My Tokyo Recommendations

Saif and I recently went on our honeymoon to Japan. We traveled across Tokyo, Kyoto, Kobe, Osaka and beautiful Okinawa. It wasn’t our first time visiting this incredible country, but just as previous times, we feel like we’ve just been able to scratch the surface with everything that what has come to be our favourite country in the world, has to offer.

Since so many people have asked for our recommendations since we got back, I’ve FINALLY managed to make a list of a few of our favourites from our time(s) there.

Tokyo below, next up – Kyoto!

 

THINGS TO CHECK OUT

  • Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi park (also mentioned in a note below)
  • Hakone for the day is really nice if you want to get out of the city – look up a hot spring that has a view of Mt. Fuji over there (note, most onsens don’t allow men and women together so you’ll most likely be separated from your partner)
  • Hitachi Seaside Park if you want to see a beautiful flower field of blue flowers that literally blend into the sky when you look into the distance though its 2+ hours outside of the city. Check out their website to know which fields bloom while you’re there https://hitachikaihin.jp/en/flowers.html
  • Imperial Palace East Gardens – beautiful for a short day stroll
  • If you like to play video games (my husband and I do), you MUST check out Taito – or any of the other arcade game halls around the city
  • Tsujiki fish market – go early to avoid the lines at the most famous places like Daiwa (and by early I mean at 7 am there will already be an hour long wait)
  • Odaiba is pretty damn scenic (futuristic wise) and the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation is there.
  • Tokyo Metropolitan govt. building for a view of Tokyo
  • We really enjoyed the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum but I guess it also depends on the exhibition that is on at the time

 

RESTAURANTS

  • Kotaro – Izakaya style, probably the hottest restaurant in Tokyo atm. The chef just serves you based on your preferences. Call in advance. Moderate prices.
  • Shin Udon – get in line but totally worth the hype and the wait. If you want to try udon make sure to go here. Cheap.
  • Shima – Unbelievable steak dinner if you want Japanese beef. They make extremely attractive and yummy steak sandwiches for you to take home – that itself is worth it. Expensive but my favorite place to get a steak in Tokyo. Not a very romantic ambience though.
  • Meat-man – if you like meat, call in advance to book a table and just go. It’s insane. If you don’t like meat, don’t bother. Has yummy cocktails too.
  • Wagyu Mafia – 200-300 bucks (USD) for a katsu wagyu sandwich, plus fries and beer. If you love beef and you don’t mind spending the cash, it’s a once in a lifetime experience. They have amazing beer options as well.
  • Aldebaran – the closest you will come to a Michelin star burger – in a basement, which turns into a members-only club at night. Lunch only – if you go for a late lunch you may save yourself an hour worth of waiting (although its SO worth it)
  • The Blind Donkey – Great (French inspired) food, great ambiance, incredible selection of wines.
  • OUT – truffle pasta, wine, jazz – that’s literally it
  • Tsuta Ramen – Michelin star ramen for 10 dollars. Go early and get a ticket. They’ll tell you to come back in a couple of hours.
  • Benitsuru pancakes – best pancake experience in Tokyo. You have to book a spot by going there early then they’ll tell you to come back at the next available time. It’s in Asakusa which is quite a touristy spot so there are sites to see to kill time.
  • Tonki – In my opinion best tonkatsu in Tokyo. There’s only two options on the menu, fatty or lean.  The line moves fast so the wait should not be too long. It’s really amazing to watch the team in the open kitchen at work.
  • Henry’s burger – Solid wagyu burger. Like a higher end shake shack but same price. They have two locations, one in Daikanyama and one in Akihabara. \
  • Serinkan – Supposedly the best pizza in the world. Thoroughly enjoyed it though I wouldn’t call it the best pizza I’ve ever eaten. Good for when you’re sick of Japanese food. Reserve in advance.
  • Yakitori Imai – solid yakitori place. Pricey but nice ambiance and they pair really well with wine and sake. Book in advance.  Be warned – menu is fixed and yakiroti generally serves up ALL parts of the chicken (which I find a bit unappetising personally, but its still an experience and what is known as one of the best yakitori spots in the city)
  • Handsome Café – In super hipster Shimokitazawa, this place is my favorite soba place in the city. Cold soba noodles with tempura on the side. Good prices. Just walk in or wait a few minutes in line if it’s busy
  • Bills – if you want a non-japanese breakfast, there’s the Japanese version of London’s Granger and Co in the heart of Harajuku. Its great for everything: breakfast, lunch, dinner, a mid-day beer while shopping… Famous for its ricotta pancakes though.

A lot of recommended sushi places are super expensive and have set menus so try going in the afternoon as it’s cheaper then, or check out moderately priced places like Sushi No Midori where you can order whatever you want. Locals love this place and there are a couple of them around the city. If you’re feeling adventurous try the conveyor belt sushi bars. 

Tokyo Bars – 

  • New York Bar – iconic bar with beautiful view of Tokyo at night as seen in Lost In Translation (if you haven’t seen this movie watch it before going to Tokyo – it really captures some of the city’s essence and will inspire you to do Karaoke, go play video games late at night, and make friends with randoms – this is all easily done in a city like Tokyo, you’ll see). Live jazz in the summer from 8-11. May have to wait in line but worth it. Good cocktails and good bar snacks. Expensive but worth the experience. Burger is great and comes with duck fries.
  • Ayoama tunnel – solid underground bar. A bit touristy as of late but always open, always playing good music. Strongly suggest this place if out late at night and looking for a place to go. There’s another bar upstairs which has some pretty cool décor. Opens at 8pm, shuts at 10am.
  • Trouble Peach – In Shomokitazawa if you find yourself there in the evening. Super cool bar. Plays rock music.
  • JBS Bar is a very popular bar where the owner plays his favorite Jazz records. Shuts by like 11 so don’t go too late.
  • Bar Fidditch – Very popular spot. They make drinks based on your preference and will use seasonal ingredients.
  • The cabin – best negronis, cozy ambiance, cute spot to stop for a drink after walking around Nakameguru
  • Literally any Izakaya – Just go grab a drink and get local. Shirube has a couple of locations and Rock Izakaya is a cool spot too. But there are sooo many.
  • Robot restaurant – it’s fucking crazy. It’s on every list and super touristy but you HAVE to go. Book in advance.

For like an actual party party, get on the resident advisor website and see what gigs happening that appeals to you and where. Contact is a popular spot for example. The Japanese really take their appreciation for music to another level so I would say something like this is worth checking out.

For wine bars, browse Shimokizawa, they have these flower shops which are also wine bars and for someone who loves the two – its lovely.

My main suggestion is to explore the area you are staying in. Chances are you’ll stumble upon things that aren’t in any list that you will love. When we are in Tokyo, we literally walk everywhere, and some of our greatest/favourite finds, we’ve come across while just roaming

 

GENERAL THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

  • If a place is really famous and doesn’t take reservations, you’ll probably have to wait in line for a good amount of time. I would suggest going to such places at off times to avoid the crowd. 
  • Japanese people don’t like to say no – they will just cross their hands in an x which means move on. The service is unbelievable but there are a lot of rules that need to be followed so they can be quite curt.
  • Shimokitazawa is a hipster area that has A LOT of vintage stores and record shops. On the weekend, there are beer gardens and a bunch of random stuff going on. Fun to check out if you don’t have any specific plans. Also known to host some of the best coffee spots in Tokyo.
  • Nakameguro is known for its cherry blossom scenes during blossom season but it’s also pretty chilled to just walk along the river in the evening. There are a lot of shops and cafés and a couple of bars you can check out along the way. Afuri is a solid ramen spot in the area and WAGYU Mafia Beef Cutlet Sando is also there as mentioned in food list. If you’re there around 10 check out this bar called Cabin. Very cosy and best Negroni I have had.
  • Two areas that are overhyped are 1. Ginza – like the 5th avenue of Tokyo, wouldn’t suggest wasting your time here. There’s just shops that would be anywhere else in the world and expensive ass restaurants. There is a great stationary store called Itoya that’s very famous and worth checking out if you’re into that AND 2. Shibuya – it’s kind of like the Time Square of Tokyo but it’s worth checking out briefly. Take part in the famous Shibuya crossing. 109 (street style shops) is there in separate buildings for Men and Women. Good thing is that it’s sort of walking distance to Omotessando/harajuku.
  • Omotessando/Harajuku has some solid shopping. If you want to shop properly and cover the whole area it’ll take you a full day at least. Meiji shrine is near here so you can start off by checking that out in the morning, getting some site seeing in, or take a break from the shopping mid-day to do that. Yoyogi park is also around here. Grab a beer from a convenience store and just go chill by the lake to take a break from the city. Would not strongly recommend many restaurants in these areas but the very famous Harajuku Gyozaru is there for gyozas and Bills for really good salads, burgers, pastas, pancakes, etc. There are a lot of good coffee places around here.
  • Akihabara and Shinjuku are great to get a sensory overload of Japan. Lots going on visually.
  • Roppongi Hills is very upscale in terms of bars and restaurants but very accessible stuff.
  • Take your time and explore a certain area every day. Some days you can cover 2 areas depending on where you’re going. Create a google docs sheet and plan the areas with restaurants and bars accordingly. We met many locals and expats who said that even after living in Tokyo for so many years they still find something new in terms of shops, restaurants and bars every week, so just keep a look out for something that may appeal to you, as there is something for everyone there, and the Japanese just do everything better than anywhere else in the world.
  • I’m sure you already have good Karaoke places on your list, and sushi you can get just about anywhere so I’m not going to add that to that. Just avoid tourist traps as much as possible, and walk. Also the foods in the main train stations are the best. If you see something you like just try it! Take the subway everywhere. Once you get the hang of it it’s super convenient. Crowded as fuck but an experience nonetheless!
  • If you like the idea of picking up a bottle of wine and drinking it outside (I do), pick up your preferred beverage and take a seat in any park around the city. Grab a blanket and enjoy sitting outside. This is one of my favourite activities over going to a bar when we’re in Tokyo.
  • Japanese people don’t mind standing in lines, like the rest of us. The culture is so incredibly respectful, you won’t mind it either though. Even a line that stretches around a block or two, will usually get over-with quite fast. But be prepared to stand in line for the good stuff. One of the beauties of Japan is that a lot of the best spots don’t require reservations, but because of that you have to sacrifice some of your time waiting for it. Its pretty much always worth it though.

 

SHOPPING

  • Journal Standard 
  • LHP Men’s
  • LHP Women’s in La Foret
  • La Foret shopping mall (so much cool stuff, you could go here and be done. Mostly women’s shops but a couple of cool men’s stores too)
  • Monkey time (personal favorite for men)
  • Worm Tokyo for rare sneakers
  • Omotessando hills has a lot and the main Omotessando stretch has many shops as well, such as Solakzade for vintage glasses. A lot of designer shops are on this street.
  • Harajuku has a ton of random vintage stores but it’s a long stretch so make sure you cover it all.
  • For men specific brands to check out are JieDa and Nonnative.
  • Walk around and keep your eyes open, especially around Harajuku. There are A LOT of cool shops. Don’t go to dover street market etc, if you want to focus on the local fashion. Keep your eyes open while walking around Harajuku and browse the whole area. Don’t make a mistake of just seeing a part of it (we did that the first time we went to Tokyo)
  • Isetan has an unbelievable selection of Japanese designers but very expensive.
  • Louis Vuitton Store has a gallery on top which has some cool exhibits depending on when you’re there. Hit or miss!
  • You might find something cool in this store called Loveless which is around the city.
  • Go to Daikanyama, it’s got some cool stores. It’s a really small area so can cover it fast. Ebisu is walking distance – very nice to walk around and a lot of restaurants and bars around here. Museum of Photography is there.
  • Lot of vintage stores in the Koenji area (but anywhere really)
  • A personal favourite is walking along the canal of Nakameguru. You can grab a beer or a hot cider, walk around the cherry blossom trees (that may or may not be blossoming…), and there are tons of cool shops and local brands to browse along the canal
  • Two things you MUST get while in Japan: Stationary and beauty/cosmetics. Its the country of everything in these two categories. You don’t need to go to a specific store – it’s everywhere – but if you just want to google your way around you’ll find plenty

A few of my Paris recommendations

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Paris recos coming up! These are far from all, but here are some of the best for you guys (since basically everyone seems to be in or around Paris ATM).

Without wasting your time…from me to you (and if you end up enjoying anything based on my recos, please share the link with your friends and networks. Thank you in advance <3)

 

East Mama

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I’m putting this first because it is the restaurant I’ve received most questions about. And the restaurant that served me a better fresh truffle pasta than all of Italy did (sorry to all my Italian friends). Go to East Mama, and order a truffle pasta. Just do it. We ordered coppa ham, parmesan, olives and burrata to start with which was also delicious. And the burrata salami pizza… Good god. The menu is as fresh as it comes, and with 4-5 pasta options, and 4-5 pizzas. Limited, and made to perfection. I don’t even want to say more because the food speaks for itself really. Oh and did I mention that the staff is from Sicily, so you know it’s legit. Just go there already!

 

Hollybelly

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Best breakfast in Paris. Have the savoury pancake stack with fried egg and bacon. Or eggs whatever way you prefer them with some signature baked beans, halloumi, mushrooms, bacon, or why not a home made hash brown. Warning warning though its always slammed and they don’t take reservations. Go anytime after 9.30 and expect at least half an hour in line, probably more.

 

Costes

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Hotel Costes… Well, where to start? Its as Parisian as it gets. High end as F. A hostess who will only let a certain crowd in (we know because we’ve been rejected in the past. For real and I’m still recommending it). Half of the staff force is rude and I’m pretty certain they’ve been told to be rude to go with the vibe. BUT, that aside… It’s amazing. It’s anything you’d ever want when you’re in Paris, so go at least once. Leave your tracks at home and just go. Food is amazing there (have the plain lettuce or endive salad, steak béarnaise with frites, the fish, or the delicious lobster pasta. Leave room for desert… The light cheesecake, the fresh berries and cream, and the creme brule. Saif is a cheesecake fanatic and he says its the best cheesecake he’s ever had so…there you go. If you don’t feel like spending much, have a desert and a coffee. People watch – there are some really interesting characters that pop by here and there. If you’re dying to celebrity watch, I’d say find yourself a seat and get comfy. They’ll keep coming. Enjoy!

 

Ferdi

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Second home to the Kardashian’s, Kanye, and the Hadid duo, this place is another Paris staple. They don’t take reservations online or over call – only by SMS. They’re ALWAYS slammed, so make sure you book on time unless you’re famous. They’re famous for the burger, Mac and cheese and their Mexican menu. They make a banging spicy margarita. Its a really cute place and although a lot of people say its overrated, we all really enjoyed it. I’ll definitely go back every time I come back to Paris. Tasty, cozy, quirky and cute.

 

Lou Lou’s Diner

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There’s a Lou Lou’s by the Eiffel Tower, and there’s a diner. They’re not the same, but they’ve got the same name basically, so make sure you’re going to the right one (I think the one by Eiffel Tower is pretty pricey? At least its one of those restaurants without prices on their menu…). Go to the diner to save some cash and eat some really good food. Their menu is great, and so is their steak tartare, cheeseburger and fish and chips. Highly recommend!

 

Entrecote

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Steak, fries, sauce and wine. Sounds delicious? Well its the only thing they serve. There’s one in London too. You pay a fixed rate for the food, and you can eat as much as fries, steak and sauce as you want. They’ll keep refilling your plate until you tell them to stop.  If you love steak and fries, you’ll love this! There’s also something special about everyone in the restaurant eating the exact same thing? No chance of wishing you ordered something else etc… (happens to me all the time)

 

When in Paris, make sure you also…

  • Have a beer or a coffee/tea in the red umbrella area in the garden by the Louvre

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  • Visit Notre Dame cathedral on a Sunday at 12pm noon for Sunday mass. Its gothic, its dark, its haunting and its beautiful. Light a candle for someone you’ve lost to the other side. Look at the stunning architecture and the beautiful, colourful window art. I cry, overwhelmed with emotions, every time

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  • Have cocktails at the Little Red Door – trendy, fun, candle-lit, and with incredible cocktails. Go go go
  • Don’t wear a bra
  • Drink champagne/prosecco/sangria at an outdoor cafe

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  • Have a croissant with jam for breakfast (every day)

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  • Walk around Luxemburg gardens

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  • Find a grassy parky area and bring a bottle of rose or some coffee or snacks and just be. P.S. they also sell wine by the glass in the park but its not amazing. Drinkable though!

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  • Visit the classic Shakespare and Co bookstore for every famous book in the world

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  • Have a handmade ice cream at Pierre Marcolini

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  • Order something with béarnaise sauce. Then devour it. Order more sauce.

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  • Have a drink at Hemingway Bar at the Ritz (because the head bartender is supposedly ranked ‘the best in the world’ over and over again) – Warning: expensive. And may get you hammered.
  • Order creme brûlée everywhere you go

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  • Eat a French onion soup. And a steak tartare if you’re not vegetarian

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  • There are cute boat bars along the canal in the summer

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  • Go to jazz bars in and around Bastille area. We went to some amazing dive bars and live music sessions when we were there – I can’t remember the names though, but there are plenty. Google it!

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Going to go cry a little bit over the fact that I don’t know when I’m back next. Enjoy this beautiful city when you go – and if you liked these recommendations, I’d be happy to share even more… There’s so much beautiful to eat, drink, do and see!

P.S. If you ended up enjoying anything from my Paris list, please share the link with your friends, networks etc. 

Thanks friends!

My London recommendations 2.0

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***If you end up checking out and enjoying any of my recommendations, I’d love for you to share the link with your friends etc. Thank you!***

If you haven’t seen my London recommendations from one year ago, you can find that list here. There may be a slight overlap, but I’ve tried to stay away from recommending the same place twice unless its an absolute favourite.

First things first…

Where to eat? 

Barrafina

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I know I included this on my last list too, but this is probably our favourite restaurant in London. Get ready for Spanish tapas at the world’s only walk-in, super casual Michelin star restaurant, and they don’t take reservations. They have an impressive queue system though, with a special in-line wine and snack menu while you wait. On a Friday night, we ended up waiting in line for a little over two hours… Good thing we love a good dining experience. Go on a weeknight at a slightly later hour and we’ve had times when we’ve been seated immediately.

Prices are high but not crazy high, and because its tapas you can basically choose how much you feel like ordering. If anything, come sit by the bar and have a snack (you won’t be able to stick with one though). We come back to Barrafina every time we are in London. The staff is amazing, the food is incredible, the wines are out of this world, and the vibe is always top. Love love love.

Order (among other things):

  • Pan con tomate
  • Toast with aioli
  • Fried courgette flower
  • Ham and cheese croquettes
  • Steak with marinated pepper (sorry there’s some fancy word for it but it is what it is)
  • Ask for the best salami/ham of the day
  • Wine – order Muga, the bottle in the photos. Secretly one of my favourite wines on the planet.

 

Patty and Bun

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The burger doesn’t need much of an intro. It is what it is: A tasty classic. If you’re really picky with your burgers, try their Shoreditch branch. We’ve tried in Soho and central London too, but the burgers in Shoreditch are by far the best ones we’ve had. I voted for Honest Burger in my last post, but I take it back. Have the Smoking Robinson or the fried chicken burger, with rosemary fries and an ice-cold IPA. Nothing better. Ever.

 

Sager + Wilde (Paradise Row)

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Another favorite! Located under the railway tracks right in the outskirts of Shoreditch, this bar is a must-visit. The staff is lovely, and the cocktails are outstanding. This time we went on a hot summer day, so we stuck with Negronis and olives as a pre-dinner scene. Last time we went, we stuck with wine and their fresh truffle pasta, among other things. If you enjoy a buzzing, outdoor drinks vibe, you must check this place out. Its kind of far off, but worth it. Do pre-dinner stuff here and hop into a cab if you get too lazy to walk (we did). Oh and, they have two locations. We’ve only visited the Paradise Row one, so I can’t speak for the other branch. I’m sure its amazing too though. Definitely go here.

 

Burro E Salvia

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Enjoy your homemade Italian food? Then search no more… Saif found this place and I am forever grateful. Owned by an Italian lady who makes all the pasta herself, this place has got a homely, cozy vibe to it, and makes you feel as if you’re sort of chilling in her private kitchen. We asked for a full bodied red wine with our meal, and she ended up offering us a bottle off the menu which she had just opened to take a glass from for herself. The wine is called Bandita, by the way, and it was the most interesting, tangy red wine. Must try if you’re a wine-fanatic (I am). The menu keeps changing and the courses of the day are restricted to 4-5 main courses at a time. One of the most memorable dining experiences we’ve ever had. Highly recommend it! Only if you love a good pasta though – no fuss, just al dente everything.

 

Electric Diner

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Classic. I keep including this in my list of recommendations. Nothing fancy, nothing groundbreaking – just good old breakfast in my favourite area of London (Notting Hill duh). Have the avocado on toast with extra lemon and a side of bacon. Orange juice. And why not the Eggs Benedict too. Coffee. Yum. P.S. They have the same breakfast at all Soho Houses in London in case you can’t make your way to Notting Hill. Electric Diner doesn’t require membership though – its open to everyone. Go go!

 

Granger & Co

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Although we were slightly disappointed with the quality of the food this time, this place always hits the spot. Ricotta pancakes with fresh banana, avocado toast, scrambled eggs and bacon… Acai bowls for the healthier people (not me). Always a line if you come past 9am any day of the week, but like with most great places – it’s worth the wait. Or just go before everyone else wakes up, if you’re an early riser. That’s what we usually do. Lunch and dinner is also great here by the way. And next door is a famous Mexican Taqueria which is so good I should probably include it on this list too. Check it out while you’re in the area.

 

Dinings

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We visited Dinings for the first time this trip – and what an experience. Saif and I have a massive obsession with everything Japanese, but we usually don’t go to Japanese/Asian restaurants unless we’re in that part of the world. This was absolutely delicious though, and I’m so glad Aditya had managed to get a reservation. Which reminds me to tell you – definitely make a reservation here before you go. Located in what looks like a little townhouse home/villa, you enter the ‘hallway’ aka the sushi bar. If you’ve made a table reservation, the lovely staff will guide you from there downstairs, to what feels sort of like the living room. We rounded up with anything from Asahi’s, to incredible sushi rolls, chili-salt edamame, wagyu tacos, fish carpaccio, and truffle ice cream. Hands down one of the best meals we had this trip, but also one of the most expensive ones. 

 

Palomar

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If you’re into sauces, dips and multiple side/small plates – this place is for you. We did lunch at Palomar after over a year of both of us dying to go. Saif and I reached sort of early, and ended up grabbing a glass of prosecco on the bench in the sun before we were seated inside. This was an incredible meal, but also a very heavy one. Dips, breads, grilled veggies, truffle polenta, minced meat, fish and more bread… I would suggest dinner over lunch, unless you’re a day-drinker. The food goes lovely with their beer, wine and cocktail selection. It wasn’t my favourite meal of the trip, but it was excellent and we had a really nice time. We also overheard just about every single guest in the restaurant raving about what they had in front of them.

If you go here, order:

  • Kubaneh
  • Baba Ganoush
  • Handmade pitas
  • Labneh
  • Burnt courgette tsatsiki
  • Shakshukit
  • Seared scallops
  • Truffle polenta
  • Beetroot salad

 

The Breakfast Club

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They say to come here if you’re hungover. Apparently its the best hangover food place the city of London has to offer. We weren’t hungover, actually, but we still really enjoyed their food. I’ve just come once, but Saif has been here a few times. The chorizo breakfast burrito is nice, and so is the chorizo eggs benedict. The hot chocolate with marshmallows for the brave! And the Bloody Mary if you had a heavy night… And HELLO, can we talk about the disco fries?! Dream on a plate for a fries addict like myself.

The Soho branch always has a line and doesn’t take reservations – be prepared to wait for 20-40 minutes depending on the day and hour. The Shoreditch branch was empty when we came around 9am on a weekday morning. Either way and once again – well worth the wait even if they can’t let you in right away.

 

NAC

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Ok so, their lunch menu is AMAZING. Never been there for dinner but, if I could be a lunch menu, I think I’d be this one. The spinach salad was a little lame/kind of disappointing, but their truffle burger is out. of. this. world. If you like burgers and truffle, this is going to be one of the best meals you’ve ever had – I’ll leave it at that.

P.S. I asked them to split mine in half and they literally responded that they don’t split burgers due to strict instructions from the chef. Their burgers are to be kept intact, and perfect. I didn’t know if he was joking or serious, but now I know he meant it and I totally get why. Just go! Oh and have a glass of this banging rose to go with whatever you end up with on your plate. And if you don’t eat meat/burgers, as you can see for yourself, the rest of the menu looks pretty amazing as well…

 

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If you’re into Scandinavian breakfast – search no more. Healthy, yummy, and incredible produce—here you’ll get anything from strong roast coffee, freshly squeezed juices, famous oatmeals, grilled halloumi, acai bowls and an avocado toast on steroid. Their salmon salad looks unreal, but I’ve not had the chance to try it. If you do – please tell me how it was because I dream about it at night basically. It’s located in the cosiest little courtyard in Soho, and the only minus is, its tiny and kind of packed. But still…go. It’s also really cute to sit and do some work here, as long as you don’t require a charger and phone-call type silence.

 

CookDaily @ Boxpark

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Vegans, look here! Well, vegan or not – this place is a must try. Throwing in a kiss-photo because that’s how damn good it was. Boxpark is always fun and buzzing in the summer – and sort of a landmark in Shoreditch – with its fun shops, bars and restaurants. They do these awesome mix between permanent and popup spaces, and one of the long term setups there is CookDaily. We weren’t even hungry, but ordered three bowls to share on the go. It wasn’t chicken but it tasted like chicken. It was even called chicken on the menu. But it was vegan. And delicious. If all vegan options tasted like this I’d be vegan in a heartbeat – no problemo. I have a feeling this is the future of veganism – you heard it here first. Anyway, definitely go, and let me know how you like it. It’s like a food stall though, just in case you mind sitting on a shared bench type situation. Maybe don’t bring your grandparents here (unless they’re hip and fun, e.g. my grandmom)

 

Hawksmoore

We didn’t go here this time, we simply just didn’t get the chance. But, have the burger if you go. I hear its wild. Tell it I say hi and can’t wait to meet it.

 

Scalini

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Do I need to say more? Didn’t think so. An old classic. My first real date abroad happened with Saif here. We went for lunch and got drunk over pasta, burrata and wine three years ago. It’s slightly commercialised/always packed these days, and the food wasn’t the same this time compared to how it used to be, but hopefully someone was just having a bad day, because their pasta pomodoro and the veal Milanese are two of my favourite dishes. Perfect to go with a big ish group of friends by the way – ask for the round table, so you can eat a little bit of everything (and see everyone) Italian family style.

 

Old Spitafields Market

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Spitafields is a market for the foodies and the shoppers basically. Although especially for the foodies. Except for the local vendors selling things such as clothes, shoes, bags and jewellery, there’s a bunch of yummy and interesting food that you must check out. If you go here, I would say, make sure you check out the following, in terms of food:

  • Bleecker Burgers – best fast food burger ever. No lettuce, no veggies, no bs—just ham, meat, cheese and yummy dressing
  • Androuet – cheese bar/fondue
  • Poppy’s Fish and Chips – when in Britain…
  • Another shop nearby which does cheese toasties (with ham and truffle). Can’t remember the name though

Another advice would be to drink a tasty IPA with anything you eat. 

P.S. I saw someone have a shawarma bowl when we were there and it looked super delicious so maybe try that too. I also heard there’s a tasty pasta stand somewhere, but sadly didn’t try that either.

 

Cafe 202

I don’t have any photos from this place, but the food is amazing and its located in the cutest concept store in Notting Hill. Specialising in brunch (google their menu and you’ll know what I’m talking about). A must see must do! And make sure you have time to roam the store as well.

 

34 Mayfair

Too fancy vibe for my liking, but they make banginggg:

  • Steak tartare with fresh truffle shavings
  • Fries
  • Lobster mac and cheese
  • Negroni
  • Omelette

 

Where to stay?

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We love staying at Shoreditch House. You can stay there even if you’re not a member by the way, you just need to be recommended by one. When we don’t stay there, we stay in Airbnbs. Cheaper, and much more convenient. The usual one we rent is quirky and PERFECTLY located on Ladbroke Grove. The other one is on St. Christophers Place right behind Selfridges. Its nothing amazing or super fancy but it serves the purpose and saves you a bunch of taxi rides if you have a lot of things you want to check off in the most central area of London. That being said, I wouldn’t stay there again – we’re much more into the suburb vibes. My top three areas to stay in would be:

  1. Notting Hill
  2. Shoreditch
  3. Soho

I’ve also heard incredible things about Blakes hotel, but I’ve never stayed there. Would love to though!

 

Where to drink?

Well, there’s a plethora of cool bars in London, but here are some of my favourite hangouts…

The Owl and the Pussycat

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I guess I haven’t been to THAT many pubs, but this one’s a favorite. It’s located in the heart of Shoreditch and gets slammed around after-work hours. You’ll find people hanging out in the front of the bar, on stools and high bar tables. You’ll find people playing boardgames and enjoying a drink or 15 on the tables inside. And best of all, if you make your way through the bar area, you’ll find the little backyard, with string lights, cute table settings, and an always buzzing vibe. This is where you’ll find me – in the afternoon, evening or late night—its always a fun time. P.S. Love the crowd that goes here.

 

Troy Bar

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Oh man oh man oh man. Best bar in London? I sure say so. Let me summarise this place in three words: Jamaican, open-mic, live band, great vibes, crowded…ok that’s way more than three. But seriously – Troy is a bar which hosts an open mic night once a week. Incredible singers show up, drop their name in a hat and improvise with the live band. The people performing are unreal – no joke undiscovered professionals. So, if you find yourself in London on a Tuesday, here’s what you got to do:

Go to Troy bar and get in line around 8-8.30pm. The doors don’t open until 9pm and the concert usually doesn’t start until around 10.30-11pm, but if you want a table/seat (trust me, you do), you better show up early and get in line. Once the doors open, you rush to a seat close to the stage. Once you’ve got a comfortable seat, make sure someone watches it (the chairs come at a high price at this golden hour…) while you get in line to order yourself a homemade Jamaican meal. Order the jerk chicken with plantains. It is so cheap, and so delicious. When the music starts, you’ll just know… I promise you one of the best live music nights of your life.

Not for the faint hearted though. It gets packed. Real packed. But thats the vibe and its amazing.

 

Rooftop bar at Ace Hotel

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If you’re into rooftops, you’ll like this. If you’re into good cocktails, you’ll like it even more. On top of the famous Ace Hotel of Shoreditch, there is a terrace…often with a line outside at the time they open (seems to be a reoccurring thing at every place I recommend?). Order the G&T with rosemary, or the other gin cocktail with soda and juniper. Their snacks are also great.

 

Breaking Records

This place is actually a restaurant, but it turns into a party at night. They’re known for the apparently very rare speakers they use at the bar – some of the biggest music junkies of London come here to listen to the frequent DJ popups and live bands at night. On Fridays and Saturdays they remove the tables and turn the restaurant into more of a club so you can dance and hang out to the music more freely. No guest list as far as I know.

 

The Good Egg (Stoke Newington)

Amazing cocktails and dips. There’s one branch in Soho which I don’t like though. Just the original Stoke Newington one.

 

Bar Termini in Soho

Super cute, and amazing bellinis + charcuterie. Or even just very strong espresso.

 

+ sooo many wine bars in Notting Hill, Soho and Shoreditch ahh

+ rooftop bars in Camden

 

Where to shop?

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  • Goodhood – mix of expensive and semi-affordable, beautiful clothing, cool shoes, bags, wallets, and home interior goodies
  • Shoreditch Red Church Street – roam around here, there’s something for everyone. Check out women’s shoe store Miista – quirky British design made in Italy – and our ultimate favourite shop ever (a real hidden gem which I’m now going to reveal to you)…….Bridges and Brows, one of the best vintage frame selection in the world. Try on funky frames, chat with the owner, Lee, and have a blast. If you speak with Lee, tell him Hanna and Saif from Mumbai say hi. Ok you really owe me for this one – its the best. I know you’ll find something and I know you’ll read my blog recommendations forever onwards. Win win. He he. Oh and there are some really nice interior shops on this street. I got different sized and shaped mini-vases in a shop that is both a cafe, clothing and interior store. Somewhere near APC on Red Church.
  • Brick Lane where you also must go for vintage, cool sneakers etc. Check out Hunky Dory
  • Machine A – expensive, cool high street fashion wear
  • Sneakersnstuff in Shoreditch for the latest in the sneaker world
  • Raey and Matches Fashion in Notting Hill
  • LN-CC – hip designer fashion, music, books and a bar all in one
  • Rough Trade (Shoreditch and Notting Hill) for all of the most amazing records in the world. Come here with a coffee, listen to music before you buy it, ask for recommendations, chill with the staff. If you love music you’ll love this, and there’s something for everyone
  • For interior stuff, see the link below…

See my 1.0 London recommendation list for more shopping recommendations (click!)

***If you liked anything from the list, please share it with the world! Enjoy Londontown!***