This blog is written in correlation with my PhD project 'The Technical Recipe: A Formal Analysis of 19th Century Food Writing.'
As a lover of food and literature, particularly when combined, I will discuss recipes and writing from the nineteenth century. Join me as I muddle through the best - and worst - of Victorian food writing.
Falling in love with Nippon Kitchen
I have been trying to not eat out so much, for a number of reasons. These include cost, waning healthy aspirations as well as the fact that I don't deserve a social life at the moment because every waking moment should be filled with studying.
HOWEVER, earlier this week I was afforded a hiatus from my (lack of...) hard work as my Mum and youngest brother came down for a visit. This of course conquered all of my previous reservations. My lovely, beautiful, kindhearted Mother would probably pay, it would be rude to not wholeheartedly enjoy the most of her generosity and ruder still to keep my head stuck in a book when my beloved family had travelled to see me. Excellent.
So on Wednesday night we went to Ketchup. I don't think I had been in over a year and given my weakness for anything in a burger bun, it was great. I had the 'from Russia with love', a beef burger with lettuce, goats cheese and beetroot chutney. It was lovely and the flavours were great, the goats cheese really made it. Mum went for her favourite, their fish finger sandwich. Even though she was sat staring at Brel, her favourite place in the whole world, she was comforted in the knowledge that Brel have taken theirs off the menu. It was a win win.
Liam, of course, went for the Glaswegian crowning glory. The 'egg on your face'. I have had it before and can vouch for it's deliciousness, but don't go for it if you have eaten in the last twelve hours or have any reservations about getting egg all over your face. It is a beef burger topped with a full cooked breakfast. Egg, black pudding, bacon, a potato scone, cooked tomato and HP sauce. All washed down with a banoffee milkshake and skinny fries, no less.
It was Thursday that brought the real excitement though. Having gone into town to shop, we ended up pondering what to have for lunch and landed on sushi, wanting something healthy after the burgers the night before. I have been to Wudon in the West End, and would definitely recommend it, but hadn't so far had Japanese in the city centre. We didn't want to end up in YO! Sushi so I did a bit of Googling, and as it happened we were just around the corner from Nippon Kitchen. I had heard some great things about it from friends, but so far never visited, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.
Inside it is lovely. In a corner building on West George Street, the restaurant is beautifully decorated with Japanese art and smells amazing, of wasabi and soy sauce. We were seated in at the window automatically and given the menus, both the lunchtime special menu and the regular one. The lunchtime menu looked great, and was very reasonably priced, but we ended up all getting bento boxes from the main menu, as we couldn't decide between getting mains or getting sushi, and this was the best of both worlds.
California Maki Roll
Me and Liam went for the seafood bento, and mum for the vegetarian. Each box came with a delicious miso soup to start with, one of my absolute favourites. It was light and flavourful and full of tender tofu and seaweed. Then came the sushi, three California Maki rolls each for me and Liam, which were delicious. Mum's came with tempura sweet potato maki rolls, a combination which might sound odd but was wonderful. Light, sweet and obviously freshly rolled. It might have been the best sushi I have ever had.
The boxes came after that. I love the cuteness of a bento box. Everything in it's little compartments makes me feel like I'm in 'My neighbour Totoro', it is like everything you could wish for if you got to design your own school dinner. My box was nothing short of beautiful; salmon teriyaki, panko breaded king prawns, crispy seafood gyoza and pickles. The salmon was sweet and sticky, which was contrasted perfectly with the tangy, sharp gyoza and all finished off with light and crispy panko prawns with a delicious dipping sauce.
The vegetarian box was equally impressive; vegetable tempura, edamame beans, crispy vegetable gyoza and Japanese curry sauce, the likes of which you get with a katsu curry. My mum is quite fussy with fried things, and she said the vegetable tempura was the lightest tempura she has ever had. The curry sauce was delicious and also packed with veg. I am always disappointed by curry sauces which are just sauces with no vegetables, so this was a big positive. Both boxes came with steamed rice, and so were plenty filling in that lovely way that comes from eating well made Asian food. You are full, but you feel like you have done your body good, and it won't sit in your stomach for the next three days.
Vegetarian Bento Box
Tempura sweet potato maki roll
Seafood Bento Box
Despite being comfortably full, we had to go for pudding. We shared green tea ice-cream and banana tempura with vanilla ice-cream. I don't think I will ever be able to convey with words just how amazing the banana was. It was like all your favourite desserts in one, somehow tasting like a pancake/doughnut/fresh banana at the same time, but still not stodgy in any way. Served in golden syrup, if I had died right there and then, I would have been happy. The green tea ice cream was also delicious, fragrant and sweet. We did take issue with the little beans it was served with though. I couldn't really fault the taste, but I think it will take me a few more visits to get my head around eating what feels like tiny baked beans with ice-cream.
I have to say, it was one of the best meals I have ever had, in Glasgow and beyond. I love Japanese food, but rarely eat it out beyond chain restaurants. However, I will definitely be going back to Nippon Kitchen as soon as I can. The lunch menu was great value for money, and whilst the bento boxes were perhaps a bit pricier that some of the other mains, it came with sushi and miso so it was definitely good value and a great way to sample a lot of different things. We left feeling full, healthy and very satisfied.
I know this has been a rave, but (aside from the bizarre beans) there was nothing I could fault. I loved the restaurant, the food and the service was excellent. If you're a fan of Japanese, I beg you to go and please invite me along with you. I can't wait to try everything else on the menu and just writing this has made me crave it so much I might need to go and get some sushi from Tesco, although I have a feeling that might just not cut it...