Many culinary paths are well-trodden in the Newcastle dining scene. Burgers and BBQ? We more than have that covered. French cuisine? The wonderful French Quarter is now serving up delightful plates of food in a relaxed and sociable ambience. Raw Japanese food? Nope, and DokiDoki have been holding pop-up for a couple of months at Sky Apple Cafe in Heaton to plug the gap in the market. I met the wonderfully energetic Ellen- who is one of the integral parts of the team- at the start of my veganism and we used to chat about food A LOT every time our paths crossed. I was thrilled to hear she had turned her idea of a Japanese-themed event into a reality, and I was keen to give it a try.
I don’t have a huge amount of experience with authentic Japanese food as I feel a lot of what we’re served in restaurants in the UK is the lite version. Talk of the menu centring on fermented and sometimes raw dishes made me a little apprehensive, especially as someone who grew up being fed traditional food like Mince & Dumplings.
Dokidoki serve up a menu built around seasonal British vegetables and specialist, Japanese ingredients for each of its supper clubs. It was a wild November night and we were looking forward to trying out these innovative dishes. The event is BYOB, but there were a range of teas, sodas and juices also available.
As each plate of food arrived we were given information about the origins of the dish and its ingredients. Sky Apple was packed and service was faultless as the each course sailed out of the kitchen.
Morsels like Wasabi Mayo Avocado and Pickled Daikon weren’t to my taste but the soft tofu dish and grilled vegetable kebabs were more familiar.
Fu, which is made from wheat gluten, was used in place of the meat you will find on these skewers usually. The deep umami flavouring of the red miso dressing contrasted with the sweet vegetables.
Next up was a complex dish matching noodles with adzuki bean paste and lightly cooked broccoli. The brothy remnants were drained out of the bowl by me in the most unceremonious fashion, much like I did with the dashi in the proceeding course.
The final savoury dish was rice with matcha salt, roasted carrot and Nori. I have to say this was quite salty for me, especially with the crumbled rice crackers.
Dessert came in the form of a sweet potato and chestnut cookie dough ice cream. We both felt these were unusual ingredients to use for a dessert but worked well.
The highlight of the evening for me was trying out the homemade Dango (a glutinous sweet rice dessert) which was accompanied by a sweet soy sauce. It was like an intense salted caramel dressing for the creamy dumplings. My friend wasn’t as keen on it texturally, but I felt it was a really interesting pairing.
We were sent on our way after a sweet Green Tea Latte and a sliver of Green Tea Jelly, something I’ve had in the cupboard for months but been too afraid of trying out. It was a lovely end to the meal and warmed us up before heading out into the hail of that particular evening.
Each pop-up will have a different theme and dishes which celebrate the season. The menu is 100% vegan but those with allergies may struggle to be accommodated due to the set menu nature of the event. I experienced some flavours I’d not encountered before and had my palate challenged. I’m still sure Wasabi isn’t for me, but I’d definitely try to emulate the caramel sweet soy sauce as an alternative in the future. A unique cultural experience in the suburb of Heaton that is one that needs to be tried, vegan or otherwise. You can find out more about Dokidoki on Facebook here.
Thanks for reading,