Pork Tonkotsu Ramen and Chicken Teriyaki Donburi – Japanese Canteen, Middlesex Street

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Junk is capable of healthy activities apart from those conducted in pubs. Yesterday’s outing was case in point. Bought a couple of vouchers for African Drumming class after work and had to look for something quick to eat for dinner. Most of the dinner places around the Spitalfields area are sit down, big menu, slightly long drawn out affairs unless one resorts to pub grub. Luckily, I found this place.

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Japanese Canteen is another Jap food chain catering mostly to the lunch crowd. But this branch at Middlesex Street, a stone throw away from Spitalfields also serves dinner. It was rather empty when we were there and it’s perfect for a quick eat and run dinner. I think this branch is rather new as it was not there when I was working in the area less then a year back.

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The menu is extensive and one can chose between donburi, bento box, ramen, sushi with a couple of non Japanese options like bibimbapgua bao and even Dan Dan noodles. Prices are very reasonable and definitely won’t break the bank!

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As expected, I could not resist any soupy noodles on a menu and seeing that the ramen is freshly made and they have a tonkotsu soup base, I’m sold! The Tweet being his usual boring self, went with the mundane option of Chicken Teriyaki Donburi. *Yawn* To each his own I guess. Total bill came to £11.40, good deal on paper.

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So is the deal as good taste wise? The Tweet was not impressed by his Chicken Teriyaki Donburi and neither am I. The chicken pieces according to the menu were supposed to be grilled but we could not see scorched marks nor taste any smokiness. Worse yet, the chook was tough and dry! The teriyaki sauce was typical, sweet, savoury and sticky while Tweet thinks the rice is too mushy. With just a sprinkling of spring onion as garnish, we both think this dish needs some other taste sensation. I had to donate all of my bok choy to Tweet to make his meal more enjoyable.

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What about the more complicated ramen dish? At £5.95, I was not expecting much from the Pork Tonkotsu Ramen especially when I was disappointing by the much hyped Tonkotsu in Soho at more than double the price. One should not underestimate chain outlets I’d say, like the offering at Wagamama, I was impressed!

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The toppings were generous with beansprouts, half a boiled egg, menma, nori, bok choy, spinach and 2 cuts of pork. The thinly sliced pork belly was tender but would be better if they were grilled while the shredded slow cooked pork was great soaked in a slight sweet and smoky sauce. The freshly made ramen could be cooked less but I’ve always prefer my noodles with bite. The star of the dish has to be the broth! Rich, milky with a slight hint of porkiness, just right and not too overpowering. The slight sheen of pork fat with a slight sweet and savoury taste complimented everything exceptionally well. The Tweet asked whether it was a 2 thumbs up and I violently nodded my head.

I have tried another branch of Japanese Canteen awhile back and I was not impressed. After this experience, I will definitely locate another branch near me to be my staple for lunch!

Japanese Canteen
100 Middlesex Street
London E1 7EZ

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Chicken Okonomiyaki and Salmon Soumen – Wasabi, St Pauls

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So the weather was nice last week and being a tad bored at work, lured the Boom out for lunch. Knew he was probably suffering from a hangover from a drinking bash with his ex-colleagues the night before and thus would love the distraction.

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After some discussion, decided to meet up at Wasabi at Paternoster Row near St Paul’s Cathedral. We have both tried making our own version of okonimiyaki the past couple of weeks and want to try Wasabi’s version to see how well we fared.

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This Wasabi outlet is a bit different from others in that it also has a Hot Plate Station where they make okonimiyaki, yakisoba and omsoba. I have tried both the okonomiyaki and omsoba previously but that was a while back.

I got the chicken okonomiyaki which cost £4.95 while Boom got the seafood version which was £1 more. In line with my 2 course lunches, also added a Salmon Soumen to my order which at £2.95 is a rather good deal! With a bottle of green tea at £1.95, grand total was £9.85.

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So how was the pancake? Was it as good as our homemade version? Though it was filled with cabbage, I think the batter is missing the starch component which will give the pancake a slight sticky consistency. The Boom was very happy with the amount of seafood in his pancake while I was slightly disappointed with the few bits of chicken breast in my. Overall, the portion was very generous and we were overwhelmed after 3/4 way through the pancake, the sweet teriyaki sauce did not help the situation.

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I really enjoyed the Salmon Soumen though, the rice noodles in a light but tasty broth with bits of salmon and fresh veg was a good contrast with the rich pancake. At £2.95, it works perfectly as a side dish to any of the main meals at Wasabi. I will definitely be back for more in future.

Wasabi
Unit 6 St Martin’s Court
Paternoster Row
London EC4M 7EJ

 

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