A travel journal
to London by su-lin
Quote: A student's guide to eating on a budget in London.
If you're planning on visiting as many sites as possible in London in a day, a Day Travelcard is what you'll need and will be valid for buses, the Underground and the DLR (Docklands Light Railway). The more zones the card covers, the more expensive the card will be. Weekend, Weekly, Monthly and Yearly travelcards are also available. If you are a student in London, apply for a Student Photocard (about £4) and this will entitle you to 30% off weekly or longer travelcards. You have to pick up the forms and the authorisation from your university/college.
Mains are served with rice or bread, both with salad. On a bad day, the rice is good. On a good day, the rice is excellent - perfectly cooked and each grain separate from the rest. The bread is a massive platter sized sheet studded with poppy and sesame seeds. I tend to choose the lamb kofte, two seasoned minced lamb kebabs. It is possible, though, to have one lamb and one chicken kofte to a serving. My partner always chooses the lamb kebab, huge chunks of a lamb grilled on a skewer. He proclaims it to be always perfectly cooked. Other options include grilled chicken wings and various chicken kebabs - all their Persian names elude me today. All their meat is organic. Starters include hummous, yogurt with cucumber and yogurt with shallots, all excellent with the freshly baked flatbreads. The portions are massive, though, and you need a very hearty appetite to deal with both a starter and a main.
Vegetarians are to be warned: I do not recall any vegetarian main courses.
To get there, take the tube to Edgware Road tube station. Walk south along Edgware Road (towards Marble Arch) until you hit Crawford Place on your left, running perpendicular. Turn into the road and Patogh will be on your right - blink and you'll miss it! If you've reached the Argos, you've gone too far.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 20, 2004
8 Crawford Place
Ordering duck rice will get you a sliced, de-boned, plump duck breast on top of a small amount of cooked Chinese cabbage, all sitting upon a bed of steamed white rice. Ask nicely and you can have the duck on a bed of crispy noodles - I have done it before! However, the bed of rice is perfect for the slightly fatty duck. Ordering half or a whole roast duck as a dish and you have the option of having it on or off the bone. The number of ducks that the restaurant goes through is staggering. Hang around for a short length of time and a number of platters of roasted duck will file past you (borne by waiters, not flying through the air by themselves) to the front of the shop, where the roasted meats are hung in the window and where a man wielding his cleaver prepares the roasted meat orders.
If you are part of a larger party, it would be unwise to miss their other great dishes. The king prawn fried noodles are a crispy mound covered with many prawns and vegetables. They are also very well known for their house special bean curd, which I have yet to try. When you sit down to a table, three different chilli preparations are laid before you - a chilli oil, a chilli paste and pickled green chillis - a wonderful addition to any meal for this chilli-loving girl!
Service can be a bit snippy, as seen in many of the Chinese restaurants in London. There is a great demand for tables and any hesitation in ordering prompts some very cheeky remarks from the staff. I answered back, which seemed to surprise them, so perhaps this is what one ought to do rather than sit meekly!
Head for the Bayswater or Queensway underground stations. Exit and walk north along Queensway Road (away from the park) and the restaurant is on the right hand side of the street.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 22, 2004
London, England W2
+44 20 7229 4320
There is no difference in the quality of the food though. The baby back ribs can differ at each visit - I have had wonderfully tender ribs on one visit but drier, harder ribs on another. Burnt ends are available Mondays and Wednesdays only. These are exactly as described, the harder, darker cut off ends of barbeque that are a chewy treat, but not for me! I prefer their always tender pulled pork, served either as is or on a bun as a sandwich. Their hot and cold sandwiches are all served with a side of fries and half a pickle and are all under £5, thus making them budget meals. An order of their barbeque (and combinations are available) range from £8 to £15 and sides must be ordered separately. Of the sides, the beans are excellent! The fries are also very addictive, with a tasty seasoned salt sprinkled over them. Starters include a couple of salads and Boston clam chowder.
There is a very good special where a full slab of baby back ribs, accompanied by sides of fries and coleslaw, and a can of a soft drink are available for only £10 on certain days of the week. There are other specials that occur occasionally - the last one I remember were discounts on the Chicago hot dog or hamburger (with fries and pickle) during Euro 2004.
The menus differ on each floor with the addition of dishes such as crab cakes, prawns, steaks and meatloaf downstairs. Writing all this has made me very hungry and I cannot wait to go back and try some of these!
To get there, exit at the Oxford Street tube station. Go east on Oxford Street on its south side. Turn right on Poland Street and the restaurant is down the street on the left. Their website has photos, an online menu and current promotions.
10 Poland Street
0 (207) 287-7575
Long communal wooden tables lined with benches fill this restaurant. This is very much a one bowl (or plate) meal joint - there are appetizers available but it is likely that any normal appetite will truly struggle to finish two courses. The noodles are formulaic in structure...fried or in soup; flat rice noodles (hor fun), rice vermicelli or regular egg noodles; meat, poultry, seafood or vegetables. Rice dishes are either fried rice or a dish on rice, such as sweet and sour chicken. No main dish is over 4 pounds. Starters include fried squid, fried prawns, and dumplings. Fresh orange, apple and carrot juices, house wines and beers are also available.
I find their menu absolutely hilarious with their description of their restaurant:
TAI WON MEIN
Do not expect gourmet food but this is good quality food in large portions at very low prices. My last visit was marred by constant drilling occurring upstairs but that will not stop me paying another visit the next time I am in the area. That time, my brother and I dropped in before a visit to the National Maritime Museum and we ordered fried rice, fried noodles and a starter of fried squid. We took away enough leftovers for another meal for one!
If it's a sunny day (and it was not for us), get a takeaway and eat it in nearby Greenwich Park!
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 27, 2004
Tai Won Mein Noodle House
39 Greenwich Church Street
London, England SE10 9BL
Walking into the pub, it is not apparent that any food is served at all. The front of the pub looks very traditional, with lots of paraphanalia hung from the ceilings. There are stuffed birds and baskets and many more besides. It is also very crowded and upon first glance, made me feel very out of place. Persevere! Walking to the back of the building leads to what is obviously a restaurant. A counter is manned by a number of people either waiting to take your order, packing takeaway orders or serving dessert. Peering into the open door behind them gives us a glimpse into the hectic kitchen, where a number of men wield their large woks.
The menu only lists main courses - there are no starters. It is divided into fried noodles, rice with curry and rice with fried dishes. All dishes come with a choice of meats and each order provides a generous serving of food. The food is always excellent. I have had a Pad Thai full of prawns and a green curry that was wonderful. I highly rate their roast duck curry as well. No Thai desserts are available - there's usually a chocolate cake and apple pie on offer.
I have only had takeaway but there is seating in the restaurant. This area looks like a greenhouse - there must be hundreds of plants hanging above the diners! And I believe that you're expected to stay for only an hour, then you have to give up your table.
From Notting Hill Gate, walk south along Kensington Church Street and the pub is on the right hand side. It is also reachable from High Street Kensington - the walk is a little longer, though, along Kensington Church Street.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 5, 2004
119 Kensington Church Street
London, England W8 7LN
+44 20 7727 4242
My brother and I ordered a burger each from the extensive listings, a milkshake each (we were optimistic about our stomachs' capabilities), and one side of fries to share. One chili burger (from the website: made with "100% Aberdeen-Angus Scotch beef, fresh chili sauce, salad, and relish") and one chorizo burger (spicy Spanish sausage, sweet potato, rocket, tomato, and relish). As you can see, not only beef burgers are available. Apart from the chorizo, there are chicken, lamb, venison, and a number of vegetarian burgers on the menu.
The burgers were humongous. At least 6 inches tall, they were held upright and together by a long skewer. Using the skewer as a guide, we cut our burgers in half (we were sharing) and this also made them slightly more manageable. The chili burger was delicious, with copious amounts of a sweetish chili sauce threatening to run down your arms. The beef burger itself was, by our estimates, at least a third of a pound. No mystery meat here! And there were plenty of salad toppings to make you feel less guilty about not ordering a salad (also on the menu). The chorizo burger was made up of about three chorizo sausages cut in half lengthwise and grilled. The sweet potato and rocket were amazing with the salty, slightly spicy chorizo.
The fries that accompanied the burgers were some of the best fries that I had ever had-thick cut but crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, a product of double frying perhaps? Each milkshake was too large for one person-we were almost dying trying to drink them. The vanilla one seemed to taste better than the chocolate one though...the latter just was not chocolaty enough for me!
Prices are reasonable. Burgers are anywhere from £5 to £8, depending on the topping combination that you choose and the type of burger. Milkshakes were £2.50 each and fries were about £2 for a portion. Next time I will give the milkshake a miss and try to cram in more fries!
We went to the branch on Westbourne Grove, but there are five other branches scattered across London. If you are eating in, you are first shown to your table where you can peruse the menu. When you are ready to order, you make your way to the counter, place your order, and then pay upfront. Your meal is brought to you at your table. Takeaway is also available.
They also have a website.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 26, 2004
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
50 Westbourne Grove
We ordered one beef yaki soba and one seafood yaki udon. The menu also mentionned that we could ask the waiter/waitress to make any dish spicy. Oh, I'm a sucker for spicy food, so what the hey! Make the beef yakisoba spicy!
The noodles that arrived came on large white plates (almost soup plates), and the noodle portions themselves were quite substantial. However, each dish was very average - below average, actually. There was nothing special about each dish. Fried noodles with beef and lots of vegetables (70% onion) tasted of...well, just that. They tasted quite bland. The udon noodles also shared the plate with lots of onions and we had to pick them out by the end. The "spiciness" was just a couple of sliced chilis (mild) tossed into the mix.
To pay, you go to the cashier at the entrance to the restaurant. Expecting an £8 bill (two £4 dishes, and we only drank tap water), I was surprised to see the total being £8.20. They had actually charged us 20p to make the dish spicy! I understand that 20p is not much money, but it was incredibly cheeky of them, since no mention had been made of this surcharge on the menu. The menu they gave us also looked different from that on their website.
I do not recommend this place. Pay a little extra and go to Wagamama instead.
Member Rating 1 out of 5 on October 26, 2004
11/13 Soho Street
London, England W1D 3DJ
London, United Kingdom