Eat Tokyo – Japanese Heaven!

 

Where: Holborn (Other branches – Soho, Covent Garden)

Good For: Everything Japanese!!!

First three words which comes to mind: OMG that sashimi! 

The boyfriend loves Japanese food (I’m a fan too, but not as much as he is), so when he first took me here, let’s say he won my heart (and my stomach)! It is now our go-to Japanese restaurant, and we regularly come here to try out everything (literally everything) on the menu.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried lots of other Japanese places before in London, but nothing seems to compare quality-wise or food-size wise to this restaurant, which is why we find ourselves returning for more!

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Chirashi-Don – Rice bowl topped with a variety of sashimi

The outstanding quality of the seafood, especially sashimi (raw fish), is something to be praised, and the restaurant does not sacrifice it’s portion size too – so it is ideal to bring a hungry eater (i.e. the boyfriend, a.k.a. the one who finishes up all your left-overs, a.k.a. the one who always complains about not being full enough) here and leave with a full stomach without burning a hole in your pockets!

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Fresh salmon sashimi

There is also a large variety on the menu, ranging from a selection of sashimi, sushi rolls and handrolls if you fancy raw fish, to ramen, udon or soba if you prefer noodles. Needless to say, there are pages and pages of other hot food on the menu, but the one I would like to recommend is the bento boxes.

These bento boxes are decent size meals, and come with a portion of meat, tofu, 2 small pieces of sushi, salad and a serving of rice. Additionally, they offer a small bowl of miso soup to accompany these bento boxes (bonus!) I have tried the teriyaki salmon and pork katsu bento boxes (loved them!!!) but still have the unagi (eel) and tempura bento boxes on my list to try! So next time you can’t make up your mind and want to try everything, the bento boxes might be a good choice to satisfy all those cravings!

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Udon noodles with Ebi tempura (shrimp tempura)

Another thing worth mentioning is that they also serve some Japanese street food / snacks which are perfect to be ordered as sides. Our top pick would be the agedashi tofu, which is a crispy fried tofu served in tsuyu sauce, garnished with shredded seaweed. We love tofu, so instantly fell in love with this tofu dish served hot!

Another one of my absolute favourite is takoyaki, which are diced octopus balls covered with flour batter, topped with sweet takoyaki sauce and mayonnaise and sprinkled with dried bonito flakes.  It’s quite hard to explain how good these bad-boys are, so if you’ve never tried takoyaki before, I would recommend getting a portion of these next time you visit Eat Tokyo.

Cost of meal:

A meal here can range from £15 per person up to £30-40 per person (or more!) depending on what you order. For example, if you are on a tight budget, you can order a Donburi (rice dish) or a bowl of noodles (udon/ramen/soba) and this will set you back by only £10-15. Bento boxes range from £10-£20 depending on the meat you choose. However, if you feel like eating some good quality sashimi, there are sashimi boats which can easily cost you £25 upwards. I guess the old saying “you get what you pay for” is true in this instance.

Verdict: The most authentic Japanese food I have tried here in London. Would go back in a heartbeat!

To note: The restaurant can get very busy at peak lunch/dinner time so be sure to go there early or be prepared to wait in queue for a table! I’ve seen people wait an hour or longer for a table. Otherwise, try booking in advance. I know the Holborn branch takes reservations, even for Friday or Saturday nights (we always make a reservation before we go). I would try to avoid the Soho branch as I always see a huge line of people waiting every time I wander past.

Know any good food places to recommend? Let me know in a comment – I can’t wait to try!

 

On the Bab – Korean goodness!

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Bar seating as well as table seating available in the Shoreditch branch

Where: Covent Garden and Old Street/Shoreditch

Good For: Korean small plates and street food

First three words which comes to mind: Korean Fried Chicken!!!

Needless to say, I love Asian food. And when it comes to good Korean food in London, I can only think of a few places, and On the Bab is one of them! Good sized food, friendly staff and mouth-watering fried chicken all adds to the charm of the place.

What our full table looks like:

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Things to order:

  • Korean Fried Chicken – You are not having the full Korean experience without having some of these bad-boys! They come in 4 different flavours in Covent Garden (2 in Shoreditch) but I can vouch that the Soy Ginger flavour is really good! (Sweet spicy flavour available for those who likes a bit of a kick!)
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Soy Ginger Korean Fried Chicken

 

  • Pa Jeon (Korean Seafood Pancake) – These are small dishes to share as starters, so don’t be surprised with the size of the dish! I love these pancakes as they are so tasty especially with the sweet soy dipping sauce. There is also Kimchi Jeon (Kimchi pancake) if you want to try something different.
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Pa Jeon – Korean Seafood Pancake with sweet soy dipping sauce

 

  • Bibimbab and Kimchi Bokeum Bab (Rice dishes) – One of the most traditional dishes in Korean food is the Bibimbab, which is rice with meat and mixed vegetables, served in either a metal bowl or more traditionally, in a hot stone bowl. (Fun fact: The word Bibimbab literally means mixed rice.) The boyfriend loves to get the Bibimbab here while I opt for the more modern dish, Kimchi Bokeum Bab, which is the Korean style fried rice topped with a fried egg. I also like the fact that the fried rice comes with some salad, which gives me the impression of not having so much carbs (although the salad is doused with dressing, which you may be able to tell them to remove or put aside, if you are more health-conscious than me!)

 

How much we paid:

All in all, we spent £47 on a meal for 2 people (we had a mango juice each as drink), although we did have some spare fried chickens to take away. We were too ambitious – or hungry- when ordering a medium sized (12 pieces) fried chicken dish. In hindsight, we could easily have been satisfied with the small (5 pieces) dish at half the price.

Average costs : £20 per person will get you a starter and small fried chicken to share, a main meal and a drink (non-alcoholic: tea/juice/soft drink) each.

Verdict: Great Korean food fix with mouth-watering fried chicken!

To note: The restaurant can get very busy at peak lunch/dinner time so be sure to go there early or be prepared to wait in queue for a table!

Know any good food places to recommend? Let me know in a comment – I can’t wait to try!

Columbia Road Flower Market

Where: Columbia Road, E2 7RG

When: Sundays only!

Good for: Buying all types of flowers and plants (and taking beautiful and colourful photos!)

How to get there: The easiest way to get there is from Liverpool Street station or Shoreditch High Street station, then taking bus 26 or 48 towards Hackney Road, stopping at the Queensbridge Road stop. It is then a 4 minutes walk to the market.


The Columbia Road Flower Market is a good place to visit if you want to experience a different side of London. Situated in East London, just off Hackney Road, the usually quiet street is transformed every Sunday into a busy street market, where you will be able to sight and purchase all types of fresh flowers including (but not limited to) tulips, roses, lilies, hydrangeas and also various other potted plants and yes, herbs too!

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Tulips for £5 a bunch (10 stems)

Although the flower market only spans over a short stretch on Columbia Road, the choices of flowers are abundant and if you are like me and have decidophobia (i.e. fear of making decisions – and Yes, it’s a real thing!), you will struggle to leave the market with only one bunch of flowers.

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Different flowers are available at different seasons of the year. On my trip to the flower market last weekend, it was the beginning of spring (thank God!) and of course, tulips were in abundance!

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Spring – the season of tulips!

As usual, I was carried away with all the beautiful flowers and wanted to buy a bunch of flowers at almost every stall. Fortunately (or unfortunately, whichever way you would like to see it!), I was stopped by the boyfriend and ended up only buying two bunches of flowers. In hindsight, he may have a point when he mentioned that I only had 2 vases at home (something I need to work on, so I can buy more flowers next time).

So I ended up going home with these:

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There are cafes and food stalls around the market which you can stop by for coffee or a quick snack before or after your trip. Don’t forget also to check out the surrounding shops selling antiques, garden accessories and home decorations – you may find some hidden treasures there!

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What’s nearby: Brick Lane Market and Hackney City Farm are both located within walking distance and are also open on Sundays, a perfect opportunity to wonder around East London!

Just for Fun: See if you can spot this beautiful blossoming tree on Hackney Road close to the Columbia Road Flower Market! It just looks too gorgeous to miss especially during spring when the flowers are blooming!

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Know anywhere good in London that I should explore? Let me know in the comments, I love to wander around London!

My Parisian adventure

So if you’ve seen my Instagram, you would know that I have been in Paris for the last couple of days. I have been to Paris once before two years ago, but when Eurostar decided to throw out some cheap tickets online, I knew that it was time I return to this romantic city.

“Paris is always a good idea.” – Audrey Hepburn

So Audrey H. was not wrong! Paris is always a good idea! The city is so much more than just the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe or the Lourve museum that everyone (esp. Tripadvisor) raves about! To me, the city is about sitting outside a cafe people-watching as Parisians and travellers alike stride past in their daily routine (check!), about trying out a croissant or éclair at some Paris bakery just because you know it looks too good to resist (definitely did this), and perhaps also about stuffing your face with foie gras, escargot and all the wonderful dishes of the French cuisine (I was in food heaven)!

So here’s a breakdown of some of my tips for you if you’re planning a trip to beautiful Paris:

1. Download the Citymapper app, it will make traveling around Paris so much easier!

Cost: Free

If you’re from or living in London, you would know that the Citymapper app is practically a lifesaver. Fortunately, this app works in Paris too and all you have to do is switch cities in the Settings tab, and voilà – you can navigate around Paris seamlessly. The app allows you to input the location you would like to visit, and finds the quickest route for you to get to your destination, splitting out the options by metro, bus, Uber or even walking! Needless to say, I relied on this app A LOT wandering around the streets of Paris (with my horrible sense of direction)!

2. Go up to the top of Arc de Triomphe during sunset to catch some spectacular views of the city.

Cost: €12 but discounts are available if you are a student or under 26yo

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From the top of the Arc, you will notice the symmetry of all the 12 avenues connecting to this one massive roundabout. One thing to note though is that there are LOTS of steps to get up to the top, so I would advise you to wear comfortable shoes before embarking up the spiral staircase to the top of the Arc.

3. Tracadero is a good place to take a full length photo of the famous Eiffel Tower.

Cost: Free

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Walk out from the Tracadero metro station and almost immediately, you will find yourself facing the full-length of the Tower, what a perfect opportunity for a photo (or perhaps a selfie) with this Parisian landmark!

Beware: There are lots of people (tourist in general) around trying to take photos of the Tower, so if you don’t like to be photobombed, try getting there early when there’s less people! Also, there will be a lot of vendors around trying to sell you key chains or little Eiffel Tower souvenir statues, make sure you tell them clearly that you are not interested, otherwise they will continue to hassle you!

4. Galleries Lafayette has a beautiful viewing terrace for a great view overlooking Paris city!

Cost: Free

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There is also a lovely bar on the terrace which would be perfect for hanging out on a sunny day.

5. Enjoy some music on the steps of Sacré-Coeur Basilica.

Cost: Free

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The music is free, and of course, visiting the Basilica is also free of charge. Note that you will need to climb A LOT of steps to reach the Basilica which is on top of a hill. Fortunately, there is also a funicular that could bring you up to the top of the hill for a small fee. Otherwise, if you feel the need to burn some calories from all the good food you’ve been having in Paris, put on your trainers and walk up those stairs! You won’t be disappointed, I promise!

You can also take a walk around the surrounding area, Montmatre. I’m sure you’ll fall in love with this one-of-a-kind neighbourhood, like I did!

Beware: There will be people coming up to you, appearing to offer you some items (friendship bands of some sort) for free! DO NOT ACCEPT THESE! They are NOT FREE, and once they put the bands on you, they will ask you for money! Just put on your resting bitch face and soldier on up the hill!

All in all, I had a wonderful time in Paris and can’t wait to visit the city again (perhaps when Eurostar next goes on sale). Let me know if you have any other tips or must-do activities in Paris – I’ll be sure to add it on to my list when I’m next in Paris!

Till next time,

Steph xx

P.S. Follow me on Instagram to see where I’m headed next!

P.P.S. Misadventures on Eurostar – my nightmare trip to Paris 2 years ago via Eurostar – watch this space as  I will update you on the funny story (not so funny back then!) of my travel disasters on board the Eurostar.

The start of blogging

I have never thought of myself as a writer, or creative enough to write stories that will keep other people’s interest. When the question was asked by many of why I did not have a travel blog, despite my frequent adventures, I do admit that this made me stop to think.

What were my thoughts, you ask? I was excited about the possibility of sharing my stories with the rest of the world, to keep you in the loop of my journeys, to update you on the highlights of each travel destination, and to give you little tips which may help you in your future travels around the world.

But I had doubts. I was doubtful about my ability to keep this blog running, and my motivation to constantly update the page with new and exciting travel stories.

However, you’ll be glad to know that after some internal struggling, I finally pushed those doubts aside and decided to put pen to paper (no, not really, I typed this all out, but you know what I mean).

So here it is, my first blog post. Hopefully I haven’t bore you out yet. Looking forward to pen more travel stories down in the near future. Watch this space.

I’ll leave you with my favourite travel quote (and my life motto):

Travel as much as you can, as far as you can, as long as you can.

Life’s not meant to be lived in one place.

Till next time,

Steph xx