Gyoza Bar

It had been a while since I had been out to dinner in Covent Garden – I find it’s full of chains so tend to go to Soho or towards Fitzrovia. Covent Garden has changed with lots more upcoming restaurants….one of the latest additions is: Gyoza Bar.

This new Covent Garden spot serves gyoza (surprise!) – with plenty of bar seating around the big open kitchen so you can watch the dumpling creation in action.  Gyoza are small dumplings stuffed with your choice of meats, salmon or vegetables and topped off with chilli oil, soy or garlic vinegar before being steamed, pan fried or deep fried.

In addition,  there’s lots of Japanese-inspired tapas style dishes including ramen and bao buns, but obviously gyoza are the stars of the show here.

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Apart from the tasty veg gyoza, we had the Japanese sweet potato and lenkon chips. For mains I had the veg ramen which was served with spring onion, stem broccoli, beansprout, inari sweet tofu. The veg ramen was delicious and definitely worth choosing if you go here.

The restaurant is clean and minimalist, with the focal point being the open kitchen. It’s a good place for a quick meal after work but not one I’d rush back to.

 

 

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Japanese lunch at Roka – vegetarian delight

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As a lover of all Japanese food and the fact that it was next to my clients office, Roka seemed like a perfect spot for a business lunch. I have to admit it’s one of the best restaurants I’ve been to in a long time and I can’t wait to go back

The food was absolutely divine, we had a selection of dishes which were all beyond fantastic. The service to second to none and I liked the design and style of the venue….the layout of the restaurant is one whereby the food is at the centre. The grill is located bang in the middle and it is possible to sit around it and observe the chefs at work. We opted for a table.

My colleague ordered a variety of dishes including several vegetarian options:

  • Prawn and vegetable tempura with dips
  • Broccoli
  • Various maki including mushroom ones
  • Soy glazed tofu – blocks of firm-on-the-inside, but crispy-on-the-outside tofu with crispy garlic crisps on a sea of soy.
  • Asparagus with sweet soy and sesame dressing
  • Rice hotpot made in a casserole pot of glutinous rice and chicken – they did a veg version
  • Softshell crab with roasted chilli dressing
  • Chicken skewers with spring onions

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Food-wise Roka delivered more than I expected. Flavours were pleasant and ingredients fresh. I loved it and can’t wait to back for a special occasion!

Chotte Matte – fun times

Chotto Matte was a venue I’d wanted to try for a while so booked it to celebrate our 6th anniversary. The restaurant/bar brings together the best of Japanese and Peruvian cultures serving up Nikkei cuisine, colourful cocktails, and live music. So after a disappointing meal at Coya where I ordered the wrong dishes, I was hoping this one would be much better. And it did surpass expectations.

The location on Frith Street is huge – and as soon as you enter, your eyes are drawn to a vast, UV-illuminated mural created by Tokyo-based graffiti artist Houxo Que – incredible! The kitchen has a number of stations, including a sushi and ceviche bar as well as a Japanese Robata grill area serving barbecued dishes. There is also a bar menu of small eats (tostaditas) with a variety of toppings for those who fancy a few snacks with a drink.

We had:

  • Cone of cassava and sweet potato crisps, with an accompanying yellow tomato salsa and guacamole
  • Tostadito: Heritage tomato huacatay aburi with Kumquat, coriander cress and chive oil.
  • Donburi – an oversized bowl of cooked rice with corn, avocado, spring onion fitters, mushrooms and daikon sauce on top
  • Sautéed chilli and garlic vegetables

The food was tasty with some unique flavours – the dishes were small and tapas style. I’d recommend adding a main dish as the dishes were small and tapas style which was a shame considering the prices. I’m glad I ordered the Donburi as it was a good accompaniment to the other dishes.

Chotto Matte is quite priced but a fun place to discover some interesting cuisine in the heart of London. It’s a cool place to go with the girls – you will definitely have a good night out.