Here are my gluten-free restaurant reviews – mostly in London, but anywhere that I find absolutely delicious. Any meals that have been comp’ed have been specified – and I always give my honest opinion – there’s nothing worse than a shoddy meal!

Restaurant Review: The Sushi Bar, Phnom Penh

On our second day in Phnom Penh we headed down to The Sushi Bar.

We went to the Boeung Keng Kang, or ‘BKK’ location, surrounded by some of the best spas, bars and shopping in Phnom Penh. The area has a cosmopolitan feel, probably due to the concentration of international schools in the neighbourhood. The South-East Asian chain has several dotted around Ho Chi Minh, but only opened in Phnom Penh in 2012.

Sushi Bar Phnom Penh

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I’m usually fairly picky about my sushi – despite my limited budget. Which is why, on first sight, the front cover of the menu didn’t fill me with confidence – sushi ain’t something to joke about! A big red flag for me when I go into a sushi place is mayonnaise anywhere near the rolls – it is just unnatural,  and same goes for cream cheese in my opinion. I’m open minded and up for fusion cuisine but there are just some things you don’t mess with.

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Luckily this wasn’t a problem at the Sushi Bar. I was really impressed with the selection – particularly with the negi tuna handrolls and the aburi, or broiled tuna sushi which I have yet to find in London.

Sushi Bar Phnom PenhI went for the sushi set A – my personal favourites were the eel and ikura (roe) as well as the salmon. I really loved my meal, but the others weren’t so keen on the scallops or the squid – they found theirs chewy to the point of inedible.

Aburi tuna

I greedily ordered the aburi tuna (centre) while the others ordered a negi handroll (left) and salmon avocado handroll (right). I  loved the aoshiso addition but again, the others weren’t a fan! All down to personal taste.

Negi TunaAnd being on holiday and all, I just had to order the negi handroll – I was getting bad food envy!

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Washing it down with a few sips of the local draft beer – (Angkor), my experience at The Sushi Bar made me a very happy girl. I definitely recommend it!

Sushi Bar Phnom Penh

Review: Once, Po-Cha and a Royal Sighting

It’s funny how as siblings get older, they can get closer, too. My sister and I used to fight like cats and dogs, but recently we seem to be getting along. She’s midway through a performing arts course in Kent, so we’ve made it a monthly tradition to meet up and go for dinner and a show. I’m personally not the biggest fan of musicals but they are her absolute favourite – and I get a kick out of how excited she gets!

She was born in South Korea, and as kids we spent a few years living in Seoul. We both love Korean cuisine so we headed for the little strip of Korean restaurants just under Centrepoint, on Saint Giles High Street. Po-Cha seemed to be full of Korean customers, which is always a good sign! It gives off a good vibe – a pretty bare, fuss-free decor with the promise of delicious authenticity.

We settled in and ordered a pot of jasmine tea as we scoured the menu. My sister is the kind of person that immediately gets food envy so we decided on splitting everything, and ordered a pajeon, which is a savoury Korean seafood pancake for our starter.

Po-Cha Pajeon

Pajeon in sauceFor our main we chose a kimchi, tofu and beef hotpot. Hotpot, in my opinion, is the perfect winter meal – what can be better than gathered around a delicious warming stew? It’s also extremely healthy, and doesn’t require any oil. Kimchi is a traditional korean staple made of spicy, fermented cabbage. Not the most appealing description, I know, but it is absolutely divine, trust me! My sister was pretty much bottle-fed the stuff.

Kimchi beef hotpotThe hotpot was delicious but slightly too much for the two of us to handle – it would’ve been perfect for a group of three. Our meal came to a total of £38 which I felt really reasonable for the quality of the food. For an authentic Korean dining experience I would really recommend Po-Cha.

photo 1Bellies full, we settled the bill and walked 5 minutes to the Phoenix theatre, where we were going to see the musical Once. I want to start my review by being upfront, and  re-iterate that I am not a fan of musicals as I don’t want to put anyone off from going to see it! As we walked into the theatre some of the members of the cast were up on the stage, which was set up like a bar, and were strumming along and singing songs with some members of the audience up there too. It was a really lovely atmosphere and you felt like you were in some kind of alternate-universe pub where people spontaneously burst into song. I loved the set design – although throughout the performance you could feel the tube running under you which I found slightly distracting.

What I loved about the performance: really excellent acting, the amazing set and execution. The actors were all so talented – there isn’t an orchestra in Once, so every member of the cast is playing an instrument (often cello, violin or guitar) and more often than not are dancing around the stage with it. As a former cellist myself this is no mean feat! However, I personally didn’t find that the songs stuck with me – it just wasn’t my cup of tea. My main issue with musicals is that I often find the music takes away from the plot. But I was accompanied by two musical theatre geeks and they absolutely loved the show, so what do I know?!

The one naughty photo I managed to take before I got yelled at by a grumpy usher.

The one naughty photo I managed to take before I got yelled at by a grumpy usher.

My personal highlight of the evening though, was not the show, but a member of the audience! As we were leaving the theatre we got a good look at Prince Harry who was also there to see Once. I wonder how he found it?

Restaurant Review: The Bear Inn, Stock

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As much as I love London, there are times you need to get away for a bit to clear your head. It makes me appreciate it more when I’m back. This weekend I went to stay with family and I re-visited one of my favourite gastropubs – The Bear Inn, in Stock.

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The Bear is really cosy on the inside, with beautiful exposed beams and decorated with eccentric trinkets throughout. The owners, Richard and Brenda, have really done it up beautifully, but what always gets me coming back is the amazing food.

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I started off my meal with a trio of pan-fried scallops, which topped a grilled tomato and pea puree. Scallops can be a bit hit-or-miss: but even looking at the picture of my starter is making my mouth water again!

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I ended up having the Bear burger (unfortunately not actually made of bear), which came with red onion salsa, coleslaw and french fries. The burger was perfect and the salsa to die for. This is the type of English food I missed so much when I was abroad! It all washed down well with my glass of Chilean merlot. I ended up opting out of having a dessert, but when I was surrounded by amazingly presented banoffee pies and creme brulees I got food envy all over again. A mistake I won’t be making next time!

If you’re ever in the neighbourhood I suggest you check it out – you won’t regret it.

Restaurant Review: Rex Whistler at the Tate Britain

On Saturday, as a post-Valentine’s treat I was lucky enough to be taken to the most amusing room in Europe.

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At least, that’s how the Rex Whistler restaurant was described when it was first unveiled in 1927. As you enter the restaurant, you become surrounded by ‘The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats’, a mural composed by Rex Whistler. According to the menu, Joseph Duveen, a benefactor of the Tate commissioned the mural in the hopes that others would do the same for young artists. I loved the idea, the history and the attention to detail behind the restaurant. What could be better than being served plates of art, surrounded by art?

I started off with a French 75, a gin cocktail made with sugar, lemon and sparkling wine, as well as a pork terrine with rhubarb chutney. Mr. A had a smoked mackerel pate which instantly gave me food envy and was too beautiful not to photograph.

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This was followed by slow-cooked lamb with celeriac gratin for me, and lemon sole with anise herbs and mussel sauce for my date.

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2014-02-15 09.09.59For dessert I had rhubarb (again) poached in sparkling wine with vanilla blancmange, and Mr. A had Cranachan, a Scottish dessert not dissimilar to a parfait, but with oats.

I think my favorite part of my experience at the Rex Whistler restaurant, besides the mural itself, was the wine match. They had an incredible wine list, and you could get your wine matched perfectly with each course. I loved not having to commit to a bottle, and the wine complemented each dish beautifully. So beautifully, in fact, that I was feeling rather merry at the end of my lunch, so we sobered up had a bit of a wander around the Turner exhibit, and visited some old favourites.

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2014-02-15 10.27.01The Rex Whistler restaurant is open for lunch until 3pm – and after that only open for afternoon tea until five. I would highly recommend it as part of a cultural day out in London, or if you wanted to impress a date with an amazing wine list.

It was such a beautiful day outside that we had a bit of a walk before we headed back up to North London, where we had to prepare for a very different cultural activity – keeping hungry scientists happy at poker night!

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Rex Whistler: 3 Stars (3 / 5)