Lunch at Koto

 Taro reviews the “little corner of Japan in North Parade”

A few weeks ago, I had a really lovely meal at Koto with the fairly lovely Naomi. It was so lovely in fact that I wanted to share it with you all.

Koto 3

Naomi kindly treated me to the meal which made it taste all the better, particularly because the cost of the dishes averaged above £9. And that was not including white rice for those dishes which are usually accompanied by it. It is (sadly), however, a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a desire for Japanese cuisine of reasonable quality in the UK, must be prepared to pay out into the double figures. Koto’s quite high prices then, while they should not be a source of pride for the restaurant, should not be a source of prejudice for us either. (Two points to you if you got the reference.)

The particular dish we had was the Koto’s lunch time speciality – ramen!!!! (Regrettably, every mention of ‘ramen’!!!! must be followed by four exclamation marks. It’s annoying I know, but I don’t make the rules.)

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Winter Warmth at Wasabi, Oxford

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”

Not the Katsu I Know! Giraffe, 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”

From Osaka to Oxford: Okonomiyaki

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.

Osaka 2

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Vegan Japanese

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.

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‘Painapurru Old Fashioned’ and Ramen

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.

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こんにちは! Konnichiwa!

Hi there and welcome to our blog, Thinking Japlish! We’re Taro and Naomi and we’re both half-Japanese, writing about our thoughts and experiences. We think that being half-Japanese is quite a unique thing – a unique identity. In Japan it is sometimes referred to as ‘hafu’ – a rather alienating phrase. But we have decided to embrace it. Japan is a particularly fascinating country and it is constantly in the news in the West for being ‘different’ and more often than not, ‘bizarre’. However, as both outsiders and from having insider experience of our cultural heritage, we are fortunate to have the opportunity to see Japan through two sets of glasses, appreciating it in different ways.

We’re both studying at the University of Oxford in the UK; Taro is studying Classics and Naomi is studying English Literature. You can find out more about us here!

Our blog will be a record of our thoughts about Japanese culture, and our ‘Japlish’ way of thinking. We will also be posting restaurant reviews for Japanese restaurants that we find and enjoy.

We hope that you check back to see what we’re writing about!

See you again soon,

よろしく,

Taro and Naomi