Tag Archives: japanese

Kurobuta, Marble Arch

Japanese restaurant in Marble Arch (they have another branch in Chelsea) serving small-plate dishes.

The restaurant is casual, and the food is cooked well and beautifully seasoned.


The waiting staff are young and some of them seem slightly unprofessional. Maybe it’s a bit hard to get the balance right between being cool without being impolite, like fully blocking the walkway when the customer is trying to get through. This is NOT the attitude of ALL staff – our waiter was absolutely delightful – funny, polite, and offered honest recommendations.

Another let-down is the extortionate price of rice and miso soup. Steamed rice is £5 a portion! Same with miso soup.

I asked the waiter how big the rice portion is – he said it’s a small bowl

I couldn’t bring myself to order one to see how big or small it is, or how delicious it is. Maybe it comes with gold leaf. Maybe it’s miracle rice which cures cancer. Maybe it makes you fart rainbow or gives you orchid-scented poop. We will never know.

Shame.

Casual settings

The food is divided in sections of cold, crunchy, junk, robata BBQ, “significant others”, and maki

From “Maki” section : Spicy Tuna Rolled in Tempura Crunchies

The tempura bits on the top add a lovely crunchy texture to the sushi.

The red sauce on top is punchy & spicy.

OMG OMG OMG

 From “Crunchy” section : Black Pepper Soft Shell Crab Tempura with Chuka Wakame

OMG OMG OMG

Soft shell crab pieces are deep fried with light airy batter, served on a bed of green seaweed, topped with tangy & spicy sauce. OMG.

From “Robata BBQ” section : BBQ Pork Belly Buns with Peanut Soy

Chunky pieces of pork belly, tender & charred – sandwiched in a hirata bun bun which has been grilled or fried.

Served with delicious sweet & salty peanut sauce.

From “Maki” section : Shrimp Tempura Dragon Roll with Unagi Sauce and Soba Crunchies

All maki should come with some kind of crunchies from now on.

Everything is more awesome with crunchy bits sprinkled on top. Fact.

From “Significant Others” section : Nasu Dengaku – Miso Baked Aubergine with Candided Walnuts and Sancho Pepper

O

M

G

The texture (soft, silky, melting) and the flavour (miso-ey, sweet, salty, comforting).

Respect.

Burnt Honey Ice Cream, Honey Crunch, Pistachio Cake & Japanese Suntory Whisky Jelly

A disappointing finish to the meal.

The cake is nice enough & has strong pistachio flavour. The honey crunch is nice by itself. The jelly is yummy. The ice cream was very thick & pastey. The raspberry & blackberry were…. well, berries.

Together, they’re nothing to write home about.

Menu, location, etc: http://www.kurobuta-london.com/

Sosharu, Farringdon

Sosharu in Farringdon is a cute Japanese place with such a cool & romantic vibe…

Service is a bit of hit & miss : the waiter was friendly, but not very efficient or accommodating…. maybe they were still finding their feet.

Chicken karaage, served with lemon and three types of salt – really nice plate of fried chicken, perfectly crunchy on the outside, moist & juicy on the inside!

Grilled wagyu rib eye, with ginger & garlic crisps – super tender, just melts in your mouth!

Stuffed chicken wings. Nice, yes, but my mum’s one is better 😉

Udon with chashu pork belly, onsen egg, and crispy seaweed. YUM!

Rice pot – with chicken yakitori, shishito pepper, and slow cooked egg. Meh.

Matcha crepe cake with matcha sorbet

Menu, location, etc: http://sosharulondon.com/

Chotto Matte, Soho

Chotto Matte is right smack in the middle of Soho and has such a cool vibe about it.

“Nikkei” apparently means cuisine of Japanese and Peruvian flavours (very similar to sushisamba) which I found a bit strange at first but it’s growing on me. Chotto Matte does amazing food with fantastic flavour and texture.

  •  Chicha Morada – non-alcoholic mocktail made from purple corn, cinnamon, pineapple, apple, and lime. Tastes like Big Red bubblegum

  • Padron peppers – deep fried green peppers with delicious den miso dressing
  • Nikkei gyoza – pork, prawn and cassava dumplings served on aji amarillo and sweet potato puree. Yum.

  • Vegetable tempura – light & crispy. Enoki mushroom is my favourite.
  • Ebi tempura sushi roll – with tempura prawn and Peruvian chilli

  • Stir-fried brown rice with vegetables and soy sauce. Delicious & a good filler.
  • Pork belly, beautifully seasoned, with nashi pear and yellow tomato salsa. You can’t go wrong with pork belly!

  • Aubergine miso with dried apricot and puffed soba, served with sesame seeds sprinkle. So so so good.
  • Salmon yuzu terriyaki. Fresh piece of salmon, beautifully cooked, fantastic dressing.

  • Grilled octopus tentacles with Octopus, with yuzu dressing & purple potato. Tender octopus, but I’m not sold about the potato flavour.
  • Chicken den miso – perfectly grilled chicken (with crispy skin) served with thin shavings of carrot and daikon, drenched in delicious mayo-like dressing.

The bill: for 9 dishes, 4 bowls of rice, 4 drinks = £150 incl service between 5 of us. Not cheap, but not as expensive as sushisamba (but you don’t get the sushisamba view)

Menu, location, etc: http://www.chotto-matte.com/

Sushisamba, Liverpool Street

We went to Sushisamba to celebrate my dear friend turning a tender age of thirty something.

Sushisamba is located in the Heron Tower, on a super high floor with great views of London city. The high-speed lift going up is quite an experience. When it first takes off, you’re thinking “oh, this is not so bad, looks like my fear of height is under control after all”. Then exactly 5 seconds later your hands become sweaty, your legs shaky, and I limped away from the brave outward-facing portion of the lift to stand closer towards the lift door, clutching on to my dear husband (who is not looking so peachy either). A few seconds were needed to calm my poor nerves after we got to the restaurant level.

Sushisamba’s menu comprises of a strange combination of Japanese, Brazilian, and Peruvian food (what?). Everything is on the menu is expensive.

However, you do get what you pay for (or at least I’d like to think). The service is outstanding (it’s one of those places where you get up from the table looking for the toilet, a waitress stopped whatever she was doing, walked you all the way to the restroom AND open the restroom door for you. That’s right) and the foods are fresh, good quality, and delicious.


  • Glazed pork belly with orange and pork crackling in lettuce wrap. Well cooked pork belly, tender & beautiful.
  • Mixed vegetables tempura with shichimi togarashi sprinkle

  • Calamari chicharron with plantain and tamarind sauce. Perfect texture paired with perfect sweet & tangy sauce. Yum.
  • Grilled foie gras with fried quail egg. Scrumptious.

  • Lamb chops robata

  • Grilled salmon with peruvian dark chocolate. Came highly recommended by a friend
  • Grilled eggplant with mustard miso. You can’t go wrong with eggplants really.

  •  Seafood chimichurri rice – very coconutty, very creamy, very filling, very nice. Unfortunately we were stuffed to the brim by the time this arrived (mainly because we’ve been eating the previous courses with rice)

  • Assorted flavour ice cream mochi
  • Special chocolate dessert plate for the birthday girl!

In hindsight, we should have tried their sushi. The restaurant name, after all, has sushi in it. Oh well, next time.

p.s. the journey back down the high-speed lift is not that much easier than the upward ride

Menu, location, etc: http://sushisamba.com/location/london

Zuma, Knightsbridge

Zuma is a stone throw away from Harrods department store in Knightsbridge. It’s tucked away on a side road, so you’re not in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the main street.

When I first saw the building where Zuma is located I was quite surprised. For some reasons I expected brand spanking new shiny building with massive sign with “Zuma” on it.

The building looks like an old run-down hotel, with a modest restaurant sign. But once you step inside, it’s an entirely different place. The decor is all elegant light wood, very airy, and very luxurious.

This place is well staffed. Four or five people were at the counter to take care of reservations, taking your coats, and taking you to your table. As you’re being lead to your table, you notice lots of waiters & waitresses taking orders, topping up drinks, and serving food. Then you walk pass a grilling station and sushi & sashimi station, again fully staffed, busy grilling and preparing food.

This seems to be popular with the Knightsbridge crowd. Think lots of Harrods shopping bags, prams, prams full of Harrods shopping bags, suit-clad gentlement, sizzling hot ladies in expensive looking clothes, kids with their heads down in fron of an iPad Air oblivious to anything that goes on around them.

Feeling out of place aside, we thoroughly enjoyed our time at Zuma. Service was slow at times, but we didn’t mind it because we had good company. Most importantly, the food was to die for.

What we ordered…

  • Deep-fried soft shell crab served on a bed of salad, and a side of wasabi mayonnaise. You can’t really go wrong with soft shell crab – here, it’s fried in light batter, each bite is crispy & airy, and goes really well with wasabi mayo. Great start.
  • Gyu tataki – seared beef with ginger-lime-coriander soy sauce. I’m not a big fan of raw meat, but I love a good gyu tataki. Unfortunately it wasn’t done well at Zuma. The sauce is very sour, and each thin piece of rare beef is sitting on so much shredded vegetables you can hardly taste the beef. You can skip this one.

  • Warm eggplant salad with sweet miso, topped with bonito flakes and served with a side of thinly sliced seaweed. OUT OF THIS WOLD. Eggplants, smeared with miso paste, are grilled (I think) to perfection, and goes so well with bonito flakes (but then again, everything goes well with bonito flakes). It’s so good that we went to Japan centre afterwards and picked up some ingredients in the hopes to replicate this at home. Watch this space for recipe if we succeed.
  • Vegetables tempura, because ever since I learned I have high cholesterol and should avoid oily food, this is the only thing I crave. Not good for my health, but great for my mental well-being. Great tempuras – pumpkin, green beans, enoki mushrooms, okras, potatoe, asparagus, and capsicum. Perfect batter.

  •  Crispy fried sole with spicy ponzu sauce – chunks of great quality fish, deep fried in light batter. The bowl is made from fish “skeleton” – very neat. Beware the white mound of what looks like mash potato underneath the bowl, it’s actually pure salt paste, and very unpleasant when you take a big bite. Learn from me. Served with wasabi mayonnaise and spicy ponzu sauce.

  • Oh, we need drum rolls for this one…. ladies & gentlemen, meet the STAR OF THE SHOW, the gorgeous, the incredible MISO-FLAVOURED BLACK COD!!! This is the most beautiful piece of fish I’ve ever tasted. The cod is cooked perfectly, the fish meat is very moist, the miso flavour has the right amount of subtlety. You don’t even need the sauce it comes with. Worth. Every. Single. Quid.

It turned out we over ordered slightly, and we should not have ordered the deep fried sole. We made the usual complaints to each other, “I’m too full”, “Me too, I’m stuffed”, “I don’t have room for dessert”, “We need to go to the gym after this”, “We’ll just ask for the bill”

Then the waiter came to clear the table, and asked the ultimate self-control question: “Would you like to see the dessert menu?”

The correct answer is? “No thanks, just the bill please”

But because we’re such polite people and don’t want him to feel rejected…. “Oh alright then”

  •  “Bamboo” Earl grey ice cream with kinako cake, served in the coolest dessert design ever. It looks like a pot plant – in the pot is a layer of cake, earl grey ice cream, fresh whipped cream, and crunchy chocolate soil. Great texture combination. Salted caramel sauce comes in a separate bowl, which you pour on. The “tree” branch is actually edible – tastes like plain cookie. The salted caramel was a bit too sweet for us, but otherwise a great dessert.

Incredible food, good service (a bit slow at points, but they were quite busy, so it was understandable), amazing piece of black cod. Food is on a pricey side, but you pay for quality, and bear in mind it is in Knightsbridge.

If I was made of money I would go here once a week. I would order a bowl of rice, miso eggplant, their amazing black cod, and a cup of bottomless hot green tea. Just thinking about it make me very happy.

Menu, location, etc: http://www.zumarestaurant.com/

Flesh & Buns, Covent Garden

If you’re in Covent Garden and are craving for snack-y food, go and see if you can get a seat at Flesh & Buns. The restaurant is underground and is not a huge establishment. They also tend to be very busy, so make sure you book ahead if this is your plan A place.

We went to Flesh & Buns after reading about all the hypes. We had a massive lunch prior to this so we couldn’t order much as we were not very hungry.

We were seated on the long table in the middle with high stools. Feel a bit like you’re in a school canteen.

  • Chicken Yakitori with shichimi pepper. You can’t go wrong with flame-grilled meat really. Next.

  • Steamed buns for your “flesh” – these babies are so soft, so light, so fluffy. It’s like eating cloud. Delicious fluffy cloud.
  • They have a good variety of meat options from the “Flesh & Buns” menu. We ordered their signature braised pork belly version. Ah-mazing. Pork belly is cooked until super tender, served with miso mustard and pickle apple.

Each item from Flesh & Buns menu come with fresh lettuce and cucumber.

You take a bun, gently pry open the folds, carefully place some lettuce & cucumber inside. Then generously stuff it with the “flesh” of your choice. Add a little bit of pickle. Drizzle some sauce. Chow it down.

It’s like a DIY burger, only more fluffy. Delicate fluffy cloud burger.

These are actually quite filling, so don’t over order. The couple next to us wanted to order 3 flesh options, and the waitress kept telling them no. It would’ve been way too much for 2 people. Plus, you need to keep room for dessert!

  • Chocolate fondant with raspberry sorbet. Inside this unassuming looking chocolate cake is chocolate lava waiting to ooze out. Yum.

  • S’mores – their signature dessert. Everybody order it. A small bonfire is placed on the table for you to grill your marshmallows on. Once done to your liking, you make a sandwich by putting the grilled marshmallows between two biscuits with a sheet of green tea chocolate in the middle.

  • It’s a really fun & yummy way to end the meal. It can get messy with the marshmallow oozing out while you’re trying to eat it. But you must try it.

Menu, location, etc: http://www.bonedaddies.com/flesh-and-buns/

Grilled Mackerel, Japanese Style

Serves 2

What you need:

  • 2 pieces Mackerel fillets
  • 4 Tbsp Soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Mirin
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp Oil (Rice bran)
  • Sesame seeds to garnish

How to put this together:

  • Score fish fillets, skin side, to help the cooking process
  • In a bowl, mix together soy sauce + mirin + sugar + grated ginger
  • Using a flat-based pan, heat oil on medium heat. Add sauce mixture. Mix well.
  • Add fish fillets, skin side down. Spoon the sauce from the pan over the fish.
  • Keep cooking until the skin look done, 5-7 mins. Occasionally spoon more sauce over the fish.
  • Flip over the fish and cook the other side. Add some water if the sauce caramelises too fast and the sauce is too thick
  • Sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Serve with steamed rice.

Nobu, Hyde Park Corner

Before we moved to London I used to see Nobu being mentioned in celebrity gossip magazines all the time. I thought the restaurant was in the States, and never thought I’d get a chance to try their food. So imagine my surprise when a foodie friend of ours invited us for dinner at Nobu, in London! I said yes without a blink.

The restaurant is everything I imagined it would be, and more. I felt like I’m in a cool kids club walking in to the restaurant. Tables and chairs don’t scream fancy pants, but the air about this place is very very cool. Great food, great service, and yes, it’s a bit pricey (but we expected it).

  •  Yellowtail Tartar with Caviar – I’m not normally a big fan of raw fish, but this was amazing. The yellowtail mince is super fresh. Surprisingly refreshing.
  • Ceviche – thinly sliced pieces of raw fish, marinated in citrussy sauce. Not my favourite.

  •  Salmon & prawn rice roll, served with gingery-citrussy sauce. Very fresh, very tasty.
  • Beef Toban Yaki – tender thick slices of beef, served in yet another amazing sauce/broth. Good good good.

  • Black cod with Miso glaze – this is what Nobu is famous for, and it’s pretty bloody amazing. This is our first time eating black cod, and it won’t be the last (please nobody tell me this is an endangered fish) – the fish flakes off into chunky moist pieces of lovely miso-flavoured fish. Heavenly. Must try. Bloody expensive though.

  • Assorted sushi – good sushi, nothing out of this world
  • Miso soup – good miso soup, nothing out of this world

  • Crème brulèe – the cutest of its kind, served in a tiny little espresso cup. Underneath the coffee-flavoured form is creme brulee, ice cream, and cruncy coffee cocoa.

  • They also have a bento box option – cheaper then the other set menu (but still quite expensive) – but you do get a piece of their signature black cod with miso. Not a bad choice if you’re not too hungry.

Nobu serves good quality & tasty food with top notch service. However, due to the high price tag we’re keeping this on the list of restaurants for special occasions.

p.s. it’s also great for celebs spotting 😉

Menu, location, etc: http://www.noburestaurants.com/london/experience/

Tatsumi, Auckland

We were looking for a nice restaurant for a special celebration while we’re home in NZ, so we asked my foodie brother and his foodie girlfriend to recommend us a place. We chose Tatsumi from the list they gave us because we felt like Japanese food and the restaurant comes highly recommended.

The restaurant is in Newmarket, and has taken over the premise of our previous favourite Japanese restaurant Rikka.

From the outside: large heavy door with “tatsumi” written on it. On the inside: the place is very cosy, dark, and welcoming. The tables are nicely spread out so you’re not sitting right next to other tables. The service is spot on, piping hot towels as you settle down, prompt service, attentive waitresses, and no lengthy waiting time between courses.

As we were there in December, they had special Christmas set menus on offer: 5 course and 8 course menus. We ordered one of each to share.

The flavour of every single dish is out of this world. Everything has intense complex flavour. Everything is fresh & delicious. Everything, everything, everything.

  • Amuse-bouche of gazpacho with black olives (on both menus)
  • Treasure Box : 6 tasty appetisers of beef tataki with mango salsa, battered fish with orange sauce, seared tuna with cream cheese, deep fried oyster with mayonnaise and prawn eggs, sweet mussel, thinly-sliced lotus roots and beans served on endive. Yum. (from 8-course menu)

  • Rainbow sashimi summer roll : fresh tuna, salmon, white fish, and shiso leaves wrapped in rice paper. Served with pickled plum miso sauce with sprinkles of soba seeds and crispy shrimps. To die for. (from 8-course menu)
  • Sashimi : fresh tuna, salmon, and white fish. Not a big fan of raw fish so I not too sure of how amazing this is. Fresh though. (from 5-course menu)

  •  Blue cod wrapped in crispy kadayif (boy oh boy) with grilled prawn and Hokkaido scallop. Served with cherry tomato compote (in a shape of cherry tomato – clever) and bok choi, and a side of miso flavoured beurre blanc sauce. AMAZINGGGGGGGG (on both menus)
  • Japanese wagyu beef steak (our first wagyu EVER) with mariated mushrooms, grilled asparagus and pickled plum flavoured grated daikon radish, topped with shiso leaves. Served with ponzu sauce. Beef is very tender and is the very definition of melting in your mouth. The chunks of fatty bits are unpleasant though, but still super yum. (on both menus – note: you need to pay more to upgrade from NZ beef to wagyu beef)

  • Scampi miso soup : yes, the scampi is looking at you from under the soup, freaky (from 8-course menu)
  • Nigiri sushi : salmon, tuna, and scampi nigiri sushi

  • My dessert : Black sesame creme brulee, served with passionfruit sorbet and chilli-infused plum wine gummy

  • Hubby’s dessert : Green tea fondant, served with vanilla ice cream and candied orange. This is so good I’ve been trying to replicate it ever since.

Please please please go and have dinner at Tatsumi. You will not be disappointed.

Menu, location, etc: http://tatsumi.co.nz/

Shoryu, Soho

At my last job in New Zealand, our office was located in the heart of Auckland city. This means easy access to a good variety of food options. There are a number of food courts within the proximity where you can get greasy Chinese food, mass produced sushi boxes (so good), fancy not-so-mass-produced sushi (expensive), pizzas, pasta, Thai food, north-eastern Thai food, Indian food, Indonesian food. All sorts. There are also great coffee shops, McDonalds, Subway, and healthy places selling healthy wraps for healthy people. Something for everyone.

We were lucky enough to have two amazing Ramen places nearby. The one I frequented is the one closest to the office, which is right across the road (the other one is a few mins walk away). I used to go there all the time, ordering my usual spicy pork ramen with half the noodles (because I’m always trying to cut down my carbs, of course – “trying” being the keyword here) and going back to work super satisfied after slurping down the perfect ramen noodles served in perfect spicy broth. Ahhhhhh…. good times.

Sorry, I digress.

We are not in New Zealand. This post is about ramen place in London, our new temporary home.

Shoryu has a few branches in London, and serves nice ramen. Not nice enough if you compare it with the ramen place in Auckland mentioned above… with the perfect stringy noodles… and the broth that tastes like you just died and had gone to ramen heaven….

Sorry, digressed again.

Shoryu ramen….

  • Ramen noodles: nice al-dente noodles, but a bit too clumped together. Seems to release part of the starch as your meal progresses and thickens your broth. This is undesirable.
  • Broth: lovely aromatic broth. Prone to getting thickened as the the noodles are tampered with. See above problem with the noodles.
  • Pork: tender, melts in your mouth. Wish I can eat just a kilo of those. Extra portions can be ordered.
  • Egg: soft, runny, creamy. Yolk melts in your mouth. A dear friend of ours has a theory on how this is made – carefully-timed boiling, then immediately dunking it in iced water. Seems complicated.

I love the wooden spoon they serve ramens with. It’s really awkward to hold, and really hard to drink soup with. Also the woodenness is likely to have hygiene-related issues. But they’re so cute. I love them.

On each table, you get unlimited supplies of white sesame seeds which can be freshly grounded over the noodles.

They also give you free garlic! Fresh garlic. As much as you want. Crushed and mixed into your broth improves it by 10 times (only if you love garlic like me obviously).

Oh… and we tried one of their starters….

Steamed bun (light, soft, and fluffly – like eating cloud) with pork belly (melt in your mouth) and some vegetables. Oh so good. Would’ve been 10/10 if the bun-to-meat ratio is improved. They seem to go minimalist on meat here.

Menu, location, etc: http://www.shoryuramen.com/