4 stars solely based on value rather than merely on food quality.
An absolute institution for students (particularly Asian ones), I used to frequent H&T when at UCL. During peak meal times you can expect to queue for at least 20 minutes before getting a seat. Fortunately they do take-out, so if you're in a hurry you can just head inside and order at the cashier.
It's all pretty reliable. The sort of thing I'd score at a 3-3.5. Their katsu curry is solid, likewise for their laksa. The char kuay teow deserves special mention imo because it's actually objectively good rather than just good for London.
Their sushi/sashimi is all decent. Similar price to atari-ya but marginally worse in quality. Basically don't come here just for that (go to atari-ya instead)
What makes H&T stand out is the value. Mains are around 6-8 pounds each and the portions are obscenely large. I think the best representation of this is the fact that the tempura udon (~7 pounds) is quite a decent portion on its own at the price. But because it's comparatively smaller than the other dishes, for that price point you get some sushi on the side as well.
Bottom line - far from the best asian food you'll have but a combination of decent qualify, decent pricing, and massive portions make this incredibly good value for money.
This Japanese-focused asian fusion restaurant was sort of like an independent Wagamama...albeit with a much more extensive menu. The staff were extremely attentive and friendly and we were seated quickly, even on a busy Saturday night.
Pluses? Portion sizes are huge and the price is affordable.
Negatives? Unfortunately the food was pretty mediocre IMO. If you're not snobby about Japanese food then you'll be fine... but I'm pretty fussy about getting it right.
Lesson learnt: I should just listen to Yelp. It was, as described, pretty bland.
When I told my friend that I was craving Sushi she recommended we go here for dinner.
The name itself threw me off as it is one more associated with pubs so I was dubious that the closest thing they would have to sushi would be fish and chips.
Actually the last time I was even in this area was the day of the London bombings so when my sat nav took me by the square where I was caught in the drama of that day a whole lot of memories came flooding back.
So anyway met my friend and walked into this place not sure what to expect but on entering it just turned out to be a typical Asian cafe layout, with small seats and tables and aiming more towards filling the place than a decent ambiance.
I went for my typical dragon rolls and California rolls, something I have eaten enough of to know the good from the bad. Verdict? This was just okay. Nothing special.
My friend and I ordered some sort of salad and pork dumplings beforehand which were really nice, but overall it is not the kind of place I would go to again in a hurry.
At a loss for decent Asian cuisine around Holborn that was open on a Sunday, I thought I would try the oddly named Hare & Tortoise, an Asian fusion restaurant with an extensive menu offering everything from Sushi to Pad Thai.
I went for the Tori Gyoza, which were decent enough, crispy and flavoursome, although the vinegar was oddly tasteless.
I followed that up with a Tori Katsu Curry, which turned out to be an immense portion of rice, a relatively bland Katsu sauce and a good amount of chicken.
The green tea was strangely flavourless, it was like drinking green coloured hot water.
The service was quick but the waiting staff were uniformly surly, my cheery goodbye was met with stony faced silence.
Overall, the Hare & Tortoise is like a value version of Wagamama's, I can see why it is popular with students and is a fine choice if you are looking for a cheap and cheerful place to eat with good sized portions, and don't mind the food being a bit on the boring side. For me, I prefer better quality, and so won't be returning.
Some of the best sushi in town. Not as nice decor as some of the other restaurants but the food is still great. The sushi is always fresh, service is fast and prices moderate.
If you are really hungry try the noodle dishes, I promise you won't leave hungry.
I have been here many, many times when I attended one of Bloomsbury's places of study. I was a fan back then, and having recently been brought back, I am still a fan now.
The food is good and cheap. In my opinion better priced and just better than somewhere like Wagamama.
The decor leaves a little to be desired. Some of the seating was falling apart and looked worn out.
Service was a bit hit and miss. If I have to get out of my seat to get the bill then something isn't right.
The Brunswick centre has become overrun with chains since I lived here - I suppose you could call that the Waitrose effect. But this place was packed at lunchtime but I'd rather eat here than any of those chains anyday*.
* H&T does have at least one other restaurant. But I don't think we can really call it a chain now can we?
My first time at Hare & Tortoise, and its not bad! The queue was out of the door when I arrived, but I got to jump in as only me and I took the drafty table near the door that no one else wanted. The place was packed, but the queue and in and was refreshed very quickly. Service was also extremely quick.
I had green tea, (Tuna) Tekka Maki rolls and Beef with black bean Lo Mein (noodles). All were good - about same standard as a Wagas for the noodles. Total bill was only £11.75.
I will come back for more.
Just like the name of the restaurant I found hair in my sushi. Pics: tinypic.com/r/2eb48yo/6 - you will see that it was actually fried with the tempura and is moulded together, ha talk about commitment! I guess they really do keep to their word. I suppose now I will just have to look out for the tortoise.
Oh did I mention paying £1 extra for potatoes and finding None at all when I opened up my meal back home? Oh and not to mention, I walked all the way back to the restaurant to complain and they basically called me a liar and refused to give me the £1 extra I had paid for.
So if you like being ripped off and eating hair definitely go to hair and tortoise, a well deserved name.
It's good, and affordable, and belly-filling.
I used to live in a flat adjacent to the Brunswick Centre, long before its current modern iteration with nice shops and juice bars and sit-down restaurants you'd actually want to linger in. That reads disparagingly, but it shouldn't: I loved my former 'hood...it was a little gritty, a little beat down around the edges, and housed a much-loved secret - the Hare & Tortoise.
Two friends and I would meet every Sunday night here. I would have - exclusively - one of two things: ramen or chicken katsu.
Flash-foward to today: change is around us (cue GIF of a massive clock ticking and some monster ballad about life passing us by in the background).
My friends have moved from London.
I no longer go to the H&T weekly.
I do now eat katsu at other establishments (though, here was the first time I'd ever had the crunchy chicken with a side of mild fragrant curry and, for better or worse, it's the taste that I match all subsequent katsus against).
Change is around at Hare & Tortoise, too: prices have gone up a little (though you can still get a significant meal + tea for under a tenner). The lines seem longer than ever, though they do move quickly. The service is efficient. The menu has expanded (I have never tested the sushi). The food is comforting. I still carry one of their cards from 2005 around in my wallet. Good memories of friends + Japanese n0ms.
Yelp note: pairs nicely with a trip to the Renoir Cinema!
not traditional Janpenese food , but a mix.
I like to think of myself as a bit of a sushi aficionado - in the sense that I love sushi, and I know when sushi is good/fresh.
For example, Yo! Sushi is not only gross, but grossly overpriced.
Hare & Tortoise, however, does sushi better (and at vastly better prices) than lots of big sushi chains. The queue out the door is always miles long but the service is so fast you don't ever end up waiting that long.
The other thing I love about this place is that although the service is quick, you never feel as though you're being rushed. The staff are super-friendly and attentive but not pushy.
Aside from sushi, they do some very nice asian dishes (and the complaints in other reviews about the food not being spicy enough doesn't bother me, not being a big fan of 'spicy'). But honestly, if you're looking for a sit-down meal of good sushi at good prices, this is the place.
They also do really great fresh juices! Yum.
If you like noodles, sushi, dumplings, maki, lo mein, chow mein and rice dishes - all served in nice big portions, then this is the place for you.
The only problem with this place is that you will often have to wait to be seated as it is so popular....
Bland bland bland.
I was in denial before, trying to convince myself that this place was more tasty in part due to its really convenient location for me, but I cannot lie to myself any longer.
I ordered Satay Vegetable Lo Mein, which had three chillies next to it on the menu. Three! The server asked me if I wanted it on noodles or rice... um... noodles? Whilst eating this dish with the three-chilli warning, my nose didn't even start running. Unless the floodgate of my sinuses has been opened mid-plate, I don't consider something at all spicy. I laugh at that food's spiciness. Ha.
And the service is always a bit shit, if I'm being honest here. Maybe there's always a huge line of customers waiting outside for tables because the servers would rather let you sit around after your dinner until the restaurant closed up for the night than give you your bill.
Unrelated to the rating change, I went to the toilet and noticed that the music playing in the background was about Christmas. Curiously sung in English by what I can only describe as a Japanese lounge performer. I swear. It is June.
This is a very affordable 'Asian' dining option (and I do love a bit of white-painted-1960s-angled-concrete-social-housing-come-middle-class-regenerated-shopping-precinct as my context).
So, the 'Asian' food offered spans from Japanese sashimi salads to Thai green curry via culinary travelling pit-stops in China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore...
Everything is priced around £6-7 which is fine by me. Often a line out the door of expectant diners- this is normally dealt with quite efficiently, no need to be perturbed.
If I haven't hinted enough at the bourgeois-ness of the locale and patronising gastronomic range supplied, I will spell out that the 'spiciest' item on the menu (with a tripple-chilli symbol!) is the Malaysian curry, and it was tasty, but not three chillies worth of kick. Stick with the Salmon teriyaki I think...
H&T is a perfect value-meal place for any hungry person. The quality of food is very consistent and pretty good too. So you you can go and dine blindly at any time lunch/dinner until 11 pm.
For dinner, you might notice the long lining up outside H&T, but that does not mean you are gonna Wait that long. The only meaning is that there is a great food waiting for you inside. So don't get scared of the long lining up.
All there food is great, I love prawns spring rolls, King Prawns fried rice (massive portion, comes with miso soup), Carry Laksa (cool), Been and black beans (awesome). They also serve nice fresh apple etc juices too, which is not very normal in busy restaurants.
Sushi, did I say the word sushi, because I'm a Sushi-hater :S the whole concept is not for me. But believe it or not, This place made me re-think sushi again :D I'm starting to love it , esp the Dragon Rolls (Cool).
The service there is not bad at all, bearing in mind the big crowd they got all day long. And to be honest H&T is not a place to relax in at all, it is rather a battle with good food full stop!
So, if you have not tried this place yet, you should
I feel a bit bad about giving this place only a 3-star rating because the food is quite top notch - perfect comfort food for those who miss South-East Asian spices, healthy portions and all of this at an affordable price. What thoroughly detracts from the experience, on a regular basis, is not only the queue outside the restaurant - this is seen by some to be proof of the goodness of the food served - but the sheer indifference of some staff members. As previously suggested in several reviews, if you can time your visit right, this place would rate more like a 4-star experience.
I highly recommend the Curry Laksa and Prawn Mee - both made for those with a good tolerance for spices. The large portions mean that you get to savour the dishes all the way through to your satiety. Their Beef Chill & Black Bean Lo Mein is wicked and designed to please. There are several items on the menu I have tried and liked and I'm quite sure that I'll keep going back there, despite the service, for the food!
My fellow girlfriends and I hit this place up at LEAST once a week. Even though it's in Brunswick Centre and tucked away from tourists, it was always busy.
But don't let that fool you! The wait was never more than 10 -15 minutes. They serve their food in these big bowls, and the portions were more than enough for you to send a second helping home with you.
But of course, I always finished.
It was just SO good, and the best Chinese food we had in the city. Try the lo or chow mein for sure, and the dumplings were delicious too.
But the best thing was the chicken curry, ask for extra spicy!
And with London's cold summers, the green tea was always the first thing we asked for. Extremely hot, extremely comforting. Service was always fast and great too!
I'm salivating just remembering it. =(
First off, the service here kinda sucks. They don't really pay any attention to you, so you end up waiting a lot along the way, despite enough staff to cover all the tables. They also don't orchestrate the deliveries from the kitchen such that all parties on table are served at the same time. Big no-no for me. Sorry, that's just the way I roll....
Food-wise: the sashimi salad... good sashimi, but way, way, overdressed salad with way, way too much wasabi. And I'm a big fan of the green gook, but this was way too much. I felt like a west hollywood adult movie star on a coke binge the stuff was so strong. So have them take the white stuff out of the salad before they serve you (consider yourself warned).
The spicy tuna maki was meh... have had so much better... so maybe I'm spoiled. I dunno'. It wasn't spicy enough (I know, the irony.... it's killing me). Go figure.
The south african white they have by the glass (4.50 for a large one), is pretty decent btw.
Atmosphere is meh... the food is meh... the staff are inattentive. Not really my favorite place. Especially in Brunswick square. If you want sushi go else where.
The service at this establishment is horrible. Granted I went with a large party on both occasions we expected to wait for a table to be set up. Little did we know that the table would take over 1 hour! On a Tuesday night, for 5 people! Everytime I asked the host how long, he said "5" minutes, This was the longest 5 minutes I've ever wait for poorly done meal and underwhelming sushi.
I will agree with the past reviewers that the meal is quite a value, but not considering what is available elsewhere in the city. The noodles here were poorly seasoned and the best part of my meals here were the appetizers. This is never a good sign. The sushi was over-dressed and lacked any fresh or zestful taste.
There are better places for noodle bowls, but if you're craving just a vegetable tempura platter then head here. The wait will make you hungry enough that any food the present to you will seem delicious at the time. Unless you order the sushi that is ;)
If you are hungry, H&T is worth the wait. The portions are enormous and the prices are not only reasonable, but for that much food dirt cheap.
Having said that, it is a double-edged sword. I finish my dish and feel very, very full. If I don't finish it, I feel bad for wasting it.
My fave is the Japanese udon and I think H&T gives its best with the soup dishes, as they offer reliable avoidance of the fullness-or-waste dilemma.
I recommend it, in particular, as a place for groups. The space is accommodating and the portions will encourage sharing, which means you'll get to taste more than just your humongous mountain of goodness.
I still dream about the curry and ramen bowls.
For whatever strange reason, this is one my favorite noodle bars ever. It may have been because I was so freaking COLD all the time, so the warm soups tasted particularly good? but whatever. The ramen is great, and full of fresh ingredients.
I also never understood how they got the curry stains off the tables, so there is also something to be said for cleanliness.
It's cheap, and tasty and quick at the right times. I never went during peak hours, always for a late or early lunch.
Oh Hare and Tortoise, when will I ever learn? I hate you so much, but I want to love you...
I know it's normal to have dishes arrive at different points in the meal, but half of our guests were finished with their mains before I questioned the server for the remaining dishes. They came out 15 minutes later. We received someone else's bill. We picked up our own napkins and chopsticks. We brought our card to the staff...It would have been better had I cooked the food as well. And that was better than the time before when they didn't bring half of our food then charged us for it, and then refused to take it off of the bill. I felt naughty leaving only money for the dishes that actually arrived, but I know I didn't pull a runner. Cheap but not cheerful.
This one falls in the category of 'cheap and cheerful'. Pretty average food, but efficient service and fairly good atmosphere (as its always busy). Plus good value - big portion and a drink around £12. Good choice for when you (or your friends) aren't feeling in the money but still fancy a more interesting treat than a burger at the pub.
This place is great for a quick bite at either lunchtime or dinner. However if you go along at peak hours, be prepared to queue. It is better to nip in either a little early or very late.
The food is great, really filling. My personal favorite is Curry Laksa, a huge bowl of thick spicy soup and various meat and vegetables. Though, apart from the Ramen, which having lived in Japan for three years and slurped my way through the real deal on a regular basis, I found a bit tasteless, everything I have tried there has been fantastic.
The one weakness is the indifferent service, and saying indifferent is being complimentary. The problem with popularity is that the staff are trying to churn through as many customers as possible. The good thing about this is that they are fast and efficient, the bad thing is that you feel obliged to run out the door as soon as you have finished.
The Hare & Tortoise predates the Brunswick centre's gentrification, previously being on the opposite side of the Renoir cinema, always popular with Asian students in London. With the general makeover the Hare & Tortoise has changed too, and now has more seats than before. They have also added sushi to the menu which whilst decent enough I generally avoid for the more comforting main dishes. I usually go for the Tori Katsu curry with Chinese greens, which particularly seems to do the trick when hungover. Although, it's important to mention that the gyoza are also really tasty.
As was mentioned the queues can get pretty crazy and the service can be a little moody. Still it's great value and really fulfilling food.
Delicious!! Fast-paced, you have to keep up with the servers. Seemed like a place full of regulars, who enjoyed coming back.
The menu has a great selection of dishes, and I could hardly wait for the food to arrive (watching other people with their food built up the anticipation). Took a little time, but was worth the wait. We got the Tori Gyoza for the table, and I ordered the Tori Katsu Curry, Yaki Udon and Beef with Chili Black Bean Lo Mein - all cooked to perfection. Great for an empty stomach, and we even had leftovers.
The whole meal cost just cost £20 for three people!
I remember my roommate was obsessed with this place because this place was the only restaurant in London (that we found) that gave you an ample amount of food compared to the price you paid and the quality was great too! Although it's labeled as Chinese cuisine, they have Japanese (including sushi/sashimi) food and occasionally Korean food on the menu as well. Although we always had to wait in line to get a table, the service was quick and friendly.
If you are a college student studying abroad like my roommate and I were and want to get the most of your money (damn you exchange rate!), you should definitely stop by Hare and Tortoise at least once. Or you can go every other day like my roommate did. LOL.
During my year in London, I frequented this restaurant a few times. Not the greatest of pan-Asian cuisine but tolerable. What's intolerable is the service and the horrendous wait that I've had to endure on every visit (no matter how early). I've ordered most items on the menu, from pad thai to variations of sushi and hand rolls, to soups with south-east Asian origins but catered toward western taste-buds (i.e. dishes that are supposed to be SPICY and SOUR but end up SWEET-SOUR and definitely NOT SPICY).
Waitstaff needs significant amount of training in customer service -- they especially need to learn to wait until their customers finish eating before taking the plate / bowl away. I understand it's a small restaurant and it's crowded and they just want to clear the tables to get new customers in, but they also need to remember that their tips are dependent on their level of service. I typically give 15% tips at most sit-down restaurants in London, but at this place, I usually give less than 10% if at all.
*** TIP: They charge for tea, so just order hot water. It's ridiculous that they even charge for tea.
There are better places out there, but if you're stuck in Bloomsbury and need a fix to your pan-Asian cuisine cravings, the Hare & Tortoise at this location will do.
I grew up in Hawaii and one of my favorites to eat was Japanese Ramen soup. I researched London restaurants looking for a variety of foods to eat. I was quite happy to have found Hare & Tortoise (H&T), which was located just a 5-minute walk from my hotel (George Hotel B&B). The restaurant serves a nice variety of salads and sides, tempuras, sushi, sashimi, a variety of sushi "lunch boxes", noodle dishes, rice dishes, and Ramen soups.
Six of us had dinner (29 Oct 2011) after a long day of sightseeing in London. We didn't have reservations and we waited 15 minutes. That gave us time to go through their menu, which was filled with lots of photos that whet our appetites. We were all hungry.
The restaurant was full and with good reason. The food was excellent! Tony and I started with the Unagi and avocado maki (eight pieces for £7.70) - grilled eel with avocado, omelet and rolled inside out. For my entrée, I had the seafood Ramen soup, which consisted of shrimp, grilled salmon, fish cakes, mussel, and scallops, along with bamboo shoots, seaweed, and scallions. Tony had the Miso Ramen soup (char-sui pork, boiled egg, bean sprouts, seaweed and scallions. Mark ordered the Curry Laksa, which was a spicy curry coconut flavor with chicken, prawns, squid, and rice noodles. It was topped with tofu, bean sprouts, and cucumber. The others ordered some of the same soups. Being a cold evening, the soups warmed us up and were filling. The soups ranged from £5.50 to £7, which is very reasonable.
I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner and only wish there was a place like this where I live. I'll just have to return to London and to the T&H.
This place serves a variety of Asian food. The quality is decent, but not great. The dishes have a very standard presentation, as if they came off a conveyor belt.
The main drawback, however, is that this place is always overcrowded and noisy, being filled with students from nearby universities. This is bound to happen, given that it's one of the few full scale restaurants in the area. The impression you get from the staff is that they want you to finish your meal as soon as possible and leave to make room for more people.
It's generally ok for lunch if you are in that area, but certainly isn't worth queuing outside for half an hour in the evening or deliberately traveling here from somewhere else.
People say it's value for money and they're probably right, but, in my opinion, I would rather spend much more and get the food and the service of excellent standard that I deserve.
Hare and Tortoise, as an Asian food restaurant, stands out for me due to its value for money. Portions are big (maybe even huge), especially its noodles (though it might be the huge bowls giving me an illusion of extra size). And they go for about 5 to 7 pounds only.
My favourite dish here is definitely the curry mee, which is very rich (the soup) and they don't skimp on the garnishings. It can get very full in the evenings after 6 or 6.30pm, so make sure you get there early or be ready to queue for a while. It's generally a short wait if you're a pair or at most 4 people. Any more than that will take forever if you attempt to try your luck.
This mini-chain combines Chinese, Japanese, and Malaysian offerings in a café-style environment, which of course sounds a bit like Wagamama. This put me off coming here for a long time even though the Bloomsbury branch is close to my office.
Of their offerings, I prefer their soup noodles to their stir-fried noodles. In particular, I like the curry laksa (£6.25), which is generously topped with chicken, fried tofu, prawn, squid, and fish cake. Although this was a different variant to one I had at Kiasu, I thought the laksa here was superior.
In contrast, my take-away yaki udon (£6) was a bit lacklustre. Whilst it was good value and chock full of roast pork, squid, prawn, and crabstick, it lacked quality. The presence of crabstick was puzzling but I was more disappointed by the lack of garnish, such as pickled ginger and spicy fish powder that normally accompany Japanese fried noodles.
Whilst Hare & Tortoise may lack a bit of quality, it's much better (and cheaper) than Wagamama. Overall a decent good value option for noodles, if you find yourself in the vicinity of one.
Located in the corner of the Brunswick. For a Chinese/Japanese -chain- restaurant, it's good. If you want to switch to ramen noodles from udon, it's an extra pound. Yummy food!
three words: SPICY WING STICKS! Possibly the nicest side order i have ever had... Have been known to order two portions...
Lovely food, brusque service at times depending who you get, but thats to be expected in most asian restaurants... right??? (controversial!)
I always go for the Satay Chicken Lo mein- I dont know why... Its the mix of the tofu, the large slices of chicken, the extra chilli, the crunch veg.... Lovely! I must ocnfess i have only strayed from that offering once ro twice, always to return.
YES you can queue for ages outside
YES they can muck up some orders
but overall i think it is well worth a trip if you are around the west end and fancy a quick eat!
Hmm this place is almost so good I don't want to share it!
It's a chain of five restaurants dotted around London.
Almost always full, but table turnover for 2 people is pretty quick [no bookings/reservations]. Prices seem to rise ~25-50p each year but on average a large meal will cost ~£7 [great for feeding anyone with a big appetite!]. Good selection of Asian fusion dishes from sushi to your basic noodles! My tips you can't go wrong with the Tori Katsu curry OR Curry Laksa! Yumm And if you're feeling indulgent try the Spider Maki!
But remember! I never told you!
This is an excellent place for a quick nosh. Main courses start at about a fiver for a tasty noodle or rice dish. It's one of small chain - there are others in Putney, Kensington and Ealing.
The service is not always particularly friendly but it is efficient.
I have been a fan of H&T since 1996 when it used to be a small independent Japanese eatery hidden in the tired old Brunswick Estate. With the regeneration of Brunswick, so has my little Japanese secret. If you like Japanese food and don't want to be limited with just sushi, this is the place to be. There is so much on their menu that I love to eat. The food is always to a high standard, fresh and delicious. The service is fast and friendly. A good size main and Jasmine tea comes to approximately £10. It is often busy (because it s so good) but you hardly ever kept waiting for a table for more than 10 minutes. I think it lost some of its original charm from the early independent days as H&T has a few branches dotted around these days and is no longer my little secret but still my most favourite Japanese.
Living a block away from here makes this place a little too accessible... therefore addictive. Never be discouraged by the lines outside... the most you'll wait is 10 minutes. And they pass out menus outside, so as soon as you sit, they're ready to take your order. The food isn't super memorable, but definitely affordable, great quality, and delicious!
For someone who knows something about authentic Chinese/East Asian food, the duck rice here is pretty amazing. I can't speak to the other dishes because I have never ordered anything else. Its worth the wait in line during lunch hour, at least for a nice dish of duck rice and a solid side of the chili (sambal). Last I checked its pretty affordable too!
Food is good at a good price but waitresses don't seem to want to be bothered serving.
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