Having your cake and eating it.

The curry laksa isn't the only thing that's great about Hare & Tortoise - the fact that it's got a patisserie right beside it is a huge plus as well. Nestled in one of the corners of Brunswick Corner, Patisserie Valerie is one of those places you can't help but feel drawn to with its window displays of pretty cakes and pastries.

Patisserie Valerie
9 Brunswick Centre
Tel: 020 7833 4906

There's always the temptation to walk in as you leave Hare & Tortoise and on this particular Saturday afternoon, Sapna and I, who had already caved in to our craving for curry laksa decided to go the distance. It was buzzing with activity, the little patisserie, with the tea-time crowd - tables of people enjoying lazy afternoon conversations over cups of tea and slices of cake.

Sapna knew what she wanted almost right away - a black forest slice. Cream and berries sandwiched between light chocolate sponge, the cake was wonderfully light.

My gateaux slice came recommended by the waitress (as always, I couldn't decide) - the mille-feuilles. With no expectation of what was to come, I was very pleasantly surprised. Three layers of puff pastry alternating with two layers of custard cream, it was something new. I thought that the glazed icing complemented the pastry perfectly. I happened to overhear the woman seated at the table right beside us order a strawberry version of this - something I'll have to try the next time I'm there.

What Sapna and I really liked about the cakes and pastries at Patisserie Valerie is how light everything is (which really makes you feel a lot less guilty about indulging!). The atmosphere is a cosy one and there's that delicious aroma of coffee going around as well.

The best part about an afternoon dessert with one of your closest friends is however, is the fact that everything is up for sharing and at this place, you'd definitely want to have your cake, eat it and have someone else's too!

An afternoon with the hare and the tortoise.

In my book, the perfect Saturday is made up of some spontaneity and a large bowl of curry laksa. After being thoroughly entertained by a ballroom dancing competition, we caved in to those cravings for curry laksa and decided that a visit to Hare & Tortoise was in order.

Hare & Tortoise
11-13 Brunswick Centre
London WC1N 1AF
020 7278 9799

With our minds more-or-less made up even before we each did the customary menu flip-through, ordering was a quick affair (I suspect that this was due to extreme hunger as well).

Curry Laksa - the one that makes it all worthwhile. The gravy is reminiscent of my favourite curry noodles back home, a good amount of spices and a hint of lemon grass, flavourful but with a good balance. The dish makes use of thin rice noodles instead of the usual larger, yellow ones, and contains a generous helping of tofu, squid, prawns, chicken and beansprouts. Portions are really quite large but there's rarely a bowl that isn't cleaned up, gravy and all, at the end of the meal. Despite the three chilli rating that it's given on the menu (Something our budding chef, Jason was slightly worried about at first), the laksa is good even for the more faint-hearted.

Penang Prawn Mee. A good alternative to the curry laksa, this is for those who prefer something a little less rich. This came as a bit of a surprise, I must say, as it tasted much more authentic than I thought it would. With the unmistakable sweetness of shrimp, the clearness of the gravy and the helpings of kangkung, one could almost imagine being seated at a table at the hawker stall on a warm Malaysian afternoon.

Roast Duck and Rice. The duck is roasted in a style that is quite different from the way it's done in Chinatown, a departure from the usual Cantonese version. The cinnamon, aniseed and ginger are what makes the difference as it gives the duck a hint of sweetness. This is perhaps not the dish for the anyone who swears by Goldmine or Four Seasons but is great for the ones who want a change.

The best times to visit Hare & Tortoise are non-peak hours as there's almost always a queue during the more standard meal times. Despite arriving rather late in the afternoon this time around, the restaurant was still pretty busy and there was a short wait before we were seated but really, it's one of those places that I'd highly recommend, even to the less curry laksa enthusiastic ones.

Sashimi, anyone?

It's difficult to remember life before the discovery of "the sushi buffet". It's helped us mark birthdays and milestones, helped us get through tough weeks and given us an excuse, time and again, to consume large amounts of raw fish. The discovery of the the branch in Camden Town was a fairly recent one (with us always having frequented the one on Frith Street before) but we've not looked back since. Tucked away in a little corner, I would never have found it on my own.

Hi Sushi
Canal front
Camden Lock

London NW1
020 7482 7088

The occasion this time (not that we ever really need one): Sook Fun turning 22.

A year and a half of sushi buffet outings have taught us much about strategy - we've come a long, long way from our days of ordering everything on the list only to be tortured by the incredible amount cucumber rolls that are left for us to finish at the end of the night. It's the classic economic theory of diminishing marginal utility. Nowadays, we only order our favourites (I suppose a year and a half does help when it comes to deciding on your favourites), in particular, the tuna, salmon and clam sashimi and those delicious salmon skin rolls. There a few things that taste quite like fresh sashimi and the thing I love about this outlet is how the fish never disappoints.

Along with the bottomless sushi, one is allowed to order 7 hot dishes. The Camden Town branch has a significantly more interesting selection to choose from. Our favourites include the miso soup, prawn tempura, chicken terriyaki, the tofu, squid rings and the mushrooms (which unfortunately they had run out of this time).

I was particularly impressed by the chicken on this particular trip and quite taken by the wasabi prawns as well.

Edamame, those addictive, addictive things are also a must-have. I'm always surprised at how much (and how quickly) they go down.

Adding to the fact that the food is of a much better quality than in the Frith Street outlet, what really seals the deal for this place is the wonderful ambience that it has. Quite unlike the Chinatown hustle and bustle that the Frith Street one has, this outlet is all about flowing water displays, pretty candles and a calm atmosphere. A gorgeous setting, good food, the all-you-can-eat concept and a reasonable price - you can probably see why it's our go-to for celebrations of any sort.

The perfect end to the meal, from Pattiserie Valerie.

The Chicken Escapades.

The thing about having a budding lawyer-chef in the house is that there's constant experimenting going on in the kitchen, and of course by extension, constant food tasting sessions for the rest of the house. Our cooking enthusiast, Jason, has been going through a bit of (what I'd like to call) a chicken wing phase of late, filling the house with the delicious aromas of his experiments.

Chicken in Hot Sauce. This was a particular favourite of mine, a wonderful mix of spices and flavours, every Malaysian's dream. Dipping the chicken wings into hot sauce shaken into flour before popping them into the oven gives them a deep-fried quality that could fool even the most frequent customers of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The real secret, however, is in the sauce that the chicken is tossed in after. A rather eclectic mix of Indonesian sweet sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic ginger and hot sauce, the sauce makes the dish.

The One Where Everything Goes Into The Oven. This is Jason's version of the dish that every student has come to learn and love.

The vegetables provide the base for the dish. One could use any sort of vegetables but the types that readily soak up gravy or require longer cooking time are ideal. Some oil is rubbed onto the chicken and the seasoning ensues. The usual culprits, salt and pepper, are used along with Western herbs. Like the vegetables, the herbs are a matter of personal choice but it's best to limit the number of types of herbs to two or three. Like with most of his experiments, this one has a trick to it as well. Filling the pan with some chicken stock or chicken stock cubes dissolved in hot water will help infuse the vegetables with those fantastic chicken flavours. 30 minutes in the oven, and its good to go.

That's really what I love about experimenting - adapting old recipes, adding Asian twists to Western favourites and cooking with a lot of heart.