BONSAI Plant Kitchen
I am loving the fact that the word vegan has suddenly morphed into the words plant based. Is it a marketing ploy, maybe? Whatever nomenclature floats your boat, I for one, have noticed that both at home and when out and about, I am enjoying far more meatless food than ever before. At home, I cook a lot of plant based food, partly for reasons of economy, partly by choosing to buy and cook less meat, but meat of a better provenance, and finally because there are a few vegetables that I love and think need very little adding to them, aubergines are at the top of that list.
So when Mr S messaged me and invited me out for dinner I was interested that he chose Bonsai in Baker Street.
Bonsai is, as the name suggests, based on Japanese cuisine. It is also plant based. The interior is compact and dark, not oppressively so, but the tables are certainly packed in, and given that it was 6pm on a Wednesday evening, you could see why as the room was packed.
The menu is made up of small plates, yes, there it is again, the small plates fashion. But I willed it that on this occasion the plates, whilst being described as small, offered a decent amount of food for two people to share.
Neither of us were drinking alcohol, Mr S had a fruit soda which he thought was perhaps a little too sweet but my mango and lime juice was very balanced, the bitter sharp flavour of lime working well with sweet mango. If I had any complaint it would be that there was simply too much ice, a problem that I encounter far to often, it makes the end of your drink to watery for a start, and also limits the amount of juice that will fit in the glass.
On the recommendation of our waiter, we selected seven dishes. The first of which was pickles, we loved the flavours and palate cleansing nature of them, it was a good start. Next out, some crispy spring rolls with a savoury filling that could well have been pork but was not, and a creamy topping that could have been dairy or egg based and again, was not. They were particularly flood.
Following on came a slider that was packed with a crunchy coated plant based filling that emulated fried chicken and quite frankly was far better than your average fried chicken. The brioche style bun was equally impressive for a dairy free product and the toppings and sauces within made this new age burger rather brilliant.
Next, an aubergine roasted with miso and wasabi. I make my own aubergine and miso but the addition of the hot root paste lifted the dish to new heights, and I am stealing that idea for sure.
In the belief that we might needs some ballast we chose their dirty rice, it was okay but nowhere near as impressive as the previous dishes, not dirty enough for either of us, and the tempura shiitake mushrooms were sadly rather grim, greasy and tasteless, no crunch to the batter and little flavour in the fungi. All was reamed though by the cauliflower dish that owed more to Korean cuisine than the land of the rising sun. It was simple lovely, the flavour of the cauliflower to the forefront merely sharpened by the sticky chilli coating.
We both enjoyed our meal for the most part, very tasty food that was not presented with that grim holier than thou attitude that can often accompany veggie and vegan joints. It was busy and bustling, pretty comfortable but not a space that a gentlemen of my proportions (for that read fat lad) wanted to linger in, but as for the food, yes, I would certainly return perhaps when accompanied by my vegan or veggie friends.
44-45 Baker Street BN1 4JN