Archive for the ‘Japanese’ Category

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‚Äôs¬†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 ‚Äď 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 ‚Äėlamien‚Äô which means ‚Äėhand pulled noodles‚Äô 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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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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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‚Äôs 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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Iberian Pork Cheeks, Daikon, Foie Gras, Slow-Cooked in Soy Sauce, Sake, Brown Sugar and Ginger

As supper clubs go, Luiz Hara‚Äôs 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‚Äôs best, all in the comfort of his gorgeous home. But be prepared for some serious verbal discourse because you‚Äôll 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 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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Regularly frequented by the staff of the Japanese Consulate, Umu (one michelin) is normally situated in the heart of Mayfair. However, on this occasion we find Umu located inside Frieze Masters, a fine art exhibition in Regents Park, London. For four days only the Umu became a pop up restaurant featuring a limited selection of of sashimi, sushi, mains and desserts off their original menu. Nonetheless, this is sufficient to showcase the exquisite craftsmanship of Head Chef Yoshinori Ishii, who with his nine years experience at Japan’s three Michelin-starred Kyoto Kitcho, delivers a menu that is gracious, delicate and visually dazzling.

collage - fpn

The shellfish tomato jelly  (£16) is a jewelled masterpiece marked with a constellation of abalone, scallop and shrimp gems nestled cooly in a wobbly translucent jelly. Served cold, the dish is playfully subtle and texturally contrasting. The meat is supple while the veg holds the crunch. All going down very nicely with the slip of the jelly.

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We’ve all gone a bit ramen mad. Myself included.¬†So it should be no surprise that I find myself at Ramen Ikkyu like the rest of the other mad hatters. There has been a lot of hype surrounding this place with us ramenites counting down the days until its launch, ready to dive in and test the waters.

It is now 4 weeks since its opening day and the aim of the game is to sell 150 bowls of ramen a day. If they sell out then they shut up shop. No matter what time of day it is. Noodles are hand made by Chef Haru himself and are aged for 2 days. Hurrahh… While their signature broth is prepared in 160 litre pots filled with chicken and pork bones – referred to as their paitan broth.

To back track, Chef Haru Inukai started serving ramen as a lunch special back when he was the Head Chef of BlancHaru. The ramen special was so popular it caught on to the likes of fellow ramen lover Chef Dan Hong who notably sung its praises. It was no sooner that the public caught on to the cult of BlancHaru’s ramen that there were lines forging its way down Elizabeth Bay Road. It was then Chef Haru decided to give it all up and go all guns blazing to open up his very own ramen house.

shoyu ramen 2 ramen ikkyu

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Ramen has the power to polarise people to cause widespread debate on “Where to find the best ramen?” and boy will we hunt it down. It is Japanese soul food at its core and has developed from the humble streets of Japan to achieve a cult-like status.

Since its grand opening, Ippudo has been hot on everyones lips.

“Is it as good as they say?” (See previous post).

Whether you agree or disagree, Ippudo has to be said and done.

I was invited to return to Ippudo to take on a crash course ramen 101 session and to learn more about the Ippudo experience. There was also the offer to try all their ramen. How could I refuse.

Dress with expandable waistline?? Check!

collage fpn

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Ippudo has quickly become to what some would consider as legend. Conquering the likes of New York, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Seoul, Shanghai. Ippudo has firmly found its place in Sydney’s Westfield. Since its opening it has quickly drawn in the crowds and cult following with its signature ramen and pork buns.

ippudo - close ramen

Ippudo specialises in Tonkostu ramen and offers up 3 variations of this:

  • Akamaru shinaji¬†(above): the recipe is 25 years old and includes miso, garlic oil, pork belly, black mushrooms, bean sprouts and shallots ‚Äď the Tonkotsu broth is slow cooked with pork bones to add extra depth of flavour
  • Shiromaru motoaji: Tonkotsu broth served with Hakata ultra thin noodles and includes pork loin, black mushrooms, cabbage & shallots
  • Karaka men: Tonkotsu broth with Hakata wavy noodles and includes spicy miso paste with ground pork

You can also specify the firmness of your noodles from “soft, medium or firm”. Which is funny because as a child I loved them soggy but as I have gotten older, I have graduated up to medium and now firm. I love a firm texture! They recommend having it firm but I wonder, how do you like your ramen?

akamaru w flavoured egg

Having tried 2 out of 3 Ramen’s at Ippudo, the Akamaru with flavoured egg ($18) is my absolute favourite. I love the intensity and richness of the broth and every bowl of Ramen always comes down to the broth.

The broth comes positively gleaming with richness and flavour. I am so impatient I quickly go in for the dive and I completely immersed in it. It is sensational.

I also love the fragrant hints of garlic oil and the option to swirl the miso paste into your broth. To do so, lifts the broth to the highest order.  My ramen is firm, adding texture and bite contrasting nicely with the fork tender pork belly that melts. The addition of flavoured egg is luxuriant, oozing its way out. Soft, rich and plump.

ippudo pork bun

The ippudo pork buns ($4) are so delicious, every mouthful is just as delicious as the next. The buns are super soft, the pork is spicy, fatty and tender. Setting itself apart from the creaminess of Japanese kewpie mayo and crisp lettuce leaves. Reminds me a lot of the famous Momofuku pork buns.

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Relatively new to lower north shore area, this has fast become one of my personal favourites and probably one of the area’s best kept secrets.

It houses a hot pot of all your asian favourites… but served tapas. I’m talking Jap, Malay, Filo and Chinese food all served in the one convenient location.

SpaAsian tapas? How glorious! And if you come between Mon-Wed, you can even get their $10 tapas.

Sounds too good to be true but the owner (Alan) has made great strides to maintain the integrity of the combination of all these flavours. Housing a Filipino chef, a Malaysian chef, Alan has personally taken care of the rest by recreating Chinese home made favourites and studying Japanese cookery.

spice crusted tofu

We begin with the spice crusted tofu and it is a wonderful play on your humble agedashi tofu. In fact, I think it is much better.

The tofu is squared off into bite sized pieces providing more surface area for a nice and crisp exterior. The edges of the tofu are super crusty and equally find themselves with a healthy dosage of soy.

Sprinkled on the top are the bonito flakes which to my surprise, are literally dancing along my tofu in beautiful symmetry.

chicken san choi bao

The san choi bao is pretty mind blowing. Delivering generously on flavour and texture. It rightfully upholds all the flavours and is quite incredible. This is one dish that should not to be missed.

roast pork belly pancake 1

roast pork belly pancake 2

The roast pork belly pancake plays on a Chinese favourite. Instead of peking duck, here we have roast pork belly, all pre-prepared with all the trimmings and it is absolutely incredible.

The pork is slippery, silky and packed full of flavour. It doesn’t have the crunch factor of the skin but the flavour wholeheartedly offsets the need for texture. But then again, crackling is not something I would ever say no to!

pork and prawn wontons

I am told by the owner that the pork and prawn wontons were just hand made and they usually are.
Alan, grew up with his grandma making these family favourite for him as a child and lucky for us, he too has decided to pass on this family gem.

The translucent skin is neatly tucked around to expose the fleshy prawns and meaty pork filling. These dumplings are really quite remarkable that there really are no words.

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