It’s been about a year since Nanban, my southern Japanese izakaya concept, was supposed to open on Shoreditch High Street. Needless to say, things did not go as planned. After a year of struggling and failing to secure permanent premises, my backers lost interest in the project and abandoned it to focus on expanding their existing brands. This was a major disappointment, of course, but even though there will not be a restaurant at any point in the foreseeable future, there are still exciting developments for Nanban on the horizon: Nanban the residency and Nanban the book!
For the whole month of August, I’ll be taking over the kitchen at the Market House in Brixton, just behind the Ritzy Cinema on Coldharbour Lane. This is extremely exciting for me, as it will be the first chance I’ve had to start putting out Nanban food consistently, without the vagaries and stresses inherent in one-off pop-ups. Which is not to say it will be easy; on the contrary, it will probably be the most demanding project I’ve ever done. But it should be great fun, and the menu is coming together nicely – there will be a few varieties of Kyushu-style ramen, plus karaage, yaki-curry, and perhaps a few Brixton-influenced options (Jamaican patty curry pan, anyone?). If I can justify the cost of the machine, there will also be Whippy-san. Keep your eye on Nanban’s Twitter feed for further developments. And by the way: I am hiring chefs at all levels (ideally with Japanese food experience, but not necessarily). It will be full-time work, but only for the month of August. Get in touch if you’re keen or if you know someone who might be.
As the residency winds down I will be preparing for the launch of my first cookbook, Nanban: Japanese Soul Food, in September, which I’ve been working on for nearly a year. It’s been a really fun project and I’m very happy with how it’s coming together, though I must say most of that is thanks to Paul Winch-Furness‘s beautiful photography (including the Hakata ramen above). It’s a collection of 100-some recipes, mostly traditional/authentic dishes from Kyushu and Okinawa but with several of my own inventions as well, and I think it has a little something for everyone – from the basic tempura to the highly advanced Kurume ramen and all sorts in between. It’s got eight cocktail recipes and three different fried chicken recipes, which should give you an idea of what it’s all about – fun, hearty, and rambunctious. Once it’s out there, I’ll be promoting it at various events throughout the autumn across the UK – so stay tuned to my Twitter account to see if I’ll be coming around your hometown, and for general #NanbanBook news.
So there you go – you can’t keep a good Nanban down. See you soon in Brixton or at your local bookstore!