The 100 best dishes in London: The list by area

From small plates to signature dishes and everything in between, take a look at our selection of the very best eats at London restaurants and street food stalls

The best dishes in central London

Squid and mackerel burger at Arbutus

Venue says: Working Lunch available Monday - Friday | £17.95 2 courses - £19.95 3 courses

Let’s get a few things straight. This ‘burger’ has no bun. It has no mustard or mayo. And no salad (unless you count a garnish of frou-frou micro herbs). But its dense, meaty texture, packed with chunks of almost-sweet squid and ocean-fresh mackerel, make a pretty perfect patty. Throw in some cockles (or sometimes razor clams) and a verdant sauce of sea purslane on the side, and you’ve got yourself a plate of seafood that’s somehow both casual and luxurious at the same time. Not to mention being such a hit with diners that it hasn’t been off the menu since Arbutus first opened.

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Soho

Classic tortilla at Barrafina

The humble tortilla may seem a peculiar choice for such a swish tapas bar, particularly when alternatives include the likes of razor clams, grilled quail and giant tiger prawns. All of these are excellent, but that’s partly down to the high-quality ingredients. The tortilla, however, reveals the skill of the chefs, who will cook it right in front of you. A plump, golden cushion of perfectly seasoned omelette with a soft, oozing centre, this is Spanish peasant fare at its very best. Glam it up with chorizo or spinach if you like, but it really doesn’t need embellishment.

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Soho

Beetroot ravioli at Bistrot Bruno Loubet

Bruno Loubet is one of the most talented chefs currently working in London, and his restaurant is consistently satisfying. Among his many stand-out dishes is the beetroot ravioli with fried breadcrumbs, Grana Padano cheese and a rocket salad. The pasta of ravioli is rolled wafer-thin yet remains firm, the filling of beetroot visible through the translucent cases. This is heavily garnished with the rocket leaves, fried breadcrumbs and a well-balanced dressing. Ask for the cheese garnish to be omitted from the dish if you are a strict vegetarian.

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Farringdon

Matcha green bubble tea at Boba Jam

It may be a drink, but we just had to have bubble tea on our list. It’s all about texture with this Taiwanese concoction: a fruit- or milk-based tea is specked with chewy boba – Malteser-sized tapioca pearls – which are sucked up through a wide straw. This hybrid drinking/chewing experience is quite unusual for Westerners, which might explain why these drinks haven’t yet broken through to the mainstream in London. Our favourite bubble tea is Boba Jam’s milky matcha green tea: stuffed with lots of boba, it brings a whole new, fun dimension to slurping.

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Chinatown

Radish, celeriac, and pomegranate salad at Bocca di Lupo

Most people who recommend this Soho Italian mention ‘that radish and celeriac salad’. It’s been on the menu since opening days back in 2008, and thankfully it has stayed. We love the combination of earthy radish and celeriac, pops of tangy sweetness from the pomegranate seeds, the aroma from truffle oil and the saltiness from crumbly pecorino bringing it all together. A real taste of la dolce vita.

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Soho

Beef pho at Cay Tre

Venue says: The beef pho at Cay Tre’s Soho branch is consistently good. Pho (pronounced ‘fuh’) is a soup noodle dish, made with soup stock that’s clear in the Hanoi style – and which tastes intensely of beef marrowbone. The rice noodles are sheer; herbs decorate the surface. A side dish of saw-leaf, Asian basil, fresh chilli and beansprouts is provided to stir in: a nice authentic touch.

The beef pho at Cay Tre’s Soho branch is consistently good. Pho (pronounced ‘fuh’) is a soup noodle dish, made with soup stock that’s clear in the Hanoi style – and which tastes intensely of beef marrowbone. The rice noodles are sheer; herbs decorate the surface. A side dish of saw-leaf, Asian basil, fresh chilli and beansprouts is provided to stir in: a nice authentic touch.

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Chinatown

Steak tartare at Chiltern Firehouse

Don’t go to ‘the Firehouse’ for the slebs (they’re all hiding in the VIP bits of the hotel, anyways), go for Nuno Mendes’ cooking. Compared to the maverick dishes he made his name with, the offerings at this Marylebone hotspot can appear rather prosaic – until you consider how Mendes makes them. Take this steak tartare: a fillet of 48-day aged Irish beef, lightly seared, then bound with an alabaster pine nut emulsion. A single Burford Brown egg yolk is removed from an immersion of olive oil, then carefully balanced on top. For ‘mixing in’, there’s a blob of house-made chipotle paste, more of the pine nut emulsion, plus finely chopped or julienned accoutrements: shallots, cornichons, radishes and parsley. On the side, there are thyme-scattered ‘country bread’ crostini plus a bottle of Firehouse ‘hot sauce’ (made with fennel, apple, garlic, tomatoes, red chillies – all smoked, then cooked down with cider vinegar). The sauce is designed to ‘evolve’ the flavour of the tartare, so try it first without, then with. In short, every mouthful is unique, and you can have your tartare exactly how you want it. Hey, you’re worth it.

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Marylebone

‘All Balls’ at Cinnamon Soho

Venue says: Warm up with two delicious courses just £9.75. Daily from 12pm-5pm. Plus enjoy two courses for dinner at £16, served 5.30-7pm & 9pm onwards!

Of all the balls we’ve bitten this year, these are the best. Created by executive chef Vivek Singh at his latest Indian restaurant, they show off his trademark style: fusing Indian spices with European presentation. Five tiny balls are lined up on an elegant slate, each one perched on a smear of fragrant home-made chutney. Of the collection, the delicate crab cake, potato bondas (a kind of Indian potato croquette), and tiny spiced scotch quail’s eggs are the winners.

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Soho

The chips at Comptoir Gascon

Comptoir Gascon, a French bistro, traiteur and pâtisserie, is an accessible offshoot of the phenomenally successful fine-dining restaurant Club Gascon opposite Smithfield Market. Appropriately for a restaurant specialising in the food of south-west France, the french fries are cooked in duck fat. But careful choice of fat is not the only bit of Gallic polish the kitchen adds to these chips magnifiques. The tatties are hand-cut 8-10cm long and 1cm square (un petit peu thicker than better-known french fries). The final flourish is fleur de sel salt and piment d’Espelette pepper.

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Smithfield

Ajo blanco at Copita

On a second visit you may not see any of the same dishes from the first, but the ajo blanco is usually a mainstay at this congenial Soho tapas bar. One of the many tiny but thrilling dishes, the Andalucian white soup is made from almonds with a hint of garlic (ajo). The portion size is barely enough to fill an egg-cup, but the flavours transported us right back to Seville. Sup it with a glass of bone-dry sherry.

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Soho
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The best dishes in north London

Kebabs at Antepliler

Antep is a town famous throughout Turkey for its excellent cooking, particularly kebabs and baklava. This Upper Street venture does justice to its namesake, and the dishes remain true to the flavours of south-eastern Anatolia. The diced lamb filled with spiced butter is rich and tender, while the sogan kebabs – ground lamb with chargrilled shallots topped with pomegranate sauce – have the pleasingly sour-sweet flavours you can find along the Silk Road from Anatolia to Central Asia.

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Islington

The Lord Rupert at the Bell & Brisket (changeable location)

Taller than they are wide, the sarnies from street food maestros Bell & Brisket get their filling-to-bread ratio spot on. Not that the bread (either a fresh bagel from the Brick Lane Bakery, or a couple of slices of deliciously dark rye bread, for an extra £1) is in any way sub-par: it’s just that the fillings are what we came for. We like the signature ‘Lord Rupert’ best: designed as a British take on a classic Reuben, it comes stuffed with layers of succulent hand-brined salt beef, their house pickled red cabbage, fresh dill pickles, a blob of mustard and a slice of cheddar, which they blow-torch so it goes all gooey. A word of warning, though: you may have to unlock your jaw like a snake swallowing an egg to get your chops around the thing. But it’ll be totally worth it.

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Kings Cross and St Pancras

Lamb jalfrezi burger at Bhangra Burger, Kerb

There are hundreds of food vans – sorry, 'food trucks’ – roaming London these days, and it’s hard to pick just a handful. But heck, we had to try. Of the dozens we’ve sampled, the dishes of Bhangra Burger stand out, especially the lamb wrap with lime pickle, or as they call it, ‘crazy lamb jalfrezi burger’. Lamb mince is marinated in spices, then served with mango chutney, raita and sharp lime pickle, and rolled in a Lebanese khubz flatbread. Among the van’s locations are Kerb at King’s Cross and the Market House Bar in Brixton.

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Kings Cross and St Pancras

Charcuterie board at the Bull & Last

A perfect platter for the charcuterie-lover, Bull & Last’s own-made offerings range from deliciously umami-packed duck ‘prosciutto’ to chicken liver parfait with a bit of body. There’s fantastic chunky ham hock terrine too, great with the tiny gherkins, and the celeriac remoulade is a good foil for the rich rillettes. Tiny pepper radishes, watercress, chutneys and toast complete the deal at this smart spot.

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London

Pork ribs at Duke's Brew & Que

These sticky ribs are the closest thing you’ll find to the perfect rib outside of the American Deep South. Prepared in an imported wood smoker – which gives the meat an intense smokiness – the juicy ribs are covered in a sweet sticky glaze and nicely charred. We can’t think of them without salivating. To offset the density of the meat, the ribs come with creamy coleslaw and tangy pickles. Messy fingerlickin’ guaranteed!

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London

Toasted fermented corn brioche with burnt leeks and slow-poached duck egg at Grain Store

No matter what its reputation, or the fact it has ‘grain’ in the title (that’s actually because the beautifully done-up old warehouse it’s in once stored the stuff), the Grain Store is not a vegetarian restaurant. Instead, it’s a restaurant that shows respect to veg, putting it first in its dishes (before adding meat or fish). But the few truly vegetarian options – like this terrific just-toasted fermented corn brioche topped with braised ‘burnt’ leeks, a wobbly, slow-poached duck egg and a drizzle of lovage oil – are so good, all the card-carrying carnivores at the table will be fighting over them.

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Kings Cross and St Pancras

Roasted aubergine with parsley, parsley oil and mixed seeds at Ottolenghi

Anyone who has ever eaten at this smart café-deli will recognise its trademark style: dishes that deliver sunshine on a plate, full of colour, texture, and bright, bursting flavours. Here, roasted aubergine, fresh parsley and mixed seeds are drizzled with parsley oil. Exact ingredients change throughout the year: seasonal varieties include saffron yoghurt, or even a chilli-spiked one – but whatever version you get, it’s a dish that never fails to impress.

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Islington

Salted chocolate caramel tart at Pizza East Kentish Town

The chaps at Pizza East, perhaps sensing an approaching zeitgeist, wisely got on board the salted caramel bandwagon back in 2009. Their launch menu included this pud, and it’s as popular as ever – both at the original restaurant and at its younger siblings, Pizza East Portobello and Pizza East Kentish Town. The pastry base is plain, and a good thing too: the filling is so rich that it’ll make your eyes roll into the back of your head, especially when you finish each mouthful with a little of the accompanying crème fraîche. Share it with a loved one. Or not.

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London

Stir-fried spicy cabbage (thoran) at Rasa

The dishes served at the original Rasa in Stoke Newington (opened in 1994) champion not just the vegetarian cuisine of Kerala in south India, but specifically the food of one caste, the Nairs. They’ve had a few thousand years to refine their cooking, making it among the most sophisticated on the planet. But the caste wasn’t averse to ‘new’ influences. The Portuguese brought New World ingredients like chillies, tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines – and the British brought their brassicas, such as cabbage. If you think you dislike cabbage, you’ve not had a thoran – thin-sliced, stir-fried with coconut, mustard seeds and spices, this side dish elevates the humble savoy to a delicacy.

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Stamford Hill

Panipuri at Sakonis

A landmark on Ealing Road, Sakonis attracts a cross-section of the local Indian vegetarian population. It’s a huge, café-style operation. Gujarati and South Indian dishes abound, and such is the throughput of customers that most buffet choices remain fresh and (where appropriate) crisp. There are various bhelpuris, all of them a sour-sweet confection of deep-fried puffed rice and diced vegetables, made tangy by tamarind sauce. Our favourite is the panipuri – crack open the deep-fried shell and fill the crisp interior with a mix of chickpeas, potato, onion and chat masala. Before it goes soggy, pop it whole into your mouth.

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Wembley

The best dishes in south London

Chorizo sandwich at Brindisa stall, Borough Market

Back in the days when Borough Market was still a wholesale market, a handful of food enthusiasts banded together to create an irregular fine-food market selling directly to the public. Among them was Leila McAlister, who created the now iconic chorizo sandwich. She’s moved on to Shoreditch to head up the excellent Leila’s Shop and café, but her buns live on. Join the salivating queue waiting for the renowned griddled Spanish Alejandro chorizo buns, oozing with piquant paprika oil, complemented by silky piquillo red pepper and peppery rocket – all for a very reasonable £3.75.

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Southwark

Pa jeon at Cah Chi

Despite not being right in the New Malden Korean heartland, Cah Chi is the jewel in the crown of south-west London’s Korean restaurant scene, and produces the full range of Korean home-style cooking. Blood pudding or hot chilli dishes aren’t for everyone, so we recommend starting with something simpler, such as pa jeon. This spring onion and seafood pancake is served sizzling hot, then cut at the table with scissors. It’s light and delicate, with a freshness imparted by the frying process that is distinctively Korean. Staff are happy to choose dishes for you, if you’re not sure what to order.

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Raynes Park

Dosa at Dosa n Chutny

Many of Tooting’s numerous South Indian restaurants proudly offer a selection of dosas, but none can rival those served at Dosa n Chutny. Despite being hand-made to order, each of these huge, savoury-sour pancakes is eerily perfect: uniformly round, paper-thin and crisp. The standard dosa batters are fermented, from ground rice flour and black lentil, but some use semolina – ‘rawa’ – to change the texture. All are delicious, and come with various stodgy fillings, fresh coconut chutneys or sambar (a thin, spicy lentil ‘soup’).

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Tooting

Grilled razor clams at José

Dishes from ‘ la plancha’ – the hotplate grill – was one of the trends to be embraced by London’s Spanish restaurants in the Noughties. José, a tiny wine bar in Bermondsey that arrived in 2011, has a good plancha, and if you’re in the right spot you can watch the mini galley kitchen at work. From the day’s specials board, you might find superb razor clams cooked to order. On our visit the chicory was also grilled to order, served with shards of walnut and a sharp Picos de Europa blue cheese: marvellous.

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Southwark

Som tam at KaoSarn

This Thai café in Brixton Village Market is a good place to relive the backpacker experience. KaoSarn’s som tam (green papaya salad) is just like the street vendors in Thailand would make it – complete with slivers of bird’s-eye chilli that assault your palate with their heat. The sharp citrus crunch of green papaya is given sour notes by the addition of ground dried shrimps, with crushed peanuts adding nuttiness.

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Brixton

Toasted cheese sandwich at Kappacasein, Borough Market

In the world of cheese, the folks at Kappacasein are over-achievers. They’re the kind who, if they posted all their achievements on Facebook, would make you feel a little bit sick. Not content with making his own cheese, owner Bill Oglethorpe went on to develop a new creation: Ogleshield, a sweet, nutty, alpine little number with brilliant powers of melting, that’s incorporated in cheese toasties across town. But for the Godfather of them all, you’ll need to join the queue at his Borough Market stall, where the celebrated Kappacasein cheese toastie is made with eight parts Montgomery cheddar, one part Ogleshield and one part Comté, on a base of Poilâne sourdough, with sliced leeks, minced onions and crushed garlic for extra oomph. Just prepare to lie down afterwards.

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Southwark

Mongolian hotpot at Mongolian Grill

You know those really annoying people who always make you order something different , ‘so you can share’? Well, at this Clapham hotpot specialist, you can leave them to it, because a ‘half and half’ is actually on the menu. Also known as a ‘Chinese fondue’, a hotpot is basically one big pot (or two halves) filled with the soup base of your choice (fragrant chicken, spicy stock, tom yum), brought to your table with a flame underneath. You gather up fresh ingredients (meat, seafood, veg) from a Pizza Hut-style salad bar, then plonk it all in your pot until it’s cooked. Take that, sharers.

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Clapham

Poached pear with rose petals and lemon verbena sorbet at Petersham Nurseries Café

Could there be anything more romantic than a dish strewn with just-picked flowers? We think not. And that’s exactly what puddings at this garden centre ‘café’ are like. They may change daily, but anything featuring fruit or own-made ice cream, such as this glorious dish of fragrant pear (poached in its own juices with vanilla and thyme) accompanied by a smooth touch-of-Provence lemon verbena sorbet, all scattered with perfect petals from the rose garden, will have you swooning. Petersham is pricey, but you’ll never forget it.

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Richmond, Surrey

Jamón Ibérico and chicken croquetas at Pizarro

Croquettes may be a humble dish – breadcrumbs, béchamel, and a bit of meat – but the Spanish are proud of them, and every tapas joint has its own signature recipe. If you want to sample an A-class version, Pizarro is the place to head (but beware, no bookings are taken at evenings or weekends). Chef José Pizarro substitutes butter for olive oil in his silky béchamel, which is speckled with tiny ham cubes, morsels of chicken and snuggled within a crisp coating of deep-fried breadcrumbs. Proper, tapas-sized comfort food.

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Bermondsey

Ceps with bone marrow at Soif

Soif considers itself a wine bar, but the happy eaters of Battersea know otherwise; this is the best rustic French bistro for miles. Dishes change daily, and, like in all good bistros, are seasonal. But if you’re lucky, you might find the ceps with bone marrow on the specials board. Little sections of bone marrow are served like squidgy scallops that dissolve in the mouth; they arrive with cep mushrooms and a stunning crust of garlic, parsley and fried breadcrumbs.

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Battersea
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The best dishes in east London

Banh mi at Banhmi11, Broadway Market

Since their emergence in the capital in 2009, Vietnamese baguettes have become so mainstream you can buy them in EAT, but we like them best from the original Vietnamese-run stalls. Banhmi11, the second street-food stall to have specialised in the Vietnamese fast food, has now become a Saturday fixture at Broadway Market. The crisp-shelled baguettes are filled with a choice of freshly grilled meats, fish or tofu and topped with carrot, daikon pickle, cucumber and coriander. Our favourite, the Imperial BBQ, mixes sweet caramelised barbecued pork with the fresh aromas of lemongrass, coriander and fish sauce, finished off with a kick of fiery chilli heat.

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London Fields

Hot dog at Big Apple Hot Dogs

Hot dogs were considered to be lowbrow food in the UK until this little stall set up on an unlovely stretch of Old Street. Free-range pork, prime beef and judicious seasoning are used in custom-made sausages that banish all thoughts of weak and watery canned wieners. Even the buns are made in Hoxton. If you can eat one and keep a clean shirt you’re doing well – either way, you’ll be happy. And if it’s a chilly day, pop into Roadtrip (the bar at number 243), and pick one up from there instead (they’re an extra £1 – that’s the price of shelter for you).

NOTE: Islington council are currently refurbishing this section of Old Street, but the stall will return as soon as works are complete.

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Kings Cross and St Pancras

Salt beef bagel at Brick Lane Beigel Bake

For decades, Brick Lane Beigel Bake has been serving up this signature Jewish snack: a big chunk of just-cooked juicy salt beef, sitting on a chewy fresh plain bagel, optionally spiked with some eye-wateringly strong mustard – all for less than £4. No pickles (they’re 20p extra), no tables, or standing on ceremony, just a pure, perfect salt beef bagel. Well worth queuing for.

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Brick Lane

Shredded pork summer roll at Café East

Many people head to the Vietnamese hotspots in Hackney when they get the craving, but a trip to this unprepossessing café in a car park in Surrey Quays will yield much joy for the more adventurous diner. These cold ‘summer’ rolls are filled with crushed roasted rice and shredded pork skin as well as the usual herbs and veg, which gives them a fantastic soft/crunchy texture and an intense piggy flavour.

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Surrey Quays

Bacon naan roll at Dishoom

A bit of an in-joke of a dish, considering pig is rarely eaten by most of the population of India, but at the same time a perfect representation of British-Asian fusion. A take on a classic bacon buttie, the Dishoom version comprises freshly made naan encasing grilled back bacon, a slick of chilli-tomato chutney, yoghurt and sprigs of coriander. The Indian components add freshness to an otherwise heavy breakfast dish, the slightly charred naan a great pairing with the smoky slices of pork. To accompany this dish, a builder’s brew just won’t do – opt for a glass of masala chai instead.

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Brick Lane

BBQ-spiced crispy pigs’ ears at Duck & Waffle

These are more a snack than a dish, but oh, what a snack they are. Arriving in a little brown paper bag (and, as Fraulein Maria taught us – ALL of our favourite things come in brown paper packages), complete with a little red wax seal, what you get is a tumble of long, deep-fried piggy strips, with a warmly spiced barbecue flavour and plenty of crunch. Think pork scratchings, only much, much better. The fact that you can munch on them at any time of day or night, all the while gazing out at the breathtaking skyline views, is a big bonus.

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City

Ox cheek French dip at Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar

There are many reasons for visiting any of Hawksmoor’s three branches, but if you’re in for cocktails rather than a three-course, beef-based blowout and merely need some sustenance, then go French. This is sandwich perfection – braised ox cheek with Ogleshield Jersey cow’s milk cheese, layered in a slightly sweet finger roll, served with an order of mahogany marrow gravy, which is the delicious dip.

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Spitalfields

Beyti kofte at Mangal Ocakbasi

Most of the grilled skewers on the menu at this busy backstreet Turkish restaurant are great, but the beyti is our favourite for its delicious simplicity. It’s not much more than a kebab of minced lamb, chilli, parsley and garlic, but the skill of the always-occupied barbecue chef and the intense smoky heat of the coals elevate it to something truly special. Some fine Turkish bread and a basic salad is all you need as accompaniment.

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Dalston

Fish and chips at Poppies

Tuck into a great British tradition at this Hanbury Street chippy, safe in the knowledge that the fish is sustainably sourced and all the frying is overseen by Pat ‘Pop’ Newland, an East Ender with decades of trade knowledge under his belt. Poppies is civilised enough to draw in the smarter Spitalfields set (there are Meantime beers, wines and table service), but at its heart is a great no-nonsense chip shop.

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Spitalfields

Chargrilled quail at Song Que

The pho (noodle soup) at this longstanding Kingsland Road Vietnamese is a staple, but those in the know also order the quail. Service can be perfunctory, queues and crowds are common. But wait patiently at the paper-clad table for the arrival of the blackened, spicy, butterflied bird, served with a sharp citrus dip, and you’ll be won over instantly.

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Haggerston
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The best dishes in west London

Natto maki at Atari-ya

There’s a growing trend in London’s faux-Japanese restaurants – the ones that aren’t Japanese-run, and serve Japanese food to Western tastes – to do away with the more challenging textures and flavours. The result is bowdlerised menus. Not so at Atari-ya, which has stayed faithful to traditional Japanese tastes and offers many delicacies, including natto. This fermented soybean has a distinctive flavour and is best enjoyed raw, perhaps in the maki (hand-rolled sushi): six pieces cost a mere £2.50 here.

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Ealing

Cassoulet de Toulouse at Colbert

If a tin of Heinz baked beans with sausages went on an episode of ‘Who Do You Think You Are’, it would find distant relatives everywhere: feijoada from Brazil, fabada asturiana from Spain, and of course, that long-lost great granny – cassoulet. A traditional French stew of white beans, meat (duck or goose confit, if it’s from Toulouse) and pork sausages, it’s proper heart-warming stuff. And while the Russell Brands of the world might want to point out the paradox of eating peasant food among the coiffed sorts of this smart Sloane Square brasserie, the cassoulet is undeniably magnifique.

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Belgravia

Venison scotch egg at Harwood Arms

When this Fulham gastropub opened in 2008, the heart of many a food pilgrim was set aflutter by the simple brilliance of its venison scotch egg, from the warm, oozing yolk to the toothsome casing of top-quality shredded venison fresh from Berkshire. The Harwood Arms is Fulham’s worst-kept secret, which makes dining tables hard to come by, but swing in for a pint and nibble at the bar.

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Fulham

Persian fesenjân at Kateh

Kateh is comfortable without being overpriced, a good showcase for the rich, complex cooking of the Persians. If you’re looking for the essence of the cuisine, try the pheasant stew (fesenjân gharghavol). Walnuts were first cultivated in Persia, and when cooked with pomegranate paste (another Iranian signature flavour) give a characteristically rich and sour-sweet sauce. The pheasant meat is dark and strong enough not to be overpowered by the sauce, and the resulting dish is a masterpiece.

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Little Venice

Flame-grilled mackerel with smoked eel at The Ledbury

In many ways, the Ledbury remains a neighbourhood restaurant (its kitchen staff famously protected customers with knives and rolling pins when riots broke out in 2011). But this dish, from Aussie chef-patron Brett Graham, explains not only why the venue is considered to be one of the finest haute cuisine restaurants in London, but why diners are prepared to cross town to eat a lunch here. The silky mackerel has a unique burnt-wood smokiness, and comes with a delicate smoked-eel paste, while squiggles of shiso and mustard deliver freshness and bite. A masterful composition.

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Westbourne Park

Pastel de nata at Lisboa Pâtisserie

Born, legend has it, in Belem just outside Lisbon, these delectable Portuguese egg custards feature rich, chewy pastry and a still-richer sweet filling. Lisboa’s exemplary versions have been baked on the premises since 1982, and you’ll find no finer north of the Iberian Peninsula. If you’re lucky, your visit to this simple little café will coincide with the tarts emerging hot from the oven, but throughout the day you can guarantee they’ll be freshly baked; sprinkle them with cinnamon and order a bica (espresso) to counteract the sugar. A famous pit-stop away from the Portobello market kerfuffle.

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Westbourne Park

Duck egg tart with red wine sauce at Medlar

Medlar is a modern French restaurant at the unfashionable end of King’s Road. Although the menu changes frequently, you can bet almost everything it will be delectable. The duck egg tart is a case in point. Robust flavours are introduced here with the red wine sauce, lardons and sautéed duck heart accompanying a fried duck egg – one of several starters on the £27 three-course, prix fixe weekday lunch menu (dinner is £45). Whatever you order, you can expect dish after dish to wow with its balance of flavours and subtlety of expression.

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Chelsea

Salted caramel ice-cream at Oddono's

Don’t go to a branch of Oddono’s expecting whizz-bang trickery or luxurious seating: these traditional gelaterias put the product centre stage. There’ll always be an excellent chocolate or pistachio on offer, but it’s really worth checking out their Facebook page or following their Twitter account to find out when the salted caramel is in town. Creamy and decadent, with sweet and salt coming through with each lick, it’s shut-your-eyes-drown-out-the-crowds kind of good.

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London

Fried yam paste meat dumplings at Royal China

When ordering dim sum, it’s important to consider a balance of textures: after all, that’s what Cantonese cooking is all about. So once you’ve chosen the standard slithery, sticky and doughy dishes (cheung fun, steamed dumplings and buns), make sure you ask for this delightful creation. Tiny pieces of mixed dried meats nestle at the epicentre of a deep-fried dumpling made from slightly sweet puréed yam. It’s light and crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside. You get three per plate, and they’re fairly rich, so you’re usually happy to let one go. But not two. Oh no.

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Bayswater

Chicken satay at Satay House

This simple family-run restaurant has been offering the full roll-call of traditional Malaysian cooking since 1973. The satays form only a tiny part of the menu, but if there’s one venue in which to enjoy this over-exposed buffet staple, it’s here. Half a dozen skewers of tender, chargrilled meat are served with pieces of cucumber, ketupat (pressed rice, cut into cubes) and a thick peanut sauce that has just the right amount of kick. Gobble it down with moreish pieces of roti (flatbread) for a street-style feast.

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Edgware Road
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