Kanada- ya Ramen

Written by Girl Has to Eat and Food Porn Nation
Photos by Food Porn Nation

Chashu men, Kanadaya, Tottenham Court Road

Kanada-Ya on St Giles High Street opened its doors in September 2014 and has since cultivated a large following with its special brand of ramen. Kanada-Ya is the brainchild of the award winning tonkostu broth master Mr Kanada who has been making ramen in Japan since 2009. It specialises only in tonkostu ramen and does not stray into shio, shoyu or miso based broths.

The secret to Kanada-Ya’s success is its specially cooked 18-hour pork bone tonkotsu broth which is tended to overnight. There are three different types of ramen bowls available – the original, the moyashi (a lighter broth) and chashu-men (ramen finished with a chashu collar).  The word ramen is taken from the Chinese word ‘lamien’ which means ‘hand pulled noodles’ and the ramen at Kanada-Ya is literally that – hand pulled noodles prepared on site by their very own noodle whiz. Kanada-ya also serve onigiri (Japanese rice balls wrapped in nori) that can be washed down with a selection of Japanese beers, sake or soft drinks.

Like Kanada-Ya’s menu, the décor is simple and basic. But it does the trick as ramen is Japanese fast food rather than a lingering sit down dining experience. But Kanada-Ya has become so popular that there are often queues which can lead to about a half hour wait.

chashu-men, Kanadaya, Tottenham Court Road

The chashu-men  (£12.50) caught our eye with the promise of an extra chashu pork collar. The tonkotsu broth was delicious – smooth, creamy, fatty and frothy; full of depth and beautifully rounded. The ramen was cooked to order; very firm, firm, regular or soft. We tried both firm and regular and we found the noodles perfectly cooked to order and that they had been pulled to an exact thinness that was lovely and chewy. The chashu is made using the neck so it is far leaner than that of pork belly.

Extra gold label seaweed (nori – £1), chashu cured burford brown egg (hanajuku egg – £2) and the charred black garlic oil (Ma-yu – £1.50) can all be ordered as additional extras. We tried and loved them all. The hanajuku egg was an egg cured with chashu (pork pieces) and was something special. It was both beautifully sweet and savoury and exuded a lovely warm brown glow with a golden gooey centre. The shiny charred black garlic oil was as dark as the night and filled the air with delicious stinky garlic aroma that enhanced the flavours of this brilliant ramen.  The nori was excellent with a lovely flavour.

sake onigiri, Kanadaya, Tottenham Court Road

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Tasting Room, Covent Garden

Words by A Girl Has to Eat 
Photos by Food Porn Nation

Last weekend, we were invited by Australian chef Chris Jordan, formerly at the acclaimed Flying Fish & 4fourteen restaurants in Sydney, to his pop up restaurant ‘Tasting Room’. Tasting Room is the first venture by Chris, and with it he intends to bring together a variety of themed dinners that draw inspiration from a mixture of local establishments ranging from chicken shops to cocktail lounges.

Tasting Room is located at Startisans, an indoor food market on Shelton Street in Covent Garden that showcases artisan food producers at lunchtime on weekdays. As his home is a local food market, he intends to use ingredients from nearby farmers’ markets and small businesses. The venue will hold a large communal table where diners are encouraged to bring their own drinks and which will also facilitate a sharing dining experience. Six ‘tasting room’ events with be held a month with regularly changing menus. Future events will look to collaborate with pop-up chefs from Michelin-star backgrounds.

Chris says, “I set up ‘A taste’ to provide a genuine alternative in the London restaurant scene. Now with Tasting Room as a more permanent fixture, I’m trying to demonstrate how inventive Modern British cuisine can be with a real emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients served with an air of fun and excitement. But ultimately it’s all about discovering unexpectedly delicious food in a truly relaxed setting.”

Last weekend’s menu drew upon teas by Yumcha, a teashop with locations around London including Soho. The starter was a ‘Caramel Sweetheart’, cauliflower and scallop, a complex dish consisting of beautifully seared scallops and fresh sweet scallop ceviche. Accompanying the scallop was a lovey cauliflower puree flavoured with ‘Caramel Sweetheart’, a white chocolate and caramel fudge tea, some tasty cauliflower cous cous and shaved cauliflower. The latter two elements completed the dish nicely by adding crunchiness and texture. This was a wonderful, skillfully executed plate of food.

London Food Blog - Startisans, Covent Garden - Tasting Room, slow roasted suffolk lamb shoulder, turnip &  'Egyptian Nights'  Jelly

Slow roasted Sufflok lamb shoulder with salt baked turnips, pickled baby turnips, turnip tops and ‘Egyptian Nights’ jelly was next. The lamb was tender and paired well with the jelly which was mint and chamomile.

Our next course was a ‘Chai Black’ braised Gloucester Old Spot pork belly with blood orange, burnt leek and shaved carrot was also really tasty. The pork belly was tender and delicious, and the crackling was good and crunchy. The ‘Chai Black’ (cinnamon, ginger, aniseed, chicory root, cloves, black pepper and Assam black tea) was used to flavour the pork and was a nice touch. We were also served a large side dish of orange roasted carrot salad that ensured none of us went hungry.

London Food Blog - Startisans, Covent Garden - Tasting Room, ‘Chai Black’ braised Gloucester Old Spot pork belly with blood orange, burnt leek and shaved carrot

 

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Kintan, High Holborn

premium kalbi short rib - Kintan, Holborn

Kintan is the first yakiniku-style restaurant to open in High Holborn, London. Yakiniku literally translates into grilled meat and is considered as the Japanese take on the Korean barbecue. This is a style of Japanese BBQ where the diner can order a selection of bite sized meats, seafood and vegetables to be prepared over table grill. The best part of the experience is being interactive with your food and watching it sizzle away just the way you like it.

Kintan - hot oiled seared salmon

Whilst Kintan specialises in grilled meats, there is a selection of appetisers, salads, rice and noodles.  To start we ordered the hot oil seared salmon (£7) which came beautifully served with a house citrus sauce. This sashimi grade salmon simply melted in the mouth as the hot oil gave the salmon a gentle warm sear.

Tuna tartar volcano - Kintan

We also had the tuna tartar volcano (£7), the tuna tartar was prepared with a delicious spicy mayo. This was delicious and fresh but what made this dish really special was the textual contrast of the deep fried rice cracker against the creamy tartar and the addition of caviar sprinkled on top.

tofu chigae - Kintan

The tofu chigae (£10), a spicy tofu stew was served with a combination of ground chicken, kimchee, enoki mushrooms and egg. The base of the stock was enriched with a gorgeous oxtail stock and enhanced with the spicy addition of kimchee and chiage (soybean) paste. The highlight of this dish was the tofu itself, it had the most incredible, delicate and smooth texture I have ever experienced which absorbed the wonderful intense flavours of the broth. Unfortunately, the egg turned out overcooked and rubbery but otherwise this was still a fantastic bowl of soup with great intense flavours.

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Roka – Aldwych, London

Photos and words by A Girl has to Eat and myself.

The chain of Roka restaurants offer a unique style of contemporary Japanese robatayaki cuisine, a cooking method where items of food are slowly grilled over hot charcoal. The original branch of Roka opened on Charlotte Street to much success and subsequent branches followed in Canary Wharf, Mayfair and on Aldwych. But the menu extends beyond just robata dishes. There is also a delectable selection of sashimi and nigiri, fried options including tempura, snacks, soups and rice dishes such as hot pots with lobster and miso butter.

We visited Roka Aldwych which opened last November. Designed by Claudio Silvestrin who was also responsible for L’anima and Alan Yau’s Princi on Wardour Street, the restaurant is spacious and grand with a sleek, contemporary minimalist look, a style for which Silvestrin is well known. Like all the other Rokas, the robata grill plays centre stage at Roka Aldwych, and in addition to the tables in the main dining room, guests can also eat in the lounge area and at the robata bar.

yellowtail sashimi with truffle yuzu dressing

We started with the yellowtail sashimi with truffle yuzu dressing, mizuna and pickled vegetables (£14.60), and the spectacular scent of truffle immediately caught our attention when the dish arrived at our table. This dish was pure perfection. The quality of the fish and the balance of the truffle yuzu dressing was absolutely flawless. It was an exquisite dish and we enjoyed it immensely. If you only order one thing at Roka Aldwych, this has to be it.

5 piece sashimi selection

We followed this with the 5-piece sashimi selection and the tuna tartare. The sashimi included salmon, tuna, sea bream, yellow tail and sweet shrimp (£26.60) and was delectable. The quality, taste and texture of the sashimi were sublime, and the fish was unquestionably of the highest grade.

tuna tartare with oscietra caviar & quail egg yolk

The tuna tartare with oscietra caviar and quail egg yolk (£12.60) was a clever spin on a French favourite. The French tradition was not lost as we ceremoniously combined fish with the egg and caviar to enjoy the tartare in its entirety. This was served with a lovely piece of crunchy crispbread which added contrast. Again, this was as marvellous as the previous dishes.

seared beef striploin with black truffle dressing, cucumber, daikon pickle and miso tapioca

From the tataki section, the seared beef striploin with black truffle dressing, cucumber, daikon pickle and miso tapioca crisp (£13.00) was another enjoyable dish. The beef was wonderfully tender and tasty, although the black truffle dressing was not as aromatic as that of the truffle ponzu dressing in the yellowtail sashimi dish.

rock shrimp tempura wasabi pea seasoning and chilli mayonnaise

The rock shrimp tempura with wasabi pea seasoning and chilli mayonnaise (£14.30) came with rock shrimp that was sweet and plump. As for the batter, it wasn’t a traditional tempura batter, but it was very enjoyable nevertheless as it was light and crispy. This was a tasty modern recreation of a traditional favourite with a solid dipping sauce.

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Japanese Supper Club hosted by Luiz Hara, The London Foodie

Iberian Pork Cheeks, Daikon, Foie Gras, Slow-Cooked in Soy Sauce, Sake, Brown Sugar and Ginger

As supper clubs go, Luiz Hara’s Japanese Supper Club is considered one of the most notorious within London’s underground food scene. The Brazilian born half Japanese ex-investment banker aka The London Foodie, introduces a culinary experience like no other and showcases that the possibilities of Japanese home-style cooking are truly infinite. Luiz turned his back on corporate banking by risking it all to pursue his real passion in food that led him straight to this wonderful endeavour.

Take his training in Tokyo in Japanese cuisine and throw in his Grand Diploma from Le Cordon Bleu Paris. Then consider his custom-built supper club basement kitchen, swanky Islington pad and you have yourself an unorthodox recipe for culinary success. Think of Luiz’s supper club as restaurant quality dishes that can go head to head with London’s best, all in the comfort of his gorgeous home. But be prepared for some serious verbal discourse because you’ll be seated intimately at a long dining communal table with some perfectly good strangers.

All this for the nominal price of £45. Well, what are you waiting for?

Tuna Tartare - Tuna & Avocado, Hand chopped Tuna with Spring Onions & Soy Sauce on Shiso-flavoured Sushi Rice, Wasabi Cream

Things are off to a whopping good start with the tuna & avocado, shiso flavoured sushi rice & wasabi cream. It’s fresh, delectable and gloriously spectacular with the delicious wasabi cream elegantly drooling to one side. The shiso sushi rice shows us what good sushi rice is really made of. It is cooked to perfection, holds the right amount of stickiness, savouriness and a hint of sweetness. The combination of flavours are so spectacular, it is already the hot favourite of the night.

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Shoryu Ramen – Soho, London

Shoryu Ramen was launched in November 2012 by the team at Japan Centre and Shoryu have quickly gained a following for their ramen. They now have locations spread across Carnaby, Regent St and Soho. If ramen wasn’t enough, they also dish up the very popular hirata buns, sushi, sashimi and yakitori as part of their sides menu. Recommended in the Michelin Guide 2014 and 2015, Shoryu have come head to head with the likes of Bone Daddies and Tonkostu Ramen. These are the three amigos that are dominating the Soho food scene with their ramen. What makes Shoryu really special is that they specialise in the Hakata style tonkotsu ramen from the Hakata district of Fukuoka city of Japan. They promise that this is a bonafide tonkotsu ramen which you will rarely find outside of Japan. Thanks to Executive Chef Kanji Furukawa, who was born and raised from the region. Londoners can now enjoy the Hakata style ramen made with a thick, rich, white pork soup and thin, straight ramen noodles. This style of ramen is my absolute favourite, so I am really looking forward to see what Shoryu has to offer.

barbeque char siu pork hirata buns

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Buttered Bacon Brussel Sprouts

buttered bacon brussel sprouts

The idea behind this recipe was inspired from my meal at Swine & Co, in Sydney and my visit to the US. They do a lot of deep fried brussel sprouts there! I wanted to do something similar for Christmas but it had to be quick and easy. I didn’t do a test run before Christmas, all I knew is that I wanted the brussel sprouts to be cooked in butter and bacon fat until the sprouts was blistered and brown. I wanted to create the illusion that they were deep fried by cooking the sprouts in bacon fat and butter. Then I wanted to top it off with crunchy bits of bacon to have the texture of crackling. This turned out really well and it was such a delicious way to enjoy brussel sprouts that I had to share!

Enjoy! x

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Lobster Kitchen, Bloomsbury – London

Lobster Kitchen is another lobster joint to bring the New England Lobster shack experience from Maine USA to the shores of old Blighty. The experience from beginning to end is exactly what you would expect in any lobster shack in Maine. There are no reservations, you order and pay at the register, find a seat at the communal dining space and collect your food when it is ready. Food is served in plastic cutlery, paper cups and disposable containers. While, the space is designed with nautical paraphernalia to mimic the coastal shores of New England.

Lobster Kitchen, Bloomsbury - Split Lobster Tails - The Garlicky One

We ordered the (£15) Split lobster tails rather than the whole split lobster (£18 – this includes a choice of one side). This wasn’t really worth our while considering the whole lobster was smaller than the lobster tails and were roughly the size of my palm.

The split lobster tails were steamed in a white wine and celery stock and we chose to top this with butter, garlic & parsley – The Garlicky One. This was more appealing than the description of the other optional sauces e.g. The Asian, Thermidor or The Cocktail. We asked to have this prepared just under cooked. The texture of the lobster was just perfect and I’m not sure if this would have been any different without our special request nonetheless, this lacked the flavour, seasoning and garlic I was hoping for.

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The Porchester – Bayswater, London

The Porchester - Collage - foodpornnation

The Porchester is a gastropub located in the heart of Bayswater. Part of the Young’s Pub Group, it is a colourful local completed in warm autumnal colours. The interior skillfully strikes a balance between a modern and a traditional English pub. Similarly this concept carries through to the menu which is traditionally British but cooked with a modern flair.

To begin, we couldn’t resist ordering a few items from the bar snacks. The chicken wings (£4) fell off the bone and were slightly charred which gave them a lovely caramelisation. Cooked with chilli, they also offered up a light kick of spiciness. A ranch dressing was a nice accompaniment to these subtle yet spicy wings as it provided a deliciously cool and tangy contrast.

The Porchester - Chillied chicken wings

The chorizo and black pudding scotch eggs (£3.50) was the standout from the bar snacks. The black pudding and chorizo paste struck a great balance in the scotch egg as it was soft and subtle without undermining the delicate flavour of the runny egg. The textural contrast between the soft gooey interior of the egg against the crunchy crumb coating made it even more scrumptious.

The Porchester - Chorizo and black pudding scotch egg

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Chez Boubier, South Kensington – London

Steak w Cafe de Paris Sauce - Chez Boubier collage

Chez Boubier, Café de Paris has opened its first branch in London on Brompton Road in South Kensington. The restaurant serves the single menu (£26.50) of salad, bread and steak and fries with a Café de Paris butter sauce that has seen its 90-year legacy thrive across Continental Europe since 1930. Its famous Café de Paris butter sauce can be found in several locations around the world with restaurants in Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Hong Kong and the UAE. 

Its signature trademark is not only the Café de Paris sauce but also the single menu that is promised to every diner at £26.50. The butter sauce was made famous by then owned Arthur-François (Freddy) Dumont of Café de Paris. The birthplace of the butter sauce is commonly mistaken for Paris, France. However, it was actually conceived in Geneva, Switzerland by Dumont’s father in law, Mr Boubier inventor of the original butter sauce. It is considered a heavily guarded secret recipe enhanced with multiple spices, herbs and other ingredients. It is so guarded even the staff don’t know the ingredients!

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