Tuesday, 16 September 2014


Here I am again at my favourite monthly spot at The BackBench - this time for the lunch seating. 
For those of you that have been following my past posts, you will know how much I love coming here.
Held once a month, The BackBench menu is especially created by the talented Chef Junya, utilizing the freshest ingredients in season. Limited to only five seats per seating, it enables him to present diners with exciting dishes that go beyond the Specials board. 

As much as I love sake, I didn't go for the sake flights this time - probably a bit too early in the day for me to be drinking, and I must say that I've been pretty good at abstaining from alcohol these days.
Instead I stuck to the healthy green tea option...

| Quince, Hojicha and Ginger |

Autumn season is supposed to be the best time to enjoy quince - British quinces are usually in season from October through to December.
Subtle sweet taste, and soaked in hojicha, which is a Japanese green tea, with a slight hint of ginger.

| Aubergine and Myoga |

Small baby aubergines packed with delicious smokey flavours, topped with myoga, which is Japanese ginger. I also really liked the sauce that was served with it - a mix of sake, kombu, soya and bonito. 

| Eel Nanbanzuke with Shimonita and Manganji |

Usually consumed in August, the eel makes a surprise appearance on the menu - lucky Chef Junya managed to obtain the eel that was accidentally caught in a prawn fishing net. 
Lucky for us, although maybe not so much for the eel...
Cooked perfectly as always, with that nice crispy bit of bone, it came served with Shimonita, a type of spring onion, and manganji (red pepper).

| Karami Daikon and Mallow Zaru Udon |

The udon dish is always one of my favourites from the menu - basically I love anything that has noodles in it. This time we were served cold udon noodles with dashi dipping sauce. The karami daikon is a hot radish which is much more pungent compared to ordinary daikon. It had a bit of a wasabi-like heat, and went really well with the dashi and udon noodles.
The leaf was so thin and crispy, it easily cracked with a slight nudge of the chopsticks - such a beautiful translucent green colour  as well!

| Crab Apple Tempura |

The tempura dish is always very different each time I visit. This time we had little crab apple tempura - the flesh was nice and soft and had a slight sour taste to it.

| Maple Leaf Roasted Wild Mushrooms and 2nd Cycle Herbs |

Delicious wild mushrooms in a sweet paste and light smokey flavours - I greedily tried to scrape up every last bit from the leaf. Served on the side were some stream herbs that were foraged from the wild. Herbs tend to die as the weather gets colder towards the autumn/winter months, but sometimes a sudden surge in temperature gives life to new herbs - hence the term '2nd cycle'.

| Monkfish, Turnip, Edamame, Shungiku Flower |

The monkfish had a firm succulent texture and was served with a lovely warming broth - the kind of dish that I would happily eat throughout the cold winter months. 

| Mallard, Hawthorn Berry and Sichito |

Mallard, the most common of the wild ducks, and less fatty meat as compared to their farmed counterparts. A stunning deep red colour and full of flavour, perfectly accompanied by that sweet hawthorn berry sauce.

| Mallard Broth |

And after that rich dish of meat, we washed it down with this sweet mallard broth. 

| Kabocha, Honey Cured Egg Yolk and Wild Fennel Seeds |

The kabocha, an Asian variety of winter squash, has a sweet and pleasant texture. And topped with that delicious yellow honey cured egg yolk - firm on the outside, but still oozing with liquid egg goodness when broken into.
Very bright and vibrant colours that appealed to the eye as well.

| Sake-Kasu Ice Cream and Sake Steamed Fig |

And finally for dessert, the much loved sake-kasu ice cream which has become a regular dish on the menu since the second BackBench. Made from the lees left over from the sake production, it has a nice boozy punch to it - this time served with a tasty sake steamed fig. 

My sixth BackBench experience, and still very much loving it.
Thank you to once again to Chef Junya and the Koya team - looking forward to the next one in October.

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

The Cheekster, signing out x

1 comment:

  1. Great blog! It was such a good meal - definitely going to go back again. & you've inspired me to get writing my own reviews. Looking forward to reading about Lyles :)