Food reviews and recipes

Atariya sushi bar, Swiss Cottage

On Friday, Mr. A and I went out for dinner to celebrate. With a massive craving for toro we decided to go to Atariya, in Swiss Cottage. I’ve been familiar with Atariya in the past, as they have several Japanese supermarkets dotted around London, which I frequent to stock up on all my Japanese condiments and supplies. The Atariya group also supplies restaurants with their sashimi so I knew that at the very least, their sushi bar would have the freshest produce.Atariya swiss cottage

I had really worked myself up all day on Friday, getting overly excited for all the uni (sea urchin) and toro I was going to eat that night. Toro is the fatty part of the tuna, and it’s buttery texture and flavour makes it highly sought after (and rather pricey). Toro, in my opinion, is even better than the juiciest, rarest steak – and there is little else I like more than a good steak.

So I was absolutely gutted when the waitress told me that they had run out of toro and uni for the day. Luckily, Atariya sushi bar impressed me enough to give it a good review – I was able to (somehow) overcome my devastation.

All the fish was amazingly fresh, and perfectly prepared – the sushi rice still slightly warm, at the perfect temperature, and everything was absolutely divine. Of course, I already knew that – the second I walked in, I could see that the restaurant was full of Japanese people, which is always a good sign, and surprisingly quite a rare sight to see in London.

atariya swiss cottage

Japanese businessmen, always a sign of a good sushi bar.

seaweed salad

Seaweed saladeel Eel

black cod rolls

Black cod rolls

salmon nigiri

Salmon nigiri

atariya sushi

Clockwise: natto (fermented soybean) rolls, spicy tuna rolls, salmon avocado rolls.

takoyakiThey did amazing takoyaki – fried and battered octopus, covered in sauce and mayonnaise resting on a bed of cabbage.

We had our meal with a bottle of red, and sampled some of their desserts. I had matcha and vanilla flavoured mochi ice cream (sticky rice cakes filled with ice cream), while Mr. A tried the red bean (azuki) ice cream.Mochi ice cream

I was particularly fond of the black cod rolls and the spicy tuna. We also had several plates of karage (Japanese fried chicken) and several dishes that we were absolutely stuffed by the end of it. Atariya was quite reasonable when you consider the quality of the ingredients, and I couldn’t find fault with any of the dishes. It’s quite an informal atmosphere, so while I was quite dressed up there’s really no need to be! For a delicious, simple and traditional Japanese dining experience in London you can’t get much better than Atariya. I’ll definitely be back – to sample their toro and uni, this time!

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Roasted Aubergine with Miso Glaze | 5:2 Recipe

A few months ago, I was contacted by Brita to do a post for their Better with Brita competition, where I included a recipe for Thai iced tea. I’ve been working with Brita on their Better with Brita campaign and competition, and have submitted a recipe of my own! Entrants of the Better with Brita competition are all vying for the change to  get to showcase and sell their own produce at the Big Feastival, one of the biggest food festivals in the UK this August. Entries close on 30th of June, and you can start voting from any time now til the 7th of July. All you’ll need to enter is a photo of your dish, which must include filtered water as an ingredient, as well as the recipe. Check out some of the other mouth-watering entries here!

For my entry, I’ve decided to submit a recipe for roasted aubergine with a miso glaze, or nasu dengaku as it is known in Japanese. This dish is sweet, tangy and definitely moreish – it’s also really low in fat and calories, and is ideal to make on fast days, especially on the 5:2 diet. Miso is great, a great source of protein and B-vitamins – it also lowers cholesterol and aids in digestion.

Miso eggplant

Roasted Aubergine with Miso Glaze | 5:2 Recipe
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This nasu dengaku recipe is perfect if you're on the 5:2 diet, or just looking for a delicious vegetarian recipe!
Recipe type: Gluten-free, 5:2
Cuisine: Japanese
Serves: One Portion
  • 2 aubergines
  • 100g miso paste
  • 3 teaspoons of sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of mirin (Japanese cooking wine) – you can subsitute with sherry or sweet marsala
  • vegetable oil
  • filtered water
  • sesame seeds
  1. Cut the aubergines in half, and soak for 10 minutes in a bowl of water.
  2. Turn your oven on up to 250 degrees to pre-heat while you prepare the aubergines.
  3. Drain the water, and score the aubergines, brushing each side with some oil.
  4. Place them on top of some foil, and roast them for ten minutes with the scored side up.
  5. Turn them over and roast them for five minutes with the bottoms up.
  6. While the aubergines are roasting, mix the ingredients for the glaze in the saucepan.
  7. Let the mixture simmer and reduce, until most of the liquid has disappeared.
  8. Add a drop of water to the saucepan so the glaze doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn.
  9. Once the aubergine has roasted, take them out of the oven and top the scored side with the glaze. Turn on the grill, and place the aubergine under the grill for three minutes.
Miso eggplantmiso aubergineTop with sesame seeds and serve. I served mine with a side of miso soup, but this works as a side dish with grilled fish or chicken with a bowl of plain rice.

2014-06-08 13.58.43miso auberginemiso aubergine

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Melon bread

My Japanese grandfather was from the countryside, or inaka, and even though he ran a successful business in Tokyo you could always tell he preferred it there. Every weekend he and my grandmother would leave the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and go back to their home Kamakura, where the sight of the sea, the woods and Mount Fuji would help him unwind.

When my sister and I would come for the summers and winters, he would always go down to the local bakery in the highland area and bring us some melon pan, or melon bread, which was my particular favourite. I recently had a massive craving for it, and being miles away from my regular supplier I recreated the recipe for myself. The funny thing about melon pan is that it doesn’t usually have any melon, or any melon flavouring in it – the name comes from how the bread rolls look once they are scored and baked. To make things interesting I added some food colouring and melon essence – the latter I think is necessary!

Melon pan is a combination of biscuit and bread – a bread roll topped with a melon flavoured biscuit. While it sounds odd I assure you it has such a light, delicate flavour, and not as overly sugary or sweet as you might expect! The recipe requires powdered milk – it’s a great way to use up formula powder if you have little ones that have grown out of it, and want to reduce waste.

Melon bread
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This Japanese melon bread recipe is part-way between a biscuit and a cake - it's delicately sweet and simply delicious.
Recipe type: Baking
Cuisine: Japanese
Serves: Dozen
  • 500g white flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 5g yeast
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g butter
  • 190g water (room temperature)
  • 5g powdered milk
  • 2g baking powder
  • salt
  • 5 drops melon extract (I used Uncle Roy’s, bought on Amazon)
  • green food colouring
  1. Sieve and mix 300g flour, 36g of caster sugar, and all the yeast and powdered milk in a bowl.
  2. Add the 190g of water slowly, mixing until it forms a dough.
  3. Start kneading the dough on your counter until it stops sticking and add 20g of butter.
  4. Incorporate the butter by kneading, set the dough back in the bowl, cover, let it rise for an hour.
  5. Now for the biscuit topping – whip the butter and sugar, add food colouring and the melon extract. Sieve the remaining flour, and add baking powder and mix until it forms a dough.
  6. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and let it set in the fridge for twenty minutes.
  7. While the dough is setting, divide the bread dough into twelve portions and allow to rise further.
  8. Once the cookie dough has set, roll it out using a rolling pin and cut out 12 circles.
  9. Place the bread dough rolls on a greased baking tray.
  10. Top each with the cookie dough, and score the top.
  11. Let these rise a third time while the oven heats up to 180 degrees.
  12. Pop them in and cook til they have browned – mine took 20 minutes to bake.

This recipe takes time. The same amount of time to make biscuits and bread, and only to end up with one batch of baked products to show for it – but it’s so worth it.

melon pan/breadmelon pan/breadmelon pan/breadmelon pan/breadmelon pan/breadmelon pan/breadmelon pan/bread melon pan/breadmelon pan/bread

melon pan/breadmelon pan/breadmelon pan/breadmelon pan/breadmelon pan/bread

melon pan/bread

Enjoy them with coffee, tea, a glass of milk or even a cup of hojicha.

melon pan/bread

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This surely can’t count as a recipe, I hear you cry, it’s far too simple!

And it is. I was seriously debating whether or not to include this in at all, but it’s one of those recipes that you’ll always find in your cupboard, and it’s a great way to jazz up pitta bread, or adding to white fish or pork with some olive oil, capers and lemon juice. Having grown up with grandparents who survived opposing sides in the Second World War, I’ve had it drilled into me that food waste is on par with minor crimes. Finding multiple uses for a single sauce or dish always makes me feel like I’d be getting their approval which is always nice!

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This ridiculously simple dip recipe is perfect as an accompaniment to fish, or on top of pitta bread.
Recipe type: Dips
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: One Portion
  • 190g black olives
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • A food processor
  1. Take all three ingredients and blend. That is IT.
  2. Easiest and most delicious dip ever? Perhaps.
  3. Adding a crack of black pepper to it before serving will make it go down a real treat.

The thing I love about this is how many uses it has. I used the leftovers a week later and topped a salad of cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes with it. It would be great on a fillet of cod with some lemon juice, on a homemade pizza or pasta dish. The trick is not to over garlic the dip (surely there’s no such thing?) otherwise it will be slightly too spicy. How would you use this dip?

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Fatal Attraction to Shoryu Ramen

It was one of those unbelievably beautiful London days that it seemed almost a shame to be going inside last Saturday. But my sister and I, both nursing hangovers were pretty happy to be doing so, especially as we had managed to snag an unbelievably good deal. For a tenner each we’d managed to get some amazing seats to the West End production of Fatal Attraction at Theatre Royal Haymarket. As children of the 90s we were both really excited to see Kristin Davis (Charlotte York from Sex and the City) play Beth Gallagher in Fatal Attraction, based on the film of the same name. Londontheatre royal haymarket

But first, we had to eat – and as we were pressed for time (we went to the 2:30 show) we wanted something quick and delicious. Luckily, Shoryu ramen which we have been multiple times was just around the corner, so we popped in for a Shoryu Ganso tonkotsu ramen.Shoryutonkotsu ganso ramenshoryu tonkotsu ramen

If you are up for authentic, quick and tasty ramen then Shoryu is definitely worth popping into. The broth and noodles are delicious, and the pork and egg perfectly done, with a little runny in the middle. I washed mine down with oolong tea, and we were in and out within half an hour. Back in Japan, the best ramen places are always the dingy ones that truck drivers frequent – and is meant to be eaten fairly quickly as the noodles can get ‘long’, or soggy. If you are up for a long, leisurely feast of Japanese cuisine then I wouldn’t recommend the fast-paced and bustling Shoryu for you. As a pre-theatre lunch it was perfect, and we managed to get back in our seats with plenty of time.shoryushoryu

The show itself was really great – Natascha McElhone was hard to keep your eyes off of, she had great presence and is one of those people who looks even more stunning in real life than in films or photos. Kristin Davis and Natascha McElhone both stole the show, and the ending was different to the hollywood version, something the screenwriter had originally wanted to explore before the movie execs got involved. It was darker, which I liked and was such a good day out.Fatal Attraction

We decided to keep chatting about the play over bubble tea at Boba Jam. Bubble tea is quite an acquired taste – sweet milky tea with giant balls of tapioca floating at the bottom isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (haha!) but it was a great way to end a lovely afternoon.bubble tea