KOKO

April 24, 2016 at 1:10 pm | Posted in Restaurants | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Over the past year or so, there’s been a bit of a sushi explosion in Sheffield with no fewer than four new sushi restaurants opening across the city: KOKO, Let’s Sushi, Sakura House, and the Revolving Sushi and Noodle Bar.

Sadly, Sakura House on Eccy Road almost immediately relaunched as Yep Yep Hot Pot before closely down completely, so I never got the chance to find out whether it was any good. But last week I decided to branch out from Yama, Edo and Sakushi, and try one of Sheffield’s three new(ish) sushi restaurants.

KOKO is a compact but very smartly decorated restaurant on Ecclesall Road that has the sleek, modern feel of Sakushi – which is no surprise considering it’s owned by the same guy who launched Sakushi.

koko

I’ve got to admit that I decided to visit KOKO after spotting that they were offering a free shot of Japanese whisky to all diners on Twitter – everyone loves a freebie, right? However, after showing us to our table the first thing our waiter did was offer us a complimentary glass of prosecco. I leapt at the chance for a free glass of fizz, but my friend had their heart set on sampling some Japanese whisky so they asked whether they could have the shot of Nikka instead. At this point we were told this wasn’t an either-or offer, he was offering us free prosecco in addition to the complimentary whisky.

Apparently if you dine at KOKO before 6.30pm on any day of the week, then you get a free glass of prosecco, and if KOKO happen to be running another drinks-related freebie then you’re in luck, because you’re entitled to that too. The only catch is that on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday KOKO doesn’t open until 6pm, so if you’re dining on any of these days you’ll need to be quick off the mark in order to qualify for the free prosecco.  

After that nice surprise, it was time to take a look at the food menu. Compared to other Sheffield sushi restaurants like Yama and Sakushi, KOKO’s menu is pretty compact, but this is understandable considering KOKO is a much smaller venue. While KOKO do offer a few mixed sushi and sashimi platters, the focus is more on cooked mains such as noodles, Katsu curry and fish served in various Japanese sauces, rather than sushi and sashimi.

Since the menu is on the smaller side, it took me no time to decide that I wanted to order the Salmon Fillet in Black Pepper Sauce (£14.95), but just to complicate matters the person I was eating with wanted a starter. To avoid being left twiddling my thumbs while they enjoyed their first course, I decided to order a Miso Soup (£3.50) starter, which includes unlimited refills (score!)

However, when I gave the waiter my order he pointed out that all of KOKO’s ‘Bigger Dishes’ come with miso soup anyway. In fact, they come with miso soup, salad and a choice of rice or noodles. Since my friend was ordering a starter, the waiter kindly offered to bring me the miso soup from my main course at the same time. It’s thoughtful little touches like this that make for really happy customers!

A surprise glass of bubbly, helpful staff, and the promise of a complimentary shot of whisky at the end of the meal – I don’t think I’ve ever had a better first impression of a restaurant!

My miso soup was everything good miso soup should be: strong and salty, with lots of seaweed and big chunks of tasty tofu.

miso soup

I love that KOKO offer unlimited refills of their miso, because I could drink about a gallon of this stuff.

For their starter, my friend opted for KOKO Kimchi Rolls (£5.95).

Koko Kimchi Rolls

These rolls are a tasty blend of tangy kimchi and peppery pork, wrapped in a light and flaky pastry. These are perfect for snacking on before a main meal, and go really well with the accompanying sweet chilli dip.

Onto the mains, and my friend had gone for the special, which on this particular evening was steak and enokitake mushrooms with yakiniku sauce. Like all of KOKO’s main courses, the steak came with miso soup, salad, and a choice of rice or noodles, plus a tangy side of pickled cucumbers and carrots.

The whole thing is served on a tray, which makes for a pretty impressive-looking spread.

steak and enokitake mushrooms

The steak was juicy and tender, pretty much melting in the mouth, which contrasted nicely with the chewy enokitake mushrooms – plus, steak and mushrooms is just a winning combination, right?

The rest of the platter is packed with different flavours – from the saltiness of the miso, to the tartness of the crunchy pickled veggies, and the light and fresh salad. The only exception were the plain noodles, which were completely unseasoned, but it was actually nice to have a break from all the other strong flavours on this platter.

My main course came with the same smorgasbord of sides, although I opted for rice rather than noodles.

Salmon Fillet in Black Pepper Sauce

The rice was perfectly cooked, so it was nice and sticky rather than gloopy. Like the noodles, the rice might have been plain on its own, but it worked really well alongside all the other strong flavours on this platter.

But onto the main star of the show: the grilled, sushi-grade salmon. This salmon was tender, juicy and practically fell apart the second my chopsticks touched it, and it was generously coated in a delicious, tangy pepper sauce that had a hint of teriyaki sweetness to it. Basically, this salmon was perfect and I loved everything about it!

Food dispatched, it was time for our second free drink of the evening. And what’s better than a free drink? Not having to awkwardly remind the staff that you’d like your free drink now, please. As the waiter cleaned away our plates, he asked whether we wanted our shot of whisky yet – he didn’t need to ask twice!

The Nikka was a satisfying, warming whisky with caramel notes that made it really easy-drinking, even for someone like me who usually takes their spirits with a healthy dose of Pepsi Max.

I can’t fault KOKO when it comes to providing value for money. Even without the complimentary prosecco and whisky, the amount of sides that come with each main course means you’re definitely getting your money’s worth. The food was delicious, especially the salmon which is some of the nicest fish I’ve ever eaten, and the staff went out of their way to make sure we enjoyed our meal.

KOKO serves great food, at a great price, with genuinely thoughtful customer service to boot. My advice? Keep an eye on KOKO’s Twitter page for whisky-related special offers, get there before 6.30pm for your free glass of prosecco, and enjoy!

5-stars

Advertisements

The Harley

April 23, 2016 at 8:54 am | Posted in Pub Grub, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Burgers are no longer just something you grab from a takeaway on your way home after a night out. Over the past few years, everyone’s favourite fast food has become a lot more exciting, to the point where there’s a few Sheffield venues that specialise in burgers, such as Bungalows and Bears, Urban ¼ and, of course, the Harley.

I love a good burger, so when the Harley asked if I wanted to come and try their new burger menu, I jumped at the chance.

The format of this particular menu tasting was a bit different, as the staff brought out wave after wave of side orders for everyone sampling the new menu to share, plus lots of burgers cut into handy, bite-sized quarters. So don’t judge me for all the burgers and sides I’m talking about in this review, because I only had a taste of each of them! 

The first order of business was to try the Harley’s new Twisted sauces. This is a trio of vegan sauces made in collaboration with Sheffield clothing label Drop Dead.

sauces

Out of the three sauces on offer, my hands-down favourite was the Techno sauce which is a tangy burger sauce made with Henderson’s Relish. This sauce has a complex and unique flavour that’s difficult to put your finger on, but is all kinds of delicious. I’ve been hooked on the Harley’s Techno sauce ever since I got my first taste of it on the breakfast McMuffin they used to serve at the weekends (something that sadly seems to have disappeared from the menu, boo!)

The second sauce was Jalapeno Salsa, which is perfect for spicing up your fries and burgers if you have a soft spot for hot food. The Twisted Jalapeno Sauce also has a tangy note that makes it a little bit different (and in my opinion, much tastier) than your typical straight-up spicy salsa.

The final sauce was the Twisted BBQ sauce which has an interesting list of ingredients – tequila, chocolate and Henderson’s Relish, anyone? This is a tasty twist on your bogstandard BBQ sauce.

And if there’s a Twisted sauce that you just can’t get enough of, you can purchase all three sauces from Drop Dead’s website. Needless to say, I foresee a bottle of Techno sauce landing on my doorstep in the very near future!

The Harley provided two sets of chips for the purpose of putting these sauces to the test: the standard Harley house fries (£1.25 for a single portion, £2.25 for a sharing portion) and sweet potato fries (an additional £2). I’ve always loved the Harley’s fries as they have a nice, spicy kick to them, but this is the first time I’ve tried their sweet potato fries. Turns out they’re even better, so I’ll be definitely upgrading to sweet potato fries from now on!

fries and sauces.jpeg

Sauces sampled, it was time to move onto the burgers and sides. First up, was Return of the Mac (£6.95).

return of the mac

The Return of the Mac is a double bacon patty burger with mac and cheese, plus a helping of homemade pesto. The bacon patty is a bit of a weird concept, but it’s a weirdness that works, and the mac and cheese doesn’t skimp on the cheese, making this a winning burger.

If you do order the Return of the Mac, then try it with a splash of the Twisted BBQ sauce as it goes really well with this particular burger.

Next up was a side order of Highway to Falafel (£3.50).

highway to falafel

Out of everything I tried from the Harley’s new menu (and I tried a lot) these falafel balls were the one thing I wouldn’t order again. They’re a lot tougher and crunchier than any falafel I’ve tried before, which I wasn’t keen on. And as someone who doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, I also wasn’t wild about the accompanying coconut and coriander dip, which was seriously sweet. I did swap this pot for another helping of Techno sauce (yep, I’m addicted) and that made these falafel balls much more to my taste, but I’m still not convinced.

Things quickly got back on track as I spied something seriously exciting coming out of the kitchen: Jalapeno Business Fries (£4.75).

jalapeno business fries

The Harley’s Business Fries are a massive portion of chips, smothered in cheese, guacamole, sour cream, house relish, diced jalapenos and lots of cajun seasoning, garnished with a whole grilled chilli. The Jalapeno Business Fries are my favourite thing to order from the Harley, so I was glad to see they’d survived the menu change. If you’re a spice fan, then you need to try these fries!  

If you’re not a massive chilli head but you still fancy stuffing yourself with a humongous portion of Harley fries smothered in lots of sauce, then you may want to opt for the Big Pimpin’ Fries (£5.50) instead.

Big pimpin’ fries

These Big Pimpin’ Fries are another super-sized portion of Harley fries, but this time topped with lots of juicy pulled pork, manchego sauce, Twisted BBQ sauce and guacamole.

Back to burgers, and next up was the Bury Me in Smoked Sausage (£7.95).

bury me in smoked sausage.jpg

This burger teams a double chicken patty with smoked sausage, creole mayo, monterey jack and red onion gherkins. The sausage had a lovely smoky flavour and the gherkins added a nice contrast in terms of taste and texture.

Sticking with chicken, the next side was Hang up the Chicken Habit (£3.50) aka confit chicken wings served with a blue cheese dip.

confit chicken wings.jpeg

These wings were crispy and surprisingly grease-free, with a good amount of meat on each wing. They were strongly seasoned with lots of salt and pepper, plus a generous helping of jalapenos which gave these wings a nice kick. The accompanying blue cheese dip went perfectly with these salty, peppery, spicy wings, but it also doubles up as a great dip for your chips if you fancy a change from all those strong Twisted sauces.

Next up was a truly gut-busting burger: the triple-cheese Cheesy Rider (£6.95).

Cheesy Rider.jpeg

This veggie burger basically replaces the traditional meat patty with cheese, then adds more cheese on top, and finishes the whole thing off with an extra-large helping of cheese sauce. Specifically, you get a double halloumi patty, plus monterey jack, plus manchego cheese sauce – that’s a serious amount of cheese!

I love cheese, so I quickly devoured my quarter of the Cheesy Rider, but I’m not sure I could have managed the other three quarters. This is a seriously heavy burger!

As I’ve already mentioned, the Twisted sauces are all vegan friendly, so it’s no surprise that the Harley also have a vegan burger on their menu.

Drop Dead Twisted BBQ burger.jpg

The Twisted Barbecue Burger (£7.95) consists of a double “meat” patty, a vegan “cheese” slice, plus BBQ jackfruit and Twisted BBQ sauce.

I’m not a vegan and I haven’t really tried that many vegan alternatives, but I loved this burger! The “meat” patty had a really strong, savoury flavour, and not only was the vegan cheese a tasty substitute for the dairy equivalent, but it also had an authentic cheese texture. 

To put this vegan burger to the ultimate test, I convinced my meat-eating friend to take a bite, and they agreed that this is one of the best burgers on the Harley’s new menu. I’d actually have to take this one step further and say this is the best burger on the Harley’s new menu.

Regardless of whether you’re veggie, vegan or omnivore, the Twisted Barbecue Burger is definitely worth ordering.

Moving beyond the vegan burger, the Twisted sauces are all fantastic, the Jalapeno Business Fries are every bit as delicious as they’ve always been, and there’s a good selection of tasty meat-based burgers on the menu too – especially the Return of the Mac.

I’ll definitely be popping in for my fix of Twisted Barbecue Burger with Techno sauce, plus Jalapeno Business Fries for as long as they remain on the menu.

rating-3-star

Tapas Revolution

April 13, 2016 at 5:23 pm | Posted in Restaurants | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , ,

Hands up if you remember the La Tasca that used to be in Meadowhall? I spent many a happy afternoon there back in the day, using their legendary ‘Tapas for a Tenner’ offer as an excuse to eat as much patatas bravas as I could get my hands on, washed down with a few cheeky glasses of sangria.

So when I got an invite to check out the new Tapas Revolution restaurant that’s just opened in Meadowhall’s food court, it made me feel pretty nostalgic and excited to relive my Meadowhall-and-tapas years.

Now I’m not much of a Meadowhall fan – I wouldn’t even hazard a guess when I last paid a visit to everyone’s favourite Sheffield shopping centre, but the food court isn’t how I remembered it at all. My memories of the Oasis are all plastic McDonald’s trays and jacket potatoes in squeaky styrofoam containers, so I was surprised to see so many new restaurants in the Oasis, including a few I’d have been tempted to pop into if we didn’t already have a table booked at Tapas Revolution.

After wandering around for a bit, we discovered Tapas Revolution on the second floor of the Oasis. It’s a nice, modern looking eatery with an enclosed seating area that makes it feel separate from the rest of the food court, so it has more of a ‘restaurant’ vibe.

Despite the fact that we were visiting Tapas Revolution during their opening week and at an odd time (2.30pm on a Monday afternoon, to be exact) there were quite a few people eating there, which is always a good sign.

Taking a look at the drinks menu, I saw that Tapas Revolution offer the usual vino, cider and sparkling wine – plus, what would any self-respecting tapas restaurant be without sangria? Tapas Revolution also serve a very tempting-sounding homemade saffron lemonade that you can order with your choice of gin or vodka, which sounds like the perfect thirst-quencher if you’ve had a particularly tough day of shopping.

In the end, we went with a bottle of house white wine at £15.95, which is pretty reasonable considering you’re always going to pay a premium for food and drink in Meadowhall.

But our Tapas Revolution trip wasn’t just an excuse to drink at lunchtime (although that was an added bonus) we were here to try some tapas as well! There’s really only one way to enjoy tapas: order a bunch of dishes and then share them between the table, so that’s exactly what we did.

I barely had the chance to tuck into my pre-tapas nibbles of bread and alioli dip (£1.95) before the tapas started to arrive. First up was something that no Spanish feast should be without: patatas bravas (£3.95).

patatas bravas

Patatas bravas is my favourite tapas so I was really looking forward to this one, and Tapas Revolution didn’t disappoint. The potatoes were on the al dente side, which gave them some nice added crispiness and bite, served in a rich and fiery tomato sauce topped with lashings of cooling aioli.

I feel like patatas bravas is the thing everyone orders when they go out for tapas, but sometimes patas bravas can be a bit boring, to the point where it’s really just potato wedges served in a terracotta dish. This definitely wasn’t the case here, as Tapas Revolution served up the best patatas bravas I’ve eaten in ages. I’ll definitely be ordering this again!

The second tapas to make its way to our table was gambas al ajillo (£6.50), aka juicy tiger prawns dressed in garlic and chilli oil.

gambas al ajillo

The oil was very light but packed with flavour. I was glad I hadn’t had the chance to finish off my pre-tapas bread, as it was just the thing for polishing off every last drop of this delicious chilli and garlic oil.

Continuing the seafood theme, next up was some very exotic-sounding Buñuelos de marisco (£4.75) also known as prawn, cod, mussel and potato fritters.

bunuelos de marisco

Tapas Revolution didn’t skimp on the seafood, which was a pleasant surprise considering things like potato are sometimes used as a cheaper, filler ingredient. Although I loved the strong seafood taste, I wasn’t overly keen on the texture so out of everything this is the one thing I probably wouldn’t order again.

Things quickly got back on track with another tapas from the ‘Seafood’ section of the menu, this time a portion of steamed octopus with potatoes and pimentón paprika (Pulpo a la Gallega, £6.95).

pulpo a la gallega

The potato and octopus were covered in that light, flavour-packed oil that Tapas Revolution do so well, but this time with the addition of lots of smoky paprika.

Like the patatas bravas, the potatoes were on the al dente side, but the best thing about this dish was the steamed octopus which was served complete with skin and suckers. While this might be a little unnerving for some, it did give the octopus a unique texture and consistency, not to mention a much stronger taste, which I loved. This is a must-try if you’re a seafood fan who isn’t squeamish about the thought of eating octopus that still looks like octopus.

We did order some meat inbetween all the seafood, in the form of Chorizo a la sidra (£5.50).

chorizo a la sidra

This is spicy sausage roasted in cider – doesn’t that just sound like the perfect winter warmer? I don’t eat meat, but my dining companion confirmed that both the chorizo and the cider sauce were seriously spicy, so this isn’t food for the faint-hearted.

We finished things off with some lightly-battered, peppery calamari (£5.50).

calamares fritos

For tapas, this is a large portion that’s perfect for sharing. The calamari came with a lemon wedge plus another helping of Tapas Revolution’s creamy aioli sauce. These were the perfect accompaniments, and there was more than enough calamari to put both the lemon and sauce to good use.

But the feast didn’t end just because we’d polished off the final helping of tapas. Throughout the meal, I’d been eyeing up the second part of the Tapas Revolution experience: a takeaway churro bar on the other side of the food court.

This is a genius idea, as not every Meadowhall shopper is going to be in the mood for a sit-down tapas feast, but surely a cone full of churros and chocolate dipping sauce is something everyone can enjoy?

So after we’d eaten all the tapas and drunk all the wine, we nipped across the walkway to grab a cheeky portion of churros and sauce. I’d completely demolished mine before I’d even made it out of the food court!

churro

These churros were grease-free and crunchy on the outside, but light and fluffy on the inside – just as all good churros should be! The accompanying chocolate sauce had a lovely, silky texture and actually tasted like freshly-melted milk chocolate, rather than heated up chocolate spread or sauce from a packet (yuck!)

If you’ve had a hard day of shopping and fancy a sweet treat, then definitely stop by Tapas Revolution’s churro bar. It’s quick, tasty and something a little bit different from the donuts and super-sized cookies every other vendor seems to be selling in Meadowhall.

And if you’re in the mood for something a bit more substantial, then Tapas Revolution serve up some pretty tasty tapas, including the best patatas bravas I’ve ever eaten and delicious (if a little frightening) steamed octopus.

The only downside for someone who isn’t really a big Meadowhall fan is that I wish Tapas Revolution were based in the city center, so I didn’t have to catch the train for my tapas/churro fix!

four-stars

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.