Nikkei cuisine, a melding of Japanese and Peruvian food is the latest restaurant food trend to make it big and it has quickly found its way to Clapham in the very funky form of MOMMI: a raw bar with robata grill. On a balmy evening, sitting in a banquette with sun streaming in from huge open windows whilst watching the chefs crazily busy in the open kitchen is the best of both worlds. Whilst I’m not madly taken by chirashi sushi — raw tuna scattered on the top of the rice — both scallop ceviche with plenty of lime and mint, and tataki (Japanese flamed seared) tuna with tomato, coriander and ponzu are zingy with freshness. More adventurous robata dishes include an intriguing, and beautiful to behold, mix of prawns and mushrooms in a warm salad, with spicy lemon dressing and purple potato salad. Most flavoursome of all is seabass with pink cauliflower puree and smoked anticucho chilli salsa. A pisco sour with plum and blood orange is the quintessential accompaniment.
44-48 Clapham High Street, SW4 7UR; 020 3814 1818; wearemommi.com
I love the concept of Hook: fish and chips given a healthy and tasty makeover. I now dream of their succulent, flaky, exuberantly-fresh white fish — sustainably sourced and line caught from Cornish Flying Fish Seafood Company and dressed up either in panko crumbs or tempura batter. Hook is at Pop Brixton, which has an incredibly cool, laidback buzz. We tried sea bream with lemon and basil tempura and a garlic, truffle sauce, plus house-roasted, Cuban-spiced, panko-crusted hake with a citrusy mojo sauce – both spectacularly delicious – and served on incredibly moreish chunky seaweed chips. Unusual sides too: citrus seaweed and samphire salad and celeriac, fennel and mustard slaw.
Hook, Pop Brixton, 53 Brixton Station Road, SW9 8PQ; hookrestaurants.com
Still at Pop Brixton, experience the UK’s first Thai-rolled ice-cream, made on an ultra-cold, minus 37-degrees hot plate courtesy of Yumitub. The technique of pushing and chopping the liquid ice-cream mix around the plate before allowing to set a little and scraping into rolls is bizarre and counterintuitive.
Unit 25 Pop, 49 Brixton Station Rd, London SW9 8PQ; yumitub.com
A welcome new arrival at Balham Farmer’s Market is Wagay Ethiopian coffee. It is beautiful to watch the green beans being freshly roasted over an open flame and the coffee tastes incredible: intense yet delicate, with subtle chocolate aromas. A donation is made to Partners for Change Ethiopia for each cup sold.
For more info, visit lfm.org.uk
I can hardly believe Chutney Mary spent 25 years on the King’s Road before relocating to Mayfair. It was truly ground-breaking in its day and lead the way for more experimental, high-end Indian chefs to set up restaurants in London. Luckily, the carrot halva I adored is still on the menu as a dessert with fabulous saffron ice-cream at its replacement Masala Grill. The restaurant — still in the ever highly polished hands of sisters Namita and Camellia Panjabi — offers a more homely Indian menu. The best dishes I tried were dahi puri (lentil puffs with yoghurt and tamarind); impeccably seasoned 10-hour cooked lamb, meltingly tender with star anise and cardamom; excellent spinach and paneer, and moreish peshwari nans. Reds and oranges, and beautiful textiles from Rajasthan, add warmth, while the best seats remain in the conservatory.
535 King’s Road SW10 0SZ; 020 7351 7788; masalagrill.co
1 Bad Brownies at Venn Street market offers the fudgiest, gooiest, tastiest brownies I’ve experienced, as well as some of most innovative flavours, which include salted caramel; earl grey with lemon sugar; bacon and maple syrup; and lime and mint brownie crunch. From £2.50 each.
2 Raw Imagination brownies are rather different and have an interesting chewy, nutty texture. Raw chocolate is combined with dates, cashews, cocoa nibs and hazelnuts. £4.50 Available from Planet Organic Wandsworth.
3 Triple chocolate brownies from Sweet Things, the Primrose Hill Bakery owned by Masterchef finalist Natalie Allen, have a sensational, deeply-rich flavour and dense texture. An indulgent box of 24 mini brownies costs £20.95.