By Isaiah Carter
Scrolling through my Instagram feed I stumbled upon the page of a Japanese supper club named Monograph. I had liked the look of their pictures so I had decided to find out more about the place. After some searching I discovered that it was a small restaurant located in London and that tickets needed to be bought in order to eat there and to know the exact location. After having bought the tickets, which are £29.90, I felt a wave of excitement about finding out their address and the ambiguity I felt towards what to expect from the evening.
Upon arrival I noticed that the tables in the room were surrounded by art pieces on the walls and that there were three main tables in which we could choose from to sit. Sitting next to other guests created a very social atmosphere and so the room was buzzing. Being able to bring my own drink added a casual element to evening which made it somewhat more relaxing.
Included in the ticket was a five course meal that included a starter and dessert, which I think is great value. There is a set menu which changes every month, and so the menu will change slightly from what I'm about to describe. The first dish that was served was a watercress salad with a sesame dressing, served in a brown paper container. The salad itself was light and the dressing was sweet, a good dish to warm your taste buds.
The second dish was cold udon noodles with smoked mackarel and wakame seaweeds. Being inexperienced myself eating with chopsticks, I struggled to eat the noodles, but found that it was another tasty dish with a sweet broth, balanced by the milder taste of fish and noodles.
Next was a slightly more filling dish of salmon and rice, which were the third and fourth course combined. The salmon was marinated overnight in saikyo-miso, a soy paste made of Japanese rice and wine and sugar, which gave it a subtle sweet flavour without overshadowing the taste of the salmon itself. The rice is imported from Japan and had a fluffy texture which complimented that of the salmon.
Last but not least are the desserts. There were three desserts in total which were served together in smaller portions, meaning you didnt have to choose! These were: matcha dorayaki, which was essentially a cold pancake sandwich filled with matcha green tea custard. Aka daifuku, a glutinous rice cake filled with the classic Japanese red bean paste, and lastly, chocolate mochi: a thinner layer of glutinous rice with a filling of chocolate ganache. My personal favourite was aka daifuku for the intense flavour of the glutinous rice.
Throughout the meal short films and clips were played in between courses, which definitely spread out the evening and kept everyone entertained.
Interview with the Founder
I was fortunate enough to be able to speak more about Monograph to it's founder, Ugo Lo Presti, and so we're able to learn just a little bit more about the Monograph concept.
1. Can you tell us a bit about the founder of Monograph?
I'm Ugo Lo Presti, the founder of Monograph. I moved to London 3 years ago and had a background in restaurants having owned a sushi restaurant for several years.
2. How did the Monograph idea come about? Was there an inspiration of sorts?
When I started Monograph, supper clubs were already a thing in London and it was the perfect way to get in the London dining scene with almost no capital.
3. How did you develop the menu? What made you decide to have an alternating menu?
I chose a quite standard multi-course structure that gives the opportunity to try different dishes in the same night. Being a fixed menu, regularly change it is of course necessary to keep the event interesting both for the guests and for us.
4. What is your favourite personal dish?
The question that I never know how to answer. There are so many amazing dishes, I would go for Tempura donburi now.
5. What would you say is the best aspect of being part of the Monograph team?
Aside from the obvious answer of the great food we eat after our events, I would go for the fact that we get to meet a lot of new people at every event even though the time to talk at the end of the event is always too short for us.
All images: © Natal Space