Kojawan

Kojawan is a bar and restaurant serving drinks and fusion Asian food in a space-age atmosphere. It is located on the 23rd floor of Hilton Metropole hotel, which is two minutes walk from Edgware tube station. The hotel doesn’t have the best of look from the outside but when you are inside it is like maze.

Kojawan

It was surprising how impressive the view from this hotel and from Edgware Road. You could see in the distant many London iconic skyscrapers including The Shard, Gherkin and London Eye.

Kojawan

The deco of the restaurant make is interesting to want to visit Kojawan. The attention that has gone in to every part of the restaurant from when you first arrive, to walking up the stairs and sitting at the table.

Kojawan

I love the logo which appeared around different items in the restaurant. It reminded me of the cartoon Transformers.

Kojawan

The menu is in a ring binder which also show off the Transformers looking logo. There is a large range of wine, spirits and cocktails served at Kojawan. This probably make up most of the menu.

Kojawan

The cocktails includes some of Kojawan’s own creation. Unfortunately many of them were not available during the soft launch.

Alien Cowboy (£15) – Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Sweetcorn, Spiced Chocolate and Crickets.

Kojawan

Plum Crazy (£15) – Plum Sake, Yuzu, Sparkling Sake

Kojawan

From the classic cocktails we ordered the Cosmopolitan – Grey Goose LeCitron Vodka, Cointreau, Lime and Cranberry

Kojawan

If you are not in to alcohol, there are non-alcohol cocktails as well as a range of teas, juice and soft drinks.

Kojawan

The food menu is split in to Booze Food, Raw, Deep-Fried, Charcoal Oven, Fire Stove,  X-tras and Sweet.

Raw:

Seared Black Kingfish with radish and citrus soy (£13)

Kojawan

Suffolk Wagyu Medium Raw with white radish and wakamole (£15) – I found this dish bland in flavour even when I combined the wakamole, white radish and sauce with the beef.

Kojawan

Deep-Fried:

Hot Crickets Bombs with citrus butter sauce (£9) – This was every thing about crickets in different form to make up the bombs. You will find hidden in the creamy filling mini crispy crickets, which freak me out. I was not that keen on the flavour of the bomb which was tasted of maize. Instead I prefered the crispy fried cricket that was layered at the bottom of the dish.

Kojawan

Charcoal Oven:

BBQ beef cheek with chilli, ginger and sesame (£18) – This was beautiful tender meat in a sauce that went well with the flavour of the beef cheek. Squeeze some of the lime juice will give it another flavour and balance out the strong flavour of the sauce.

Kojawan

Sticky pork belly with jalapeno ponzu (£16) – The pork belly was beautiful cooked until tender in a nice sweet tangy sauce. Each slices was a good portion side of fat and lean meat.

Kojawan

Octopus with lemon and smoked red pepper oil (£18) – The octopus was not chewy but nicely soft and tender. This reminded me the octopus you would get on Spanish tapas menu.

Kojawan

Fire Stove:

Crab-turnip “egg cake” with shellfish lemon cream and fish flakes (£14) – The was Kojawan take of Okonomiyaki which is a Japanese savoury pancake. It tasted similar to the traditional Okonomiyaki but thought the presentation was lacking some beauty.

Kojawan

Braised short rib of beef with chilli and green leaves, mushrooms and peanuts (£21) – The beef was really tender and went well with the rich Asian flavour from the sauce. I thought this went well with the sticky rice (£5) that is found on the X-tras section of the menu.

Kojawan

Flat noodles with clams, sake, parmesan and fish flakes (£15) – This dish to me was East meet west. The flat noodles are what I would refer to us udon and it doesn’t have much flavour. So it went well with the sauce which brought the dish to live with the clams.

Kojawan

Whole lobster with morels, seaweed and shellfish tea (£31)

Kojawan

X-tras:

Sweet potato noodles – stir fried taste (£6) – This was Kojawan version of Korean stir-fried glass noodle, but instead being stir fried dry it was in a broth sauce.

Kojawan

Leafy greens with garlic and sesame (£6) – This was a nice side dish to balance out the strong flavours in the other dishes.

Kojawan

We could had given the dessert a miss as I felt it was nothing special. It did not hit my dessert taste buds. Although some of the dessert had a sense of Asian fusion in to it, I thought it was too westernise.

Fish waffles (£9)  – This is Kojawan version of Japanese fish waffle that is stuffed with red bean. It is served with blueberries, black sesame and honey whiskey cream. I thought that Kojawan waffle was not as fluffy as the tradition versions and had this glaze look to it.

Kojawan

PanTako (£9) is pancake served with white chocolate and berries. I found this dessert was too sweet for me. It was a filling dessert which I would recommend to share.

Kojawan

Seoul-Kyo Mess (£9) is described on the menu made up of lychee, green tea, cream and sake. I am not sure which part was green tea as the whole dessert was white and nor could I taste any green tea. The dessert was made up of layers of cream, mini meringue and lychee with a hint of sake.

Kojawan

Overall I thought the dishes were interesting in using a mixture of ingredients and flavours. The two chefs (Bjorn Van Der Horst and Omar Romero) who are behind Kojawan are bold with the flavours of their dishes. I did felt that the starters and mains were better than the dessert.

Kojawan is an expensive place to dine and the cocktails do not come cheap here as well. Although we had 50% off food during the soft launch it costed us £40 each (including three cocktails and two tea). Just imagine at full price it would had costed £80 per person. Eeek!

Kojawan

(Not sponsored. Menu and prices correct at the time of dining)

Kojawan
Level 23, Hilton Metropole,
225 Edgware Road,
London,
W2 1JU,
UK

www.kojawan.uk

Banana Tree (West Hampstead)

A few years ago I was searching for places to eat in West Hampstead and discovered Banana Tree. The place is more of a canteen type restaurant similar to Wagamama, but with a menu that serves cusine inspired by Indochina region.

The West Hampstead branch is about a 5 minutes walk from the station, and can be buzzing with people during peak hours especially on the weekend. This is a small branch but a cosy one that blends well with the town of West Hampstead.

Banana Tree serves a range of dishes including noodles and rice. Main dishes can be ordered separately or as a combo. I actually prefer going for the combo which consist of your chosen dish, steamed rice, salad and crackers, all served on one plate.

There are a range of speciality grilled meat which Banana Tree offer, such as the Char Grilled Blackened Chilli Pork (£8.20). You can add £3.25 to have it served with Mee Goreng Noodles or Nasi Goreng Rice.

You are spoilt by choice with drinks including Oriental inspired cocktails. For some thing more healthy there are a range of fresh juice to order. In my last visit I created my own from the list and opted for a carrot and apple juice. It was a tasty fresh juice which has given me a different perspective of carrot juice.

Finish off a meal with Banana Tree’s Oriental desserts. My favourite is the coconut stuffed green pancake.

Balinese ‘Pulut Hitam’ pudding is a nice comfort pudding, which is a black rice pudding.

There are many places in London that can serve good food but many do not come cheap. When you start to add up the starters, mains, desserts, drinks and the service charge you will find out you have spent more then you expected. But Banana Tree is one of those places that serve tasty food without going over board with the money bank.

(Prices correct at the time of dining)

Banana Tree (West Hampstead)
237-239 West End Lane,
London,
NW6 1XN,
UK

http://www.bananatree.co.uk

Cosmo

It is hard to find buffet like in Asia where you can find a range of cuisines around the world. So it was excitement when I got the opportunity to visit Cosmo. As it was a public holiday and we did not make a booking, we had to queue up. But lucky it was not too long before we got a table.

The place is huge that is filled with pan-Asian cuisines, althought I remember seeing European section serving roast and pizza. There is something for everyone and at a reasonable price. Although, the disadvantage is there’s a time limit of 1 hour and 45 minutesto race through all the different food.

Not all the food are left kept warm for people to pick. But there are live station, such as Teppenyaki where you can watch your chosen ingredients cooked right in your very eyes. But the queue just take up so much time that you could find yourself lose out on going around the other stations.

The choice is large that it includes seafoods – such as lobster, King Prawn, crabs, scallops etc. There is even a dim sum station which produce some beautiful looking dim sums. It felt like I was at a hotel having buffet!

It is great for desserts fans like me, as there is range of dessert which are tiny size so you can try as many of them. If you prefer something more healthy than many fruits to fill your stomach, as well many children’ favourite of the chocolate fountain.

I do love Cosmo for buffet and will want to go there again. The only disadvantage is the time length to eat is short. I would have prefered if it was at least a minimum of 2 hours dining time. I cannot wait to go there again!

Cocochan

Cocochan is a pan-Asian restaurant located on James Street, near London Selfridges. The street is lined with many restaurants of various cuisines. I have walked along this street number of times but I have hardly notice Cocochan was even there.

When we arrive and step inside to the restaurant, you get a different atmosphere to outside. The restaurant decor is modern and set with low lighting. If the tables was not place with chopsticks I might not had guess they served pan-Asian cuisine.

The food menu was only two pages of A4, containing soups, dim sums, small dishes, sushi, large dishes and rice. Separately, we were provided with a wine menu but no non-alcoholic drinks list was offered. Since it was pan-Asian my preference is to have it with tea, so we asked what tea they had in the restaurant. Apparently they had no green tea and the nearest Asian type of tea was Jasmine tea in which we opted.

Although, you could order food to have for yourself, I feel sharing seems to be a better option. That is what food is all about in parts of Asia – to be able to gather together and share the enjoyment of tasty food.

We ordered a range of dim sums to share which I thought was average. The xo prawn dumpling (£4.50) tasted like prawn dumpling (har gau). I could not taste any XO but maybe the carrot looking shred is the XO that was reference in the menu as “xo” in quotation.

The steamed scallop and prawn siu mai (£4.50) was filled with prawn paste and topped with a scallop.

Out of all the dim sums we ordered, the steamed chillean sea bass and chilli bean dumplings (£5.50) would tick my box. It came shaped like a fish which a good resemble to it being filled with fish paste.

From the small dishes section of the menu, we ordered the chilli squid with shichimi salt (£7.50) which was crispy indeed, but it lack any flavours. I suppose the reason we got a sweet chilli dipping to go with it.

We also tried the spider soft shell crab futo maki (£8.25) in the sushi section. You get 6 in a portion and was beautifully plated, but definitely does not compare to Nobu’s soft crab roll.

The sambal prawns fried rice was the first thing I saw on the menu that I wanted to try. But to my disappointment it was just  an average prawn fried rice. It had no flavours and I created some with some soya sauce and the left overs sweet chilli dip that luckily I asked the waitress to leave on the table.

Just like steamed rice it would be more suited to accompany with one of the large dish. But the price tag of £5.50 for a small wooden tub size is fairly expensive, although you are paying for prawns that are expensive.

Cocochan is not a restaurant that is cheap to dine. If it was not for the 50% discount on all food with the taste card, then I would not choose to dine here. In my view, there are other restaurants that serves much better quality dim sums for around the same prices.

Cocochan
38-40 James Street,
London,
W1U 1EU,
UK

http://www.cocochan.co.uk/

Cape Town Fish Market

It was a few years ago when I first read about Cape Town Fish Market but at the time it did not appeal to me. However, after so long since reading the review about the restaurant I have finally made a visit. It was after work on a cold evening looking for a place to fill our stomach. The restaurant we had planned to go was busy so we decided to go else where nearby, and this is where we came past Cape Town Fish Market.

The restaurant is located on one of the side street in the heart of Oxford Circus. It is only 1 minute walk away from Liberty department store and right next to the London Palladium Theatre which once was showing the Sound of Music.

As the name gives it away the restaurant specialise in fish, so it is no surprising that the menu contains a range of seafood dishes. But a menu then bring a sense of confusion since Cape Town give the first impression of South African cuisines that specialise in seafood. Instead you scan through the menu to see  sushi, tempura, egg noodle, spring rolls, bento box, fish & chips, surf & turf, fish cakes etc. All relating to the relevant of Japanese, Chinese and British cuisines. But on the menu there is tradition South African curry that state is served in a three-legged cast iron pot.

The restaurant have a sushi conveyor belt that are surrounded by dining tables. Then downstairs is the teppenyaki area also surrounded by more dinning tables. But the overall atmosphere and decoration did not feel very oriental, instead a glowing blue gave that feel of under the sea. But with the mix of cuisines it did not even gave me fusion but a sense of confusion on how to category the restaurant.

We were sitting on the dining table which if I tried to ignore the conveyor belt and the bottles of soya sauce on the table then I felt I was dining British cuisines specialising in seafood.

You can order dishes from the a la carte menu or from the set menus. There are 2 set menus which both have the choice of creating a 2 or 3 course meal.

For both set menus you have the same choice of starters that includes either one of the following – Prawn Tempura, Calamari Strips, Sushi Board, Vegetable Spring Rolls or Chicken Spring Rolls. Also the same choices between the two set menus is the dessert which includes choice of any one of the following – Belgian Waffles, Chocolate Brownies, Milk Tart, Creme Brulee, Ice cream & Hot Choc Sauce.  The difference between the two set menus is the main course and of course the price different were set menu 1 is priced at £13.05/£16.95 and set menu 2 priced at £17.95/£20.95.

We decided to go for set menu 1 and went for the full 3 courses.

For the starters we order one with the Sushi Board which contained salmon/tuna sashimi and prawn and sweet tofu nigiri.

However I decided to try the prawn tempura which came with a sweet chilli sauce dipping. I have to say that it was a disappointment as the standard is not Japanese quality. The prawn was coated in a thick batter that did not have that light texture you expect.

For the main there are a range of choices including the fish and chips and this was much better then the starters.  It was a nice piece of fish that still had its juice, but one word of caution is the tiny fish bones hidden in the fish.

I went for the 110g sea bass with baby potatoes. It was a pan-fried fish and one beautiful sea bass, that was cooked but not over cooked. I am not sure how big or thick a 110 g sea bass is but I remember my first glance at the plate it did seem small which made me wondering if it would fill me up. But to my surprise it actually did which I assume because of the pile of baby potatoes that was served with the fish.

We finish our meal with a dessert each and from the choice we went for one set menu with the Creme Brulee.

Then the other with the milk tart which I favoured over the creme brulee. The milk tart actually looked liked a cheesecake but it’s actually a set creamy milk sitting on a biscuit base dusted with cinnamon powder. It’s the cinnamon that give most of the flavour as milk on its own is rather a flat flavour. Quite a nice dessert that is sweet but not too sweet.

Overall it was a pleasant dinner but the standard of the food was not good for every dish we had, such as our prawn tempura. However the fish we had was beautiful and the milk tart was nice alternative to cheesecake since it is lighter. In terms of service it was good and nothing stand out that night to say it was not.

Cape Town Fish Market is a nice place to go for seafood but in applying it to various cuisines just give a sense of confusion. There was time when I felt that I was in a Japanese restaurant with the sushi and the sushi bar, but then at the same time I felt I was in a British seafood restaurant. In saying all these where was the Cape Town?!

I would not rule out not to visit Cape Town Fish Market again because it nice to be able to see a seafood specialist restaurant in London, as I have not yet encountered many of these yet. Also I caught my eyes on the Hout Bay platter that contain lobster, prawn, mussels, fish, and calamari at the price of £53.75 which on the menu state to serve two. That is a big price mark but with all that seafood it could be worth it especially for fresh seafood.

Cape Town Fish Market
Sutherland House
5-6 Argyll St, London W1F 7TE
020 7437 1143
http://www.ctfm.com/home/

Inamo restaurant

I remember first reading about Inamo in the newspaper and have been on my list of restaurants that I need to visit. However, I just never had the chance until one Friday when looking for a place to fill my hungry stomach. We manage to find a table for two although we had not booked but was informed that they needed the table back in an hour and half.

The restaurant was two floor and we were seated downstairs which I found out was called the bonsai room. The whole restaurants was quite dark but still lighting was mainly the interactive table. This was the highlight of dining at Inamo. Here you do not place your order with a waiter (well you could and they would help you) but the fun is you place your order on this interactive ordering system.

Not only can you order food and drinks with it, you can even order a taxi (which is useful since downstairs I found I had no reception with my mobile phone), play various games, change the colours and/or patterns of your table. But you could even have a look at the chefs in the kitchen. The various games that I could play on my table did keep me busy between food. However, it could leave you being not very interactive with your diners.

Although the interactive ordering system sound like a great and fun idea. I found that it took me longer to make an order because I am having to flick through each items by item. I also found that you could be ordering a lot of food without noticing with all the excitement of it all. But lucky that you have the option to see how much the bill is for the whole table and also for yourself.

So enough about the table for now and go and share with you my view on the food. Inamo serves oriental fusion food that range from Japanese, Chinese, Thai etc.

We ordered a few dishes to share, which we were advised since they informed us that dishes might not come at the same time. This really did not bother as sharing is good. It allows you to test a bit of everything.

We ordered two from the small dishes, which you will find a range of starter type of food including sushi and salads. We went for the baby pork ribs (£6.75) which was described as braised in XO sauce and served with pea sauce. I cannot remember having pea sauce on ours. It was a very special dish but was pork which I suspect that was braised then had been lightly deep-fried to give a crispy outside.

Another from the small dishes menu was the Seafood Gyoza (£4.50) that was served with a Yuzu dressing. This was the last dishes that came and think it was the warmest one that we had. This was like steamed gyoza and not pan-fried gyoza which I not too fond of. Steamed gyoza is definitely suit me better.

We also order two from the large dishes which are more like main. But do not expect the small dishes to come first because we had them the other way round. In the large dishes you could choose from range of curry hot stone rib eye, cinnamon chicken, tempura etc. We went for Black Cod (£14.95) that was marinated with spicy miso. The fish was cooked beautiful but was disappointed that it was cold.

Our second large dish was the Wagyu Bavette (£16.95) that was served with shitake mushroom and hijiki seaweed. I would have preferred it to be thinly sliced then the chunky cuts we got. It was not the best wagyu beef I had, I still had quite a lot of chewing to do.

We finished it off with desserts that all had some oriental flavours included in it. Out of the two we choice, the one that won the best presentation would have to be the macaroon & white chocolate mousse (£5.75). A pandan macaroon filled with Yuzu flavoured white chocolate mousse, served with lemongrass & coconut sorbet, and milk chocolate sauce. This was a strong flavoured dessert that you have to like pandan and lemongrass to enjoy.

Our second dessert was the vanilla Crème Brûlée (£6.25) that was served with strawberry and lemongrass coulis. This was a smooth crème brûlée which I prefer in terms of the taste that suit my taste buds.
The dishes was small portion, so if you are very hungry you might have to spend quite a lot to fill that hungry stomach. We actually called two steamed rice each to have with our small and large dishes. Otherwise I might still be peckish and order more. But Inamo is fairly expensive place to dine. We spent for two people a total of £66.66, which include a bottle of still water and a service charge of 10%. It a nice place to go once for the experience but it not place you would go often. I doubt I would return though unless maybe a special occasion.
On the bill it says service char is discretionary but the amount due includes the 10% service charge. There was not much service as we did the ordering ourself through the interactive order system. But I suppose it is 10% and not the average 12.5% you usually see. So 10% service charge for bring you the food and cleaning afterward, as well bringing the bill.

Inamo restaurant
134-136 Wardour Street,
London,
W1F 8ZP

http://www.inamo-restaurant.com/