I’m one of those tourists who love to go free & easy and almost never took up any sort of tour packages. Guided tours = wake up way too early in the morning, going to too many places, spending too much time in buses, and ended up buying things in overpriced places that give kick backs to the tour guide, or so I thought.
Then there’s short guided tours, which I was more open to but never really took the initiative to partake in one, until we were signed up for the East London Food Tour by the good people who organized our London trip. It proved to be one of the most enjoyable part of the trip.
Harry, our tour guide for the East London Food Tour
We met up at Old Spitalfields Market, just a short walk from Bill’s at Clink Street, the place where we had breakfast (which was a mistake, note to self – don’t have breakfast, or anything, before a food tour.)
Our guide was a young half-hipster/artist gentlemen by the name of Harry, who was very entertaining and carries a wealth of knowledge about the local food & art scene in which he was very eager to share. Over the course of 3.5 hours, we walked around East London sampling some of the best foods and learned about local history.
Our group had American, Swiss, Malaysian, Norwegian, and even Londoners, and since it was only about a dozen of us, we manage to carry a good flow, which was great.
Here are the 8 places we went, and while you can try them individually if you happen to be at East London, I do recommend joining the food tour to sample them all at once, plus, it’s always nice to not have to be in queue.
bacon sandwich at St John Bread & Wine
Our first stop, bacon sandwich at St. John Bread & Wine. The back bacon was juicy and we really enjoyed the special apple infused home made ketchup that they have. Quarter sandwich for everyone to get us started, and while I usually prefer streaky bacon, this back bacon was juicy and together with the home made ketchup and fresh bread, made for a pretty good opening act.
bread and butter pudding at the English Restaurant
Our next stop was the restaurant that has the least interesting name in the whole of England – the English Restaurant. In this 17th century building we sampled one of the original “poor people”s food – the bread and butter pudding. Truth be told, this was the best bread and butter pudding I’ve ever had, it was rich, creamy, and absolutely delicious. I guess having them made in small batches makes a huge difference to the standard hotel buffet fair.
we tasted a cheddar and blue cheese at Androuet
At Androuet, we had a short briefing about the few types of cheese made locally, and got to sample their cheddar and blue cheese on location. A glass of wine would certainly made this stop even better. Androuet carries a variety of European and English cheese.
fish and chips at Poppies, listed as Time Out’s top 100 foods in London
Next stop was the inevitable fish & chips, and we had this at Poppies, rated one of the best fish & chip outlets in all of London. The fish used was cod (a luxury in Malaysia), with a light and crispy batter while keeping the fish moist & just-cooked, it was actually rather good. The chips did not illicit any additional revelation, it was okay.
Interestingly, the fish & chip is now served in a food safe paper with newspaper print instead of actual newspaper.
Pride Of Spitalfields – a local pub for some beer
Pride of Spitalfields was next on the agenda, we got a taste of the life at local pub for a bit, sampling a couple ales and even got to pet Lenny, the pub cat, who was fat, lazy, and seemed rather used to being around strangers.
Pride of Spitafields
3 Heneage Street, London E1 5LJ
GPS: 51.518942, -0.071205
Tel: +44 20 7247 8933
Aladin at Brick Lane for UK’s national dish – curry!
After a short stay at the pub, we moved to the national dish of England – curry!
With the heavy influence of South Asian in the region, East London, and especially Brick Lane, has a whole slew of curry houses, with each of them having an intimidating looking Indian guy trying to convince you to get into their restaurants that are often decorated not entirely unlike a strip club.
That being said, the dishes we had at Aladin was excellent, I remember the chicken tikka masala to stand out and went really well with garlic naan. It wasn’t very different from the North Indian cuisine we got back home, but this was certainly among the better versions.
Beigal Bake, Jewish bakery with the best bagel with salt beef
Our penultimate stop was my favorite – bagel with salt beef at the Jewish bakery, Beigal Bake. The 24-hour bakery had quite a long line extended to the sidewalk when we were there, and it was easy to see why, while the bagel was fresh and had a balanced taste, the salt beef was super succulent, juicy, and just perfect. The combination was irresistible.
If there’s a must-have in this list of 8, it is this.
159 Brick Lane, London E1 6SB
GPS: 51.524496, -0.071743
Tel: +44 20 7729 0616
salted caramel tart with some English tea at Pizza East to conclude the tour
Finally, after some 3.5 hours, we concluded the tour at Pizza East sampling their famous salted caramel tart, and of course, a glass of English tea to go with. The tart was rich and those salted caramel really brought out the flavour of the chocolate. Tea was, well, tea.
I want to thank Harry for the excellent tour and Micaela & gang for organizing it. It was an excellent few hours and certainly very entertaining and provided much food for thoughts and for my stomach. Still wished we didn’t have breakfast prior to this though.
Note: This UK – Malaysia Influencer Exchange programme was organised by Malaysia Airlines.
However, opinions are of my own. Malaysia Airlines flies between London and Kuala Lumpur
twice a day on the A380. There are 8 seats in the First Class, 66 in Business Class and 420
in Economy. Make your flight reservations today on www.malaysiaairlines.com.