Before Winter finally settles, I’m keen to remember summer one last time. (At least the memories will keep me warm!) My strongest association with a Japanese summer is the matsuri festivals. On summer evenings, in the humidity of a thirty-degree-heat, communities gather, dressed in yukata, and enjoy the festival. It usually consists of a procession and a gathering in a local square. Crowds form around the taiko drums which are often on a stage in the centre of the square and they dance, encircling the taiko drummers. Young children who dance for the first time are taught by their parents and grandparents, who push them along gently if they forget to keep moving round. The dancing is entrancing. The beat of the taiko drums is something which still enraptures me and raises the hair on my arms with excitement.
Not to mention the food! The smokey yakitori with the most delicious sauce, the ice-cold, bright, blue kakigori which gives you brain-freeze, the warming takoyaki. I was having bubble tea at matsuri festivals way before it was hipster and cool. These memories of the sounds and smells of my childhood nourish me when I am feeling homesick. Continue reading “Remembering Summer: London Matsuri”
Warning: This post is not for the empty-stomached.
For long-time followers, you’ll know that I adore okonomiyaki. That’s right, the Japanese omelette, savoury pancake, and grilled parcel of joy, covered in mayo and Bulldog sauce (like BBQ/HB sauce but better). MmmMMmmm.
This low-key obsession began three years ago, when I experienced the best meal that I’ve ever had in my whole life. In Osaka, my friends and I stepped off our shinkansen journey in the greatest city of food for just one meal. And boy, was it the lunch of dreams. Continue reading “London’s Answer to Okonomiyaki: Abeno? AbeYES”
It feels like they were refurbishing this spot for years in preparation for Oxford’s newest Japanese restaurant, but last term, Wasabi finally opened. The prospect of there being a Pret-equivalent where I could dash in for a bowl of yakisoba kept me in high spirits through the Autumn. Therefore, (I admit unashamedly) I was there, of course, on the day of its opening to see if it lived up to my expectations. Wasabi is a chain of restaurants with places all over England, and I was familiar with Wasabi in London. I was looking forward to tasting Oxford’s flavours and seeing if it would take over Itsu as my favourite take-out spot in town. Continue reading “Winter Warmth at Wasabi, Oxford”
If there’s one dish which I crave when in the UK, it’s katsu. It’s beginning to feel very much like the winter now in Oxford, and there’s nothing more delicious than a nice, warming dish like katsu. So when I was visiting Giraffe (George St., Oxford), my heart skipped a beat when I spotted that it was on the menu. Under the heading of ‘Bowls for the Soul’ was ‘Katsu Chicken’:
Breaded chicken and noodles in a mild peanut & coconut sauce, with bok choy, tenderstem broccoli and wok-fried vegetables
Katsu chicken and noodles? A peanut & coconut sauce? A stir-fry? This pan-Asian mixture intrigued me: at first I laughed out loud because it sounded so funny. But I accepted that it was British-Japanese food with an intriguing twist, and after I ordered the dish I was thrown back to memories of a delicious meal of tonkatsu which I had in Ikebukuro last summer. Continue reading “Not the Katsu I Know! Giraffe, Oxford”
Last summer Taro and I were travelling with another friend around Japan with a JR Rail Pass. We were staying in Hiroshima and were heading East to Tokyo, moving North up Honshu. On the way, however, we decided that we needed to visit Osaka. Unfortunately this was two hours in the opposite direction to the one which we were heading. With limited time on our hands (but an unlimited travel pass which we wanted to make the most of), we caught a ride on the shinkansen down to Osaka for lunch. Specifically, for okonomiyaki. Absurd? Yes. Worth it? Oh boy, yes and yes again.
Continue reading “From Osaka to Oxford: Okonomiyaki”
LONDON: Naomi rates Itadaki Zen at 4/5 stars.
It seems incongruously unusual to me to think of a Japanese restaurant without the smell of fish. Naively, this connection was so engrained within me that I had not even considered Japanese vegetarian food before. However, Itadaki Zen revealed to me a whole new perspective upon Japanese cuisine. It is definitely worth the visit for their delicious vegetarian and vegan meals.
Continue reading “Vegan Japanese”
LONDON: Naomi gives 4/5 stars to Bone Daddies Kensington.
Amidst the picturesque London scene of red buses and red brick along Kensington High Street lies a new hotspot for ramen fans, hidden in the depths of Whole Foods Market. But rather than for ramen, I personally think it should be famous for their drink names which feature excellent Japlish!
Bone Daddies Kensington opened last November, the third restaurant to add to the London-based company’s portfolio. They bring their signature hirata buns and dishes such as Curry Ramen and Tonkotsu to West London.
Continue reading “‘Painapurru Old Fashioned’ and Ramen”