Saturday, 26 July 2014

THE BACKBENCH #4, KOYA

Back for The BackBench #4 at Koya.

For those of you who have missed my previous posts, The BackBench is a once a month experience where Chef Junya brings together an exciting tasting menu for diners, experimenting beyond their blackboard and utilizing the freshest ingredients in season.

 


| Young Aubergine |

My first time eating aubergine that has been skinned, which was served in dashi and topped with some fresh wasabi. Nice texture, and very clean and fresh, and great to enjoy them whilst they are in season.


| Bobby Beans & Egoma, Grilled Cured Sand Eels |

 Lovely green bobby beans served with egoma, otherwise known as wild sesame seeds. And on the other side of the dish, sand eels - not actually related to true eels, but rather a burrowing species of fish predominantly found on the seabed floor. Fried until they were crispy, and fun to nibble on.

 

| Seatrout Sashimi, Green Shiso Surinagashi, Red Currants, Wild Watercress & Fresh Wasabi |

I love sashimi, so this was no doubt my favourite dish of the evening - the seatrout was seared on the outside and went well with the emerald green shiso surinagashi.
Such vibrant colours, it sure tasted as good as it looked.


| Tomatoes and Kumamoto Oysters Udon |

A cold bowl of udon for a hot summers day. A nice, light tomato-based broth and topped with delicious fresh oysters.


| Kabocha Flower, Peas & Dashi Scrambled Egg Tempura |

It looked liked a courgette flower, but instead it was a kabocha flower - from the plant more commonly known as butternut squash or Japanese pumpkin.
Deep fried in a light and crunchy tempura batter, and stuffed with peas and scrambled eggs.


| Summer Daikon & Scottish Girolles |

This was my dining partner's favourite dish of the evening - soft and easy to cut through daikon, but not over-cooked, and lots of my favourite girolles. Soaked in a light dashi and topped with a slightly spicy shichimi.

 

 | Unagi Shirayaki, Parsley, Horseradish & Pickled Garkins |

Another one of my favourite dishes that evening - because everyone knows that we are allowed to have more than one favourite. The bone that was served with it was also very crispy and edible.
Just a few days from now will be 'Doyo No Ushi No Hi' on July 29th, which is a day dedicated to eating eel. As Japanese summer is usually hot and humid, it is believed that eating nutritious eels will help to increase stamina and prevent summer fatigue.
You know what to eat on a hot summers day now...


| Berries, Cherries & Red Shiso Jelly |

This time there were two desserts on the menu. Pretty bright colours and a refreshing dessert to match the beautiful summer days that we have been blessed with.

 

| Sake-Kasu Ice Cream with Wild Fennel Blossoms and Cobnuts |

I've probably said this before, but I just can never get enough of this dessert - third time now and still very much loving it. Made from the lees left over from the sake production, it was also infused with wild fennel blossoms. Smooth, creamy, and a sweet end to our tasting experience.


And the usual green tea to finish off as well...

 

Despite not having any meat dish this time round, it was overall yet another delicious and satisfying meal from the talented Chef Junya. 
Thank you once again, and I will see you at the next BackBench!

 For my previous BackBench posts, click on the links below:


The Cheekster, signing out x


Monday, 21 July 2014

L'ANIMA CAFE, 10 APPOLD STREET

I have had quite a (heavier than normal) week of eating last week, one of the places which included L'Anima Cafe. The first time I visited here was when I attended the Chowzter Awards where there were small canapes to sample, so I was looking forward to what the actual restaurant menu had to offer. 
The sister cafe to L'Anima on Snowden Street, London's award winning Italian restaurant by Francesco Mazzei,  L'Anima Cafe offers rustic Southern Italian food in a more casual setting.

 

As soon as we were seated, the bread trolley was brought to us, as we ogled at the selections before us...the best bread trolley selection that I have seen so far.
As much as we would have liked to grab as much as we liked, we were only allowed as much as our little ceramic bowl could contain. This came with some dips on the side - nduja and a fish-based paste.
My favourite was probably the rose shaped pastry with nduja filling, and the focaccia was pretty good as well.


 


We ordered a 1 litre carafe of white wine (Trebbiano) to share between the both of us - before we actually realized how big a 1 litre carafe was...thankfully it wasn't too strong.

 

| Impepata di cozze e vongole |
- Steamed cornish mussels, clams, basil sauce -

These came served on a piece of bread which was made to look like a large shell. We nibbled a bit on the bread once we had cleaned out the mussels and clams - soaking the bread in the basil sauce to soften it, but only had a bit as the sauce was quite salty.


| Calamari alla griglia |
- Grilled calamari with pappa al pomodoro -

I really enjoyed this dish - the squid was soft and slightly chewy, but not tough or rubbery, and it went well with the pappa al pomodoro.

 

| Peperone ripieno |
- Stuffed pepper -
 

| Linguini al nero |
- Ink squid linguini, chilli, lemon - 

Another squid dish for us - yes, we do love our squid...


| Filetto d'orata al sale |
- Sea salt-crusted baked bream -

This somehow didn't quite turn out as we were expecting. I guess we both had different visualizations and interpretations of the dish. The fish was cooked well, but lacked seasoning and tasted quite bland, even with the sauce. My least favourite dishes that evening.

 

| Pancia di maiale e sanguinaccio |
- Norfolk pork belly, sanguinaccio -

Tender and juicy meat with a nice bit of crispy crackling. I don't usually eat blood, but I have just realized what I actually ate... I actually liked it, as it was a blood sausage after all, and I do love sausages...


And finally, ending with my favourite part of the meal...DESSERT!

| Pannacotta, mirtilli e grappa |
 - Pannacotta, blueberries, grappa -

The pannacotta was really smooth and creamy, and my dining companion particularly liked the blueberries soaked in grappa...

 

| Cassata siciliana |
- Sicilian cassata -

Recommended by the waitress was this delicious Sicilian dessert - a ricotta and chocolate-filled cake, with layers of sponge and pistachio.


| Affogato |

And of course I just had to order an affogato, which came with a madeleine one the side.
It was nice, although I did find that the ice cream had a bit of a powdery texture...



Service was smooth and pretty efficient despite it being their soft launch period, and overall it was a pleasant experience.

The Cheekster, signing out x

Square Meal

Saturday, 19 July 2014

LIMA FLORAL, 14 GARRICK STREET

Having received a sweet surprise in my inbox just one day before, I made a last minute change of plans, and the next day, there I was, sat excitedly at the new Lima Floral in Covent Garden - the second restaurant after the first Lima from Virgilio Martinez opened in mid-2012.
I really enjoyed my first visit back in February, so my taste buds were definitely looking forward to this.

We were served some pisco sours whilst we perused the menu - one of my favourite cocktails, and typical of South American cuisine.




 

 

 


| Sea Bream Ceviche |
- Sea bream, tiger's milk, avocado, crispy onions, cancha corn -

Beautiful vibrant colours, and really nice textures.


| Tuna Causa |
- Yellow potato, crudo vegetable roots, tuna tartar -

Another brightly coloured starter - The tuna was finely chopped and nicely seasoned, and the mashed yellow potato was very smooth and creamy - simple yet really tasty.

 

| Beef Sudado |
- Seared entrecote, coriander, heritage tomato, white quinoa -

The beef was cooked medium rare - nice, clean cuts with a lovely pink centre.
Served with a delicious warm bowl of quinoa.


| Organic Lamb |
- Lamb rump, eco dry potato, queso fresco, black quinoa, crispy blue potato -

The lamb was really delicious. WK isn't quite a fan of medium rare meat, so he requested his to be cooked well done - I would have totally gone for medium rare of course...
Nonetheless, still very tasty with lovely textures - overall a beautifully presented dish.

 

| Suspiro Ardiente |
- Dulce de leche, beetroot, dry limo chilli pepper -

Smooth and creamy dulce de leche, but not overly sweet, and a nice hint of spiciness from the chilli pepper in the crispy bits.


| Chirimoya |
- Chirimoya mousse, maca root, purple potato -

I remember those purple potatoes from my last visit to the original Lima - I could munch on them all day. And the mousse was undoubtedly smooth and delicious.

 


A couple of days later, I was back...this time to try the tapas menu at the 'piqueos bar' downstairs.
Not quite sure how I managed to forget to bring my camera on this occasion (the one thing that I always carry with me!), so I had to rely on my iPhone. Back to basics...so please do excuse the lower quality of photos...

| Sandia |
- Orange and lemon skin infused pisco, watermelon, pomme verte, creme de casis, mint, lime juice, soda water -

Cooling and refreshing, and perfect for that hot summers' day.

 


 



The portions are generally quite small, so we managed to work through quite a few dishes...

| Tuna. Rocoto Tiger's Milk |



| Aubergine. Limo Chili Pepper. Huancaina Sauce |

Full of flvaour, and that huancaina sauce was seriously addictive...



| Beef Tenderloin. Panca Chili Pepper. Pachamanca Sauce |

The beef cooked to a lovely medium rare and served with creamy pachamanca sauce which is made with fresh cheese, flour and milk.
They also have veal heart, which was unfortunately not available that day, but sounds like something worth trying.



| Scallops. Heirloom and Tree Tomatoes |

One of my favourite dishes from the Ceviche section - nice citrus and zesty flavours and really moreish.


| Sea Bream Ceviche. Yellow Tiger's Milk, Camote Chips |



| Veal tartar. White Quinoa, Panca Chili Pepper |



| Octopus. Botija Olives. Annatto Cream. Red Shiso |

 

| Asparagus. Avocado Uchuta. Onion Ashes |

 

| Chocolate |
- Palo Blanco Peru Cacao. Oat and Wood Sorrel -

If you love chocolate just as much as I do, then this would be the perfect dessert for you - rich, smooth and deliciously creamy, with a nice crumblw at the top.



| Cafe Peruano |
- Purple Potato, Coffee Ice Cream, Red Kiwicha -

Having now tried the entire dessert menu, this is probably my favourite amongst them - maybe because I really love ice cream, and coffee...
Very beautiful and I really love the purple colours.



The dining area downstairs is more chilled out and great if you're looking for some drinks and small tapas dishes to snack on.
All the tapas dishes that we were served were all very good - vibrant and exciting colours and all very moreish.

I really enjoyed both visits to Lima Floral. A much more casual setting than the first restaurant, but overall, the service, ambience and food was great, and I would gladly visit again.

Address: 14 Garrick Street, London WC2E 9BJ 

[ Lima Floral officially opens on 23rd July 2014 ]

For my previous post on the Michelin-starred Lima at 31 Rathbone Place, click here.

The Cheekster, signing out x

Square Meal