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Simple dishes that are deliciously indulgent but don’t taste like ‘dirty’ food, offering a contemporary twist on Japanese comfort meals that make you feel good after eating.
The pop-up restaurant is quickly getting a name for itself which comes as no surprise. We went to eat whilst they were stationed at The Robin Hood pub on St Michaels Hill in Bristol, a cosy and casual establishment with all the atmosphere of a small dimly lit, but welcoming pub.
The aim of Tsukemono (meaning pickled things in Japanese) is to show a “world of Japanese street food beyond sushi and ramen”. Simple dishes that are deliciously indulgent but don’t taste like ‘dirty’ food, offering a contemporary twist on Japanese comfort meals that make you feel good after eating.
From the menu, we decided to try:
Japanese fried chicken served over rice with dashi sauce, topped with wasabi mayo and shredded seaweed.
JAPANESE POUTINE £6
Furikake fries topped with cheese, okonomi sauce, mayo, spring onions and bonito flakes.
A savoury cabbage pancake with pulled pork, okonomi sauce, Japanese mayo, bonito flakes and ao-nori (seaweed).
It’s not often that I think about a meal much after I’ve eaten it, but I have since, thought heavily about their food and it makes me water at the mouth. The fried chicken is something of dreams and I do not say this lightly, having tried fried chicken from all over the world, theirs is a very strong contender. A perfectly crispy (and not at all greasy) outer with a warm and tender inside, the wasabi mayo accompanied it well with the right amount of heat, and the dashi sauce kept the rice underneath warm, moist and slightly sticky. Shredded seaweed is always a favourite of mine, it makes for a distinct garnish, that’s equally as good eaten on its own.
I had heard from multiple sources about their infamous Okonomiyaki, a wonderfully dough-y, cabbage-y thing, that’s round like a pancake but thick like a pizza. An interesting concept that has to be tasted to be believed. They are hugely popular, I noticed as most people in the pub had ordered one. It came already cut into bite sized chunks which was an added bonus. I’m not a huge fan of cabbage but I think there’s something special about the use of them in Asian dishes, the ability to make what could be bland into a flavourful delight involves care and skill. It was savoury, but the dough had a sweeter element to it, which combined with the pulled pork, Japanese mayo and bonito flakes made for a delicious fusion of taste and texture.
The Japanese poutine was comfort food at its finest. Topped with dollops of cheese, wasabi mayo, bonito flakes, and spring onions, the fries were mastered how they should be; crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, the skins not short of seasoning, which can often be the case for many eateries. My only qualm is that I would have liked more of the okonomi sauce as it provides the nicest touch to the dish and of course, gravy/sauce is the staple element of poutine.
Tsukemono is a pop-up restaurant destined for longevity and success. The changing locations make its concept all the more exciting and the food will truly have you coming back for more, and more… and more. This week marks their penultimate week at The Robin Hood before they head to Bristol Spirit to try their hand at more restaurant-style dining.
What can be said for sure is that everybody needs to eat here. I can guarantee that there is something to suit all taste buds and budgets. A lot of Japanese restaurants in the city tend to be on the higher price range, but dishes at Tsukemono are decently priced, with most of their mains at £7 or less. Massive thumbs up to these guys, their genuine passion for what they do is obvious in the quality food that they make. They’re doing it right!