Tag Archives: Cheap Eats

Ever had Koshari? It’s flavor fusion nirvana!

By Lakshmi:

During multiple trips to London, we’ve walked by Koshari Street, this tiny, narrow restaurant in Covent Garden that serves up killer “make your own” Koshari.  Koshari (also known as Kushari or Koshary) is an Egyptian dish that originated in the 19th century.

Given we were never at Koshari Street around meal times, we always gave it a skip, promising to be back at a future date.  On this London eatathon, we headed to Koshari Street to get a taste of a dish that is rated incredibly high across TripAdvisor, TimeOut London, Yelp and more.

As we walked towards the restaurant, my two teenaged travel companions wanted to know more about this dish.  I tried to explain it to them rather unsuccessfully.

Think of it as a Chipotle bowl; it originated in Egypt and is eaten by the rich and poor.  You start with a base of rice, pasta and lentils, top it with a tomato sauce, and then layer on spices and toppings.  It left them both confused.  Rice, pasta and lentils in the same dish? That’s weird they chimed.  They did not have a choice.  I had made up my mind and they were going to not just walk in with me, but try the dish as well.

As soon as you open the door to Koshari Street, the smell of the spices draws you in.  The friendly staff patiently explain how the dish is layered and you are able to build it to suit your palate.  Out came the bowl, in went the rice, pasta and lentils.  Next a healthy dollop of tomato sauce was spooned over the carb combo.  On went the chick peas, dukkah (a spice blend), veggies and the fried onions.  Aah the amazing fried onions which added the perfect crunch to this flavor medley.  The best news?  This entire meal was under five pounds.

As I savored the first bite of crisp onions, I got a little bit of the dukkah and tomato sauce. It was a lovely melding of flavors.  Next I blended the sauce with the rice, pasta and tomatoes and dug in.  It was truly a flavor fusion nirvana worth every bit of the five hundred pence I had paid for this meal.

And what did the teenagers have to say?  While they did eat it all, they said the combination of flavors was a bit confusing to them and they would have loved it more minus the dill!

If your travels ever get you to London and you want to have a frugal meal or snack, do head down to Koshari Street.  It is a very easy, delicious way to get introduced to the world of Egyptian street food.



A Global Food Lover’s Fantasy – The Rocking World of Red Hot World Buffet

By Lakshmi:

Have you ever had disagreements in your family in terms of where to go out to eat?  Ever get each person saying they want to eat a particular type of cuisine or want to go somewhere specific which no one else is in a mood for?  It certainly happens to us.  So, on a recent trip to Cardiff, when friends recommended we MUST (it was pretty emphatic) eat at Red Hot World Buffet, we made a point of seeking it out.

Located smack in the city center, the restaurant’s claim to fame is that for one price (9.99 pounds per person on a Saturday for lunch), you can eat a buffet filled to your heart’s content.  Now a lot of restaurants advertise that, but what is promised here is a buffet encompassing Indian, Thai, Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, Italian and Mediterranean food.

As soon as we entered, we noticed the restaurant was packed and bustling with activity.  We got seated within a few minutes and then came a journey that I have to say has not been commonplace.  Walking slowly towards the appetizers area, I knew their claim of serving an assortment of cuisine was absolutely spot on.  This was not some token, obligatory check the box with one dish dedicated to each cuisine but dishes upon dishes and stations dedicated to each specialty.

For a foodie, this was a fantasy come true….but it was also tremendously stress inducing.  “Oh I wish I had not eaten breakfast” , “Wait, how can I try everything here?” “I’ve always wanted to try this…” my mind was a smorgasbord of questions.

Each dish we ate tasted fresh and authentic.  From the freshly piped hummus served in dainty cups with an olive slice at the top to the fiery hot Thai green curry, from the potatoes with mustard to the pizza with jalapenos, from the mango souffle to the chocolate cake, the list of dishes was totally satiating.  We ate our way through multiple rounds and left incredibly content and happy.  Our only complaint on a cold day was that there was no place close by that we could retire for a nap!

If you think we are exaggerating about the choices, simply take a look at their menu in Cardiff that we partook.


We have subsequently discovered that the restaurant has multiple locations throughout the UK.  To get more information on their locations, click here:


If you’ve had a similar dining experience, we’d absolutely love to hear from you.




Street Foods in Mumbai – These are a Few of My Favorite Things


By Lakshmi:

Anyone who has spent any time in Mumbai knows the joy of eating out!  Not just eating out, but eating off roadside stalls.  I know what you are thinking….am I recommending a sure way to get sick in India?  No, of course not.  But if you go to the right places, there is no place like these to snack and eat to your heart’s content for very little money.

Pani Puris:  How does one describe this?  The best way to describe it is little puffed balls of fried dough, popped open and filled with a mixture of pulses and veggies and served dunked in a tart tamarind sauce.  The crispness of the puris, the freshness of the veggies/pulses, the sweet and sour taste of the tamarind sauce make for a dish that hits at the taste buds from multiple angles.

Misal Pao:  This Maharashtrian food for the common man is a simple but potent combination of a simple peasant bread, accompanied by the most spicy sauce which includes an assortment of pulses and spices, topped with finely chopped onions, coriander and crunchy fried lentil strips.  Honest confession…the first time I had it, I did not realize the impact the hotness would have on my system.  Suffice it is to say, I had to spend the next day in some level of isolation.  But, every time I am in Mumbai, I still indulge and pretty much every small no-name place has it on the menu.

Vegetable Sandwich:  As the name suggests, there is nothing exotic about this meal.  It is two slices of bread with veggies served with ketchup.  Now, I don’t know whether it is the bread or the veggies or the sauce, but the taste of that quick pick-me-upper roadside sandwich is hard to replicate.

Vada Pao:  This very popular street eat could be called as a local burger.  A nice rotund patty of mashed potato and spices dunked in chickpeas batter and fried to perfection is sandwiched between two slices of pao (peasant bread) and served with the most garlicky coconut chutney.  How can a food-lovers trilogy of ingredients such as potatoes, bread and garlic produce anything but yummy food?

Hmmm….just writing this post makes me want to fly to Mumbai and indulge.  Unfortunately, there is a few months for that!