By now if you’ve read my blog long enough you’ll know my favourite ramen chain in London is Tonkotsu. This year they are celebrating their 10th anniversary of their founding. As part of the celebrations they have partnered with Anglo Thai chef John Chantarasak to offer a Thai Curry Tonkotsu. The dish, available at all Tonkotsu restaurants from the 8th to 30th of June, features their signature 18-hour pork broth enriched with lardo and a spicy northern Thai curry paste. It’s topped with thin-cut homemade noodles, braised pork belly, pickled mustard greens, spring onion, coriander, a lime wedge, seasoned egg and crispy fried noodles. I tried it yesterday and it was very good. Not too spicy, some really interesting flavours and the crispy noodles added a lovely texture contrast.
When my friend Rup first suggested Sunday lunch at the Gun, I assumed he meant the Gun pub in Canary Wharf which I’d been to many times before and is well known for its excellent Sunday roasts. However turns out he actually meant the Gun in Hackney. I didn’t know this pub, but apparently he’d heard good things. The Sunday lunch is a collaboration with pop up Ling Ling and is an asian fusion Sunday lunch. I ordered the Korean mirror glazed chicken and my friend the char sui pork belly. It came with a sesame Yorkshire pudding, panko breaded carrot and wasabi. It looked good, but what is it with restaurants serving Sunday roasts with the gravy already poured on the plate. I do really prefer a jug of gravy to pour myself. It was all perfectly pleasant, but didn’t exactly blow me away. For pudding they only had one thing on the menu, a white chocolate and matcha tiramisu which sounded delicious, so we both ordered. What arrived didn’t particularly taste much of either white chocolate or matcha, however it was creamy and substantial. No artfully presented, delicate dessert here, a great big wedge of tiramisu dolloped in a bowl and all the better for it. Lunch was pleasant and the company as always great, however I couldn’t help but feel they were trying to shoehorn asian flavours into a Sunday roast, that one wasn’t needed and also two not particularly successfully done. I enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t rush back.
I’d been wanting to see Pete Tong and the Heritage orchestra perform ever since I watched the original Ibiza Classics do the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall on TV all the way back in 2006. I never get organised enough to get tickets though and they always usually sell out. Anyway I finally got myself organised this year and I think because of the pandemic this year they for once didn’t sell out. I bought tickets for myself and my neighbour Adam. I got a bit confused with the times so we ended up being super early for the concert, which was not all bad as we got a really good position really near the front of the stage. The concert was great, the staging and lighting was particularly brilliant. Special guests we had performing included Becky Hill and randomly Rick Astley. I do have to complain about the bar though, the only beer they serve is Budweiser, which I hadn’t had in years and on drinking I remembered why, awful, almost undrinkable. I very quickly moved on to gin and tonics. Also the speed of the bar staff was embarrassing, it’s like they’d never worked a bar before, they were so slow and consequently there was massive queues so I missed a significant part of the concert waiting in line for drinks. Not impressed, sort it out please O2, it’s really not good enough. Fantastic concert though.
My neighbour Adam invited me to this one night only gay Oktoberfest special event, which rather randomly actually took place at the beginning of November, rather than in October. He’d been before and insisted that we all dress in traditional German lederhosen gear and well I love fancy dress so how could I refuse? I ordered the whole lot off Amazon for around £30. Unfortunately I was running late so had to head to the delights of Canada Water where the event was held on the tube in full garb all on my own, so got quite a few strange looks and how fun it was to be in just shorts and a thin cotton shirt on a very cold November night. The venue is a few minutes walk from Canada Water tube, around the side of the dock in a massive converted modern warehouse and after downloading my ticket I met my friends inside. This being Oktoberfest we expected a large selection of beer to be on offer. However they seemingly only has one beer left and it was awful! I generally can drink pretty much everything, but this beer was genuinely disgusting. We all thought the same, we tried mixing it with lemonade to make it less bitter, but in the end we just had to hold our noses and chug it. Not very impressed. Anyway we very quickly moved on to gin and tonics which were thankfully much better. The drag queens and other entertainment they had laid on was great and we had a fantastic time, despite the terrible beer. Just all very odd that a beer festival would screw up the beer which one would think was pretty key and also quite easy to order more.
Nanban is the ramen restaurant from former Masterchef UK 2011 champion Tim Anderson. When it comes to ramen he really knows his stuff having lived for a time in Fukuoka aka the Japanese home of ramen. I’d been wanting to check out his place for a while, so as soon as lockdown restrictions on restaurant lifted I headed straight down to Brixton. I went for the Lazy goat ragù-men ramen. This is one of Nanban’s signature dishes and is inspired by Brixton’s West Indian history and culture. Several years ago now it won the Evening Standard dish of the year, so I was keen to try it out and my expectations were high. The ramen consists of slow-cooked boneless goat leg and noodles in a spicy Indo-Caribbean curry sauce, topped with seafood sawdust, fried shallots, scotch bonnet bamboo shoots and a tea pickled egg. An innovate twist on the traditional ramen, but it worked. The goat was beautifully tender and tasty. It sat in what was definitely more of a sauce than a broth and had a good spicy heat to it, without being blow your head off hot.