Umu, London

Umu, London

While in London, I got a chance to meet up with my friend, J, who I can always count on to find a great restaurant to eat at.

This time, he picked Umu, an uppity Japanese restaurant serving Kyoto influenced dishes. They are known for their traditional Kaiseki tasting menus, but at 100£ a person, we decided to order off the a la carte menu instead.

Our meal started with an aji (Japanese jack mackerel) and mushroom amuse bouche. This set the mood for the night, and right away, we knew that we were in for an evening of delicate textures and complex yet subtle tastes.

Aji Amuse Bouche
Aji and Mushroom Amuse Bouche

After the amuse bouche came our first dish, lightly seared scallop with grated apple and cucumber. The scallop was wonderfully cooked and the apple and cucumber were nice compliments that did not overpower the dish.

Seared Scallop
Lightly Seared Scallop with Grated Apple and Cucumber

Our ice-smoked salmon arrived in this beautiful clear dish with a lid on it. As soon as you opened the lid, the dish started smoking causing us to oooh and ahhhh at the sight. The salmon was lightly smoked and very delicate tasting. It was served with grated radish, and fun little salmon roe that we ate one by one to feel the roe juice pop inside our mouths.

Smoked Salmon
Ice-smoked salmon

Next was the langoustine with amber tomato jelly, egg yolk vinegar, caviar and fresh figs. This was a really nice dish. I loved how all the elements in this dish came together with not one ingredient being the dominant one.

Langoustine with Amber Tomato Jelly and Caviar

I'm a tofu lover so I had to order the homemade tofu with ginger and spring onion. J didn't want to order this at all but to his surprise, he loved it. The tofu was extremely delicate and eating it with some light soy sauce, ginger, and spring onion was a great combination.

Homemade Tofu with Ginger and Spring Onion

We also ordered the Omakase Chef's special selection of classic sashimi. This was a platter full of perfectly cut sashimi that included aged halibut, mackerel and salmon.

Chef's Special Sashimi
Omakase Chef's Special Selection of Classic Sashimi

Our last dish was a small selection from their sushi menu. We chose the saba (mackerel), eel with garlic and parsley twist, Toro (tuna) shishito, and prawn mango served in a harumaki cup. Out of the ones we chose, my favorite was the toro shishito. I loved how delicate the tuna was and the shishito pepper went great with the tuna.

Assorted Sushi
Assorted Sushi

So now for the big reflection...was the food at Umu spectacular and was it worth the price? I would say that it was one of the best sushi meals I have ever had and that these guys really know what they are doing. BUT, in saying that, J and I almost had a heart attack when we saw our final bill. With food and drinks, our bill came to 300£!! I couldn't believe it when I first saw it and I still can't believe we paid that much. I'm not so sure the food was worth that price but I keep telling myself I need to move on :)

I laughed when I saw a review saying that it would have been cheaper to fly to Kyoto for a meal. That's exactly how I felt.

14-16 Bruton Place
Mayfair, London, UK
Telephone: 020 7499 8881

Umu on Urbanspoon

Bear Fruit Nibbles

Mango Pineapple Bear Fruit Nibbles

While waiting for a train in Maidenhead UK recently, I came across a great healthy snack with super cute packaging. I had no idea what I was buying when I first grabbed these fruit nibbles. I wanted a snack. I loved the packaging. So I bought them. For those who don't think marketing works, I have to disagree because it does!

Bear Fruit Nibbles are a tasty all natural, no nonsense snack option that is free of added sugar and preservatives. They are simply hand picked fruit that are slow baked. That's it!

What I was surprised about was how good they were. I can't speak for the other flavors, but the pineapple and mango one was really good! The addition of the pineapple really added some punch to the snack.

Bear Fruit Nibbles

How can you resist when you read things like "we snarrrl at sulphites and grrrowl at gumming agents". Do as the packaging says and go get yourself a bear hug at

Bear Fruit Nibbles

Siam Bistro, Ottawa

Siam Bistro, Ottawa

One of my favorite Thai restaurants in Ottawa is Siam Bistro. I like the variety of dishes they offer on their menu and they also make great Pad Thai. I have yet to be wowed by a Thai restaurant in Ottawa but Siam Bistro is a solid restaurant and I've never been disappointed.

The space at Siam Bistro is nicer than most Thai places in Ottawa. The seating area is long, narrow, and very intimate.

I've been here multiple times, and here is a sample of the dishes I have tried recently.

The Tom Kha Gai, or any of their hot & sour soups with coconut milk is awesome! I normally prefer the Tom Yum clear soups, but the fresh ingredients combined with the cocounut milk at this place is a winning combination. Other flavors in this soup include lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, and mushrooms.

Tom Kha Gai
Tom Kha Gai

The Tom Yum soups are also very good. It has the same hot & sour base as the Tom Kha soups, and my favorites are the Tom Yum mushroom and Tom Yum Goong (shrimp).

Tom Yum Mushroom
Tom Yum Mushroom

The satay skewers are pretty standard. We had the marinated satay chicken served with peanut sauce.

DSC01645 copy
Satay Chicken

The Neua Nam Tok are thin slices of barbecued beef mixed with fresh mint, chillies, shallots & lime.

Neua Nam Tok
Neua Nam Tok

The swimming rama was highly recommended by my good friend K, and I thank her for the introduction! Although it uses the same elements as other traditional Thai dishes, it had a different taste. The sauce was a combination of two distinct Thai tastes: dry red curry and peanut sauce. It is a very rich sauce, and in this dish, a generous amount is poured over steamed napa cabbage and thinly sliced beef. I now, also recommend this dish!

Swimming Rama
Swimming Rama

I have been searching high and low for the perfect Pad Kee Maow in Ottawa. So far, no luck but in terms of taste, I do like Siam Bistro best but they don't serve them with the thick flat rice noodles that is a must for me :( Pad kee maow is a sweet & spicy pan fried rice noodle dish with a choice of meat, tomato, chillies, eggs, and basil leaves.

Pad Kee Maow
Pad Kee Maow

Pad Thai is a dish that everyone knows and loves. It is a sweet traditional Thai pan fried rice noodle dish with shrimp, eggs, peanuts & bean sprouts. Siam Bistro does it the best in my mind. The sauce is not overly sweet, and the portion is huge!

Pad Thai
Pad Thai

My favorite Thai curry is the gang garee gai:a light yellow curry with chicken and coconut milk. It is a simple yet fragrant curry dish with a little bit of spice. The chicken should be fall off the bone soft in this dish. Mix this with some sticky rice and you're in heaven! I find the gang garee gai at Siam Bistro is by far the most fragrant of the places I've tried in Ottawa.

Gang Gee Garai
Gang Garee Gai

Siam Bistro
1268 Wellington Street West
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Telephone: 613-728-3111

Siam Bistro on Urbanspoon

Persian Yellow Plum Stew (Khoresh Aloo)

Yellow Plum Stew

This dish is one of my favorite Persian dishes, and is best enjoyed in the summer time. It is a stew made of fresh herbs and yellow plums, all of which taste the best in the summer months.

Persians love their food sour, which is why I call for semi-ripe plums and why I don't have an exact measurement in the recipe. If you prefer your food sweeter, I would suggest either using ripe plums or more sugar. For me, 2 Tablespoons of sugar was good enough.

Yellow Plums

Yellow plums are typically harvested June - Sept, and are about the size of golf balls. They are very sour when unripe, but very sweet with a honey like taste when ripe.

This stew calls for A LOT of fresh herbs. Our local grocery store sells Italian parsley for cheap but that's not always the case depending on where you live. Alternatively, you can grow your own herbs, which is very easy to do.


Mint grows like weeds in our garden, so I make a lot of dishes that incorporate mint in the summer time. I'll even stuff them in my sandwiches just because I can!


This recipe yields 4-6 servings.

Persian Yellow Plum Stew (Khoresh Aloo)
- 25 semi-ripe yellow plums
- 3/4 lbs stewing beef or good quality steak cut in 1 inch cubes
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 8 cups of fresh Italian parsley, loosely packed and finely chopped
- 3 cups of fresh mint , loosely packed and finely chopped
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 1/2 cups of water
- salt
- pepper
- 2-4 Tbsp sugar

1. In a lightly oiled pot, saute the onions until translucent. Add in the beef, turmeric and few shakes of salt and pepper, and saute until the beef is 3/4 of the way cooked.

2. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Add in the water, Italian parsley, mint, 1/4 tsp of salt, and simmer for 60 minutes with the lid on. Stir occasionally. Add in the plums and simmer until the plums have cooked and have fallen off the pit (approx 10 minutes). Remove the pits, add sugar, and stir gently. Serve hot with basmati rice.

Yellow Plum Stew

I say to gently stir at the end because Persians like to see chunks of plum in their stew. CK and I like it more on the mushy side, so I probably stirred a bit more than I should have.

This is definitely is not a typical stew, and you need to develop an acquired taste for it. But honestly, get past the fact that you are eating plums for dinner, and embrace it! As I said, it is one of my favorite Persian dishes.

Yellow Plum Stew

Le Lapin Saute, Quebec City

Le Lapin Saute, Quebec City

Le Lapin Saute is a cozy little restaurant on the charming rue du Petit-Champlain. If the weather is nice enough, try to snag a seat on the terrace overlooking the cobblestone courtyard and garden right beside it. In the evenings, if it gets a little bit chilly, the wait staff will offer blankets to the ladies. How charming!

Le Lapin Saute, as the name implies, specializes in rabbit. If you are like some, and can't stand the idea of eating those cute little animals, they also do great grilled meats topped with cheese.

This restaurant holds a dear place in my heart because this is one of my first out of town date places with CK. Many years later, when my friend S and I head to Quebec City, I knew I wanted to eat here to rehash some of my fond memories.

My appetizer was the delicious and creamy puff pastry with escargots, sundried tomatoes, lardons and melted goat cheese. This was a fabulously rich dish, and I highly recommend it!

Escargots in Puff Pastry
Puff Pastry With Escargots

My main was the two mustard rabbit served with veggies and potatoes. This was a clean, simple dish. It was good but I prefer my rabbit slow cooked or served confit style, so I would probably choose something else the next time.

Rabbit with Mustard Sauce
Two Mustard Rabbit

S ordered the filet mignon topped with goat cheese, port wine and balsamic sauce. This was also served with veggies and potatoes on the side. The warm goat cheese on top of the steak was a very nice touch.

Filet Mignon
Filet Mignon Topped with Goat Cheese

One thing I loved, that I wanted to share, was their gigantic pepper mill. Look at the size of that baby. It was bigger than the dinner plate!

Pepper Mill
Massive Pepper Mill

For dessert, I knew exactly what I wanted: Quebec Sauvagine. This was served with arugula, strawberries, and hazelnuts.

Quebec Sauvagine
Quebec Sauvagine

S had a piece of chocolate cake with strawberry sauce.

Sweet Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Sauce

And there you have it. That is the end of my quick Quebec City resto tour. Bon apétit!

Quebec City
Quebec City

Le Lapin Sauté 52, rue du Petit-Champlain
Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
Telephone: 418-692-5325

Le Lapin Sauté on Urbanspoon