Lunch@Sosharu, Clerkenwell(2)

We’ve arrived early at Sosharu in Clerkenwell. This gives us the chance to have a drink at the bar and chat to Emily, the pastry chef, until Karla arrives to meet us for lunch. Kirin Ichiban, described as ‘Japan’s Premium Beer’ seems like a good way to start. It is highly carbonated, quite malty and not too sweet – it will work well with my lunch!

We watch the sashimi chef delicately shaving a variety of vegetables and neatly preparing fish with a huge knife and continue to chat to Emily as she creates a series of beautiful desserts. Sosharu is one of Jason Atherton’s restaurants and Emily has worked for Jason for 9 years. Very soon, however, she is leaving to work in a top New York restaurant. Karla soon arrives and we head to our table.

Karla always has the Bento Box when she is here at lunchtime and we cannot persuade her to change this habit. It is not surprising though – set out on a wooden tray (rather than a box) the seafood bento contains salmon teriyaki, a selection of seasonal pickled vegetables, a chirashi bowl of sashimi and sushi rice and a summer salad. It also looks fantastic.

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The seafood bento box

Rock and I decide to mix it up a bit though. We select: the tuna open temaki with scallion tobiko, sushi rice, avocado and fresh wasabi; the chicken karaage with lemon salt; the stuffed chicken wings with pickled turnip; and the Kyoto stuffed peppers. The open temaki is sensational and easily our favourite savoury dish.

Another Kirin Ichiban helps me toward the dessert course. Normally, Rock and I share a dessert but we are keen to try Emily’s creations and choose one each. Rock picks the strawberry & matcha roll with yoghurt & yuzu, I have the matcha mille crepe with matcha sorbet. This is a mistake – matcha is a green tea and has quite a distinct flavour – my dessert has too much matcha for me! Rock’s dessert though is beautiful to look at and beautiful to eat. This is Emily at her best!

Overall, the food has been a fabulous array of fascinating ingredients and beautiful flavours. Great service delivered in a relaxed and sophisticated environment.

Lunch@Sosharu, Clerkenwell

Today I’m in London, without Rock, meeting the fabulous Karla at Sosharu in Clerkenwell. Sosharu is the latest venture by Jason & Irha Atherton and it has just been named London Restaurant of the Year at the 2016 AA Awards. It serves small plates of Japanese food designed by executive head chef, Alex Craciun.

The restaurant is quite busy yet retains a degree of calmness. The décor is fairly mimimalist, reflecting the style of a Japanese Minka house. The toilets are extraordinary! Neither Karla or myself are experts in Japanese food and, after seeing a number of beautiful looking dishes delivered to other tables, we both decide to go for the seafood bento box.

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Our bento boxes are divided into four parts – all delivered at the same time. We have: salmon teriyaki served with pickled ginger; kyoto style chirashi with tuna, salmon, egg threads and sushi rice; a seasonal vegetable salad with purple mizuna and a yuzukosho dressing; and home-made pickled vegetables with kimchi. It is an amazing array of colours, flavours and textures.

As if I am not already spoiling myself with the food… I have a Junmai 36 samurai cold sake to add to my enjoyment. We have no difficulty in eating (and loving) everything we have been given. We both select the excellent chocolate ice cream from the desserts included in the bento box deal.

Karla is celebrating becoming a new home-owner. I am celebrating this opportunity to catch up with her over lunch. We are both celebrating the fantastic food we have just enjoyed. Sosharu already has an AA Award and it is now in the running for a WadeandRockandFood Award!

Dinner@Kødbyens Fiskebar,Copenhagen

Sometimes an extraordinary eating experience happens by chance. After a long day in Malmö we are pretty exhausted. Back at our Copenhagen hotel we want to find somewhere nearby and look online. Kødbyens Fiskebar sounds great and is only a 10 minute walk from our room. We try to book a table online but, unsurprisingly, it is fully booked. The hotel receptionist tells us there are several really good restaurants in the same part of town as the Fiskebar – so we head there to try our luck…

We arrive in what used to be the old meatpacking district of Copenhagen, now transformed into a popular area of bars and restaurants. We head to the Fiskebar and the guy on the door confirms that they are fully booked but says he will see if he can find somewhere for us. After a few minutes he leads us to two bar stools at a short bar facing the kitchen and asks if that is OK for us. We have a view straight into the kitchen and, to one side of us, the pastry chef is creating fabulous looking desserts. Yes…I think we will be just fine here.

We are served by Karoline who brings us beers and carefully guides us through the menu. While we are waiting we really enjoy all the activity around us -the place is packed and a stream of beautiful dishes are being brought out of the kitchen by the team. Then a chef comes to other side of our bar, introduces himself as Jamie, and asks if we would like a tour of the kitchen once we have eaten. Later we discover this is Jamie Lee, the head chef, who trained in London under Gordon Ramsay and Jason Atherton. Mr Atherton is one of our food heroes. I’m starting to feel that we are standing at the gates of the foodbloggers heaven.

So let’s see if their food is as good as it looks. Rock and I are sharing all dishes and we start with raw mackerel served with skagen ham, green tomato and fennel. I’m not a huge fan of raw fish but this was super fresh and the flavours worked really well together. Between courses, we are still watching the pastry chef, who we now know to be called Soeren, creating elaborate desserts to order. But it’s not yet time for our dessert.

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Next we have steamed halibut with kohlrabi, cucumber, sheep yoghurt and ramson (a type of wild garlic). It is as sensational as it looks. As each plate is set in front of us Karoline, or sometimes Maria, go through the components of the dish so that we know exactly what we are getting. Now we are on to pan-fried brill with cauliflower, bone marrow and stout. Even with foam, emulsion and soil on the plate – this is a simply stunning dish.

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Finally it is our turn for one of Soeren’s desserts and we choose the poached rhubarb served with a buttermilk tart, rhubarb sorbet, wood sorrel and meringue. I think he may be a genius. Before coffee, another member of the kitchen team, Balaš, takes us on the tour of the kitchen and we get a real incite into how Jamie and this busy team manage to put these food creations together.   Interestingly, despite the Ramsay influence, there are no red faces, lost tempers and no swearing – just a good-humoured team working very hard. 

We finish a fabulous evening with coffee and hand-made petit fours. Karoline recommends that we go to the Torvehallerne before we leave Copenhagen (watch out for another blog). The buzz of this place has been exhilarating, the friendliness of all the team has been extraordinary, the service and the knowledge of Karoline and Maria – exceptional. The food has been quite good too!