Having missed the previous backbench to seek sunnier climates, I am now back at my usual spot!
I booked the lunch slot so that I could head straight after dancing - extremely hungry and ready to get my taste-buds excited.
A much anticipated once-a-month event, The BackBench is limited to five seats per session, enabling Chef Junya to create seasonal dishes and present diners with a more personal dining experience.
The menu on this occasion consisted of 10 different dishes. I chose to skip the sake flights this time, knowing how much of a lightweight I can be especially in the daytime, and instead went for the Cold Brew Oolong Tea.
| Amazake & Turnip |
Amazake is a traditional Japanese drink made from fermented rice and is commonly consumed in the winter months. The rice had been fermented overnight and the sweetness all comes naturally from the rice. Served at a cool temperature, it had the texture of congee, and tasted very pleasant.
| Wild Carrot & Cobnut |
Hand-picked during Chef Junya's forages, this dish had some nice earthy flavours, and also looked and tasted exceptionally healthy!
| Native Oyster, Wild Onion & Wild Horseradish |
The oyster was really fresh and the flavours from the wild onion and horseradish just worked so well together. A rather enjoyable mouthful of goodness, and one of my favourite dishes.
| Jeruselam Artichoke Surinagashi Udon |
A lover of noodles, I always look forward to the udon dish. The soup was warm and thick - perfect to be eaten during the cold winter months. Such simple and comforting dishes really do make me smile with satisfaction.
| Chicory & Mylor Prawn |
Another warm and tasty dish, served in a clear broth, with subtle taste of sweetness from the Mylor prawns.
| Leek, Onsen Egg & Potato |
You don't often see the roots of leeks being utilized in dishes, but Chef Junya had creatively preserved the roots to make an amazing tempura dish. The upper part of the stalk itself was maybe a bit hard to bite apart and chew, but those roots...I hope that they make an appearance on the Specials board soon!
Instead of the usual tempura dipping sauce, we were served a bowl of onsen egg which we broke apart to mix together with the starchy potato base. A really delicious twist.
| Eel, Chestnuts & Savoy Cabbage |
I have always loved the eel dishes prepared by Chef Junya. They have often been my favourites in the previous BackBenchs', and this was no exception. This dish was apparently inspired by his trip to Bologna, and the results were undoubtedly delicious.
Hidden under the savoy cabbage, were two perfectly grilled pieces of eel, so rich and full of flavour. I also really enjoyed nibbling on those chestnuts.
| Pheasant, Dandelion & Burdock |
I have really been into gamey dishes lately, and having tried a pheasant dish at Koya before, I knew that this would not disappoint. The pheasant was served boneless, and rolled inside the meat were those tasty burdock roots. Perfectly grilled, great textures, and a wonderful combination of flavours.
| Kaki Sorbet & Shochu |
The first of two desserts, a refreshing sorbet served with shochu which gave it a nice boozy kick. Mine even had a friendly smiley face...like it was happy that it was going to be eaten by me!
| Bramley & Sake-Kasu |
No sake-kasu ice cream this time, but instead we had delicious grilled sake-kasu which was utilized to make the first dish. Not an overly sweet dessert, with some hints of sourness and bitterness, it was a different kind of dessert that I am used to, in a good way.
And so that sums up another delightful BackBench experience. It's good to be back, and I do always get excited to see what new dishes that Chef Junya comes up with as the seasons change.
Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you at the next BackBench in 2015!
The Cheekster, signing out x