a week’s worth

I’ll be the first to admit my latest blog is not off to the best start – it’s been a week since my last post. To make up for my poor effort I shall recap the week’s meals (briefly) albeit without any photos except for one I’ve nicked off the web. Weak, I know.

MON B whipped up a quick crab pasta dinner for us – crab, cherry toms, chilli, garlic, olive oil and pepperoncino linguine. yum!

sakana-tei

TUE Met up with B at Selfridges for a quick evening shop, then headed to nearby Sakana-Tei on Maddox St for dinner. It’s our favourite Japanese, not as fancy as Zuma or Nobu (in fact the interior is rather drab) but the food is probably the most authentic we have tasted in London and the sashimi is always sparkling fresh. What we love most is that a meal there is always a bit of an adventure. There is a standard English menu which never changes and has all your standard fare – sushi, tempura, teriyaki etc. All of this is done really well, but what you want to have are the specials (an extensive list of over 50 dishes) which are changed daily and written in Japanese on a rather large chalkboard. As we aren’t able to read the specials (unlike the majority of the clientele), the owner Fumio-san will ask us what we fancy (meat? sashimi?) and decide our menu for us. On this occasion we feasted on: an incredible cold crabmeat and sweet shrimp chawan mushi (egg custard) topped with sea urchin (he informed us this was a ‘limited’ dish and only 5 had been made for the evening), a selection of sashimi (sardine, razor clam, chutoro, yellowtail and bream),  grilled ox tongue served with lemon and sansho pepper, an unusual aubergine dish where a two thick slices of aubergine are stuffed with minced pork and then deep-fried and served with a clear gloopy-looking but incredibly tasty sauce, mackerel sunomono (mackerel sashimi in a vinegar dressing), squid and beansprouts in a korean miso sauce, uni gunkan (which we ordered after tasting how fresh the sea urchin on the chwan mushi was) and cold somen, all finished off with some lovely matcha ice-cream. It must have been one of the best meals we’ve had there.

WED Ocado had an offer on poussins so that was dinner – I spatchcocked and salted them the previous night then an hour before cooking rubbed them with olive oil, a sliced bird’s eye chili and garlic. All it needed was 5 minutes on the hob on a griddle pan, then another 15-20 minutes to finish off in the oven. I dished it up with some roasted beetroots, chilli & garlic chargrilled brocolli and garlicky yoghurt (200g greek yoghurt, 2 crushed garlic cloves and a few glugs of olive oil). Perfect summer food – kinda like having a barbie indoors!

THU B was out for work drinks/dinner and I couldn’t be bothered with cooking so got takeaway from Khao San (a thai near ours I’ve been wanting to try) I got carried away and ordered stuffed chicken wings, steamed pork dumplings, fried soft shell crab in a yellow egg curry and crab fried rice (I just realised I may seem a bit crab-mad this week!). All pretty good, will have to go with B to the actual restaurant next time.

FRI Went Korean for dinner today and made kalbi (short ribs) , 2 types of cucumber side dishes (one, a spicy pickle and the other lightly cooked with chilli and sesame oil), cold spinach namul and steamed rice. The grilled short-ribs filled the the flat with an amazing aroma that lingered for hours and wasn’t quite as welcome after we had (over)eaten.

SAT We kicked off the weekend with a nice leisurely brunch at Raoul’s (B had poached eggs with sausages and toast & I had the eggs royal – smoked salmon egg’s benedict) followed by a stroll to Hyde Park to see the Jeff Koon’s exhibit at the Serpentine. B roasted a beautiful guinea fowl for dinner (served on top of braised peas, bacon, carrots, baby onions and lettuce). It was the first time we’ve cooked guinea fowl and I was pleasantly surprised by how moist it was, very similar to chicken but with a much higher fat content and slightly gamier in taste. We were annoyed we didn’t take a photo as it had turned out so well. The roast was washed down with a luscious, silky Grand Echezeaux (2000, René Engel).

SUN Had a rather extravagant lunch of caviar (farmed, of course), tsar smoked salmon, creme fraiche, carr’s and bubbly for lunch. We also had some left over foie gras (B was experimenting with a canapé recipe) so we had it seared with a balsamic glaze, slices of granny smith and toasted sourdough. B carried on cooking in the afternoon – testing out a vanilla cheesecake recipe (after deciding cookies may not be the best dessert option at said dinner party) which was far too rich and ridiculously calorific (700g philadelphia, 150g mascapone, 10 egg yolks, sugar, butter…) so it’s back to the drawing board. For dinner B used some Trikalinos bottarga (pressed mullet roe) his folks gave us (they import it into Asia) to try out Justin Quek‘s cappelini with mullet roe and roasted cherry tomatoes. The angel hair pasta coated with shallot butter and bottarga was fantastic, the pairing with the cherry toms however I was not crazy about – can definitely lose those.

Phew, that’s the week done. Tomorrow you’ll find me on the cross trainer attempting to work-off all the calories…

~ by gourmettraveller on July 20, 2009.

3 Responses to “a week’s worth”

  1. Hi. Came across your blog after reading one of your posts on Chowhound. Thanks for the report on Sakana-tei. I had a very good sushi lunch there a while back and have been meaning to return in the evening to discover more of the menu. The specials sound wonderful and exactly what I am looking for. Do you know if their sea urchin is coming from Japan or California or somewhere else? Also are they importing any fish/seafood direct from Japan? And do they use fresh wasabi and yuzu/sudachi at all? Also do you know if they offer any of their specials at lunchtime? Sorry for all the questions, I am always looking for the best Japanese food in London, I have been lucky enough to spend a lot of time in Japan over the last 3-4 years and adore the food and drink. Many thanks.

    • No problem! Yes, all the sashimi is flown in from Japan and Sakana Tei is actually the only place we have been where they serve the fresh wasabi (not the paste, but the plant cut up) but normally only to Japanese or frequent customers (you can of course ask!) Basically all their ingredients are from Japan so their dishes vary with what is in season over there. I am not sure if they offer their specials at lunchtime though, possibly. It really is the best place we’re gone too here (I used to live in Asia and have traveled extensively in Japan), obviously it’s not going to be as good as actually eating in Japan but a good local option! Chisou nearby on Prince’s Street is also good but their specials are a lot shorter (only available at lunch), although I do prefer their set lunches to Sakana Tei’s (Chisou does a good chirashi). I’ve also been told that Japan Centre does good ramen if you’re looking for that. If you want to buy sashimi to have at home have a look at my Atari-ya post. Hope that all helps!

  2. Thanks a lot for all the information, sounds like we share a love of Japanese food! I almost went to Sakana-tei for lunch today as I was in the area but decided to wait and go one evening instead. Will definitely check out the specials.

    I have tried Chisou and wasn’t so impressed but lots of people tell me good things so I will give it another go and try the lunchtime chirashi.

    And yes I have most definitely discovered Atari ya and go there regularly. In fact I have the Atari ya sushi cafe not far from me in North London and that’s a very good place and excellent value.

    I love ramen but have given up on finding good versions in London, I really hope that some of the Japanese ramen chains eg Ippudo set up in London like they have done in New York.

    If you’re interested, search on Chowhound London board for my posts about Japanese restaurants in London, I’ve reviewed and commented on most of them!!

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