Monday, 31 January 2011

Toku - Restaurant Review


On January 30th, 2011, the fateful night of my 24th Birthday, my boyfriend, my best friend and I all went to London to try out the Japanese restaurant Toku.
As we entered, and commented that we had made a reservation, we were curteously brought to our table and handed the very fine-crafted wooden menus. Left to think for a while, the first thing we were struck by was the immense amount of choice.

Pages and pages of the finest sushi, sashimi, curries, noodles and tempura dishes, along with other Japanese delicacies. We found it quite difficult settling on just one dish, so we each ordered two. One hot meal and one cold one. We also ordered two starters to share between the three of us.

Between the three of us, we ordered:

- Chicken Katsu Curry
- Salmon Sashimi
- Avocado Roll
- King Prawn Tempura
- Beef Gyu Don (with raw egg)
- Beef Udon with Broth
- Salmon and Eel Nigiri
- Assorted Nigiri Plate

I need to talk about these exquisite dishes before I move onto the desserts. My dish was the Beef Udon with broth, which was a fantastically large bowl for the price it was. The noodles were delicious and soft, the beef was tender and had a really good texture, the thin slices drew in the flavour from the broth. I also tried the Beef Gyu Don, which was lovely with the raw egg, a combination that you don't expect to work, but surprisingly does.
The Chicken Katsu Curry had a real bite that only lasted a few seconds, so you got a smooth and luxurious curry and chicken mouthful, plus a hit of spice at the end. Absolutely fantastic.

Then we get onto the sushi and nigiri platters. I really cannot express in words how perfect these were. The avocado was perfectly ripe and soft, just the freshest ingredients were used, and it really shows. The salmon, THE SALMON. I could write a whole post dedicated to the soft, buttery, velvety taste that was the salmon. It tasted like it had literally just jumped out of the sea onto your plate. It melted in your mouth and the flavour lingered there long enough to make you want to pop another one in. Really, really unexpected.
The Eel was another very, very good choice. Eel, when I have eaten it in the past, never having a bad flavour, but often being too dry or too slimy. This eel was brilliant, it, like the salmon, melted when it hit your tongue and was not chewy or unsatisfying in any way. It was perfect. All of the food we ate, even though we were so full, we finished because it was just so delicious. The quality was outstanding.

Then we had a break and chatted for a bit, before ordering dessert. I ordered Green Tea Ice Cream, which was very refreshing and was not overpowering in the least.
This food, this excellent food, really made my birthday something to remember, and we will definitely be all heading back there again.
5 stars for quality.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Environmental Music Choices

Sweet beats, guitar riffs and smooth drum snares. We hear them from a very young age, we absorb them. We might make fun of our parents for listening to such out of date music, but soon, we learn that the music of their generation gives us ultimately, so much more pleasure than listening to music of our own.

The 90's pop revival and forging of r'n'b as a genre is something that my generation remembers vividly. Girl bands such as Spice Girls and Destinys Child, boy bands such as Boyzone, Take That and many more, became popular in the 90's with the re-imagination of what being a young person is. Making money from youth had always been in society's head, but never so much as the music marketing of the 1990's.

When I was a child, growing up and listening to a lot of these pop bands, I made
fun of my father for listening to the music of the 1980's, and my mother for being
a 1970's fan. As I got older, I slowly realized that I would much rather listen to
the amazing glam-rock of the 70's, and the pumping electro-pop of the 80's, then
the childish music of my younger years. Which is what makes the music of our
parents, and sometimes even our grandparents, so much more timeless.

The fact that they bring back so many more memories also influences us in future
choices. Electronic music is often a high choice of mine, as I listened to so much
of it when I was a child. The newer generation, and by this, I mean, perhaps people born after 1995, if their parents are younger, they are not going to get this exposure to fantastic older music. Does this mean in 10 years time, 90's is going to be counted as a great time for music?

Personally I don't know how it could be, there was so much generic, manufactured
and tightly controlled pop/r'n'b, and the development of rap and hip hop (Which
started in the late 80's but didn't really become popular until the 90's) that the
singer/songwriter and bands that had worked incredibly hard to get where they
were, started to die off. Not that I am saying all 90's music is bad, it definitely is not, but as a decade, it had less to offer than it's predecessors.

In the 2000's, we had more R'n'B, and much less pop. Endless girl bands trying to show us how badass they were, and boy bands that would never actually refer to
themselves as a 'boy band' - less they sound 'gay'. Now, in the 10's, we are
starting to bring back some of that fantastic versatility from the 70's and 80's,
with a bit of candy-pop from the 90's thrown in for good measure. We have
fantastic rock bands, pop bands and soloists that cover all different sub-genre's
of pop, hardcore/metal bands with actual meaningful lyrics, and alternative
artists that don't really fit into any one category, we are spoilt for choice.

The fact that these younger artists are taking influence from all over the world,
and indeed, all through the history of music, is such a fantastic thing. All of us
have different tastes, and when we find that band or soloist that really hits our
heart, we are made the better for it.