If you’re going to an event like Hyper Japan you pretty much have to try the Japanese food despite how expensive it is. One of the most interesting taste experiences I tried this year was eating mackerel that has been dipped in to a glass of warm sake I don’t know how or why it tastes so good but it does, it tastes almost as if the mackerel was marinated in champagne and in every bite you get such a rich flavour on top the meatyness of the fish. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone whenever the opportunity arises.
I for one have never really been a fan of macarons but for those of you who are you are spoiled for choice not just with the sheer number of flavours but also the attention to detail with some of these aesthetically, who wouldn’t want a macaron shaped like a cute bear’s face? I tried the sakura (cherry blossom flower), rose and lavender which were all very nice, I as tempted to buy a box of assorted macarons but as a rule of thumb any food at a convention will always costs a lot more than outside of it.
The final food I tried for the first time was something I have seen before but always been cautious of, i’m talking about green tea flavoured ice cream. At £2 per cone it’s not too much more than a traditional ice cream but it’s so much nicer, of course being inside a stuffy convention hall means you have to eat it quickly or else it will melt.
Of course I had to have the usual street food favourites takoyaki, karaage, gyoza and a dragon tail. The dragon tail (above) is the simplest and cheapest of all the options and makes for a nice snack but flavour wise it’s not much more exciting than you would expect it to be it’s just rice, shrimp and nori.
There were other foods and drinks I wanted to try including instant miso soup dispensers, ramen and everyone’s favourite drink Ramune but one can only eat so much over 3 days and it’s good to have something new for next time.
On my first day at Hyper Japan I tried takoyaki which is a fried ball dough with an octopus centre covered in takoyaki sauce which is essentially a mix between mayonnaise and worcestershire sauce. It’s very nice although I wish the actual octopus meat inside was a little larger as at time it felt like I was just eating fried dough. A fair warning to anyone who tries takoyaki, let it cool down before you eat it. Seriously these balls of octopus are cooked fresh and if you make the mistake which I have made in the past you may very well burn your throat on the molten core of inside. My friend Annabelle learned the hard way this year even after waiting 10 minutes to eat them.
The second day I went with a more varied meal and decided to get a mix of takoyaki, gyoza and pumpkin korokke. It seems that not all takoyaki are made the same almost like the difference between instant and home-made. The gyoza also suffered from this as the shell felt like it had been exposed to air for too long while the contents were just a mixed bag. A new and interesting taste for me was the pumpkin korokke, I myself rarely eat pumpkin and have never had a korokke although perhaps the closest relatable thing is potato croquette.
Finally during the afternoon session of Saturday I got myself a portion of shrimp and a dragon-tail sushi roll both of which were good but thats all they were. Overall the food had its ups and downs with the takoyaki and pumpkin korokke coming up on top, I certainly did not expect restaurant standard food at pop-up food stands and while the price was a little inflated I can not complain as they certainly give you what you expect and in some cases better than you expected.
Having missed out on The Sushi Awards last year I decided to give it try. The pace a lot faster than I expected with chefs preparing sushi, piling it on your plate and sending you to the next stand within seconds. I barely had enough time to take pictures let alone eat until the very end.
While visually appealing food porn is definitely a turn on for people the Sushi awards are more about taste than aesthetics, if a plate of food doesn’t live up to its appearance that can hurt it more than help. Unsurprisingly each little piece of sushi was a taste sensation in itself.
The meaty flavours of the Yashin Ocean House stand stood out to me as you don’t traditionally think of sushi having beef in it, one chef was cooking the meat with what I can only describe is a blow-torch. It made for an amazing sight and yet somehow it cooked it perfectly. No burns, no blood. Although I liked the Yashin Ocean House my favourite and the one I voted for was the Chisou Knightbridge.
The Sushi Awards was definitely a great experience not just in taste but a show of skill. Are five pieces of sushi worth £12 though? When you look at it as an alternative to lunch it certainly is overpriced however this is more about the experience and quality over quantity. I would recommend people try it for themselves and if they like it to keep coming back each year however I understand that it won’t be to everyone’s taste.
It wouldn’t be MCM Comic Con without eating slightly expensive traditional Japanese food. Over the past few years I have tried most of the usual suspects but this year I found something new okonomiyaki which is essentially a fried fish pancake on a stick. Despite the unappealing look of okonomiyaki it actually tastes very nice although I wish it has come on a cylindrical stick instead of a rectangular one as it made it less convenient to eat and it felt like it was going to fall off at any moment, unlike takoyaki it doesn’t have a molten hot centre which is a good thing but it’s also not as nice as its counterpart.
After trying something new I had to have a familiar favourite which of fine karaage with Japanese mayonnaise on a stick. I don’t know how it differs to English fried chicken on a stick but it certainly taste a lot better, despite technically being fast food I think it’s more to do with it being freshly made in huge batches and seasoned well that makes it stand out. It’s not very often I get to eat Japanese food but when I do I have had nothing but good experiences… except for tai-yaki.
The Sake experience this year didn’t have as many types of sake to try as last year however there was a lot more variety with what was available. Like last time there was free cheddar cheese and crackers to help pace the alcoholic content that comes with 25 shots of sake in a short time-span.
One that stood out for me was the Funaguchi Kikusui despite coming in a can had a very bold flavour to it which went well with the dried bacon bits they were giving out it was definitely my favourite in the summer barbecue category and maybe even overall.
I also saw the return of my favourite sake from last year the Sho Chiku Bai Shirakabegura MIO sparkling sake which had a very sweet taste to it almost like a sorbet yet it didn’t feel like it was trying to be a soft drink as it still very much had the deep taste of sake. I even bought a bottle this time.
After learning that Patty and Bun were opening a new store in Liverpool street and giving the first 1000 people a free burger on their opening day I quickly arranged to meet up with my friend Kyri who inspired me to start Food For Thought in the first place.
The place opened at 10.30 so I decided to get there at 10.15 and even then there was still a queue so big it almost stretched the entire street. It took significantly less time than I thought it would to be served apparently after 2.5 hours all the free burgers had been given out so I can only imagine how many they must have cooked throughout the whole day.
The first time I went to Patty and Bun (which was my very first food for thought post) I ordered the Smokey BBQ Robinson so I thought that this time I should get their flagship burger the Ari Gold. After seeing that Patty and Bun got my name wrong on the receipt we went to the park and proceeded to eat our burgers.
After unwrapping it and spilling some sauce on my leg I took a big bite of the burger and just as I expected it was incredible, the patty was so thick and succulent and the cheese was in a perfect melted state of half way between solid and liquid. The pickled onions were also a nice surprise although I prefer the grilled onions found in the Smokey Robinson burger.
Although we didn’t have the atmosphere that comes from sitting inside a restaurant the quality of the burgers was as amazing as always and I would gladly recommend Patty and Bun to anyone looking for something a little less mainstream. Just be aware that their burgers aren’t always free.
After a few hours of walking around Designjunction with my heavy bags of press releases and brochures I decided to sit down and have an ice cream at a place called Gelupo. I had the blood orange sorbet ice cream which was delicious the only thing wrong was it melted a bit too quickly but i’m sure thats because we were in designjunction and not the Gelupo flagship store in Soho.
The graphics and typography were simple yet eye catching and really screamed quality along with the few but fantastic flavours of ice creams you could choose from. Now that I know this place i’m going to look out for it again and continue to try new flavours.
One of the first things I saw at Designjunction was a huge bar and seating are promoting the new SodaStream design by Yves Behar. After grabbing my free ultra-cool wooden USB with press images on it I got a lemon-lime drink at the bar which took less than a minute to make and was so refreshing and tasty that I had to come back many times over the course of the day to try more flavours.
The process is actually pretty simple all you have to do is place the soda cap inside the SodaStream then it does its stuff and your drink comes out the nozzle and into your reusable and eco friendly bottle. The third time I came I got an alcoholic drink which I seem to remember had vodka in it, probably not the best thing to drink while covering an event.
On a side note I used to put SodaStream on my Christmas list every year until I got the message that my mum wouldn’t buy it for me but now i’m earning my own money and love the design and flavour of the SodaStream Play as well as the environmental aspect and convenience of it I would definitely consider buying this.
Last Saturday I was at Hyper Japan in Earls Court with some friends while covering the event for my blog. We took full advantage of this event to try out some Japanese food which would be rare/not as authentic anywhere else.
Firstly we tried the Karaage both on a stick and in a sandwich. It was a nice little snack which suits being on a stick more than in a sandwich although both were very nice, we all had ‘Japanese sauce’ on top which is apparently a variation on sweet and sour sauce and made it taste a lot nicer. If we had the stomach for it we would’ve tried it again but with BBQ sauce instead although there were plenty of other foods waiting to be tried.
The second stand we went to had takoyaki which I knew of from it being mentioned in anime sometimes so it was exciting to finally try it, I was disappointed that the batter to octopus ratio was about 70/30 but other than that it was very tasty. They give you 6 balls which is actually quite a lot for sampling but last quite a long time so it’s probably the best advised food for snacking on throughout the day as opposed to eating all at once. I also tried from the same stand some tempura wrapped in a large sushi ball which despite the hefty price of £2 each was without a doubt the best thing I ate while there and would love to have it again any day.
We stayed away from the ramen and rice/noodle based dishes as we thought it might be a bit much if we are to try a lot also we might plan to try those at markets or in China Town to get that same authentic experience again. Two other things we tried which were unexpected were a green coloured tea flavoured chocolate as well as a variety of different flavoured macarons.
We wanted to try the ice cream stand as well as the sushi experience unfortunately we were too full after sampling the snacks and sake too go through with it. Overall Japanese food was a very pleasant experience and I will be on the lookout for more stands or restaurants selling authentic snacks to try in the future, maybe even some things that are a little less mainstream.