For one night only Stripped, Ventnor’s achingly hip burger and pizza joint, was turning Japanese – we really think so. Over forty guests joined us for a superb evening of authentic Japanese-style Omakase dining from talented Steffen Erbe, chef at both Ventnor’s Cantina and its sister venue Stripped. Fifteen courses of wonder and delight, with taste, creativity and tradition, all served on beautiful crockery to our eager guests.
Omakase お任せ is the Japanese tradition of letting a chef choose your meal. The word means “I will leave it to you.” Traditionally, it’s where guests trust the chef to serve them a meal which is seasonal, elegant, artistic and uses the finest ingredients.
After a tongue-tingling appetiser of Stripped’s spicy popcorn, we were served a little ramekin of house pickles, including beets, kohlrabi and radish.
This delicious miso-glazed aubergine had the soft texture of a ripe fig.
As well as being a taste sensation, the meal was an education in Japanese cuisine. Salmon tataki (seared and marinated fish) and asparagus tamagoyaki (omelette) were perfect plate-fellows.
Porcini tofu with ponzu dressing. Yes, tofu CAN be delicious in the right hands!
Life’s too short of faff about shelling edamame peas. Instead, Steffen dressed ‘burnt Ps’ with furikake – a dry Japanese seasoning. And we could eat the peas, shells and all!
Look away now, meat-dodgers! This trio was divine: liver pate nigiri, chicken teriyaki maki (marinated and rolled), Isle of Wight wagyu nigiri (finely-sliced beef).
Time to lay aside our chopsticks and pick up our little wooden spoons for the local crabmeat and sweetcorn sharwanmushi – a kind of steamed savoury egg custard. Worth fishing about in to discover the big chunks of crab meat.
This beef katsu with Bull Dog sauce was referred to as a beef burger, which technically it might have been. Delicious chopped beef inside a breaded shell.
It was a good job we’d been instructed to hang on to our spoons. Course, what number is it now? Are you keeping up at the back? Course ten: white miso soup, charred prawn and wilted spinach. Lovely!
More Isle of Wight wagyu, this time presented sizzling on a piping hot stone in a moat of salt crystals and red peppercorns. This dish caused some drama!
We necked back our amazake shots: a traditional sweet, low-alcohol Japanese drink made from fermented rice.
Check out this awesome jewel-like dessert! It’s sake jelly and kinnako (toasted sweetened ground soya beans).
Yuzu is a citrus fruit which, for this meal, was used by local vegan ice cream makers Beau’s to create a tangy dessert, served with Japanese cheesecake and sliced apple.
The last pudding was three puddings, of course. Spongey ginger canelle, matcha (green tea) tart, and the spectacular miso brownie. What a finale!
Steffen, Klaus and the team at Stripped did us proud. From the beautiful sake jelly, to the simple ‘burnt Ps’ and theatrical wagyu, this meal was a triumph. And £39.50 a head? It’s no surprise it was a sell-out! Thanks so much to Stripped for turning Japanese for the evening. More please!