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The 100 best dishes in London: One-bowl dishes

From noodles to hotpots, here are London's most delightful one-bowl dishes

Beef pho at Cay Tre Soho

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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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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Mince and tatties at Dean Street Townhouse

Dean Street Townhouse is one of those Soho restaurants that attract self-important media types, all flash watches and loud voices. But the menu grounds most people, as it’s old-fashioned and British – in the best sense. One signature dish is particularly brave, having been traduced to a mockery by generations of school caterers… yes, mince and tatties. The version here is piquant, properly browned, full-flavoured, wonderful in texture, and tastes of… childhood. If you ever want to show someone what everyday food in Britain was like in decades past, yet leave them with a favourable impression, order this dish.

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Walnut miso udon at Koya

Koya’s springy wheat noodles are made on the premises every day, and have remained consistently excellent since the place opened in 2010. Our favourite dish has to be the vegan ‘walnut miso’ udon: a ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ combination of intense nuttiness, in which sweet-salty red and white misos are mixed with walnut purée. Dissolve a small spoonful of the powerful paste mixture into the soup for each mouthful. Toppings might include seasonal mushrooms or hispi cabbage. Tip: it’s even better if you add the onsen tamago (literally ‘hot-spring egg’, slow-cooked) into the mix.

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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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Laksa at The Providores & Tapa Room

Kiwi-born chef Peter Gordon became the king of fusion while still at the Sugar Club, and arguably he remains London’s master of pick’n’mix cooking. Laksa – the spicy noodle soup from the Malaysian peninsula – has long been used by Gordon as a starting point in his creations. But what you won’t find in Penang or Singapore is a dish like smoked coconut and tamarind (assam) laksa with a fish dumpling, Japanese soba (buckwheat) noodles, soft-boiled quail’s egg, crispy shallots and coriander. That’s a lot of action on the taste buds, but curiously, it works.

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