Ajitomi

Cross-posted from my other blog,Dim Sum Diva

The mothership wanted to take us to Kusuya Rakuen, an Okinawan restaurant one of her girlfriends found. Unfortunately, they have some kind of smoking license that means they can’t accept anyone under 18. This left my youngest sister out of the running. So with our dinner plans up in smoke and our tummies grumbling, we pressed the lift button for the next Japanese restaurant and landed up at Ajitomi.

I can’t think of another time where we’ve lucked out like that. The restaurant was homely, cosy and reminded me of being back in Japan. There were only a few tables and very simple decorations, but the waitresses were attentive and happy to explain the menu. Everything about the place felt personal and intimate: the menu seemed extremely eclectic, with Italian and French-inspired Japanese dishes alongside perennial Japanese classics, but the more we tried the more we could feel the personal impact of the chef. I have some kind of inexplicable personal vendetta against the word ‘fusion’, but it’s never been more irrelevant than here. It didn’t feel like the chef was mixing in different cuisines just to earn the word: it felt like you were experiencing what interested and influenced the chef.

We probably ate more than little ladies should, mostly because we wanted to sample as much of the menu as possible. Their homemade salad dressings are divine AND you can buy a bottle for almost nothing to bring home. I loved the Okinawa-style meatballs stuffed with plums, and my sisters loved the little dish of potato, bacon and pesto pasta they gave us as a starter. Every dish was obviously made with care and attention, and the homemade caramel creme brulee was to die for.

Seriously? I think I’m a little bit in love.

Ajitomi
7/F Circle Tower
28 Tang Lung Street
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

http://ajitomi.okoshi-yasu.com

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Fernandez & Wells

When the weather in London is this wet and this cold, ‘outdoors’ becomes this distant rain-slicked world that brings only wet coats and runny noses. Life is about the journey between the inner courtyard door to the outside gate door to the Tesco’s and back, and trying not to get splashed by the 149 bus.  London food adventures have been few and far between, and bar last week’s spur-of-the-moment Thanksgiving celebration, our kitchen has been uninspired.

It’s times like this – cuddled up in my Duvet of Fear – that I think about simple and great meals shared in the sunshine. Like spending an afternoon in London with a loved one, walking through Soho and enjoying a sandwich at Fernandez & Wells. Sitting at the bar on Lexington Street and tucking into a mortadella sandwich with a cold bottle of Fentiman’s, catching the last of the summer sun… I’d love to be there right now.

It was my first visit to Fernandez & Wells, and I can only add to the glowing reviews. My mortadella sandwich was exactly what I was after, packed full of flavours despite looking deceptively simple. I didn’t even suffer food envy for my partner-in-food-crime’s bresaola sandwich (although I did steal some of his Fentiman’s lemonade – that stuff is beverage crack).

Hanging out with nothing to do but enjoy the crunch of my sandwich and good company… beats trying to keep my toes warm by sitting on  my feet and eating digestives.

Food Memories

I read an article yesterday interviewing a lady I admire very much who works for a fashion house I admire even more. But underneath her photo was the caption,” I’d rather have cheap food than cheap shoes.” I really don’t know how I feel about that.

I’m a huge proponent of the idea that food that is ‘cheap’ can also be food that is ‘good’. I’ve had fantastic meals for very little amounts all around the world, and some of that food has been in London. I’ve felt that this is an idea that I’ve found more during my time in the UK. Quality ingredients means quality food, which means spending a bit more and that’s certainly something I can agree with. Going out for a meal is more of an event on this side of the world than it is in Asia. But food that is cooked with heart, food that evokes a response, food that is memorable is not necessarily expensive food and in that maybe the above statement isn’t so objectionable. I’ve certainly bought a lot of cheap shoes and my feet have not thanked me for it.

On the other hand, the idea of sacrificing food for shoes definitely gave me pause and I’ve eaten my share of canned tuna to afford beautiful things before. And here’s why: I can look back at meals that I’ve shared, cheap or expensive and good or bad, and remember a whole host of people and places and things just by association. A mouthful of the marinated sake chicken at Sake no Hana brought me back to eating yakitori in Japan. A steaming spoonful of congee in Chinatown reminds me of being home and being looked after. I’ve never once looked at a pair of my shoes and thought fondly of a night out on the town with my girlfriends. Food is so closely associated with so many of memories, I can’t even go back to the period in my life where I’d go without to earn something else.

Here are some food memories… sadly, the best food memories are rarely if ever documented but always remembered!

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Tomoe

So a couple months ago, I was in a funk to beat all funks. I mean, storm-cloud over my head, tail-between-my-legs, Eeyore-style funk. I thought,” Okay, seriously? There isn’t much that is going to help here. Ooh. Except Japanese food.”

I’d heard great things about Tomoe, with ace reviews from An American in London amongst other bloggers. And good, fresh fish is something I’ve always taken for granted in Hong Kong but I find more difficult to get in London. So I toddled up Marylebone Lane and headed in.

It was like a bar in Tokyo from the 80’s, but in an awesome way. The staff were really welcoming and asked if I minded sitting at the bar (I didn’t). While I decided on my choices, I asked for a glass of plum wine on the rocks (umeshu). One sip, and I could feel my funk start slipping away…

Umeshu at Tomoe

Umeshu at Tomoe

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Sake no Hana

We were searching for a venue for a friend’s birthday last week. It was a bit of a ‘milestone’ birthday, so we wanted somewhere with atmosphere and good food. We spotted the 40% deal on Toptable and thought,”Why not?”
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Birthday tarts from Coco & Me

On her visit to London, LTF and I visited Broadway Market and found a foodie’s dream.

Check out the gorgeous little biscuit bunnies!

Check out the gorgeous little biscuit bunnies!

We picked up these great tarts for my birthday from Coco & Me, the best stall in the market serving only cakes and chocolates made from the best ingredients. I embarrassed myself by fangirling over the owner, who runs an awesome blog of her own, but we slunk away with the large fruit tart above and this amazing little bitty chocolate tart!

They tasted as good as they look. BTW, awesome images copyright of Love True Food.