Yokohama Ramen Museum

The idea of a museum dedicated to instant(ish) noodles is totally weird and absurd but that’s why it’s easily the best thing to do in Yokohama.

Michael Booth set himself the task of eating every variety of ramen on offer (about nine) and I wish I’d been able to do the same – unfortunately my travelling companion is not as enthused about ramen as I am.

Anyways, it’s immense – the nine varieties are from Sapporo, Asahikawa, Fukushima, Tokyo, Yokohama, Wakayama, Hakata, and Kumamoto.  I managed a few bowls but got nowhere near the 9 on offer.

this one was easily my favourite – sumire ramen from Hokkaido.  Miso base with garlic paste, ginger and soy.

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Soba noodles at Bonzo, Kamakura

Walked out of our hostel in Kamakura (that’s not me above) and immediately stumbled across this tiny unassuming restaurant called Bonzo.

Turns out it has a michelin star and serves up some of the best soba in Japan.  We sat down for lunch and asked for the chef to choose for us  (we couldn’t read the menu…)

First up some stunning tempura – the prawn was immense and the batter light and crispy.

 a warm duck & ginger broth came next (with soba for dipping)

the soba are handmade in the open kitchen just before they’re cooked – after making up the dough it’s flattened out into long sheets and then the noodles are all cut to the same length and thickness using a wooden multi-pronged knife-like contraption.

the soba noodles at Bonzo were perfectly chilled and nice and stringy, not clumped together or too soft and were the perfect accompaniment for the tsuyu dipping sauce/duck broth –  the whole restaurant was drowned in the sound of people getting their full slurp on the go (you get used to it)

the remaining broth / tsuyu was then mixed with the leftover water from cooking the soba and served up alongside some miso.

bout £15 each, absolute winner.

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Tsukiji – World’s best breakfast

6:00am breakfast at Tsukiji Fish markets Tokyo, now i’m going back to bed…

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>>Dabbous, London

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>>KATSU sandwiches from Zou, Leather Lane

Leather Lane has transformed a bit in recent weeks and has some great stalls to rival the nearby Exmouth market (here  the slow roasted lamb kebabs from Moro are a definite highlight, with Necco’s take-away ramens a very close second)

On Leather Lane DaddyDonkey’s time is up (I rarely see a queue there now…)  and at the Clerkenwell Rd end there’s a number of new stalls serving up gourmet ribs (and other roasted meat) in rolls, more up-market burritos (still just gloop though),  fancy kebabs  and also ZOU – a small Japanese okonomiyaki and katsu stall run by the two friendliest guys on the planet.

I’m yet to try the okonomiyaki as I can’t get past these sandwiches, they are just immense.  For £4.00 you choose from either chicken breast or super juicy pork cutlets which are coated with panko (breadcrumbs) and deep-fried before being served up in a lightly toasted roll and topped with shredded white cabbage and a tangy mustard dressing.  They’re so simple but that’s the point – they deliver big flavours and the quality of the meat is unquestionable – this is no small sandwich either and is fantastic value for money.  Props to the two guys running the stall as well – easily friendliest people on Leather Lane.

I’ve had the chicken katsu sando from Tsuru before (highly recommend the scotch eggs too) – it’s slightly smaller, served in white  bread with no crusts and also costs a mere £3.95.  I think it’s great but Zou is something else, this is a total feast for £4.00 and leaves you wanting more.

Leather Lane, off Clerkenwall Rd.
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Cherry-Blossom Donut

love this,  cherry-blossom themed Donut :

Continue reading

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Bring Din Tai Fung To London

xiao long bao

Din Tai Fung does the best Shanghai-style xiao long bau (soup dumplings) I’ve ever tasted and yet for some unknown reason they’ve never bothered to open up in the UK – I’m visiting Japan again in April and am just as excited about  going back to Din Tai as anything else I’ll be doing/eating (except for Tsukiji of course)

I’m convinced that soup dumplings will soon take over the world and yet weirdly London seems very far behind.

What’s on offer here is all pretty poor – Leong’s Legends is often mentioned as a safe bet (or their Sister resto Dumpling Legends) but it pales in comparison to Din Tai – the dumpling itself is way too thick, the filling is overly processed, the pork-broth soup not as tasty and even the black vinegar & shredded ginger used for dipping just isn’t quite right.

The only place that’s come close for me is Crystal Jade, but that’s in Hong Kong (fyi – the airport branch opens at breakfast…)

Anyways the reason I’m writing about this is to draw your attention to the dedicated ‘bring din Tai Fung to London‘ campaign set up by eatnoodleslovenoodles – this is a wonderful blog dedicated to getting a branch of Din Tai Fung opened up in the UK – check it out and add your support.

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>>Fire Ramen!

This may well be the best thing I’ve seen in 2012 (this includes Ross Kemp folds) – a restaurant that sets fire to your ramen noodles, insane!

the place is called Men Baka Ichidai in Kyoto and I will definitely check it out next month and report back.


Fire Ramen

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Tapaç24, Barcelona

Tapaç24 is  the latest ‘project‘ from former El-Bulli chef Carles Abellan (Commerec24) and was no.1 on my list of places to check out in Barcelona.

It’s set in the basement of an old town-house not far from Catalunya and whilst open all day it’s far better to go in the evening when it’s rammed (don’t worry about queuing here, it’s great –  we were given plenty of wine, olives & of cheese to help us while away the time)

Our first visit came at the end of an alcohol fuelled first-night-in-Barcelona dash about town and had us practically inhaling McFoie burgers, croquettes, slices of manchego, red wine and way too much pedro ximenez…

Following this rather blurry affair we only thought it right to return a few days later and keep eating our way through the menu

First up was the bikini – iberico ham and soft white cheese with shavings of black truffle – was a great take on a simple cheese & ham toastie

If I was a vegetarian I’d want to eat these everyday – whole leeks griddled on the hot plate and served with a fantastic romesco sauce

next up were the ‘Mexican’ soft tortillas with slow pulled pork and red onions

more of those fiery bombas – not quite up there with La Cova Fumada but great all the same

smashed eggs with chorizo on chips – it really shouldn’t work so well  but it does and was easily the most popular thing on the menu (apart from the next thing maybe…)

all hail the McFoie

the only disappointment were the sticky chilli/ginger chicken wings (not pictured) – they really weren’t that great…

despite a fairly hefty carb-laden meal our waiter insisted that we couldn’t leave without having tried desert and so we opted for the scoops (quenelles if you must) of chocolate mousse with olive oil & sea salt – worked perfectly

this place is brilliant and leaves you with a massive smile on your face; for a relatively low price it offers something a bit different from inventive takes on standard tapas dishes to genius creations such as the Mc Foie – def warrants multiple return visits.

Tapaç 24
C/ Diputació, 269,08007
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La Cova Fumada, Barceloneta

When I was in Barca a few weeks back we were given so many excellent recommendations from the Unemployable Chef – none more so than La Cova Fumada, a locals’ favourite hidden away in the seaside neighbourhood of La Barceloneta.

the family-run bodega claims to have invented fiery ‘bomba‘ croquette (see below) but that’s not the only stand-out dish on offer as the seafood was exceptional too and easily explains how the place is packed out well before 12:30 everyday

we ate a lot of seafood – pipis, mackerel, squid and it was all fantastic – no plate cost more than about 5euros.  A lot of people were eating the morcilla and a chickpea salad too  – definitely warrants a return visit…

calamar a la plancha was delicious – served up with parsely & garlic in oil

la bomba – enough said about this already

Barcelona even has a bit of surf – not quite up there with San Sebastian but absolute chills all the same.

La Cova Fumada
C/Baluard 56
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