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Around the world in 80 plates: London's best international dishes

Around the world in 80 plates: London's best international dishes

From Eastern European dumplings to Egyptian street food, Matt Breen takes a culinary trip around the best international restaurants in London.

EUROPE AND RUSSIA 

1. Harisa, Armenia

Not to be confused with the spicy North African paste, this is a satisfying, slow-cooked chicken and wheat stew. Find it at Erebuni. Barbican. 

2. Moules marinière, Belgium

A rich, obscenely moreish combo of mussels and a creamy white wine sauce. Find it at The Dovetail. Farringdon.

3. Koupes, Cyprus

Deep-fried croquettes of bulgur wheat, packed with cinnamon and parsley-flecked mince-meat. Find it at Yasar Halim delicatessen. Harringay Green Lanes rail. 

4. Pork Roast, Czech Republic

A Central European staple that isn’t complete without a side of sauerkraut and dumplings. Find it at Czechoslovak Restaurant. West Hampstead.

5. Smørrebrød, Denmark

An open sandwich coupling various meat or fish toppings with dark, pungent rye bread. Find it at Snaps & Rye. Ladbroke Grove.

 

6. Bread pudding, England

Eat it in front of a roaring fire on a cold winter’s evening, preferably after a full roast. Find it at St John Bread & Wine. Shoreditch High St Overground.

7. Rosolie, Estonia

A punchy Baltic salad of pickled herrings, spuds, peas and sour cream. Find it at Baltic Restaurant & Bar. Southwark.

8. Pissaladière, France

A pizza-like tart topped with anchovies, caramelised onions and garlic. Find it at Baranis. Chancery Lane.

9. Khinkali, Georgia

Cute and tasty dumplings filled with mincemeat, parsley and coriander. Find it at The Georgian. Clapham South.

10. Weisswurst, Germany

These sausages are the traditional Bavarian between-breakfast-and-lunch snack. Find it at Stein’s. Richmond. 

 

11. Lecso, Hungary

A dish of stewed tomatoes, onions and peppers, flavoured with – you guessed it – truckloads of paprika. Find it at The Rosemary. New Cross Gate Overground.

12. Skyr, Iceland

After a few Icelandic farmers filled some barrels of meat with milk to help preserve it, they later discovered a fermented goo growing on its sides. Gross, yes – but that’s how this yoghurt was created. Find it at Texture. Marble Arch.

13. Colcannon, Ireland

A dish of mash potatoes, leeks, kale, and plenty of butter. The Irish like to make this at Halloween, and hide a ring somewhere in its spuddy depths: whoever finds it will marry next. Find it at Mother Mash. Oxford Circus.

14. Spanakopita from Greece

If you ask me, the creator of ‘Popeye’ must have been a spanakopita fan. It’s not just a tasty treat that crams layers of melty feta and creamy spinach between sheets of flaky filo pastry. It’s also the post-booze breakfast of champions: so fortifying that, as that spinach hits your stomach, it wouldn’t be that surprising if your biceps and forearms started bulging. Alexi Duggins. Find it at Opso. Baker St.

15. Osso bucco, Italy

A melting, slow-cooked shin of either beef or veal, served on top of a bed of risotto. Find it at Mimmo La Bufala. Belsize Park.

 

16. Cepelinai, Lithuania

And the Stodgiest Food Award goes to this little Baltic stunner: potato cakes stuffed with mincemeat. Find it at Smiltė Restoranas. Walthamstow.

17. Poffertjes, The Netherlands

A bit like mini-pancakes, these sinful little treats come slathered in things like powdered sugar, compote or even advocaat. Find it at My Old Dutch. Various locations. 

18. Gołąbki, Poland

Not unlike the Turkish dolma, this is a cabbage leaf rolled around mincemeat, onions and rice. Its hearty deliciousness belies such basic ingredients. Find it at Patio. Goldhawk Rd.

19. Bifana, Portugal

A pork sandwich, loaded with heat and flavour and coming in a variety of tempting variations. Find it at Taberna do Mercado. Liverpool St.

20. Tripe soup, Romania

Hey! Don’t pull that face!  This is one of Romania’s most famous recipes and reportedly an excellent hangover cure. It mixes beef tripe, garlic, sour cream and vinegar to bracing effect.Find it at Cornelius Restaurant. Tottenham Hale.

 

 

 

 

21. Borsch, Russia

A hearty, bright red soup made from beetroot and topped with a large dollop of sour cream. A bona-fide classic and as Russian as Dostoyevskian despair. Find it at Mari Vanna. Knightsbridge.

22. Haggis, Scotland

All sorts of bits of a sheep mixed with oats, onions and spices, then encased in its own stomach lining and boiled. Sounds appalling,  tastes amazing. Find it at Boisdale. Various locations. 

23. Boquerones, Spain

These big white anchovies are the salty cornerstone of any tapas spread. Find it at Barrica. Goodge St.

24. Kanelbullar, Sweden

Or, in English,  ‘cinnamon rolls’: essentially the pastry equivalent of crystal meth. Find it at Fika. Locations in Brick Lane and Roman Rd. 

25. Rosti, Switzerland

A grated potato fritter –  originally eaten for breakfast now an après-ski treat – from the nation of watchmaking and iffy banking. Find it at St Moritz. Tottenham Court Rd.

 

26. Lahmacun, Turkey

A fiendishly good pizza-esque concoction of dough, ground lamb mince and peppers, cooked in a wood-fired oven. Sometimes, there’s no substitute. Find it at Antepliler. Harringay Green Lanes rail.

27. Varenyky, Ukraine

These small filled dumplings are one of 12 dishes traditionally eaten by Ukrainians on Christmas Eve. Lucky them. Find it at: Prosperity Café. Twickenham rail.

28. Welsh rarebit, Wales

This isn’t just cheese on toast, oh no: the indulgent topping also contains ale, mustard, eggs and close-harmony singing. Find it at J Sheekey. Covent Garden.

 


AFRICA AND THE MIDDLE EAST
 

29. Kabuli palow from Afghanistan

You might feel a little disappointed when this steaming pile of rice, carrots and sultanas arrives. Who wants a sweet rice salad, right? But thrust your fork into the mound like an archaeologist on an exotic dig, and you will unearth a real treasure: a massive chunk of meltingly tender lamb. It’s like a meaty Kinder Egg, or a lightly spiced surprise biryani, and it’s brilliant. Eddy Frankel. Find it at Ariana II. Brondesbury rail.

30. Dziriette, Algeria

A sweet and exceedingly pretty cake delicately made with almonds, honey, lemon zest and vanilla. Find it at Khamsa. Brixton.

 

31. Koshari, Egypt

A carbtastic street food triptych: rice, lentils and pasta in a spicy tomato sauce. Find it at Koshari Street. Leicester Square.

32. Awaze tibs fit-fit, Eritrea

Chunks of diced lamb served on injera ‘tablecloth’ bread. Tear, dunk and wrap: no utensils needed. Find it at Adulis. Locations in Oval and Clapham Junction.

33. Qategna beh aubergine, Ethiopia

And a similar dish from this next-door neighbour – only here, the injera’s fried until crispy and served with an aubergine dip. Find it at Lalibela. Tufnell Park.

34. Omotuo, Ghana

Fist-sized balls of rice swimming in a peanut soup. Simple and delicious. Find it at Sweet Handz. Holloway Rd.

35. Khoresh bademjan, Iran

A tomato-rich stew in which the fleshy, flavour-gobbling aubergine takes centre stage. Find it at Hana. West Hampstead.

 

36. Lamb siniya, Israel

Like a shepherd’s pie, but with a topping of tahini and yoghurt rather than mash. Comfort food, Middle Eastern-style. Find it at Honey & Co. Warren St.

37. Fattoush, Lebanon

Proof that salads are anything but flavourless – this one with lemon and sumac is so tangy it’ll make your eyes water. Find it at Yalla Yalla. Locations at Winsley St and Green’s Court.

38. Niouk yen, Mauritius

Moreish little steamed dumplings from this tiny Indian Ocean island, made with the radish-like chayote fruit. Find it at Marcel & Sons. Elephant & Castle.

39. Tagine, Morocco

Named after the conical clay pots in which they’re cooked, this fragrant, fruit-sweetened meat stew is a gloriously unhurried affair. Find it at Momo. Piccadilly Circus.

40. Suya, Nigeria

The West African incarnation of the kebab, marinated in a blend of spices and ground nuts. Find it at Enish. Ladywell rail.

 

41. Maftoul, Palestine

A kind of oversized couscous, typically served with chickpeas and squash. Find it at Maramia. Westbourne Park.

42. Bajiye, Somalia

Somewhere between falafel and bhajis, these tasty little snacks are made of black beans. Find it at The Village. Hammersmith.

43. Bunny chow, South Africa

From Durban’s Indian community, bunny chow is curry in half a hollowed-out loaf of bread. Find it at Bunnychow. Leicester Square.

44. Shakshuka, Tunisia

Eggs baked in a spice-heavy sauce of tomatoes, onions and peppers. Mop up with flatbread. Find it at The Good Egg. Stoke Newington Overground.

45. Ugali, Uganda

A porridge-like mix of maize flour and water, served with a plate of greens. Find it at Afab Star. Deptford Bridge DLR.


NORTH AND LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN

 

46. Empanados, Argentina

Packed with meat and spices, these pasty-type snacks are popular across Latin America. Find it at Zoilo. Bond St.

47. Poutine from Canada

Hurrah for the Canadians! Not only have they made politics more palatable with their cool-as new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, they’ve also made the oh-so-sloppy but oh-so-satisfying combination of chips, cheese and gravy trendy to eat. This Québécois fast food (which features cheese curds rather than the grated stuff) has been embraced by Londoners  in the last couple of years. And rightly so. Gail Tolley. Find it at The Poutinerie. Sundays at Brick Lane Market. Liverpool St.

48. Moqueca, Brazil

This hot stew of seafood is cooked in coconut milk and laced with lime, paprika and chillies. Brazil in dish form. Find it at Made in Brasil. Camden Town.

49. Chacarero, Chile

The spicy jerk seasoning and lime in these steak sandwiches give them their vibrant Latin American character. Find it at El VergelBorough.

50. Sancocho, Colombia 

A pan-Latin American soup that in its Colombian variation incorporates oxtail, cassava and plantain. Find it at Lenos y Carbon. Elephant & Castle.

 

51. Camarones criollos, Cuba

A dish of prawns cooked in a spicy sofrito sauce of tomatoes and peppers, this is every bit as raucous and fun as its native country. Find it at Cubana. Waterloo.

52. Locro de papa, Ecuador

A thick potato soup topped with avocado and cheese. Warming stuff.  Popular in the Andes, as you might imagine. Find it at Tostado. m Tottenham Court Rd.

53. Poke, Hawaii 

Pronounced ‘po-kay’, this is a colourful raw fish salad started out as a no-frills lunch for Hawaiian fisherman. Now, though, it’s found pretty much everywhere across America’s sunniest state. Find it at Pond Dalston. Dalston Kingsland Overground.

54. Ackee and saltfish, Jamaica

An odd little fruit that tastes a bit like eggs, the ackee was introduced to Jamaica from west Africa in the eighteenth century. Out of it came this classic national dish, usually served with dumplings and a fiery blast of sliced scotch bonnet. Find it at Ma Petite Jamaica. Camden Town.

55. Tacos, Mexico

A crisp taco shell is piled high with fillings to make your tastebuds sing, often but not exclusively meat, guacamole, salsa and fresh herbs. A delicious, messy hand-snack. Find it at Breddos Tacos at Dinerama (Shoreditch High St Overground) and Hawker House (m Canada Water). 

 

 

 

 

56. Gumbo, USA

A stew of meat or seafood from Louisiana, it’s packed with all the strong flavours of Cajun cuisine and is a kind of culinary embodiment of New Orleans. Find it at The Lockhart. Marble Arch.

57. Ceviche, Peru

A refreshing dish of raw fish in lime juice which is said to hark back to the conquistadors, who brought the fruit over from Spain. Find it at Andina. Shoreditch High St Overground.

58. Fried roti, Trinidad and Tobago

A flatbread that came over with the Caribbean islands’ Indian settlers – no plate of curried goat is complete without it! Find it at Roti Joupa. Clapham North. 

59. Pabellon criollo, Venezuela

A stew of shredded beef and black beans which is the de facto national dish of the country. Find it at Mi Cocina es Tuya. Crystal Palace Overground.


MAINLAND ASIA

60. Zereshk polo, Azerbaijan

A sweet-and-sour, Persian-influenced dish that combines chicken, almonds, rice and barberries. Find it at Azerbaijan. Ravenscourt Park.

 

61. Rupchanda, Bangladesh

Like a lot of Bengali curries, this is a fish dish – a pomfret fried in a sauce of onions and tomatoes. Find it at Kolapata. Whitechapel.

62. Mokhingar, Myanmar

This delicious fish noodle soup  shows influences of both India and Thailand. Win-win. Find it at Mandalay. Edgware Rd.

63. Peking duck, China

Glazed in spices and cooked in a hoisin sauce, this one’s a favourite on restaurants and takeaway menus everywhere. Find it at Royal China Club. Baker St.

64. Tandoori Chicken, India

One of the county’s most famous culinary exports. A so-red-it’s-almost-glowing curry dish. Find it at Gymkhana. Green Park.

65. Bipimbap from Korea

A good dolsot bibimbap is a full sensory experience. First there’s the tantalising smell and sound of rice sizzling against the hot stone bowl. Then the ritual of combining the elements while it continues to cook: sliced veg, beef, a sunrise-like egg on top and gochujang chilli paste stirred in at the end. This really is the ultimate comfort food. Oh yeah, and it tastes great too. Sonya Barber. Find it at Po Cha. Waterloo.

 

66. Mongolian hot pot, Mongolia

Diners fling chunks of meat and veg into a pot of simmering broth: as much a ritual as a dish. Find it at Little Lamb. Piccadilly Circus.

67. Dal Bhat, Nepal

This hearty mix of stewed lentils and rice is a staple of the Nepalese diet. Find it at Yak & Yeti. Various locations.

68. Lamb chops, Pakistan

Sizzling and covered in a Punjabi masala of spices. Find it at Tayyabs. Whitechapel.

69. Hoppers, Sri Lanka

A coconut-milk batter pancake filled with scrumptious curried stuff. Find it at Jaffna House. Tooting Broadway.

70. Plov, Uzbekistan

Pilaf, paella, pulao – in this Central Asian country, the rice-and-other-stuff dish is plov. Find it at Navruz. Cricklewood rail.

 

SOUTHEAST ASIA AND AUSTRALASIA

 

71. Lamington, Australia

Sponge squares smothered in chocolate sauce and rolled in coconut. And, if you’re lucky, containing a layer of cream or jam. Find it at Department of Coffee and Social Affairs. Various locations.  

72. Ginataang kuhol, The Philippines

A national delicacy and an international acquired taste: snails simmered in coconut milk. Find it at Romulo Café. Kensington Olympia. 

 

73. Rendang curry, Indonesia

Cook red meat in coconut milk with ingredients like galangal and lemongrass, simmer until it’s a thick paste, and you get rendang. Find it at Nancy Lam's Enak Enak. Clapham Junction Overground.

74. Nigiri sushi, Japan

Nothing sums up Japan’s  culinary minimalism better. Find it at Sushi Tetsu. Farringdon.

75. Roti canai, Malaysia

A tasty unleavened flatbread that you’ll find in market stalls across southeast Asia. Find it at Roti King. Euston.

76. The kiwiburger, New Zealand

NZ’s weird and wonderful spin on the burger has two unexpected ingredients: beetroot and a fried egg. Find it at Gourmet Burger KitchenVarious locations.

77. Rojak, Singapore

A mixed salad of fruit and vegetables popular throughout the Malay Peninsula. Find it at Singapore Garden. Swiss Cottage.

 

78. Pig’s blood cake, Taiwan

A popular Taiwanese street food snack, that’s basically a Far Eastern black pudding. Savoury, salty and 100 percent satisfying. Find it at Bao. Oxford Circus. 

79. Banh Mi, Vietnam

A baguette filled with pâté, pickles and fresh herbs which has added a spicy kick to Londoners’ lunchtimes. Find it at Whaam Banh Mi. Piccadilly Circus.

80. Tom yum from Thailand

Wander through any marketplace in this street-food nation, and you’re bound to find at least one vendor flinging prawns, vegetables, chillies, lemongrass, galangal, holy basil and kaffir lime leaves into an urn of broth that’s simmering on a hotplate. Hot, sour, fresh and fragrant all at once, to slurp a tom yum soup is basically to taste the Kingdom in a spoon. Matt Breen. Find it at The Heron. Edgware Rd.

Additional research: Tania Ballantine 

Still hungry? Here are nine amazing egg dishes from around the world that you can try in London

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