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#INSPIREDBY SHUKO ODA

10/06/20

Shuko Oda is chef-owner at Koya, the Japanese Udon bar with sites in Soho and the city. Koya combines traditional Japanese cooking and seasonal British ingredients. Shuko grew up travelling between the UK and Japan, journeys which are reflective in her cooking.

 

What was one of the very first dishes you remember eating?

In terms of eating out, I remember very vividly eating a whole grilled crab, covered in pepper at a restaurant in San Francisco with my family when I was about 10 years old. ‘Dining out’ in the early evening on a holiday in a candlelit restaurant felt very grown up and special. It was also the first time I really appreciated the use of pepper in food. The shellfish itself was grilled whole, keeping in all the goodness of the sea until you cracked it open. The whole experience was sensational.


Who is your food hero?

All the people who cooked for me as I was growing up, mainly my mother and grandmothers. And the overall ethos from Yoshiko Tatsumi.

 

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?

Instant spicy noodles (korean ones with egg, spring onion, nori also topped up with kimchi or some spicy garnishes).


Which restaurant do you long to return to?

Enboca is a pizza restaurant in Japan, they have a few branches now, but originally started out in a beautiful wooden house in Karuizawa (Nagano prefecture) in the Shinshu mountains, surrounded by trees and their vegetable garden they would cook from. They had a small but extremely attractive presence, serving honest, simple food, cooked in their pizza oven. Their hospitality and food was warm, produce led and full of love, the best way of cooking that touches people.

 

What would be your last meal?

It would be my ultimate comfort food, Onigiri rice balls, made with freshly cooked rice, wrapped in nori seaweed I don’t really need fancy fillings, just salt will do the job.

 

What dish do you cook the most at home?

In the summer we often do lettuce wraps filled with various different things, or rather, anything in the house. Always some rice, fried egg, often some kind of meat like pork mince or stir fried beef, glass noodles, lots of vegetables and condiments. A great way to eat as a family as there's something for everyone.

 

Favourite vegetable? 

My goodness, this is such a difficult question! I have a sweet spot for peas but I think it will have to be Kabu (Tokyo turnip). I like them (both fruit and tops) raw, grilled, pickled, braised, blitzed, stir fried they are pretty perfect.

 

Most-used condiment? 

Rice vinegar, I use it in dressing, in braising, in sauces.


Favourite restaurant anywhere in the world?

My local Chinese restaurant near where my parents live in Tokyo called Koumi-bou, we always go there on our first night with my whole family. We have beer, nibbles and noodles and fried rice to finish.


Favourite fast food joint?

Shake Shack.


Quick Fire

Breakfast in bed or Hotel restaurant? 

Breakfast in bed


English Breakfast Tea or Long Black coffee?

Filter coffee


Martini - gin or vodka?

Vodka


Ketchup or mayo? 

Mayo


Stella or Boli?

Both


London or New York?

London


City break or hideaway?

Hideaway.

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