Eating at Inaho

InahoIt’s only about six attempts later but on Thursday I finally managed to have a meal at Japanese restaurant Inaho. When I used to live in Bayswater, I had several, obviously, failed attempts at dining at this place. It seemed so innocent – a very small restaurant, painted blue on the outside yet seemingly very popular when open. It’s definitely not open on Sunday, and only open Saturday evenings and I definitely recommend booking for dinner especially then. I’d probably even book for dinner during the week just to make sure.

To say the place is small is very generous – the restaurant only contains about eight or ten tables of which the majority only seat two people. Even still the tables that are inside sit very closely to each other, maybe at most ten centimetres apart. It feels almost canteen-like Wagamama style but not quite there.

Inaho from the OutsideTheir menu offering seems quite broad and similar to the more authentic Japanese restaurants in London. Their menu includes a decent selection of sushi, as well as a small number of dishes such as udon, soba and Japanese salad. We ended up having my favourite unagi sushi, that tasted extremely fresh. The tender eel flesh was moist and just warmed through with just enough sauce to balance it out. We also tried the teriyaki chicken, some udon and kara-age (Japanese fried chicken) that all went down very easily. You do have to pay extra for rice as many of the main dishes do not come automatically with it.

Unlike many reviews I read, our waitress spoke excellent English and although service wasn’t forth-coming, we didn’t really have any problems ordering or getting the bill. I’m not sure if I would make a cross town trip just to have Japanese at this place, but I would definitely eat there again if I was in the area.

Details: Inaho
Found on: 4 Hereford Road, London, W2 4AA
Contactable on: 0871 3327807
Highlights: Tasty Japanese food. It feels like a very friendly atmosphere and I can probably guess it is still family-run.
Room for improvement: Need to really plan ahead. The small handful of tables together with the tiny space mean that you end up quite intimate with a number of other diners.
The Kua Rating: 7 out of 10

Mulberry Street Meets Westbourne Grove

One of the newest arrivals to the ever evolving Westbourne Grove in Bayswater is the Italian restaurant, Mulberry Grove, serving eye catching New York style 20 inch pizzas. Inside it’s themed like a stylish New York bar under lit with ambient purple lighting, textured brick walls and iconic panoramas stretched across its back walls. One of the only things detracting from the theme was the waitresses, though very attractive, understandably and noticeably not very New Yorkish (is that even a word?).

The menu focuses on their very affordable 20 inch pizzas that range from around £17 to £20 something per pie. Unless you’re a party of four though you’ll be likely to take some or most of it home with you since they are so large. If variety is what you want, you may order your pizza half and half with different toppings, or order individuals slices instead. They also offer a small selection of other non-pizza related main courses but looking around the restaurant does not seem to be the popular choice.

Barely keeping in touch with their theme, the restaurant only serves one American beer, and when we asked, disappointingly was also out of Root Beer, a classic soft drink quite popular and widely available in the States.

We started our meal off with Bruschetta that turned out very well with a nicely balanced toasted bread topped with the lush tomato, basil and basil and olive oil topping. Unfortunately the rest of the meal wasn’t as nice. Sure the slices are large and droopy and topped with a decent amount of ingredients but it was evident that each slice hadn’t been given that second round of cooking to give the base that slightly crispiness – the result a soggy pizza base that you only really tackle properly with a knife and fork. Nowhere in sight was extra parmesan cheese or chilli flakes although they do offer freshly cracked pepper and chilli oil as alternatives.

Overall dinner wasn’t as expensive as it could be at many other Italian places although I think you can do much better quality at the same price elsewhere. The final thing though that makes it unlikely for me to return was the 12.5% gratuity automatically added to the bill and really didn’t equate with the exceptional service we should have received.

Details: Mulberry Street
Found on: 84 Westbourne Grove, W2 5RT
Contactable on: 020 7313 6789
Highlights: Great dining atmosphere, eye catching but only reasonably flavoured pizzas at reasonable prices.
Room for improvement: Service doesn’t meet the gratuity rate and pizzas could really do with that second bake to give it just that more of an authentic New York crisp base.
The Kua Rating: 6 out of 10

More Hyde Park

One of the really nice things about living in Bayswater is its proximity to Hyde Park. I said I’d catch up with Angela who’s also a photography enthusiast so I thought we’d kill two birds with one stone and walk around Hyde Park for a good part of the day. As I soon discovered, Angela also has a really nice SLR camera and quite the collection of lenses to go with it. It’s the first time I’ve switched lenses, and I got to try a 75-300mm that worked amazingly for portrait and distance shots. Here’s one of my favourites from the collection (click on the link to have a look at other ones that turned out).

Person walking in Hyde Park


Ginger is an Indian restaurant easily located on Westbourne Grove. It serves a few typical Indian dishes but by far, the highlight of their menu are the bangladeshi styled dishes served in a much more fancy dining experience than many of the other Indian restaurants around London. Everything in this restaurant is branded beyond belief, from the dishes and table clothes down to the cigarette tray that everyone around us seemed to be using. It’s a very spacious restaurant although I think it was a little too dimly lit for my tastes. Large wine glasses line the white tablecloth as you enter, and although it looks like a very fine restaurant it wasn’t as busy as I thought it would have been on a Saturday night.

Food is priced on the higher side for Indian food, with naan and rice starting from £2 and mains averaging around £10-£12. Ginger certainly offers a wide range of very unique dishes, although many of them had meats or seafood, but even some of the vegetable based dishes were quite unique. Food portions are at least reasonably sized except for the rice and the naan both a little overpriced for what you get.

The three staff gave pretty terrible service all night, such that we almost had to seat ourselves from the start, and ask for most things like a top up of water, and the second naan bread that disappeared. The staff generally had to be flagged down to be asked for something and took their time producing the bill which we were most eager to pay.

Details: Ginger
Found on: 115 Westbourne Grove, LONDON, W2 4UP
Contactable on: +1 8713 320 878
Highlights: Different offerings for Indian cuisine presented in a nicely decorated restaurant.
Room for improvement:Prices are slightly excessive for the sides you would normally have, and the service was downright awful when we went.
The Kua Rating: 6 out of 10

C&R Restaurant

Prawn CrackersLondon has a huge number of Chinese restaurants, many that are quite good, and others that are easily avoidable. In contrast, Singaporean and Malaysian restaurants are a little harder to come by. I’ve been meaning to visit one that is really close to me on Westbourne Grove, the C&R Restaurant, and last night was a good a time as any. C&R is strangely decorated for an Asian restaurant, with plain white walls and dim lighting giving a little bit of a sterile feel.

Tables are moved about to form smaller groups, though I found it slightly discomforting with our table moved to a mere 4cm away from the next one. It wasn’t a problem for us last night, but it could be if you were sitting next to some really loud people. The menu arrived with a small bowl of complementary prawn crackers, and I was impressed with the variety stretching from Chinese, Malaysian, Singaporean and Indonesian dishes. Even the drinks include a number of more classic Asian drinks including sugar cane juice and warm Milo! We decided to have the Mee Goreng, and the Singapore Noodles and a side of vegetables. The dishes took a long time to arrive, and I was surprised that they didn’t even ask us if we wanted more drinks throughout our waiting.

Out of the three dishes, I most enjoyed the Mee Goreng noodles since it seemed to have, what I thought of as, the right level of smokiness, sweetness and heat. The vegetables with garlic were the next bet, though very greasy and with an obvious touch too much sherry added. I was most disappointed with the Singapore Noodles that were both excessively soupy and lacked heat of any kind. I ended up having to ask for some chilli to add to it to give it some semblance of proper Singapore Noodles.

Ice KachangI don’t normally have desserts when I eat Asian food, but seeing as they had some dishes you don’t see anywhere, we decided to try the Ice Kachang. An ice kachang is designed perfectly and is a must have dish if you end up in the food courts of Singapore or Malaysia to take the edge of the ridiculous heat and humidity. The dish is typically made of heapings of sweetcorn, grass jelly, red beans (amongst many other subtle variations), topped with shaved ice followed by drizzlings of evaporated milk and a variety of sweet syrups. I think it’s nice that C&R attempts to provide it, and though it certainly serves the purpose of refreshing the palette is definitely not worth the £4 it costs.

C&R has a lot of going for it if you a reminiscent of some more regional Asian dishes, but I think it falls short of anything really authentic, especially if you consider the lack of Asians eating in the place. Their food is rather average and I’m sure there are places that serve better Malaysian, Singapore or Indonesian food, but is okay if you happen to be in the area.

Details: C&R Restaurant
Found on: 52 Westbourne Grove, London, W2 5SH
Contactable on: 0871 0757874
Highlights: Good variety of regional Asian dishes, not easily found in London. Most food is priced quite reasonably still and you get free prawn crackers.
Room for improvement: Half the dishes fell short of average quality, tables were really too close together and the setting seemed a little sterile for my liking.
The Kua Rating: 6 out of 10

The Best Duck in Town

Chinese Roast Duck is one of those things that you either love or you hate. For some people its the fatty duck skin and the corresponding greasy flesh that turn them off, while for others, the crispy and the juicy tasty flesh is what they enjoy the most. If you have never had roast duck before, it certainly helps to go to some place where prepare it well and serve excellent quality birds.

Four Seasons is one of those Chinese restaurants in London most well known for their duck. I am lucky enough to live almost directly opposite it as well and I know how long their queues can get – even for takeaway. Like many Chinese restaurants, the window starts filling with deep red hanging ducks and other types of BBQ or roast meats just before lunch. In this particular restaurant, queues form rapidly on weekends cascading onto the already bustling Queensway.

Four Seasons

The cost of simple roast duck and rice served with cabbage is not exorbitant at only about £6, although a whole roast duck will obviously cost a lot more. Their BBQ meat is extremely tasty and you can get the combination of the two for the same price (but you obviously get less duck). I will be honest about this restaurant’s duck being slightly fatty, but maybe that is how they get the skin so crispy and full of flavour. As a local I don’t really want to make the duck a regular meal, and reserve it only for special occasions because it really is worth it.

I am yet to actually eat inside just because there are plenty of other great eateries and waiting for a table can be exhausting. I bet that they, like many other more upmarket or popular Chinese restaurants do, charge the more excessive 12.5% service on the end (which might be worth it for all I know).

Details: Four Seasons
Found On: 84 Queensway, London, W2 3RL
Contactable On: 0871 3328297
Highlights: Fantastic duck and a busy atmosphere to dine in directly opposite a very central tube station.
Improvements: Its popularity and small size means queues are inevitable
The Kua Rating: 8 out of 10