know TMI to process all at the same time… The pancakes were properly cooked, flawless I would say, but to be honest the menu should have more plant based options!

They opened a few months ago, so if you like to be really cool and be on top of Londinium’s trends, you must check this place out!

American Classic Pancakes

ITA

Where the pancakes are è un posto molto instagramabile, dal design semplice, pulito e tocchi di color rosa pesca, ci si arriva camminando per 10 minuti da London Bridge. È situato all’interno di un piccolo food market, luogo perfetto per una birra d’estate, magari la prossima…

Il posto è davvero piccolo, quindi meglio prenotare in anticipo. Il menu’ non è troppo complicato poiché ha solo due sezioni, dolce e salata, da cinque a sei opzioni per ognuna. Hanno anche la pastella per i pancake vegana! Per le persone vegane, le opzioni sono letteralmente due in croce, ma almeno una delle due è una ricca colazione, quindi se si ha intenzione di andare , il rischio di morire di fame è relativamente basso. L’american Classic consiste in quattro pancake salati conditi con sciroppo d’acero, frutta fresca e una spolverata di zucchero a velo. La pastella per pancake è dolce-salata, qualcosa che ha lasciato me e le mie papille gustative felicemente confuse, troppe informazioni da elaborare tutte allo stesso tempo…

I pancake sono molto buoni, ma secondo me dovrebbero avere piu’ scelta vegetale. Hanno aperto alcuni mesi fa, quindi se vi piace essere davvero alla moda e essere in cima alle tendenze della citta’, andate a dare un’occhiata!

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The Gate Hammersmith – London W6

ENG

The Gate is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Hammersmith. The building has a particular entrance that gives the impression you are rather going to church. Even the smell in the hall doesn’t help, kind of Sunday-school like! The restaurant itself is on the first floor. The room is fairly quiet and doesn’t have many tables. The ceiling is very high with a large window that allows the whole restaurant to be lit without the need for artificial light. The furniture is very simple, kept to the bare minimum, something in between minimal, arte povera and wrought-iron; a style that lately seems to be a must in London, if you want your bar to be trendy (such an outdated world right?!) and make money at the same time. The décor has been completed with green leafy plants and industrial style naked bulbs hanging from the ceiling. The jazz music in the background makes the atmosphere enveloping and sophisticated, making you feel like a freelancer drinking black americano in Brooklyn. Well, this is actually one of my #lifegoals.

During the weekend, The Gate offers the Sunday Roast menu which includes two courses for around £20 and no roast, apparently. I had the artichoke terrine as a starter with a dried tomato paste and grilled bread. The whole thing left me somehow confused, it was too salty for my taste. Now, I love food but I’m not an expert (yet), especially about vegan food culture, so I was eating all the components of the dish separately and it was all kinda just cold, salty and plain, but maybe I was doing everything wrong! So I tried to eat everything together with the bread and the paste, it still it was not such a big thing to me. I have to say though, that the presentation of the dish was very pretty and the bread was freshly baked.  As a main dish, I had the beetroot burger with fries and greens on the side and I can clearly say that this dish is not their forte. The little salad had fresh taste with the tasty Dijon mustard vinaigrette. The burger itself instead, was pretty rubbery: basically a pink chemical agglomerate of glue that can easily be found at the supermarket. The matchstick chips were so thin like angel hairs, on the plate more as a decoration.

The staff was nice and polite however, the service was really slow, so slow we had to wait about two hours to have our main dishes, and the restaurant wasn’t even crowded. They completely forgot about us and thought we had finished our meal. After we reminded them we were still waiting for our food, they brought us some olives and a freshly baked baguette to compensate. My friend ordered a huge stuffed onion and lemme tell you it was so plain that the only thing you could taste was the fork in your mouth. 

It wasn’t a bad experience, but few things were just not right. I don’t know if it deserves another try. Let me know if you ever tried The Gate in Hammersmith and if so, which dish to you suggest to try or avoid?

ITA

The Gate è un ristorante vegetariano/vegano ad Hammersmith. L’edificio ha un ingresso molto particolare, dà come l’impressione che tu stia andando in chiesa. Anche l’odore, tipo catechismo, nella hall non aiuta! Il ristorante si trova al primo piano; la stanza è abbastanza silenziosa e non ha molti tavoli. Il soffitto è molto alto con una grande finestra che consente di illuminare l’intero ristorante senza la necessità di luce artificiale. L’arredamento è molto semplice, ridotto al minimo, qualcosa tra minimal, arte povera e ferro battuto; uno stile che ultimamente sembra essere un must a Londra, se vuoi che il tuo bar sia alla moda (un mondo così vecchio, vero ?!) e guadagnare allo stesso tempo. L’arredamento è completato da piante a foglia verde e lampadine industriali appese al soffitto. La musica jazz in sottofondo rende l’atmosfera avvolgente e sofisticata, facendoti sentire come un libero professionista che beve un americano a Brooklyn. Beh, questo è in realtà uno dei miei sogni nel cassetto. Durante il fine settimana, 

The Gate offre il menu Sunday Roast che comprende due portate er il “modico” prezzo di £20. Io ho voluto provare il pate di carciofi come antipasto con una crema di pomodoro essiccato e del pane tostato. Il tutto mi ha lasciato in qualche modo confusa, era troppo salato per i miei gusti. Ora, io adoro il cibo ma non sono (ancora) un’ esperta in materia, specialmente riguardo alla cultura del cibo vegano… Stavo mangiando tutti i componenti del piatto separatamente ed era tutto un po’ freddo, salato e monotono, ma forse stavo facendo tutto sbagliato! Quindi ho provato a mangiaretutto insieme spalmando la crema di pomodori sul pane, ma non era comunque un granche’ secondo me. Devo dire però che la presentazione del piatto è stata molto carina e il pane era caldo di forno. Come piatto principale, ho ordinato l’hamburger di barbabietola con patatine fritte e verdure come contorno e posso dire che questo piatto non è il loro cavallo di battaglia, sinceramente. La piccola insalata aveva un sapore fresco dato dalla gustosa vinaigrette alla senape. 

Il burger invece era piuttosto gommoso – un agglomerato chimico rosa fosforescente colloso che può essere facilmente trovato al supermercato. Le patatine erano sottili come capelli d’angelo, più come decorazione. Il personale era gentile ed educato, ma il servizio andava molto a rilento, così tanto che abbiamo dovuto aspettare circa due ore per avere i nostri piatti principali e il ristorante non era nemmeno affollato. Si sono completamente dimenticati di noi addirittura hanno pensato che avessimo finito di mangiare. Dopo aver ricordato loro che stavamo ancora aspettando, ci hanno portato delle olive e una baguette appena sfornata per compensare. La mia amica ha ordinato un’enorme cipolla ripiena e lasciatemi dire che era così insapore che l’unica cosa da assaporare era la forchetta in bocca. Non è stata una brutta esperienza, ma alcune cose non andavano proprio. Non so se merita un ulteriore tentativo.

Fatemi sapere se avete mai provato The Gate ad Hammersmith e quale piatto suggerireste di provare o evitare?

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