Experience the Best Ethnic Food in London
London has become a frequent destination for me over the years, both for work and for pleasure. I have come to appreciate the variety of ethnic food options available when choosing a place to go out to have a delicious dinner. London has an endless array of international restaurants to choose from, however I find myself searching out more and more the places that represent the ethnic cuisine I like best and have grown up – Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Indian – the flavors and ingredients I enjoy best when sitting down with friends and having a satisfying culinary experience.
Though London has endless ethnic food selections, here are a few of my favorites that I visit and re-visit every time I come back to this incredible city.
La Famiglia is located on a small side street just off King’s Road in the Chelsea section of London. Whenever I first get to the city I look for something comforting and easy that will not be too harsh on my jet lagged system. For that, you can’t go wrong with Italian food. La Famiglia is run by the Maccioni family, pioneers in what was a culinary revolution a few decades ago, when London went form a city known for its pubs and fish and chips to what is now a center of cultural and ethnic delicacies.
Focusing on Tuscan fare, La Famiglia offers a great variety of Italian classics. With genuine ingredients and even more genuine techniques. From Spaghetti alle Vongole to a truly satisfying Tagliolini alla Carbonara to a simple but delicious Spaghetti Asparagi, Aglio e Olio.
Fish and meat selections range from fresh Grilled Mackerel with Rosemary, Lemon and Mint to a simple Steamed Bass with a sprinkle of DOC Olive Oil. However, the dish I come back to over and over is the Coniglio alla Cacciatore – a braised rabbit deliciously smothered in a rosemary, garlic and white wine sauce which is so good, I swoon every time a take a bite.
La Famiglia is a traditional Italian joint not corrupted by local tastes or adaptations, but a true representation of genuine Tuscan and other regional Italian delicacies.
“Tapas” is a much abused term these days. Restaurants use this term all the time to describe small plates of all kinds, though they may have nothing to do with the traditional Spanish fare. Cambio de Tercio on Old Brompton Road in Kensington, is not one of these. But instead is a stronghold for what I consider some of the best Spanish food this side of Las Ramblas. Steeped in tradition, you feel it the minute you walk into the place. You are welcomed by one of the owners who are all charming Spanish gentlemen, you are then led to your table with great courtesy. Lastly, you are immediately presented a menu with some of the most wonderful delicacies the Iberian peninsula has to offer.
Selections range from the Pata Negra Jamon sampler, a big-ticket item, but worth every mouth-watering bite. Pulpo alla Gallega, grilled Galician Octopus with paprika along with Rabo de Toro, a fall off the bone delicious ox tail caramelized in red wine and green apples. Main dishes are also amazing though rather more substantial than the tapas. From Rabbit Casserole with vegetables and sherry to Roasted Partridge with Bomba rice and a delicate Cheese Tart. Cambio de Terico offers such a wonderful variety of traditional and modern Spanish specialties you cannot but leave completely satisfied. Whether having just a few tapas or going “all the way” with a full selection of their delicious dishes.
One can get lost and confused among the throngs of Chinese restaurants along Gerard and Wardour Streets in Soho. Where to go? Which one of these dozens of restaurants hawking the best Dim Sum or the best Szechuan can be trusted to actually deliver? It’s a tough choice, the options are endless. Let me end the needless confusion. Yauatcha lies outside the perimeters of Chinatown not far from the theaters of Shaftsbury Avenue just off of Wardour Street on a small side alley named Broadwick Street. This is not your grandmother’s Dim Sum with all the hustle and bustle and loud sometimes crowded and chaotic service.
Yauatcha is a slick, hip and very delicious new restaurant serving some of London’s very best small plate and traditional Chinese food. The crowds are more “metro”. Business suit types meeting dates or fellow corporate/fashion colleagues. The interior, though on the dark side, sparkles with energy and fluorescent lighting. You are welcomed by a very accommodating host and shown to your small but functional table where a young Spanish or Italian waiter go over the eclectic menu and available delicacies.
The menu is divided into small plates – Dim Sum style – from steamed offerings, grilled/baked to fried options. There are too many to list here, but you have a wonderful variety of options. Some more traditional than others, and every one of them fresh and impeccably presented. Larger plates are also divided by category – fish, poultry, meats and tofu – again wonderful selections with spectacular flavors and ingredients.
I have saved the best for last. Not everyone is an aficionado of Indian food, especially here in the United States where other Asian foods have more popular acceptance and are more easily accessed. But for those who do enjoy the wonderful flavors of this cuisine, Amaya, located in a quiet alley near Knightsbridge is the place to go.
Awarded a Michelin star not long ago, the menu is divided into three or four categories each characterized by the size of the plate. Divided into ingredients and flavors, that are to be experienced in a precise sequence each infused with their own marinades. The staff encourages trying dishes from each category, which are then delivered in simple yet beautiful plates. The selections range from several sophisticated salads, poultry, seafood and lamb dishes. Also available are a selection of a dozen vegetarian dishes along with traditional kebabs, curries and biryanis. For the more adventurous, chef’s tastings are available with a range of 4 to 8 different dishes, each exemplifying the very best Amaya has to offer.
Amaya is a top of the line restaurant and as such is not inexpensive. However, you can experience the delights this establishments has to offer by just trying a few of it’s dishes and spending a little less or going for the full menu and enjoying one of London’s very top Indian food experinces.