Tag Archives: sake

Kurobuta Chelsea

It’s been such a long week. I can barely look back and recognize this seemingly-happy person who was about to have the best Japense junk food dinner ever!

1

Kurobuta is located at two hundred & fifty-one Kings Road in Chelsea. The first time I came here a few months ago, it was a pop-up run by an ex-Nobu chef who went hipster and hired a bunch of dudes with beards to serve his Japanese pub grub. It was awesome – just what SW3 needed.

2

The only thing different about this visit is now Kurobuta is now staying permanently!

Welcome (officially) to the neighborhood!

4

Now I will always have a joint nearby that serves Kirin with a frozen beer “head” on top.

6

And to enjoy the open kitchen where cookery becomes theatre. It’s fascinating watching the chefs cook and prep each dish as it comes out.

7

8

The sake selection is limited but there is always a new and intriguing label on offer. Our bottle went down a treat with a few of these rice crisps to nibble on as we prioritized our menu options.

Crunchy Rice Senbei Crisps with avocado-jalepeno dip

Crunchy Rice Senbei Crisps with avocado-jalepeno dip

11

We decided to start with more traditional Japanese choices – maki, seaweed salad, and sashimi.

Spicy Tuna Maki | rolled in tempura crunchies

Spicy Tuna Maki | rolled in tempura crunchies

Bowl of Hijiki (seaweed)

Bowl of Hijiki (seaweed)

Yellowtail Sashimi | Kizami wasabi salsa and yuzu soy

Yellowtail Sashimi | Kizami wasabi salsa and yuzu soy

16

Before going glam with some Wagyu sliders…

Wagyu Beef Sliders | steamed bun, crunchy onions, pickled cucumberand Umami mayo

Wagyu Beef Sliders | steamed bun, crunchy onions, pickled cucumberand Umami mayo

Then getting our hands (or rather, chopsticks) dirty with some insanely succulent BBQ chicken.

Free Range Chicken Kushi-Yaki with Japanese BBQ sauce

Free Range Chicken Kushi-Yaki with Japanese BBQ sauce

For desert, we mellowed out with our favorite cushy little rice pastry treats – mochi!!

Selection of Mochi

Selection of Mochi

And it’s official. I love Kurobuta and I’m so glad they are here to stay!

The Shiori

I never thought I’d say this, but my search for the best Japanese food in London has come to an end!

Mind you, I had to go to Bayswater to get it. The Shiori is located in a row of predominantly Greek businesses within the shadow of the great Saint Sophia Orthodox Cathedral. It’s so unassuming from the outside, I almost walked right by it.

12 13

The interior is equally modest and – from the looks of these photos – a bit hazy. But it wasn’t that noticable and we were perfectly comfortable as we sipped our sake and waited for our 8 course menu to be served. The dining style is traditional kaiseki, a series of small, artistically arranged dishes akin to Western haute cuisine.

14 15

Burdock roots with sesame vinegar

Burdock roots with sesame vinegar

Plaice Kobu-jime

Plaice Kobu-jime

Turnip's mizore soup

Turnip’s mizore soup

This soup was divine. I loved sipping all the turnip broth from around the fish out of these delicate lacquered bowls.

19

20

Assorted sashimi

Assorted sashimi

The sashimi was amazing, served with an edible chrysanthemum shipped in fresh from Japan. The idea is to have a little nibble of it between each piece of fish to cleanse the pallet. It’s somewhat bitter, but needless to say, I finished every single petal of mine.

Next was the minced duck wrapped up in a doughy manju bun and surrounded by a viscid mushroom and yuzu gelee.

Minced duck Manju

Minced duck Manju

Vinegared snow crab

Vinegared snow crab

Nigiri sushi

Nigiri sushi

The main course was… more sushi! It was served with little brushes to glaze the finely scored tops of the fish with soy. It was truly the best I’ve had in London.

25

26 27

For dessert, a trio of Japanese ice creams: green tea, chestnut and black sesame.

The Shiori celebrates its one year anniversary this week. I highly recommend it for sushi worthy of an emperor. And I will be certainly be returning myself… even if does mean another journey to Bayswater.

28

East London Silliness

My gal pal was in town and invited me out to East London for a party. I was keen to go, but not in one straight shot. I have to ease my way east – so I suggested we meet for a cocktail on the fringe of civilization – King’s Cross. Drink, Shop & Do is the perfect place for people with short attention spans, like me. Started by two hip London girls, this place combines a number of my favorite things – cocktails, shopping, and having a laugh with friends. They also host crafty activity events, where you can get creative making flower headbands, or vintage style corsages, or origami bouquets. The perfect atmosphere to get silly!

1 2 5.5 3 4 5

It’s an eclectic little place – and they make an extra-frothy espresso martini!6 7 8

9 10 1113

12You can even shop here – candy, housewares, letterpress stationery… I couldn’t resist this witty little souvenir on the way out. 14

And the girls couldn’t resist this hunky tomcat…

15 16

We jumped in a cab and headed further east. I’m always a little skeptical of anything happening so close to the financial district at nighttime, but sometimes you gotta take a gamble. I’m glad I did, because our next stop was a pleasant surprise.

Life on Old Street is a Japanese restaurant with an afterhours bar downstairs. It’s got that minimalist East Asian vibe, a pair of DJs, and a disco ball – which automatically upped its cool factor. Plus, the bar serves sake – so it didn’t take long for us to start having fun!

32 30 31 29 28 25 24 26 17 18 21

23 22 19 20 27

There’s always someplace new to discover in London – and this applies to anywhere in the world. You just need to get out there and take the gamble. Because, sometimes, it definitely pays off.

East London

East London might as well be Narnia. It seems so far off and inaccessible, yet I’m always hearing how very trendy it is and yearning to be transported to this magical land of hipsters where everything cool seems to happen.

Barb5

So this Saturday I donned my hipster uniform (rolled-up jorts and low top Jack Purcells) and journeyed east in search of off-beat Cockney fun. I arrived in Hackney somewhat dazed and daunted; so many strange characters swarmed around me – a woman in a bikini eating chicken out of a box as she hurried down the sidewalk, a stylish dude in a sassy full-length Grover shag fur coat, and strollers – lots of lots of strollers. Apparently, I’d been beamed into a hidden hipster breeding ground where young Londoners come to hatch their brood.

I squeezed past the buggies and highchairs in Lardo for brunch. Industrial chic Italian food in the urban hotspot Arthaus building. The baked egg skillet was scorched in a glittering dome oven and served hot enough to incinerate the roof of my mouth. The bloody marys were delicious but – holy, salt! – garnished with your yearly recommended sodium intake. To be fair, the cured meats and pizzas looked amazing and I certainly finished every bite of my breakfast; appetite sated, we headed off to lovely Dalston.

Lardo

Lardo

Lardo

Lardo8

Lardo2

Lardo4ArtHaus

Baked Eggs | cannellini beans, spinach & feta

Baked Eggs | cannellini beans, spinach & feta

Lardo5

Lardo7

And by lovely, I mean a graffitied gravel lot – and site of the Barbican-commissioned “Dalston House” installation by Leandro Erlich. Exploring themes of architecture, urbanism, and perception, the interactive exhibition gives visitors a tactile experience and optical illusion using a specially designed Victorian terraced house facade. Have a look:

Barb6

Barb

Barb2

Barb1

Barb3

Barb4

Barb7Very cool.

As we retreated back west, we passed through Camden on a pilgrimage for a word-of-mouth Japanese restaurant recomendation. Asakusa in Mornington Crescent is a relatively underground favorite for authentic sushi – despite its dingy outer appearance, it was jam-packed with reservations inside. Faded Tokyo kitsch cheers the otherwise passe dining room, and a matronly bespectacled woman calls out orders and “Hai!” from behind a counter covered in little cat figurines and stacks of Japanese newspapers.

Asakusa

Meneki-neko (beckoning cats)

Meneki-neko (beckoning cats)

Accomplished - and very busy - sushi chef

Accomplished – and very busy – sushi chef

Japanese pickles

Japanese pickles

A fine bottle of junmai sake

A fine bottle of junmai sake

Asakusa3

It was a looooong wait for the sushi, but we had been warned. When it finally came, the delay was entirely forgiven because it was superb – fresh as could be, it dissolved on the tongue. The tempura and chicken katsu that followed were further triumphs. Dessert just put the whole meal into the top percentile of Japanese dining.

Yellowtail sashimi

Yellowtail sashimi

Katsu chicken

Katsu chicken

Mochi | Green tea ice cream

Mochi | Green tea ice cream

Red bean mochi

Red bean mochi

Asakusa11

This was a prolonged and drowsy dinner, which we waited for and lingered over for three hours – but with plenty of sake at hand, we hardly minded.

As I drifted down the underground tunnels, through the wardrobe so to speak, I was so gratified by my cross-city trip. I was a little woozy, but glad to be home – safe from the sad, traitorous Mr. Tumnus’ of London. Thankful as I was for the adventure, I had left him behind half-heartedly – knowing he was too weak and helpless from being sucked into the evil, frightening depths of Narnia. Life isn’t too far from a fairytale sometimes.