£6.75, 17 Frith Street, W1D 4RG
One of our top ten dishes
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Ceviche, the Latin American dish of seafood marinated in citrus juice, has become one of the food trends of 2012, and this restaurant of the same name is a good place to try it. The best version is the sea bass, which is made with a distinctive yellow chilli, called aji amarillo, and red onion. This is bathed in leche de tigre (‘tiger’s milk’), the name given to the lime juice marinade (which can be drunk after the ceviche is eaten). The fish is tasty and firm, the lime juice mixture thick, the chilli piquant, the onion gives crunch. We can see it catching on.
£3.50, 6 Dering Street, London, W1S 1AD
There was a time, not so long ago, when pickles in Indian restaurants came with popadoms, and were plucked out of jars. The Rasa group changed all that, with proper, own-made relishes of the type eaten in homes in Kerala. Rasa Samudra – ‘taste of the ocean’ – is the group’s seafood restaurant, newly moved from Charlotte Street to Dering Street near Oxford Circus. Here it pickles both prawn and fish, producing sharp, vibrant flavours that are a world away from lime pickle and mango chutney. Enjoy them with the restaurant’s fried snack selection.
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£8, 104 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3UB
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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£20, 29 Clarges Street, London, W1J 7EF
There are only three options on the menu at this backstreet Mayfair joint; while the first two are pretty obvious, the lobster roll is the third, and best, treat. Thick, buttery, decadent brioche – lightly toasted, no more – is stuffed with chunks of sweet Canadian lobster slathered with Japanese-style, egg-yolk-rich mayonnaise, sprinkled with chives and served with an extra pot of melted butter on the side. Ridiculously indulgent, it’s luxe but not pompous – and at £20 with sides included, terrific value for money.
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Lunchtime £12.50, small plate dinner £8.50. , Elliot’s, 12 Stoney St, SE1 9AD
One of our top ten dishes
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We’ve painted ourselves into a corner here by recommending a dish from a café-restaurant that prides itself on serving only seasonal dishes – meaning that by the time you read this, the spring dish will be gone. But we couldn’t miss out Elliot’s from our list. Why are the mussels steamed with fennel and nduja so good? The anise flavour of the fennel is a classic combination with mussels, but Elliot’s has smartly zipped it up with nduja, the spicy, soft pork ‘sausage’ from Calabria. Wonderful.
£6.50, 34 Durham Road, London, SW20 0TW
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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£10.90, 37 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 1RR
Roka still impresses with its mastery of the Japanese-style robata grill, which dominates the capacious dining room, and unsurprisingly, grills are highlights of the menu. Order the inch-thick scallops, peppery and sweet from the mix of shiso cress, a slick of soy and a dollop of wasabi cream; or the satisfyingly crisp and umami-packed chicken wings with sea salt and lime. The rest of the menu features the likes of yellowtail sashimi with truffle yuzu dressing, and ‘Roka dishes’ of creamy, risotto-like rice hotpots and black cod dumplings.
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£8.70, 11 Rathbone Street, London, W1T 1NA
The wibbly wobbly cauldron of deep-red spicy seafood stew (chigae) with curdled tofu (soondooboo) at this mid-priced Korean restaurant isn’t as scary as it looks. There’s a kick, yes, but it’s far from the two-chilli annotation next to its name on the menu. We’ve had this dish here dozens of times and think it’s still the best version in town: the hidden poached egg with its perfectly runny yolk is the best bit.
Read Koba restaurant review