Tag Archives: sushi

Dorshi supper club @ Northern Monk Refectory

Dorshi, the street food traders who hail from Dorset’s Bridport, even though I think of them as Leeds’ very own now, held a two day supper club at Northern Monk Rectory earlier this week. Much to the popularity of this duo, what originally was a one night only affair, quickly became a two-dayer.

Dorshi are certainly no strangers to Leeds, the past year or so they’ve garnered a loyal fan base who’ve fallen hook, line and sinker for their food, especially their dumplings, all due to their first residency at Trinity Kitchen. They’d been back up North in between Trinity Kitchen stints for Veg Out and Beacons festival too, it’s like they were keeping people on a metaphorical leash – carrot and stick come to mind; I should know I’m one of them! 

So during their six week turn in Trinity this month, Dorshi held a pop up showcasing their take on Asian cuisine using local, sustainable ingredients where possible. We were to be treated to a five course experience (£30), from the menu their pearl barley sushi stood out as this is what Dorshi first became known for, and also their hand-torn noodles, with lots of elements in the mix it would be interesting to see how it would all come together.

Start – Fresh catch of the day ceviche (cod), lime, garlic tempura flakes, pickled chilli strands, crispy purple kale.

Sushi – Vinegared pearl barley, oak smoked rainbow trout, dill-caper puree, spicy salad leaves.

Noodles – Hand- torn spelt noodles, braised chashu, crispy juniper-bacon squares, pickled shiitake mushroom, charred sprouting leaves, kale crisps, slow-poached egg, slow cooked dried chilli, grated black garlic, accompanied with a bowl of bacon-mirin dashi.

Jelly – Bergamot & Black Cow Vodka Jelly.

Tea – Birdhouse Sencha Tea and Black Sesame & Almond Squares.

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It was a great evening with lots of chat, one thing I love about supper clubs is that everyone who goes has bothered to buy a ticket, because they’re really into good food!

A real labour of love for Dorshi, after all the meticulous preparation, during service some dishes came to fruition just before serving, e.g. sushi rolls were assembled just before they were brought out!

I enjoyed every course, they were interesting and each had their own talking points. The hand-torn noodles was the star of the night, every element had its own place and identity in the dish, coming with diverse tastes, textures and temperatures. The accompanying bacon-mirin dashi was a winner too, the Japanese staple providing a savoury umami hit. Dorshi’s take on sushi, I loved! For me, the barley makes it really light and a great alternative, I may even have a go at making some at home with barley instead of rice now.

Also all of this was in the lovely Northern Monk Refectory, usually the stomping ground of The Grub & Grog Shop, it’s a great space and came with the perfect ambience and atmosphere for this type of event. I must add, just because I love them, it’s excellent any time of day because the The Grub & Grog Shop team do should a fantastic job too, and as I type I really want one of their bacon breakfast buns!!

http://dorshi.co.uk

http://www.grubandgrog.co.uk

http://www.northernmonkbrewco.com/the-refectory

Sushi Waka revisit

A few weeks ago I’d dined at the recently opened Sushi Waka, and after a mixed review my intention was to revisit, but this time to try out the sushi. I know the idea of sushi may not be to everyone’s taste, and for whatever reason there’s sometimes this preconceived notion that it’s just about raw fish, but it’s so much more than that with enough variety for different preferences. 

I’d arranged to meet a friend for lunch, she’d been under the weather and in dire need of something healthy and nutritious. So being a good girl that day I ordered some soothing green tea, instead of wine which would normally be my tipple, with some edamame to graze on while the sushi was being made.

Japanese food is a cuisine I’ve been a fan of for years, this love only developed more after visiting the country five years ago. Eating sushi at one of the restaurants in the world famous Tsukiji fish market was one of the trips many highlights. The skill these chefs have I remember marvelling at, transfixed by the combination of precision and delicacy whilst working. Being sat at a table we weren’t given the pleasure of watching the sushi chef do his stuff this time, but that doesn’t mean the level of anticipation was any less.

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At Sushi Waka the sushi menu is divided into sashimi, nigiri, sushi rolls in different forms such as futomaki. Then for those wanting a selection, platters may provide a good option taking away the hard decision of choosing. The ever popular Bento box also takes its spot on the menu too; always a good choice if you like miso soup and salad in the mix. 

Edamame were brought over a short time after ordering, all steaming hot and covered in finely milled sea salt. The a short while later along came salmon sashimi, unagi nigiri, tuna hosomaki (thin sushi roll) and king prawn tempura futomaki (thick sushi roll), and the regular accompaniments of soy, daikon, wasabi and pickled ginger.

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The sashimi was characteristically meaty, yet had a melt in the mouth quality about it, the nigiri were great, with vinegared rice loosely moulded by hand and topped with generous slices of eel, they were delicious and I must admit are a favourite of mine. After those delights the highlight was probably the futomaki, filled with crisp tempura king prawn, avocado, cucumber and fish roe were a joy with different textures and tastes. If I was to compare this to other sushi I’ve eaten before, one thing I’d say would be that the precision of some of the rolls wasn’t as immaculate as others I’ve had, with some being made and served a little untidily.

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On the whole it was a highly enjoyable lunch, and I was also pleased to see improved service too, with a better level of communication and little things like having our green tea being regularly refilled a lovely touch. So, if you fancy sushi, this could be the spot we need in Leeds. Try it out! Sushi Waka still had their opening 20% discount for booked tables, so instead of coughing up £26.30 it cost us £21.10, without service. A great option for a healthy meal. 

Sushi Waka

26 New Briggate
Leeds
0113 246 9692

Sushi Waka on Urbanspoon

Sushi Waka

Leeds has a few Japanese restaurants, some I prefer more than others; Fuji Hiro which I adore, Little Tokyo which I know other people rave about, but I find inconsistent. Wasabi Teppanyaki (Granary Wharf) closed recently and Belgrave Teppanyaki (next to Sandinista) is still open (I think), but apart from that there isn’t much choice, maybe Chino Latino which again I’ve found inconsistent. After that were looking at chains Yo Sushi and Wasabi for a sushi fix.

Sushi Waka opened recently and with the prospect of meeting a Japanese food loving friend imminent, we jumped at the chance of visiting. Also tempted by their opening offer of 20% discount for booked tables, who doesn’t love a discount, a table was booked for 7pm on a Tuesday evening!! Walking up you can’t miss it, with bright signage making it a bit of a beacon. If you wander up to North Bar and the like you cannot miss it!

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Being a little eager, I’d had a nosey at the menu and it was like a Japanese food lovers delight: starters like gyoza and takoyaki, sashimi, sushi rolls in different forms, donburi bowls, noodle dishes, bento boxes the list went on!! With that being said quality over quantity is always better, so having such as extensive menu made me think how good it would be.

In its previous guise as an Oriental fusion restaurant (can’t remember its name) I’d never visited, it didn’t look that appetising a place to eat from the outside. Probably a bit harsh, because it’s never stopped me going into places which look worse for wear in the search of a tasty feed!!

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It was a Tuesday evening, so a few tables were occupied, but it wasn’t overly busy. A very welcome drinks list was presented to us and we both fancied wine, deciding on a bottle of Merlot, but on ordering were disappointed to be told they only had house wine?! We were a little bemused by the situation, as this could’ve been mentioned earlier. Not wanting anything else other than wine, the house it would have to be, a few minutes later the waitress nervously brought over a bottle of Hardy’s, we’d also asked for some tap water, but this was forgotten about. It did the job, but it did irk me a little that it cost £17.50 though.

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It took us a while to order, firstly because we were so engrossed in catching up to peruse the menu, secondly as the menu had lots of choice. Waiting staff did ask if we wanted help and were very patient with us though, until we finally selected a variety of starters and a main dish each.

Now my understanding with Japanese food, is food comes out when they are ready, but as they are listed as starters etc, am I right to assume the dishes would be brought out in this order, unless mentioned otherwise?? Maybe I’m wrong?
Well after waiting quite a long time, at least 40 minutes, dishes were brought out in a haphazard order, donburi first, then starters, edamame which is really an appetiser. Lastly the Tonkatsu which there was some confusion over, whether it would come with rice or not?!  This was spread out over a few minutes. 

On appearance the food looked good, we were brought Unagi Don, a Donburi dish. I always love the presentation of eel laying on a bed of rice with picked ginger on the side. The meaty texture of the eel was as good as I’d remembered from the past, and with the rice makes for a filling dish.

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Our gyoza were tasty, not overly plump with tonnes of filling, but were flavourful. Their wrappers were delicate and had a lightly fried crust. Mixed tempura had been nicely done, everything was coated in a perfectly light, golden batter; the prawns in particular being lovely and juicy. The Kabocha Korokke (pumpkin croquettes) which were very good, were covered in a lovely crust including black sesame seeds. Lastly the edamame were fine, I much prefer them when they just come out of the steamer, lovely and hot.

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My friends tonkatsu looked a little odd as it had a white eggy covering on top, I wasn’t really sure what it was. It was supposed to have a katsu sauce which I found altogether lacking. On the plus side the pork tasted good and was still juicy and moist.

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Overall it was a bit of a mixed experience, I enjoyed the food, but find disappointing service frustrating. Saying that they have only been open a few weeks, so I’m sure are still finding their feet and will improve in time. Next time, i’ll be trying out the sushi.

The total cost of our meal was £45.20 after a 20% discount, not including service. 

Food: extensive menu, generally done well, but some things could be improved .

Service: needs a little work, slow from the kitchen and better communication needed. 

Atmosphere: hard to say when there was only a few tables occupied, but it nice to be able to catch up in an environment where the music wasn’t too loud. 

Sushi Waka

26 New Briggate
Leeds

https://www.facebook.com/SushiWakaLeeds

Sushi Waka on Urbanspoon

Sanraku, San Francisco

Our last evening in San Francisco called for a memorable meal to cap off what had been an AMAZING seven days all round. We’d happily filled our belly’s with brunch and snacks earlier that day, so by the time evening arrived we were up for something lighter.  Wanting to stay within close proximity to our hotel, a quick nosey on the web pointed us towards Japanese, in particular Sanraku. It just so happened that we both LOVED Japanese food and the plan was always to try some during our visit, I suppose it felt like it was meant to be!

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Found at the top of the Tenderloin district, this area is littered with a number of Japanese restaurants. We luckily managed to grab seats at the sushi counter even though we were going on spec, for me THE best place to eat Japanese food because you get an eye-full of highly trained sushi chefs working their magic. 

The menu is reasonably priced with good choice across the board, whether you are a sashimi or sushi fiend, or prefer something hot or with noodles etc.

My friend was eager for nigiri which gave us a chance to see the chefs at work. To follow that she chose the tempura udon. Whilst Lucy had chosen fairly quickly, it took me a little longer as there was so much I wanted to eat! Eventually going for some of my favourites….soft shell crab and unagi donburi!!!

I still watch hypnotised as sushi chefs work with such amazing precision; whether slicing fish, moulding the rice or making rolls. Within a number of minutes of ordering the nigiri were handed across the counter, simplicity and beauty personified on one board. It’s surprising how vinegared rice and raw fish can be the stimulus for such joy when eating food, but that’s just how it was! 

Tuna and Salmon nigiri
Tuna and Salmon nigiri

My deep fried soft shell crab with tempura sauce was cooked exceptionally well. One of my most recent reviews was Leeds’ own Zucco, where I raved on about their soft shell crab; this was just as good if not better. The batter was typically Japanese as it was fluffy yet perfectly crisp! Surprisingly it also had lots of meat, and came with a light dipping sauce that adding seasoning, but still allowed the crab to come through.

Soft Shell Crab
Soft Shell Crab

The accompanying house salad looked simple yet vibrant, it’s never something I choose to eat very often, but  it would’ve been rude not to try.  It certainly had crunch, a light dressing provided sharpness making it a nice palate cleanser and gave me something to graze on before the next course.

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House salad

My first encounter with barbecued eel was at Yo Sushi, I’d pick unagi nigiri from the belt EVERY time I went. It wasn’t an addiction, but I definitely developed a soft spot for it. Consequently, it made me always looked for it on menus, but the first time I saw it play a key role in a more substantial dish, was during a trip to London with the best mate in December 2008. We ate at Cafe Japan in Golders Green, I ordered unaju unaware of how it would be served. We’ve often reminisced about that evening, when the unaju arrived in a square Japanese lacquered box, lifting its lid it brought a huge grin to my face and girly giggles when I looked inside!!! It’s been a favourite ever since.

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Me opening my Unaju at Cafe Japan, Golders Green, December 2008

This time my barbecued eel (unagi) was in a round bowl so is called Unagi Don or Unadon (donburi means bowl). Underneath a bed of steamed rice, for garnish pickled ginger, thinly sliced sticks of cucumber and Japanese crepe, which I think is called usuyaki tamago. It’s a very filling and tasty dish, the eel is moist and is coated in a sticky soy sauce that has a sweetness to it, enough pickled ginger and other elements keep the dish interesting. The ratio of rice to eel was just about right and I managed to eat the whole thing, apart from a few grains of rice. 

Unagi Don
Unagi Donburi at Sanraku

My miso soup was decent enough, salty with cubes of soft tofu, wakame leaves and spring onion.

Miso soup
Miso soup

From Lucy’s point of view there were no complaints about the food, the tempura were cooked perfectly and had the characteristic fluffy and crisp batter, whilst the udon noodles in light, but flavourful broth were delicious. The portion was a generous one, so she was gutted to be sadly defeated by it.

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Udon
Tempura
Tempura

The cost was $77.21 for two people, not including a tip.

Sanraku was a great place for our last dinner in San Francisco and I’d definitely recommend it.

Food: great choice of dishes to suit people’s preferences. Sushi delivered in terms of quality and craftsmanship. Hot food cooked well and tasted great.

Service: the service we received was exemplary from start to finish. Apart from the food it made our last meal special!

Atmosphere: at the sushi counter a quiet calmness resided, whilst the atmosphere elsewhere was a busy one, with a nice rumble of chatter from diners and busyness from waiting staff.

Sanraku
704 Sutter Street
San Francisco
CA 94109
http://www.sanraku.com/sanraku.html

Wasabi Sushi & Bento – NEW opening @ Trinity Leeds

I have ALWAYS loved anything Japanese – whether it be the culture, architecture old and new, cinema, manga and especially the food!!! Five years ago the other half and I travelled around Tokyo and Kyoto for 10 days, making it one of my favourite holidays to date. I can’t believe it’s been that long, I’d go back in a heart beat!! Japanese cuisine gets 1st or 2nd place on my list of all time, ultimate favourite eats and for me, the fight has always been neck and neck between proper Chinese and Japanese food.

Since Si-Sushi closed a few years ago, there are only a small number of Leeds independents which serve sushi and sashimi, such as the popular Little Tokyo and Teppanyaki on Belgrave Street, but these are full-on meals, are fairly limited in variety and can cost a pretty penny. 

So, for months Wasabi Sushi & Bento, the sushi chain has been hidden from prying eyes at Trinity Leeds. Workmen and fitters have worked their magic and finally, after months of waiting it FINALLY opens it’s doors to the public on Wednesday 18th February. Potentially filling a gap in the market in Leeds!

Wasabi made a name for itself by being the first company in the UK to sell individually wrapped pieces of sushi in 2003. Seeing a gap in the market in London, where busy people could get a healthy lunch, that wasn’t your typical sandwich or soup, but also pocket friendly. On my jaunts around London I’d seen many Wasabi branches, but had never ventured into one myself, so I was interested to see how this matched up to the other sushi establishments.

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The interior is very sleek, with bright white surfaces screaming cleanliness and has a feel of the futuristic about it. The space is very open with high ceilings, and for customers with a little more time on their hands there are designated eating areas. It certainly made me reminisce about our time in Japan – where people rush around at breakneck speed, doing their thing in a completely ordered manner, as is customary with virtually everything in Japan.

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At their hot food counter they serve authentic Japanese Bento box dishes such as Chicken Katsu Curry, Roasted Vegetable Yakisoba and Noodles soups in different forms – Tanmen (thick rice noodles) and Soumen (super thin, rice noodles) with a range of ingredients like prawn tempura or vegetable. All reasonably priced – Tanmen noodles (£5.29 – £5.49), Soumen noodles (£2.99 – £3.29). 

Also on the hot counter were a selection of fried goodies, prices are £1-1.50 per piece. I love a bit of fried food I won’t deny it, so asked for a little selection to try out:

Fried prawn katsu, chicken yakitori, chicken gyoza and chicken katsu
Fried prawn katsu, Chicken yakitori, Chicken gyoza and Chicken katsu

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All tasted good, sticky and sweet, crisp, juicy and tender where needed. They just need to ensure the temperature of the food doesn’t drop, while still maintaining everything that makes it yummy and moreish.

From what I gathered part of their philosophy is to provide a quick service, that has customer flexibility. Their ‘pick & mix’ sushi is tailor-made for this, all made fresh from scratch each morning, where only the freshest of ingredients are used, all being responsibly and sustainably sourced. I tried a number of different sushi, they have a wide selection to choose from. Whether you are a meat lover or not, there is always something for everyone, and being individually wrapped you can get exactly what you want. Prices range between £1- £1.90 for 2 pieces.

They all looked beautiful and really hit the spot for me, lovely and fresh, they haven’t scrimped on ingredients and all looked equal in quality. I can imagine many a person picking a few of their favourites for lunch or a snack, with the option to takeaway or eating in.

California roll futmaki, Avocado hosomaki and Seaweed gunkan, Japanese omelette (Tamago) and Tofu nigiri, Fried Prawn and Salmon and masago (fish egg) futonmaki
California roll futmaki, Avocado hosomaki and Seaweed gunkan, Japanese omelette (Tamago) and Tofu nigiri, Fried Prawn and Salmon and masago (fish egg) futomaki
Salmon sesame and spicy salmon gunkan, salmon hosomaki and nigiri,spicy salmon futomaki and chicken teriyaki futomaki, surimi crab gunkan and suri crab and avocado hosomaki
Salmon sesame and spicy salmon gunkan, salmon hosomaki and nigiri,spicy salmon futomaki and chicken teriyaki futomaki, surimi crab gunkan and suri crab and avocado hosomaki

There are also sushi sets and salads for those who may want a little more, whether it’s to take home or to share with others, working your way through a selection of bite size morsels.

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I also tried a selection of their speciality drinks – some very interesting flavours are available, in particular the Matcha milkshake made from green tea powder has a very distinctive taste. Out of all the drinks I loved the Aloe water, especially the mango variety which was very refreshing and light!!

Matcha milk tea, mango aloe water, sesame milkshake and Bubble Tea
Matcha milkshake, mango aloe water, sesame milkshake, aloe water and Bubble Tea

Sushi is very well known for being a healthy cuisine, and on their website Wasabi are very keen to promote the nutrition benefits. It was also good to see detailed allergy information as well, so my gluten intolerant other half can hopefully get a sushi fix too!!!

If you really like the idea of Japanese food that’s freshly prepared, quick, healthy, inexpensive with plenty of choice – Wasabi could be for you.

Disclaimer: I was invited to the event so the meal was complimentary, but this was in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

Wasabi 
Unit 202
9a Albion Street
Leeds Trinity
LS1 5AY
http://www.wasabi.uk.com