On our second evening in London we had a Japanese feast at Itadaki Zen, a vegan sushi restaurant. I had been looking forward to it immensely. Japanese cuisine has always somewhat passed me by: I wrote sushi off as being fishy, and found vegetarian food difficult to come by when I actually went to Tokyo (just poor preparation on my part, I suspect now). Now I’m trying to get into it a bit more, with the help of vegan-friendly places like this and Moshimo in Brighton. The menu was a bit nonsensical to me, but I opted for the tempura set menu -who can turn down tempura, after all? It got off to a promising start with this plate of assorted nibbles:
Followed by the sushi pictured at the top of the page. The one on the left, topped with a piece of deep-fried seaweed, was absolutely spectacular. The tempura itself also exceeded expectations. The dark coloured deep-fried seaweed was beautiful, but the crispy vegetables, heavy on the onions, were the real stand out.
My companions both opted for the chapche set, which included a vegetabley noodle dish, miso soup, spring rolls with more of a tofu than vegetable filling, and some tasty sushi rolls:
All of us decided to go for the irresistibly named zen cakes for dessert. They are made without sugar, so were not too sweet, which was quite nice after a big meal. They are summed up as scones with a slightly crispy edge, which may sound like it’s a bad thing, but that’s not the case at all.
After so much good food, a lengthy evening walk was required. As someone who usually gets around London on the underground, it was a real treat to explore on foot and see some of the spectacular buildings, old and new.
Sunday was yet another hot day when we needed plenty of fuel for our adventures. A trip to London wouldn’t be complete without a trip to my baking idol, Ms Cupcake, in her Brixton home. The Ferrero Rocher cake of hers that I had at Brighton VegFest remains very near the top of my cake league table, so I was obviously very excited about giving another one a go. This time we split the Oreo and Bakewell cakes, and both of them were tasty and moist and absolutely heaped with icing. Well worth a visit! It was also my first ever trip to Brixton, and I loved it – there was just so much going on. After our cakes, we went along to an art fair spreading along a nearby street. There were some excellent paintings, if only everything weren’t so expensive.
Finally, before jumping on our train home, we popped over to the Boiler House market, which promised several vegan options. There were at least three stands which proclaimed themselves vegan-friendly, and a few others where we enquired about spring rolls and dumplings and got mixed responses, for example:
Me: Do you use egg in the batter?
Market People: Yes.
Me: Oh, nevermind. (Turn away)
Market People: I mean, no! No egg!
So we played it safe and stuck with places that brandished an actual “vegan” sign. We went for these colourful, hearty, amazing Ethiopian plates of food.
Last time I was in London I ate Ethiopian as well, though it’s not something we see much of in Manchester. But it’s so tasty, I am determined to track some down.
Bellies heavier, wallets lighter, we made our way back to the north feeling well fed, thoroughly entertained, and pretty exhausted. It was a marvellous adventure and I shall start saving some pennies for the next one.