London Percent/ Thom Wong
Created: 19 May 2019
Last updated: 1 October 2020
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Disappeared before March 2020
EDIT: After my current membership ends I won’t be renewing it. Not just because I’m leaving London, but because I think the Tate and most London art institutions have not done nearly enough to democratise art and support underprepresented artists.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a food in London which receives outsized praise must then be cut down to size with a scathing, albeit funny, review.
The Iberico katsu sandwich from the Ta Ta Eatery team, now regularly available at Tōu, was celebrated to the heavens a couple of years ago. Subsequently it’s been dragged through the coals for daring to be a sandwich priced above £10.
So how good is the Iberico katsu sandwich from Tōu?
It's so good a bunch of people on television, actual television presenters who are paid to present things on television, giggled and fawned over it like it was a particularly cute and talented child. It's good. It's outrageously good.
The key is the balance. The softness of the bread. The crispness of the batter. The sheer fatty decadence of the pork.
It's £14 and it's worth it.
Cocktails at Behind This Wall
Down the stairs under a sign that says BAR is this tidy cocktail lounge with completely acceptable seating and an owner who makes his own kombucha. How you feel about that last point will be a fairly good predictor of how you'll feel about the bar as a whole, and also of you as a person and probably lover.
There was a year when I'd wander down on a Sunday night and be the only person there, just me and the two or three staff and a friend of theirs playing records and some interesting Italian wines and oysters. For a little while they made a mushroom poke bowl that was one of the five best things I've ever eaten.
Breakfast at Esters
"I find that this cafe does the best brunch in London, the food is exceptional as are the coffees and the customer service has always been excellent."
The above quote was part of a two-star review on Google. The best brunch in London, food that is exceptional, two stars. I quote this for two reasons. One, to demonstrate how batshit crazy some people are when they leave reviews. And two, this person is absolutely correct. Esters has the best brunch in London.
More specifically, Esters has the best breakfasts you can eat throughout the day on the weekend, and they do a pretty mean lunch during the week after their breakfast menu ends. Esters just cares more about what you're eating than other places. Every dish is an actual dish, and not just a selection of breakfast items stacked dry on a plate. There's consideration to the amounts, which some people decry as stingy. There's the quality of the cooking, which means your poached eggs have shape AND soft yokes.
And tying it all together is one or more glorious sauces. Oh, the sauces. Perfectly balanced, unifying each item on the plate. God I'm hungry.
A free, private gallery, White Cube consistently puts on the most interesting shows in London. Favourite exhibition: Christian Marclay in 2015.
Vanilla custard donuts from Bread Ahead
You can’t talk about the vanilla custard donuts at Bread Ahead without talking about the vanilla custard donuts from St John. It all started with Justin Gellatly when he worked at St John as their head baker, and it was a St John vanilla custard donut that first captured my attention. But when Justin left St John to open his own place, he somehow managed to perfect perfection.
Dinner at St John Bread and Wine
Not my favourite restaurant in the world or the source of my favourite meal. But if I could have just one last meal in London, ever, it would be here. So many good memories, so many good meals. And the first place I ever ate where I thought, oh this is what a restaurant should be.
Sweetbread kebab from Mangal No. 1
There are two types of people in the world. Those who swear by Mangal No. 1, and those who stan for Mangal No. 2. Or as I like to define them, those on the right side of history or the morally infirm. Those who know roll straight No. 1, sweetbreads, on rice. There is no option B.
Guinea fowl chi shiang rice at Bao
Most people go to Bao and order the bao, pillowy-soft buns filled with such things as make grown men weep with pleasure. Understandable. But the true Bao-heads ride or die with the chi shiang rice. It’s so formidable Bao launched a sister delivery service called Rice Error. Unfortunately, the guinea fowl isn’t on the menu anymore, but it remains the greatest version of their rice bowl.
Bacon maple croissant from Pophams
It’s hard to believe that prior to Pophams opening in Islington bacon maple croissants didn’t exist in my life. I eat them once a week and each time it’s just as good as the first.
Maltby Street Market
Vendors come and go, but the challenger market for when Borough became too expensive is still worth a monthly visit. It’s now probably more famous for its beer mile, a length of road with eleventy breweries and taprooms.
Ginger ice cream, miso caramel, sweet potato crisps and black sesame seeds at Jidori (GONE)
Jidori is gone, and it’s taken this perfection of a desert with it. Literally unimprovable.
Udon at toconoco
Really annoying parents like to give toconoco 2-star reviews because it doesn’t cater to their every whim. They’re terrible people and shouldn’t be allowed in polite society. There’s a lot to love about this canal-side Japanese cafe, but at a push it’s the udon in kombu broth with mackerel and soft-boiled egg that wins the day.
Cake at Esters
I ordered a cake from Esters for my leaving do, and now I can’t eat other cakes anymore. All their baking is really, really fantastic.
Karaoke at The Spread Eagle
Will it return post-Covid? Only time will tell. When it was flying it flew directly into the sun and blazed with a fiery brilliance. An elderly man named Billy would treat you to an operatic rendition of Chasing Cars and everything was right with the world.
Oxtail stew in Brixton
You can get oxtail stew almost anywhere in London and it will all be good. But Brixton is where you want to get it.
Columbia Road Flower Market
You’ve not lived until you head down to Columbia Road on a Sunday afternoon and have a man wearing dungarees or fishing boots yell at you that everything’s a fiver he’s practically giving it away come on what’re you waiting for. And then you buy a monstera.
Ramen from Koi
The first time I had ramen from Koi it was £5 which is absolutely ludicrous. Now it’s £8.50 and it’s still a ridiculous deal.
Jazz at Vortex
As I’m writing this I have no idea if the Vortex Jazz Club will make it. It’s a great, volunteer-run venue and I hope they’re still around.
Sticky rice ball from Kim Lien Mini Market
If you’re not familiar with Asian food this is going to be hard to explain. It’s sticky rice pressed into a ball around a mixture of egg yolk, yellow bean paste, and miscellaneous stuff. And it’s delicious.
21. Pistachio ice cream from Romeo e Giulietta
22. Flowers Gallery
23. Jazz at Servant Jazz Quarters
24. Prawn katsu sandwich from Monocle Cafe
25. Horlicks ice cream bao at Bao
26. South London Gallery
27. Beer at Ghost Whale
28. Broadway Market/Netil Market
29. Picnic in London Fields
30. Matcha cheesecake at toconoco
31. Ramen at Kanada-Ya
32. Middle plate chicken with belt noodles from Silk Road
33. Chicken with jollof rice from Suya Express
34/35/36. Beer at The King's Arms/Beer at Red Hand/Beer at The Axe
37. Dance at Troy 22
38. The Castle Cinema
39. Salt fish patty in Brixton
40. Beer at The Beer Shop
41. Stationery at Present & Correct
42. Stilton sausage roll at Ginger Pig
43. Steamed rolls at Loong Kee
45. Concert at the Barbican
46. Whitechapel Gallery
47. Vietnamese food on Kingsland Road
48. Onigiri and miso soup at moko made
49. Interior courtyard of the V&A
50. Lunch at Rochelle Canteen
51. Serpentine Gallery
52. Books at Ti Pi Tin
53. Regent's Canal from Angel to Broadway Market
54. Camden Passage
55. The New River Walk
56. Flat white at 46b Espresso Hut
57. Flat white at Climpson & Sons
58. Pottery class by Jess Jos
59. The stuffed walrus at the Horniman Museum
60. The Arnolfini Portrait at The National Gallery
62. Epping Forest
63. Red velvet cake at Kahaila
64. Room 90 at The British Museum
65. Books at Daunt in Marylebone
66. Borough Market
67. Matcha cookie from Store Street Espresso
68. Concert at Rough Trade East
69. Beer along the canal in Hackney Wick
70. Cecil Court
71. Books at Oxfam Books Bloomsbury
72. Deer herds in Richmond Park
73. Peanut butter ‘milkshake’ from Genesis Cafe
74. Kitchenware at Gill Wing
75. Kitchenware from TK Maxx
76. Used books at Skoob
77. The elevated walk at Kew Gardens
78. Steak at Hill & Szrok
79. Books at Libreria
80. Deutsche Börse Prize at The Photographers' Gallery
81. Momos at House of MoMo
82. Pork and leek dumplings from Dumpling Shack
83. Sausage roll at Yellow Warbler
84. Nasi lemak at Makan Cafe
85. Tea at Camden Arts Centre
86. Art supplies at L. Cornelissen & Son
87. Chicken rice box at Twiggs
88. Salt beef bagel from Beigel Bake
89. St. Paul's Cathedral from Tate Modern viewing level
90. Beer at Hop Burns and Black
91. Refreshing black fungus with coriander at Xi'an biang biang noodles
92. Flat white at Federation Coffee
93. Dinner at artusi
94. Sir John Soane’s Museum
95. Books at John Sandoe
96. Khan’s Bargains
97. Lambeth County Fair
98. Brockwell Park Lido
99. Lunch at Archies Antiques Market
100. Osteological negroni at Lounge Bohemia