inamo

Meal courtesy of inamo

Attended by Luxmmi, published by Steph

inamo Camden is the latest opening from the inamo Group, who add another fusion restaurant to their Soho and Covent Garden branches. Situated directly opposite Mornington Crescent station, the restaurant is easy to find. The building itself is imposing with a sleek and dimly lit exterior, reflected by the décor inside.

The meal started on the roof terrace with a sushi platter. Eating on the terrace doesn’t sound like a great idea for a January evening; however, the heating was surprisingly effective so we barely felt the chill! Although all the sushi was tasty, the standout was easily the dragon roll with tempura shrimp, avocado and mayonnaise.

We were then taken inside to try out one of inamo’s main attractions – the interactive tables. These were a lot a fun. We played around with drawing our faces (resulting in some interesting works of art…), the multiplayer games and even watching the chefs in action in the kitchen using the chef cam. Technology is central to the inamo experience, with iPads also provided on each table to order through.

After our table entertainment, more dishes arrived in the form of a huge selection from the inamo menu. This included ebi tempura, Char Sui buns, Korean chicken wings, yuzu miso aubergine, and miso salmon. The standouts here were the Korean chicken wings and miso salmon. Both dishes had a delicate balance of flavours, with the right level of kick to the chicken wings. The other dishes were also delicious, although Chinese classics like the Char Sui buns and duck with pancakes were slightly bland.

Overall, inamo Camden is definitely worth a visit, especially if you’re a fan of Asian food. The food itself doesn’t disappoint, and the technological novelties add an extra, fun dimension.

Gyoza Bar

Meal courtesy of Gyoza Bar

Written by me!

dsc07479When a restaurant is talking bao, ramen, gyoza and dumplings this obviously calls for a party. JT and P joined me at Gyoza Bar to try a variety of what they had to offer.

Gyoza Bar is a relatively new addition to the West End scene, and with many Japanese restaurants competing in the area, Gyoza Bar sets itself apart by specialising in gyozas, (i.e. Japanese dumplings). The menu is small and simple but it covers everything you need. It is Murakami’s sister branch – of which is conveniently situated next door should you want a second dinner and some sushi!

dsc07474Minimalist. A rectangular room lined up with Japanese sake bottles and a semi open kitchen. The wooden flooring and furniture provides it with more of an izakaya – Japanese feel.

Food:

A decent establishment and one yet to make a dent in London but it has a promising menu which hits all the right spots.

dsc07471Gyozas: we tried the moriwase gyoza which is an assortment of different types of flavours, vegetarian, shrimp and pork. Aligned delicately around an iron pan, the gyoza skins were thin and crispy and made a great starter dish.

Alongside the gyozas we were served with some great red wine, one of the better bottles I’ve drank in restaurants and must say their craft beers are of fine quality too.

As a side dish we opted for Japanese fries (sweet potato fries) though there wasn’t anything particularly Japanese about it, but made great sharing plates also.

Baos: With 3 different types of bao’s on offer we opted for one each, each with a different flavour. The baos itself was fluffy and pillow-like, soft to the touch with great fillings, pork belly, pulled pork and chicken katsu.

dsc07457Ramen: A big bowl with a generous portion of noodles which are made fresh from the chefs (visible from the open kitchen), each ramen bowl consists of the same ingredients broccoli stem, spring onion, beansprout and shoyu tamago. You then have a choice of Chicken, Char Siu and Pork Belly. I opted for the chicken ramen, the chicken was fried in batter and was tender on the inside. Unfortunately I was disappointed with the soup broth as it could have been thicker and more flavourful, nevertheless the bowl was a very hearty affair and my belly was satisfied!

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NOTE: 

I believe they’re available on tastecard with 50% off your bill. Check it out.

No booking system so pop by whenever you have cravings – they’ll be ready for you!

Sake no Hana (Sakura Menu)

History and Background:

Meal courtesy of Sake No Hana and some photos are provided by Sarah, Fia and Peonie

A sushi fine dining establishment set in the centre of Mayfair. Revolving doors and centrally lined escalators at its foyer lead us to an elegantly designed interior, bamboo lines up the walls with pseudo-screened windows to facade the busy streets of St James. Designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. 

Within a modern Grade II listed building and a 13 seat sushi bar, it’s an ideal place for post-work dinner or business meetings. Sake no Hana, as you would expect, has an extensive list of liqueur, from sake of various types to high quality fine wine. 

The concept this time for Sake No Hana is the cherry blossom season, a season very fitting by name. In fact, as I write this very post I am in Tokyo for that very reason. Hanami, which literally translates to “cherry blossom viewings” is a must do/ must see popular attraction in Japan around March and April every year. Sake no Hana successfully introduces this tradition to London with a Sakura Menu concept. 

As part of their new Sakura Menu roll out, intricate and exquisite cherry blossoms lines the restaurant’s entrance.  The delicate nature of this design continues with the ceilings interior. A different view day and night, both of which are as equally eye opening as each other. Be sure to visit Sake no Hana if you want to catch a glimpse of Japan now in London!

The bar at Sake no Hana has been transformed into a cherry blossom garden. It will transform from day, with falling petals, a grass floor, and moving blossom projections, to night, when the garden will be lit with hundreds of twinkling lights, paying homage to yosakura, or ‘night sakura’.

The meal:

The Sakura menu in question is £34 per head and full details are shown here

Created by Head Chef Hideki Hiwatashi, the new menu is available until 18th June.

Fia and Peonie attended on behalf of the blog. 

Cocktails were very interesting. Playful in nature with the added element of spray ‘perfume’ to add extra flavour their cocktails made from behind the bar. Gin based and there was violet, cherry and elderflower to follow the Sakura element to the evening. Tangy and sweet and yet refreshing.

The miso shiru consisted of edamame and tofu which was similarly unique, the miso albeit a bit too weak in flavour. 

More restaurants now use acrylic boxes which I have not found the reason as to why yet but it definitely does give the visual appeal. 

The bento boxes are available with either vegetable tempura, teriyaki salmon or teriyaki chicken. Fia and Peonie opted for the salmon and chicken as seen in respective photos. Keep an eye out on the bamboo wrapped Seabass sashimi, very fragrant and very tender. Bamboo wrapping allows to keep the flavours intact and ensure a fuller flavour. 

The salmon was firm and had a few bones in it, best eat this alongside rice or other condiments in the bento box as the salmon can start to taste a bit salty after a few bites given the strong seasoning. The egg mustard sauce is rich and creamy and there is also a healthier element to this as no butter or cream is used. 

The chicken was tender and also aromatic, with the shichimi sauce not too spicy and added a kick to it.

A Haiku reading was given on the night by little onion where rules on how to write a traditional poem was taught.

The night ended with desserts following the Sakura theme with cherry scented macaroons and sorbet. Perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth!

Service: Hakkasan Group excel in customer service you’ll find no issues here.

Price: ££

Square Meal

Sake No Hana Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Oliver Maki

Oliver Maki (1 of 46)History and Background: 

Meal courtesy of Oliver Maki

Quirky. Contemporary. Flashy.

Oliver Maki, a family owned restaurant run by the successful Zeitoun brothers with four existing restaurants in the Middle East. Their first London venture starts with Oliver Maki, fusion sushi with a luxurious twist.

Another fine-dine sushi restaurant in London? Yes, probably. But I’d say this one is a little more out there. All dishes are delicately presented, pleasant to the eye and definitely very exquisite. Formerly at Nobu, Louise Kenji Huang runs its kitchen, combining eccentricity and luxurious ingredients together to create theatrical display of dishes. Out-of-the-box ideas and innovative dishes flood the menu.

Price range here is high for the average sushi joint and Londoners with generous wallets hit this spot like its local. Worth giving it a try and definitely great for a fancy date looking to impress.

The meal:

First off, it’s good to note that the soy sauce used here is blended with high quality olive oil. A healthier and less saltier alternative.

Oliver Maki (15 of 46)
The Oliver Maki Bento (A mixture of In the Box and Out of the Box)

With short intakes of breaths and gasps of excitement, this is probably how most diners would respond to the multi layered acrylic box of delights. Compartments of crispy salad, 3 pieces of chef’s special maki, 3 pieces of issai maki, chicken teriyaki, salmon teriyaki, seafood ceviche, 3 pieces of chef’s special nigiri and is exactly what we got!

The crispy salad was just as it was described, a healthy layer of seasoning with a cheeky topping of Japanese mayonnaise.  The salmon teriyaki and the chicken teriyaki were also cooked well and sat atop of their Oliver brown rice to complete the set. My favourite in particular was the crunchy maki which seemed like it was wrapped in some sort of fish skin over tempura on the inside. I’m not a fan of ceviche anywhere, most commonly a fusion Japanese-peruvian dish, nikkei cuisine. The 3 piece nigiri was good but nothing impressive, brown rice is deemed as healthier and not as filling but the way it is cooked in nature means it tends to not be as together and can be quite crumbly.

Oliver Maki (34 of 46)
The signature dish Oliver Maki Roll

Unfortunately this did not impress, at £15 for a maki roll it’s on the higher price range for rainbow rolls in other places and special rolls too. The flavour is quite tame albeit looking like it’s over seasoned. Too many things going on – on the plate. Don’t get me wrong, the sushi is good. The theatrical and impressive visual presentation allows you to make overestimated assumptions about it however. Everything from olive oil to truffle is incorporated within this roll, so best listen to the waiter’s explanation carefully!

Oliver Maki (43 of 46)
Green Tea Tiramisu

So desserts were of a similar caliber. Stunning visuals and very eye-catching. The Zeitoun brothers and Kenji-Huang partnership certainly were a very well paired one. Artistic styling for the desserts and at very high quality too. Tiramisu was on point, no coffee flavoured ones here, it’s all about the green tea. The aroma was subtle but it’s there. Could definitely add in more of the bitter sweet ratio to it for improvement.

I have to say the Yuzu Creme Brulee was also one of my favourites. Absolutely loved the texture. Subtle yuzu texture again but this time I preferred it subtle. Yuzu can be a very strong flavour which may not necessarily combine well with creme brulee which is often associated with caramel. The combination here was captivating, followed by a lot of onomatopoeic squeals of delight…

Oliver Maki (46 of 46)
Yuzu Creme Brulee

Service: Waiters are knowledgeable about the sourcing of their ingredients and food is served quickly, some could say it could be rather hasty. Potentially overstaffed given the size of the restaurant but wasn’t in the restaurant long enough to assess.

Bits and bobs:

  • They have a special tasting menu for certain guests who are a member or a certain special society…

Price: £££

Oliver Maki Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Square Meal

MUGA Ramen Bar

MUGA (11 of 21)
MUGA Ramen Bar

History and Background:

Meal courtesy of MUGA Ramen Bar.

A ramen bar and an open kitchen with minimalist design is situated on Panton Street, a new opening for 2015, MUGA Ramen Bar.

Joining the ramen craze alongside the front runners Kanada-Ya and Ippudo, London is spoilt for choice when it comes to this particular Japanese specialty. Upon entry I was greeted with the usual ‘irrashaemase’ which means welcome in Japanese. something of common courtesy in Japan, which has been well adapted here in London!

As I walked in, I soon realised I was the only one in the restaurant, awkwardness crept over me as I worried about the quality of the food and why it would so empty in the early evening. By the end of the meal however, groups of people seated themselves behind the counter as the night seeped in.

A very convenient spot at the heart of the West End Theater District, food is served quickly and in generous portions. The prices are also very competitive too!

The meal: 

MUGA (5 of 21)
NAMBANZUKE (COLD) £3.90

Deep fried whitebait in vinegar sauce topped with spring onions and slices of carrot. I think it was the first time we had whitebait in that style, not too fishy and perfect for sharing as an appetizer.

MUGA (7 of 21)
TAKOYAKI £4.50

This was one of my favourite things on the night and I’m also weak towards takoyaki (fried octopus in batter). Served elegantly on a marbled plate topped with Japanese mayonnaise, takoyaki sauce and Katsuobushi. The actual takoyaki balls are dashi flavoured batter with bits of octopus meat inside. Definitely a must-try!

MUGA (12 of 21)
TONKOTSU £9.90

Tonkotsu Ramen:

Tonkotsu (Pork bone broth) based Ramen Noodle Charshu Pork, Ajitama, Kikurage, Takana, Beni shouga, Spring onion, Sesame seeds

Charshu Max:

Aburi Charshu (4pcs), Mixed vegetables, Spring onions, Leek, Garlic chips, Egg and Sesame seeds

Many ramen joints in London specialise in particular traditional Japanese noodles such as tonkotsu however, MUGA serves a variety of traditional style ramen.  You could have a chance to try salt (shio), soy sauce (shoyu), miso or tonkotsu based noodles with various sizes of thickness.

MUGA (14 of 21)
SHOYU £9.90 with CHARSHU MAX £4.90

Shoyu Ramen:

Shoyu (Soy sauce) based Ramen Noodle Charshu Pork, Ajitama, Menma (Seasoned bamboo shoots), Nori, Leek, Spring onion, Sesame seeds

When the shoyu based ramen with charshu topping came, exquisite presentation wasn’t the only thing we were surprised about. The rolled charshu layered up in circular form topped with freshly cut spring onions is a definite jaw dropper! The charshu itself was tender and soaked in broth for a number of hours meant it just rolls of your tongue.

MUGA (18 of 21)
Massive portions! Compare that to the cup of tea!
MUGA (20 of 21)
MOCHI ICE CREAM £3.90

Being full by this point was an understatement but we had to try some desserts. The mochi ice cream consists of soft rice cake stuffed with vanilla ice cream, topped with Kinako (soybean powder) and Kuromitsu (molasses sugar syrup).

The mochi ice cream was too frozen and slightly hard on the teeth but with kinako powder was an added bonus and wins me over any day!

MUGA (21 of 21)
DORAYAKI WITH £3.90

I admit I’m not a fan of dorayaki in general since I’m not so fond of the texture, but at MUGA, the dorayaki is served warm with a generous filling of azuki allowing the dessert to be light and sweet at the same time.

The bits and bobs:

Service: It’s quite a large ramen bar place but the waiters friendly. Minimal interaction but attentive. 12.5% service charge.

Price: £
Muga Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WA Cafe

WA Cafe (38 of 51)
Multiple visits to WA cafe
History and Background:

This post has taken me a while to write, fuelled by the ambitious plan that I will try out the whole entire menu before posting about it. WA cafe are continuously inventing new recipes and adding new things to the menu so this slightly hinders my not-so-achievable plan!

Look out for updates at WA cafe on its social media sharing sites, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and of course, its own website.

What I love about WA cafe is how authentic it feels, from its freshly made patisserie to traditional Japanese curry buns – it even has an automated door system exactly like in Japan! Bread and cakes are made fresh right out of the kitchen, you can even see them making it from the small kitchen window by the counter.
You can see some of the most common products they sell at WA cafe here: http://www.wacafe.co.uk/products

Opened by the owners of popular chain restaurant Hare & Tortoise, late 2014/ early January 2015.

The meal: (Takeaway prices shown)

WA Cafe (12 of 51)
Matcha Marble Bread (£2.10)
A buttery and aromatic soft bread beautifully layered with Matcha cream/ Sweet Potato. Available on Saturdays only.

WA Cafe (9 of 51)
Purple Sweet Potato Bread £2.30
WA Cafe (29 of 51)
Choux Trio £3.60
A trio of crusty choux pastry filled with a whipped sesame, matcha and azuki custard creams. Rasberry and Pistachio tart below was amazingly fresh, consists of pistachio frangipane tart decorated with a lightly whipped custard cream and fresh raspberries.

WA Cafe (1 of 51)
Raspberry and Pistachio Tart £4
WA Cafe (3 of 51)
They also have amazing fluffy and filling sandwiches!
WA Cafe (32 of 51)
Chicken Katsu sandwich £4.50
Chicken Katsu sandwiches consist of deep fried chicken in breadcrumbs with sweet BBQ sauce, mayo and salad.

WA Cafe (4 of 51)
Green tea latte £2.90
WA cafe also has my favourite type of green tea, houji-cha! (Roasted green tea)

They have teas for a pot for £3.00

  1. Houjicha
  2. Genmai cha
  3. Green tea
  4. Soba cha
  5. Yuzu cha
  6. Ume cha

WA Cafe (5 of 51)
Soft bread and a heavenly matcha filling!
WA Cafe (6 of 51)
Green Tea Azuki pan £2.10
Above we have the Green Tea Azuki bun, a soft green tea bread filled with a sweet Azuki bean paste and cream cheese. The two below, small white roll filled with Chicken Kara-age pieces and salad with mixed of Ketchup, Mayo and sweet BBQ sauce. Pumpkin mini roll is a small white roll filled with Pumpkin Croquette and salad with mixed of Ketchup, Mayo and sweet BBQ sauce.

WA Cafe (10 of 51)
Chicken Kara-age bun £2.50
WA Cafe (11 of 51)
Sweet Potato Croquette bun £2.50
WA Cafe (14 of 51)
Matcha Roll £3.60
WA Cafe (16 of 51)
Dense and rich, a must try
WA Cafe (27 of 51)

WA Cafe (37 of 51)
Japanese curry buns!
WA Cafe (28 of 51)

WA Cafe (48 of 51)
The insides
On our last trip here we went for seconds on the curry buns, and witnessed it running out twice in 30 minutes!

WA Cafe (42 of 51)
The strawberry shortcake £4
Japan’s own signature patisserie, the strawberry shortcake, and WA cafe does it!  A delicate sponge with a lightly textured whipped cream and sumptuous fresh strawberries.

WA Cafe (44 of 51)
Mont Blanc £4.20
WA Cafe (49 of 51)
Teriyaki Chicken – A soft white roll with caramelised onions and teriyaki chicken, dressed with mayonnaise.
Service: Since it’s a cafe, minimal interaction – but very nice friendly staff. Look out for the owner/ manager Yvonne, very welcoming.

Bits and bobs:

  • It’s not as far as it seems, and it’s certainly worth the travel. Right next to Ealing Broadway station, Central, District and Piccadilly line
  • Try not to over order – eating the whole menu in one day is impossible!

Price: £
Click to add a blog post for WA Café on Zomato

Flesh & Buns (desserts only)

Flesh and Buns  (1 of 12)
You can come to  Flesh & Buns for desserts only, just let them know before sitting down
See the full meal review on Flesh and Buns here. Once I saw the Kinako doughnuts on the menu I knew I had to return and try, I’m not a fan of doughnuts but anything to do with roasted soybean (kinako)….I’m there.

Below is a breakdown of the desserts you can get at F&B, (less the Yuzu tart, and Black Sesame Creme Brulee)

Desserts:

Flesh and Buns  (2 of 12)
S’MORES – passionfruit marshmallows, biscuits, almond chocolate £8
Flesh and Buns  (5 of 12)
2 pieces of marshmallows, 2 slabs of green tea/ or almond chocolate of your choice, and 4 slices of biscuits
Their signature dish, a small bonfire is placed in front of you while you make it a bit of a plaything and make s’mores. It’s overpriced for what it is, but you should try at least once!

Flesh and Buns  (7 of 12)
BONE DADDIES SUNDAE – matcha ice cream, blueberries, honeycomb £6
Nothing can go wrong with a matcha sundae, lthough it can get a bit fiddly with the shape of the glass being so tall.

Flesh and Buns  (8 of 12)
Vanessa and I eating our way into Covent Garden
Flesh and Buns  (11 of 12)
Kinako Doughnuts – (with roasted soybean custard filling) £6
Flesh and Buns  (12 of 12)
Warm and oozy
The inside of the kinako doughnuts were warm, and you can smell, and taste, the strong kinako aroma as the custard oozes into your mouth…The doughnuts were coated with too much sugar though I think!

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CHOCOLATE FONDANT and matcha ice cream £6
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A repost from my previous visit with Grace
Service: 12.5% service charge

Bits and bobs:

  • Do visit restrooms – you’re in for a treat
  • £15 corkage fee if you want to bring cake
  • No signal as it’s below ground level, but they have wifi!

Price: ££

Flesh and Buns on Urbanspoon

Square Meal