Monday, 22 August 2011

My 7 Links (a Tripbase meme)

TV Dinner at Complete History Bompas & Parr

The clip show. When a TV series wants to indulge in some onanistic nostalgia, they will often churn out an episode of greatest hits.

You start to watch, and you say to yourself, "God, have they completely run out of ideas? They're just dialling this in - I've seen this a million times", and you grab the remote to change the channel pronto.

But then you find yourself sinking back onto the sofa, as you think, "I don't think I've seen this one", or "That was funnier than I remember", and you give in and let the past wash over you.

This is a long-winded way of saying here's some stuff from my blog archives but for a very specific reason -I’ve been nominated by fellow blogger Gourmet Traveller to participate in Tripbase’s “My 7 Links" project. Her blog is beautiful by the way - go take a look.

The stated goal of Tripbase’s project is "to unite bloggers in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned (yes, I know) and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again".

The premise is simple. Provide links to 7 blog posts under the following categories, don’t over-think it, and pick five other bloggers to do the same:
  • Your most beautiful post
  • Your most popular post
  • Your most controversial post
  • Your most helpful post
  • A post whose success surprised you
  • A post you feel didn’t get the attention it deserved
  • The post that you are most proud of
So here are my seven links:


Probably On the Road to Mandalay, on returning to the place from which my father and his family hail. It makes me miss Burma.

On the Road to Mandalay


Svið - Satan's Face on a Plate, about an interesting meal I had in Iceland last year, closely followed by my recaps of MasterChef. This both saddens and pleases me.

Svið - Satan's Face on a Plate


Nothing like Good Customer Service which can't really be separated from Dinner by Heston, meh. The latter made the head chef unfollow me on Twitter - BOO-yah.

I still kinda like Heston Blumenthal, mind.

Dinner by Heston, meh


Helpful? Helpful? Jeez, I don't know.

I guess Tokyo's Best little Sushi Bar None has enabled a few people find their sushi heaven whilst in Japan, plus I provided a super-helpful bilingual picture guide to different types of sushi. You're welcome.

Tokyo's Best little Sushi Bar None


Kellogg's Nature's Pleasure - Ban This Filth - this was me being completely infantile, but this silliness was then picked up by a couple of media outlets including Serious Eats and went vaguely viral.

And Kellogg's proved themselves to have a sense of humour too. A happy ending. Although they then discontinued the cereal in question.

Kellogg's Nature's Pleasure - Ban This Filth


Behind the Scenes at Kai We Care just because the video took me so. freaking. long. to make.

Where's the love, people? Where's the love?

Petits Fours from Edd Kimber and Luke Mackay at Kai We Care


I'm cheating here by choosing two unrelated ones.

Thoughts on Radiation Poisoning which dealt with an illness I've never really spoken about and started my mini-campaign to raise money for earthquake-hit Japan, and Meat Fruit is not a Double Entendre about the patheticness of Top Gear-style "banter".

Bags for Japan

So there you have it - a trip down memory lane - hopefully you enjoyed it. And if you didn't, why are you here?

I now pass on the baton to five of my favourite blogs:

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Kirin Ichiban Pop-Up - Yatai Japanese Restaurant


Japanese beer brand Kirin has launched a pop-up yatai aka street food stand with Yasuhiro Mineno (ex head chef of Nobu) and Shinya Ikeda, joint owners and Head Chef of London’s fabled Yashin Sushi restaurant.

Kirin Ichiban
is being dished up with a menu of kushiage and other snacks to offer Londoners a taste of what will be served at the Yashin founders' full-blown kushiage restaurant set to launch in 2012 (learn more about my beloved kushiage here).


The Kirin Ichiban Yatai is around for just one week from 3-8 August in the open-air Dray Walk gallery near Brick Lane and is serving up a selection of the traditional Japanese pankoed and deep-fried skewer snacks.


The short menu offers three sticks for £5, six plus edamame for £10, or nine plus ice cream for £15, with a free bottle of Kirin Ichiban for every diner who has booked online.

Kirin Ichiban is a beer made by the unique “Ichiban Shibori" Process which translates as “first press”. Bottles of Kirin are £3 & a pint draught is £4. All soft drinks & bottles of water are £1.


There are seven kushiage to choose from: kushikatsu (pork and leek), karaage (chicken), ebi furai (king prawn), "dango" (actually means a type of skewered mochi, but in this case handmade fishcake
resembling the classic snack), tomato and courgette (which sounds like a juicy explosion of pain to me), asparagus, and "oden" (at least, a choice of three oden ingredients - egg, daikon or tofu).

Kirin Ichiban’s “Pop-Up” Yatai Restaurant - Menu

There is also a selection of rather exciting sauces to go with them - tonkatsu (sometimes referred to as Japanese Worcestershire sauce), jalapeno, yellow pepper, creamy tomato, and a truffle ponzu sauce so supernaturally delicious I was sorely tempted to squirt it straight from the squeezy bottle into my mouth.


I was a bit disappointed that the "slightly hot green pepper" advertised on the website seemed to have been abandoned (presumably shishito), but we ordered all the rest of the kushiage apart from the tomato and the asparagus and waited with some icey Kirin.


It was all fried to order, as should be the case, and in a short while one of the many petite Japanese waitresses arrived bearing our kushiage on those slightly crappy black floral sushi trays you get in Wasabi or Samurai.


It looked the part and the husband and I were pretty excited. A quick chomp confirmed it tasted the part too, and we soon polished it all off and then keenly wished we'd ordered more.

The only letdown was the "oden" egg - actually just a normal, hard-boiled egg given the same kushiage treatment as the rest of it. We were also mildy annoyed at the lack of receptacles for both the sauce and the used skewers - dishes for the first please, and cups to stick the second.


A side of "Thai" salad seemed inappropriate and pointless, tasting overwhelmingly of celery, but the lightly pickled cabbage that came with the skewers was better than your usual veg accompaniment.

Ice cream is "gelato-style" - we both chose black sesame aka kurogoma which we adore anyway, and agreed that it was the best ice cream we'd had in a very long time. There's also red bean flavour aka aduki but frankly why would you?


The pop up is also showing the work of the four finalists in the Kirin First Cut film competition on little screens at each table and you can vote for your favourite - the winner will be announced at the 55th BFI London Short film festival. I reckon the one about the magic camera will win, mainly because it's the only one intelligible as a silent film - the place got fairly noisy so you couldn't really hear the soundtracks.

You can even make a silent bid on the specially commissioned street art by Soulful Gallery art collective that surrounds you as you eat (prices start at £1,000), although it looked to us like they'd need some epic dismantling first.

All proceeds from the auction go to the charity Japan Society Tohoku Earthquake Relief Fund.


Don't bank on getting a seat at the yatai itself - we were shunted off to one of the two big tables in the main section of the gallery which sadly meant we couldn't see the chefs in action which really is part of the fun of kushiage, and there were plenty of people just standing around, though the Kirin seemed to keep them happy.

Kirin Ichiban Yatai pop up restaurant
Wednesday – Saturday 12pm – 11pm, Sunday - Monday 12pm – 9.00pm
Walk-ins accepted but booking advisable, and necessary to claim your free beer - visit

To find it, go down Hanbury Street and turn into the Truman Brewery (directly opposite Wilkes Street) - it's near where the Sunday Upmarket is held. These things below are nearby.


My husband and I were invited to the press preview

Monday, 1 August 2011

SWITL Magic Sauce Spatula Robotic Hand Thing

This is why I love Japan. Stuff like this.

SWITL (which stands for Special World Idea Technology Revolution - the Japanese transpose Ls and Rs) is described by its makers Furukawa Kiko as:
"a hand-held type of the SWITL for moving soft objects without collapsing their shape. It is a Robots hand for handling soft and jelly like objects which loose shape when gripped, cannot be gripped, or cannot be touched, etc.

Objects like Mayonnaise and Ketchup can be picked up without changing their shape and moved to a different location while retaining the shape".
There isn't much other information about how it works (though someone has had a stab at how on Quora here), so right now let's go with MAGIC.

SWITL blurb

The main application I can think of for this is in bakeries, and indeed a test video on Furukawa Kiko's site shows this in action.

Each hand-held unit is priced at 70,000 yen, which is just under £600, and they're looking for distributors now.

I am tempted. Boy, am I tempted.


(with thanks to Food Player and Essex Eating for the heads up)