From Tokyo to Truro: new Japanese supper club pop-up
Truro has more than enough to satisfy the average foodie, with established restaurants, eateries and a popular pop-up street food festival circuit – you really are spoilt for choice. But those of you who, like me, yearn for something unique and a little exotic in the region, will love the fact that Truro can now add authentic Japanese cuisine to its list of virtues.
Enter Naoko Kashiwagia – Japanese super chef! Naoko started her own cooking classes from her home kitchen in Tokyo around 2012.
Lucky for us, she has now moved to little old Truro and continues to teach real Japanese home style cooking and children’s baking. And – ta dahhh- she is hosting supper clubs – for those of us too lazy to make our own sushi. The first supper club was in Naoko’s Kitchen. I missed out on that one so will skim over that part. This week though I managed to get tickets (yay for me) and Mr MC and I took our hungry tummies along to Hooked in Truro where Kaoko was hosting a Valentine’s day meal. Price for the 3 courses with plum wine was £30 per head.
We were relative newbies. Mr MC was a (semi) regular at Yo Sushi in the city. My previous experience extended to the snack sushi available in the M&S foodhall in Marylebone station and the umami paste stocked by my local Waitrose. But where new taste sensations are involved, show me the sushi!
We were greeted with a glass of plum wine – way more alchololic than your regular wine, its made with distilled liquor soaked with plums. Honestly, it was quite strong, with a similar flavour to desert wine, not my bag, so when Mr MC wasn’t looking, I tipped the remainder of mine into his glass which made him very happy indeed.
The menu: a sushi deli platter, followed by okonomi yaki and miso, then mochi for dessert.
The Sushi platter was amazing – pickled lotus root, vegetable and tuna sushirolls, kimpira and a heart shaped smoked salmon sushi cake.
Literally “grilled as you like,” okonomi yaki is Japanese comfort food at its best. It’s a savoury packed pancake (very substantial – more like an omlet) filled with any number of things – in this case Naoko used cabbage, courgette, cheese and shrimp, and topped with soy sauce. Garnished with pickled ginger.
Previously my only experience of miso was of the wet dog flavoured supermarket sachets. I wasn’t overly keen on wet dog flavoured things so was a tad trepidous, but Kaoko’s miso soup was a million miles away: definitely delicious, served in a cute bowl, with complex flavours and a light colour which was tasty.
Desert was Mochi – a pounded rice flour paste moulded into little balls,typically stuffed with a sweet red bean paste. The texture was a new experience – soft gelly chewy but good. Kaoko used white chocolate and cream in hers dusted with powdered green tea.
20 people dined together, set out in one long friendly supper club style (think Waggamamas). There was a real buzz – everyone was excited to be there and interested to get to know one another. People had heard about Kaoko either because they had gone to the previous supper-club, via the Hooked email list or the magic of social media. Guests were from all over Cornwall – our lovely companions directly opposite from just half a mile down the road; the couple from Launceston at the end of the table.
Front of house was run by Hooked staff, with Kaoko introducing the courses and spending time with her guests. She’s a great host – very warm and likeable. Hooked is a great place to visit in its own right, Mr MC and I popped in there for a quick tapas lunch a few weeks back (prompt, tasty and super sensibly priced). The benefit of holding it at Hooked – other than the convenience of town centre location and lovely staff – was that booze could be bought separately, rather than BYO. Ok if you insist. Mr MC is the designated driver after all.
Naoko has two events scheduled for March. I’m rallying friends and crossing my fingers that there are tickets left for these – a ‘Japan weekend’ at Roselidden Farm in Helston and a ramen and gyoza night at her kitchen in Truro. Places book up faster than a Westlife reunion tour (maybe), so you’ll need to book now if you want to make sure you’re in. If you blink and miss out you can subscribe to her waiting list. Just don’t blame me if its a longggggg one.