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Quick Recommendations

Full reviews & pics to come over time, but for now here are some of my faves…

* Favorite restaurant: Ba Shan… I’ve had a long love/hate relationship with this place, starting with my love affair with their amazing and unique dumplings, crashing in The Great Breakup when they removed veg dumplings and instead filled the menu with pitiful attempts at stir-fries, then of course came the Great Saviour, Fuschia Dunlop, who elevated this restaurant to its current Hunanese GLORY. Must-haves: smacked cucumber, mapo tofu (ask for it w/out pork), dry fried green beans (again w/out pork), shredded potato with vinegar, and if you have room then wok-fried lotus root (tons of stunning Sichuan pepper, guaranteed to make your tongue sing for hours) WARNING: EVERYTHING BUT THE RICE IS CHILLI-FILLED HEAVEN. EVEN THE CUCUMBERS. NOT FOR THE WEAK-TONGUED OR ULCERATED!

* Otto – cornmeal crust pizzeria in Notting Hill. Nothing like normal pizza. Everything is fresh and seasonal. There’s always a vegan pizza on the menu, and if you ask, they usually have an off-menu vegan option too! Some of the specials can be veganified as well. Everything’s fresh & handmade, with a warm, cozy atmosphere to boot. Great neighborhood find.

* Another chilli heaven (or hell for some): Chilli Cool (Sichuanese) in Kings Cross/Russell Square. More oily and more temperamental than Ba Shan though, but it has a loyal following.

* Pearl Liang – Chinese in Paddington – super yummy dim sum, including several veggie options! The vegetable chueng fun is to die for, and the mushroom consume is umami-filled (though a tad too greasy).

* Lupita – Mexican in Charring Cross that smells of burning cheese so anyone with allergies beware, but it has vegan huitlacoche!!! Only for the strong hearted, it’s a gorgeous, earthy, musty corn-fungus native to Mexico. Squash blossoms and nopales (cactus) are also on the menu. Seriously authentic stuff, and very tasty. Also, ask for the stir-fried chillies on the side. Very spicy, and in a super tasty (and probably very bad for you) sauce.

* Taqueria – Mexican in Notting Hill (no Tex-Mex b.s.)

* Pho – Vietnamese just north of Oxford St, or in Westfield – with vegetarian pho! (noodle soup w/fresh herbs)

* Al-Waha for formal Lebanese, both always fresh (with super spicy fresh chillis on request) (I used to recommend Beity but the remodel is hokey and means you can’t watch it being made. Boo.)

* Wahaca – Covent Garden or Westfield. Not a huge vegan selection (especially disappointed the huitlacoche mushrooms were pre-mixed w/cheese) but a rocking tortilla soup and yummy salads

* Mestizo – not much veggie selection, and only 2 veganisable dishes, but wow, the flavour in that food is phenomenal… quite accommodating on veganising food, though triple-check everything as the waiter got a bit confused and had to ask the chef on a few things. They even made Nopales (cactus) flavourful.

* Falafel King – if you have the willpower to bypass the Portobello Road Market stands, it’s just as the name says: just falafels, freshly made… and on the way back through the market, treat yourself to vegan churros (just bypass the choc sauce)

* for a quick bite: Wagamama or Nando’s – good standard food (now that Nando’s has portobellos… wasn’t a big fan of the veggie or bean burgers!)

* Sakura – super rude waiters but yummy Japanese food that goes beyond just veg sushi – definitely try the aubergine

* For a very special occasion, Nobu – try the silken tofu dish and the grilled asparagus

* E&O – haven’t been there often, but enjoyed it every time. It helps to go w/ppl you can share with.

* Of course the veg restaurants should get a mention too! Hammersmith’s The Gate is gorgeous, and especially lovely at lunchtime. Zilli Green is all veg, with loads of vegan options, and very fresh offerings. Mildreds… I’ve had mixed experiences with the food there, but the desserts are always indulgent.

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