Food reviews and recipes

Restaurant Review: Sushi Mania, Golders Green

I’ve found it close to impossible to find affordable, tasty and good quality sushi in London. Having grown up in New York and Tokyo, where it’s so easy to get nice sushi I’ve found that it’s one of the only downsides to living here (that, and the fact that the tube doesn’t run all night). I’m usually pretty open to fusion cuisines, but I can’t stomach the ‘Western’ twists places like Yo! Sushi or itsu do – sushi doesn’t need cream cheese or mayonnaise, and miso soup definitely doesn’t need sugar, in my opinion!

Which is why when a friend told me about Sushi Mania in Golders Green I was sceptical. All you can eat sushi for £15? Considering the only place I’d had nice sushi in London up until this point was Matsuri St. James, which is incredible, but not cheap, my guard was definitely up. But I love being proved wrong, and Sushi Mania definitely exceeded my expectations. It’s definitely worth booking ahead, and going early as this place gets pretty packed! sushi mania

We were one of the first customers at half six, but the place was fully packed by the time our first dishes arrived.

photo 2 Sushi Maniaphoto 3

When you book, you are given a timeframe – around an hour and forty five minutes for your table, so it’s good to arrive promptly. Sushi Mania offers an ‘all you can eat’ menu for £15.80. Usually, all you can eat places are buffet style, which I’m not a fan of. But at Sushi Mania you are given a menu, where you can mark off six dishes at a time. Once you’ve finished six dishes, you can order six more items off of the menu, as many times as you want. There are no restrictions on how many you can order, but some dishes do have supplementary charges. There is one catch though – any wasted or unfinished dishes are charged extra, and you can’t take any leftovers home, so it’s good to pace yourself!

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Mr. A and I usually make it three rounds before we are ready to explode. It is delicious though – all the fish is fresh, and the selection is great! You can get sushi, katsu curry, and even more traditional items like nasu dengaku, which Mr. A had here for the first time. It’s an aubergine dish roasted with miso sauce and they do it really well at Sushi Mania.Sushi maniaSalmon avocado temaki (handroll)

photo 2 copy 2Nasu dengaku

photo 3 copy 2Agedashi tofu (deep fried tofu)

photo 3 copySalmon and tuna avocado rolls
photo 4 copyGyoza

With service and soft drinks (I had a pot of green tea), the meal set us back £35 for the two of us. Considering the quality and the amount of food we had, I think it’s the best value f or money for sushi in London by far! Another ex-pat New Yorker also mentioned that this place having the best sushi in London – so between the two of us – the fussy New Yorker and the picky Japanese girl this place gets our seal of approval.

Sushi Mania is located at 130 Golders Green Road, London, NW11 8HB.

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Cooking with Maille: Fried Pickles and Baked Pork Schnitzel with Mustard Cream

Just before I left for Cambodia I was approached by Maille to develop a recipe as part of the Maille Culinary Challenge. I’m a fan of mustard, and especially Maille products so I jumped at the chance!

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Maille sent me two ingredients with which to come up with a recipe: pickled gherkins and mustard with white wine, lemon and garlic*.

Maille mustardMaille mustard

Although Maille is a French brand, I went back to my American roots for my appetiser: fried pickles, a popular dish in the American South.

Cooking with Maille: Fried Pickles and Baked Pork Schnitzel with Mustard Cream
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Using some classic French ingredients, I've taken some inspiration from the American South with this fried pickle recipe.
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 Portions
  • 105g (or half a jar) of Maille ‘le Mini Recette Gourmande’ extra small gherkins
  • 100g plain flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. First, drain the pickles from the water and set to one side.
  2. Crack the eggs in a cup and whisk briefly, and season a plate full of flour with salt and pepper.
  3. Dip each pickle and onion into the egg mixture, before coating with the flour and setting on the plate. This will create the batter for the pickles.
  4. There is no need to overly season as the pickles already have quite a strong flavour.
  5. Once that is complete, heat the olive oil in a frying pan to a medium heat, and fry each pickle.
  6. Fry each pickle for no longer than 8 minutes, or until the batter becomes golden.
  7. The richer in colour the better, as it will have more flavour and be crispier – similar to tempura batter. Once golden, place each pickle on a paper towel to drain the excess oil.
  8. Serve dipped with mayonnaise.

Fried picklesFried pickles2014-04-19 08.19.44Fried Pickles

This dish is a real crowd-pleaser as the batter takes the sour edge off of the pickles – even those who aren’t a fan of gherkins can’t resist how delicious and flavourful these are, especially when dipped in creamy mayo! These will be great for any superbowl party or summer barbecue, and are best served hot. I had mine with a glass of rosé, but they are also good with pint of beer!

For the main course I went down a German route with a baked pork schnitzel with mustard cream. I decided to go for the healthier option of baking the pork, but if you want to be extra naughty you can fry these too.

For this recipe, which serves four,  you will need:

* 4 pork chops

* 100g plain flour

* 2 -3 eggs

* 100g golden breadcrumbs

*150 ml double cream

* 2 tablespoons of Maille Ail et Citron Mustard

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (with fan). Prepare a similar assembly line as you did for the fried pickle recipe: a plate of egg, seasoned flour and a third plate of golden breadcrumbs.

Baked pork schnitzel

Take each pork chop and coat with flour, before dipping it into the egg. Once the chop is coated with egg, roll it into the breadcrumb mixture until it is well coated. Repeat for all the pork chops, and set to one side.

baked pork schnitzelbaked pork schnitzel

Grease a baking tray with butter, and pop the chops into the oven, giving 15-20 minutes to each side. While the chops are baking, start preparing the mustard cream sauce. Add two tablespoons of mustard and the cream into a saucepan on a low heat, and mix slowly until smooth. My favourite thing about this mustard was the fact that it is already seasoned with lemon and white wine, so all you needed to add was some ground black pepper – really simple and really delicious. Keep stirring the sauce, making sure it doesn’t burn – there is no need to add anything to thicken it as it will do so on its own.

mustard cream

Take the pork chops out of the oven, and serve with a dollop of the mustard cream. This is a really rich sauce so a little goes a long way. If you are like your food saucy, substitute the cream for some creme fraiche.

baked pork schnitzel mustard creambaked pork schnitzel mustard creamServe with broccoli and mashed potato, and a glass of white or rosé! See what the other bloggers have come up with on Twitter with #Mailleflavours.

* Products provided by Maille.

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Cocktails in the Shard

On Sunday evening, a few of us went down to the Aqua Shard bar on the 31st floor of the Shard to celebrate a birthday.

The Shard

I’m not the most confident with heights, but even I couldn’t resist going up and having a look for myself! As you can’t book ahead at the bar, we were taking a massive gamble by arriving with a group of 11. When I told my friend later on about the evening, he pictured the scene just like this:

Which was fairly accurate.

Luckily they were able to accommodate us all, (without queueing!) and we put a few little tables together. The floor to ceiling glass in the Aqua Shard bar reminded me of an apartment I used to live in when I was in New York.

photo 2 photo 3 Aqua shard

Still longing for Cambodia, I ordered a passionfruit filled drink, but they were out!  I ended up settling  for ‘No Money for Butter’, a champagne cocktail with lavender syrup. It was really lovely, and each cocktail cost around £12 a pop (London prices!). They also give you a little pot of salty, truffle-oil popcorn. It was delicious.

cocktails in the shard

The view really was breathtaking, and by ordering a cocktail you get to miss most of the tourists going up to see the View. By opting for the Aqua Bar over the View, you save around £17 (if you get one cocktail) as the tickets to go up to the view are £29. Definitely my kind of deal.

We were a bit awkwardly placed for food, and unfortunately the some of the reviews aren’t great so we headed further down river for the rest of our evening.


I’m definitely coming back for the Afternoon Tea though – it looks amazing!

Cookbook Review: Delia’s Frugal Food

Since I’ve been back from holiday I’ve been trying to be good. Part of ‘being good’ includes planning out my meals ahead of time so I don’t end up having to buy lunch when I’m at work. Inevitably I always seem to end up getting a salmon sushi box from You Me Sushi because I can’t face a supermarket sandwich and end up throwing something pretty uninspiring into the pan for dinner.

This is part 1 of a series of cookbook reviews, where I follow recipes from one cookbook for a week and do a review. This week I’ll be focusing on Delia’s Frugal Food. I was given this by a family member for Christmas and have only just gotten around to looking at it.

Delias Frugal Food

This is a lovely book for those unused to cooking – the recipes are simple to follow, and although the ingredients are ‘frugal’ a lot of the dishes are really sophisticated and rather impressive. My top three favourite recipes from this book included mackerel with caper sauce, pasta with olives, anchovies, mushrooms and bacon as well as a spiced chicken lentil dish.

Delia's frugal food

The only drawback for me personally was how many of the recipes required offal. I’m personally a fan of liver and kidneys but Mr. A isn’t, so that limited some of my choices quite significantly.

I’d recommend this book as a nice gift for a student off to University, or for a post-grad moving out and in need of a little guidance in the food department.


Cambodian Cooking Class, Phnom Penh

As a massive foodie, I knew I had to learn how to cook a few Cambodian dishes before I left. Luckily, a Cambodian cooking class took place close to where we were based in Phnom Penh. So a few days before we went down to book our places at the Frizz restaurant on street 240, where our culinary adventure was to begin!

Mr. A and I arrived at the restaurant for 9am, where a few tourists were already waiting. Our very smiley cooking instructor, Lucky 2 (Lucky 1 is his brother) had us all introduce ourselves to the 16 other students before we all piled into tuk tuks to go explore a nearby market. Once we arrived at the market, we split up into two groups, and Lucky 2’s assistant (whose name escapes me!) showed us various ingredients found in Khmer cuisine, and answered any questions we had.

Cambodian cooking class 2014-03-23 22.55.16 2014-03-23 22.56.39 Cambodian cooking class

Khmer cuisine is very similar to Thai cuisine. Thai food, and other cuisines based in Southeast Asia have roots in Khmer cooking. However, Thai food changed dramatically with the introduction of chilli, which the Portuguese brought with them when they arrived in the 16th century. Cambodian food is milder, but uses similar flavours and styles.

Cambodian cooking class Cambodian Cooking class 2014-03-23 22.58.48 2014-03-23 23.00.50 2014-03-23 23.04.56 Cambodian cooking class

Once we’d bought the last bits for our class, we got back into the tuk tuks and were taken to an open rooftop kitchen somewhere on diamond island. The kitchen was a large table complete with our own chopping board and mortar and pestle. I was ridiculously excited.

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Cambodian cooking class

The other students were really lovely, a great mixture of Indian, Norwegian, Mexican and French people. It was a bit like a culinary UN.

There are two options for the class: you can go for the half day (9am – 12pm) or the full day (9am – 3pm). Mr. A and I went hardcore and went for the full day, which set us back $26 each. I thought that was a great deal considering that includes lunch!

We made Chaio Yor, fried spring rolls with taro root and carrot with a sweet and sour dipping sauce to start.

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Followed by Cambodia’s national dish, fish amok. Fish amok is a creamy coconutty curry cooked in a banana leaf and served with rice. It was delicious.

fish amok 2011-02-08 05.19.31 fish amok

fish amok

fish amok

The fish amok was the last course for those on the half day. Those of us (around half) that stayed on were to have another two courses. I am so glad I stayed because I now know how to make banana blossom salad, which is now my favourite salad in the entire world! I’ll be recreating some of these recipes on my blog at some point.

2014-03-24 03.35.47 banana blossom salad

We wrapped the day up by making a sticky rice and mango pudding. I am not a massive fan of sweet rice dishes but this was incredible. My mouth is watering just writing this now!

2014-03-24 04.27.53 sticky rice and mango

I am so glad that I did this class. Even though the rooftop was warm, I love knowing that whenever it takes my fancy I can now whip up something delicious, and it makes me feel like my holiday hasn’t ended.