Thursday, December 08, 2016

Chambers of Flavour V2 - The Gingerline Experience

So excited to finally get a chance to do this.

I'd heard about the Gingerline experience before, but their tickets are so darn hard to lay hands on. So, when Alex gave a couple of yelpers the opportunity to try them out, I threw as many hats in the ring as I could and was chosen for a 6pm slot on Tuesday. So much excitement to get into Version 2 of the Chambers of Flavour.

When they send you your ticket, they ask you if you have any food allergies / intolerance. A friend with me had a shellfish allergy and she was well catered for during the experience.

Now everything is kept super secret until the very end, including the location, until 4pm on the evening of. I received my text message at 4:30 and I just about managed to reach in time for my 6pm time slot. Thanks to the wonderful chaos of Oxford Street Station during evening rush hour in the midst of Christmas Shopping mania, making it a herculean effort to change lines.

You have to reach on time, given their format, if you reach late, they won't be able to accommodate you in the next lot. This is not the WB studio and they only take a maximum of 16 people in at a time. So plan to be around the Liverpool Street / Islington area by 5pm, if you have an early slot.

We were served a welcome alcoholic drink on arrival that was appreciated after the biting cold outside. A lovely machinist explained the concept to me and ran through a few rules (no photographs inside etc)

The pre-experience space includes:
- The bar which opens at 5pm.
- A complimentary coat check where you can leave all bags and purses (recommended to leave your hands free during the experience)
- Washrooms (best to use them here. There is one more opportunity mid way through the experience, but you will miss out a bit on the banter)
- Seating space with tables.

The bar had a nice variety of cocktails. Some could be consumed in the waiting area and there were 4 options that could be bottled for takeaway during the experience. (No other opportunity to buy drinks inside) They pack it in cooling bags and you can even choose a bottle of wine instead of cocktails. These drinks have to be paid for and are not covered in the ticket price. Prices are around 8-9 Pounds a glass. Mocktails too are available.

The experience flows through a story, each phase takes you into a new space where you meet new characters, enjoy a nibble or a drink. Each room was equipped with water bottles, glasses and napkins.

The performers were lovely, having so much fun. There's a lot of audience involvement at every stage. The food was much better than I expected (supper theater doesn't always have the best food, but ginger line has designed the experience around the food and that makes all the difference)

1. Leave everything at the coat check and leave your hands free.
2. Buy drinks at the bar, before you handover everything to the coat check.
3. Use washrooms at the start to maximise your experience inside.
4. Arrive early if you can.
5. Flat shoes and comfortable trousers/jeans make it easier to move around.
6. When you finally arrive, you may not be certain that you have found the right door and there's no one outside that you can check with. Just read the instructions carefully and you will know when you are at the right place. As you walk closer to the doors, you will hear some muted chatter.

Have fun.

I did love the experience and if I'm lucky enough to get tickets for the next one, I'd definitely return.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Chozen Noodle, London

Chozen Noodle
141 Praed Street
London W2 1RL

Wanted something light as a takeaway at the end of a superhot day.

There didn't seem to be any other Chinese places around Paddington, so requested the husband to pick up a takeaway from Chozen on his way home.

The chicken gyoza (1.95 for 3 pieces) was very very good and we also loved the duck spring rolls (2.15 - 3 small rolls). The sushi is the best that I have tasted in this neighbourhood. (Medium Chozen box - 5 maki & 5 nigiri - 7.15)

I'm not crazy about Udon, so I'm not surprised that I didn't like the Chicken Dumpling Udon (3.45) too much. The chicken Thai green curry (6.95) had pineapple in it which was unusual, but not unpleasant. Actually the curry and rice was a great meal with some spicy chilli paste from my collection of sauces at home.

Very fast service and husband said they were clean. I'll have to step into the location myself when I next walk past.

Remember the rolls & Gyoza are best eaten hot, they lose all texture if you let them stand for too long.

Rating : 3.75 / 5

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Cremagelato, Munich, Germany

Notburgastr. 4
Munich 80639

Phone number +49 89 1785685

So glad we found this little gelateria at the end of a long and tiring day at the Nymphenburg Palace. Great prices despite being bang in the Center of the tourist area and lovely creamy gelato!

After sampling a few options. I had a double scoop and he had a sundae, both of which were welcomingly delicious at the end of a hot tiring day.

They don't have seats, so its take away only. But you can always head to the canal leading to Nymphenburg palace and sit on its banks and finish up your gelato.

Rating : 4 / 5

British Airways Galleries Lounge / Oneworld Lounge, Munich, Germany

British Airways Galleries Lounge / Oneworld Lounge
Flughafen München
Terminal 1, Modul B
Ebene 05
Munich 85356

Phone number +49 421 5575758

Our flight was around 9:30pm (the last BA flight out of Munich). Bear with me, but this fact is important to this review.

After an extremely lengthy immigration and security process, we were able to get into the lounge by 8:30pm. We had left our hotel at 6:30 pm and in the middle of all the sightseeing we had not taken a break for lunch or dinner (just coffee & a sandwich on the go). So we were hungry & a bit on edge.

It was a bit of a maze to locate the lounge, but the staff at the desk were extremely welcoming and friendly.

The problem was when it came to the refreshments. The coffee machine was great & we had some wonderful coffee, there was a pretty decent alcohol selection, but we don't drink before & during flights. It was the food that was woefully inadequate.

There were a few crumbling sandwiches, some so called spicy chicken and a potato snack option. Both were cold, hard, dry and tasteless. There was one packet of crisps left, which I picked up and we ate that and a tiny pot of ice cream and sipped on our coffee. We watched them clear up all the tables at 8:40 and thought that they would bring out some fresh hot food. It was only at 9:00 that we realised that they were cleaning up in anticipation of closing down.

This was too late for us to even consider visiting another eatery in the airport. The problem was that by the time we reached London T5 and cleared immigration it was 10:30 and the only option at T5 on arrival is Costa which I definitely did not want. Too late to order delivery once we got home too. So we had to be content with instant noodles.

If you are hungry when you arrive at Munich airport (Budget at least one hour for the queues, even if you are a gold card holder or flying Business class), don't bother finding the lounge, but eat at one of the restaurants immediately after you are through.

If you just want a quiet place to sit down and sip on a drink, only then head to the BA lounge.

Rating : 2 / 5

Monday, August 29, 2016

Ratchada, Munich, Germany

Schwanthalerstr. 8
Munich 80336

Phone number +49 89 4317859

I saw the amazing rating on yelp and I had to head here as my Indian palate was craving spicy complex flavours after a week of local food.

We walked here from the Hauptbahnhoff and the area seemed a bit dodgy, but in the pursuit of good food, I convinced the husband to persevere and we are very glad that we did.

The restaurant is in the basement, so its quite dark yet cool.

Given how tired I was after a long day of walking, the minute I was handed an English version of the menu, I pointed to the Thai Iced Coffee & when it arrived it was absolutely perfect!

The staff who served us only spoke German & Thai, so I had to refer to google translate to tell them about my prawn allergy. She kept referring me to the vegetarian section of the menu (perils of looking Indian) and through sign language and google translate, I tried to explain that I was allergic only to shrimp & prawns but I NEEDED meat.

I had the tom kha gai & he had the tom yum. Both of which were fantastic. I had also ordered vegetarian spring rolls as the meat ones had some shrimp in it. I wanted a non fried starter, so I order a stir fried pork, which turned out to be a bit more saucy than I expected but wonderfully tasty.

Husband wanted just a fried rice and I wanted a green curry rice, so we ordered both (sticky rice is automatically served as an accompaniment with curry). They were both so good, my taste buds were in heaven. The rice could be eaten on its own as a complete meal.

Once the food arrived, we realised that we had over ordered. Between the 2 of us, we should have just gone for 2 soups, the curry rice & the egg fried rice. There was no need for anything else. There was a lot of food leftover, but as we were staying in a hotel and had a checkout the next morning with baggage pick up in the evening, there was no point in packing the leftovers (which were a complete meal) I was kicking myself the next day for not packing the leftovers anyway

This Thai food holds its own against any food I have eaten even in Thailand. Heavily recommended.

Oh & on the way back we walked towards Karlsplatz and that was a way better approach. So if you have to walk the last bit, Id recommend walking from Karlsplatz rather than the Hauptbahnhoff.

Rating : 5 / 5

Sunday, August 28, 2016

GeschmacksSachen, Dusseldorf, Germany

Marktplatz 10
Düsseldorf 40213

Phone number +49 211 8549220

This quaint little shop was an amazing find thanks to yelp ratings. It's a foodie delight with lots of stuff you would love to buy for yourself and as gifts.

They have alcohol, olive oil and balsamic vinegar on tap in bottles. You can taste and then decide if you want to buy some. Bottles come in different shapes and sizes. The fancier, the more expensive. I'm not sure but I think that if you live locally, you may even be able to carry your own bottles to the shop to be filled.

There were so many things I would have loved to buy if I didn't have to worry about a train + flight journey back. I settled for 3 bottles of walnut, marzipan & white Chocolate flavoured liqueurs. All have been consumed and duly appreciated in the week that I've been home.

Rating : 4.5 / 5

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Chocolaterie Beluga, Munich, Germany

Chocolaterie Beluga
Viktualienmarkt 6
80331 Munich
Phone number +49 89 23231577

After a whole day of walking around the Old City of Munich I was exhausted and desperately in need of a coffee. Unfortunately by 6pm all the shops, markets & coffee places had closed and the only thing that seemed to be open was the beer gardens.

But beer is not a substitute when the caffeine craving hits, so I was hoping to at least get some chocolate milkshake in me.

However when we reached here I was able to get a cold coffee with an extra shot and it was the perfect pick-me-up that I needed at that point of time.

We also had the chocolate bomb - like a molten lava cake which was very good and tried the walnut ice cream which was amazing, the White chocolate ice cream wasn't as good as the walnut.

The staff were super sweet & helpful. They speak English fluently, which was a huge advantage to this exhausted non-German.

They had lots of yummy looking chocolates that would make great gifts, including little chocolate hedgehogs which were absolutely adorable.

Since we were planning another couple of hours of walking around, we didn't want to carry anything that would get smashed in our bags, so sadly we could only try what we were willing to consume at that point.

Heavily recommended for a lovely break when you are near this market and not yet ready for beer.

Rating : 4 / 5

Friday, August 26, 2016

Gold Mine, London

Gold Mine
102 Queensway
London W2 3RR
020 7792 8331

So many people had told me about the Roast Duck at Gold Mine. I have lunch in this area every 7-10 days and end up at my default picks for Thai or Spanish food most of the time, so this time I set out determined to eat the roast duck at Gold Mine and check what the fuss was all about.

Oh my! That duck was gorgeous! The fat melting in the mouth was like a beautiful piece of pork fat - I've never tasted duck fat like that & at the same time the skin was crispy too and the meat ever so tender.It comes deboned and the sauce here is more savoury than sweet which is why I think I like it so much. No cloying sweetness, no greasy after-feel.

My favourite meat is pork, but the barbecued pork (also good) did not hold a candle to this roast duck!

I chose the Singapore vermicelli noodles to go with my meal. They were just what I wanted - really thin fine noodles, fried up street food style and just perfect with the fat of that perfect duck. All 3 dishes for 22£.

I've got to take the family here to try this duck. I was lucky to not have to brave a queue at 2:30pm, but the restaurant was quite full. However, I must say that standing in line would be worth it for this roast duck. Just the duck & a side of noodles or rice would be perfect.

On a subsequent visit, I went with the husband. He ordered a hot & sour chicken soup. I had mentioned that I have a prawn & shrimp allergy & they told me that some prawn may be used in the stock in the soup, but if I wanted, they could use a vegetarian stock to make the chicken soup. I think that shows brilliant customer service.

Prawn crackers aren't complimentary, they have to be ordered off the menu. The smoked & fried chicken that I had the first time, was very moreish and we just couldn't stop ourselves from eating more. The second time I ordered it, there was a sweetness added to it, which brought down its appeal considerably for me.

The Malaysian noodles were good, but personally I prefer their Singaporean version. The egg fried rice is perfect to go with a bit of the sauce from the roast duck.

The spring rolls were nice, but not something I would repeat on another visit as there is so much more on the menu that I want to try out.

The restaurant has a well functioning air conditioning unit, so its perfect for lunch on a sweltering summer day.

My struggle with Gold mine is trying something new off the menu when my heart & stomach are screaming for the smoked chicken, the roast duck & the Singaporean Noodles.

Rating : 4.5 / 5

Gold Mine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Flavours of India, London

Flavours of India
46 Gloucester Terrace
London W2 3HH
020 7402 1100

We came back from a long weekend away & I knew I didn't have much to cook with at home, nor did I have time to cook the elaborate Indian meal that he was craving. As a compromise (I don't like visiting Indian restaurants in London), he said that he had tried some Indian food at "Flavours of India" the last time I was away & it was quite tasty.

We headed here straight from the station with our 3 carry-on size suitcases and realised that we could not keep them next to us as the space is quite cramped (even though it's spread over 3 floors) However the owner found us some space near the waiting area where we could also keep an eye on it from our table & we were good. If you do take larger suitcases in though, I doubt by they would fit.

For starters we ordered the Hyderabadi chicken (3.95), we were surprised when it arrived with a bit of sauce, but it was the highlight of our evening. Heavily recommended if you like spicy food - it's like a chicken 65 in a yoghurt sauce.

The bhuna ghosht (slow roasted mutton - 8.95) and chicken patiala (onion tomato base curry - 8.95) went well with the naans & parathas & were spicy as promised. The lachcha parathas were made with pure wheat flour (3.25), which made me very happy. We also ordered a stuffed (onion, potato, paneer) naan (3.75) which was quite good.

Rounded it off with a chicken biryani (8.95) which is one of the better ones that I have had at a restaurant in London. It comes with its own raita, which was handy.

They have a selection of wines & beers served from a bar that looks like the front of a TATA truck. Service was reasonably fast, given the almost 100% occupancy. Food options range from mild to spicy and the owner & staff are happy to guide you towards combinations they think you would like. We overheard them at some other tables (given the tiny space, this is unavoidable) and they knew what they were talking about, so you can trust them.

They also have branches in Hounslow & West End.

I'm glad to have finally found a better than average Indian restaurant close to home. It's perfect for emergencies.

Rating : 3.5 / 5

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Urban Social, London

Urban Social
148-151 Queensway
London W2 4SB
020 7243 9031

The only non-chain place available to eat at, at Whiteleys (the others are pizza express, Costa and Starbucks)

They do waffles, crepes, fruit juice/smoothies, hot drinks, some cookies and cakes. They often have a fresh hot organic soup on offer too.

I like their coffee. Costa next door is normally my default choice. But if I want to sit down and not have people constantly bumping me, then Urban Social is more conducive to that. And it's quiet, unlike Costa which is normally the hub of "loud" conversations.

Their crepes are decent, nothing outstanding, but better than a reheated sandwich if you want something hot and fresh.

Rating : 3 / 5

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Roti Chai, London

Roti Chai
3 Portman Mews South
London W1H 6HS
020 7408 0101

I'd bookmarked this place awhile ago and had been waiting for an opportunity to go here. Shopping with my brother on Oxford street, provided that opportunity.

The interiors are well spaced out, which is rare for this part of town. The large window, makes the space seem more open and a few knick knacks are placed around as decor to give an Indian feel without being overly cheesy.

We needed a quick lunch before another appointment, so I couldnt relax and enjoy the chaat - paani puri / bhelpuri etc. We opted straight for the protein dishes.

The chicken lollipops were good, but standard fare. It felt more crumb fried than batter fried.

The agni fire wings, were mind blowingly spicy in a good way. But be warned - this is only for chilli addicts. You can't handle the spice otherwise.

The manchurian chicken was a let down, especially as it was served with a very thin sauce and plain rice (Its a very Indian Chinese dish, served almost dry and with fried rice) the taste was good, but it was a disappointment purely because of its name. They should call it sweet and sour chicken or something.

Brother enjoyed his bun kebab. He said it was good - juicy & tender.

However, the only thing that really stood out for me was the hot chocolate with its lovely cinnamon notes.

The starters were much better than my main course. Which is why I suspect the chaat items may meet the mark.

Service was efficient and friendly. I might return to check out the chaat items, but for a meal, I'd rather go elsewhere.

Rating : 3 / 5

Monday, May 16, 2016

Paul, London

55 Baker Street
Unit 65
London W1U 8EW
020 7486 0626

Stepped in here for a quick coffee before heading for a seminar. Paul's makes coffee that's perfect to my taste - strong, good amount of milk, and not too bitter or too heavily roasted. Maybe I should stick to French instead of Italian coffees?

What I like about Pauls in general is that their coffee shops are always clean, tables are well spaced apart (so you aren't unwittingly eavesdropping on others conversations), they have outdoor seating. This outlet ticked all those boxes too.

Friendly staff who immediately offered to heat my ham and cheese croissant when I ordered it (others who shan't be named, act like you are asking for the moon if you want your croissant /sandwich warmed/toasted).

They have washrooms on the premises and are ok with people lingering around while working on their laptops.

I'd go here any day if they were closer to where I live.

Oh and they do lovely picnic hampers too. I remember ordering one last summer, think we'll do a repeat one of these days, now that it's turned sunny.

They have a membership / loyalty card, which gives you free croissants & coffee at various milestones

Rating : 4 / 5

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Dark Sugars, London

Dark Sugars
141 Brick Lane
London E1 6SB
07429 472606

When we were wandering around Shoreditch for a Street Art Walk, a couple of yelpers in the group, pointed out Dark Sugars and told me that I had to try them out.

I'd promised a friend I was visiting over the weekend, that I would pick up the rainbow bagels for her, so it was the perfect opportunity to try Dark Sugars Chocolates too.

There are large bowls of beautiful chocolate all around the store. Neatly labelled. You have the options to go fruity or alcoholic. I of course, chose the latter.

I asked the really sweet and helpful lady manning the store if it would be possible to try a bit of chocolate before I chose. She told me to look around and choose any flavour I fancied. I thought she would give me a bit of a scraping from the white and milk chocolate bars that she had on the counter, so this came as a complete surprise, but it was a foretaste of the generosity of spirit of Dark Sugars.

I tried the Tia Maria on her recommendation and was hooked.

Its an excellent quality chocolate shop without the fancy pretentiousness of other chocolatiers (who shall not be named). All sales are by weight and all chocolates cost the same - 7 pounds for 100 grams. So no complex mental maths involved in the purchasing scenario.

It seems a little radical to pop assorted beautiful chocolates into a plastic baggy like a candy buffet, but its definitely cost effective. If you aren't buying chocolate for yourself and want to gift it, they have different sized gift boxes and each size has a fixed price (5 to 100 pounds if I remember right. Where you are allowed to stuff in as much chocolate as can fit.

I made up a box for my friend and took it to the counter, the lady told me I could still fit in a few more chocolates and took me back to the bowls and asked which ones I wanted more of. She managed to fit in another 4-5. I mean, who does that? I'm blown away by how friendly and generous this shop is.

The pipette chocolate looked interesting and I asked her how it worked. Instead of just explaining to me theoretically about squeezing out the liquid in the pipette and throwing the plastic pipette away, she demonstrated one and gave it to me to taste.

I made up a few plastic baggies for me, the husband, the brother, the sister. I have a full house at home right now. and a gift box for my friend.

The chocolates were immediately devoured upon my arrival home and I'm waiting to head into shoreditch again so I can try the hot chocolate too and pick up more chocolate.

If you are visiting, I'd say : Definitely pick up one of the Pipette chocolates. They are amazing! The Irish kiss is obviously my favourite. Also, when I brought the chocolates home, they were voted the best of the lot.

Rating : 5 / 5


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