DIN TAI FUNG
Din Tai Fung is the latest culinary addition to Henrietta Street and brings with it a serious pedigree. Made in Taiwan, there are now over 150 branches worldwide and this first London outpost is proving a Covent Garden hit. The restaurant itself is a sleek and chic wood and leather affair; you can’t reserve but there are 250 seats and trust me, those dumplings are well worth the wait.
You could have Tempura whitebait and bubble tea at the bar, or slurp prawn and pork Sichuan noodles (and both are excellent ideas) but what you really want to do is save as much space as you can for the Xiao long bao.
These steamed soup dumplings are the stuff of legend. Chefs train for years (well maybe not years, but you get my gist) before they are allowed to make them, giving the signature 18-fold pleat seal of approval. There is an art too, to eating these dumplings, and pay heed. The Xiao long bao will be piping hot so you could let it rest on your spoon for a while but there you risk a claggy experience. It is quite ok to nibble a little hole in the top of the dough and let a little steam out. Then, doused in that luscious dark vinegar, pop it in your mouth and let those heady flavours and textures do their magic. Take a bow, Xiao long bao.
Din Tai Fung: 5 Henrietta St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8PT
For every London lady wowed by the promise of unlimited bubbles at brunch (and many are those who test this proposition to the full) there are at least three who would prefer their weekend mornings to start off a little more gently.
ByCHLOE on Russell Street offers a new mindful eating experience that will keep you feeling virtuous long after the post-pilates power glow has subsided. The credentials are impressive – 100% vegan, plant-based cuisine that is eco-friendly and sustainably-sourced. They are foods to fuel and energise without compromising on flavour and taste.
The menu is a multi-coloured riot, as is the restaurant itself (think pared down but ever-cheerful Cali chic) and the food does not disappoint. Must-tries include the quinoa taco salad with fiery seitan chorizo, pesto meatballs with cashew mozzarella on a potato sub roll and the air baked fries. In a happy nod to the new London location, there are crispy tofu fish and chips and a Royal roast (fear not, not a re-run of It’s a Royal Knockout but rather a lip-smacking puck of salt-roasted celeriac with Yorkshire pudding and delicious veggies).
Delightful brunch specials are there to wow. Smoothie bowls full of honest to goodness berries and seeds, wholesome cold-pressed juices and fluffy pancakes with whipped coconut butter. Make sure to pick up a Raspberry tiramisu cupcake on the way out and you can guarantee that post-ByCHLOE glow for the rest of the day.
ByCHLOE: Drury House, 34-43 Russell St, Covent Garden, London WC2B 5HA