Restaurants offering tapas-style dining are hardly a new thing and you can choose to share smaller dishes inspired by Spain, Thailand, India, Italy, American and even old Blighty in many places in the North East.
But one country which also loves to share, but until now has had limited availability in the region, is Japan.
Enter Aveika, a modern Japanese restaurant located on Newcastle’s Quayside (where Chase used to be).
The menu is set up for sharing, with a range of appetisers, sushi and sashimi, traditional robata grilled skewers, and more substantial main dishes to choose from.
At night, Aveika has quickly become a popular haunt for those who dine in the restaurant before venturing next door to the late lounge.
During the day, however, the manager tells me that the restaurant is not seeing a similar level of footfall.
I suggest that the bar next door may make people think Aveika is only open at night.
“Oh no,” he protests, “we’re very much open during the day and want to be as popular for lunch as we are in the evening.”
He goes on to talk so passionately about the food and the Japanese tradition of sharing that my dining companions and I ask him to choose our lunchtime dishes for us.
First, we were presented with a range of of appetisers including crispy spring rolls, tempura king prawns, pan-fried scallops, salt and pepper squid, and chicken robata skewers. We cleansed our palettes with a refreshing raspberry sorbet before a range of expertly prepared sushi and sashimi arrived. We shared two main courses between the three of us after that: the breaded chicken with fragrant katsu sauce, which is sure to appeal to most tastes, and the the pan-fried duck served with a rich shiitake sauce.
We had no room for dessert or, sadly, time for a glass of Akashi-Tai Junmai Sparking Sake (Japan’s alternative to Champagne); alas we had to get back to the office – maybe next time.
Despite a slower start to daytime custom for Aveika, I’m sure this will change soon, as the restaurant is the ideal place for a special lunch: a central location, adventurous food and decadent surroundings – Aveika ticks all of the boxes.
On the menu
Beef harumaki – crispy spring rolls with steak mince served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce
Shichimi scallops – served with asparagus, lime and Shichimi sea salt
Kimuchi chicken – robata grilled chicken marinated with kimchee, chilli and coriander
Salt and pepper squid with pickled Asian vegetables and lime dressing
Selection of sushi and sashimi
From £3 for three pieces
Pan-fried duck breast with steamed Asian vegetables and Shiitake sauce
Chicken breast coated with Panko breadcrumbs, served with Katsu curry sauce