A few months ago, our (equally foodie) friends Matt and Tilly visited The Frog restaurant in East London’s Brick Lane, owned and run by former MasterChef winner Adam Handling, and raved about it – they even brought us back some of the infamous ‘chicken butter’ because it was just so good (more on that later). It’s a restaurant I’ve been wanting to go to for so long but just sadly hadn’t got around to it.
Well that all changed recently when I was invited to a private dinner by the lovely Kikkoman team at Adam’s brand-new restaurant ‘Frog by Adam Handling’ in Covent Garden. You might have read last year I attended a Kikkoman dinner at Sushisamba (you can catch up here if you missed it) and had a fantastic experience – it was fascinating to learn more about the soy sauce products and how they were incorporated into the dishes. Sushisamba might have had a more obvious connection for an event related to soy sauce products (for those who haven’t been, they serve a blend of Brazilian, Peruvian and Japanese cuisine), but chef Adam Handling is crazy about Asian culture and flavours which he works into his dishes – his arms are even adorned with tattoos relating to Japan.
Upon arrival at Frog, I was led down possibly the coolest stairwell I’ve ever encountered, with hip hop music blaring out, down into the ‘Eve’ bar, and through to a private area where I was treated to a cocktail containing soy sauce. Now I’ll be honest, the last time I tried the soy sauce cocktails at Sushisamba, as I mentioned in my review, it was a bit too much for me (and I’ve got a strong palate!). This was lovely though and I could have drunk a few of these!
We were shortly led into a private dining area where the man himself, Adam Handling was starting to plate up our first courses, and a LOT of food was about to follow.
Before that, Bing-yu Lee from Kikkoman UK welcomed us to dinner and spoke to us about the newest product in the Kikkoman range, the delicious Ponzu – a citrus seasoned soy sauce. It’s traditionally used as a sauce for meat and fish dishes, and works brilliantly as a dressing for salads. Ponzu is one of Japan’s favoured condiments and is made by combining citrus fruits, mirin, rice vinegar and dashi, a Japanese stock. Kikkoman has expertly combined their naturally brewed soy sauce with the bright tang of Ponzu to provide a balanced salty, sweet and sour flavour. I’ve been experimenting with it at home following the dinner and it’s a fab product – perfect for drizzling over fresh seafood dishes and eating outside in the beautiful sunshine we’ve been experiencing.
So, getting back to the dinner and the many, many courses which began to arrive at our table. We started with some beef tartare and a mussel dish, along with the infamous chicken butter. I don’t know exactly how he makes it, but it has a rich taste of chicken throughout the butter that when spread across a good piece of sourdough is just heaven! You could make that a meal in itself – a delicious chicken-y buttery toastie!
The first ‘official’ course was Kingfish, jalapeno, avocado and Kikkoman Tamari Gluten-Free Soy Sauce.
Next course was baked celeriac, soy cured egg, apple, truffle and Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce.
Third course was agnolotti of mushrooms, Teriyaki broth, frozen foie gras and Kikkoman Teriyaki Marinade (absolute heaven!)
Next up was Broccoli, chilli, Dengaku, lime and Kikkoman Less Salt Soy Sauce.
The fifth dish (you can see this is an extensive menu!) was cod, prawn, gem lettuce and Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce.
Next was Tamari glazed pork, cauliflower and Kikkoman Tamari Gluten-Free Soy Sauce.
And the final dish (and pudding!) was chocolate, lemon, soy caramel and Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce.
As I’ve mentioned, all of the dishes were made using Kikkoman soy sauce or marinades and it was so cleverly done. At no point did any dish feel like it soy ‘forced’ into it, and at no point did the soy sauce ever feel overpowering. It perfectly complemented the dishes in different ways to give them an extra level of flavour. It really made me think about how I could start incorporating it into more of my ‘everyday’ British dishes that I cook at home. And Adam Handling and his team really are incredibly talented – I was blown away by all of these dishes and I can’t wait to return.
A huge thank you to the team for inviting me and opening my eyes even further to the possibilities of using soy sauce. It really is soy delicious (yep, I went there. I ended on a pun)! You can find out more about Kikkoman on their website here. Their new Ponzu is now available to buy on Ocado for £2.79: https://www.ocado.com/webshop/product/Kikkoman–Ponzu-Citrus-Soy-Sauce/411172011
And if you’re interested in visiting Frog by Adam Handling (which you definitely should!), the website is here.
I was invited to attend the event by Kikkoman UK but did not receive any payment. All views are my own.