Top 5: Refuel Restaurants in LondonBy Sammy Hutchison
One of the bigger problems I run into with competitive athletes, leisure athletes and even intense gym goers is a misunderstanding about just how much they need to eat, and to a lesser extent, what they need to eat. If I hear another person tell me they are doing a juice fast while training for their first marathon and can’t figure out while their runs are stinking, I am going to take a long walk off a short pier. Here this folks! There are great deals of people who are training for things, who have specific goals, who want to get faster or stronger or both that need more food, and you might be one of them. Yes, each athlete is different, has different requirements, but without fail, one of the more common problems that I see with the clients I coach is a problem of under-fueling.
Every meal can’t be cooked at home and eating out is just so darn delicious. In short, you need a combination of protein, carbohydrates and good, healthy fats.
Here are five amazing places where you can get that beautiful combination of post-workout recovery fuel and soulful deliciousness that leaves you grinning like an idiot 3 hours after you finished eating. All hail the post workout meal!
The Lowdown: I have a strict rule. Make friends with someone who is from or lived in Japan and only eat sushi where that person recommends. Jin Kichi is that place. A quaint little family-run sushi joint in the heart of Hampstead, which also specialize in yakitori style skewers and do they ever specialise in them.
Eat: White Rice is king! Who would have thought this would be said 5 years ago in the heart of the “whole grain or bust” point of popular nutrition. Now slowly people are getting re-educated that, for the athlete, white rice is a near perfect carb source. Combine that with some protein and it is always a perfect meal for the athlete. Enter the nigiri. A recovery perfect and simple Japanese concoction of a small white rice gem covered with a slice of fish. When it is done right it is off the charts incredible. Jin Kichi does it right. Quality, preparation, presentation, all of it is just incredible. The Nigiri Sampler is perfection, get some rolls and for an extra protein boost, get a skewer or two of your favorite yakitori meat that they cook on the smoking grill in the middle of the restaurant. You can thank me later. Oh and call ahead, they book up fast.
Where: 73 Heath St, London NW3 6UG
The Lowdown: A Vietnamese street food house specialising in the national dish of Pho (pronounced fuh). They have few different locations around the city including Spitalfields, Covent Garden, Soho, St. Pauls and Oxford Circus.
Eat: Generally I get a little weary about places that are part of a chain-ish style of place with several locations. Freshness and quality can occasionally take a hit – Pho definitely bucks that trend. They specialise in big, steamy, delicious bowls of Pho noodle soup. It is freshness overload with beautiful veggies, noodles and different options of meat all brought together in one bowl covered with a heartwarming broth that is cooked for up to 12 hours. Fresh veggies come on the side that you can dowse your bowl with liberally. The Pho Ga can be an amazing dish for someone just finishing up a marathon training run looking to refuel, which has you getting nice lean chicken along in your bowl, and is just the right balance of salty and sweet. If you are someone needing a little extra protein, double up on the chicken in your Pho, then you could grin like an idiot as you slurp your last bit up!
Where: Locations here
The Lowdown: A burrito joint serving up some of the freshest, heartiest, most authentic mission style burrito and Mexican fare in the city.
Eat: Ok, I know I know another chain, and burritos? But yes, Chilangos and yes burritos. Somewhere along the line burritos got a bad (w)rap (see what I did there?) for being a guilty pleasure or some kind of a once in a while treat. Tomfoolery, I say. When the ingredients are amazing, there might not be a better and tastier all in one meal for the active person than the burrito. Chilango takes it to a whole other level. The ingredients are outstandingly fresh with colors so bright your eyes almost hurt when you go in. Get a burrito or even a burrito bowl, throw in any of the meat fillings, rice, beans, veg, add a scoop of guacamole for some extra good fats and you are on your way to amazing fuel for your machine. Need less carbs? Then ditch the burrito and get a rice bowl.
The Lowdown: Family run Indian restaurant in NW3. They have been around for years and the clientele is loyal and will fight you tooth and nail for a seat. This is one that people might turn their brows up at. Indian food is often regarded as quite heavy and probably not ideal food for someone who gets their heart rate above 90% on a regular basis. That reputation is probably fair. A lot of it is quite heavy, albeit delicious. But…. you haven’t been to Paradise.
Eat: Stick to the tandoori grilled meats, plain rices and different vegetable bhaji (stir fried veg) and you will be in for a take on ‘rice and chicken’ that will blow your taste buds out of this world. I got the tandoori mixed grill which hit me with different, meats like chicken tikka, tandori chicken and lamb. They are so beautifully spiced and flavourful you realise that even if you had the heavy korma or butter curry sauces to put on your food, you wouldn’t, because it would just complicate the bliss that is already happening. Oh and they treat everyone like royalty, reminding us that you don’t really know what good service is until you find yourself walking taller after a meal just because of how you were treated.
Where: 49 South End Rd, London NW3 2QB
The Lowdown: This is an easy choice. A restaurant in East London made exclusively for the active person serving up protein based meals with all your goals and hard work in the gym and on the training grounds in mind.
Eat: The menu is yours here. Anything on the menu can work to fit your post workout needs and that is the point of the restaurant, really. Salads, wraps, clean and lean burgers all fit the bill and look equally tempting. Lots of their mains come with options for side add ons which I heartily recommend. The Butterfly chicken breast with some sweet potato mash is a match made in heaven for food comfort, but also your post recovery needs. Oh and they make protein pancakes. A combination of oats, egg whites, protein powder all whipped up and topped with fruit and honey. Some say breakfast, I say dessert.
Where: 388-392 High Road, Leyton, E10 6QE