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    The Wong Kei, the Chinese version of Faulty Towers – Reviewed.

    The Wong Kei, although less of a fine dining restaurant and more of a London experience is good, value for money, has quick food and is always busy, full of students and local Chinese people, which is always a great indicator of good local food.  Wong Kei Restaurant Review Soho Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We love it. It’s a local landmark and for a quick, cheap, central meal almost can’t be beaten. It’s also notorious. Years ago the waiting staff used to be incredibly rude hurrying people along whilst they ate – for instance years ago hubby saw a punter wanting to pay by cheque – he was screamed at and chucked out. These days it’s still very blunt, but in some ways, it’s nice to be left alone to enjoy your food. The Wong Kei even has it’s own Wikipedia entry.

    The service is more of a novelty than anything and anyone who considers themselves a Londoner has sat in one of the four floors of the restaurant. There is still a scrap of the old school service – upon entering you will be asked: “how many”? then directed upstairs or downstairs depending on the size of your party. Try to listen, and be warned you may be directed further upstairs as you go.

    Wong Kei Restaurant Review Soho Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We often go with big groups, and they can always accommodate us. If you’re in a smaller group or a couple they will pop you on a large table seating 6-8 which is always interesting (and somewhat disconcerting for unsuspecting tourists). I love people watching, and this is the best time to do it. You order individually (separate from the other groups) and it’s really interesting to covertly watch them whilst you wait for your food.

    One time I swear to you there was an awkward first date happening. Whilst this is a good pre-/post-/during-drinking meal, it’s not a swanky restaurant to designed to impress. Sorry fella, bad choice – I’m not sure you’re going to have a second. One year at Chinese New Year we ended up seated next to a Giant Chinese Dragons head – it was and after the parade the dancers came in for dinner, bringing the head with them.

    The menu is immense and has every conceivable dish you can think of, and a few I’m not so sure I’d be keen to try.

    Wong Kei Restaurant Review Soho Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The food is well priced (though slowly rising through the years) but hot and fresh. Our friends love the;

    – Wonton Soup
    – Sesame Prawn Toast (We’ve not found better yet)
    – Duck pancakes (it’s quite something watching the staff pull it off the bone on your table)
    – Tomato Beef Rice
    – Scrambled Egg Chicken Fried Rice
    – Hong Kong Style Sweet and Sour Pork
    – Hot/Cold Meat of your choice & BBQ sauce on rice
    – Chinese Greens in Oyster Sauce – so so good
    – The addictive chilli sauce always on the table (though of late it’s kicking quite a punching).

    last, but best

    – the bottomless pot of free jasmine tea on the table. There is something just so good about this Tea that we’ve tried to get our own but it never quite comes close. Top tip: if you happen to run out of the tea during the course of your meal, simply leave the lid off the teapot and a waiter will come along with a fresh pot almost immediately.

    Wong Kei Restaurant Review Soho Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Go! It’s a roulette now whether you’ll see the bad service, but when you do it’s ever so funny. One time the server decided that hubby was clearly blubbering and wouldn’t speak to him, asking me everything and hurling our change across him to me at the end of the night.

    Warning: don’t try and pay by card. In this case, refusal won’t offend, it’ll be offensive. If you’re lucky.

    The Wong Kei is found about 5 minutes walk from Picadilly Circus at 41-43 Wardour Street London W1D 6PY.

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    Moon Over Soho – Reading Recommendation

    Another installment of The Rivers of London series, we follow London Bobby Constable Grant as he gets futher into his education, and tackles cases – or rather ends up stumbling upon them. He is called to the city morgue, where a body contains an imprint of a jazz song – something isn’t right.

    Moon Over Soho (Rivers of London 2) Ben Aaronovitch

    (Book One here)


    I really couldn’t wait for this continuation of the series, and it didn’t disappoint. Peter Grant is fleshing out to be an interesting character, well rounded with faults and opinions but really interesting – I especially like the idea that he is interested in architecture beginning a degree but not finishing it, and it really struck a chord. He’s a good idea of a policeman too with a dark sense of humour that you suspect doctors etc. develop in order to cope with the brutal situations they find themselves in.

    With more character hashing out, we find out more about Nightingale and how he ticks, but poor Leslie is relegated to recovering from the high-jinks of the earlier book in her family home.

    The plot & sub-plot clashed a bit, making it a wee bit of a rough ride and there were a few introductions of old plots that were a little messy, but overall I really enjoyed it, ordering the new book immediately.

    Great commuter read (though with the title “Whispers Under Ground” I suspect the next one is going to be even more awesome) and a definately if you’re into Police/Urban Fantasy. I loved the book cover too, great idea. One of the ‘squeal’ moments for me, was when Peter Grant goes into the Wong Kei, a notorious Chinese Restaurant in London´s China Town…

    (Please note any links to Amazon are through
    my Amazon Associates account, which means I make a little money (less than 5%)
    from any purchases made after clicking through these links. This helps support
    my book addiction, so if you are interested in buying the book, please click
    through the top link)

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    Family Weekends

    With most of my family in New Zealand, it’s really lovely to be able to spend time with hubby’s family who have pretty much adopted me as their rugby loving, chitter chatting, token antipodean.

    As weekends go, this was a good-un. One we got our chores out of the way, it was full of …

    … Pumpkin Spice Lattes (they have been finally brought over here – I’m going to see if I can get the syrup/spices and make my own – yum!)Very soft, rather sweet they are a cross between vanilla and chai lattes… right up my alley.

    … snatched sunshine, and the drafting of a cat excercise regime as she has put on half a pound – too much sleeping not enough of anything else …

    …birthday dinners of beautiful Lamb & Mash – food of the gods…

    … fairly disappointing Creme Brulee …

    … refreshing beverages, though a worrying amount of Christmas menus – it’s only September people! …

     

    … surprisingly ostentatious golf clubs, hidden behind a road bend …

    … sunsets …

    … and random blurs (I’d like to think it’s because I’m so fast buuuut lets be honest…).

    How do you like to spend your Sundays? Curled up with a book warm at home? In the pub?

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    London Living – A Donkey on the Edge (Escape to the Country)

    One of the hardest aspects, and at the same time the best aspects – about living in London is the grey city-fied-ness of it (yes, I’m making up words again, sorry). London is incredible, but on a daily basis to earn the money that keeps you able to travel to lovely destinations, eat scrumptious meals and generally enjoy yourself, you wake up to the alarm, do your work-day trudge, work, go home, complete chores and then sleep, ready for another day to begin. This is most definately a “first-world problem” as some of my Twitter buddies chat about, but after awhile sometimes the mad rush and coporate ladder can get you down. To be honest, living in both Auckland and Wellington, in New Zealand I used to have the same urges, but it’s easier as in New Zealand you’re never more than a 3-hour drive maximum from beautiful beaches.

    I’ve found (and much to my delight, I’m not alone) that every so often I have to see some greenery, get some fresh air in my lungs and hear nature. Leah, a Twitter buddy puts it beautifully, and slips in a Shrek reference – score, here in a post on her blog Naturally, Leah (go, it’s such a well-written blog) – calling it the ‘Donkey on the Edge’ feeling. Hubby doesn’t seem to get the same urge, but happily lets me drag him along where ever takes our fancy.

    This evening satisfied my Donkey on the Edge need quite by accident, as we were taken to a pub with quite the most beautiful view I think I’ve ever seen so far. Set up on the side of a hill, The Orchard in Harefield is quite something. A busy, well staffed Gastro-pub with a resident Basset-Hound we were really pleasantly surprised – it really seems to have it all.

    The below images really don’t do the scene justice – I’m going to go back, soon, with my proper camera, and try to capture the beautiful lakes and Grand Union Canal better.

     

    The Landlord even knew how to make a Vodka Lemon, Lime & Bitters with Angostura Bitters (though a half point deducted as we were later served by one of the other bar maids, who had never heard of Bitters). Heaven in a glass. The boys in our party can vouch for the beer being kept beautifully, and the owners really seem to have a passion for the beautiful pub and it’s roaring fires.

    That’s another facet of London life I love though, when you do get the urge to get out and away, it’s so easy to jump on a train/bus/car/tram/cable car/whatever is near and more often than not it can take you to green pastures, running canals and amazing English countryside. This place is a little harder to get to for Central Londoners by public transport – from Marylebone Station it’s a train to Denham (about 20minutes) then a 30min walk/bus, but it’s totally worth it.

    The continuously updated  menu-du-jour alone looks like it’s worth another trip, that and to see the pub dog. Such a friendly fellow.

    I am no longer a Donkey on the Edge. For now.

    Where do you go to escape? Is it as simple as a window box or backyard, or do you like to mix it up and make your breaks more stimulating? Have you got any recommendations for me?

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    Foodie-In-Training: Figs

    It’s funny. For the last six months, we’ve been really focussed on changing the way that we eat and live our lives. We’ve lost a fair amount of weight on a calorie-counting programme, and it’s interesting because the relationship we have with food has totally changed. Whilst still enjoying all of the treats available, it’s no longer imperative to over indulge. Understanding the calorie values that everything is worth really changes the way you view treats. I still enjoy everything I like on a regular basis – nothing is off limits because I’m of the mindset that as soon as you make it off limits, you crave it and go overboard – but we are also taking more pleasure in the simple acts of cooking, preparing and trying new things.

    Gaining weight while on holidays/changing where you live seems to be a fairly widespread problem – beautifully put by this article “Whether it’s the dreaded ‘Heathrow injection’ or simple overindulgence, the fact is that many antipodean travellers return home carrying unwanted extra baggage.”

    But my our new improved outlook is introducing us to lovely new things. Take Figs for example. We never would have considered them, and now we’re trying them. I like fig biscuits, and thought raw figs may have a trace of that flavour.

     

     

    Yum. After very googling very intensive research, we decided grilling the figs with a smidgeon of Honey, and serving them with light cream cheese and waffles would be the way to go. They took about 5 minutes to make, the (pre-made) waffles popped in the Toaster, and fork at the ready.

    Delicious – and one of our five a day, containing all sorts of vitamins & nutrients. Who’d of thunk it?

    Have you tried figs? What is your favourite cooked fruit?

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