Category Archives: UK
Back in December, I acted on a spurt of spontaneity and tagged along with my sister to London for her work trip, where I spent about 10 days there exploring the beautiful cosmopolitan city with its rich culture and architecture dating back to the medieval times. I did most of the traveling in the day by myself as my sister was working and while there was definitely some anxiety having to navigate the huge city by myself, especially since I have not been back in the last 17 years, I did end up having an amazing time.
With the help of Googlemaps and a London Tube iPhone App, getting around London was a breeze and even though we were there during the Winter season and London is notoriously known for its gloomy and rainy weather, we were extremely blessed to have had days of sunshine and little rainfall during our stay there.
And now I have put together a list of 5 things to do and see in the capital city of the United Kingdom which I hope will come in useful for anyone planning a free and easy trip there in the future!
London is home to four UNESCO World Heritage Sites- the Tower of London, Kew Gardens, the whole area made up of the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s Church and the historic settlement of Greenwich. These historic sites are insanely rich in history and is certainly worth the visit for a few (or many) photographs as keepsake, just to say ‘I HAVE BEEN TO LONDON’!
Recommendation: Take the tube to Westminster Station where you will exit right in front of the iconic Big Ben. The exit is also alongside the Victoria Embankment where you will be able to snap a couple of photographs with the London Eye (tallest Ferris Wheel in Europe) as your backdrop.
The Breakfast Club is by far one of London’s most popular breakfast/brunch franchise and judging from the long queues that snake from the inside of the cafe to the roads, it is no secret that this club is well loved by all. We made a huge mistake by coming here on a Sunday at 12pm, the ultimate brunch hour and needless to say, we had to queue. The wait was about an hour to an hour and a half during that period and it was cold. The good and thoughtful people at The Breakfast Club however made the wait a little more bearable by bringing out shots of free hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows and it was awfully comforting. On hindsight, it was an excellent marketing gimmick because once we got a table, we had to order a cup of their hot chocolate. It was actually really good.
The Full Monty
Bacon, sausage, black pudding, eggs, home-style fried potatoes, mushrooms, beans, grilled tomato and toasted multigrain bloomer
As the name suitably describes it, it is the full monty with everything piled onto a single plate. Portions were well and generous, perfect for sharing and substantial to feel satisfied, though there was unfortunately nothing really outstanding about it. The sunny side ups had glossy and runny yolks, mushrooms well sauteed in butter and I have a soft spot for those lovely roasted potatoes but apart from that, overall, it was just good, not fantastic.
The entrance to Hakkasan along Bruton Street is easy to miss. With its heavily tinted glass floor to ceiling panels and black sturdy wooden door, you would almost walk right past it without even knowing. But look out for the two extremely friendly ‘bouncers’ dressed in black at the door and you are at the right place. Walking in, you will find that this upmarket fine-dining restaurant is sleek, elegant and almost mysterious. Lighting is dimmed, service staff ladies are dressed in oriental fuschia dresses and the lingering whiff of sandalwood incense draws you in.
Opened by successful restauranteur- Alan Yau, the man behind Busaba Eathai, Yauatcha and the Wagamama Japanese chain, this modern contemporary Chinese restaurant earned its Michelin star back in 2011 despite only opening the year before. Reservations are highly recommended as we soon found that even on a weekday night, every table was occupied.
Dim Sum Platter 15
An exquisite and stylish platter of fusion dim sum delights which impressed with presentation and aesthetics. We were psyched to find out if the taste justified its appearance and it definitely did! The platter came with two serves of Scallop Shumai, Har Gau, Prawn Chinese Chive Dumplings and Duck Dumplings so that made sharing convenient as we could both try one of each.
I personally enjoyed the succulent and fat piece of sweet steamed scallop in the shumai and the sprinkle of cod roe on top while my sister picked out the Prawn Chinese Chive Dumpling as her favourite because of those shredded crab meat and extremely flavoursome broth encased in the green skin. Overall these larger than usual dim sum are certainly not bite-sized, making you feel that you are actually getting more than what you are paying for!
Golden Fried Soft Shell Crab with Red Chilli and Curry Leaf 13
Extremely golden crisp on the outside, while still maintaining that sort of mushy consistency inside, this soft shell crab was delightful and unusual with those subtle hints of spice from the chopped red chilli and curry leaves that it was fried with. But dont worry, I am sure that even those with low or no tolerance for spicy food will enjoy this.
I have a confession to make. We were actually en route to Hummingbird Bakery when we got distracted by L’Eto Caffe’s glass window display of cakes, cupcakes and pastries. It was simply inviting and we just had to forgo Hummingbird and walk in instead (the two bakeries are actually next door to each other and yes we never made it to Hummingbird in the end).
L’Eto Caffe reminds me much of Ottolenghi with their overwhelming display of baked goods just sitting on the counters, topped with mouthwatering cream swirls and gorgeous finishing touches of candied fruit, cherried glaze and chocolate shavings, waiting for you to pick them up. The menu also offers a great selection of Antipodean coffees, all kinds of teas and juices for you to complete that perfect afternoon tea experience.
This is a compilation of two visits here. The first was the attempted Hummingbird post-dinner dessert episode while the second was actually a brunch visit to The Breakfast Club, which was unfortunately closed that day due to piping problems so we ended up back at L’Eto Caffe for their breakfast items!
Eggs Benedict £6.95
A very classic brunch order that many cafes offer but not many actually do a good job at. At L’Eto however, even though the eggs are unconventionally served as sunny-side instead of poached, it was a very different but welcoming experience of having every part of your egg white so thoroughly and appropriately covered in that buttery tangy Hollandaise. The yolks were runny good and ham difficult to fault. The sourdough held everything beautifully together though my only picky complaint would be that the crust was exceedingly hard to cut through and not good for chewing.
Pierre Hermé is a legend in the macaron and French pâtisserie world for his wildly creative experimentation with flavours and insanely gorgeous pastry and cakes. And after seeing countless beautiful photographs of his work online, it has become a dream to step into a Pierre Hermé Paris boutique.
I had collated a list of Pierre Hermé creations that I really wanted to try during my trip to Paris. The Ispahan was first up, followed by the Plaisir Sucre and of course the macarons!
Unfortunately, we never made it to Paris due to some work scheduling changes and settled for the little boutique at Belgravia instead! I morphed into a crazy fan girl when we found the entrance of the shop and could not stop snapping photographs of the sign.
‘I AM FINALLY ENTERING A PIERRE HERME PARIS BOUTIQUE’ ran through my mind over and over again as I pushed through the glass door, preparing my eyes for a visual treat.