In our Chef’s Specials series, we ask London chefs for their favourite places to go for food and drink – everywhere from neighbourhood restaurants to ace caffs to always-reliable corner shops. In this instalment, we chat to Marylebone-based husband-and-wife duo Ahrash Akbari-Kalhur and Nyisha Weber, founders of Chin Chin, which has branches in Soho and Camden.
On Sundays in Marylebone, we like to hit the farmers’ market that starts by The Ginger Pig. It’s become a bit chi chi nowadays but right at the end of the newly installed socially distanced gates, you’ll find Akiki Organics. Akiki grows everything himself biodynamically on a smallholding in Worcester with his family, and schleps it in every week. We buy all our greens there. His produce is knock-out nutrient-dense and although we never quite know how much he is going to charge us, you can see the toil and the soil on his hands and that’s worth paying for.
In the basement of this old-man boozer in Weymouth Mews lies a spicy little Xiaomian noodle bar run by two girlfriends from Chongqing. Liu Xiaomian is a heady mix of Sichuan pepper and heartwarming multiculturism in action. It’s a perfect microcosm of what makes London so great.
Paul Rothe & Son is a time-warp deli on Marylebone Lane. It’s been run by the same family since 1900 – think white starched jackets and shelves of jam. It’s good for elevenses and even better after the lunchtime rush for an afternoon cup of tea (in china) and a chocolate plum. Don’t miss the bathroom in the basement – a ’60s rhubarb-and-custard affair that’s totally accidentally Wes Anderson.
Here’s a fishy tip for you: buy your hake from Fishworks on Marylebone High Street. I was told by an over-friendly fishmonger that they can’t change the price of fresh hake on the till system without the whole thing imploding so it’s remained the same price for seven years.
Shreeji Newsagents on Chiltern Street, two doors down from Monocle Café, is a long-standing newsagents that has been refitted in beautifully crafted cabinetry. There are secret reading rooms at the back where the shopkeepers used to have their breaks. It’s our perfect little Sunday spot to grab a coffee and a magazine.
Technically, Turpan Uyghur restaurant is in nearby in Fitzrovia rather than Marylebone. This unassuming Asian spot doubles up as a greasy spoon, but overlook the fish-and-chips specials board and ask for the Uyghur menu – get the big-plate chicken and handmade belt noodles with Silk-Route spices.
Read more from this series: