There are a number of reasons that Sheffield’s Cutlery Works is so popular, not only is it part of a thriving and evolving community in the popular Kelham Island quarter of the city centre, it’s a pretty great location for a selection of food dishes inspired by multiple cultures and cuisines from around the world.
This time around, I decided to go to Konjo, the casual dining spin-off of the critically acclaimed restaurant Joro — naturally expectations were high. The Konjo Robotayaki Kitchen is a mashup of Scandinavian and Japanese-inpsired cuisines with a street-food smattering of Joro’s signature flavouring. I have a confession to make though, I’d actually tried some food from here before so I couldn’t wait to come back to try a selection of the dishes. To really get my taste buds going, I decided to start off with a selection of the bao buns, because who doesn’t love a good bao?
After about 15-minutes, we received a selection of three bao buns to sample, first was the Char Siu Pork, a Moss Valley pork neck cooked on the authentic Japanese Konro BBQ grill, covered in roasted plum sauce and a puffed pork rind. It was a nice introduction to the bao buns on offer, tender pork, perfectly complemented by the roasted plum sauce and the puffed pork rind that resembled a piggy-flavoured quaver. It was lovely.
Next up was the BBQ mushroom, the only vegetarian bao option at Konjo. Featuring a shiitake mushroom, hoisin sauce, a koji emulsion - created by slowly whisking koji oil - iceberg lettuce and a pickled cucumber. Of the three bao buns that I ordered, this was the most disappointing, lacking flavour, density, and consistency. It was just a little bland really. Quite disappointing.
The Katsu Chicken bao took the crown as the nicest of the three, a crispy katsu chicken. The chicken was succulent with a nice crisp, retaining the juices in a well-balanced combination of crunch and moisture, neatly combining with the Japanese mayo. In a word (or two), deliciously moreish.
Moving on to the mains this time around, we opted for two of the main dishes deciding on the Gyūdon and the Butadon Rice Bowl. I had decent expectations for the Butadon Rice Bowl, as the last time I had tried a rice bowl here it was the very excellent Chilli beef, as well as the Korean Fried Chicken, both were quite simply lip-smacking delightful.
The Butadon Rice Bowl comes with a BBQ Moss Valley pork glazed with tare (a flavoured glaze), Koshihikari rice, Burford brown egg yolk, chive, radish and la-yu chilli oil. The pork was rather nice, it’s tender presentation combined very well, all except for the Koshihikari rice, it just didn’t taste right, it was supposed to be fluffy and slightly sticky. Sadly it’s texture was not right, hard and bitty… as though it had been undercooked.
Our woes with the rice continued with the highly anticipated Gyūdon, a £14 Bavette beef steak - read: flank steak - cooked over a the aforementioned authentic BBQ, koshihikari rice, onions that have been cooked in wagyu fat dashi, another feature from the Burford brown egg yolk, served up with crispy shallots. The crispy onions added a delightful crunch to the tender pink Bavette beef slices, which was honestly delicious. Sadly the dish was let down by the Koshihikari rice once again. Sure I could complain to the chef and highlight my issues with the food, and in pretty much every instance you should do. But time was of the essence and I couldn’t wait around for a replacement dish.
Perhaps I was annoyed by the disappointing BBQ mushroom bao and the underwhelming Butadon Rice Bowl, actually the rice in general was a massive let down, but I just couldn’t avoid the nagging feeling that it was so much better when I had tried the food here before. Of the mains the Gyūdon was the best only because of the flank steak with the crispy wagyu onion toppings. In total the meal cost £41.00 not including drinks that were ordered from another of the outlets there. That was for three bao buns for starters and two rice bowls for mains, which isn’t too bad and about average.
While this time around may not have been the best, Konjo is more than capable of serving up wonderful food, and it was great in my previous experience, only this time around it didn’t quite live up to expectations.