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New London Food Trend Infuses Western Food with Japanese Inspiration

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In our previous blog post, we highlighted what the Western world could learn from Eastern eating habits. However, as this new trend highlights, it is not just the customs that western communities are learning from Eastern cuisine. The latest food trend to emerge from London brings diners a taste of two opposing cuisine cultures, Western classics with Japanese infusions, with fascinating results!

Robin Leigh, Kurt Zdesar and Endo Kazutoshi are the masterminds behind the new food trend, and they are offering this intriguing food mash-up at Ichibuns on Wardour Street in London. The talented team is delivering a menu of shiitake mushroom ramen, wagyu beef burgers and pop-and-go cocktails, to name but a few! Diners at this establishment can delve into the world of a typical Tokyo night, all in one location, with rock-and-roll interior that draws inspiration from the Fifties and Sixties Japanese subculture merged with the stereotypical icons of an American diner.

Commenting on the venture, Kazutoshi stated: “Consumers in London have become so switched on to food. Everybody has had great Japanese meals; we want to provide something different- and fusion is a great way to do that.”

They have paved the way for other Anglo-Japanese restaurants to take roots in the urban heart of Britain, with Gilly’s Fry Bar, which is set to open soon in Finsbury Park, offering an intriguing combination of Japanese cuisine and classic fish and chip shop favourites. Food promised on the menu include prawn toast, deep-fried cod and the classic steamed rice bowls. 

The chef of Gilly’s, Neil Gill, came up with the concept during his work with Alan Yau whilst reminiscing about his childhood dining experiences in Sunderland’s fish-and-chip shops.

“Fried food, particularly battered fried food, actually has the same origins in Japan and Britain,” says Neil, “The tradition of having fried fish on a Friday in the UK is a Christian legacy. The same with tempura, which was acquired from the Portuguese missionaries and merchants from the region of Alentejo who resided in Nagasaki and made fritters. It came about as a way to fulfil abstinence and fasting requirements for Catholics surrounding the Ember Days of fasting and prayer- in Latin, quattuor anni tempora. Hence, the etymology of the word, tempura.”

Additionally, the classic British full English staple is given a lease of life with a Japanese infusion down at Soho’s Sexy Fish restaurant. Inspired by the seas of Asia, chef Bjoern Weissgerber provides a range of classic brunch dishes- such as eggs benedict and BLT’s- and puts an interesting twist on them. Whilst Nobu Shoreditch owns the other British classic, the Sunday roast lunch, and adds its own Japanese elements. Commenting on this combination, chef a Nobu Shoreditch says, “The roast beef on the brunch menu… combines beef sourced from a farm in Scotland with shiso leaf, yamagobo and duck liver, creating a dish which nods to a very traditional Sunday dish in the UK but reinvented, creating a truly Nobu-style Sunday dinner.”

If these weren’t enough to get your mouth watering, there is still a number of London-based establishments offering the finest infusions. For example, Magpie in Piccadilly offers a caesar salad that switches the salty bacon for an eel, the croutons are out for the tempura nori, whilst the dressing has a touch of katsuobushi to offer a similar taste to anchovy and miso is added to mimic the parmesan. Whilst Untitled, Tony Conigliaro’s new bar embraces the infusion of Japanese and Anglo flavours, where he experiments with preserving and fermenting techniques typical of Japanese cooking with traditional and seasonal British ingredients.

These establishments serve as inspiration for all you budding chefs and passionate cooks looking to add a little extra to your dishes. Why not have a go at incorporating traditional western cuisines with some Japanese inspiration for some truly fantastic meals and pair with some authentic oriental alcohol? You can purchase a wealth of Japanese ingredients via our online store, all of which will be delivered straight to your door. Just remember to share your inventions with us via our social media channels and let us know how they went!

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