Korean food done quickly, done well & done deliciously at Mee Market…

Mee Market is one of London’s newest and shiniest hidden gems in both the fast-casual lunching landscape and the delicious Korean food scene. Opened earlier this year and tucked away behind ‘Les Miserables’ on Shaftesbury Avenue, it’s the sort of place you bookmark for a return visit while you’re still finishing the rice bowl in front of you.

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It isn’t big, although there’s room to sit & dine in downstairs, but it is gorgeously unpretentious with beautifully clean lines of white marble counters, wooden crates of rainbow produce and shelves of Korean groceries & homeware that will make you want to fill one of the linen tote bags with things you’ve never heard of before to take away. Mee Market can also lay claim to some of the sweetest & loveliest staff in the capital; smiley, a tiny bit shy and a little bit giggly, they are absolutely delightful and happy to both explain what things are and to offer quietly honest opinions.

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Freshly made to order rice & noodle bowls & boxes are generously sized so go hungry and in need of spicy flavours & layered textures. Prices run from £6.90 – £8.90 for the bowls and sides start at £3 and whilst you could definitely share, I’d suggest getting two different things and rotating halfway through because really, isn’t that the whole point of having a dining with a friend?

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We did just that with the Mee Bowl and the BBQ Bowl, both with spicy chicken. There are plenty of different gorgeously flavoured component parts to choose when assembling your dish; everything from egg to bean sprouts and kimchi to edamame is fresh, colourful & delicious and with different sauces, proteins & rice and noodles to select from, I guarantee anyone will be able to piece together a lunch they’ll love.

Korean food is big right now but while a lot of places start and focus on fried chicken and beef bulgogi, both of which totally have their place in life and my belly, Mee Market offers something a little bit lighter, fresher and crisper and if you love the complex flavours & spices of Korea, you’ll find yourself one very happy person eating here.

Upping the cool factor at the hot, loud & down right delicious Black Axe Mangal…

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to eat somewhere that’s part restaurant-part rock concert-part tattoo parlour, you’ve obviously never dined at Black Axe Mangal.

Small, loud – yes even at the yuppiest of meals, Sunday morning brunch – and sat on the Highbury & Islington roundabout next to Maison d’Etre, a prime piece of caffeinated yummy mummy real estate, this place is dangerously close to straying into the ‘if you have to ask, you’re not cool enough to know’ territory. Devoid of all obvious signage and possessing just one small menu in the window, don’t be fooled into thinking no-one knows about BAM; opening at 11am and, by midday, full of people after cold beers and hot meats served in flaky flatbreads served fresh from the Gene Simmons face painted grill, this place is as popular now as when it first opened. Read More

Cheap, cheerful & cheekily delicious Indian wraps at Kati Roll Co…

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Cheap food that tastes great in a central location. It’s not actually asking for the world though it sometimes feels like it. Thankfully, tucked away down Poland St is a bright little oasis where you can happily hide from the Big-Ben-snowglobe-toting tourists of Oxford St and feed your face in peace.

When Time Out published their annual list of 100 Cheap Eats in London earlier this year, it became one of my most read & scribbled on articles – hey, I love cyberspace as much as the next gal but at heart, I’m old school. I like to rip pages out of magazines and I like to circle things and I have folders that I can’t actually close because there are too many torn out recipes and articles and reviews in it…anyone else simultaneously share my joy and feel my pain?! Anyway, my point is there are some brilliant hidden treasures on that list and here, with the Kati Roll Company, I’m sharing one of the best.

Kati comes to London via New York, where they’re lucky enough to have three branches of the restaurant, and India where the history of street food is vivid & delicious. Selling soft, flaky, buttery paratha wraps (so good you’ll want to buy a dozen and stuff them with everything you eat for days after) or simple, whole-wheat flour rotis filled with spiced meat, vegetables and cheese, these babies are light, filling and super tasty plus you’ll get change from a tenner and you’ll find yourself plotting opportunities to come back again and again. How do I know? Come on, who actually goes to Oxford St voluntarily? No-one that’s who, unless there’s something rather awesome to snack on as a reward.

Even though the restaurant itself is small, the décor is cheery, authentic and friendly as is the service and there are 13 different rolls on the menu catering for all tastes. Chickpeas, egg, cheese & potatoes will keep vegetarians happy whilst chicken, prawn, lamb & beef mean the carnivores are all set too.

Spices, pickles and chutneys keep things flavourful and fresh while cold beers go down a treat and mango lassis are made freshly every day. I once had an intervention staged on me at an Asian wedding because I couldn’t stop downing the jugs of mango lassi on the table so now, I’m not ashamed to say I get my fix wherever and whenever I can.

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Rolls range from just under £3 to just over £5 and with all available on a ‘two for…’ deal, none of which come in at over £10, this is such a nifty little spot for a quick dinner with a friend.

Unsurprisingly perhaps given the national love for it, Chicken Tikka is the most popular and it is absolutely delicious – warm spices & tender meat make it a winning combination – but for me, it was all about the spicey-pickley marinated paneer which was firm, creamy and tangy. I’m a fervent believer that there’s nothing that can’t be made better with the addition of cheese and Indian incarnations of it are always particularly awesome. Hands up if you agree? Yeah, there you are, I see you.

There’s something about the fragrance of Indian food that triggers a primal reaction – I only have to walk past somewhere serving it and an hour later I’ll realise I’m nowhere near where I was going, I’m not doing anything remotely like whatever I had planned and poppadom crumbs are sprinkled down my shirt but I’m full and I’m happy and sometimes, that’s all that matters…guaranteed, Kati will make you feel that way too.