Valentine’s day was due to be spent with friends eating Japanese street food cooked by pop up Tsukemono, but after a few cancellations to join me at my booked table for two, I decided to take myself on a date instead.
Solo dining has been a bit of a buzzword lately, with the major papers writing articles on the pros and cons, patronising those of us that like to eat alone with a “handy” list of do’s and don’ts. I say treat it like a mini-break and you will be fine, take a book or bookmark some articles to read on your phone or tablet and prepare to relax. No conversation, no entertaining anyone, just you, your dinner and a nice glass of something if you fancy.
Luckily being chummy with Sam and Matt, owner and manager of Bristol Spirit where Tsukemono is calling home until the end of March, meant I was more than comfortable on my tod. I gallantly freed up a table and decided to take my meal sat at the bar, it felt a bit like being on holiday. As I was on my own I decided to make a pig of myself and order everything I wanted off the menu and make no apology for it.
To start I went with both the okonomiyaki and the karaage chicken, admittedly this was basically a meal in itself but I’ve the constitution of a labrador and tucked in with gusto. I also ordered a tray of pickles, daikon, lotus and mushrooms which really livened everything up. The chicken was juicy, crisp and had the perfect amount of mayo and hot sauce liberally added, whilst the okonomiyaki had a crisp exterior and was still squidgy in the middle, like a good potato cake. The top was decorated with dancing bonito flakes, mayo and BBQ sauce and hit the sweet, savoury and umami flavours I love about this cabbage cake.
As mentioned in my last post, Tsukemono is trying something new and have created a noodle menu offering your choice of chunky udon or soba noodle bowls. I decided to go for the curry and pork dish on recommendation and was presented with a huge bowl of steaming, aromatic broth. As someone who hasn’t quite “got” ramen yet, this hit all the high notes for me, a substantial soupy base with plenty of fried shallots and noodles and nothing I would consider too fussy.
Honestly, if you haven’t loudly slurped noodles whilst not having to worry about anyone else judging you from the other side of the table, I suggest you try it. It was liberating.
To round off my feast to end all feasts, I had a thick wedge of Japanese cheesecake. Far lighter than its baked New York cousin, the cake isn’t too sweet and is mostly whipped for a lighter than air texture. The perfect end to a hearty dinner.
Tables are booking up fast so if I’ve tempted you, get your email in quick to firstname.lastname@example.org to secure yours, or if you fancy some “me time”, ask if they have space up at the bar.
Also, check out my amazing sweatshirt! Best gift ever!