Colchester is a rapidly growing town with new independent businesses popping up everywhere. Although some people may moan about the amount of new food/ drink places opening up in the town, I think it’s always nice to see small businesses following their food dreams and not giving up. Colchester is a place that (mostly) welcomes new ventures and as we approach the festive season, people will be on the look out for places to have their Christmas parties, pit stops in between shopping or just somewhere to go for a date night. Last week Indre (from Colchester Streets) and I went to the newest restaurant in town Tokyo Sizzle.
Indre had been the previous week to take some AMAZING photographs for them, but kindly invited us back to try some more dishes. The owners, Norman and Suman, are business partners and decided to invest into Tokyo Sizzle after finding a gap in the Colchester food market. They’re both from food/ restaurant backgrounds – Norman is the chef and Suman runs the day to day operation. It is a partnership that is equal and with a shared ethos. Something that I’m sure many business partners fail to agree on! Initially, the pair wanted the business to be traditional Japanese street food but after finding a premises, wanted to adapt the concept slightly so their menu would be ideal for either a fast meal, or for an enjoyable sit down one. They serve traditional teppanyaki melas which are served on sizzling plates, keeping the food hot. Currently, there are around 35 items on the menu and Norman and Suman are looking to change it every 3 months or so to keep things fresh and also to ensure their customers are getting what they want.
When we went on Thursday night, I didn’t really know what to expect. As Norman and Human pointed out, there’s not a traditional Japanese restaurant in the area, the nearest one probably being London. I have had sushi before, but eating Japanese cuisine was actually a new experience for me. Luckily, Indre had already sampled a few of the dishes and Suman pointed us in the right direction of what would be good to try for the first time. We decided to share some side plates – which are great to have as a quick snack too – and then we chose our own mains.
For our starters, we HAD to go for the chicken gyoza’s, vegetable gyoza’s, and the seaweed salad. The gyoza’s came with a sticky sauce that was out of this world! If we weren’t in a restaurant, I’m pretty sure both of us would have licked the bowl cleaned! Suman told us it’s one of their secret recipes so Indre and I have nicknamed it the ‘magic sauce’. But the biggest surprise for us was the seaweed salad. We have both only ever had seaweed from a Chinese restaurant which is obviously crispy, but this was a totally different experience, and in a really good way. The salad is served cold, but it’s so refreshing, light and tasty. The forefront flavour is sesame and soy, there’s also some carrot in there for added texture. I would definitely order it again – it’s something I would just eat for lunch on its own if I had a slightly larger portion. It was truly delicious and totally unexpected.
Now, onto the mains. We had a harder time choosing these as everything sounded so good! Indre went for the spicy kimchi beef and I had the King Prawn katsu curry. When they arrived, we couldn’t wait to tuck in and they were so yummy! The katsu gravy was rich, silky and had a tiny amount of spice. The curry was served on a bed of sticky rice, which was great to soak up the sauce! I also tried Indre’s and I have to say, it was one of the tastiest things I’ve eaten in a long time. So much so, that I ordered one to takeaway with me and I had it for my lunch on Friday at work! The beef was sensational, it was so tender and the spiciness of the sauce really hit the spot, and it worked so well with the kimchi, which is like a spicy, pickled cabbage. Guys, if you visit there soon, you simply must try one of the spicy kimchi dishes.
For dessert, Suman recommended we try the Japanese version of strawberry cheesecake and also some traditional Japanese pancakes – dorayaki. I must admit, the pancakes weren’t too my liking, but we both enjoyed the cheesecakes! The texture is not what you expect at all, and maybe it’s just because I’m not used to it that I didn’t enjoy it!
Ultimately, it was an amazing meal and I think it speaks volume when you order extra food for the next day because it’s so bloody tasty! I’m looking forward to going back and trying some of the new items. I would definitely encourage the people of Colchester and surrounding areas to try them out and give your money to them, rather than the big chains. Their prices are more than reasonable, and they’re also on Just Eat and Deliveroo!