Monday, 9 January 2012

Japanese SupperClub @TheLondonFoodie by Nicola Monks

A guest post by Nicola Monks reviewing her last SupperClub in London.
 In the run-up to Christmas most people are concentrating on plans for the big day, and next inline to this New Year. But once all this excitement has finished, what next? I’ve always found January to be a dull month of diets and resolutions, normally ones that don’t last further than January itself. However when I saw dates for the first of the @grazingasia supper clubs I rushed to book my place. Luckily for me the lovely Rosana McPhee was also keen to make a return after our last trip to the home of Luiz, aka @thelondonfoodie, in October last year.
 Luiz has recently returned from a two-month trip to Japan and the resulting menu for the supper club certainly did not disappoint.  As usual the menu was a surprise so the first thing we were greeted with on arrival at his home were some beautiful trays of sushi for canapés. There was fresh mackerel, sea bream and other delights that were washed down with a refreshing gin and tonic – a perfect start for the 20 or so guests who were mingling in the lounge.

Whilst Luiz was busily cooking downstairs we were well looked after by Dini (@dolcedini) and Samantha who had volunteered as hostesses for the evening. After a number of trays of sushi we were all raring to go with the starters so we made our way to the dining tables, beautifully adorned with glassware, candles and even more excitingly a pot full to the brim of fresh ingredients. This we were told was a Nabe - a Japanese hot pot traditionally shared at home with your family or close friends - containing pork belly, squid, clams, prawns, daikon, Enoki mushrooms, fine green beans. Luiz explained that it is normally made from "dashi" (a Japanese stock made from water, konbu or Japanese seaweed, and flakes of dried bonito fish). It was such an inviting bowl that we were quick to get the gas hob started whilst Dini poured in the hot, spicy stock. The pot bubbled gently for 10 minutes and created quite a buzz in the room.
Luiz was well prepared with his timings and already had a pre-starter to keep us occupied; Salmon sashimi South American Way. This was a delicate sashimi served with what I can remember was a crème fraiche and bean mixture in the centre of the bowl. Each bowl was to share between two, fortunate in more than two ways as it was so delicious I could have easily finished it myself, but would have then not had room for the rest of the food ahead of us!
Salmon sashimi South American Way
 There was more sharing to follow as the Nabe had been gradually cooking away and was ready for us to devour. We dived into the pot with our chopsticks picking up tasters of all the different things. The spicy stock was so flavoursome and had infused into the vegetables and seafood that had cooked to perfection. We all agreed this was an amazing dish that was a highlight of the night.

Beef fillet Tataki, Green beans and fishcakes with spicy mayo, and Aubergine Dengaku
Next stop……another main course! Little did we know but Luiz had another treat in-store for us with a stunning Beef fillet Tataki with creamy sesame dressing. The meat had been generously provided by The Well Hung Meat Company,  who produce wonderful organic meat for home cooking. The meat in question was a tender seared fillet of beef, cut into medallions and served on a bed of onions with a creamy sesame sauce and scattered pieces of deep fried garlic. This dish really packed a punch, full of flavour and texture, and the quality of the ingredients and cooking were outstanding.
Aubergine Dengaku and Takikomi Gohan

Before the beef was presented we received a small bowl and once the lid was lifted inside was a mixture of rice with shitake mushrooms, chicken and lots of other tasty items. This dish is known as Takikomi gohan – a rice dish seasoned with dashi and soy sauce along with mushrooms, vegetables, meat, or fish. The ingredients of Takikomi gohan are cooked with the rice and this definitely made it extra tasty. Proven also when the lovely Charles, @HotelPRGuy, asked for a second bowl!

As if this wasn’t enough to enjoy, we were treated to some small plates including Green beans and fishcakes with spicy mayo, Takikomi Gohan and Aubergine Dengaku. My favourite was the miso-glazed aubergine, oozing with richness and something I hadn’t tried before. I will certainly be trying it again, especially since Luiz mentioned many of the recipes could be found in the fantastic book; ‘Hashi’ by the talented Reiko Hashimoto (www.hashicooking.co.uk)
Hashi book by Reiko Hashimoto and miso soup

To compliment this we were served a tiny round plate with two round egg rolls. Luiz told us we should try them after the other dishes as they taste slightly sweet and clean the palate after all the rich main dishes. I’ve since discovered that the Tamagoyaki (literally 'grilled egg') is a type of Japanese omelette, which is made by rolling together several layers of cooked egg. Another cleansing dish to follow was something I am familiar with – Miso soup. This bowl had lovely pieces of deep-fried tofu and fresh spinach working really well in the salty broth.
Last bowl of the night was dessert. We were all hoping for something sweet and refreshing to balance all the savoury flavours we had enjoyed throughout the night. So when the ice cream trio arrived it was a very welcome sight! Flavours of red bean, green tea, and black sesame were fantastic served with hot madeleines straight from the oven. Wow. Seriously wow! 
Dr G making the madeleines
Flowers and the trio of ice creams with madeleine
All in all it was a wonderful evening introducing me to some of the finest Japanese cooking that I’ve tasted in London, and sharing it with a fun and interesting group of people. And all thanks to the talents of Luiz who had set himself a strict timetable of prep that day listing items to do every 15 minutes – yes really! I also hadn’t realised that apart from the obvious sushi, so much of the Japanese dishes were designed for sharing making them ideal for your own dinner party. Thanks to @thelondonfoodie, and if you want to book your own place for one of the next supper clubs then visit www.thelondonfoodie.co.uk
lovely messages

This post was written by the beautiful Nicola Monks, who will be solely missed at the London food and hospitality scene. She's moving to Hong Kong to work in PR this February.  Best of luck Nic! 






Edible Experiences

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great post. The food looks fine restaurant stuff.

Debbie said...

I want to come to the next one with you and your mates. It looks fantastic! Unfortunately, I live the other side of the world.

Ute @hungryinlondon said...

Looks like it was worth it that we have sent Luiz to Japan, amazing!!

The London Foodie said...

Thank you so much Nic and Rosana for the wonderful review - you really captured the fun atmosphere and buzz that you both helped to create. Many many thanks!

Luiz @ The London Foodie

mel said...

i love your descriptions of all the dishes and by the end was wishing i had been there. luiz and dr. g never disappoint as exceptional hosts and cooks.

Katia said...

Hi Rosana, this is really a great post, so plenty of delicious Japanese food, I love it!
Welcome back and Happy 2012! :)

Rosana said...

Thanks everyone for the nice comments and Nic for the lovely guest post. It was amazing dinner indeed. Happy New Year to all. R

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