Veggie Haven – Easy Japanese Cooking by Kentaro Kobayashi – review

Cookbook review Veggie Haven - Easy Japanese CookingAll you regular readers will know how I have waxed lyrical about other books by Kentaro Kobyashi and this one will be no exception. Veggie Haven from the Easy Japanese Cooking series has all the characteristics which helped to make Donburi Mania and Noodle Comfort so appealing.

Kentaro Kobayashi is a young man with a passion for food and not just Japanese food. He started his working life as an illustrator but soon displayed his flair for the culinary arts. His mantra is “easy yet delicious, stylish yet realistic”. He has featured in magazines and has appeared on television where he showed his skill for making delicious food with little effort.

I like this man’s style. Kentaro continues to present us with delightful food with a twist. Veggie Haven has Japanese elements but it isn’t a traditional Japanese cookbook. I suspect this might be the way modern Japanese eat at home: we in the West have embraced Chinese and Indian food, and it’s certain that a Tokyo housewife might similarly enjoy, as Kentaro suggests, a hearty potato gratin or a deliciously-garnished pizza. Take the aforementioned pizza and top it with garlic and anchovies. Use a bought pizza base and you’ll have a classy lunch, light dinner or nibbles with apero in no time at all.

Some liken tofu to a tasteless bath sponge. Consider it a vehicle for robust flavours. Sweet and Spicy Fried Tofu is a simple recipe which offers a tapestry of tang that will convert even a die-hard carnivore. This is the healthy face of fast food.

The cold weather is here in the northern hemisphere so warming dishes are the order of the day. The original Chop Suey is said to have originated in America; Kentaro offers Vegetable Chop Suey. This is a tasty pot of vegetables and the addition of quail eggs helps to elevate this dish to something luxurious.

Veggie Haven is an ideal cookbook for novices who want to try something a bit out of the ordinary. The recipes are clearly written and allow the cook to arrange things in steps. There might be a collection of 3 ingredients for a sauce that can be mixed before cooking starts. Perhaps the thickener can be made in advance. For simplicity these are noted in the ingredient list rather than in the method. No need to be overwhelmed: the dishes are easy.

In the US Japanese ingredients are readily available – America has had a closer relationship with Nippon than has Europe. Here, most larger Asian supermarkets stock Japanese ingredients and there are many internet sites that will be more than happy to supply you with the goods.

Kentaro Kobyashi introduces us to his Veggie Haven. This will be a ‘must read’ not only for Japanese food lovers but for those who want to present vegetables with a difference. This might be described as fusion food but it works for me.

Veggie Haven – Easy Japanese Cooking
Author: Kentaro Kobayashi
Published by: Vertical, Inc
Price: $14.95US, £10.99
ISBN 978-1-934287-62-0


Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018


See more books by Kentaro Kobayashi here.


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