Day 26: A Japanese Veganniversary

Today was our 6th month anniversary… but that’s not an excuse to break our Veganuary or Dry January pledges! As we couldn’t toast the occasion with a glass of fizz, we wanted our dinner to be something special… and so it was that Si suggested we should go to Itadaki Zen, a vegan Japanese restaurant near Kings Cross. Certainly different, I thought!

They do a 4-course set menu, each portion of which is beautiful but light and not too big – at no point do you worry about being too full to enjoy the next offering – and not too expensive for a special treat either, at £24 per person.

wp-1517485703155.jpgYou start with three vegetable dishes – these vary from day to day, I understand, but ours included a little dish of beautifully seasoned green beans; a dish of almost fermented vegetables that had the loveliest tangy savoury flavours (‘stir fry ingredients’, Si called them, as they included lots of beansprouts, carrot, and cabbage); and a dish of very soft pale vegetables and tofu. Together they were a delicious appetiser – but, nommers that we are, we also ordered a side of seaweed and one of peanuts to have with them.

The seaweed was fab – chewy and salty and certainly not slimy or fishy – while the peanuts were a complete surprise: they were soft, as if they had been soaked for a long time. Maybe in bean curd, we guessed from the flavour. Very tasty, and very different!
Next we had a sushi course… no raw fish required! Just a little plate with bars of sushi rice topped with a variety of delights, tied on with a little seaweed ribbon and accompanied by a saucer of soy sauce. The toppings included a soft strip of tofu, a slice of avocado topped with red onion, a lovely chewy piece of mushroom, some fresh, juicy strips of yellow pepper, a pink thinly sliced vegetable that Simon thinks might be turnip, and then a little nori seaweed nest filled with tiny cress-like enoki mushrooms. Such a range of flavours and textures! Absolutely beautiful…and accompanied with a ferociously hot blob of bright green wasabi. Si loved it… I felt like steam was coming out of my mouth!

Our main course was served in a beautiful bento box, and included a couple of beautifully light freshly fried vegetable fritters  (Si says I have to call them kakiage tempura, not fritters – potato potahto, I say…),   a little salad with a vinegary peanutty dressing, a small bowl of clear soup, and a portion of thick noodles. I very much enjoyed mixing these last two together, though my slightly clumsy chopstick skills meant that I made a little bit of a mess…

How to describe our desserts… they were simply amazing. Si had a sesame pudding, which had the texture of creme caramel and a fabulous savoury nutty flavour – while my mango cheesecake was socks-knocked-off delicious. The ‘cheesecake’ itself had a slightly grainy texture, but otherwise you would never guess that it was anything out of the ordinary ingredientswise – and the flavour was stunning.

It was a beautiful dinner, and a wonderful way to mark our anniversary – the food was so good that we did not feel at all deprived that we were toasting the occasion with lemonade and fizzy water! 😉

Speaking of drinks – before dinner we popped to the pub (as we’d made a late-ish reservation at the restaurant in case I’d got stuck at work), and sampled another alcohol-free beer, this time by Bitberger. It was lovely – biscuity and not too gassy, my favourite so far!

It all went a bit pear-shaped, though, when I went up to get another round in… apparently they were all out of Bitberger, and when I asked for a different alcohol-free beer I was presented with two Peronis. I was a bit perturbed when the round came to more than a tenner – we are now very accustomed to our sub-£5 rounds! – and when I looked at the bottle, sure enough, it was gluten free, but not alcohol-free. Boo and hiss. They didn’t have any other non-alcoholic beers in stock, so a quick refund later and we were off to a second pub for a couple of Becks Blue. No harm done, but I’m astonished that the first pub hadn’t kept themselves better stocked, especially in January when so many people are probably off the booze!

Today I ate/drank…

  • Tea with almond milk
  • Three onion bhajis and five stuffed vine leaves from M&S (feeling a bit desperate for lunch options – the high street near my work is not hugely varied for vegans…)
  • Much water
  • Alcohol-free Bitberger
  • Becks Blue
  • Amazing vegan Japanese feast
  • Cloudy lemonade

3 thoughts on “Day 26: A Japanese Veganniversary”

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