Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A Trip to Nanban

I don't get to eat out much when I'm working in the kitchen. But having hankered to taste some of Tim Anderson's Japanese soul food since our filming days together during MasterChef 2011 (usually limited to sneaky tastings when production staff weren't looking), I made the determined decision to go to his current pop up while working down in London this last week. Nanban, Tim's Japanese soul food, currently has a residency at Market House Brixton during August.

It was definitely one of my better eating out decisions. The food was incredible, and for my part as a vegetarian, I was sincerely wowed by the reimen dish, a Korean influenced chilled noodle soup with yuzu, chilli and a tea pickled egg. Where so much restaurant vegetarian food feels like an after thought (and indeed if any thought has been taken), the yuzu-chilli reimen stands out as one of the best vegetarian dishes I've ever enjoyed. Zingy, punchy and refreshing, with the kind of depth of flavour that demonstrates a chef who understands umami in food. Thanks Tim. It was truly a joy!

Joined by Mat Follas and Zam, our bus sous chef, as well as a couple of dear friends who live nearby, we ordered everything on the menu. 

We all wolfed down the lotus root crisps before Mat arrived, so we showed him a photo, which seemed to make him more cross ;) The bacon wrapped peppers (kushiyaki) vanished almost as soon as they hit the table so I had to get a photo from Tim's Pinterest page. I snaffled the shitake mushroom ones before I got a picture. 

The chicken kaarage was clearly addictive, as Tim kept sending more boxes that were very quickly emptied. The butter shoyu sweetcorn was so perfectly cooked and flavoured, I even braved stealing some more from one of Mat's plates after finishing mine! The enormous bowls of ramen broths and sticky udon noodles were beautifully constructed, punchy and deep, and the others voted the yuzu-chilli reimen and the kumamoto ramen (with pork belly) as their favourites. Although Donna then changed her mind when she found she couldn't stop eating the kaarage despite being full.

Tim brought over some of his new Nanban craft beer and ice cream for us to try. I'm hoping his beer might join us at the IMBC dinner in October. The Whippysan ice-cream was delightful, and we all agreed that a big mouthful of the chilli chocolate whippysan was perfected by following it with a big spoonful of the peach flavour.

You really should go folks, while you have the chance. The food is simply very very good!

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