Toconoco Cafe | London

For a long time now, the only Asian restaurants between Shoreditch and Dalston was just Vietnamese. Now, there is Tonkotsu East for ramen (new post soon) and this cute little Toconoco cafe that is family / baby friendly.

The counter where you order

The interior is all white and wooden, typically minimalist of the Japanese style. The counter where you order, is the barista and entrance to the kitchen on the left. The shelves below the counter were filled with many useful Japanese ingredients, it makes it much more convenient for us to get Japanese ingredients now. No need to track all the way to Chinatown.

Loving the tree branch decor with lights on the ceiling

Black sesame latte, cappuccino, cupcake

The black sesame latte was so good, we came back in the afternoon for more. The cupcake though was stale, probably from the day before.

Egg miso mayo with spring onion, sesame oil and chilli flake on toast

Toast

Salted kombu rice balls and miso soup; green tea latte

Although simple, it was tasty and comforting. Will be back for more rice balls.

Turkey and tofu burger with rice and miso soup was the lunch set of the day. 
The lunch set changes daily.

Tofu and turkey burger? Interesting or weird? Well, we tried it out and it was really succulent and delicious. Feels so homey too. The only thing weird we found was the miso soup which was served with potatoes in it. Well, I'm not Japanese. Maybe that's what they serve at home in Japan, but it was the first for us. 

If you know anything about potato in miso, please let me know. I am curious to find out.


The cafe is located just off the canal, a few minutes walk from the Proud Archivist


Smile..

I'm in love with this cafe. It is nothing fancy, just a cosy and family friendly cafe in the perfect location by the canal that serves homey Japanese food.

Note: The lunch menu serves from 12pm onwards and the cafe closes early, between 6pm to 6:30pm so come in early.

Frown..

The close really early, about 6:30pm so it is impossible to make weekday after work dinner.

Will I return?

Already been there twice in one day. So, the answer is YES!


Toconoco

28 Hertford Road
N1 5QT London,UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 7249 8394


The Winter Garden at Landmark Hotel | London



I have always wanted to visit Winter Garden for afternoon tea, but never did. I am glad we finally made it for dinner instead. It is a delight to walk in to the Landmark Hotel and be welcomed with the most charming arched entrance, lit up very warmly. The most enchanting view was the tall palm trees and very high ceiling, almost like a very large green house but prettier.

The entrance / exit


Warm bread with butter and sea salt; complimentary champagne cocktails

Macakarel Tartare with avocado, preserved lemon & dill

Very light and elegant flavours. I thought the preserved lemons and the wavy crisp gave it that extra something.

Pan seared livers with spiced lentils & chorizo

Normally not a fan of livers, this was fabulous. P liked it so much, he wanted to order a second plate! 

Roasted Pollock with Jersey royal potatoes, braised fennel & citrus vinaigrette

Chargrilled Bavette Beef Steak with vine tomatoes, chunky chips and Béarnaise sauce 

The fish was beautifully presented, crispy skin, fresh and well seasoned. Steak was cooked well with absolutely good chunky chips and Bernaise sauce.

Sticky Toffee Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce & Vanilla Cream

I am quite a sticky toffee pudding fan and if I say this is comparable to one of the best ones I have had so far, it must be really indulgent. The cheesecake on the other hand was a fresher dessert and equally tasty, I thought the piped apricot, white chocolate and something else on the right had really interesting flavours.

 Vanilla Cheesecake with Apricots & White Chocolate



Remember to wander around the 100 years old hotel after dinner. This beautiful surroundings is not to  be missed.


Dinner at Winter Garden will normally set you off at an average of £25 for one main course, So with the 3 course menu at £35 inclusive of a champagne cocktail, I thought it was of great value. Definitely worth a visit. London Restaurant Festival is ending on the 27th October so hurry before this fantastic value is gone. 

Smile..

Beautiful, elegant and romantic ambience in the 100 year old building. Food was glorious and staff were very kind and friendly which makes it a very pleasant evening. 

Frown..

Why frown when all's wonderful?! Just smiles were intact when we left.

Will I return?

Yes, and next time will definitely be for Afternoon Tea.


Winter Garden at Landmark Hotel

222 Marylebone Road
NW1 6JQ London,UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 7631 8000

Winter Garden at The Landmark Hotel London on Urbanspoon
  

Japanese Journey at London Restaurant Festival 2014

It is the London Restaurant Festival again and as always, there is so much to do. It gets better each year with more events and more restaurant deals. I was well delighted when we were invited to the Japanese Journey at London Restaurant Festival. It was the most delightful Saturday of eating and drinking through Japanese food and whisky.


Japanese Journey: How it Works?


If you are wondering how this works, you will receive a Japanese Journey passport once you've bought your ticket. There will be a list of six restaurants with a simple map provided in the passport so you can plan your journey accordingly. There is no schedule to the trail. It is pretty free and easy, as long as you complete it between 12pm-6pm.

All meals will be served with a choice of Suntory Yamazaki Distiller's Reserve Highball, or Suntory Hakushu Distiller's Reserve Highball. So yes, you will be having 6 long glasses of whisky and soda over ice throughout the Japanese Journey.

Below is the list of six participating Japanese restaurants for the trail that will give you a few different perspective of the Japanese cuisine. I definitely came across some that I will return to fairly soon.


TONKOTSU - SOHO

Twitter: @tonkotsulondon
63 Dean Street, London W1D 4QG

We started off with the first stop at Tonkotsu which we were served three different types of gyozas and a glass of Suntory Whisky each. Please also see my earlier post on Tonkotsu East for a full review.

Fresh, home-made gyoza dumplings, filled with pork, prawn or shiitake

  

SHORYU

Twitter: @shoryuramen
3 Denman Street, London W1D 7HA

Inside Shoryu

Here at Shoryu, we were given two choices, as shown below.

Wagyu Beef Hirata Bun

The white steamed bun was soft and fluffy, filled with thin slices of juicy and flavourful wagyu beef yakiniku (grilled meat) with shiso, daikon & shimeji.


For those of you unfamiliar with Japanese ingredients, wagyu beef is meat from Japanese cattle, known for its quality and intense fat marbling which is highly desired. Fat marbling in beef is important in providing flavour, moisture and tenderness. Although the hirata bun above looks plain, it delivers in flavour, and juicy tenderness.

- Shiso is a type of herb belonging to the mint family, widely used in Japanese cuisine.
- Daikon, also known as mooli is a white winter radish.
- Shimeji is a type of mushroom from East Asia.



Taster size Kotteri Tonkotsu

The Koterri Tonkotsu is the signature ramen of Shoryu. Kotteri ramen is characterised by its rich, thick, heavier and more oily soup. The thick and richer soup coats on the noodles when you slurp away. Simply delicious.


STICKS 'N' SUSHI

Twitter: @sticknsushi_UK
11 Henrietta Street, London WC2E 8PY

Sticks 'n' Sushi has a modern ambience suited to its location. They serve sushi and sticks (grilled yakitori sticks) with a unique concept combining Japanese and Danish cuisine, influenced by the half Japanese and half Danish roots of the founders. The food were beautifully plated as in the pictures of their very well presented menu. 



Sushi Plate: Salmon sashimi, Tempura shrimp with avocado, tuna and spicy sauce, Ebi panko roll of tempura shrimp avocado, sesame and tsume sauce; Monti Carlo rolls of avocado, cucumber, cray fish with miso aioli and trout roe.

Colourful, fresh and flavourful with multiple textures make the plate of sushi very interesting.

Sticks plate: Edamame with spicy miso sauce; chicken breast topped with chili dip, teriyaki and spring onion; Bacon wrapped asparagus



CHISOU

Twitter: @ChisouLondon
4 Princes Street, Mayfair, London W1B 2LE

Chisou is known for its traditional and authentic Japanese cuisine with an extensive list of sake where most of them are not available in the UK. The food is elegant, as you would expect from a detail oriented Japanese restaurant.

The entrance filled with many different types of sake

We had perfect seat at the sushi bar watching the chef at work

Spicy Hamachi Carpaccio - Kagoshima line caught yellow tail carpaccio win a spiced dressing

Such a delicate plate of carpaccio that was fresh and perfectly balanced. Sublime. 

Gyu tataki - thin slices of seared rare beef fillet with ponzu sauce and daikon



KUROBUTA

Twitter: @KurobutaLondon
17-20 Kendall Street, Marble Arch London W2 2AW


Kurobuta Sampler

The Kurobuta Sampler includes BBQ Pork belly buns with spicy peanut soy sauce, Jurusalem artichoke chopsticks with truffle ponzu, Smoked duck tataki with burnt ginger amazu, Nasu dengaku with caramelised walnuts, and Salmon nigiri with bernaise salsa. 

BBQ pork belly buns

We all agreed that the BBQ pork belly buns were fabulous. I suppose this is their signature dish since Kurobuta, the name of this restaurant means 'black pig' in Japanese. In Japan, kurobuta pork is the king in flavours and tenderness in the pork world. This bun has certainly lived up to its expectation.

KANADA-YA

Twitter: @kanadaya_LDN
64 St Giles High Street, London WC2H 8LE


It is a shame that the queue was too long when we arrived so we hopped on to other restaurants on the trail first. By the time we got on to the fifth one, we were all too full to carry on to Kanada-Ya to complete our trail. The owner was very kind to let us return with the passport to try their popular ramen another day. I shall update this post once I have been back to try their Original Ramen or Moyashi Ramen. I heard they have one of the most original Ramen in London.


More About Japanese Food


Since this is a Japanese Journey post, there are a few articles and links that I think is useful to expand your knowledge about Japanese food.

Ramen Glossary
Guide to Ramen Styles by Serious Eats


London Restaurant Festival 2014

8-27 October 2014
Twitter: @LRF_2014

Japanese Journey
Chicchetti Trail (Italian)
Tapas Tour
China Town Tour
More Events


Remember to checkout Hecticophilia and Wander to Wonder's write up for more about Japanese Journey. If you are more interested in the Italian Food trail, The Awkward Blog, Whatever Gets You through the Day and My Little Italian Kitchen has recently been on it so that's where to find out more.

P.S. : I am aiming to post reviews for both The Balcon and Winter Gardens that I have recently been to on the London Restaurant Festival in the next days so do remember to check back.
    
Enjoy the rest of the London Restaurant Festival!

*Thank you NuffnangUK for the complimentary ticket.

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Tonkotsu East | London

Here in Tonkotsu, they make their own noodles. There is a large machine in a room at the end of the restaurant with glass divider that is see through. If you come for early lunch, you will be able to see the noodles in the making where a man operates the machine and make sure the noodles come out the way they are suppose to be, silky smooth and bouncy.

Tonkotsu

Tonkotsu is a bowl of tasty noodles with very rich chicken and pork based broth which I find slightly salty, though my dining companion liked it very much. The egg is as usual, cooked to perfection.

The man operating the noodle machine

Tokyo Ramen with additional egg


The Tokyo Ramen was by far my favourite amongst the three noodles I have tried here at Tonkotsu East. It has soy sauce base broth, so it is lighter than its Tonkotsu counterpart that has richer and thicker broth. This time around, we ordered extra egg each for our noodles so no one's egg will be stolen mid way through our meal. Yes, the egg is that good. I suggest you do the same.

Chicken Karaage - Fried marinated chicken

Very crispy and tasty chicken karaage that I strongly recommend you try.

 Tsukumen - Noodles is served with a separate bowl of hot intense broth as a dipping sauce

Tsukumen seems to be popular amongst my Japanese friends. They always get excited when they saw tsukumen on the menu. Tsukemen is a bowl of cold noodles and its toppings served with a separate bowl of hot and intense broth. The broth has to be very hot and the cold noodles when dipped into the broth will warm up the noodles. I quite like it but was not my favourite. Maybe the broth was not hot enough so when I had the noodles, it was not warm enough for my liking. Taste-wise was nice. The Japanese friend I was with that evening marked it 70% so it is not a bad version.


What I thought was a cute toilet sign at Tonkotsu East. A pretty clear sign.


Here's a video on 'How to eat Ramen' from the movie Tampopo



Smile..

This is a place for comfort food.
My favourite was the light and tasty Tokyo Ramen and very crispy Chicken Karaage.
They also make their own noodles here.

Frown..

The broth for Tonkotsu was slightly over salty for my liking.

Will I return?

Yes, ramen is the perfect comfort food especially for when the temperature drops.

Tonkotsu East

Arch 334, 1A Duntson Street
E8 4EB London,UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 7254 2478

Nearest station: Haggerston (overground)
   
Tonkotsu East on Urbanspoon