International Food London – Where to eat in the Big Smoke!

London is a centre of diversity and culture in the UK. With so many people from so many different countries thrown together, there are bound to be some unique eateries. Whether you are a local or an international resident yourself, you simply must try London’s diverse cuisine. This blog hightlights the best international food London has to offer.

International Food London: The ‘Feast’ Food Festival

Feast is an annual food festival held in a variety of locations across London. In 2013 it’s taking place from the 4th till the 7th of July and is being held in an old warehouse once used to store tobacco. This festival brings together the best chefs, restaurants and market stalls. It has previously been called “Glastonbury for foodies”, perhaps because it also features live bands from across the country. Feast is the perfect place to experience some of the best international food London has to offer.

The Best International Food London has to Offer – Chinatown

Chinatown in London is a short walk from Picadilly Circus or Leicester Square tube stations. There are over 70 restaurants in Chinatown – a lot to choose from!  How about a delightful Dim Sum lunch? Or an evening of crispy duck and pancakes? Wan Chai corner and Mr Kong’s are some of the best restaurants in Chinatown. Visit the Londonist website for the Top 10 Chinatown Eats.

International Food London: China Town Photography by Ell R Brown on Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)

International Food London: China Town
Photography by Ell R Brown on Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)

Asian Fusion International Food London – Asia de Cuba

This stylish, upmarket restaurant combines, as the name might suggest, elements of both Asian and Cuban cooking. With bright, quirky interiors and a world-class specialist rum bar, Asia de Cuba is one of the finest places to eat out. It showcases some of the most unique dishes that are available in the UK’s capital. The prices might be a bit high for some diners, but it’s no doubt worth every penny.

The Best Syrian Restaurant in London – Abu Zaad

Abu Zaad is one of the few Syrian restaurants scattered across London.The original Abu Zaad Sryrian restaurant is in Shepherds Bush. It’s success has led to a second restaurant on Edgware Road.

It is in stark contrast to Asia de Cuba, featuring lower prices and considerably less elegant surroundings. However, it has a positive authentic atmosphere and seems to get great reviews from nearly everyone that visits. Serving full, flavoursome meals and not skimping on the portion sizes has already gained Abu Zhaad something of a reputation. It is often compared favourably to any of the many more well-known – and generally more common – Lebanese restaurants across the city. For international food in London with a Syrian twist, Abu Zaad is the place to go.

International Food London – Tapas at Kopapa

Kopapa is a restaurant/café that really shows off the diversity of London’s cuisine. It’s basically a kind of tapas bar run by New Zealander Peter Gordon, who is also behind Providores and Tapa Room. This restaurant has a focus on food that fuses together complex and unexpected dishes. The off-beat menu largely consists of tapas-sized optionsm although some mains are available. Kopapa is definitely recommended for those looking for some adventurous food and flavours that you surely won’t find anywhere else.

North African Food in London – Momo’s

Going for over ten years and still one of the best in the city, Momo’s offers authentic North African food in a friendly but stylish setting. Momo’s actually contains three venues – a proper restaurant, a café next door and the Kemia Bar downstairs. So it can accommodate you whatever your mood or preferences. With substantial and memorable main courses, excellent staff and service and a welcoming atmosphere, Momo’s is the perfect place to get a taste of London’s international cuisine.


Festivals in the UK – The Top 5 UK Arts Festivals

Festivals in the UK are a big part of British culture. The UK has a great history of internationally based festivals. From day long events to month long affairs – these events draw some of the greatest creative minds and performances from across the globe. Here are just a few of the best arts festivals in the UK…

The Brighton Festival

Brighton Festival is one of the most inspiring arts festivals in the UK. It has a unique approach to organisation. Every year a “guest director” is appointed to take charge of the acts and exhibitions that take place across Brighton and Hove. In the past this has included the experimental musician Brian Eno, and the leader of the Burmese democracy – Aung San Suu Kyi. This year children’s poet Michael Rosen has been appointed guest director. The 2013 festival will also feature recitals by Yuka Ishizuka and Syrian pianist Riyad Nicolas. The Brighton festival has everything from visual arts to circus acts and many more.

The Festival of Ideas – Cambridge

For those looking for a more academically grounded festival, Cambridge’s Festival of Ideas promotes the arts, social sciences and humanities through a series of exhibitions, talks and workshops. It is known for attracting world-renowned speakers. The festival offers a range of presentations on the latest scientific theories and challenging historical exhibits. Best of all though, the Festival of Ideas is free! It is one of the largest free festivals in the UK.

BBC Proms

One of the world’s largest classical music festivals is the BBC Proms. The Proms offer a huge platform for international artists and enquiring audiences alike. With an a variety of opera and symphony performances, the Proms host over 70 main concerts every year. The BBC Proms are one of the best places to see some of the most talented performers from across the globe.

The BBC Proms Photography by amandabhslater on Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)

Festivals in the UK – The BBC Proms
Photography by amandabhslater on Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)

Manchester International Festival – One of the best International Festivals in the UK

The Manchester International Festival is a showcase of original works from a variety of artists from around the world. It is one of the most exciting international festivals in the UK. There is a high quality of international talent on display at the Manchester International festival. Previous years have featured performances by Björk and Malian musical duo Amadou and Mariam. In 2013, the festival is set to showcase Pakistan born spiritual singer Abida Parveen. Also this year will feature a choreographic interpretation of John Cage’s Lecture on Nothing by Berlin-based dance artist Eszter Salamon.

Edinburgh Fringe with bonus Edinburgh Arts – the Largest Arts festivals in the UK

The Edinburgh Fringe festival is one of the largest arts festivals on the globe. It attracts performances from artists the world-over. Much of the attraction of the Fringe Festival comes from it’s very open and relaxed attitude towards performances being planned. It essentially allows anyone with a show and a venue to apply and perform. This has led to a huge international presence at the Fringe, from some of the world’s biggest artists and performers to hidden gems waiting to be discovered.  It is definitely one of the most popular festvals in the UK.

Calling abroad whilst at Festivals in the UK?

If you are at festivals in the UK without your friends or family abroad, remember that you can make cheap international calls with Pocketdial UK.


The Nepali and Thai New Year: Bisket Jatra and Songkran

New year in many of the South East Asian calendars, such as the Thai New Year, fall around the beginning of springtime, around 10th – 15th April. The Nepali New year and Bisket Jatra celebrations also happen at this time. You will find many other celebrations going on in other parts of South Asia, such as in Tamil Nadu an Gujarat (India). In this blog, I will introduce you to the exciting celebrations of Thai and Nepali New Year.

The Water Festival

If you are lucky enough to spend April in Bangkok, you will be there for the Thai New Year festival of Songkran, the water festival. The water festival is also celebrated in many other South East Asian countries and is traditionally celebrated on the day of the full moon in the 11th month. The water festival is known by different names in different countries. In Burma it is called Thingyan and in Laos it is called Pi Mai Lao.

Thai New Year

In 2013 and 2014 the Thai New Year water festival celebrations will start on 13th April. It is known as Songkran. Traditionally, family members sprinkled water on each other as a sign of respect. Nowadays it can happen to random strangers and passers by, and it can turn into quite an exciting water fight. So if you are travelling through Thailand at this time, beware!

Nepali New Year

Nepali New Year celebrations will commence on 10th April in 2013 and 2014. New Year is celebrated all over Nepal, but if you can, visit Bhaktapur for the nine day celebration called Bisket Jatra – the celebration of the death of the serpents.


Legend has it that anyone who married the Princess of Bhaktapur would die on the night of their honeymoon, and so she remained single as men were too scared to marry her. Finally, a brave young Prince came along and married her, vowing to solve the mystery. On the first night of their honeymoon, he stayed awake and saw that two serpents appeared from her nostrils. The Prince took out his sword and chopped off their heads.

If you manage to get to Bhaktapur for Bisket Jatra, you will see a huge chariot with deities being paraded through the streets, with ribbons that represent the serpent.  The chariot usually pauses for a game of tug-o-war between the East and the West sides of town. When the chariot ride has finished, they get to Khalna Tole, where a 25m high giant pole is erected. The following day, it is torn down in yet another Tug-O-War! This is certainly one of the best times of year to visit Nepal. To read more about the Bisket Jatra, click here.

Happy New Year from Pocketdial UK!

If you are celebrating Nepali or Thai New Year, Pocketdial UK would like to wish you a very happy new year! If you would like to call your relatives in Thailand over the Thai New Year, with Pocketdial UK, you can call Thailand from the UK for just 1p a minute.

Happy Easter! Celebrating Easter Around the World

With all of the meals, chocolate and happy Easter celebrations, the commercialisation of Easter means that it is easy to forget what it is all about. Easter is the most important festival on the Christian calendar, probably even more important than Christmas, as it remembers the Resurrection – Jesus rising from the dead. In this blog, I explore the traditions and values behind Easter, and the amazing ways that people celebrate Easter around the world.

The Meaning of Easter: Good Friday

According to Christian tradition, Jesus as the Son of God died on the Cross so that the sins of mankind could be forgiven. Good Friday was the day on which Jesus was crucified at Golgotha (the place of the skull). Christians believe that Jesus took on the burden of the sins of man at the point that he was crucified, and that through his love for mankind, God will forgive.

Easter Sunday

Christianity teaches that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day. The Bible tells the story of Mary Magdeline, a close friend of Jesus, going to anoint his body with spices.  But when she got to the tomb, the stone had been rolled away and his body had gone.  The resurrection was the ultimate miracle. Jesus had rose from the dead and ascended to heaven to be on the right hand side of God.

How is Easter Celebrated around the World?

In Europe, eggs are popular, signifying new life that follows the resurrection of Christ. In many parts of Europe, eggs are decorated beautifully and intricately.  Small wooden crosses are often made and palm fronds to celebrate Palm Sunday.

In Africa and some parts of Asia, re-enactments of the stations of the cross are very popular. Easter processions are also popular in Europe, particularly in Spain and Italy.  At Pocketdial UK, we were excited to find out the top 5 places to see Easter around the world.

Easter Around the World: Top 5 Places to visit at Easter

5. Alaska – In Alaska at Easter, you can see real multi-coloured chicks! Their eggs are injected with dye before they hatch. Don’t worry, the dye is harmless!

Easter around the world

4. Spain – Visit the Spanish town of Malaga where you will see a Palm Sunday procession and a figure of Christ being paraded down the street on Holy Thursday.

3. Germany – Beautifully decorated Easter Eggs can be seen in Germany at Easter time. Volker Kraft decorates his tree in Saalfield with 10,000 decorated eggs, and has been doing so for 40 years!

2. Philippines – In the Philippines, it is traditional to re-enact the stations of the cross. Beware – some of these can be gruesomely realistic!

1. Italy – You just can’t beat Easter in Italy. Religious processions and festivals can be seen everywhere. Italians bake traditional Easter cake called Colomba di Pasqua – a cake shaped like a dove. Join the thousands who visit Vatican city to hear the Pope conduct Easter Mass on St. Peter’s square.

Homemade Colomba di Pasqua

Homemade Colomba di Pasqua
Photography by ‘Nicola since 1972’ on Flickr.

How do you celebrate Easter around the world?

What do you do to celebrate Easter? Have you celebrated Easter around the world and have any special experiences to share with us? Do leave your comments on our blog.

Remember to contact your friends and family to say happy Easter. You can make international calls from just 1p a minute with Pocketdial UK.