Nessa executive chef Tom Cenci tells us where to eat in the capital on your day off, from gourmet to takeaway.
This is one of my favourite, if not my number one, places to go in London; it’s a cool, quirky little restaurant that’s full of character. I don’t want to jinx it, but I’ve never had a bad meal there. Head chef Julian Denis’s food is so inventive and plays off Sichuanese cuisine. Every dish is full of flavour and packs a punch, add in the fact that everything is vegan it just blows my mind. Order the whole menu if you can.
Staying on the plant-based theme and still in East London, Plates offers a refined approach with a menu designed to be healthy and totally seasonal. Chef Kirk Haworth is creative and original in his food and shows what plant-based cooking should look like. The menu is constantly changing, so go for the set menu, or you can sit at the front communal table and order off the snacks menu while sipping a cocktail.
Simple is as simple does with this one, and you really can’t go wrong. Durak Tantuni only serves one dish – tantuni, a spiced mince served in Lavash bread. I love going here as it reminds me of my time spent in Istanbul, where after a late night I would end up eating one of these. Open till 2 am, it’s a must if you’re in Tottenham. Make sure to drizzle each one with lemon and eat with the pickled chillies served on the table.
Royal China has a few restaurants located around London. A little secret is that they serve a dim sum menu for lunch each day, and it’s one of the best value-for-money places you can eat in the capital. I love going here on a hangover and getting my dumpling fix. Bear in mind that the service is straightforward and abrupt, so if you’re after a speedy lunch, this is the place to go. The Prawn Cheung Fung is a must-try.
Berenjak’s play on Persian cuisine is one of the best ways to entertain when you have guests in town. Chef Kian Samyani’s food pops with flavour and is a meat lover’s paradise. It’s great for sharing and just getting your hands dirty. The portion sizes are generous, to say the least, and I don’t think I’ve ever left there without being stuffed to the brim. All the kebabs are amazing, but the Koobideh kebab stands out
• Words by Tom Cenci