Check out the amazing photos here!
I heard great things about Jhenn’s cooking, and the little I’d previously tasted had been stellar, so I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to sample a meal in her own home. Her underground lunch and dinner club theme for this round was Japanese, and included a seemingly endless array of dishes. It’s an event not to be missed!
The evening started with a bowl of steamed edamame to share, plus cool and refreshing barley tea (mugicha), and an outstanding Japanese zombie flick. Other drinks I sampled throughout the night included a deliciously nutty sake and tangy apricot sour, a take on ume honey sour.
Once at the table we were served one dish at a time, which was a great format for the meal as it allowed plenty of time to savour every bite. Furthermore, Jhenn and her husband both lived in Japan for a spell, so were able to provide a torrent of background information and anecdotes regarding each dish.
The first to hit the table was fresh yuba, or soya milk skin (one of my favourite things – really, seek it out). Following the yuba came a plate containing a trio of eats, including hijiki salad (shredded seaweed, carrot and sesame), gomadofu (sesame tofu like squares with wasabi and soy sauce), and tamagoyaki (thin rolled vegan omelette pieces). Everything was mouthwateringly good, and I think it’s safe to say everyone was extra excited when it was announced there was an extra portion each of gomadofu going spare.
Next to come out of the kitchen was the deep fried course, otherwise known as one of my five food groups, the Vegan Ronin’s take on tonkatsu (which would normally be made from pork). These panko coated soy cutlets were served on a traditional bed of cabbage and drizzled with fruity tonkatsu sauce, with a wedge of lemon on the side for an added kick.
A salty custard known as chawanmushi, little steamed savoury eggless egg pots, were next on the menu. What can I say? Again, it was sublime. And then came the balls, surely the night’s star dish. Tokoyaki are typically made with octopus, but in this case the batter was filled with sea-tasting konnyaku pieces instead. The end results were doughy snack sized bites which were then topped with a drizzling of tangy sauce and mayonnaise, plus a sprinkling of seaweed. I have been craving them non stop since.
The meal ended with tasty and filling miso soup and rice, followed by fresh fruit and the popular Japanese confection of mochi stuffed with sweet red bean paste, daifuku. Anything made with sticky rice or sticky rice flour is a friend of mine, so it was the perfect end to a perfect meal.
Jhenn has just added a third night, on the 29th of August, so if you’re free then you’d be crazy not to go. The dishes you’ll be served aren’t what you’ll find in any restaurant, so you are guaranteed to eat unique foods you may have never tasted previously. For more details of the event you can read about it here.