Japanese feast @ Asakusa, Camden

This morning, the sky was stuffed with clouds, sporting all shades of grey.
Those plumped-up clouds were shoving and pushing each other like marathon runners at a start line and moving rapidly west to east. A forecast for this afternoon is rain & sunshine. Oh no, another  schizophrenic weather. Please go away. You’ve made enough havoc already…

By the way, Peter, a husband of our lovely Letizia, came back to London last Thursday, after working in San Francisco for a half year. So we decided to celebrate his long-awaited return at Asakusa the Japanese restaurant in Camden…

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Asakusa is one of the oldest Japanese restaurants in London (& probably in UK?).
The restaurant first opened its doors when there was still The Japanese School in Camden. Which means the restaurant has been offering a reasonable Japanese cuisine to Londoners for more than 20 years. The decor is rather weather & time beaten. For uninformed souls, the eatery may even appear shabby & unhygienic. However, the foods they produce are all skillfully cooked and delicious. Obviously, Asakusa does not offer a swanky kind of dining experience which may be catered by more upmarket restaurants, such as Zuma or Roka. This Camden gem is a much more intimate and friendly environment to sample more down to earth version of  Japanese cooking. Not a kind of place to crane your neck for celebrity spotting while you chase an edamame on the plate.

When Hubbie & I arrived at the restaurant, Letizia, Peter, Fei & Alexandra were there already, sampling three varieties of sake. We all liked the sake infused with citrus. So we ordered a bottle.
Then, Beatrice arrived and our feast ensued.

The first to arrive was “Ebi Furai” – deep-fried prawn with breadcrumb.

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Alexandra picked it from the menu.
The breadcrumb was fluffy and crispy. And the sauce accompanied the plate tasted like a rich cousin of Worcester sauce. It was delicious.

Then, “Hitokuchi Katsu” – deep-fried pork cutlet with breadcrumb.

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The cut was not fillet, unfortunately. Therefore, it was a bit tough. Still, it was perfectly palatable.

The next was “Kani no Karaage”– deep-fried soft shell crab.

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Soft shell crabs were deep-fried to perfection. It was light & crispy and not at all greasy. We all rested our chopsticks on the table and delved in with our fingers!

The crab was followed by “Wafu Steak” – steak with Japanese seasoning…

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The steak was accompanied with “Daikon Oroshi” – mashed Japanese radish which was well-known amongst Japanese for its tongue tingling after taste. A few drops of “Shoyu”– soy sauce and mashed radish, they made a flavoursome condiment for the steak.

Then, “Saba no Misoni” – miso stewed mackerel…

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The dish was a touch too salty for my liking. I wanted to have a bowl of rice with it!
The mackerel was throughly cooked with miso sauce which was infused with ginger.
“Saba no Misoni” is one of the most loved Japanese domestic recipes, by the way.

The mackerel was followed by “Buta no Kakuni” – slow cooked pork belly…

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A heap of chopped green onion garnished the pork belly which was so tender.
It was so soft, we could break it up with chopsticks. The meat was aromatic and flavoursome.

Then, “Asakusa Salad” – house special salad with sashimi…

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I expected the dressing to be a soy sauce based concoction.
However, it was made with peanuts flavoured sauce, tasted similar to tahini like Ban Ban Ji’s. I thought the sauce went brilliantly well with raw fish and the rest of salad. Every mouthful was very enjoyable.

Some of us wanted sushi. However, the waitress informed us that we would have to wait for an hour since they had only one sushi chef. Damn, we should have ordered it sooner!
Still undeterred, we ordered “Zaru Soba” – cold buckwheat noodle served with dipping sauce…

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For some of my friends, eating cold noodle was an eye-opening experience. No Letizia, it is not same as eating a left over pasta in the morning!

By the end of our feast, each of us was rubbing a tummy with a satisfied sigh…

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We all agreed that we couldn’t walk away without sampling Asakusa’s Japanese flavoured ice creams…

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“Kuro Goma” – black sesame, “Maccha” – green tea & “Kuri” – chestnut.
I must say the black sesame was my favourite, followed closely by the chestnut. The green tea was not too bad. However, I prefered more green tea in it.

Our feast would never wrap up without a photo call or two!
Peter was trusted with my iPhone and here it went…

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Alex, me & Letizia.

And then…

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Me, Letizia & Fei.

We ended up chatting & laughing until their last order time.
Thank you for another fabulous weekend, boys & girls…x

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