We’d spent the day learning about toilet slippers, how to bow and present a name card (two hands, writing facing the recipient) and why the Japanese love to talk about their blood group. After our one-day course on Japanese Etiquette at London’s City Lit, it seemed appropriate to round off our day with a Japanese meal.
“Hazuki”:http://www.hazukilondon.co.uk/index.html was nearby, on the edge of Covent Garden and having booked a table for 5.30pm, we discovered we needn’t have, as on arrival the restaurant was empty. We decided to practise our newly found skills so bowed with a hesitant ‘kon’nichiwa’. Our greeting wasn’t reciprocated by the tall, well built Mediterranean looking waiter, who we later discovered was Italian and lived in Kent. We also established that the chef was Chinese. So much for an authentic Japanese experience!
However, our waiter was knowledgeable and having said we’d like to try a variety of dishes, he quickly reeled off at least seven starters for the five of us. Fearing he was trying to bump up the cost of our meal, we asked him to take it more slowly so we could check the price of each dish as they varied between £4 and £12. We decided on five of the cheaper dishes: broccoli with sesame and miso sauce, yakitori (chicken skewers), ninniku nome ika (pan fried squid with garlic sprouts), gyoza (pan fried dumplings) and maguro sashimi salad (like a tuna carpaccio). They were all very different and absolutely delicious.
We each chose a main and again tried all the dishes: tempura moriawase (deep fried prawns and vegetables in a light batter), tori (chicken) teriyaki, buta shyougayaki (pan fried pork belly with soy sauce and ginger) and a rather strange option on a Japanese menu, grilled Yorkshire beef. But as four of the five of us, were Yorkshire born and bred, it was a must and was the star of the show with thick cut strips of succulent rare beef in a sizzling teriyaki sauce with salad leaves. My choice of a noodle soup with chicken, was slightly more difficult to share but we managed by passing the bowl around and slurping, which we’d learned was perfectly acceptable. We decided that the chopsticks were more Chinese than Japanese (too long and with a blunt, rather than pointy end) but otherwise, we felt we’d had some interesting dishes despite the provenance of the chef.
A bottle of Red Doura was £20 and a South African Chenin Blanc £19.
The only pudding available was ice-cream so we paid our bill (£142.50) and headed home wondering whether we’d find Yorkshire beef on our Japanese tour next year.