Locally owned Vietnamese resto chain, Pho, has become the first in the UK to sell Sôn Tinh rice wines and fruit liquors. Imported directly from Hanoi, the wines and spirits pack a punch with high ABVs and are traditionally served as an accompaniment or after dinner digestif. Pho's drinks menu now includes four Sôn Tinh® fruit varieties (plum, red sticky rice, passion fruit and apricot, £4, 27% ABV) and traditional dark and white bend rice wines (£4.50, 38% ABV).
Dim Sum restaurant group, Ping Pong is ringing in the Year of the Dragon with a range of specials, including complimentary cocktails for patrons who can prove they were born during the Year of the Dragon. The offer is on until 5 February with the Dragontini (Smirnoff Blackvodka muddled with prickly pear, fresh limes, lychee liqueur and basil seeds) available from 23 January to 29 January and the Dragon Kumquat (Pampero Especial rum, fresh kumquats,amaretto, apricot purée and basil seeds) available from the 30th until 5 February. Recent years of the Dragon include 1904, 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976 and 1988.
Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge is opening Saf Express on its Fifth Floor. Known for the exclusively raw vegan menus at its Shoreditch restaurant and cafe at Wholefoods in Kensington, Saf will provide balanced meal combinations to “provide specific health benefits, such as weight loss, detox and immune boost; there’ll be meals, juices, hot drinks and snacks on the go, as well as a comfortable area to sit down for a more leisurely lunch and some guilt free indulgence.”
Feng Sushi has introduced a new “delivered to your door” diet plan. Priced at “just” £95 for three days and containing approximately 1,500 calories per day, the 'Feng Diet” consists of three meals and two snacks daily. Delivered to an address of choice twice a day, the diet's dishes have been designed to keep blood sugar levels balanced and cleanse the body with wholegrain carbohydrates such as brown rice, buckwheat noodles, which contain vitamins, minerals and fibre, plus beans and plenty of vegetables. The initiative is designed to be followed for three days consecutively and repeated either once a week or immediately. The two daily deliveries are at lunchtime and early evening with option of selecting different addresses for each. The lunch delivery will contain a salad and sashimi alongside an afternoon snack including edamame beans and a “rescue” pot which contains vegetable sticks with tofu, wakame and coriander dip (containing just 40 calories per serving). In the early evening, dinner plus the porridge pot and mid-morning snack for the following day will arrive.
Jogging up alongside the detox bandwagon, the Sanderson hotel has announced the launch of a new health initiative, Juice Bar at Sanderson. Priced around six or seven quid, the new line of juices are “tailored to assist individuals in keeping up with their 2012 health regimes” and include include the Superfood Smoothie with coconut, coconut oil, vital greens, hemp seeds and dried figs, and Beauty Juice with a “rejuvenating combination” of lettuce, cucumber, apple, flaxseed oil, avocado oil, evening primrose oil and pumpkin seed oil.
Ending this foodie news round up on a sad note, Argentine asador restaurant, A La Cruz, is to close this week. The restaurant opened two years ago and gained fans from the start with its mega-meaty and authentic menu. However, according to Director John Rattagan, “our turnover has just not been at the levels we needed." Until new plans are made regarding the site and any potential new business from the owners, bookings are being directed to sister restaurant Buen Ayre, owned by Rattagan. Regulars will still see him cooking there on Friday and Saturday evenings.