Since Pop Brixton launched last spring, we’ve been spending Saturdays rolling up our sleeves to devour Kyonocha’s fresh Japanese flavours. After swooping in on Ron’s pop up stall, we pinned him down to ask him a few questions about why he got into cooking Japanese favourites and how it feels to be voted the best Katsu Curry in the city.
So Ron, why Japanese food?
I think Japanese food is one of the last ‘undiscovered’ cuisines in the world with many of the ingredients being used in fusion cooking, and some of the more famous dishes being re-invented, before the true original tastes are eaten and discovered. I love the approach where every food item has to stand on its own in terms of its taste , as well as part of a bigger whole, compared to many other world dishes where the combination of flavours culminate in a finished taste which can hide the individual tastes of the ingredients..plus I just love fish.
When did you have your first ever Japanese experience?
I started working with Japanese food over 20 years ago at Tokyo Diner in Londons’ Chinatown. I remember the, then, sushi chef offering me some raw tuna to taste for the first time and marvelling at the clean, iron deep taste.
What’s your personal favourite dish on the Kyonocha menu?
Our Sushi and Sashimi Bento is a favourite as it offers a little bit of everything, Sashimi, Sushi Nigir and Maki and seaweed salad and I love it as ‘grab a bite’ lunch.
What three words sum up Japanese cuisine?
Seasonality, traditional, healthy.
Tell us about your career as a chef, what made you want to start your own thing up?
I have always been obsessed with fish and fish cookery and more often than not have been involved with Japanese food over a period of 20 years or so. I spent 6 years in Japan, having a temple wedding with my Japanese wife and returning to the UK I worked in Padstow for a year working with the most amazing fish. We both love food and have had, for many years, a desire to stretch out on our own and do our own thing. Now , after my years of kitchen experience and my wifes tea retail experience, we both felt that if we don’t do it now we never will…so here we are involved in, what seems like, a slowly growing and expanding cuisine in London and surrounding areas.
What is exciting you about the London food scene at the moment?
There is a growing interest in Korean food which shares a common healthy thread with Japanese food. In Osaka , where I used to live, there is a ‘Koreatown’ which we used to visit regularly and they served up some fantastic traditional food which is now finding its way to London.
Where do you like to eat in London?
Ichiryu Udon. It reminds me of a place we go to when we go back to Japan…it just smells and tastes Japanese.
What’s next for Kyonocha?
We would like to open a slightly larger place with, say 8 to 10 seats inside so we can expand our Teas offering. We have some beautiful teas direct from Kyoto, sourced by wife Hiroko, and want to sell out Matcha shortbreads, Panna Cottas’ etc as was part of our original plan.