A guest post by Nicola Monks reviewing her last SupperClub in London.
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|
|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!
|Flowers and the trio of ice creams with madeleine|
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!