Saturday, 27 June 2015

Food: Tajima-Tei Japanese restaurant, Leather Lane, EC1

Occupying the ground floor of an unassuming office block on Leather Lane, Tajima Tei should be regarded as an institution on the London dining scene. For over 10 years, it has quietly and thoughtfully turned out some of the best Japanese food I've ever had.
Clockwise L-R - Sashimi, Sushi, Marinated mackerel, Deep Fried Squid, Tempura, Black Cod
I mean, look at this. A bento box fit for kings. We also had our standard favourites. The first being the Agedashi Tofu, four pillow like cubes of tofu, tempura crisp shell, soaking up the goodness of the soy, mirin and radish broth. The second, Tonkatsu, is a panko-crumb coated pork schnitzel served with tonkatsu sauce (a Japanese bbq sauce, if you will), a squizz of American mustard, potato salad and Japanese coleslaw on the side.

Tajima-Tei is a family run business, as over the years, I've seen the same staff behind the sushi counter and in service, providing a reassuring calm that in the fast pace of the London dining scene, there are some oldies but goodies which ought to be treasured.

Tajima Tei: Unit 1, Doorington House, 9-15 Leather Lane, EC1N 7ST. Open Monday to Friday only, lunch and dinner.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Music: Sofar Sounds

I first came across the founder of Sofar Sounds, Rafe Offer, when he spoke at a recent Lost Lectures event. Rafe's inspiring talk about setting up his own live music community led me to a recent gig held at the Foxcroft and Ginger cafe in Whitechapel.

Rafe was sick of going to gigs where the music served only as a feeble backdrop to the crowds of people jostling their way to get to the bar, talking loudly to their friends, and using mobile phones. His idea was simple: bring together artists, musicians and music lovers. Find a host who will provide a space (venues so far have included private homes, warehouses, restaurants, galleries), and let the music speak for itself.

Rafe's initial brainwave has now spread to over 100 cities and towns across the world. 

Solar Sounds in Whitechapel, Foxcroft & Ginger
It was strangely liberating to put away the iPhone that is normally welded to my hand and just sit back and enjoy the music.  

The exact location of the gig is kept under wraps until shortly before the date. Drinks are BYO.  The line-up is a surprise, but when we went, it turned out to be a very happy one.  We were treated to an eclectic set list comprising of the Bloom TwinsCharlotte Carpenter, Osca, and spoken word poet, Suli Breaks (who also happened to be the resident artist at Foxcroft & Ginger). It might sound cheesy but there was genuinely, a really happy vibe in the room that night. 

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Coffee - Peanut Vendor, Coffee Project - Bow

It's Field Day Saturday morning and I can hear the sound checks from my balcony. The sun is shining and London is coming out to play. Finally, maybe it's the start of summer. Something else is starting in my neighbourhood - the opening of the Coffee Project, which is housed within the relatively new furniture store, the Peanut Vendor.

The shiny new coffee machine pumps out coffee from Alchemy. Teas come from Good and Proper Tea. Pastries and cakes come from local makers Yeast Bakery and Victoria Yum. All very much up to scratch.

As my aunt says, "Does your camera get to eat first before I do?" So a little bite first for me.
The Coffee Project germinated from a successful Kickstarter campaign, so along with many other local residents who supported the project, I look forward to coming back again to hang out, read the paper, and watch the dog walkers, children and cyclists amble past on their way to Victoria Park.

As for the Peanut Vendor furniture section, as you can see they sell mainly vintage and mid-century furniture.  I've stuck my nose into the store on a number of occasions and it seems like they re-stock pretty regularly. They also have some interesting gifts (charcoal soap, anyone?) and stationery.

The owners, Becky and Barny, have done really well with utilising the large, light filled space in a way that makes both the shop and coffee bar appear relaxed and inviting.

The Peanut Vendor and the Coffee Project is at: 6 Gunmakers Lane, Gunmakers Wharf, Bow, E3 5GG, on the south side of Victoria Park, close to the Gunmakers Gate entrance.