Archive for May, 2009

Sushi at Kyoto

May 30th, 2009

Spicy Pork Bulgogi

It’s been a really long week, and nothing solves that like a bit of a venture of discovery to find somewhere new and exciting. Can’t say it was particularly forthcoming tonight, we scoured the usual streets in Soho looking for something Japanese or just rather nommy looking, most restaurants seemed packed but all the tables had no food on them so there was nothing to wet the appetite.

We were about to give up and venture into China Town, but thankfully we noticed a pair of Japanese restaurants on Romilly Street. Kyoto was the first to catch our eyes with the huge photos of delicious looking sushi outside and an impressive looking sushi bar with loads of fresh and tasty sushi waiting to be served.

The staff have to be some of the most friendly I’ve seen in a long time, especially after a certain incident of outstanding ignorance at Ping Pong Spitalfields earlier in the week. They let us choose our table, they kept us topped up with genmai cha throughout our meal, always had a smile, and were infinitely apologetic for being short on menus.

Before our food arrived, we had to sit and salivate as giant long plates of sushi were carried past us to a large group sat near us, plus the smells of some of the hot dishes coming from somewhere nearby as well.

We probably could have ordered more, but between us we ordered:

  • Soft shell crab maki
  • Sashimi platter (salmon, tuna,  sea bass)
  • Salmon teriyaki
  • Spicy pork bulgogi

I could have eaten the soft crab maki all night long, puts all the other sushi restaurants to shame with generous portions, freshness, crispiness and taste. Wish I’d taken a photo of the crab but frankly it disappeared almost as quickly as it arrived!

The sashimi platter followed on with really generous portions of salmon, tuna and delicious sea bass, they’re definitely dedicated to their sushi at Kyoto.

My spicy pork bulgogi was perfect, matching the quality that I’d gotten used to having eaten bulgogi a fair few times at Corean Chilli recently. Once again every last drop of sauce was mopped up with the rice, who needs to clean the plates when you’re customers are licking them clean for you hey?

Snatched a bit of Gary’s salmon teriyaki off of his plate as well, crispy skin, fell apart, bursting with teriyaki flavour… I can understand why it disappeared off of his plate to quickly!

If you’re searching for sushi in London, you really can’t go wrong with Kyoto.

Balé de Rua at Barbican

May 23rd, 2009

Bale De Rau (Image by Eric Deniset & Stéphane Kerrad)

Back at the Barbican so soon you say? I’m just as surprised to be honest; with the weather starting to cheer up there must be a lot more drive building up to get outdoors and get all cultural!

After dragging Gary to Star Trek last night it seemed only fair that we go to something a bit more to his liking; Balé de Rua is billed as a mix between hip-hop, African dance, samba and capoeira performed by an adrenalin pumped cast of 15 guys and 1 girl from Brazil.

The show is completely energy packed from the very beginning, completely living up to it’s description with backing percussion with Brazilian vibes throughout, and a showcase of a fusion of different styles of dance with a strong underlying theme telling the story of Brazil.

I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, but there were some really amazing bits of choreography, especially the dance off with popping and locking and lots of other hip-hop inspired moves.

Strong faves have to be the use of an orange haze light moved around on the stage to highlight and silhouette the female dancer during one of the pieces, and the somewhat harder to describe piece where all of the dancers are tied to each other by black ribbon wrapped around different parts of their bodies, each dancing whilst the whole circle of dancers contracts, expands and moves around the stage… that was really impressive.

By the end of the show the entire audience was on their feet, most of them dancing away and clapping along (I think we both have sore hands), some even singing along!

Thoroughly recommend getting a taste of what Brazil has to offer, go see it before the show closes at the Barbican on the 31st May.

Build Your Own Burger at Cheeky Pete’s

May 15th, 2009

It’s Friday, none of the usual lunch bunch at work were particularly hungry, but it was that time and we had no clue what we wanted to eat. Aimlessly stumbling through East London we walked towards Peticote Lane and stumbled across Cheeky Pete’s, which had a claim to fame on it’s menu outside of 8,000 different burger topping combinations.

You feel like you’re entering some sort of strip joint as you head down the stairs of the entrance, and it wouldn’t surprise me if maybe it does kick off in there after hours, but it was mostly filled with suits from the city to be honest.

There isn’t a menu as such, you’re given a small clipboard with a form to fill out to pick what you’d like in your burger (chicken, beef, falafel), which 5 toppings (or more for 50p extra per topping) you’d like from the toppings list, and which sauces you’d like. Then you can pick a drink, and if it’s a soft drink you get free refills.

Not being that hungry in the first place, we were pretty astonished when what arrived actually looked less like a burger and more like a man-made mountain, with a side of fries.

I ordered a 6oz beef burger, with bacon, cheese, tomato, gherkin, salad and red onion with horseradish mayo and tomato ketchup. I was utterly defeated by it; I seriously don’t even think that I can move from my desk at work now, and I’m really quite appreciative that the lift was working for once.

The burger itself was a bit over-seasoned (too much salt), but in general it was pretty decent, the fries were good, and despite being very cramped, the atmosphere is pretty good and the staff are friendly.

You’re not a number at Cheeky Pete’s, you actually give your name to be called by when your order is ready, kind of nice to be treated like a human being rather than another table to serve.

Definately intend to have a return visit, but maybe like, in a month or so when I’ve recovered.

Kronos Quartet / Wu Man at Barbican

May 11th, 2009

Kronos Quartet / Wu Man (Image credits: Barbican)

I often see events taking place at the Barbican that perk my interest but I usually don’t go as far as buying tickets because I’m never really sure if it’ll actually be my kind of thing or not, not exactly very experimental I know but I’m sure we’re all relatively guilty of not just trying new things every now and then.

Anyway, that’s why we have friends to invite us to things we wouldn’t normally go to, right?

The Barbican isn’t exactly my favourite venue with their strict policy on no food or drink being taken into the theatres, or the fact that they really don’t like you being even remotely late (or maybe that was just Owen nagging?), but it does have a pretty water garden outside at least.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Wu Man and the Kronos Quartet, I’m not heavily into classical music but I am very interested in Chinese and Oriental culture as a whole, including their traditional music which I’ve occasionally heard from various street artists over the years whilst making tracks around London.

There were two performances, the first was Yuanlin Chen – Tribe Amongst Mountains which was supposedly a world premiere, and at first I really didn’t take well to it. There seem to be a lot of contradicting sounds in Chinese inspired music rather than harmonious sounds, and it ended up sounding a bit like late night cat orgies in the car park outside my flat.

Things did improve later in the first performance with Wu Man playing the traditional Chinese instrument, the Pipa, which was really quite impressive and she had such an array of sounds that it could produce from it. I think I now want a Pipa myself, though perhaps I should stick to learning one instrument at a time rather than hoping to be anywhere near as good as people that have practised for most of their life!

The second performance of the evening was Tun Dan – Ghost Opera, in which the movements of the performers are meant to reflect the back and forth between spiritual realms. The piece uses the sounds of water, metal, paper and rock throughout, with combinations of some of these, such as metal being s
craped to produce a strong tone, then placed in water to change the sound.

I was pretty impressed with the general structure of the Ghost Opera and the way all of the performers played off of each other, but there were still a few cat-orgy moments involved.

Fairly confident that I won’t be going to see any other classical concerts for a while, but I’d happily go to see Wu Man perform with her Pipa again in the future as it’s obvious that she is brimming with talent.

Beef Wafu at Pham Sushi

May 9th, 2009

Beef Wafu Steak at Pham Sushi

I’ve been an avid follower of Londonelicious for probably a good year now for picking up tips for hidden food gems in and around London, especially as the author, Kristain, seems to spend most of her time in the same areas that I do and yet still finds places that I’ve never noticed.

Pham Sushi isn’t quite in an area I’d usually be, as it’s located fairly off the beaten path not far from Old Street, and barely anything else along the street is open in the evening. Don’t let that put you off though, as we found out the first time (and the second time tonight) that almost all of the tables are reserved all night long, and you’ll need to put on your best puppy dog face if you want them to squeeze you in.

Thankfully, despite failing to phone ahead and reserve a table, they found us a place, and we ordered as much of the menu as we thought we could fit in our stomachs without any of it going to waste:

  • Sashimi and Sushi Special (6 chef’s special sushi, 4 nigiri, 3 sashimi)
  • Agedashi Tofu
  • Chicken Yakitori (Gary’s side)
  • Tori Katsu (Gary’s main)
  • Beef Wasu Steak

The sushi is probably some of the freshest tasting that I’ve had in London, which is pretty much exactly what Kristain’s review said. They’re not stingey with the wasabi or ginger either, they’re serious about giving you what you pay for, and it’s all really tasty.

I tried some of Gary’s yakitori, and his katsu (chop sticks are so great for stealing food without much effort), and they were both really flavoursome, with a nice thick sticky sauce for the katsu, and juicy meat for the yakitori.

As for my food, the agedashi tofu was amazing, I’ve become hooked on that constrast in textures between fried on the outside and squishy on the inside that you get with decent tofu, if you can find somewhere that actually serves it properly.

The beef wafu steak didn’t come until we’d eaten everything else, and I had no idea what wafu meant, but it arrived in sauce sizzling away so I just shut up and devoured it. Not only did I devour it, but I mopped up all of the sauce with whatever rice I had left. Turns out wafu just means “Japanese style”, it’s a sauce made with all the usual suspects, but it was bloody delicious, and for once the steak actually arrived rare, which hardly ever seems to happen in restaurants, even when you ask!

If you can find time to nip down to Old Street, it’s well worth trying out Pham Sushi, or if you’re lazy, they do take out too :)