A few weeks ago I attended my first ever supper club. But it wasn’t just any supper club – this was Luiz Hara, aka the highly regarded author of the award-winning blog The London Foodie’s, supper club.
Luiz was born in Brazil to Japanese and Italian parents (a good start), and has since honed his passion for food by studying Japanese cuisine (in Tokyo no less) and becoming a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef, which has led him to regularly host sell-out supper clubs, teach cookery classes, and even publish his own cookbook, ‘Nikkei Cuisine – Japanese Food the South American Way’.
With such an impressive CV and with me being a regular reader of Luiz’s blog, I knew that his supper club would be something special. I was not mistaken.
Luiz offers both French and Nikkei (Japanese-South American fusion) supper clubs. As a lover of all things Asian, but specifically Japanese (I’m sure you’ve all had enough of me bleating on about Roka by now!), the choice for me was easy.
The supper club costs £45pp (+ tip) and operates a BYOB policy, for which you receive a welcome drink, canapés, and around 7 courses of delicious, high-quality food. All I can say is fear not – you get your money’s worth.
Zoe and I arrived promptly at 6:30pm to be warmly welcomed into a really rather beautiful home. Seriously Luiz, can you add interior design to your list of offerings? The décor was right up my street, with lots of personal titbits and souvenirs from his many travels on display, which is exactly how I like to decorate my home.
With a welcome G&T in hand, we relaxed and mingled with the other diners.
Shichimi flavoured popcorn was available in abundance for one to get a hint of the flavours to come.
Warm leek & tofu gyozas with homemade teriyaki sauce made a few rounds of the room. These had a delicious density to them, and I could easily have gobbled many more than the lone one I managed to get my mits on (note to self: strategically place self by door in future).
As it neared 7pm, Luiz began to ask guests to make their way downstairs and arrange themselves as per his seating plan – every detail is taken care of to provide for the most relaxing evening possible.
For supper club virgins unsure of the expectation for interaction with others, or who may feel intimidated/put off by the idea of essentially being ‘forced’ to make small talk with strangers, rest assured that good conversation is almost guaranteed at Luiz’s events and, far from being a burden, was actually a huge highlight of the overall evening for both Zoe and I (although, admittedly, we did massively luck out with our nearest diners – shout out to Jamil and Souraya, you best have put a ring on it by now!).
Back to the main event. The food.
Starter 1: “Salmon Sushi Two Ways”.
Or, to be precise, salmon & avocado with spring onions & soy sauce on shiso-flavoured sushi rice, with wasabi cream.
This dish was very good. The salmon had that melt-in-your mouth quality that one desires from sushi; the avocado was ripe & flavoursome; and the sushi rice the perfect consistency and temperature to complement the fish.
The star of the plate for me, however, was the wasabi cream. For regular readers/those who know me well, you’ll know that sauce is my thing, and I would gladly have consumed a gallon of this liquid gold right there & then.
Sadly (for me), my dislike of the onion family put a slight dampener on my overall enjoyment of this dish, which a number of those around me later declared to be their favourite.
Starter 2: “Mentaiko Spaghetti”.
MY FAVOURITE. Spaghetti (yep, you heard) in marinated spicy cod roe and black caviar sauce. Essentially an Asian carbonara. Or, should I say, easily one of the best things that I’ve ever eaten in my life. The al dente pasta, luxuriously creamy cod roe sauce and crunchy caviar made for an exceptional combination of textures, as well as flavours.
^ “Please Sir, may I have some more?”
Starter 3: “Nikkei Tuna Ceviche”.
Beautifully presented aji rocoto & grapefruit leche de tigre on palm hearts. The tuna was plentiful and the ceviche tangy and refreshing on the palette.
Starter 4: “Tempura”.
Each person received a battered King prawn, oyster mushroom and broccoli floret. Although enjoyable (c’mon, it’s battered!), I did think the batter a little limp and perhaps in need of greater seasoning. It didn’t quite meet the standards of Roka or Sushi Samba, but I take my hat off to Luiz for serving it en masse out of a residential kitchen.
So, that’s the starters done…
On to mains.
Main Course 1: “Sukiyaki”.
A cauldron filled with bubbling broth was placed on each table, which Luiz then proceeded to add black stout, shirataki noodles, tofu, mushrooms and greens to.
Oh, and let’s not be forgetting the pièce de résistance – thick slivers of healthy vibrant-red beef.
Conversation resumed whilst eyes remained glued on the stewing meat – not a moment past ‘raw’ and my hands were on that serving ladle.
For those ‘brave’ enough, eggs were handed out to be cracked into our individual serving bowls and mixed raw with the soupy mixture.
The egg added a gelatinous coating to each of the hot pot elements, which I personally really enjoyed.
Whilst those afraid of salmonella (the wise) were invited to crack their eggs into the hot pot and spoon them out once feared gloop had disappeared.
I had more than my fair share of this dish and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was light yet satisfying, and perfect for every season.
Main Course 2: “Nikkei Tai Gohan”.
A huge bowl of sticky rice boiled in some truly wonderful flavours (forgive me, I was far beyond inebriated by this point) was served with fillets of sea bream delicately resting atop.
Which Luiz then proceeded to add copious amounts (I love you Luiz) of a yuzu & green jalapeño dressing to.
Before massacring the presentation and allowing everyone to dig in.
This dish was somehow even better than the last and, alongside the Asian carbonara, was my favourite of the evening.
Everyone was given an accompanying bowl of miso soup with mandioquinha cream and flecks of crispy salt beef to dip their rice into but, personally, I found the meaty flavour overpowering and preferred enjoying the two separately.
The last of our savoury dishes well & truly demolished – not so much as a grain of rice was left in the sharing bowl – it was time for dessert. Clearly Luiz designed the menu with me in mind because what could possibly make me happier than a chocolate pud.
Dessert was flourless chocolate cake with armagnac prunes & matcha green tea ice-cream, served with sweet muscat wine.
My only criticism being that there wasn’t enough. Seriously, the cake was rich & creamy & chocolatey, and everything I want and more from a dessert.
It was the perfect end to an incredible FEAST.
I had an amazing time at Luiz’s supper club; I ate an enormous quantity of amazing food, met some wonderful people and shared a lot of laughs. What more could you possibly want from an evening?
All things considered, £45 is a complete steal for the experience that I had and I’d strongly encourage others to sign themselves up.
And, having tasted Luiz’s creations first-hand, I am also super excited to receive his cookbook in the next few days. (If that mentaiko spaghetti isn’t featured I swear to God I will cry.)