Sushi Takeaway Dinner – Tsuru, Bankside

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Heatwave! The past couple of days, the weather has finally taken a turn for the better with bright sunshine, nice cool breeze and plenty of flabby, pasty looking skin on show. With the weather forecast not looking too great for the weekend, thought I tempt the Boom with a cold sushi dinner tonight and in exchange, he sponsor the booze. As usual, when it comes to food, the Boom is always keen.

So took a walk to Tsuru at Canvey Street, Bankside and bought a collection of sushi bento boxes for dinner. The last time I wrote about Tsuru, it was the Chicken Katsu Curry and I have yet to try the scotch egg version which I’m told by the Yank that is fab. I’m hoping that of the boxes I have picked up, it will match my expectation. Run down of what I got:

Edamame with Chili – £1.95

Potato Salad – £1.95

Prawn and Sashimi Salad – £5.95

Salmon and Tuna Box – £6.95

Tempura Prawn Maki – £4.25

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Compared to Wasabi, not exactly cheap with the total at £21.05 but as dinner for 2, I think it’s not half bad. A quick run down of what I think of the items.

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The Salmon and Tuna Box and the Tempura Prawn Maki were pretty nice, the fish was fresh and seeing that the Tempura Prawn Maki was premade, was not expecting it to be crispy. Not blow your mind fantastic but not too bad either. Perhaps it might be slightly overpriced?

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Both the Boom and I enjoyed the Prawn and Sashimi Salad. There is a tendency for rice to be dry or bland but the rice in this salad box was a joy! Moist but not mushy with scattered sesame seeds throughout, we were happy to just eat the rice on it’s own.

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I bought the Potato Salad on a whim as I thought the presentation was rather quaint, molded into 2 quenelle shaped lumps. This is not the Western potato salad one would expect. It’s more like a colcannon, mashed potato laced with chopped onions, chives and carrots. Interesting but it needs more seasoning.

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There seems to be a fad to spice up the humble edamame recently. Was at another Japanese restaurant just last week and apart from the normal version with rock salt, there was a kimchee version which turned out not half bad. Unfortunately, the Edamame with Chili was not well received. Generous lashings of what I think was shichimi togarashi seasoning was added to this version and the taste of raw chili overtook the freshness of the bean completely. Boom also thinks the beans were under cooked while I think it’s just because they are served cold.

In all, it was an alright dinner but I think what I bought today is better off served as lunch.

Tsuru
4 Canvey Street
London SE1 9AN
0207 928 2228

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Chicken Ramen and Hosomaki Set – Deli Mama, Eastcheap

IMG-20130412-delimama_lunchA colleague from the US office was in town this week for work and I was asked to take a walk with him for lunch today. He had a couple of things he wanted to buy which took us across the river. Seeing we have made the trek, decided to go by my regular haunt when I was based out in Monument.

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Deli Mama is located around the corner from the Monument and is an independent Japanese/Korea takeaway joint ran by a team of Korean staff. There is a range of hot dishes which you can have with either rice or noodles at the steam tray counter.

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Or you can also pickup tubs of udon, ramen and a selection of bento boxes and sushi set from the fridge units. As you can see, the selection is pretty good and all pretty affordable.

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I decided on my old favourite which is the Chicken Ramen where I got the spicy broth added when paying at the counter. Also added a small box of Hosomaki Set. The ramen was £5.80 while the Hosomaki Set was £3.75.

IMG-20130412-delimama_chickenramenAs you can see, the noodles is not exactly ramen but more like the korean ramyun style instant noodles. Other condiments in the noodles includes bean sprouts, shredded carrot, big bunches of coriander and sliced up fried chicken breast. I highly recommend you top up the container to the brim with extra hot water as the spicy broth has a tendency to be pretty salty. perfect comfort food on cold wet days.

IMG-20130412-delimama_hosomakisetI really enjoyed the Hosomaki Set. There are 2 Gunkan style sushi, one topped with chopped salmon and mixed pickles while the other is with a smoked mackerel salad and fresh cucumber. The one in the middle is a inari pocket with tuna mayo and pickled ginger. The last two are normal nigiri with cooked prawn and fresh salmon. Strictly speaking, these are not Hosomaki as they are the small skinny rolls but I will let that rest since they were really fresh and tasty.

When the weather gets better, I will be sure to visit Deli Mama more often. The quality and price of the offering is worth the trek!

Deli Mama
2 Eastcheap
London EC3M 1AA

Chicken Yakisoba – Chozen, Borough High Street

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Today’s lunch is truly a lunch on the move! Got some admin and health thing to take care of so left the office at lunchtime. Wanted to grab something to eat while travelling to make best use of time but did not fancy anything bready.

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Did think some sushi rolls might do the trick and since Chozen is on the way to the tube station, pop in to see what’s on offer. The boxes with nigiri and sushi rolls were totally over priced I think at close to £7 per box. You can get double that amount for the same price at Wasabi or other sushi chains. The only other candidate were the salad boxes at £3.95 per box but thought it would be a pain trying to cram pieces of lettuce and cucumber into my mouth while on the tube.

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Against my better judgement, I settled on the Chicken Yakisoba from the hot counter with 2 pieces of Chicken Karaage as a side. Total came to be £5.95, yes I resisted the temptation to upsize.

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The smell from the takeaway box was luring me on the first leg of my tube journey but the tube was too packed to eat comfortably. Finally managed to tuck in during the second leg and was sorely disappointed. I was not expecting anything spectacular but this is utter rubbish! Worse then those mish mash stir fry noodles you get from music festivals and markets! The egg noodles were soft and mushy like baby food. Thought the pieces of chicken, baby corn, capsicum and carrots were generous, they were fried to the death! The overall seasoning was way over the top! Wonder how many bottles of teriyaki and soya sauce they used!

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I was lucky when I decided to pickup a can of soft drink at the last minute to the tube station. If not, I would perished from umami overdose!

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Chozen
59-61 Borough High Street
London SE1 1NE
0207 403 0031

Chicken Thigh Katsu Curry – Tsuru, Bankside

20130219_tsuru_chickenthighkatsuThe sun is bright and shining and decided to take a walk to Bankside to grab a spot of lunch. The last time I was out for a wonder, was thrilled with the myriad of food outlets at the Bankside area, just 5 minutes walk from my office. Been awhile since I had katsu curry so have to give it a go.

20130219_tsuruTsuru is a small Japanese restaurant with three outlets, 2 in the Square Mile and the last at Bankside.  The shop is roomy and spacious and can sit quite a few eat in diners. You can also see the chefs working behind the scenes via the glass panel behind the counter.

20130219_tsuru_menuIf you can read the menu, it’s filled with sushi, handrolls, salads and bento boxes. The sushi, salads and handrolls are pre made and the selection is pretty good I have to say. Definitely summer fodder.

20130219_tsuru_premadeFor the curry, you can choose from a choice of protein, from chicken breast or thigh to fish, prawn, tofu and even beef! I’m more a thigh than breast person so went with the Chicken Thigh Katsu Curry at £6.35 which is 5p cheaper than breast.

20130219_tsuru_recipetOn their menu, apparently the curry sauce takes up to 8 hours to cook! Well, that sets the expectation. Price wise, it is on par with Japanika but way more than Wasabi or Asta so I’m going to judge it against Japanika’s offering.

The chicken thigh is coated with panko rather than the normal breadcrumb which scores point on my part and as always, thigh meat is always juicier and more tender than breast. The main point of comparison will be the curry sauce I reckon. If you recall, I deemed Japanika’s version to be full bodied and beefy which I thought was the best of the 3 I have had. Tsuru’s curry sauce is a fruity rendition with a refreshing tang from apples I think. Personally, I’m not a fan of cooking with fruit but I can see how this will appeal to children and those with sweet tooth.

20130219_tsuru_chickenthighkatsu2Only complain I have is I could do with a bigger portion of rice though the generous portion of chicken thigh and big wedges of carrots and potatoes more than makes up for this. I am a rice bucket afterall.

Tsuru
4 Canvey Street
Bankside
London SE1 9AN
0207 928 2228

Pork Ramen – Wagamama, Clink Street, London Bridge

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Today’s post might not to everyone’s liking since I’m going to blog about a High Street joint. There is a Wagamama just around the corner from work and I was starving and craving for something nice and warming. Sorry if you’d thought I sold out.

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With the recent ramen craze sweeping major cities around the world, London is in on the act as well. Recent openings like Tonkotsu, Ittenbari, Bone Daddies and Shoryu were all blogged to death by regular food blogs. I did try out Tonkotsu with high hopes but sadly they were dashed beyond oblivion. Understand that Wagamama revamped their menu slightly to jump on the ramen bandwagon so thought why not give it a chance?

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Decided to go with the Pork Ramen seeing it’s supposedly new on the menu. Also gave myself a treat with a side order of Tori Kaarage, for those of you not in the know, tori = bird in Japanese, i.e. Chicken Kaarage. Also added some sliced red chilies as I can’t live without heat! The ramen was £8.50, the kaarage was £4.85 while the sliced chilies were £0.70. All in lunch was £14.10. Service was not included and since the servers were all very attentive, I dropped £16 when the bill came. Junk deserves a treat sometimes.

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I was glad I gave this a go! The Tori Kaarage had a very crispy and well seasoned coating of batter which has seaweed mixed into it. Unlike most places, the kaarage were truly bite size pieces, like the popcorn chicken from KFC. While the size is convenient for popping into your mouth, I think there is a higher tendency for some pieces to be dry as the size means the moisture in the meat is more exposed to the heat. The dipping sauce that came with it complimented the kaarage well, a mix of soy sauce with some chili and garlic. Recommend that you squeeze some of the lime juice into the dipping sauce to give it a tangy edge.

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On to the Pork Ramen. Ok, I really pimped this up with the chili oil and shichimi togarashi provided. On hindsight, I could have saved £0.70 for the sliced chili since the complimentary condiments gave me the heat I wanted. Pimping aside, the miso and chicken broth was deep but not too coying, the noodles had a nice bite while still maintaining the fresh ramen texture, the menma, wakame and pea shoots added some crunch while the half tea stained egg could be marinated a bit more. But the true delight of this dish has to be the barbecue pork belly slices! The portion was generous, the belly slices were tender with melt in your mouth fat yet has the smoky and charred flavour typical of a good searing. Thought I died and gone to heaven.

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So in all, Junk was a very satisfied customer. Two thumbs up!

Wagamama
1 Clink Street
London SE1 9BU
0207 403 3659

Red Thai Beef with Noodles – Chozen, Borough High Street

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Saw this place on my way home last night and thought what a quirky and imaginative name. The fact that they serve sushi and noodles makes it a must try.

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Chozen is located along Borough High Street, diagonally opposite Stoney Street, one of the entrances to Borough Market. The name of the joint is a word play on “Chosen” but spelled as “zen” so you know they serve Japanese inspired food. Subtle but rather effective I think.

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The set up is very much like Wasabi where you can get hot food from steamer trays and cold sushi from the fridge area. A variety of udon noodle soup is also available. Just pickup a udon container and the counter staff will top it up with soup. Price wise, I think it’s a tad more than Wasabi but not so bad to be obvious.

From a choice of red thai, green thai and katsu curry and also black bean with either veg, chicken or beef, I went with the Red Thai Beef and got egg noodles as carb instead of rice.  Was asked would I like to go large/upsize for £1.50 more, I simply had to say yes. Total came up to £7.15.

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The smell when I opened the container reminded me more of satay sauce then red thai curry, strong whiff of peanuts. The beef was thinly sliced and very tender with courgettes, kidney bean and peppers scattered throughout. Taste wise, it’s definitely not red thai curry. I would say this is more like a slightly spicy stew. Not too bad if you are not expecting red thai curry.

I will give their udon soup noodles a go when I’m craving for something soupy next time.

Chozen
59 – 61 Borough High Street
London SE1 1NE
0207 403 0031

Roast Duck Potsu Udon – Itsu, Canary Wharf

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Interesting that it took me so long to blog about Itsu as it is one of my favourite High Street takeaway chains. It’s not like the shop is not accessible to me with 4 outlets in Canary Wharf and 1 near Liverpool Street station. There was once when the Vegetable Gyoza udon was one of my favourite lunches. Things fall out of favour I guess.

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Anyway, being a damp and miserable day, I decided to pay Itsu a much needed visit. I went to the outlet at Cabot Place as it is the closest to me. It is quite a big setup with loads of seats available. The other outlet in Canary Wharf with seating is located at Jubilee Place while the other 2 dotted along Canada Square are pure takeaway outlets. As usual, you can chose amongst the sushi and bento boxes or you can order something hot from the counter. I broke the bank and went for the most expensive option of Roast Duck Potsu Udon at £6.49. Ok, I’m exagerating but £6.49 for a pot of noodles is not to be sniffed at.

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The sauce you can see on top is hoisin sauce which is quite typically served with duck, especially the crispy duck wraps from all the Chinese takeaway joints. Since it’s roast duck, was expecting some duck skin but none was found. Guess it goes with Itsu’s philosophy of health and happiness sans fat! The broth has a miso base and is loaded with spinach, green beans, mangetout, fresh shitake mushroom slices and other bits of veg. The portion is very generous, there are loads of shredded duck as well as udon. Definitely not one of those noodle soups where they bulk things up with the broth. Well worth the £6.49 I would say.

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Wonder how the rice version will taste like? You do have the option to either have brown rice or udon with your potsu.

Itsu
Level 2, Cabot Place East
Canary Wharf
London E14 4QT
0207 512 5790