Ichiryu Udon

Location:  West End

Cuisine: Japanese

Price Range: ££

LFM Score: 5/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 2/3

When you’ve been trekking the shops of Oxford Street and fancy some decent Asian food and can’t face the walk to Soho, head to nearby Ichiryu  because you won’t be disappointed.

The udon noodles are made on the premises – they are bouncy and have just the right bite factor. Favourite dish was the prawn carbonara hot udon – don’t let the fusion novelty put you off..the flavours are perfect and the prawns were plump and juicy. The curry udon noodles were tasty and the soft oozing egg yolk was beautifully orange and reflected the high quality of ingredients.

Bit cramped for buggies but the staff were helpful to keep it out of the way for us. Highchairs available but no baby changing facilities (but a very clean toilet is maintained).

A bit on the pricey side for a noodle joint, but the slick décor and innovative flavour combos, somehow,  justifies the price.

http://ichiryuudon.com/

Yosma

Location:  West End (Baker Street)

Cuisine: Middle Eastern

Price Range: ££

LFM Score: 4/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 2/3

Yosma – pioneers in London of the concept of Turkish street food, self-described as “A new Turkish Meyhane, Mangal & Raki bar inspired by the streets of Istanbul”. Slightly sceptical and a non-expert in this type of cuisine, LFM attended  the half price soft launch to see if Yosma was more than an overpriced kebab van.

Situated on the busy main road of Baker Street, Yosma is well placed amongst many other reputable venues (neighbours include Royal China Club, Bright Courtyard) , although it feels that this particular area of London lacks the buzzy aura of Soho or Marylebone. The premises are large and spacious (lots of room for buggies thumbs up) and you can tell the designers and architects have really given some thought into the layout (raised bar area, open kitchen, spectacular wood fired oven on display). The décor feels like a brasserie and has a very similar vibe to the look of Dishoom (mega successful mini-chain serving Indian street food). Yosma was so new, the high chairs weren’t even  ordered, but there are lovely pews with sofa type soft seating for little ones to crawl over (not the purpose intended by the owners I am sure, but great for parents!).

The menu is extensive – something for every type of palate and appetite. Highlights were the Turkish dumplings and the lamb kofte – a classic which has been given a twist through the flavours and side sauces. The real treat was the poached pear dessert (supposed to be quince – was out of season) served with ‘candy floss’ – not the fluorescent pink E-number fuelled type found on the funfair, but made with ingredients which we had never experienced before (coined ‘cotton wool’ by our 2 year old). One criticism was the lack of attention to alerting customers to allergens on their menu  – staff had failed to highlight the presences of walnuts in one particular dish which we had ordered and as someone with a mild nut allergy, I was left disappointed.

Overall, LFM has high hopes for Yosma – fingers crossed the staff will have got into the swing of things in a few weeks (service a little slow and many aimless bodies milling around without purpose it would seem). The venue looks smart and innovation has been brought to the menu to excite London tastebuds.  Pricing is decent for the area and  for the quality of the cuisine offered. Good luck Yosma!

http://www.yosma.london/

Eneko @ One Aldwych

Location:  West End London

Cuisine: Spanish (Basque)

Price Range: £££

LFM Score: 4/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 2/3 (dependent on nature of bebe!)

London Foodie Mama had the pleasure of attending the soft launch (50% discount yeah!) of Eneko, a new upmarket restaurant serving food from the Basque region, fabulously located on the Strand in central  London near theatre land.

The décor of the venue is impressive, with a majestic sweeping stair case which leads guests from the bar area to the main dining room (this is lovely unless you have a buggy with you, although staff were keen to assist). It’s a place you would definitely bring your tinder date to..however we were apprehensive with our  unpredictable ticking time bomb also known as ‘the toddler’. The restaurant surprisingly provided highchairs which were clean..Remarkable! (perhaps never used before as no sane parents have dared bring a child to such a plush venue). The venue was very spacious  – but don’t even consider letting your little ones run around..it’s not that kinda place.

On to the food. We ordered the Txerri Boda Pork Festival (£15)  consisting of Mushroom & Iberico ham duxelle in milk bread, suckling pig brioche and crispy pork jowl. This was a delight, with pillow soft bread and tasty fillings encased in a charming wooden carved pig head box – our only complaint was the small size of these slider type starters for the price tag (OK this place ain’t cheap and you better get some ‘Return on Investment’ from that Tinder date). Our main course was the perfectly cooked Basque style hake in tempura (£21) – soft in the middle, crisp on the outside. We also ordered the Potatoes in herb and txakoli sauce with fried crisp egg yolks – the highlight being the ingenious bursting egg yolks..disappointing were the slightly undercooked potatoes. For dessert, we had the rice pudding (£9) –  sadly this was a low point. Chosen from the pre-made dessert trolley, it lacked the freshly prepared taste and the rice could have been cooked for longer. The flavours failed to excite and live up to the standards set by the preceding dishes. The accompanying sheep’s milk ice cream was marvellous though – not too ‘sheepy’ tasting as feared.

Overall, we had a great experience (and it was an EXPERIENCE, not just fill the tummy and go): the food, dazzling surroundings and friendly service. Would only return paying full price if someone else was treating – can’t part with £9 for one dessert (that’s like the price of ~40 nappies).  Not advised to bring the kids for dinner, perhaps lunch but only those accustomed to dining out and BEHAVING!

http://www.eneko.london/

Snowflake Gelato @Selfridges

Location: West End

Cuisine: Sweet

Price Range: ££

LFM Score: 3/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 1/3

If you have a sweet tooth like London Foodie Mama, then the terms ‘Afternoon Tea’ and ‘Ice-Cream’ certainly get the salivary glands pumping. Recently, Snowflake at Selfridges have come up with the ultimate sweet treat… Ice-Cream Afternoon Tea! #OMG

Upon arrival, we were served a tier of ice-cream treats, including ice-cream sandwiches, ice-cream macaroons and mini ice-cream cones dipped in chocolate. All rather pretty and dainty (and photogenic for those Instagram posts). However, after a few bites and slowly creeping into a diabetic coma, the novelty wore off. There was a lack of taste variation between each treat – all were vanilla ice cream  based accompanied by various forms of chocolate or biscuit. We craved for other ice cream flavours or even a sorbet diversification. <sigh> Maybe our expections had been too high.

The ambience of the venue failed to harmonise with the delicate nature of the food. Based in the noisy, crowded ground floor of the Selfridges food hall,  our destination was a few cramped tables beside a window overseeing a side street of busy Oxford Street (with an awkward structural beam in the middle).  Not the desired surroundings whilst charging  £15pp.

No high chairs and no space for buggies sadly, and even worse, the toilets were on another floor, on the other side of the building – bad news for a potty training toddler “Mama, I need the toilet NOW”.

Great idea. Execution disappointed.

https://www.facebook.com/snowflakegelato/

Tang Noodle Bar

Location: West End

Cuisine: Asian

Price Range: ££

LFM Score: 2/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 1/3

Does Central London need another noodle joint? London Foodie Mama went to investigate the recently opened Tang Noodle Bar off Tottenham Court Road for their soft launch (we like a 50% discount). The team at Tang appeared to have invested some cash and thought into this venture, with a slick website and contemporary décor – exposed lightbulbs, wooden tables, bare pipes and newspaper wallpaper…you get the gist.

The venue is easy to miss…in fact it’s just a door that you can miss as you walk past the neighbouring YMCA. I felt like an agent stumbling upon a secret underground site – let’s hope they gain customers through word of mouth otherwise they may struggle with just passers-by.

On to the food. LFM had the ‘Prawn Tang’ – an enticing description of ‘spicy prawn and pork broth’. Sadly, the broth failed to live up to expectation lacking any punch or depth that we have come accustomed to from the likes of ramen bars of Tonkotsu or Kanada-Ya. They claim to offer a lighter broth but it just didn’t do it for us and the noodles lacked any bite. And at a price tag of £12 for a bowl of noodles, frankly I’d head to China Town and eat double. On a positive note, the tiger prawns were succulent and the staff were accommodating to my special dietary requirements, allowing a couple of swapsies.

Should you bring the kids? Well if you are brave enough to drag the kids to central London, then maybe. The venue is casual but pretty compact so could fit a maximum of 2 slim buggies. No high chairs or baby changing.

http://www.tanglondon.co.uk/