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

 

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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

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

Chicken Katsu Curry Off! – Asta vs Wasabi vs Japanika

Another face off post. This time round, the target is Chicken Katsu Curry and it’s a 3 way match for a change. So how would I rate the Chicken Katsu Curry from Asta, Wasabi and Japanika? Read on and find out.

Asta Exterior

Asta – The Arcade, Liverpool Street

Wasabi – Cabot Place, Canary Wharf

Japanika – Hanbury Street

Round One – Chicken Katsu

Both Wasabi and Japanika stuck to the definition and provided breaded chicken cutlet. Wasabi gave 2 smaller uncut ones while Japanika’s was a huge cutlet, slice up. The black sheep of the pack, Asta provided chicken kaarage instead.

Japanika Chicken Katsu Curry

Wasabi Chicken Katsu

Asta Katsu Curry sauce on the side

Asta Chicken Kaarage

“One of these things is not like the other, one of these things is just not the same…” For once, I’m going to go with the oddball. To me, the chicken kaarage from Asta is the tastier of the lot. Yes, not exactly a katsu but being made of chicken thigh, the flesh is more smooth, juicy and tender. Also, the katsu from Wasabi and Japanika perhaps due to being prepacked, lost their crispiness and rather tasteless.

This round goes to Asta.

Round Two – Price

Asta – £6.80 (10p more for brown rice)

Wasabi – £5.45 (limited special offer price £4.95 at the Liverpool Street outlet)

Japanika – £6.80

Hands down, this round goes to Wasabi.

Round Three – Curry sauce

Being Chicken Katsu Currey, the most important component of this dish is obviously the curry sauce. I think it’s obvious that there was a clear favourite.

Japanika Curry Sauce

Wasabi Curry Sauce

Asta Katsu Curry with sauce

Asta Curry Sauce

The curry sauce from Wasabi and Asta are basically the basic sauce you will get when you stick a few blocks of Golden Curry into water. Basic, no frills. But the version at Japanika was on another level. With bits of tender beef, soft carrots and potatoes it was the best I have taste in a takeaway joint.

Winner: Japanika

Verdict

If you are looking for value, go with Wasabi. It’s not bad and totally worth what you would pay. Though I like the chicken kaarage from Asta, looking the amount they charge, simply not worth it. Lastly, I guess Mr CSS is correct afterall, the Chicken Katsu Curry from Japanika though a tad steep, more than justify for it’s deep and tasty curry sauce.

Japanika
10 Hanbury Street
London E1 6QR
0207 247 9911

Wasabi
385 Cabot Place
Canary Wharf
London E14 4QS
0207 719 6247

Asta
4 – 6 The Arcade
Liverpool Street
London EC2M 7PN
0207 626 5660

Chicken Katsu Curry – Wasabi, Canary Wharf

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The inevitable has happened, I’m finally reviewing the Chicken Katsu Curry from Wasabi. It is not that I’m avoiding it or anything, it’s just there is always a queue at the Canary Wharf outlet and if I were to walk from Brick Lane to Liverpool Street, I’m better off getting something more interesting. Yes, I think the Chicken Katsu Curry from Wasabi is “common”.

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Wasabi is one of the few Japanese fast food chain that has sprung up recently. Various types of sushi, bento boxes as well as a range of hot foods are available. The options on offer is dependent on which brand you visit. But I bet one of the best selling item on their menu is the Chicken Katsu Curry. The smell of the curry is irresitable.

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The problem with the Canary Wharf branch is that it is so damn crowded! There are 2 queues, one for hot food while the other is for the sushi and bento boxes in the fridge area. Obviously the one for the hot food is the longer of the two. You don’t need to wait very long in the hot food queue as the staff at Wasabi are very efficient. They will take your order while you are still in the queue, give you a number and you proceed to pay at the counter. Then you have to mill around while waiting for your order to be ready. You only probabkly have to wait a couple of minutes but when you have 20-30 people milling around, things can get quite chaotic.

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Anyway, back to my lunch. Apart from Chicken Katsu Curry which cost £5.45, I got the mini Spicy Chirashi Set which is £1.95. I’m always surprised why is the Chirashi so cheap? In most Japanese restaurants, the Chirashi Sushi is usually one of the more expensive rice bowls on the menu as it’s essentially mixed sashimi on rice. If you consider that the Chirashi is £1.95 while a Onigiri is £1.50, the Chirashi is a much better value. I have a cunning feeling that the Chirashi might be made with offcuts from making the sashimi and leftover rice? Having said that, it is delicious for what it is. Not sure whether I have tried the non-spicy version but the spicy one is pretty full on. If they could tone down the chilli sauce, I might be able to taste the fish better.

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On to the star of today’s lunch, the Chicken Katsu Curry! Have to say I’m a tad underwhelmed by today’s katsu. The breadcrumb coating was soggy and some even fell off the chicken. The last time I had the Chicken Katsu Curry from Wasabi, I recall they used smaller pieces of chicken katsu. Today, I was given 2 big pieces which I’m grateful for. The curry sauce as usual is gooey and flavourful with bits of carrot and onions. Curry sauce and sticky Japanese rice, a match made in heaven…

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My advice to you, if you want to try Wasabi’s Chicken Katsu Curry, spare yourself the stress of queueing up at the Canary Wharf branch since there are so many other Wasabi outlets out there.

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Wasabi
385 Cabot Place
Canary Wharf
London E14 4QS
0207 719 6247