Culinary Causerie with Lesley williams

Japanese cuisine has mostly passed me by. I have had sashimi – thinly sliced raw fish but not necessarily in a Japanese restaurant. I’ve eaten carpaccio of tuna in Portugal and Spain, so essentially the same thing. The secret being in the quality and the freshness of the fish – it has to be straight from the sea.

The late Sarla Langdon loved Japanese cuisine and was a great fan of Nishimura in Brynymor Road. She adored soft shell crab and would go there specifically for this one dish. She was never afraid to try the exotic and the unknown.

The Bento box is a great place to start as it contains all the elements needed to make up a complete meal. Bento boxes are widely available throughout Asia; they are the traditional packed lunch that has been the staple of workers for many thousands of years. As we were eating this as a tasting meal for the family I added an assortment of additional dishes to suit us all. Dumplings or something similar make their appearance in so many different cuisines. The Chinese ones that are filled with savoury pork and steamed are a particular favourite of mine, and I now know that Japanese gyoza is delicious too. Our chicken ones were steamed and then fried on one side to give a slight crispy edge to the pastry – I should have ordered more of these as they were definitely one of the high spots of the meal.

Katsu is the Japanese method of breadcrumbing a piece of meat, fish or tofu and frying it until it is golden and crispy. Think along the lines of schnitzel or an escalope – we had chicken. Now this is where I get a bit confused – katsu is also the name of the spicy sauce that accompanies the chicken or whatever meat or fish you choose. Despite my confusion, I loved the combination of sauce and crispy chicken.

The quality of the meat and fish was outstanding, and I look forward to broadening my horizons and trying some of the more exotic dishes next time. Soft shell crab is high on my list.

Nishimura, 83 Brynymor Road, SA1 4JE

01792 653222 /

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