There is the most incredible Japanese restaurant about 200m from our front door called ‘Don2’. Over the past five months it has become a regular eating place of ours. It is partly due to the fact that the food served up is absolutely delicious. Simple and clean Japanese food at it’s best. There are only a few items on the menu, but each dish is executed perfectly, served simply but with much thought.
The other reason for our frequent visits is the result of the warmth and kindness displayed by the ever-smiling owner and chef, Hiro. Every time we step into Don2 we are greeted with a sincere welcome and earnest smile by this lovely Japanese man. Hiro is very softly spoken, and everything he does in his restaurant is done with great care and a big smile.
To sum it up: Don2 = Tasty Japanese food prepared by the kindest chef in Fulham!
One of our favourite dishes here is the ‘Gyu Soba’- delicious soba noodles served in the most delicious broth and topped with finely shredded beef, kamaboko (Japanese fish cake) and finely sliced spring onions. Absolutely delicious.
As we started packing boxes today, preparing to depart our beloved Fulham for pretty, tree lined Didsbury, just outside Manchester, I began to fret at the thought of not being able to get my soba noodle soup fix. Hiro’s broth is just so delicious and I was keen to try and replicate it.
After a bit of research I discovered a few recipes for ‘Toshikoshi Soba’ or ‘Japanese New Year Soba’. After reading through the ingredients and looking through some pictures I realised that this may very well be something similar to what Hiro has been serving us at his cosy café. A delicious brothy soup with soba noodles. A very simple but tasty dish.
Now, traditionally these noodles should be eaten on New Year's Eve, hence their name, but I figured that seeing as we are going through quite a change ourselves with our move up North and Kristian’s new job, that perhaps they would kind of be appropriate. That’s the excuse I’m using anyway.
We embarked on a journey to a Japanese grocery store/café that I wished we had have discovered sooner. ‘Japan Centre’ is located in the ridiculously overcrowded and tourist laden area of Piccadilly Circus. It is very well hidden which is one of the reasons that we have not noticed it sooner.
As soon as we stepped through the doors, I was in Japanese foodie heaven. Not only do they sell some delicious looking sushi, gyoza and more, but the place is stocked with everything you need to make your own Japanese feast at home. I highly recommended a visit if you are a lover of Japanese food and are ever down that way. It would make the perfect pre-theatre lunch or dinner.
But I digress. Back to the kitchen…
I didn’t realise just how simple and straightforward it is to make a delicious and healthy Japanese broth. Dashi, mirin and soy sauce- three ingredient heaven. I’m kicking myself for not having made this dish so much sooner!
I am beyond elated to report that it turned out to be so very close to Hiro’s dream broth. I can now leave Fulham without the fear of going without my Japanese soba noodles. As the days get colder here in the UK, I feel content knowing that I will still be able to satiate my craving for Japanese soba noodle soup, even if it is without the kindest chef in Fulham.
6g Dashi Stock Powder
1 teaspoon sugar
80ml soy sauce
150g soba noodles (make sure they are 100% buckwheat, if you are gluten free)
1 spring onion, finely sliced
A few slices of Kamaboko (optional)
Handful spinach, stems removed (optional)
In a medium pan, stir together the Dashi stock and water. Place on a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add the mirin and simmer for a few more minutes.
Next add the sugar and allow it to dissolve before adding the soy sauce. Take the broth off the heat while you prepare the noodles.
To cook the soba noodles, bring a medium pot of water to the boil. Add the noodles and stir gently with a fork so they separate. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook noodles, stirring occasionally, for five minutes, until they are cooked through.
Once cooked, drain the noodles well and immediately rinse in cold water to remove excess starch. This rinse ensures they stay slightly firmer and keep their shape.
Divide the noodles evenly amongst two deep bowls. If using spinach, place on top of the noodles. Cover with the broth and top with the spring onions, kamaboko and nori (if using).
Recipe inspired by Hiro from Don2 (don2cafe.com) and adapted slightly from 'japancentre.com'