Kanada-Ya – Soho, London, UK

It was the beginning of the end of summer in London. “In London? What summer?” I hear you ask. Don’t worry I am with you there, but this is when it started feeling cold enough to put tights and a trench coat on and a light scarf in my bag just in case. It was drizzly outside and all we wanted was a big bowl of bone broth noodle soup (to be honest all we really wanted was to be inside the house all day, stay in pajamas and watch telly but we were productive humans and went to work and then met for dinner afterwards).

We decided on Kanada-ya which my friend recommended was really good for ramen, so off to Piccadilly Circus we went and into the tiny little ramen bar and luckily we got a table downstairs in the warmth.

We genuinely wanted everything on the menu and as it was Friday, we thought we would treat ourselves with a portion of Karaage, a portion of Chashu Don, and a Tsuna Onigiri to share and then a bowl of ramen each! Yes, this was a lot of food in hindsight, but at the time we just wanted it all!

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Karaage
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Karaage
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Chasiu Don
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Tsuna Onigiri

The karaage (or fried chicken bites) were absolutely delicious especially when dipped in the side sauce of yuzu mayo – this was my favourite of the . The pork on the Chasiu Don literally fell apart because it was so soft and along with the sauce and the rice, it was a marriage made in heaven. The Onigiri was probably my least favourite but only because the other two dishes were both bursting with great flavours and it was very difficult to compete with those flavours.

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The Vegetarian Ramen
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The Truffle Ramen
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The Spicy Yuzu Ramen

I had the spicy yuzu ramen and I was pleasantly surprised at how good the broth was. It was extremely creamy from all the hours of bone broth creating. I did try the vegetarian ramen broth and it tasted very much like a creamy mushroom soup. The ramen was all very good. I would say it was disappointing that none of the ramen options on the menu came with the famous ramen egg that has been soaked in soy sauce and we all had to order this as an extra to our dishes – this felt a little bit wrong as traditionally there really should have been an egg in there or at least a ramen option with an egg on the menu.

Overall the food was great! It is a nice, warm, little noodle bar. The service was very quick and the food was reasonably priced.

Definitely worth a try!

http://www.kanada-ya.com/piccadilly

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Sen Nin – Upper Street, Islington, London

We decided to treat ourselves to a teppanyaki dinner, which neither of us had tried properly before. Sen Nin were doing a weekday special feast menu which consisted of 4 courses for £30 per person. There was a Miso or Tom Yum soup to start, Japanese tapas next, then the Teppanyaki course and a finished off with a dessert.

We weren’t really sure what to expect – all I knew is that we booked the chef’s table so that we could watch him to the cooking in front of us.

It was a quiet Wednesday evening in the restaurant, which I guess was why they had a deal on during the week. There were a few tables of people in the restaurant, but we had the chef’s table to ourselves.

I ordered the Tom Yum soup and Jack ordered the Miso soup. They were served in little Japanese soup bowls and were nice but nothing to shout about.

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For our Japanese tapas dishes we chose the seafood option. There was a seabass ceviche, a tuna tartare and calamari. These were presented gorgeously on a long dish so I was very impressed when it came out. Taste-wise, again, they were all nice enough. The tuna was a little stringy and didn’t really melt in my mouth the way I thought it should, the ceviche and calamari were nice though.

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Next was the Teppanyaki and out came our Chef who explained it all to us! We had ordered the scallops and the fillet steak to share with some rice and vegetables.

He was great! This is what we had been waiting for! He chatted and joked with us the whole time that he was cooking. And he wasn’t JUST cooking, he was doing tricks with all the food! At one point he let Jack get up and try out a trick as well.

It was great entertainment for the evening. He didn’t go wild and make a massive flame on the stove but he was fun nevertheless.

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The scallops and steak with the fried rice and the vegetable stir fry on the side were the best part of the meal by far. Nice flavours but I think the entertainment of it being cooked in front of us definitely made us enjoy it more.

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For dessert we got a mixture of 3 mini dessert pots and a duo of red bean and matcha ice cream and shared them all. I love matcha ice cream so that was the best bit for me (matcha is a glorious time always!) – the rest was okay but I don’t think I would have missed out if I didn’t have them.

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I wouldn’t necessarily be running back for a weekday set menu – but perhaps would come again to see what the weekend is like for the chef’s table teppanyaki as that was definitely good fun.

 

http://www.sen-nin.com/

Tonkotsu – Southwark, London

Keeping to the ramen theme (and the recent wintery, cold and rainy weather in London) – Another great ramen place to go is Tonkotsu. They have a couple of restaurants in London now, including one in Hackney which has over 60 different brands of whiskeys to offer and one inside Selfridges in case you are hungry during a shopping spree.

We went to the one in Southwark. We went there late on the Thursday night and it had a really calm, chilled out vibe.

They make their own noodles from scratch and they make their own broths etc, but what they are famous for making are their own brand “Eat The Bits” Chilli Oil that they serve in their restaurants.

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We started the meal with pork gyozas and fried squid which were both delicious. The gyoza had a tasty and juicy middle and I loved that the squid was not thickly battered and was instead lightly coated.20160413_211442

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For main we shared a chilli chicken ramen which was absolutely perfect to warm our bellies for the cold evening. The chili oil was delicious to pour over it as well.20160413_212524

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Lovely meal and well priced.

http://www.tonkotsu.co.uk/

Bone Daddies – Soho, London

The last time I did a blog post about Bone Daddies was a while ago. So it is time to give an updated one (with much better photos compared to the ones taken on my old phone – thank you technology evolution).

Come rain, snow, icy wind and cold English weather – this is the place I crave.

Jack and I went recently. Hidden away in a small side street in Soho, it’s got a cool, casual, light rock-type vibe, but not too in your face and I think their food, their service and their atmosphere is fantastic for a modern, big city, ramen bar.

We got a starter of wild soft shell crab tempura £9.40. If you haven’t tried this and you are a fan of seafood – well then you are most definitely missing out. I wasn’t a massive fan of the ginger sauce on the side but I dipped them into soya sauce instead and they tasted absolutely stunning. The crunch of the tempura coating on the outside and the softness of the crab on the inside is a gorgeous contrast.

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Then I got my Bone Daddies bib on ready for my ramen!IMG-20160525-WA0009

We got the Tonkotsu Ramen £11. Tonkotsu is a pork bone broth which is usually cooked for about 20 hours until the soup goes a milky white. Absolutely beautiful and it must have so much goodness in there.

Ramen is a particular type of Japanese wheat noodle that usually comes in a pork broth that has cooked for so long that it has become creamy and it is absolutely gorgeous. What makes a ramen dish exciting are all the little colourful parts of it – The spring onions, the meat that falls apart, the bamboo shoots that give a sweet crunch, the fresh beansprouts, the nori (seaweed) and those melt in your mouth, soya dipped, runny yolked eggs! ARGH GET IN MY MOUTH NOW! (Sorry I got a little carried away there).20150920_134959

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If you haven’t been to Bone Daddies yet – try and make it there for some gorgeous, feel-good, Japanese comfort food.

http://www.bonedaddies.com/peter-st-soho/

Dotori – Finsbury Park, London

Getting a table at Dotori in Finsbury Park is like seeing  a unicorn. Okay – maybe more like seeing a shooting star.

No one ever picks up the phone, you cannot just rock up because its always booked up, and when you go there you need to go during their opening hours and book at least 1 week in advance.

You hear stories about people going Dotori and having such a good time and it sounds like its a fairy tale or a myth!

Well, my turn has come to tell my tale of the time I finally got a table at Dotori.

Emma and I went for our housemate Christmas Meal at the end of last year. and we got ourselves a feast of glorious Japanese/Korean goodness.

20151220_193402The Salmon Temaki (£3.80 each) is a salmon and roe hand roll which was a refreshing start to the meal – the seafood is so fresh I would definitely recommend some sushi/sashimi/temaki with your meal. The Tofu Jeon (£4.50) was a bit more bland than I thought it would be so I wouldn’t recommend.20151220_194406

20151220_194541Samgyeopsal (£7) is a Korean style BBQ pork which comes with lettuce leaves that you use to wrap around the pork (like a fajita, ish) and that was gorgeously flavoured and came served on a sizzling hot plate. The Ebi Tempura (£7.50) is a prawn tempura dish which was crisp and authentic.

And finally the Haemul Pageon (£7) a seafood pancake which is a favourite of mine and it comes on a massive dish so its perfect for sharing.edited_1450639613067If you have the opportunity to visit the legend that is Dotori – You must! It is a tiny little place, always super packed but the service and food are fabulous!

 

http://dotorirestaurant.wix.com/dotorirestaurant

https://www.zomato.com/london/dotori-finsbury-park

Sticks ‘n’ Sushi – Covent Garden, London

After a Psycle class (which if you haven’t tried, you must! It is brilliant! http://psyclelondon.com/), Eleena and I headed out for some dinner and a catch up at Sticks ‘n’ Sushi in Covent Garden.20150902_210339For our sticks we ordered the Bacon Wrapped Asparagus (£3.20 each), Mixed Yasai Vegetables in Teriyaki (£2.50 each), Chicken Wings (£5 for 2 pieces).

I definitely recommend the chicken wings. They were beautifully grilled with a slight sweet teriyaki sauce and so tender that they just fell off the bone.20150902_212051For our sushi we ordered the Mini Maki De Luxe £23 which was made up of 4 Hell’s Kitchen, 4 Ebi Panko, 4 Shake Aïoli, 4 Salmon Ceviche, soya sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger. There were a whole mixture of flavours on this platter of rolls.

The Hell’s Kitchen Roll is made up of Tempura shrimp, avocado, spicy sauce, topped with tuna & barbecue sauce. As you bite into it, you first taste the softness of the tuna partnered with the creamy spicy mayo, you then came across the crunchiness of the tempura ebi which is a lovely battered shrimp.

The Ebi Panko Roll is made up of Tempura shrimp, spicy sauce, topped with avocado, sesame & tsume soy. It again has the same textures as the Hell’s Kitchen but instead of tuna, you come across thinly sliced avocado which again is soft and melts in your mouth before you bite into the crunchy shrimp.

The Shake Aioli Roll is made up of Snow peas, avocado, cucumber, miso-aïoli, topped with seared salmon, sesame, tsume soy, chives & trout roe. The vegetarian middle of the sushi mixed with the ever-so-slightly seared salmon along with the rice created a lovely balanced mix and the salted flavours of the trout roe completed it.

The Salmon Ceviche Roll is made up of Red onion, cucumber, avocado, topped with salmon, coriander & lime marinade. It had the beautiful refreshing taste of a Peruvian Ceviche dish. The red onion was not obvious or overbearing, in fact, it wasn’t even noticeable and blended nicely with the rest of the ingredients. All the sushi we had was really good and I would definitely recommend this platter, but I think this roll was my favourite. 20150902_212059

 

20150902_215330We ordered the Dark Sweets dessert set which was made up of Black sesame ice cream with nougatine, Marcel chocolate cake with crystallised white chocolate, bergamot orange crème brûlée, dark fondant with chocolate caramel & peppermint heart topped with hazelnut brittle £10.

They didn’t have the sesame ice cream so they gave us coconut ice cream instead which was really refreshing and light and was my favourite dessert on the platter. The creme brulee was also very light and refreshing with a thin but crunchy top. The chocolate cake was quite dense and rich but because it was only small it was great and he fondant was like a thicker, creamier, after eight. Although it was a creamy dark chocolate – the mint lightened the flavour of the fondant mixture.

All in all, a great meal!

http://www.sticksnsushi.com/

Koya – The Soho Udon Bar, London

I love a good noodle bar in the cold and wet London winter weather. The warmth of the restaurant with its steamy soup bowls is always a great tummy warmer.

So, Emma, Charlotte, Pam and I found ourselves in Koya this specific evening. It exactly how you would imagine a noodle bar in Japan with its planks of wooden menus covering the walls.

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Now, I am usually a Ramen girl but Koya is a specialist Udon bar. Ramen is a thin and curly egg noodle, which I absolutely adore as I feel that it really absorbs the flavours of the soup. Udon, on the other hand, is a thick rice noodle, which I very rarely eat, but if you are going out to eat Udon, then Koya is definitely the place to go.

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We started off the evening with a bowl of duck offal (£8.90) and a plate of tempura squid balls (£8.90). Adventurous!

The offal was actually very nice – a mixture of chestnuts, liver and gizzard in a thick sweet soy sauce. Not to everyone’s taste, but if you enjoy top to tail eating it is lovely, if not, the menu is quite big and there is lots of other things to choose from.

The tempura squid balls were different than I thought they would be – they were better. They were mixed with spring onion with a light batter that stayed slightly crisp even after dipped in the sauce.

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Then we dug into the Udon – a Kamo (£13.30) and a Butajiru (£11.80).

The Kamu is Udon served in a hot chicken broth with sliced duck breast and duck meat balls. Meat balls in soup can turn out quite dry but all the duck in the soup was cooked perfectly – the breast still slightly pink just the way it should be.

The Butajiru is Udon served in a hot miso soup with pork and vegetables – also gorgeous. For me, a noodle soup is as much about the soup as the filling, and the soups were great.

We had some Tanuki (bits of tempura batter £0.60) to sprinkle into our Udon soups, which added a bit of extra texture.

I will still say I am very much a Ramen girl, but the dishes were great and its a cute little tummy warming bar. A must try.

http://www.koya.co.uk/