Benares is owned and run by chef Atul Kochhar, who has often been referred to as a food alchemist; and quite rightly so. The first Indian chef to be awarded a Michelin star,Kochhar produces food that is nothing short of exquisite. In terms of price, Benares is on the higher end, but is still extremely reasonable; the experience and more importantly, the food, far outweigh the price tag. Jal Tarang (pan-seared hand-dived Scottish scallops) is just one of the many dishes on the à la carte menu we recommend, leaving more than enough room for a delicious rhubarb and pomegranate Bhapa Doi with pistachio Burfi.
Kokeb Ethiopian Restaurant
As spicy food goes, there is still little access to Ethiopian food in the UK. Fortunately for London, a fair few restaurants have found their way to the heart of the city. Unlike any other cuisine, Ethiopian food is definitely on the hotter side of spicy and not for the faint-hearted. In order to appeal to western palates, some restaurants have tried to adjust their dishes and in doing so, lost their authenticity. Kokeb is not one of these! Authenticity is at the heart of what they do. This is a no-frills restaurant, but the range of food is incredible. If you don’t know your Wots from your Injeras, then we recommend the Kokeb House Special and let the staff do the choosing for you.
Momo is a beautiful restaurant, the atmosphere and decor is such that it is impossible not to get a sense of being transported to Africa and it is a wonderful place to just sit and relax – but not for long! The smells emanating from the kitchen capture the tamest of taste buds and demand that food be ordered. Momo is better visited with friends as it gives the opportunity to share and sample several dishes at the same time. There is an array of menus to choose from; for a staple Moroccan dish, we highly recommend the fish tagine: marinated fish with green chermoula, clams, peas, artichoke, preserved lemon and herb butter. That one is definitely not for sharing.
Bi Bim Bap
Bi Bim Bap is all about keeping spice cheap and cheerful and cheerful it is! It is impossible not to smile when presented with a bowl of their spicy pork with rice or a side of chili squid. This is soul food and with such great prices, it makes for happy pockets too. Unlike many fast food establishments, Bi Bim Bap offers a good selection of really delicious, healthy food. Their aptly named ‘Nutritious’ is a delicious salad of ginseng, gingko, dates, goji berries, chestnuts and vegetables; colourful, spicy and completely out of the ordinary. If such a salad could possibly lack excitement in any way, then there’s always plenty of red pepper paste and miso sauce on hand to spice things up a bit more.
It’s always good when a restaurant lives up to expectations and Mango Shack does just that. Should the need for Caribbean food ever arise, then being served a plate of ‘ackee & saltfish’ or even a simple jerk chicken is bound to suffice. For familiar Caribbean food, Mango Shack will definitely oblige…but then they go and spice things up and all bets are off. They have a gift for turning mundane restaurant dishes into something spectacular. For example, a simple risotto; undoubtedly perfectly delicious and comforting food — but when turned into baby spinach, okra & coconut risotto with fried plantain & crispy leeks, Mango Shack have redefined the idea of taking food to another level. The restaurant setting is rustic and charming, the food incredible; spices like you’ve never tasted it before!