Ginza Onodera – Teppanyaki experience

GINZA ONODERA

I recently attended a bloggers’ event at Ginza Onodera, a fine-dining Japanese restaurant in Mayfair where we were treated to a masterclass in teppan cooking. Previously Matsuri, it re-opened as Ginza Onodera in March 2017 following a major £2.5m refurbishment. As Ginza Onodera, it is now part of the world-renowned Onodera Group, which includes sites in Tokyo’s Ginza district, Shanghai, Hawaii, Los Angeles, New York and Paris. 


Teppanyaki refers to a style of Japanese cooking that uses an iron griddle to cook food, with teppan meaning iron, and yaki meaning grill. The teppan grill at Ginza Onodera was state of the art, allowing for even cooking throughout the central part of the grill, and on hand to show us how to teppan grill were Head chef Ryosuke Kishi and Teppan chef Marvin Gatus.

Seated around the teppan grill in a private dining room, we were firstly treated to a Seasonal Zensai, three bite sized mouthfuls of fresh seafood deliciousness. Starting with the top left in a clockwise direction, we had the kampachi carpaccio with yuzu, pomegranate truffle, shimesaba mackerel with marinated rice vinegar and kelp, and scallops kobujime with a wasabi herb dressing. The kampachi was wonderful, singing with an interesting mixture of acidity, sweetness and aromatic truffle. The vinegar offered a balance with the oily mackerel, and the scallop was just lovely with a tinge of wasabi kick and fresh aromatic herbs including some delightful shiso.

Ginza Onodera - London food blog - The zensai

Ginza Onodera -The zensai

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Arthur Hooper’s

Arthur Hooper’s

Arthur Hooper’s is a relatively new addition to London Bridge and a stone’s throw away from the already vibrant food scene at Borough Market. Given that it is in an already competitive dining area full of crowd pleasers, Arthur Hooper’s does well to make its mark. In days gone by, it was once owned by a greengrocer, Arthur Hooper, hence its name.

Arthur Hooper's - London Food Blog

Arthur Hooper’s

Historically significant, the interior, designed by local London Bridge design studio Buster+Punch, features a rough jewel box concept, drawing on inspiration from the historic markets and cobbled nearby streets. Finishing touches include crafted steel caged light fittings, a custom hexagonal concrete floor and artworks by acclaimed artists Matt Small and Dan Hillier. There is a mixture of high tables and stools, “wrap around column” tables as well as quieter tables along an imposing steel-caged, back-lit bottle shelved wall. In all, the ambience is relaxed and casual.

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VOC

VOC

VOC is a cocktail bar with a distinctive character. Located in Varnishers Yard, a slightly darkened courtyard with a buzzy atmosphere and funky wall art, VOC is within walking distance from King’s Cross station. As for the bar itself, the interior echoes the image of an old Punch House with its heavy wooden paneling, brass elements and illustrious candles, and encourages guests to slow down and linger.

VOC is named after Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (the Dutch East India Company) which was known in centuries past for its strong monopoly over the spice trading routes between Europe and Asia. And thus, VOC draws inspiration from the history of the spice trade for its cocktail menu.

The intention behind the VOC cocktail menu is to create a cosmopolitan menu in keeping with the décor, yet simultaneously evoking the spirit of a bygone by reviving forgotten cocktail recipes. Some of these involved ageing cocktails in wax sealed bottles and oak casks to ensure the richness required to create authentic experiences. Thus the creative and intriguing cocktails are decidedly VOC’s main draw.

Cocktails include Voc Blazer (£8), scotch whisky thrown ablaze with honey, vanilla bitters, orange oils and apricot brandy, and Dirk Hartog Decanter (£15), smoked Ron Zacapa 23,with Pedro Ximinez sherry and honey.

Voc - London Food Blog - Cocktails of Raspberry Shrub & South Sea Mountain

Voc – Cocktails of Raspberry Shrub & South Sea Mountain

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Jenius Social – Mexican Tapas Cooking class

Jenius Social is a dynamic events space situated at a walking distance from Holloway Road and Highbury & Islington. The founder, Jennifer Yong, came up with the concept by fusing two of her favourite things: food and socialising. Reading this, we knew this would be our kind of place.

Jenius Social - Cookery School

Jenius Social

Andrew Clements, head chef at Jenius Social, lead the class. An original graduate of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant, he was charismatic and knowledgeable. The conversation flowed easily throughout the evening, from learning about his career to date, to picking up a few knife skills in between recipes.

Jenius Social - London Food Blog - Andrew & knife skills

Jenius Social – Andrew & knife skills

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Machiya

MACHIYA

Machiya is the little sister restaurant of Kanada-Ya, the ramen bar famed for its tonkotsu ramen. There are two branches of Kanada-Ya – the original on St Giles High Street, the other virtually next door to Machiya itself on Panton Street. The concept at Machiya is something like a gastro izakaya – a Japanese pub with homemade tapas-sized plates of food for sharing. That said, Machiya looks nothing like the typical izakaya joints found in Japan which are typically quaint, dimly lit, and worn around the edges. Here, with its clean cut and brightly lit natural wood and metal interior, Machiya has much more of a clinical modern feel to it. Downstairs is a bar which offers a list of cocktail delights.

Machiya’s menu is a mix of some izakaya classics and Japanese cafe staples like tonkatsu, kare-raisu, and zaru-soba. At Machiya, the chicken yakitori (£4.50) proved to be two skewers of deliciously moist and slightly crisped flesh. The chicken was well seasoned and did not need any gimmicky sauces, sometimes deployed in restaurants to hide a poor quality base ingredient.

Machiya - London Food Blog - Chicken yakitori

Machiya – Chicken yakitori

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Cinnamon Kitchen

CINNAMON KITCHEN

Cinnamon Kitchen is an upmarket Indian fusion restaurant in the Liverpool Street area. Bearing the word “Cinnamon” in its name, it is part of the Cinnamon Collection, a group of Indian restaurants run by Vivek Singh, restauranteur, and a celebrity chef regular on a number of television cookery shows such as BBC’s Saturday Kitchen. Vivek first made his name with his flagship restaurant Cinnamon Club by championing a brand of modern, innovative Indian cooking. His contemporary approach has further translated into his other restaurants including Cinnamon Soho and Cinnamon Bazaar.

As we walked into Cinnamon Kitchen, we were immediately seduced by both the aroma of the tantalising smells wafting through the restaurant, as well as by the excited murmur of happily munching clients. The interior is both smart and trendy, and gave both a happening vibe with a balanced sense of a cozy intimacy.

To begin our meal we were offered some miniature spiced potato fritters on a curly bamboo stick as the complimentary amuse-bouche from the chef. Usually, such throw-ins are an opportunity to showcase the chef’s best skills or new, novel ideas, to dazzle and intrigue customers into coming to try more next time. This one was a little bland and unassuming and tasted like a deep-fried ball made of faintly curried mashed potatoes.

Next we tried a variety of chutneys with naan. Of the three chutneys that arrived, the most memorable was the tomato one. With just the right level of hotness, it treated tomato as what it technically is: a fruit, which is that it was intensely rich with flavour and naturally sweet. The naan that accompanied the chutneys was pleasantly spliced with fennel seeds.

Cinnamon Kitchen - London Food Blog - Naans & chutneys

Cinnamon Kitchen – Naans & chutneys

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Tootoomoo Islington

Tootoomoo

Tootoomoo offers a Pan-Asian Tapas-style menu designed by Chef Ricky Pang. The restaurant appears to have more of a reputation as a takeaway; however, the Islington branch was well located (a few minutes from Highbury & Islington station) and reasonably popular on the weekday evening we visited. As the menu covers key dishes from different parts of Asia, we were eager to order dishes across the breadth of the menu.

Tootoomoo - London Food Blog

Tootoomoo

The drinks list was not extensive but covered a handful of classic cocktails, wine, beer and spirits selection enough to cover most tastes. To begin with we were offered cocktails (all priced at £7.50) and we chose the Elderflower Tootoomoo and a Lychee Caipirinha. Both were served as long drinks in glass jars. They were refreshing, quite sweet but balanced. We could not taste the lychee in the caipirinha and wonder if it was missed by accident.

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Bella Cosa

BELLA COSA

Bella Cosa is an Italian restaurant located within a few minutes walk of South Quays DLR station, close to the heart of Canary Wharf. It’s an elegant venue, split over two floors, with the first floor offering a fine dining service, and the ground floor reserved for a more casual Italian experience of antipastas, cold cuts and pastas.

Japanese born Executive Chef Kentaro Torii graduated from culinary school in Tokyo after which he made a move to Italy to follow his passion of Italian cookery. Chef Kentaro has also worked at various Michelin restaurants including Bvlgari il Ristorante in Tokyo, Els Casals in Barcelona and Keisuke Matsushima in Nice. And so it is the combination of his roots, his Italian cookery training and his grounding in fine dining that defines the elegant ‘Italian with a Japanese twist’ menu at Bella Cosa.

I attended a bloggers’ dinner at Bella Cosa recently and we were firstly treated to some excellent canapes including some delightfully fine and crispy black ink chips filled with mascarpone and salmon roe which offered an interesting contrast in flavours. Also very tasty was the cannoli with ricotta, walnut and beetroot powder, with the cheese pairing well with the nuttiness of the walnut.

The amuse bouche was cooked scallop, with cannellini puree, truffle, lardo and olive oil powder. The scallop had been beautifully cooked and contrasted well with the creaminess of the puree and the fattiness of the lardo.

Bella Cosa - London Food Blog - Scallop amuse bouche

Bella Cosa – Scallop amuse bouche

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