This week's interviewee is an established foodie blogger, who clearly knows his way around the London gastro landscape. Kang of London Eater, filled us in on some of his top tips and favourites - even tackling the 'dream foodie day in London' question with no hesitation!
If you had to describe your blog in less than 15 words how would you do it?
Restaurant reviews supported by lots of food porn and a bit of hot air about how it tastes.
Why did you start blogging?
I’ve always been an avid blog reader and spend most of my lunchtimes surfing the web, looking out for daily updates. I have this strange thing about ogling at mouth watering food photos while I eat my lunch and some of my favourites included Mid Town Lunch and Ideas In Food. At the same time, I love eating out and had been relying on existing blogs such as World Foodie Guide and more mainstream London guides like Time Out to find things to eat.
In my ‘real life’, I am sometimes away on assignment in pretty remote locations, and once I was at sleepy vacation spot in Wales, Milford Haven, for an eight week assignment. I didn’t really know anyone in town and was bored to death. I was on this ten days on four days off rotation every two weeks, and during those four days when I returned to London I was out binging on food every night, and so at that time I thought it would be a nice idea to write about the places I’ve been to during my ten quiet days in Wales to fill my time. I initially wanted to call my website 'GastroCentric' (I still would like to call it that..), of course, that was well over a year ago now, I’ve not been back to Wales since, I chose LondonEater.com in the end and I have been eating out consistently in London almost every other day.
What about London inspires your blog?
London is one of the most diverse places I know. Yeah, we’re traditionally known to have one of the least regarded cuisines around the world (even though British cuisine is really making a comeback in the recent years), but that has kind of worked to our advantage in London, because that means that there’s a market for every other cuisine to set up a great eatery in town, and this is probably unique to London alone. Food wise, you can find pretty good approximations of the different types of world cuisines. There are also all these local eateries that does one thing really well, and it’s the adventure of finding these hidden gem - like Franco Manca’s Pizzas for example - that makes blogging about this niche area so interesting.
What's the best thing and what's missing from food in London?
Want good Hainanese chicken rice? We’ve got that. Want great steak? Yup, we’ve got that too. Want wine vending machines, oh yeah, we’ve got that as well. I think there’s something like 6000 restaurants in London that we know about, and probably a lot of cafes and smaller places which we don’t know about. London being a world city also means that it is home to some of the most talented chefs in town. We have two Nobu's and we have the rising two star the Ledbury, so if you have an insatiable palate (or a foodblogger like me), you can never run out of new things to eat.
What’s missing - Cheap. Good. Food. We’ve got a lot of great places to eat, but these great places are also pricey, we’re looking at a £30 lunch or a £45 dinner, not counting drinks yet. I’m a great admirer of European café culture, bistros, brasseries and you know just places to grab a bite in a relaxed atmosphere. I think the rise of antipodean cafes such as the likes of Lantana is only a good thing, I hear their steak sandwich is amazing. We need more Lantanas.
How would you advise people to get into the blogging scene in London?
My advice would be to find something you're really passionate about, once you've got a subject you really want to blog about, read, read and read and pick up on how those who have done it successfully do it, and then take those steps. I'd suggest Pro Blogger and Copy Blogger, I'm still learning about blogging everyday, and like all things, this is probably one part of the job which can only improve your work in the long run.
As for something abit more practical: Here's what you should do if you are serious: Get a notebook, draw up a rough editorial calendar and try to map up a few ideas and concepts about what you want to blog about over a month or so. This'll give you an idea of what the blog will look like, sort of like a kind of blue print which can help sustain the blog in the long run. Every great blogger has an editorial calendar, it's essential.
But it all starts with passion, and a bit of hot air.
Describe your perfect foodie day in London...
Start with perfect eggs benedict and freshly squeezed Orange juice at Raoul’s, then pop into Pearl Liang for wasabi prawn dumplings. Afternoon coffee and book at flat white before ending up with a plate full of belly tuna at Sushi Hiro.
How has your blog connected you to another community of bloggers in London? The world?
Food blogging is exploding in this country at the moment - exposure is both a good and a bad thing, but mostly it’s a good thing. There are certain people in the blogging world who are excellent at keeping us all as a group - Niamh of Eat Like A Girl comes to mind, who’s started a London food and drink bloggers group at Ning. In short, we’re all pretty much on first name basis.
As for the rest of the world - well, thankfully I’m the number one result for ‘London Food Blog’ on Google search at the moment, so it means that I get emails from a lot of tourists wanting some tips on places to eat. I try to respond to every email, but sometimes with a major time lag.
Tell us about some other London bloggers you like
My favourite foodblogs are World Foodie Guide and Intoxicating Prose. Both London based restaurant hunters, differing styles but both feature great photography that draw you into the sort of first person perspective of the meal. I'm really hooked on The Catty Life at the moment, she's got an infectious energy about her writing, also before I forget, Teh Bus is a well connected London based appetite who also has his finger on the foodie pulse. All great blogs which keep me up to date with the London gastro scene.
And for some general London chat...Where do you live and why do you love it?
Been living in West London for the past eight years, mainly a result from my Uni days (Any IC students reading this?) but ever since, I’ve grown to like being close to Hyde Park, the west end, oh and the 24 hour Sainsbury down the road is just massive.
What's your favourite place in London?
What do you know about London no one else does?
If you ever go to Wimbledon, there is actually an easy way to get to the player’s lounging without a special pass. You can see them hanging out on the promenade area that overlooks court two. You can access this via the stairs guarded by only 1 person and when she walks away, you can go up. When you reach the top, there’ll be another guard there who will check that you have a strap (and you will have a strap if you get a court two and above ticket), and let you through. Voila. The year I went I was hanging with Patrick Stewart, while Marat Safin was playing cards with a flock of blondies. But don’t tell anybody.
Have you ever been sick on the tube?
Yes. After a respectable thirteen pints over four hours and ‘dim sum’ in Shoreditch.
Anything else we should know?