(Picture: London Restaurant Festival)
For foodies looking for their next adventure in the capital, the London Restaurant Festival is starting next week and yesterday, Grazia was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of one of the nights they've got lined up. On October 7th, Jonathan Ross will host Eat Film at BAFTA 195 Piccadilly. This year, they're showing one of Japanese aficionado Jonathan's favourite films Spirited Away, and he's curated a three course meal to go alongside it. We went down for a preview tasting and from traditional hirata buns to Cornish hake and ginger cake, it's not one to be missed. We caught up with the Jonathan over lunch to talk about his foodie adventures in the land of the rising sun.
His Weirdest Meal
"I think the weirdest thing I had was a blowfish. The area near the female genitalia of blowfish is so toxic it could kill you. But the sushi chef knows what he’s doing. They cut quite close to the area that has toxins in it, so your lips tingle when you eat it; it anesthetizes your lips, but it’s delicious. I had a blowfish feast, so every course was blowfish, so I had the blowfish soup with blowfish testicles in it, then I had deep fried blowfish skeleton, then I had some blowfish risotto, then we had blowfish sashimi and at the end, the desert was a strawberry. One strawberry, it was a very lovely strawberry, it was a big strawberry, but it was one strawberry. I also ate a live cricket once, it was weird, you can feel it moving in your mouth and you have to kill it with your teeth.
The Meal He Wasn't Sure About
"The only one thing we all had in Japan that made us think twice about eating it (and I’ve eaten some weird stuff) was a chicken sashimi; so essentially raw chicken. Of course in the West we associate uncooked chicken with all sorts of bad things, but if it’s a good quality apparently it’s the same as any other uncooked meat, but none of us really wanted to eat it! We all ate it because we were very polite and we were all fine afterwards."
The Problem With Getting Experimental At Home
"I almost killed my wife trying to cook her Japanese food at home once. I had some eel, she loves eel, and I don't know if it had gone off, or I cooked it wrong, but it wasn’t good and she was quite sick, so I stopped cooking more adventurous Japanese food just in case. But I used to make the proper stuff."
Japanese Food In London
"It is well represented, but at the same time the problem is that most people’s exposure to it is via fast food, and it isn’t good enough. If you get a bowl of miso soup at one of these places 9 times out of 10 you won’t be proper miso soup. I said to a girl once, "I’m really sorry but you've just given me hot water." And she went, "Oh I’ve never drunk it [miso soup] so I don’t know what its meant to look like!"
There Are Some Amazing Places Though
"I love Bone Daddies, even though there’s no veggie option for my daughter. I Love Abeno for okonomiyaki (a Japanese style pizza). You choose the ingredients, so you can have cheese, squid and bacon, and then when they’re cooked they fry them and turn them over, and then they squirt mayo and bbq sauce on top. There’s a place near me in Golders Green which is really good, and it feels very traditional. It’s not a relaxed outing, it’s more functional. You go in, get your food, get shouted at and leave. Very traditional."
It's Not All About Japanese Food
"I can cook a good steak. It's all about getting the pan hot enough and then leaving it to stand after, which I think a lot of people forget to do. I can also do a mean poached egg."
Jonathan Ross is curating Eat Film at the London Restaurant Festival at BAFTA 195 Piccadilly on October 7th. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.