Somebody once told me that Korean food is the only one if the Asian cuisines that doesn’t dumb down, or alter the menu for western sensibilities.
I haven’t made any effort to find out if it’s true, but I want to believe it, so I’m going to assume that it is.
Either way, the bibimbap (an oven hot stone bowl with veg, and meat on a bed of still crispifying rice) is one of the best dishes ever created in any cuisine and I would happily eat three a week until I die.
The one pictured below is from the newly opened Busan at the Highbury end of Holloway Road. I think it cost me about 8 quid, but they do have modestly priced lunch specials as well.
I felt like a traitor going in because of my long-standing allegiance to another Korean spot right by my house, but in the spirit of exploration and for the gastronomical welfare of Le Cool’s readership/You, I figured it was worth the guilt.
And anyway, guilt makes food taste better.
Busan: 39 Holloway Road, N7 8JP
For reasons I’m not going to go into (but I swear its got nothing to do with illegal organ trading), I spent all of Friday hanging around the Royal Free in Hampstead.
It’s been a while since I was I’m the area, so around lunch time, with no particular plan of action, I found myself wandering past the local feeding holes looking hopeful.
I ended up in the Hampstead Tea Rooms eating a mixed grill and a bowl of soup, while telling my life story to the very nice owner who just wanted to know how the meal was.
I’m not sure I told her, but it was very good.
Words and photo: Foo D
Charlie Hope helps you re-live the drama with her pick of backdrops to gangster TV series and films of the last few years
Recreate these recent bits of TV and film gangster gold in your local hood…
Regent’s Canal, De Beauvoir bit: Harry Brown
Michael Caine’s Harry Brown couldn’t take the estate youth mugging old people any more (no cliches here then) and goes on a murdering spree, pensioner style. He shoots a couple of bad guys in the head then drops his gun into the water by the bridge on De Beauvoir Road before collapsing on the towpath. Plot error: anyone who uses this bit of canal will know that with cyclists ringing their bells furiously at you to GET OUT THE WAY at the rate of one every second it would be impossible not to be spotted getting rid of the weapon.
I don’t know what the deal is with chicken these days. I mean you can pay upwards of a fiver for a sad, pallid bird with the flavour profile of damp blotting paper at any supermarket you could choose to go into.
It doesn’t have to be that way though.
If you have a decent butcher, pretty much anything they have could kick the crap out of the big names’ poultry/paltry (sorry) offerings and it’ll probably be cheaper to boot.
This was a poussin that cost me three quid. I got it from McKanna Meats and it tasted of corn-fed happiness.
Words and photo: Foo D
Don’t tell me I can’t manage two burritos and a beer. That would be foolish and factually incorrect.
Plus, I couldn’t make a decision between the chicken with black beans, or the slow cooked barbacoa with the pinto beans and pork and since I am, at least in the eyes of the courts, a grown up I can have two goddam burritos if I want.
And also Mrs Foo D said it was okay.
Owing to unforseen circumstances and my allergy to time management, this week’s lunch was actually dinner. I hope you can forgive me.
Believe it or not, this is pub grub. Granted it’s a pub in Highgate, but regardless of that fact, all this food tasted as good as it looks. I’m starting to question the Red Lion & Sun‘s status as a boozer. The menu is too good and it is well below its quota of belligerent drunken arseholes. I thought there were laws about this kind of thing?
Possibly the most damning indictment of all, is that as tasty as it all is, it’s reasonably priced to boot. Everything I thought I knew was wrong.
Oh yeah, and they do lunch too, so technically this isn’t even cheating.
Despite the backlash against coffee snobbery, the battle to serve London’s best cup rages on. In this round-up of the very top five coffee stalls across the capital, our brew king, Derek Lamberton, author of London’s Best Coffee app, leaves no wheeled cafe unturned
Daydreams of quitting my day job and running a coffee stall always seem to disappear about this time year. Even in my dreams I don’t have the guts to spend a damp London winter on my feet pulling shots. So with this in mind, I’ve put together a short list of London’s finest stalls – serving locally roasted coffee all winter long.
Address: Strutton Ground, SW1P 2HR
Hours: Mon-Fri, 8am-4:30pm
Beans: Square Mile
Flat Cap has spawned one of London’s best coffee shops, Notes Music Coffee, along with a stellar sister stall on Fleet Street, Coffee by the Clock. Co-owned by Brazilian barista champion, Fabio Ferreira, Flat Cap serves some of London’s most loyal customers. Rumour has it that employees of a local business cited their daily pilgrimage to Flat Cap as their primary reason against applying for voluntary severance. Priorities, people.
The Haircut Before the Party cuts your hair just for the love of it. The altruistic enterprise is in its final days; Vyvian Raoul gets a bit of the love while he can
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever…”
…At least until it grows out. The Haircut Before the Party is indeed a thing of beauty, and although the ideas behind it — its ethos — will live on, it closes its doors for free haircuts imminently.
That ethos is a sort of ‘the best things in life are free’-type vibe. Its totally talented hair-tailors, Richard and Lewis, started out cutting hair for their mates. As he’s cutting and crafting my hair back from simply shabby to shabby-mohawk, Richard tells me that it started as a self-sufficiency thing. Not wanting to hand over his hard-earned to a hairdresser, who was invariably unwilling or unable to recreate exactly what he wanted anyway, he did it himself. Then a few brave friends (“They were very brave”) stepped up and sat down in what was to become his salon chair.
Vyvian Raoul bids farewell to the series by meeting the man behind the fight-back against British Waterways’ threats to continuous cruising
Every time we met a boater during this series, they suggested three or four more boaters we ‘must speak to’. The semi-nomadic continuous cruisers are the slightly curdled cream of London’s boating breed, and each of them has many, many stories to tell.
It’s apt that we finish with the man leading the boaters’ fight-back against British Waterways. Mark Walton is co-founder of the Waterways Project: the Castro of the canals, a reluctant, river-borne revolutionary.
We went aboard Balthamos under the bridge at the bottom of Broadway Market to bid the boaters a fond farewell…
Black Swan, the English National Ballet on telly, the Royal Academy’s Degas dance exhibition… ballet is so hot right now. Maria Iu sweats and aches her way through four central London ballet classes in the name of research
Pineapple Dance Studios
Every day; classical/contemporary/pointe; all levels
Prices: £6-8, plus membership fee (day, month, three-month, six-month, annual)
Maria attended: Maggie Paterson, beginner/elementary, Sunday, 12-1pm
Pineapple Dance Studios is probably London’s best-known dance school, thanks to the high-camp, high-kick, high-energy eponymous TV show on Sky. And it would be lying to say it’s not jazz hands galore here – but that’s part of the fun and why so many people come here. The class was packed – around 30 people in all – with mostly twenty-something women up for a laugh, but also ambitious-looking girls in full ballet exam uniform (most likely here to supplement their normal training) and, surprisingly, older men. Maggie Paterson – principle of the Pineapple Performing Arts School, the Fame-esque school that is based at the studios – is as you’d hope for in a dance teacher: funny, OTT, spunky. It may be due to the big class, but she doesn’t touch anyone, giving plenty of verbal tips and guidance instead. Maggie is matched by an equally charismatic, humorous pianist – where else will you get to do pirouettes to the Star Wars theme? The biggest selling point for me is that there’s no scariness – Maggie makes us all feel welcome and everyone seems at ease.