HYPER JAPAN 2017 BY MICHAEL C. BUNGAY

On July 14th, I went to the Hyper Japan Convention in Tobacco Dock, East London. Hyper Japan is billed as the biggest Japanese Culture event in Britain. As the name suggests, the Convention covers everything Japanese though there was one or two stalls that embraced both Japanese and Korean culture as well. Even the food was mainly Japanese but I restricted myself to sushi, specifically nigiri which is a solid lump of rice with a piece of smoked salmon on top, I do like the stuff though. The best part was trying mochi ice-cream, (mochi is sweet rice cake made from glutinous mochigome rice with an ice-cream filling). I have always had an interest in Japanese cuisine and culture and this really was the best place to be to find out more. Naturally, a lot of the stalls were selling merchandise relating to and including Anime and Manga and most of the visitors were dressed as anime or manga characters.

There were a lot of stalls and shops for such a packed area so it is impossible to pick a favourite place to go at the Convention and I ignored the Hyper Live Stage and Theatre in favour of exploration. There were a wide variety of shops overall, each focussing on a different aspect of Japanese culture including a shop that sold kimonos and one selling Japanese cookware and crockery where I acquired a nice new mug and a genuine Japanese one too! There was even a small restaurant selling hakumai (white rice) and genmai (brown rice) and sake but I didn’t go in. I did acquire a free brochure from Eat-Japan which provides the location of all known Japanese restaurants in the UK as well as a glossary pertaining to several well-known Japanese food products and where to get them in this country and even a couple of interesting recipes, including a Japanese take on Chilli Con Carne.

The event attracts people from all over the world as I spoke to a few foreign, notably American, visitors while I was there. There are also replicas of the 19th century American schooner Sea Lark and the 18th century trade ship Three Sisters moored outside the Main Entrance to Tobacco Dock and the nearest train stations are Tower Hill, Shadwell and Wapping. Not bad for a 19th Century dock that once endured an ill-fated stint as a shopping centre!

https://hyperjapan.co.uk/    

http://www.eat-japan.com/

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On Wednesday April 27th 2011, I went to Sambuca’s Restaurant in Whitley Bay with my friends Wayne and Katharine. The restaurant is clearly very popular as there were a lot of people there and it was not possible for us to get a table straight away. There were a lot of antiques and chandeliers (with the price tag still attached) in the restaurant and the dining area looked very grand indeed. The waiters were very well-mannered and efficient. For starters, we shared 8 pieces of garlic bread between the 3 of us. The garlic bread was good but could have done with a bit more garlic because I could not really taste it. For my main course, I had Spaghetti Bolognese which was really delicious but also quite hot, although I think that was mainly due to the fact that I had asked for some Parmesan and some Black Pepper to…

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On Sunday 1st May 2011, I went to Lau’s 202 Restaurant in Eldon Square, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne with my friends Paul, Edward and Diane. The restaurant is an all-you-can-eat buffet and is mainly Chinese but offers different types of food from all over the world. The restaurant is very well presented in practically all areas, interior design, efficiency of the staff, hygiene and the quality and standard of the food, you name it. I had some chicken curry with egg fried rice and chips and I also decided to try the sushi and I loved it. I failed to realise the food labels were on top of the counter so I could not tell what everything was. For my dessert, I had some ice cream with toffee fudge sauce and melted white chocolate from the fondue bowl and I also had some marshmallows on a stick for dipping in the fondue, one…

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On Monday May 2nd 2011, I went to Crusoe’s Cafe on Longsands beach in Tynemouth with my friends Wayne, Steve and Diane. With its sublime location betwixt The Grand Hotel – a former Summer residency of the Duke of Northumberland and the imposing sight of the North Sea, literally a stone’s throw away, Crusoe’s made for an idyllic setting for a drink and a bite. What could go wrong you ask?  Well, just about everything you could care to conjure up! For starters (not the food variety!)  I guess our timing was rather unwise – it happened to be the Bank Holiday – cue ‘family central!’. With the necessary implements at our disposal – a wad of money and a shoe horn to wedge ourselves through the cafe entrance, we navigated the room in our quest for a table. Fortunately, the wait for one was not too arduous,  and we briskly took the opportunity to grab our seats before one of…

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Red Mezze, located a stone’s throw from the hallowed turf adorned at St. James’ Park, holds the unique distinction of being Newcastle’s only Turkish restaurant where I went on June 6th 2011.

With it’s inviting, friendly, atmosphere, exquisite cuisine and shiny, happy prices, my Red Mezze maiden voyage made for a charming distraction whilst in the City Centre in the middle of a hunger rumbling quandary.

Now seeing as Turkish is not one of my strong points, certain sections of the menu proved somewhat of a puzzle, however, my bemusement was swiftly erased in the form of the friendly face of a member of staff who not only shared their culinary wisdom but also gave me a crash course in his mother tongue. Now fully enlightened for the experience, I set about with my new found knowledge in selecting one of the finest meals I have had the pleasure to devour.

I personally favoured…

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On Thursday 27th October 2011, I went to the Willow Farm Restaurant and Carvery, just outside of Cramlington, with my friends Paul, Edward, Chris and Tony for our evening meals. Paul was quite excited about going there as he had been there before and was itching to take us there at some point. Well, now was our chance and we were all highly impressed with the restaurant and its friendly atmosphere and its appeal. The food was equally impressive, especially the chicken korma that I had for my main course (none of us had any starters) which was cooked and presented to perfection complete with rice, naan bread and poppadoms. But that was far from the best part as for dessert, the restaurant offers a choice of the most enormous cakes you have ever seen. They are so big and so tempting, you feel like Bruce Bogtrotter or Augustus Gloop or any other really…

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On Wednesday May 25th 2011, I went to the Rosetta Cafe in Forest Hall, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne with my friend Diane. The cafe is small, secluded and relatively new as it has only been open for nearly a month. Being very small, the cafe was also very quiet, we were the only customers in the cafe in all the time we were there. The owner is an Egyptian gentleman and there is a definite Middle Eastern influence in the cuisine, offering panninis, wraps and baguettes. As well as the usual sandwich fillers and salads, the gentleman also offers kofka on the menu.

Some months later on January 21st 2012, I paid another visit to the Rosetta Cafe once again accompanied by Diane but this time, we brought Edward with us. After a somewhat inconclusive 1st visit to the Rosetta as we could not really decide what we thought of it, we were able to make…

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