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London’s Best New Dishes Of 2022

Meet our favourite dishes of 2022.

We eat a lot in a year—the good, the bad, and the ugly (cc a supremely oily custard dessert that prompted an emergency purchase of medicinal spearmint gum). But there were some new dishes that made us pause for all the right reasons. In a year when the anchovy toast hit London menus like an Ortiz-sponsored meteor, find out which version came out on top. Discover the warming groundnut soup that should come with a tog count, the taco we’d brave the cold, wind, and rain for, and cheung fun that’s the most hypnotically chewy thing we’ve eaten since quitting the Fruit Winders game. These are the best new dishes we tried in 2022.

THE DISHES

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

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Miang Phuket

Above the bustling and somewhat overwhelming mania of Arcade Food Hall is Plaza Khao Gaeng. The fiery Thai spot is decked out to the nines in paraphernalia you find in roadside spots all over Thailand, but it’s a starter that will take you far away from Tottenham Court Road. Miang Phuket, a small bowl of coconut and cashews mixed with palm sugar, would be Wonka-ish if it wasn’t for the unforgiving slaps of bird’s eye chilli, ginger, and lime. Pile the mixture into betel leaves before popping it into your gob. No polite bite. No dabbing with your napkin. No blinking, because you don’t want to miss this plate of excitement.

Ikam Assam Pedas

The food hall really had her moment this year, and while Tottenham Court Road’s Arcade steals the limelight, Peckham’s Market Stalls has a significant supporting role thanks to Mambow. The modern Malaysian small plates spot injects needed soul into the space, and its ikan assam pedas became a regular order. Much like the British government in 2022, the fish used in the earthy, sour curry changes often, and our favourite version involved delicate skate. It slides off the bone at a mere nudge, into the laksa leaf and tamarind sauce, with soft okra and courgette. If it comes back on the menu, it’ll be a u-turn we can get on board with.


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Egg And Bacon Taco

By their very nature, tacos are a handheld food. But at The Quarter Kitchen, the Mexican kiosk set among the gravestones and gardens of St John at Hackney’s churchyard, the egg and bacon taco is presented with a knife and fork. And you’ll need them. This stunning stack strikes all the sweet, savoury, and carby notes with a soft tortilla, sweet salsa roja, a golden hash brown, glossy fried egg, and candied bacon. It’s an exceptional combination that has entered the chat as a certified hangover soother, and a dish we’d brave the outdoor-only seating in winter for.


Omo Tuo & Nkatekwnan

The perpetual issue with soup is that it’s often satisfying for all of the 60 seconds it takes to eat it, which is all fun and games until hunger creeps in an hour later. But the groundnut soup with mashed rice from pan-African restaurant Tatale in Southwark, is the exception. The Ghanaian soup is creamy from the nuts, slightly sweet from the prekese, and incredibly wholesome and comforting thanks to the island of tightly compact white rice topped with sesame seeds. It’s got the warming factor you want from a soup and is still satisfying thanks to the carby rice, which when mixed in makes for a savoury, spicy, and delightful dish.


King Prawn Cheung Fun

We are in full support of any dim sum that laughs in the face of physics. How does Hong Kong Restaurant load these epic, meaty king prawns into such a narrow tube of chewy dough without gravity causing it to fall apart? We’ll never know. We will however be adding the resident cheung fun specialist of this remarkably zen Cantonese restaurant to our Christmas card list, because this glistening and surprisingly filling dish is one of the best ways to spend a fiver in London. It’s salty, a touch sweet, loaded with enough prawn perfection to cover every last soy-soaked bite, and it’s potentially the most hypnotically chewy thing we’ve eaten since quitting the Fruit Winders game in Year Six. Critical intel: the resident cheung fun master clocks off at 5pm, so make your way to Upper Street before dark.


Pâté-en-croûte

Food is often described as art and, although it’s a cliché, there’s also a part of us that looks at the pâté-en-croûte from Cadet and thinks, ‘that would look great in a floating box frame in the hallway’. All of the charcuterie coming out of this Newington Green wine bar is superlative, but the pâté-en-croûte is our favourite of the lot. The combinations change, but the depth of flavour doesn’t. A slice of this meaty pie is simultaneously rugged and delicate. It’s a sort of edible terrazzo floor. Beautiful hints of green (pistachios), sweet warm oranges (apricots), embedded in a pastel pink (pork) base. It’s best paired with a glass or, rather, a bottle, and you best be prepared to reorder it, pronto.


Ricotta Gnudi, Pumpkin Buttermilk & Girolles

Gnudi is a seductive-sounding thing for obvious reasons, but few dishes have been quite as luscious and sultry as this plate from The Baring in Islington. Plump little cloud-like ricotta gnudi, a paddling pool of silken pumpkin buttermilk, earthy girolle mushrooms, a few radicchio leaves, and a dusting of parmesan dust on top. When this pub's menu might also feature words like ‘beef rib’ or ‘boullabaisse’, it’s easy to overlook a vegetarian option. And to anyone whose instinct is just that, we say more fool you. Or, rather, no gnudi for you.


7/11 Pineapple Pie With Taro Ice Cream

Those with a sweet tooth will know there’s a difference in excitement between mains and puds. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, but seeing a dessert you love, or one that sounds frankly outrageous, triggers a special kind of anticipatory sugar-rush squeal. This deep-fried pineapple pie from Speedboat Bar is one of those. A proper leg-jigger. There’s much to like about the Thai restaurant on the edge of Chinatown, but you could (and maybe should) just come here for this dessert. It’s a golden, sugar-laden pastry pocket, filled with sweet pineapple chunks in syrup—hot, but not third degree burn hot—with a scoop of lilac taro ice cream on top. It’s sweet, it’s crunchy, it’s syrupy, it’s hot, it’s cold, it’s a McDonald’s apple pie that’s come back from its gap year in a very good way.


Truffle And Pecorino Ravioli

We sometimes fear that truffle oil has given actual truffle a bad rep. So to anyone who’s felt personally victimised by some pungent parmesan fries that had you burping truffle for a week straight, this one’s for you. The daydream-worthy ravioli at this Italian spot in Knightsbridge has the power to restore your faith in the good stuff. Silky soft parcels of pasta are stuffed with a comforting, cheesy pecorino and earthy truffle filling, in a velvety smooth white sauce. Surprisingly light, simple, and beautifully balanced. It tastes more truffle-kissed than drowned, and will have even the most truffle-averse tempted to nab the last piece.


photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

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Zephyr

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Beef Tomato

If salads could talk, this beef tomato number from Zephyr, a sunny Greek restaurant on Portobello Road, would be saying something like “book the flight” or “you deserve a holiday”. To be honest, even without a supernatural ability, this refreshing, citrussy bowl of chunky tomatoes in a zingy olive oil and lemon salad dressing gets us in our holiday feels. In a heated round of word association, this bowl and summer would be the perfect pair. That’s not to say it should strictly be eaten in the warmer months. We’ve found it to be a nice escape for those colder days, when the bulb in your SAD lamp needs changing, and you’re always one sincere “how are you?” away from tears. If you’re into salads, get it. If you’re not into salads, get it.


Cantabrian Anchovies On Toast, Butter

Sometimes anchovies’ reputational glo-up makes us wonder which foods are next in line for a hot and heavy rebrand. Brussels sprouts, could it be you? The anchovy toast has hit London menus like an Ortiz-sponsored meteor, but none quite measure up to this spectacularly charming version by moody little Brixton wine bar, Bottle + Rye. The oh-so soft white bread gets a honey wash, then a delightfully industrial quantity of butter is added, before it’s grilled over a high heat. Finally, the perfect dose of Cantabrian anchovies are added on top. It’s sticky, sweet, beautifully salty, and the ultimate invitation to order a crisp glass of natural white. We also think it is deeply chic that the dish is presented in childhood nostalgia ‘soldiers’ form. A true power toast.


Baklava

Come on, did you really think we’d get to the end of Things We Ate This Year That We WhatsApped 8-10 Close Friends About—formal title: The Best New Dishes Of 2022—without causing our dentists some serious emotional turmoil? Of course not, and now without further ado we would like to introduce Zahter’s baklava. It is expertly, tongue-suckingly sweet, but never crosses the threshold into sickly, thanks to the inclusion of the piney mintiness of the pistachios and a dollop of thick, fresh cream. The filo is razor-thin and delightfully light, except the top layer which is thickened by syrup and allows you to participate in a little hobby we like to call ‘attack of the fork’. It has texture. It has style. And like most things at this glossy Turkish spot in Soho, it has a big price tag. But if you’re ever going to spend a tenner on dessert, it should be for this fantastically moreish looker.

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