1. Ahi Poke
For my first stop, I visited Ahi Poke in Fitzrovia. Ahi Poke is a small café self described as californian-hawaiian fusion. Brought to us by a large international chain called Poke House. With cafes and restaurants all over the world it’s easy to see why healthy food inspired Poke bowls have become such a trend over the last few years.
Traditionally a poke bowl (pronounced po-kay) is made with a bed of rice or noodles, vegetables and topped with raw fish. However, due to its popularity across the world, poke bowls now come with a wide variety of fillings and toppings. I ordered the small ‘Side Chick Signature Bowl’ for £6.50 although there was an option to upgrade to large for £10.50. As the menu describes this dish should come with: Brown rice, Baja chicken, red onion, charred corn, edamame, coriander, crispy onion and in a Korean BBQ sauce. I asked to skip the coriander, (yes, I’m one of those people, if you hadn’t already guessed from my recipes) and added a lime wedge.
You might be able to tell from the photo but my Side Chick bowl did not actually come with brown rice. It came with sushi rice, however I’m not complaining as there is not a huge caloric difference between the two and I much prefer sushi rice to brown rice anyway. If you have your heart set on brown rice I would definitely double check this with servers when you order. This was definitely a good start in my search for healthy food in London.
I had intended to show you more photos of the bowl mixed up and a closer look at the rice… However once I started eating there was no going back. I’m really not exaggerating when I say this was the tastiest meal I’ve ever had in my life. Seriously, I’m considering going back to London just to pick up another Poke bowl from Ahi Poke. The rice was perfectly cooked, not too sticky and soft but not too hard either. All the veggies were also cooked to perfection and the Korean BBQ soaked chicken can only be described as beautiful. Sticky, sweet and spicy. All the things you want from a really indulgent BBQ sauce. The flavour meshed together beautifully and it really felt like effort went into making this sauce. The crispy onion bits may not be the healthiest topping and although they are optional I feel like adding them was the right choice, they put a really necessary crunch into an otherwise relatively soft meal.
I did try to find nutritional information for this meal but came up short. At a complete guess, considering the quantity of rice and the BBQ sauce I would allow 500kcal for this bowl. Without a doubt, this healthy food rates 10/10.
2. Acai Berry
Next on my list was Acai Berry located right in the heart of Carnaby Street, Soho. Acai berry sells thick, frozen smoothies that you eat with a spoon, topped with granola and fresh fruit. Definitely healthy food. Now, I spent a good half an hour wandering around Carnaby street trying to find this little shop. I eventually asked someone that I saw with an Acai bowl where to find Acai Berry to be told we were right outside the shop. Literally, I was standing in the doorway…how embarrassing! The black exterior seems to blend into the background in this busy area.
I eventually bought a small ‘crazy berry’ bowl which consisted of Acai frozen smoothie, granola, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. This cost me £7.00 (£9.00 for large). Now when I say it was small, it was very small. Around the size of a standard yogurt pot as you can probably see from the photo. Definitely a snack, not a meal.
I had very high hopes for Acai Berry as I’m a big fan of smoothie bowls, they’re one of my favourite healthy food. The fruit was really fresh and clearly of the best quality. The granola was nice and crunchy without being overwhelmingly sweet, however the Acai smoothie was rather lacklustre. I was expecting a sharp tang of the berry flavour to shine through but it didn’t really taste of anything. A faint fruity flavour at best which leads me to believe that the smoothie is not made from fresh acai berries. I suspect the colouring is also artificial if this is the case.
Would I buy this again? No, certainly not for £7.00 either. It was over priced and underwhelming and I know without a shadow of a doubt I could make a much more satisfying smoothie myself, at home, for a fraction of the price. Don’t worry, I will be sure to share the recipe with you. Because I can’t be sure of the ingredients in the acai smoothie its impossible to estimate the caloric values. However, similar cafes list their acai bowls at around 300kcal. Id give Acai berry 4/10 purely for the fresh fruit on top.
3. Cha Cha Roll
4. Ume Bilog
Next on my list is a bit of a cheeky addition. Is it healthy food? NO. Is it low calorie? NO. Does it contain vegetables? YES! It’s ice cream made with vegetables, so how could I not give it a try. This is Ube Bilog. It’s a Filipino dessert made from a purple yam called Ube (pronounced Ubay, yes, like Ebay with a U). It’s a bright lavender colour and is served in a warm milk roll, although if you ask me, it was a doughnut through and through. This wonderful little dessert came from a bakery called Mamasons right in the heart of Chinatown. The dessert was made to order so there was quite a long wait despite only a few other people waiting. There are about 4 or 5 tables in this small bakery though which makes the waiting more tolerable and the staff were so lovely.
Ube ice cream is very hard to describe. When your trying to explain a taste to someone its common to start a sentence with “It tastes a bit like…”. But with Ube you just cant do that because it truly does not taste like anything else. One thing I will say is that it definitely does not taste like vegetables! If I had to describe it I would say there are very hint faints of earl grey flavourings but without the tea. If that makes any sense at all. They do also sell scoops of Ube ice cream without the Bilog if you want to try and minimise calories. They also sell extreme milkshakes and other sweet treats. Due to the rarity of the ingredients I can’t even attempt to guess the calories. Maybe with this one, ignorance is bliss! I’m not going to rate this one, due to it not being a healthy option but Its definitely worth a try if your in the area.
After visiting Chinatown I went for a little shopping trip in Camden, one of my favourite places. I’ve always said Camden is where my heart feels at home so it felt really fitting that it was also home to the place I was most excited to try. Wholefoods! Now, if you live in America you may be thinking, so what? Whole Foods stores are everywhere! Not in England they’re not, to my knowledge they are pretty new in England and they’re only in London. They have 7 locations, Camden, Clapham, Fulham, Kensington, Piccadilly, Richmond and Stoke Newington. Healthy food can be tough to find unless you know where to look.
Now before I went I watched several wholefoods haul videos on YouTube and planned out everything I wanted to buy. Most of the videos I watched were hauling from the Piccadilly Wholefoods but the difference wouldn’t become apparent to me until I arrived at Wholefoods in Camden.
I had seen in videos: Salad stations, a pour your own kombucha station with many flavours and a whole variety of products that are not usually available in UK supermarkets. None of these things were at Wholefoods, Camden. The shop was relatively smaller than I expected and the isles felt cramped and uninviting. I persevered and bought a 125g punnet of raspberries at £2.70. 400g punnet of strawberries at £4.50. A small broccoli pasta pot at £5.00. 500ml fresh orange juice at £3.29. A small bag of mixed nuts for £5.99, A small bag of pasta at £2.49. Two portions of cat food at £1.10 each. Two bags of my favourite Naturya Breakfast Booster at £4.99 each and finally, a 300ml can of lemonade for £1.09. Overall, considering all of these items could be bought elsewhere for half the price (with the exception of the Naturya products which were actually 1p cheaper) I felt that what they were charging borders on extortionate and overall it was a very disappointing experience. In total I paid £37.24 for just 11 items. That’s about what I pay for an entire week’s worth of food.
As you may notice, the pasta pot and the strawberries are not included in the photo. This is because I gave them to someone more in need. I couldn’t consciously sit waiting for my train with what can only be described as a bag of designer food whilst someone else was going hungry. So, in conclusion, if your wanting to visit wholefoods, don’t visit the Camden one. Hop on the tube and check out the Piccadilly store as it looks like it has so much more to offer. 3/10.
At this point, technology failed me. After a long day of travelling through London using google maps, my phone battery was dying. As my train ticket was on my phone I had no choice but to abandon the rest of my food reviewing plans and make my way back to Kings Cross station, two whole hours before my train was due I might add! Whilst I wasn’t able to review any more eateries I’d still like to mention the places I intended to visit along with some others that may be of use to you. Just note that I cannot vouch for them personally.
Other healthy food spots in London:
Where: Notting hill, St Johns wood, Chelsea and Marylebone
What: cold pressed juices, acai bowls, breakfasts, superfood salads, wraps and gluten free cakes
How much: £4.50-£12.95
Where: Covent Garden
What: Everything avocado…Seriously, even the cheesecake is made with Avocado.
How much: £5.50-£22.50
Where: At least 20 locations all over London
What: Sushi, Salad, Soup and other Japanese cuisine
How much: £5.29 – £12.99 excluding sharing platters.
Where: Canary wharf, CityPoint, Excel, Long Acre, Mark Lane, St Pauls, St Pancras and Westferry
What: Freshly made salads
Where: Over 40 locations within London
What: Warm salads, organic porridge, organic coffee
How much: £4.80-£6.95
Where: Westminster, Soho and Canary Wharf
What: Vegetarian Pret A Manger
How much: £1.30-£5.25