Don’t let the headline fool you; this is not a blog about what some refer to as rabbit food. If you know me, then you know that though I have a ton of food issues, I love spicy, tasty food. So, though we might not chose the same items from the menu, your choice will probably be just as tasty as mine.
Wasabi Sushi and Bento has been one of my favorite London restaurants since 2005, and one of the first things I did after my first orientation at King’s College London was to search for the Wasabi off of the Strand. I was very excited to find the one I previously frequented was still there and they have multiplied. Wasabi makes sushi, soup and yummy rice bowls. Wasabi’s tofu curry is one of my favorite dishes, ever. There is a take away location at Embankment on Villiers Street, in London (off the Strand), also in the Waterloo train station. If you are roaming around the Strand, turn down Villiers Street near the Charing Cross Tube Station where you will also find pubs, Italian, Indian, German, Mexican, Falafel, Starbucks, Japanese and traditional cuisine. Across the street from Wasabi is Victoria Embankment Park where I would often sit amongst the students and business people eating lunch and relaxing. You will also find my favorite corner store across the street from Wasabi, with the usual, plus Indian veggie rolls and samosas for only a couple of pounds (cheap, quick and filling).
All Bar One is a trendy restaurant (popular happy hour) and bar. This is a good option for those trying to accommodate multiple dietary situations, while trying to find traditional options such as fish pie. Also on the menu — veggie burgers, hummus and chips (fries). They are all over London, but the one near waterloo station (South Bank) or the one on Villiers Street are central and have good service. Go at happy hour for drinks on Villiers Street if you want to experience locals. If you want a non-chain locals bar on the Strand, try the Lyceum, which is maybe five minutes away.
While in London, I spent a great deal of time at the Maughan Library on Chancery Lane, and stumbled upon several fabulous eateries in the neighborhood. Just a few minutes away, Thai Express, reasonably priced and great curries.
A little further down the block toward High Hilborn Street, Chilango, the closest to San Francisco Mexican that I have found anywhere in the world. Great food, hip and super busy. They have Lucha Libre memorabilia, funky music and some employees wear lucha masks on their heads. It’s a good time.
At the corner of High Hilborn and Chancery Lane there is a great Lebanese takeaway shop. I don’t think there is any seating inside, but I used to walk over to Maughan Library and sit in the garden on benches, and so can you (you don’t need a library card for the garden).
Now let’s switch to my hood on the South Bank…
Wagamama is my favorite Japanese noodle joint in London, and you can also find them in other European locations and Boston, MA. The location near Royal Festival Hall faces the water, is very central, and they serve great ramen and more. Patrons sit at long communal tables with almost a cafeteria vibe, only much cooler. It is clean healthy food, full of flavor and a ton of veggie or meat options.
Next door is the Italian restaurant Strada, great pasta, pizza, meat and fish dishes, and one of the handful of restaurants open on December 24.
In the same area, but up a level, is Le Pain Quotidien near Royal Festival Hall, at Festival Terrace. I would meet up with friends for coffee or wine in the evenings or for full meals at communal tables. Great French Café with fabulous ambiance, food and drinks.
If near Borough Market on Borough High Street check out Tas Turkish restaurant at 72 Borough High Street, or a few doors down they have a smaller café and takeaway location that I love. I already wrote an entire blog about. But go to the market many vendors serve hot and cold food, juices, cider, etc. Rabat Estate Chocolate at 2 Stoney Street is the best, and they have some dairy free dark blends. A short walk down Stoney as you are heading into the market, across the street is a small Turkish stand. They carry amazing olives fresh and dry, and the best Kissar (tabbouleh-style salad of bulgur) I have ever had besides on Cyprus. When you wander out back in the open-air section, there is a stand called The Honest Carrot with the best savory vegan pies and falafel. They also have potted bread, which is adorable.
London is know for its Indian food and basically any Indian restaurant that you can find will more than suffice, however Rasa is great and reasonably priced. For super well known and a little more expensive try Moti Mahal.
As far as local restaurants that are super healthy, quick and yummy, try Prêt A Manger, EAT and if you want a pasty – The West Cornwall Pasty Co. In town or at the airport try my favorite Joes’s Kitchen, or Giraffe. For quick and light try Apostrophe (Boulangerie Patisserie Café), especially if you want a coffee.
London is a multicultural city full of different types of popular local foods that perhaps originated elsewhere. If you see a chicken and falafel takeaway shop, don’t be put off because there isn’t seating or it isn’t a chain shop. You will probably end up with the best fish and chips, falafel, Shawarma, etc., that you have ever had. I used to go all the time to a stand near my dorm and for about £5 would go home with the best falafel and vinegar soaked chips ever.
Don’t fret…I haven’t forgotten about the coffee. An upcoming blog will be entirely devoted to the highs and lows of my European caffeine experience.