Monday, 10 November 2014

Sapporo Teppanyaki Restaurant in Manchester

Sapporo has to be one of the best restaurants I have been fortunate to eat at. Ok so it's  not in London which my blog is based on but its an absolutely incredible place and with its tables fully booked for the next four weeks, I had to seize my chance.

 I've never been to a Teppanyaki place before so I did not know what to expect. I thought it was going to be an evening of good Asian food but with that tackiness theatre style that you would expect from those buffet restaurants. Oh how wrong was I.

After a little mishap with my booking at reception (where they couldn't find my booking), my eventful evening was about to unfold. Whilst waiting for my table, I treated myself to an awesome cocktail known at the "Easy Ninja", similar to a Pina Colada (cue Pina Colada song) but with Sake added to it. A delicious fruity, creamy cocktail and trust me after having one of these, you'll be knocking them back all night. Even the lady next to me during dinner was intrigued by it and asked me what it was.

The restaurant had a great atmosphere, everyone was buzzing and getting tanked up on alcohol. The food was fantastic. My brother and I, his girlfriend and my uncle selected starters to share and we all picked extraordinary dishes. They all looked and tasted fantastic and you couldn't fault any of it. In my opinion the fish dishes were the pick of the bunch, I have never tasted fish so good. The salmon with the mirin and soy sauce was tantalising. It was a match made in heaven and it was flaky and moist. The tuna was so fresh and was seared to the point it was still raw in the middle, the way it should be cooked and eaten.

Chicken Gyozas

Peppercorn Salmon marinated in soy sauce and mirin.

Beef roll. Grilled sirloin of beef with asparagus. Dressed in teriyaki, sesame and spring onions

Duck rolls, Wrapped in pancake, mixed vegetables and served with a raspberry coulis

Smoked chicken rolls with beansprouts and mixed vegetables with a barbeque dipping sauce. In the background is the black pepper tuna loin
Vegetable spring rolls

When it came to the main course, it was the chefs who stole the show by showing off their tricks and brilliant theatre style cooking. Just watch the videos and check out the pictures to see how much fun it was to be a part of this amazing dining experience.


Before the show

Chef preparing himself

So it begins, potatoes being fried

Egg roll

Assortment of fish and meat

Griddled vegetables and noodles

Duck breast in teriyaki sauce
Sapporo is an absolute gem of a restaurant. I implore anyone to go there if they're in Manchester, Liverpool or Glasgow. Its a fantastic fun place to be at and the food is top stuff and done to a very high quality standard. It was so impressive that its now my uncles favourite restaurant. What more of a reason do you need than that.

The Bayou Has No Soul In Camden

This has got to be the funniest blog that I have published thus far. I'm going to keep this short and sweet if possible.

So lets set the scene. It was a cold Monday and I had just finished work for the week and I met up with a friend in North London because we were going to a gig later on in the evening. We took a detour and stopped at Euston to down a few pints and what a schoolboy error that was as we were drinking on empty stomachs .

We took the underground to Camden and after walking about a minute or so up the road, Alex and I went down a quiet street occupied by tiny restaurants, from Mexican to Italian. The one that caught our eye was the Bayou Soul, a restaurant that boasts about good old deep south American cooking. We were bloody starving and having deep fried, barbeque, high in cholesterol dishes was what we needed.

The restaurant itself looked okay if somewhat a little tacky. It was quiet, pleasant enough but I suppose it was a Monday night not a Friday. At the back end of the restaurant was a cool little platform with an impressive grand piano and a vintage silver microphone, the type Elvis would sing in to Oh and obviously no stage is set without the pioneer dj decks.

Before I get on with the food, I have to talk about the staff. The waiter who served us, I don't know whether to have felt sorry for the guy or embarrassed for him.
First of all, his uniform made him look as if he was dressed for the circus. Either I had beer goggles on or he was wearing clothes that were two sizes bigger than him. He brought our food out and dropped some of it on the floor, some landing on my jacket and the rest decorating the ground. A couple of minutes later he skidded across the floor as if he was trying to impress us with his dancing on ice moves. He did a Todd Carty and if you don't know what I mean, YouTube it. It was awkward to say the least and I don't know how Alex and I didn't laugh our faces off.

So now onto the food and drink. I will keep this very brief to be honest. Like I mentioned earlier we were starving and reading the menu displayed outside the restaurant enticed us to go in. We had a bunch of starters and made the mistake of ordering a main to share. We wanted to order it because it was fried chicken marinated in buttermilk and that sounded bloody good. We had it with a bunch of sides and unfortunately we wasted our money and the chefs effort and time because our eyes were bigger than our belly's. We hardly scraped the surface with the sides and ate about three quarters of the chicken. I did have a cocktail as it was happy hour and the name "The suffering Bastard" amused me. Actually that name sums up the waiters performance and mine and Alex's experience.

Smoked pork, grit cake (similar to polenta) and corn

The Suffering Bastard cocktail

Barbeque Chicken

Smoked shredded beef and gravy in pastry with garlic aioli

Creole style calamari, spring onions, chillies and lime chipotle

Bayou's Hot and Creole sauces

Buttermilk fried chicken with gravy, onion rings and cornbread

To sum up the food, it was average at best, most of it, if not all of it wasn't seasoned. Looking back, we went to town on it because we were like I keep saying starving and drank quite a fair amount of alcohol at which probably made the food taste better than it was.
I will however like to say that I was impressed by their hot sauces, all of which was homemade and they were excellent.

I wouldn't say that I wouldn't  eat at the Bayou Soul again, I just wouldn't go out of my way to go there.  I would maybe consider going there if they improved because it does have the potential to be a lot better and I hope they do because I don't like being negative.
Its up to you guys to decide whether to give it a go. If so let me know what you think. Peace out FoodPunkers.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Sunday, 19 October 2014

A Proper Man's Steak

Steaks are the most badass of all meats. Its a proper man's food where alpha males tear and chew away at a piece of meat like cavemen. This is a crap example but the only one I can think of whilst writing this post, but you couldn't see Kim Kardashian chowing down on a Rib eye or T-bone (she chows down on something else but that's a different matter), however you could definitely see Arnie go to town on one.

I don't know many steak houses in and around London but what I do know is that Hawksmoor is a highly regarded steak eatery. You'll find it in a few places such as Knightsbridge, Covent Garden and Spitalfields.

Recently my brother and I took our beloved parents to the Covent Garden restaurant to celebrate their thirtieth anniversary.

Don't be put off by the prices and yes I know what you're thinking, bread and butter for two pounds, how dare they!!. However it is still very much impressive and in all honesty it is hard to choose what you want because all of it looks so inviting whether you want a steak or something completely different.

The cocktails were very refreshing, bright and summery. I went for a Tokaji (pronounced Tok-eye) smash.

As you already may know by now I do love my steak tartare but I was a little disappointed with Hawksmoor's take on it. It had too much of a kick to it which killed off all the other flavours. That being said I'm not a big fan of wasting food, I still polished it off. Maybe it was a one off but I hope the next time I go, there wont be so much of a kick to it

The Yorkshire puddings were blinding. So light and airy on the inside but crispy on the outside. It worked so well with the potted beef and  bacon. The beef just melted in your mouth and dunking the Yorkshires in the onion jus is a must!.

I just had to go for the mac and cheese and vegetables as one of the side dishes. The pictures tells its own story.

You can not have steak without some sort of starchy side. Triple cooked chips and beef dripping roast potatoes had to be ordered. You couldn't leave one without the other. Greedy?? No, just plain common sense. Crispy deep fried chips and golden brown roast potatoes went down a treat. I think we ordered another round of each as they were that delicious.

And here we are, the big finale!, my rib eye steak with stilton hollandaise. Just reading it and posting the picture below would make any mouth water. I love my steaks rare and they didn't screw up. It was perfection nothing more nothing less. Juicy, succulent steak with bags of flavour. FoodPunk was more than satisfied. The stilton hollandaise wasn't overpowering either. It was creamy and rich and I smothered each bit of steak in it. I didn't mess around, I absolutely demolished that plate.

This bad boy was an absolute beast that my parents shared (as well as a little help from me(. The bone in prime rib was a cracking bit of meat.  All hands on deck, no knives, chopsticks or forks needed.

Say hello to my dolphin friend. I thought it was impressive and quirky

Hawksmoor is definitely a place to go to. In fact you couldn't go wrong with making a decision like that. I for one will be coming back but rest assured though, I will not be racking up a bill that was five hundred pounds (even though it was worth every penny).

Caravan Exmouth Market

A few years back towards the end of my college days, my close friend Alex told me he would be working full time at a newly established restaurant named Caravan.

Back then it was new, fresh, exciting and very few people had heard of it. Fast forward to the present and Caravan is a joint that has  made a big name for itself in the food world. Not only has it made a honourable reputation  in a short space of time, it has also created another restaurant in the Kings Cross area.

So what makes Caravan a success story??

A very committed young team (One of their chefs was recently mentioned in the Metro regarding a competition that he had entered) and lots of blood, sweat and tears. Not only that the chefs have also contributed to the ever growing popularity and consistency of the restaurant by changing the menu on a regular basis bringing fusion to their dishes inspired from all over the globe. They are not afraid to try new ideas. Check out the menu by clicking on the link below

I've been to Caravan a few times now and I haven't been let down and I'm not saying that because my best mate is sous chef there but because it really does serve up some of the best food that's around at the moment. Besides you just have to walk past and see how busy it gets and people that I have spoken to have said good things about the place.

The times that I have visited the restaurant have been on a Sunday where they serve brunch all day. Alex wants me to go during the week as its their proper menu, not to say that they do not take their brunch seriously but because during the week, its where the chefs really do showcase their wonderful ideas and food influences.

So what does Caravan's brunch consist of??

 Well to me its hearty, rich, flavoursome and bloody damn delicious. I went there just to have a light bite to eat to set me up for the day but I ended up ordering more than I should.

Their juices are so fresh and healthy, that it would most likely cure any hangover from the night before. Try the apple juice. Its bloody good!!.

I'm a massive coffee addict and these days its like a massive drug for me. I drink latte's every single day whether I'm out or at work. Caravan is famous for their coffees You just have to click on this link to see the accolades they have received for it under the coffee and roastery section . 
The latte I had was smooth, rich and full of flavour. It really does blow any other coffee shop out of the water.
The ham hock hash, poached egg, mustard hollandaise and peas was absolutely cracking. The eggs were cooked to perfection with that golden yolk oozing out onto the plate. The mustard hollandaise was stunning. The mild flavour from the mustard mixed with the zingy base of the sauce was a match made in heaven and the flavours did not overpower each other. The ham hock itself was moist, crumbly and certainly enjoyable.

 I must admit, I had a meat feast!. Sweet streaky bacon and the sizzling grilled chorizo sausages was so inviting that it was gone in no time. By the end of it I was stuffed to the core.
I obviously will visit Caravan again (when time is on my side) and write another and more in depth article of the place. I really would love to try the a la carte menu during the week because I can imagine if  the brunch is that damn good, then the weekly food menu will be second to none.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Mission Accomplished!!!

East London is perhaps my favourite part of the city right now. Shoreditch, in particular, has many great bars and pubs and the food scene is thriving. For example you have Brick Lane with the curry mile as well as various food stalls along the strip. Moreover you have Hawksmoor Steak restaurant ( future article watch this space!!), Marco Pierre Whites establishment and great gastro pubs such as The Princess of Shoreditch.

A mate of mine recommended a Californian wine bar and kitchen that had only just been opened a few months ago in the Bethnal Green area called Mission and it was recently awarded five stars from Timeout. The restaurant is located only a few minutes from the underground station along Passenger Row and is literally built underneath the rail tracks of the overground. Its a remarkable looking restaurant with its impressive array of wines on show and it definitely blends well with the whole East London "hipster vibe" with the sommeliers wearing double denim attire as well as the furniture having that rugged wood look.

 Saying that its not a restaurant that is trying to be pretentious. Its just following the trends that people are into at the moment and its working. You get customers coming into socialise whether they're young impressionable students or friends dining after a days work.

The menu is simple, very reasonably priced, and more importantly appetizing.

 To get things going, we went to town on some great cheeses and charcuterie.  The were strong, full of flavour and the strength of them really complimented with the red wine I was guzzling down. The bread was warm and crusty and the onion marmalade was sticky and sweet.
The sliced meats consisting of Parma ham and salami were rich, salty and melted in your mouth. Eating it with the soft ripened figs and huge vinegary caperberries is a must. What a start!!.

Next to arrive were the mussels and they were banging. Lovely fragrant flavours inspired by the Far East. The broth had the perfect balance of hot, sour, sweetness and saltiness. Not only that, the mussels themselves were plump, sweet and juicy.

One of my favourite dishes from the evening was the whipped lardo and girolles. What I will tell you about lardo, I hope won't put you off because believe me its one of the tastiest ingredients I have had. Lardo is basically strips of fat from the pig. This particular lardo was whipped and it was salty, smooth and creamy. If you go to mission, be adventurous and try the Lardo. You never know it could be your new favourite dish.

Again please don't let the idea of having pigs head put you off coming here. It was crispy on the outside as it was deep fried and lets be honest everyone loves deep fried food. The meat inside was crumbly and soft and it worked so well with the tzatiki. I should have ordered another portion.
Now I'm going to be honest, I absolutely hate anchovies. These particular ones were smoked. Enough said about this particular dish but I'm sure anchovy lovers out there would demolish this just like my friends did.

 Over the past few years I have been addicted to raw/ rare foods. I can't get enough sushi in my belly and I love my steaks rare. Tartare is no exception and this one I had was made from ox heart and by jove it was delicious.
The lamb rump was juicy and was cooked the way it should be, pink in the middle. I tried caponata for the first time and it was beautiful. The aubergines slowly cooked and fried with sweetened vinegar, capers and lots of fresh herbs.  
I was told the mackerel was apparently the most popular dish on the menu and I can see why. I love fish presented whole. It was charred to perfection and the meat was moist and flaked of the bone. I even went full Chinese and ate the head (obviously you don't need to do that).
Its such a simple dish with the fiery horseradish cream and the three way beetroot (candied, pickled and roasted).


I'm not going to lie but I can not remember how the quail was. It was so late in the evening and we had polished off a few bottles of wine (and had beers earlier in the evening).
So all in all Mission was a success. Great location, fantastic company and moreover some of the tastiest food I have ever consumed. I would definitely go again and it would be interesting to see what future concepts they come up with as the seasons go by.
 So FoodPunkers, your mission should you choose to accept, is to check out this place.