Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Sushi lesson

After St John, I wanted to take my friend to a Japanese restaurant that we had visited last month and really enjoyed called Asakusa. We arranged to meet early evening on a Wednesday night at the nearest tube and walked down to the restaurant together. Being a midweek evening, I did not think we had to book for dinner but upon arrival, we were told that the restaurant was fully booked and that there would not be another free table for 2 hours??!!!  So much for the credit crunch and recession, huh??

We decided to head back into central London and ended up having dinner another Japanese resto, a place that I used to go to a lot but haven't visited in a good 5 years. Sakura used to be well known for its authentic and reasonably-priced food which made it a hit with Asian students studying in London. I think the success went to the resto's heads a bit.....the prices have gone up a little, the service is not the best and at busy times could rival Wong Kee's....it was also sad for me to see that all the special dishes posted on the wall are now all written in English rather than Japanese :(

Dinner was a bit of a non-event (sorry, Won!) but my friend gave me a crash course in sushi and how to eat which I thought was pretty interesting:

  • Sushi should be eaten in order, from the most delicate flavour first and ending with  the strongest flavour. For our selection, we started with the sweet shrimp, then sea bream, salmon, mackerel and ended with egg.
  • You should only dip soy sauce on the fish and never on the rice.
  • One way of putting soy sauce on the fish is by using a slice of pickled ginger, dipping this into soy sauce and then "brushing" this over the fish - quite an effective but my friend then warned me that only the older generation do this in Japan, cheers mate!!
  • Some sushi enthusiasts would never order egg sushi as it is not traditional. On the other hand, egg sushi can reveal the level of skill the sushi chef has (e.g. the layers of egg should be thin and there should no holes in between the layers. It should also be a generous slice)
  • Some sushi snobs may also remove any excess rice from sushi and leave on the side of the plate if they feel that there is too much.
  • Mackeral sushi is usually marinated in vinegar but ours was cooked in vinegar. The vinegar is used in order to preserve the fish as it has a tendency to go bad quickly. By cooking the fish instead of marinating it, the fish can last even longer.....not great for the consumer but more economical for the resto.
As my friend said, not a great dinner but the company was delightful and most educational! :)

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