Monday, 30 March 2015

I'm Turning Japanese, I Think I'm Turning Japanese I Really Think So.

Being half Asian I obviously can't help myself but to indulge in a little munch from the homeland .

Can you blame me?

Ok, so I admit I have been writing quite a lot about Asian food of late and I will be taking a break from the Far East but quite frankly Sticks 'n' Sushi needs to be written about. In terms of price, atmosphere and more importantly food, it has got to be one of the best restaurants in town.

Yeah you got Roka and Nobu (I haven't been to either of them yet) and everyone knows from word of mouth and various publications how amazing they both are but lets face it, you do need the cash money to dine there.

On the other hand you don't want to go to Yo sushi, Wasabi or some back alley sushi parlour where they don't even have a license to serve alcohol for an evenings meal. Don't get me wrong I like Yo sushi and Wasabi  because they generally are inexpensive and you know what you're getting every time with them but if you want to go more upmarket and affordable then Sticks 'n' Sushi is the place to go. Also I wanted to impress this lovely lady right here. FoodPunk hit jackpot!!!







Located in Covent Garden, the restaurant is very easy to get to, right bang in the centre of town. Just look for Henrietta street. If you're near Wimbledon, there's one there and they've just recently opened a third establishment in Greenwich. Something tells me that they're going to be expanding a lot more in due course. I just hope they don't let the standards drop but only time will tell. Right now though, the food is exceptional.

The staff working in Covent Garden were on form. They were genuinely one of the nicest bunch of people I have come across. Professional at all times, they certainly made me feel relaxed and at ease.


Just like the menu says this place "gets me in a good mood" and I really was in one.








If you've never been to Sticks 'n' Sushi before you might find the menu a bit daunting and busy but the staff are on hand to help you with any recommendations and the variety of dishes they have on offer.
This being my second visit, it was definitely better than the first time around.








Salmon Tartare

Japanese potato salad

Beef nigiri, Tomato and lime marinade nigiri, mamma mia roll


Mixed yasai vegetables in teriyaki, chicken meatballs in teriyaki

Authentic Japanese tea




The food on the night was on point, it really was. From the first dish to the last, every one of them brought something new to the table. Vegetarian sushi to fresh salmon tartare to chicken meatballs, I must say I picked a good variety of plates to eat.

Both the chicken and vegetable yakitori were to die for. The vegetables had an awesome crunch and the chicken meatballs were moist and had bags of flavour. Both were coated in a stunning sticky gooey teriyaki marinade.

The beef nigiri was sliced so thinly that the meat just melted in my mouth. The beef was flash fried within seconds to give it that barbeque charred taste.

What I loved about the Japanese potato salad was that it wasn't coated in a truck load of mayonnaise, it had the right amount just to bind all the ingredients. It was sweet and the pickled vegetables gave it that perfect balance to offer a sour note to it.

Surprisingly I have to declare that my favourite dish had to be the tomato and lime nigiri. There was something about it that's really hard to describe. The juices from the flesh of the tomato just exploded in my mouth it and the sharpness from the lime crept in to balance the flavour and give it that extra lift. It was clean and fresh.



Stick 'n' Sushi gets the FoodPunk thumbs up. The food was incredible and I can guarantee that if you go here, you will leave more than satisfied. It's a great hangout for family and friends and if you want to have good, quality food and drink at affordable prices then this is the place for you. So go on, get some Asian in your bellies.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Cocktails And Desserts In A Basement? In Soho?? Ohhhh matron!!!

Basement is one of those places that has so much to give but falls short at the last hurdle. That's not to say it's not worth going to because in my opinion it's the perfect place for chilling with friends or wanting to impress a date. Just go for the cocktails, not the desserts.


Located in Broadwick street, Soho, Basement is a few doors down from where Paul A Young's chocolate shop is.  You're probably going to think I'm having you on, but I'm not as what looks like a derelict office block or dare I say it, a prostitute den, is actually where this swanky cocktail bar is located. You open what looks like a dodgy door and you're greeted by this sign.






Walk down a flight of stairs into darkness and what is on the otherside is what's surprising. Low and behold was probably the most sophisticated and coolest bar I have ever seen.






This place is definitely the right venue to help anyone unwind and de stress. The dim lighting, the inviting luxury leather furniture, the polite staff and the chilled music was perfect for my friends and I.
We were at ease and the night was young so what better way than to splash the cash and drink some bloody good cocktails.

Below is a picture of the menu containing the cocktails and desserts on offer.









You do need a bit of cash if you want to try out their variety of cocktails but hey when in Rome.

Before I get onto the cocktails, lets get the negative part of the evening out of the way, the desserts!!!

Like I mentioned earlier, avoid the desserts because they were a let down and the money could have been spent better elsewhere. Don't get me wrong they looked a pretty picture but what's the point of it looking beautiful when the taste isn't there. In fact the only word to describe it is strange. I didn't like it, Emma didn't like hers and Courtney being a pastry chef didn't like hers either and you know it's not up to scratch when you hear her say negative things about desserts. She summed it up perfectly, "has great potential but could have been executed so much better".








Ok so I'm not a pastry chef but I'm just being honest and like every other Tom, Dick and Harry I know what I like and what I don't like.

Right so that's my little rant over, back to the cocktails and all of them were refreshingly awesome and easily would get anyone a bit merry. They certainly got me a bit wasted but for Courtney and Emma, they were, as always far more sensible.




Me looking worse for wear

Courtney and Emma sensibly enjoying their cocktails



During the course of the night we must have tried out at least five cocktails off the menu. The most lethal one to drink was Coffee situation. It was a challenge to say the least and it would get anyone buzzing and bouncing off the walls. Pure espresso mixed with vermouth and bourbon created this deadly drink.
Warning: Drink if you're just plain crazy about coffee. Its not for the faint hearted and certainly for those who don't like the bitter taste. I however loved it even if it did take me an hour to drink it. Oh wait a minute that's me when I normally drink.




Coffee situation

All of the other cocktails were obviously not as strong with some more subtle than others and perhaps would get you drunk far more quickly as they were all refreshingly tasty.












I had a great time with Courtney and Emma at this place and I would go back again for more cocktails. I would rather spend my money on more awesome creations and other alcoholic beverages than to have the desserts. I think everyone should check this place out as it is worth seeing. Everyone knows what London is like and if you want to escape the hustle and bustle then look no further than Basement.







Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Mods and Rockers Get A Taste of Middle Temple Hall, Thanks To Harbour & Jones Events

Harbour & Jones Events is fast becoming a well-known and successful events catering company. Not only is the boutique caterer known for providing high end, quality food and service, it is also recognised for hosting events in top drawer locations such as the Cutty Sark, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Royal Academy of Arts to name but a few.
Catering at these highly regarded sites has lead Harbour & Jones Events to being awarded a number of accolades including recently being named Event Magazine’s Caterer of the Year 2015.

 With all these highly acclaimed awards, Harbour & Jones Events is still aiming to be the best and most sought after events caterer in the business, and hosting a high-profile dinner at the prestigious Middle Temple Hall on Saturday 7 March has only helped their cause.

Middle Temple Hall itself is a remarkable piece of architecture, and the best I can describe it is that it’s like the great hall of Hogwarts. There’s so much history behind it, and to think that it has been untouched and survived a world war in which London was hit by the blitz is quite frankly, extraordinary.


 




Harbour & Jones Events hosted the event for London City Selection as part of their annual agents hospitality weekend. The theme being Mods and Rockers which was right up my street. Good food and classic old school rock, what’s not to love about that? It certainly got the crowd going, and at one point there was a group of well-choreographed dancers strutting their moves to a number of songs. Everyone really did get involved and it was great to see people letting their hair down having the time of their lives.

Harbour & Jones Events Creative Director, Jules Heckman Hughes, and Sales & Marketing Manager, Lucy Mears, were on hand to make sure the event ran smoothly, and they both worked effortlessly to organise an event to remember.

Director of Food, Gary Mckechnie, and Company Chef, Rob Milligan, (who I like to call the Top Gun chefs of the company) did an outstanding job on the food front creating a brave menu, and executing it perfectly.



Why was it brave I hear you ask? Well, from reading the menu there were a number of rich dishes that stood out for me such as the potted shrimp, Dorset crab and the Gressingham duck but all the components in each of those dishes were light and well balanced.

I also thought it was a clever menu with the sharing starter “Taste of the Great British seaside” a fitting tribute to the Mod classic cult film Quadrophenia as well as the album of the same name by The Who.


 



The wine kept flowing, the service was impeccable and the food was demolished with one of the guests, Sophie Wiseman, calling it “Simply delicious”. Sophie got it spot on with those words.
The canap├ęs got tongues wagging and taste buds going, giving people a little teaser of what was to come. The starter was shared around and in no time the wooden boards were empty with everyone literally loving the seafood. When it came to the main course, the duck was succulent, pink and tender and was accompanied by a huge and hearty hotpot style potatoes. Pudding was definitely the perfect way to round off such an incredible evening of food and drink. The mousse within the chocolate delice was light and fluffy and the caramelised banana complimented it exactly.


 





Jules, Lucy, Gary and Rob did an outstanding job both front and back of house, with all the guests (including myself) leaving with a massive smile on their faces. And it was a nice touch from the event organiser to thank Harbour & Jones Events for the hard work and sublime service they provided that night. With more successful events like this, there is no doubt that Harbour & Jones Events will become an even bigger name in the events game.


Thursday, 5 March 2015

Style Over Substance Is Exactly What Inamo Is All About

If I had to describe a restaurant that was "style over substance" Inamo would be that place.

A few weeks ago my homies and I went up to Chinatown to check out Chinese New Year and celebrate all good things to do with my culture. Not only that it has been quite a few years since I checked it out. I knew it was going to be mental with tourists wanting to get a piece of the action but I didn't prepare myself for what was in a nutshell just complete chaos.





Therefore myself and the rest of the gang made the wise decision of getting the hell out of there and head for Soho to get away from all the manic and mess. Moreover not only was the weather atrocious but the hunger pains were creeping in on us and most of us were hung-over from the night before.

Alex (yes that famous hipster that I've mentioned on previous blogs and half the time gets me trolleyed and takes me out on man dates) picked out Inamo bar and restaurant. Looking back it wasn't his finest moment picking this restaurant but at the time we were all starving and fed up of the rain.
.
We were greeted by a stunning waitress who to her credit was polite, welcoming and clearly explained how Inamo worked.
Okay, so I love gadgets and toys (not the ones that Quagmire from Family Guy uses...Giggity) and the idea of ordering from the table using touch screen had its appeal and moments of excitement but it lasted all of ten minutes.



 
 
 
 
The menu itself is very simple and straightforward. If you only want a light bite they offer smaller dishes such as gyozas and sashimi but obviously if you're wanting a full on meal they offer larger sized dishes like you're meat and fish as well as sides and desserts.
The interactive part is very easy to get to grips with and ordering food from there is plain sailing. I'm all for future trends and obviously being a Japanese restaurant Inamo want to incorporate the technology side of things but in my opinion it takes away valuable skills from the staff. For example giving diners a more personal experience, chatting to them, helping them out with any questions about the food itself or if they have any dietary requirements. I don't think any of those kind of issues were explained on the interactive table. However the staff themselves were quick with service and polite.
 
Not only does the table offer the menu but it also has other applications to get you hooked like playing old school games as well as having a live webcam of the kitchen. Again the fun lasts about five minutes before you lose interest.
 
The food itself was average. There's not a lot I can say about it which sounds very silly seeing that this is a FoodPunk blog but it seems to me that they're more interested in the technology side of things. This is what I had:
 
 
 
 
 
Miso Soup



Shrimp and vegetable dim sum, squid and spring onion dim sum and a lime and chilli relish


Tempura prawns with lime and chilli relish


Tuna sashimi


Barbeque glazed pig cheeks
 
As you can see by the pictures, there was the chilli and lime dressing on three dishes. There was nothing wrong with it as it was a nice accompaniment but there's only so many times I want to dip my food in it before getting bored. That to me shows a lack of ideas.  
The pork cheeks were tasty and the glaze had a lovely kick but the meat was a little dry and the stir fry vegetables (which you can't see in the picture) was covered by a forest of coriander.
 
Looking back I spent a load of money on what was a mediocre meal that I wasn't that much impressed with. I'll give it some credit, it did make me comfortably full and I did eat all of it but hey I'm FoodPunk and I eat for England.
 
Inamo is the type of place where you're looking for a quick bite to eat and to leave satisfied, which is fine, but like I said earlier to me they seem to care about showing off the interactive part of the dining experience rather than the food itself.
 
Unfortunately I probably won't be going to Inamo again but if you fancy giving it a go yourselves then click on the link below to check out the restaurant in more detail. Obviously you don't have to take my word for it.