Tsurusushi at Friday Night Socials

In a corner of Trafalgar Square, The National Cafe sits hidden beneath the National Gallery and you would probably not notice it unless you were looking for it. The cafe itself is housed in an enormous room with very high ceilings. When full, the acoustics bounce around the wall, creating a raucos din. Peyton-Byrne operate this outlet together with the more casual cafe next door.

Tsurusushi at Friday Night Socials

On this evening,  the first of many Friday Night Socials,  Tsurusushi was the guest “chef”. They offered a 3 course menu with some sake cocktails to match.

The dining room was quite full with over 70 covers and a sense of anticipation was evident. Starters arrived and it was a plate of takoyaki (octopus balls).

Tsurusushi at Friday Night Socials Takoyaki

This was followed by some sushi.

This was followed by some sushi.

For main course, it is their best selling Chicken Katsu curry. As some of the tables were communal, we made some new friends and Oliver Peyton came over for a chat and shared some of his single estate Olive oil to taste.

Tsurusushi at Friday Night Socials

Friday Night Socials are great fun, meet some new people, try some new food and all for a very reasonable price. You won’t get a better deal for a night out in London.

Friday Night Socials are a new initiative at the National Cafe and they will be featuring guest chefs, like Angela Hartnett,  who will be introducing their own menus on the night. At £25 per head which includes wine, it’s a bargain. Get booking early.

You can find Tsurushi at http://www.tsuru-sushi.co.uk/

Slow Food Kitchen was a guest of Tsurusushi at Friday Night Socials.

 

Ittenbari Ramen Soho 麺屋一点張

Ramen shops are like buses, we wait ages for one and then 2 comes along at the same time. Ittenbari Ramen (麺屋一点張) appeared quietly on the Soho food scene a few months ago. I was alerted to their presence by a Japanese lady at the hairdressers who was raving about it.  She said that everything was from Osaka but this was a bit of misinformation. It is however associated with the guys behind Ryukishin from Osaka.

Ittenbari Ramen Soho

Finally, I found myself in the area one lunchtime and popped in for a quick bowl of ramen.As you enter, you are enveloped in the steam of the hot soup pots bubbling away in the open kitchen at the front of the shop. The setup is quite basic with a few tables squeezed into this narrow shop. There is no decor to speak of except for the cloth banner on the far wall with name of the restaurant in Osaka. It makes the place look shabby for a new restaurant.

Ittenbari Ramen Restaurant Soho

The serving staff didn’t really acknowledge me as I came in so I just found myself a table and sat down. They then dumped a menu on the table and rushed off. One of the smiley waitresses came over to take my order. The place is obviously staffed by and frequented by students. It was late for lunch but the place was still quite busy.

The menu is very simple, a choice of 3 types of soup, clear chicken soup, shoyu and miso. There is also a seafood fried ramen. Prices start at £8.90 for the Ittenbari and Shoyu Ramen and £11.50 for the Miso Ramen. All of these have an option to go DX which I think means a couple of extra slices of pork and a whole egg.

The ramen noodles that is served here is made in collaboration with a local noodle maker and they have done a good job.

I ordered the Shoyu Ramen which came in a deeply flavoured chicken soup with home made soya sauce and topped with half a boiled egg, some spring onions, bamboo shoots and a slice of pork. The noodles had a good texture, with enough of a bite but I could have done with a bit more soup.

There is an option for an additional portion of ramen for £1.50. Noticably, there are no bottles of spicy chilli oil on the table unlike at Tonkotsu.

This is not a pure ramen place as they have a few other common Japanese dishes on offer like Sushi and some rice dishes. The service is about par with those of the Chinese Restaurants nearby, effecient enough but uninterested. It is just a ramen cafe after all.

Ittenbari is a great addition as we can never have too many proper ramen shops. I have to go back to try their Shio Ramen which is made with their secret recipe home made salt that’s made with mussels. It seems this is their specialty. Go check it out.

ITTENBARI

84 Brewer Street
London
W1F 9UB

Tel. 020 7287 1318
Ittenbari Ramen Restauant on Urbanspoon

Spicy Ramen has landed in Soho Tonkotsu

On some grey and muggy London days, there is nothing more comforting than a bowl of hot soupy noodles. A new Ramen place has hit London. Tonkotsu is an offshoot of The Tsuru chain.

As it is still in soft opening mode, the menu is simple , just a few starters and a choice if ramen for the soft opening, there was just 2 flavours.

For starters we had the prawn and pork gyoza, the tofu, a salad and a very tasty chicken karaage.

Tonkotsu Ramen Soho London

I then had the spicy Tokyo Ramen in a 15 hour pork bones based broth and my friend had the miso and shimeji mushroom ramen. both were served on enormous bowls and were quite substantial.

Tonkotsu Tokyo Ramen Soho London

Tokyo Ramen

The hand made noodles had a good bite. Pots of chilli oil are in the table in case you wanted to chilli up your soup.

The space in ‘Tonkotsu is narrow with a counter and 4 seats in front of the open kitchen. A few tables in the back room and more seating upstairs. The best seats are of course the seats at the counter where you can watch them make the noodles and also keep an eye at the entrance of the Groucho Club and do some celebrity spotting.

This is a nice addition to Soho and would be great for a quick meal. Social media buzz is already driving the crowds to this new place as there were a lot of people waiting on the night we were there. I am waiting for them to launch their London ramen, which is going to be a bacon and eggs flavour-a big bowl of ramen with a slab of  smoke bacon. That sounds like a winner to me already.
Tonkotsu on Urbanspoon
Slow Food Kitchen was a guest of Tonkotsu

 

Yoobi Temakeria Soho

Yoobi prides itself for being the first Temaki bar in London,  a new concept which is inspired my a recent Japanese Brazilian trend.

Yoobi Temakeria in Soho is the first venture for newbue food entrepreneurs Nick (Swiss) and Carolina (Brazilian) . As Carolina is also an architect, she designed the quirky interiors which is dominated by a 3 sided sushi bar in the middle of the room.

Yoobi Temakeria Soho

On offer are 3 sizes of hand rolls with prices from £3.20, £3.60 and £4 and some sides like miso soups and seasonal vegetables. The flavour combinations might sound familiar like spicy tuna handroll (an old favourite) has been jazzed up to include their own hot sauce recipe with a surprising addition of crispy croutons in the middle. All the rolls are available as maki rolls or a low card version with no rice too.

On chatting with Nick, we learnt that there was a lot of testing behind some the combinations of favours on offer, mainly from their own food and travel experiences. Also great to know that they take their ingredients very seriously. For example, the sun blush tomatoes tomatoes is home made and with just olive oil as they couldn’t find a local producer. In a similar vein, they sourced a specialist French baker to make the bread from which they make their croutons.

We really enjoyed the temaki we tried, citrus salmon, spicy tuna roll and the Sweet Salmon with Asian pears as another unconventional combination.We didn’t much like the vegetarian sub blush version which has Philadelphia as one of the main ingredients, too fusion.

Yoobi Temakeria Soho Spicy Tuna Rolls

There has been a lot of thought put into the food and drink on offer at Yoobi and from what we had, it was fresh and delicious. This is a keeper. The prices are very reasonable for quality sushi in this area. A great place for a quick meal or a takeaway.

 

Yoobi on Urbanspoon

Sushi in the City at Feng Sushi

The South Bank is usually a hive of activity on evenings and weekends when special events are happening. For such a busy place, there aren’t many great places to eat as most the places around there are all of the chain variety.

However, some chains are better than others. One of these that offer a consistent quality of food is Feng Sushi at the Royal Festival Hall.

The decor is generically modern and very spacious with a choice of low tables or high stools. I love the large cherry blossom graphic on one wall, giving the only hint that this was a Japanese Restaurant.

The menu is quite extensive for a chain restaurant with a nice selection of cold and hot dishes. It is nice to see that all the fish served here are from sutainable sources. This led to them taking Unagi off the menu as they could not find a sustainable source for this in the UK.

feng sushi

The Sushi selection was quite extensive and well made but I like my sushi rice with more seasoning, which I understand is a regional Japanese thing. It was nice to see brown rice sushi as an alternative on the menu too.

feng sushi

Soft Shell Crab Roll feng sushi

Soft Shell Crab Roll

feng sushi

Seaweed Salad

feng sushi

Rock Shrimp Tempura

The rock shrimp tempura did not have the typical tempura batter, it was a bit thicker and crispier but tasty nonetheless.

We had to try one of the seasonal dishes that were on offer and we chose the Handpicked Devon Crab Donburi which is a bowl of rice topped with crab. There was no discernible flavour in the rice, save for the few slices of pickles and no dressing of any sort, rendering this dish quite bland.

Crab Donburi feng sushi

Crab Donburi

One of the few vegetable dishes besides the vegetarian sushi and a few tofu dishes was the Vegetarian Tempura. Perfectly light batter and crisp fresh vegetables was a real winner.

Vegetarian Tempura feng sushi

To finish we shared a dish of Black Sesame, Green Tea and Sweet Chestnut Ice Cream.

Black Sesame, Green Tea and Sweet Chestnut Ice Cream.

Black Sesame, Green Tea and Sweet Chestnut Ice Cream.

The service at Feng Sushi was friendly, attentive and competent, they kept my green tea cup regularly refilled. This is one of the better meals to be had around the Royal Festival Hall and I like the way that the menu is designed so that you can have just a quick bite or a more substantial meal.

If you work nearby, you can also order Sushi to takeaway via their website www.fengsushi.co.uk

Feng Sushi on Urbanspoon

SlowFoodKitchen was invited to review Feng Sushi.

Koya Soho , Great udon in London

I had heard some rumblings about this new Japanese noodle shop in Soho and one lunchtime, decided to check it out. They had only been open for 2 weeks and was not very busy when we got there. (Since my visit, it has been featured in the Metro and lots of other food blogs and there now queues to get in. )

Since there was a choice, we chose to sit at the counter overlooking the kitchen. This gave us a great view of the goings on in the compact kitchen but the chefs were rather shy and were not overly friendly. They did let me film them at work a bit, see below.

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They took over from the old Alaister Little premises and didn’t do much to the decor. They found the old tiled floor when they were renovating and kept it. By the looks of it, the place had spent the money importing some of the kitchen gear from Japan and not much on the rest of the place.

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This is in the Japanese tradition of specialising in one thing and this is an udon ya, or an udon only shop. Here is a little video of the kitchen in action:

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMBWAx8Sr4U

On the menu, there were choices for hot or cold noodles. The lovely waitress are probably not used to nosey customers and when asked what was the sauce wit the cold noodles, she said ” Japanese sauce”. Really, you don’t say?

Cold Udon with pork and miso

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Love the texture of the udon here, unlike the ready made variety found elsewhere, this was nice and chewy.

This combinations was just superb, light flavours with just the right combination of miso and dipping sauce.

Hot udon with smoked mackerel – Saba Udon

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The smoked fish and the wheat for the udon is imported and the dashi stock is made in house. You can choose to add the onsen tamago or natto as an extra topping to any of the noodle dishes.

The much discussed onsen tamago (£2)

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This is just a fancy name for a poached egg, which takes its name from the story that Japanese women took baskets of eggs to the onsen ( hot springs) and let the eggs poach while they soak. The result is a much creamier egg and when accompanied by a little spring onion and

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Here is something else we tried, Kakuni (£5.50) , the braised pork belly which came with a dollop of searingly hot Japanese mustard. Melt in the mouth pork, similar to the chinese poached belly pork but served cold. Nothing special though.

This was a great place for lunch and the Japanese in London who need a taste of home won’t be too disappointed. I would come again when I need an udon fix. The bill was about £30 for two with no drinks, which is a bit pricey for noodles in this area of London. Go early to avoid the queues as they don’t take reservations.

Koya

49, Frith Street

London

Koya on Urbanspoon

Review of lunch at Tsurusushi Broadgate

On a busy Thursday, was rushing for a meeting in the City, dropped in for lunch at the new Tsurusushi. It was a bit of time to find it as it was not obvious where it was and actually found it at the back of the 301 Bishopgate building. The place even has tables outside under the spider like legs of the Broadgate Tower, would be a perfect place for lunch al fresco in this area.

Met Emma (@Tsurusushi) who was very generously offering discount vouchers to promote the new branch. Around the Broadgate area, there never used to be so many places to eat. When I used to work here for a Japanese bank, the closest we would get to a nice Japanese meal was a bento box delivered by an obscure Japanese catering company and this used to costs us about £8 a box which was a lot, quite a few years ago.

Since I didn;t have time, I was quite glad that it was set up like a fast food, pay at counter or help yourself kind of setup. I ordered a Katsu curry and a small box of sushi. No sooner had I found a seat, the food appeared, that is quick service. The katsu was nicely crisp and the katsu curry sauce was not too sweet like some places make it and the portion was very generous. At about £6 for the katsu curry and about £4 for a small box of sushi, the prices were very good for the quality and quantity that we were served. At the next table were 4 Japanese salary men happily tucking into their Katsu curry ( which seems to be their favourite lunch meal as this is what I see them ordering most often at other Japanese lunch places too) which gives that stamp of authenticity to this dish.

Katsu curry
 Hijiki seaweed salad and some red cabbage sesame salad

Emma also brought over a plate of Hijiki seaweed salad and some red cabbage sesame salad which was so simple yet so tasty.

Tsuru sushi broadgate

These are the small boxes of sushi. The sushi was quite good for a London sushi takeaway, fish was fresh but the rice could have been flavoured a bit more for my taste. The califonia roll was actually quite yummy and I will definitely be back for more of that.

 

Yummy Mochi Ice Cream- green tea and sesame

Mochi Ice Cream

Just before we had to run we very quickly sampled the Mochi Ice Cream which was both unusual and quite delicious.

If you work around Liverpool Street and in search for a good Japanese meal, you should try out Tsurusushi.

3, 201 Bishopgate
London EC2M 3AB

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11am to 10pm

Rating : 7/10
Value: 8/10

Tsuru Sushi on Urbanspoon

Square Meal