Chicama London

Latest and greatest London food- empty your wallets! 

I eat faster than I can type or publish my blogs- and it’s a battle my tummy will always win! haha

But here’s one for your Monday morning commute (snoooooze!) The latest restaurants to captures people’s stomachs recently- the food is more niche, in your face and has its own identity without being apologetic.

Kiln, Soho: 

If you’ve been to Smoking Goat then you will love this sister restaurant from the same team. If you haven’t been to Smoking Goat, who are you and where have you been?!

The inspiration of Kiln’s small plates is Burmese and Yunnanese flavours. I haven’t had either so I guess I will take Kiln’s word for it? I hope it’s not like Dishoom’s version of Indian and Parsi cuisine just how Tayyab’s isn’t the version of true Pakistani cuisine anymore…

Anyway, it so happened that I found myself rushing through Soho with 2 of my guy friends (mention of gender is deliberate and you will find out why). Kiln had been on my hit list but I was putting it off for when I had more time. But as fate would have it, I was inside Kiln showing my disappointment and sad face for not finding a free table. I mean I was just acting spoilt- nothing if ever empty in Soho nowadays. Not even that Spaghetti House opposite Liberty.

Anyway the lovely guy there offered my friends and I a table for 3 but we had to leave the table in an hour as there was a booking. Perfect! We had less than an hour to spare for food anyway so we took it.

Menu is short and half of the stuff you would think I wonder what that is but then you’ll order anyway as weirdly it just makes sense? (even though what I just wrote, doesn’t…)

Anyway my friends gave me free reign to order what I thought would be good for the table. Frankly with under an hour I wasn’t going to wait for them to deliberate over the menu- I was in my military mode. Ordered a few small plates of aged lamb and cumin skewers, grilled sausage, slow grilled chicken and a couple of curry dishes with a side of brown jasmine rice.

When I say small plates, they really were small. I was like is that it?! Same reaction I had when I first went to Bao.

Don’t get me wrong, the flavours are great and just up my alley but the portion size left me wanting more. You are paying more for what you get unless you’re used to eating small portions of food, in which case no need to mention it to me. And with two guys to feed, I was constantly thinking, this will definitely not fill them up. (2 hours later, I found out I was right and they were just being polite by saying they were full…liars)

You can order more of course but then you’re not looking at a cheap meal. It’s a street food style meal with the bill of a high end restaurant because by the time you’re full, you’re £150+ deep. Also don’t take someone who will complain about portion size.

Smoking Goat will forever be my favourite– sorry Kiln.

Also a review of Kiln I found super hilarious and really resonated with me.

Chicama, King’s Road:

Pachamama is one of my favourite restaurants and when I found out they’ve opened a sister restaurant (no, there’s no theme here 😛 )I had to go check it out. It’s just past Blue Bird which I’ve never bothered to go to, simply because it’s so over hyped but that’s a discussion for another day.

I was catching up with my girls and they always rely on me for taking them some where new with food they haven’t tried before. Thankfully I’ve been on a winning streak with them until I took them to Chicama. I didn’t do my homework properly, and just relied on the fact that they were related to Pachamama so assumed there definitely won’t be any disappointment.

After looking at the menu which only has seafood and vegetarian dishes, I realised I was in deep trouble. I may have pushed the boat too much in this instance and I went into a mini panic mode in my head thinking what do I order for them which they would be fairly used to?!

So I proceeded to order Tapioca marshmallow with ocopa sauce haha! Clearly the safest option on the menu…NOT! I thought I might as well go full on. Most of their brunch menu dishes aren’t online, as I noticed.

We also ordered their Trout cooked in banana leaf with red quinoa and mango and ají limo sauce. Sadly it took them three tries to cook the trout and by the third time I was thinking to myself “Am I just being too picky or is the Trout just meant to be slightly undercooked” same as when I walk past the security gates at a department store thinking they’re going to go off even though I haven’t taken anything from the store…hahah!

Verdict: Loved the meal at Chicama. I definitely prefer Pachamama as there’s more variety and there is something for everyone. However, if you love seafood then give Chicama a try. You won’t be disappointed. I hope. If you would then keep your opinion to yourself, thanks 😀

Plus, definitely order the Tapioca marshmallows- a surprise favourite from the menu.

Padella Pasta, London Bridge:

The only stalking I’m guilty of doing is food stalking. I’ve drooled over this place since it opened, looking at those plates of pasta instagram’d over and over again. Hearing about the long wait and queues would always put me off.

I mean, it’s a thing in London now. No reservations and long ass queues. You have to plan your life around trying not to be in the queue long enough till you die of exhaustion and JUST when you think you’re about to pass out- your table is ready. The planning has to be of military precision or else a 20 minute wait could turn into an hour or an hour and forty minute wait. It’s happened to me at Hoppers several times so I know…

Anyway, my friend and I met at 6PM and “LUCKY/THANK MY STARS/I MUST’VE DONE SOMETHING GOOD ON THAT DAY” we only had to wait 15-20 minutes. Not the 40-1 hour wait I was expecting. The queue moved quite fast but admittedly it was a Tuesday. However, hardly any queues for food on Tuesdays is not what used to happen a few years ago…

The one dish I would’ve cried over if the restaurant suddenly ran out of would be their Pappardelle with 8-hour Dexter beef shin ragu. I kid you not, I’ve salivated over this dish for over 3 months (yeah I’m that sad!) and I was not leaving without trying it. The thick freshly made Pappardelle and the most delicious softest of beef shins filled me with ecstasy.

But before I went all in, I took my friend’s advice and tried the dishes in a sequence. We ordered three pasta dishes between two, to share.

First one was one they’d brought back on the menu (not sure for how long) which was the Tagliatelle with smoked eel, infused cream, parsley and corsican lemon. The flavours were light, fresh and we could taste the lemon. It was a great way to ease into the meal.

Surprisingly, visually the dish below always puts people off but I loved it even when I had not tried it. I suppose I’m weird that way. This deliciousness is Pici cacio e Pepe. It’s cheesy, peppery and the handmade fresh pasta was an absolute delight. Some people think the pasta looks like worms but I’d eat these cheesy worms any time 😛

The star of the show was definitely the Pappardelle with 8 hour slow cooked beef shin ragu and I would’ve inhaled another plate of it but I stopped myself. Best to savour it another time. So yeah, one of those places I definitely found, is worth the hype! 

Dum Biryani House, Wardour Street, London:

Last but not the least is Dum Biryani House that recently opened up in the heart of Soho on the very busy Wardour Street. Dream come true! I literally live for Biryani. I could eat it all day errdayyy! If you haven’t judged this by my Instagram account, do you even know me?!

Run by Dhruv Mittal whose previously worked at The Fat Duck and Hibiscus, this seems like a complete opposite of the food he used to cook. But boy am I glad there’s a biryani house in the heart of Soho. I can’t be going out to East London or the likes for my biryani fix, or ordering a take away from one of my favourites OR when I can’t be bothered to cook a biryani myself, I want to visit a restaurant that is not Dishoom- as their biryani is not a biryani, it’s a pulao.

Their drinks menu is a LOL (don’t cringe at my use of this word- it’s meant to be cool) if you’re not Asian you may not get it but once you know the meaning behind each drink you’ll probably laugh. Love the interior, quite unassuming and seems tiny but once you enter, it’s a full on Crystal Maze with cosy rooms for 5-6 people here and there and even a table for 12. I love the artwork on the walls and the love and care the owner has put into it.

The menu is simple: sweet and short and as the name suggests, the star of the show is the dum (dum=steamed, note biryani is ALWAYS meant to be steam cooked after layering it) biryani. 

They offer small plates to whet your appetite. The cuisine is Andhra and Telugu inspired with a touch of Hyderbad with the dum biryanis. My favourites were the prawn and coconut fry and the lamb kidney fry also known as Gurday Kapooray. Takes me back to every Eid my mum would cook these for us before we scoffed down all the lamb pulaos and curries.

Under that crusty puff pastry were two biryanis- one with lamb shank (on the bone obvs!) and one special of the day with boneless chicken. My favourite was the lamb shank dum biryani with raita. Anything on top is an extra and unnecessary for me when it comes to biryani. A biryani does not need anything more than itself and a really well made raita. But that’s my personal preference and how I’ve always eaten it a la Student Biryani. Every desi has an emotional relationship to biryani and how it should be cooked.

I am happy to report my friend and I thoroughly enjoyed our first time at Dum and it definitely won’t be our last. As authentic as it gets, in the heart of Soho. We went on a Saturday afternoon so had the whole place to ourselves so no complaints on the service either. Felt so special 😛

Hopefully we will see more variations and specials of their biryanis.

Last but not the least was Rabdi. This dessert is quite common in Pakistan and India (as I found out) I’ve had it since I was little and Rabdi milk from Lahore is absolutely divine. So to find this on the menu was quite nostalgic. It was perfect to clean off the full on lunch we had. Fine shavings of nuts and caramelised rose petals on top made it extra special.

Fantastic way to finish off this weekend and here I am eating my own homemade Roast Chicken, Daal and Boiled Rice. Very simple and healthy. Bon Appétit and see you soon! xx

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