Kanada-Ya, Panton Street

After visiting Japan my opinion and knowledge of the country’s cuisine has radically altered. I sampled ramen, tempura, yakitori, bento, kaiseke and other specialties, indicating just how varied Japanese dishes can be… it is so much more than just sushi. My visit to Kanada-Ya brought back memories of my recent travels, from the welcoming chants as I entered the restaurant to the flavoursome rich broths I happily consumed.

Kanada-Ya Panton Street is the second branch of this popular casual Japanese eatery. Fans were delighted to discover that this Soho venue seats up to 56 diners and takes booking for groups of six or more, unlike the first Kanada-Ya where there are often tiresome queues outside. The boutique ramen restaurant feels casual and makeshift inside with basic wooden tables and simple lighting… all attention here is on the food.

The menu features a range of Japanese classics, but the ramen takes centre stage. I tried their Original Ramen (18-hour pork bone broth, served with pork belly chashu, wood ear fungus, seaweed and fresh spring onion) a comforting and flavoursome bowl of food. The broth has a meaty intensity and the toppings tasted fresh and vibrant. Guests are invited to choose their noodle consistency from extra firm, firm, regular or soft, though I think its best to take the waiters recommendation on this. For a lighter ramen, nice for lunch, opt for the Chicken-Paitan (corn fed chicken bone broth, secret sauce, chashu pork collar and shredded leek). A side order of Hanjuku egg completes the dish.

From the rest of the menu I really enjoyed the light and crispy Karaage Japanese fried chicken with house mayonnaise, and the strangely enticing Truffle Edamame. For dessert Kanada-Ya offer a strikingly green Matcha Soft Serve, a favourite in Japan, but definitely an acquiried taste here in England.

A meal at Kanada-Ya will cost you around £15-20 a head, and I can honestly say this little eatery offers the best ramen I’ve tasted outside of Japan.

More information about Kanada-Ya here.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: A Time And A Place… For Everything

time and a place

Last Tuesday evening I found myself struggling up a packed staircase to a busy selection of rooms at the top of L’Escargot, one of the most lavish and well known restaurants in Soho, to spy a selection of photos depicting eccentrics, transvestites and day-to-day scenes from this storied area of London. The event was the opening of A Time and a Place… For Everything, an exhibition which showcases three amateur photographers who have each, in their own way, been capturing Soho life for the last 40 plus years.

Robert Stallard’s photographs date from the 1970s and depict local Soho streets and daily life in the area, aiming to show its unique character attempting to survive development. This aim is just as relevant now as when the photographs were originally taken.

Strangeways shows a series of photos dating from 2013 onwards, the work focuses on the human condition and his graphic images are unflinching in the face of taboo providing a raw and voyeuristic look at the subjects.

Damien Frost’s photographs have a more measured and posed look to them. They are taken from his ‘A Photo a Day’ series, capturing a unique sitter in a portrait daily over the period of one year. The works in the exhibition show a range of characters on the fringes of mainstream society, appearing strong and dignified in their chosen environment, Soho.

The images from all three photographers appear completely at home on the walls of L’Escargot, which is a testament to their ability to capture the ‘spirit of Soho’, as well as to the curator’s clever selection. At first, I was not sure which photographs were included in the show and which were on permanent display. Combined with a buzzing crowd of people, cabaret-style entertainment, and a tailored array of cocktails, the event created what I thought to be an authentic Soho experience. I did wonder how well the photographs would fair in a less appropriate environment, however. I found some of Stallard’s images lacking in compositional interest and Strangeways relies very heavily on shock tactics, creating some photographs that lack depth in my opinion.

My final thoughts on the event and the exhibition are mainly positive, however. The space and the photographs work well together and the opening fizzed with Soho spirit, resulting in a very enjoyable evening.

Written by a Thoroughly Modern Man, Gabriel Kenny-Ryder.

The Lounge, Soho

lounge 5

You can do just about anything in Soho. A few weeks ago I went for a hair makeover at The Lounge, a cool contemporary salon hidden away just behind the district’s seediest sex shops. The salon was opened by celebrated hairdresser Joe Mills, who boldly opened his business in one of the less fashionable streets and made it into a destination. More recently he opened up a barber shop called Joe and Co. which has also garnered rave reviews. The Lounge is popular with creatives, celebrities and locals alike and there is always a buzz about the place.

After a long week at work I was delighted to turn up at the door on a Friday afternoon. I slumped into one of the comfortable leather seats and let the capable staff take charge of my pampering. The pared down decor seemed to help me clear my mind and really relax into the experience. Within moments a stack of gossip magazines were placed at my disposal and a chilled glass of fizz was handed to me. It was the perfect start to the weekend. Colour expert, Tiffany, was in charge of my new hair shade. She talked me through a few ideas and we settled on natural darker roots, with blonde singed ends and got to work immediately. Very importantly she checked the time I had available before starting on the elaborate process. She was wonderfully thoughtful and thorough. The products used by The Lounge are natural and organic wherever possible and this comes through in the final result which they ensure is always subtle and real-looking.

Then came my favourite part. A massage chair, my feet up and my hair washed with the most delicious products. The Lounge Soho uses the luxury Italian range of hair products, Davines. The collection has recently been rebranded with attractive minimalist packaging, and now it seems to be in every top salon in town. My hair was treated to an intensive moisturising mask then a fabulously indulgent scalp massage, which almost sent me to sleep. The hair routine was completed with a revitalising wash and condition.

After the colour was checked and approved, Georgie, set about my tresses with a hairdryer and tongs. She effectively created an insouciant, just-out-the-sea look – the type of hairstyle you can never re-create at home. She finished the style with the aptly-named ‘sea salt spray’ by luxury hair care brand by Kevin Murphy. I left the salon feeling totally glamorous having had a luxurious pampering afternoon but looking effortlessly chic, at least I thought so!

More information and book an appointment here.