5 of London’s hidden food gems

Traditional English breakfast at Cozco Latte
Traditional English breakfast at Cozco Latte

When you think of London, the towering skyscrapers that define the city may be the first image that springs to mind. While iconic landmarks like Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace certainly leave a lasting impression, I’ve delved deeper into the hidden gems of London – those lesser-known food places that often escape the tourist itinerary.

These are the places where locals retreat to relax and savor the city’s unique charm, often indulging in a diverse array of culinary delights from around the world. Whether it’s enjoying a fragrant bowl of authentic Thai noodles, sipping on a rich espresso in a cozy Italian cafe or exploring the vibrant street food markets where international flavors converge, London’s culinary scene offers a tantalizing journey for the taste buds beyond traditional British fare.

Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream

Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream is an authentic Filipino ice cream parlor. Their best seller is the traditional Filipino dessert halo-halo, with ingredients such as coconut strings, red bean, jellies, evaporated milk, shaved ice, leche flan, a wafer stick and topped with a scoop of ube ice cream. For £6.5, you get a generous serving (considering London prices). The ube ice cream boasts a delightful sweetness complemented by subtle savory undertones. The leche flan, while creamy and luxurious, could have benefited from a more generous portion.

They also have the ube bilog, a pandesal milk bun filled with ube ice cream – toasted with a light sugar coating. Other ice cream flavors include black buko, queso, milo, guyabano and kalamansi. Overall, it was a good halo-halo and I consider it a good introduction to Filipino dessert. International students often flock to Mamasons’ Chinatown branch and they’re almost always fully packed.

They have three branches: Chinatown London WC2H 7PQ, 91 Kentish Town Road London NW1 8NY and Westfield Ariel Way London W12 7GF.

Beigel Bake

Beigel Bake is a 24-hour bakery on Brick Lane, Shoreditch. They consider themselves “London’s oldest and first bagel bakery on Brick Lane.” Founded in 1855, this iconic bakery has consistently offered the traditional flavors and customs of the Jewish East End, blended with the diverse tastes of a changing multicultural community.

Their best seller is the Salt Beef Bagel with mustard and gherkins. The cured beef undergoes a five-hour stewing process before it’s presented, prepared for slicing and serving. The brisket had a noticeable salty taste, but it wasn’t overpowering. It had a strong, meaty flavor and was incredibly tender with a perfect balance of meat and fat. The bagel itself had a delicious and distinctive quality. Beigel Bake employs a unique method of boiling their bagels in water before baking, resulting in a crispy outer texture and a chewy interior.

Prices start at £2. Other best sellers include Salmon Cream Cheese and the Roast Chicken and Salad. They are located at 59 Brick Ln, London E1 6SB.

Misato

This small yet inviting Japanese eatery provides a diverse selection of Japanese dishes. The staff is quick and friendly, and the menu has pictures of every dish. They serve a variety of Japanese dishes like sushi, bento boxes, big rice meals, katsu curry and noodle soups, all at a really good price for this part of town.

My sister and I are repeat customers. We usually order Chicken Katsu. Generous portion, delicious taste, crispy and moist chicken and the curry sauce is great. It would be even better with chunky vegetables, but it’s served with a salad, which is a nice touch and helps refresh the palate. Misato is at 11 Wardour Street, London W1D 6PG, just outside of Chinatown.

Circolo Popolare

Circolo Popolare is a charming Italian restaurant at the heart of Central London. We booked here to celebrate my mum’s birthday. As soon as you walk in, you’ll feel the lively atmosphere and be captivated by the restaurant’s beautiful decor and impressive view.

They are popular for their cheese wheel pasta and the truffle pizza. However, we ordered the Marinara pizza, Carbonara, Caesar’s salad, and the 600g beautiful grilled beef rump steak from Cornwall, with celeriac puree, roasted potatoes, aromatic beef gravy, and Italian herbs. The dishes arrive on vibrant, patterned plates, adding to the visual appeal. The staff, incredibly friendly, efficiently handles the weekend crowds, which are consistently busy.

The food and drink menus offer a diverse selection at reasonable prices. The antipasti dishes are all priced under £8 (except for the burrata) and the pizzas typically cost around £14 on average. You can find Circolo Popolare at 40-41 Rathbone Pl, London W1T 1HX.

Cozco Latte

On Sundays after church, we usually go to have brunch at the nearby Cozco Latte cafe in Hammersmith. They have a delectable breakfast that’s available throughout the day, paired with a generously sized and delightful cup of fresh coffee, all for just £5.

The staff is warm and hospitable and they provide quick service. Additionally, their prices are notably lower than those at neighboring cafes, while the quality of their coffee and food is unquestionably superior.

If you’re in search of an affordable, friendly and authentically British cafe experience, this is the place to go. What you receive in terms of quality matches the price you pay.

In the bustling heart of London, these hidden food gems offer a delightful escape from the ordinary, revealing the rich tapestry of flavors that make this city truly extraordinary. Whether you’re a curious traveler or a local in search of culinary adventures, these hidden treasures promise a delightful journey through the diverse and delectable world of London’s food scene.

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