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Calling London Sushi Buffs

Related to my other recent post, I wanted to sound out people about London sushi options to find out if I am missing anything or anywhere notable.

I have become accustomed to really high level sushi dinners in New York where I have lived for the last 2 years as well as on a couple of trips I have made to Tokyo/Japan in recent times. This means that for me the bar has been raised and places I may have previously rated highly in London no longer cut the mustard. Relevant as I am likely to be returning to London full time later in the year.

My sense is that London is not a premier sushi city for the moment (but is improving) and seems to have gone more down the path of "designerish" Japanese restaurants in recent times. In particular I am keen to hear about places where you can sit at a sushi counter, interact with the sushi chef and do a piece by piece omakase; places where they import fish direct from Japan such as madai (snapper), kinmedai (baby snapper), sayori (needlefish), kohada (shad); places where they use fresh wasabi; places where they are adorning the high grade fish with interesting and imaginative sauce, drizzle, marinade, herb/spice pairings, places with an extensive sake list.

Over the years I have tried a lot of both the usual suspects and also the less usual suspects and favour places like Cafe Japan, Sushi Say, Kiku, Hiro (Ealing), Saki as well as the sushi counter in Selfridge's Food Hall and in the Yaohan Plaza supermarket. In New York, Yasuda, Ushi Wakamaru, Shimizu, Kanoyama and Seki are some of my favourite places.

Any and all insights/recommendations will be gratefully received.

Thanks.

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  1. Not tried it yet, but Edokko in Red Lion St is supposedly very good indeed With traditional decor. I visited on the off chance of a table one night recently, but it was fully booked - a good sign mid-week. There's definitely the counter, plus apparently traditional eating spaces upstairs... My colleague, who has lived in Japan checked the menu and nodded approvingly. Going to try it as soon as possible... Would love to see reviews from anyone who's tried it.

    9 Replies
    1. re: SpikeyD

      Thanks for the suggestion and good shout. I did go there once and remember only being mildly impressed but that was a while back and I clearly need to revisit. On that occasion we didn't sit at the sushi counter but went for the tatami style seating, can't remember what we ate but it must have been more than just sushi. This was also the favourite place of a Japanese colleague in London so it must be doing something right although it's likely that Japanese people favour it for its all round menu rather than just its sushi offerings. If you try it out any time soon, please report back.

      1. re: oonth

        Sushi Say in Willesden is definitely worth a visit

        http://majbros.blogspot.com/2007/03/s...

        I tried and enjoyed Edokko on a recent visit

        http://majbros.blogspot.com/2007/02/e...

        S

        1. re: Simon Majumdar

          Thanks. I know Sushi-Say pretty well from times gone by but I clearly need to revisit Edokko. The sushi/sashimi photos from Edokko on your blog look promising and that looks like fresh wasabi which I am a big fan of. Going back to my original post do you know if they import any fish from Japan and also how extensive/good their sake list is?

          1. re: oonth

            Edokko is fine, nothing special and won't meet NY or Tokyo standards. definitely above average for London. nice to see they have sea bass sashimi though!

            1. re: missholmes

              So anywhere else in London that you would be recommending ahead of Edokko?

              And what's so notable about finding sea bass on a sushi menu?

            2. re: oonth

              Am curious about your request for fish specifically imported from Japan? Just speaking from second-hand experience, my uncle was an amateur sports tuna fisherman off the coast of Rhode Island for quite a long time--and he tells stories of coming back to dock to find the Japanese waiting for him and his catch...and how the fish were put on the first flight out of JFK to Tokyo...so while I don't disagree that origin is important, freshness and the hands of the chef are important as well...I saw the Rick Stein and The Japanese Ambassador programme a few months back and even the Japanese Embassy head chef was impressed with the mackerel Rick brought in from Cornwall!

              1. re: kristainlondon

                Very fair comment. But you misread - my point is not in any way to denigrate fish that doesn't come from Japanese waters but to point out that I very much enjoy some of these varietals from Japan that I've tasted in NY and LA sushi bars as well as in Japan itself but have yet to find in a London sushi bar.

                It may be that sushi chefs [being predominantly Japanese] have an inclination to source from the home country but my reckoning is that they will select the best produce regardless of origin. If you go to Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, you see items that have been imported from all over the world, hardly surprising when you consider that 1/6th of the daily volume of global fish trading takes place at that market, which if true is a remarkable statistic.

        2. re: SpikeyD

          Went to the Seven Samuri Sushi awards last night - held (i believe) every year which is always worth a try and a really good experience...

          They had a good range of sushi made up for the buffet as well as the normal range of other japanese foodstuffs (yaki soba, pork katsu, edamamme, salted salmon etc) were available too...

          You then got to try a peice of sushi from each the chefs too (from russia/us/japan)...

          As an event it really was quite entertaining if you go in small group, but tickets are pricey (£60) - worth a look in 2008!

          1. re: SpikeyD

            A sticker on Eddoko's front door indicates it won the Japanese Businessmen Magazine award...

            Recommendations for the best native sushi or other can be sought at the Japanese Centre in Piccadilly (already mentioned) or in Brewer Street at the small Japanese supermarket.

          2. Sounds like we have traded places! I've just moved to NY, and am getting more and more into sushi here. Planning to head over to Ushi Wakamaru soon.

            My favourite place in London is Tajima-Tei on Leather Lane, at Chancery Lane/Farringdon tube stations. It's perhaps a little more sedate than what you are looking for, and I have become more adventurous here in NY, so I never tried anything too unusual on their menu, but I think the quality of the fish is great and the rice is spot-on.

            Let me know what you think if you try it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: nylondiner

              Good luck, you'll enjoy lots of the eating options over in NYC especially the sushi bars. If you scan recent posts on Manhattan sushi options, you'll see lots of posts from me with some mini-reviews, top 10s/20s etc. Ushi Wak is one of the must trys.

              I did try Tajima-Tei once, remember being mildly impressed although it's not Manhattan standards by any means. Luckily for me, even once I leave here I will likely get to spend a fair amount of time each year in Manhattan and Tokyo so shouldn't want too much for high grade sushi.

            2. I hope this isn't too late to be of interest. You might like Umu in Mayfair; they do have fresh wasabi, and they also have a sushi counter, though we sat at a table on our visit. I really liked the smaller courses of the tasting menu; interesting use of herbs and sauces. They also have an extensive sake menu; we had paired sake with our tasting menu and thought the choices were very good (though I'm no sake expert).

              I wrote about it at greater length here: http://london.randomness.org.uk/wiki....

              Have also enjoyed Mitsukoshi on Lower Regent Street; we sat at the sushi counter that time and ordered piece by piece, lots of interaction with the sushi chef. I hear they have a new sushi chef since we ate there (last year) though, so I don't know if they're still as good.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Kake

                Thanks Kake, your response is not too late as my search is on a rolling basis and I am likely to be in London on and off over the next few months and maybe living there again full time as of next year.

                I have heard plenty about Umu and have checked out their website but am yet to go. Sound like a sushi lunch is the way forward and also the way to avoid the scandalous pricing. Additionally, I have revisits to Saki, Hiro, Edokko, Sushi Say and a visit to Chisou and Mitsukoshi on my radar.

                1. re: oonth

                  I'll also be moving to London from NYC end of this year, and am a huge sushi fan in NY..so am really crossing my fingers that I'll find a sushi place of similar quality in London :)

                  1. re: manhattan foodie

                    Well there's good news and there's bad news. I spent quite a lot of May in London and did some sushi samplings at various places, I have been meaning to post some of my findings, will do so in due course.

                    The bad news is that there's no Ushi Wakamaru, Yasuda. Kanoyama etc equivalent in London (that I have found) and that you'll [inevitably] pay more per piece than in NYC, the good news is that there are nevertheless some worthwhile options and the sector seems to be improving with some decent recent additions.

                    1. re: manhattan foodie

                      If you aren't worried about the ambience and its more about the fish then head to Atari-ya on James street (next to selfridges) which is a small take-away shop with a counter - excellent fresh sushi, and if you are happy to roll your maki at home, then they will cut everything as required i.e. for maki, sashimi, hand rolls etc.

                      Atari-ya also have an amazing fish shop in West Acton which is well worth the trek - they sell all your fish for sashimi etc as well as among other things black miso cod which is excellent and incredibly cheap. I have heard that Atari-ya supply the likes of Nobu, and the 7 sushi samurai awards held by eat-japan in London use them to supply all the fish.

                      1. re: pomello

                        Yeah that Atari-ya on James Street is impressive especially the value for money which is exceptional. Fish wise, it doesn't have the quality or variety of Sakana-tei, Kiku or Edokko but it's a very worthwhile option nevertheless and is much cheaper and much more informal than those places so perfect for regular visitations and casual eating in or taking home. And yes I think that they supply various Japanese restaurants although I have never considered Nobu to be a destination for good sushi.

                2. Try Ikeda on Brook Street. Not known as a sushi bar, but there is a small one in the back. When I lived in London years ago, this was by far the best. I hear that it still may be. Search around the web for other comments, there are some good ones out there.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: sushiman

                    Thanks sushiman, Ikeda has been on my radar for a while but I haven't made it there yet, I will at some point. I have tried out quite a few of the recommended London sushi joints over the last few months and am overall quite satisfied although I haven't found anything up to the stratospheric standard of Yasuda or Ushi Wakamaru and a few other Manhattan places besides (I think that you are a big Seki fan, no?). Having recently left Manhattan indefinitely, maybe permanently, I would include Yasuda, Ushi and Sakagura amongst the 5 restaurants I wish I could have brought with me in my hand luggage :-)

                    1. re: oonth

                      I guess that you never got the "A" game at Ichimura.

                  2. For take-away the Japan Centre in Picadilly is really good.
                    Atari-ya & Sushi Say are great.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: niamheen

                      I haven't eaten at Sushi Say in some time, what exactly do you find great about the place? Does it hit any of the bases I talk about in the 3rd para of my original post?

                    2. Seems like you're looking for Dinings on Harcourt Streete...chef used to work at Nobu but opened his own sushi shop and he provides the experience you are looking for.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: bagelfairy

                        I don't think that Dinings is what I'm looking for (Nobu is not recognised as a great purveyor of traditional style nigiri) but I will give it a try nevertheless as I like the more modernist style too and my brother has talked highly of the place.

                        1. re: oonth

                          Happy to report that I underestimated Dinings. Although it's not exactly what I'm looking for, I found it to be a really accomplished place and liked everything about it, it will become a regular place for when I'm in London. Sat at the counter and was able to interact nicely with the sushi chef, something that I'm rarely if ever able to do in London.

                          In fact the London sushi/Japanese scene is looking up. I revisited Saki and we ordered off their a la carte menu and were impressed by most of the offerings, a nice mix of modern and traditional styles. The founder is a Japanese woman who is very passionate about introducing more authentic and higher quality Japanese foods and ingredients to Londoners, I hope that she succeeds.

                          And there's a new sushi bar/izakaya called Ikura opened on Chalk Farm Road, run by a husband/wife team, Chinese chef + Malaysian front of house. I tried some sushi and was actually impressed with the quality. Unfortunately for them, the location is a terrible one and they'll do well to make a success of things which is a shame.

                          1. re: oonth

                            i would divide the london japanese places up into a few categories

                            The post-Nobu types - e.g. Pham Sushi (city), SaSa Sushi (also city), Dinings, Saki
                            all these places are firm favourites - modern influences and varying ambiances. You should also try Life on the corner of Goswell Rd & Old St as its new and struggling in that location and the food is top notch.
                            Soho "cheap & efficent" - e.g Hai Sushi, Kyoto, Ten Ten Tei (still my favourite), Sakura
                            Varying quality but all reasonable
                            OTT exxy - e.g. Sumosan, Zuma, Roka
                            Beautiful rooms, beautiful people, just fab. One comment on Sumosan, having recently been to Russia that seems to be THE big food trend there now (honestly, every restaurant is sushi or serves it) so Russian ownership isnt necessarily a bad thing. and the food is fab.
                            Out of centre - Sushi Say (willesden), cafe japan (finchley)
                            all of these are very very good, but require a tube trip for most of us which I think is worth it.

                            1. re: condimentqueen

                              Thanks for your thoughts and observations.

                              Of the Nobu inspired bunch, I find Dinings and Saki a cut above Pham although they are also more expensive. I haven't eaten in SaSa or Life so will aim to do so in due course. Life is in a graveyard location and I'm not sure I like the set up (I've had drinks there) so as you say it will do well to survive.

                              I am a big believer that where sushi is concerned you really do get what you pay for. Top quality fish/seafood is expensive no matter which city you are buying it in so I rarely find cheaper sushi bars to be anything more than adequate and I've always found the Brewer Street/Soho options to be unremarkable. The one exception is Atari Ya cafe off Oxford St which clearly benefits from the backing of a wholesale fish operation. Out of interest, what are your favourite items at Ten Ten Tei?

                              The fancy schmancy places just don't do that much for me on a food level (Umu apart but that's silly expensive). Sumosan and Roka (haven't tried Zuma), I found the food to be merely good nothing better. Not surprised to hear about the sushi trend in Moscow/St Pets, the same phenomenon can be seen in Mumbai and Beijing, other places with vast amounts of new wealth, Japanese food and in particular sushi continues to be highly fashionable, design-friendly and marketable. Just look around in London, there are plenty of new sushi/Japanese places opening up here, there and everywhere, there's plenty of mileage left here too. Amongst others, Yau's upmarket kaiseki etc place Sakenohana is expected to launch shortly. And the long-established Japanese food scene in Manhattan continues to be highly dynamic.

                              I like both Sushi Say and Cafe Japan and both happen to be within easy reach for me but quality wise they are a notch below Edokko, Sakana-tei, Kiku, Mitsukoshi, Dinings, Saki.

                              1. re: oonth

                                ten ten tei - favourite items were always the agedashi tofu, tamago sushi and their warming winter oden. its funny, when i put it down like that it isnt the sushi that is so remarkable. i always found it to be reliable and good - but not as dynamic as NY options, definitely!
                                am still not sure about Life - i think you sound like the sort of person who has to try everywhere eventually though.
                                I guess what I love about Pham is the consistency, cost and the location but its quite static. SaSa is very much along the same lines, but not as interesting as Dinings - i just think Saki & Dinings are too expensive for 'everyday'.
                                where is Atari-ya? Im not sure ive ever tried that one.
                                I used to also like Sakura - have you ever been there? I

                                1. re: condimentqueen

                                  Nope never did get to Sakura although it has attained some kind of legendary status. Fair point about Ten Ten Tei, there are very few dedicated sushi yas in London, most offer extensive menus izakaya style. Talking of izakayas, you should try out Soho Japan on Wells Street, very worthwhile. Atari ya is on James Street, more cafe/take out place than restaurant but very good sushi for low prices, it's the retail outlet for a fish wholesaler.

                                  I'm with you on Pham, I always ate well there. And yes Dinings and Saki are not everyday places although at Saki you can get a sushi selection for £20 which ain't too bad for the quality. Try Tomoe on Marylebone Lane, it's my latest discovery, same fish supplier as Saki apparently, much lower prices (and decidedly unfashionable in every respect).

                                  Yes I will try Life at some point although I'm in no hurry. And yes I am something of a sushi addict but I do like lots of other foods both within and beyond Japanese cuisine honest!! Makes me laugh to know that in Japan, sushi is special occasion food and many families over there will only partake one or twice a year.....

                            2. re: oonth

                              I wish I hadn't recommended Dinings---my friends and I couldn't even get a reservation on Valentine's Day! Sigh---oh well I'll just have to beg for a table some other time. :) Glad it's busy though--better my favourite places be busy than closed!

                        2. For simple fresh sushi, sashimi, unagi, and a selection of other dishes Sushi World in Pitshanger Lane, Ealing is worth a try.
                          It is a bit out of the way, very small with not a lot of atmosphere but for fresh, good quality Japanese food it is a winner.
                          It isn't very well advertised and almost impossible to find reviews but is good!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: jogas

                            Thanks, I've never heard of this place but it sounds promising. I've always held out hope that there are more places like this in Ealing/W5 as this is where the Japanese community in London is most concentrated.

                          2. Sumosan is fantastic (London Underground Green Park)

                            http://www.sumosan.com/

                            28 Replies
                            1. re: forensic_kim

                              For sushi (which was my specific request), I find Sumosan just OK nothing more and it certainly doesn't hit the bases I refer to in my original post. In fact I would probably say the same thing for most of the menu there. Problem is that it's as much about the scene as the food and that's never a good starting point. Plus it's expensive and for that kind of money, I think that Saki is immeasurably better. Difference is that Saki has a relatively unfashionable location and so will never get the hype that somewhere like Sumosan does. Sumosan seems to have little or no Japanese involvement (it's Russian owned) whereas Saki is founded and run by a Japanese lady whose passion for, and knowledge of, Japanese cuisine is outstanding, something that she wants to share with her customers.

                              1. re: oonth

                                Chisou on Princes St, Hanover Square. Simply the best sushi in London. Not ridiculously expensive and the fish is (for London) fabulous.
                                David the owner lived in Japan for many years and he is a great expert on sake.
                                Beats Sushi-Say hands down.

                                1. re: Hot head

                                  Best sushi in London. That's a bold claim but one that I don't agree with. For sushi, it's not bad but not in the same league as Saki, Kiku, Sakana-tei or Edokko. Have you tried these places? Sushi chef at Chisou is a Sri Lankan chap, nice guy but I always find it worrying when the sushi chef is not Japanese.

                                  1. re: oonth

                                    So I finally made the move from NYC, and I def. really miss Sushi yasuda :P that'll be my first meal when I go back to NYC. on the other hand, sushi here has been slightly better than i expected..i tried out sakana-tei (was impressed that they had buri daikon..which is simmered yellowtail, but not so impressed with their unagi..i expected an unagi-don but it turned out to be a cold slab of unagi with no rice). My sushi din at mitsukoshi was also decent. Am def. going to try make the trip to Ealing sometime to try out the options there.

                                    1. re: manhattan foodie

                                      Welcome. Yes I miss Yasuda too but I am slowly learning to live without it and have been lucky enough to spend much of the summer in Bangkok and Tokyo where the sushi was great (in Bangkok too). London sushi scene is making strides as I say upthread, try out the places I mention in my post above before going to Ealing.

                                      Undoubtedly worth trying out Ealing options although Hiro, which probably gets the most press of those places, is just OK in my opinion.

                                      Also try out Atari Ya sushi cafe and Selfridge's Food Hall sushi counter.

                                      My Japanese friends are raving about a new place called Tomoe (a folkloric sushi name in NYC!!) which I will be trying out next week, I will report back.

                                      1. re: oonth

                                        My favourite sushi place in London is Asa Kusa in Mornington Crescent - they do an amazing tuna tartare in miso dressing, salmon fish head, delicious sashimi - it's a very authentic Japanese-owned restaurant and you definitely have to book in advance. Very cheap too.

                                        Bento Cafe in Camden is also good, as is Sushi Waka - they are both on Parkway.

                                        There is a new Japanese restaurant on Haverstock Hill - just down the road from Belsize Park Tube Station called Ikuru - the food was really delicious especially a main course with eel, egg and spinach - it sounds odd but was very well prepared and extremely reasonable.

                                        1. re: zoej

                                          Thanks good tips and near to my London base so handy. Asakusa keeps coming highly recommended so I will definitely give it a go, it's an izakaya I believe. Funnily enough Bento Cafe was recommended to me just last night and by a Japanese friend. Sushi Waka is Julian Clary's favourite London sushi place FWIW!!

                                          The place on Haverstock Hill is called Ikura (= Japanese word for salmon roe). I was also impressed (see comments in a post above) but fear for its future based on location, that spot is a graveyard....

                                          1. re: oonth

                                            On top of recommendations for Kiku, Atari Ya, Sushi Hiro amd Kiraku (the latter not visited for a while), I have to say a must to visit is Kikuchi on Hanway Street, just off Tottenham Court Road. Very traditional (including slightly brusque service) but truly fantastic sushi and hot dishes, an incredible array of sushi and sashimi. Absolutley fantastic!

                                            1. re: ravelda

                                              Don't think that I've ever eaten at Kikuchi, I'll certainly add it to my list. I'm a bit of a dissenter where Hiro is concerned, it's fine but nothing special in my opinion and not worth the schlep over to Ealing. I need to try the various other places in that hood including Kiraku.

                                              Glad to see that this thread has still got legs. I'm hoping to try this new place Tomoe on Marylebone Lane later in the week so I will report back.

                                              1. re: oonth

                                                tried atariya this weekend! very good value and good sushi too. a great find :) thanks for the recommendation. has anyone tried Ikeda? i'm trying that tomorrow night.

                                                1. re: manhattan foodie

                                                  Glad that you liked Atariya, it is a bit of a gem. I was at Saki last night, that also is a gem but at a much higher price point. We sat at the sushi counter and interacted with the chef and ended up with a great sequence of dishes.

                                                  I've never been to Ikeda, please report back if you go.

                                                  This thread is on its way to becoming something up-to-date and definitive where the London sushi scene is concerned.

                                                  1. re: oonth

                                                    Ah oonth--if only I had known! I was wandering home last night and totally considered dropping into Saki to try it out. This would have been 10:30ish. But I kept going instead.

                                                    1. re: kristainlondon

                                                      Well if you do go, stand out dishes from last night were uni tempura (off menu I think), aburi ("seared") style nigiri sushi, foie gras with daikon, uni nigiri. They have some wonderful sakes too and if you're prepared to spend big get a bottle of Shirataki daiginjo ("premium") for £85, it's likely to change the way you think about sake (also available by the glass, £10.50 per glass).

                                                      Footnote is that the menu may be changing soon as head chef is leaving end of the month to take up a plum position at a Beijing sushi bar. In Godfather speak, they have made him an offer he simply could not refuse. I only found out last night that this guy used to work at Kyubei in the Ginza district of Tokyo, a place that is reverential in Japanese circles, and which gives an indication of the height of the ambition of Saki's owner.

                                                      1. re: oonth

                                                        My Japanese friend Takaki changed the way I thought about sake in 2002. He showed up at a friend's barbecue with a bottle of sake he had brought straight from Japan a few days earlier. It looked like a big glass bottle of milk. He served it fantastically cold and we drank it in rounds after burgers and corn on the cob. It's a good memory.

                                                        1. re: kristainlondon

                                                          The stuff you had is called nigori which is unfiltered hence the cloudiness. As I say go to Saki and order a glass of daiginjo (premium sake) for 10.50. It´s delicious. My only hope is that the price comes down. In NYC I was able to get a very good bottle of daiginjo for approx $60 in certain liquor stores eg Landmark, Astor. Here I have to pay considerably more than that if I can even get my hands on it.

                                                2. re: oonth

                                                  Did I tell you already I went to Kiraku the other weekend? I was very pleased with the food. Less so with the abysmally slow (if cheerful) service. Because the service was so slow and the English menu was very bare bones, I stuck with a combo. I felt the fish was extremely fresh. Packed with Japanese families at 2 p.m. on a Sunday. You sound like much more of a Japanese expert than me, so I don't know. I was actually going to try Sushi Hiro this weekend because I have plans out that way. But now I might try to find Sushi World instead!

                                                  1. re: kristainlondon

                                                    I'll take that as a compliment :-) Yes I am big into Japanese cuisine and have been for the last few years. Was already getting into in London and then moved to NYC in 2005 and got even more into it. Plus frequent visits to LA and Japan itself. Definitely my favourite cuisine although I was actually brought up in an Indian household in the UK.

                                                    I will give Kiraku a go at some stage. Am also very interested to try out Sushi World so please report back if you go. Maybe I am being too harsh about Hiro, it's definitely above average and good value so don't let my jaded sushi palate put you off :-)

                                                    1. re: oonth

                                                      went to Ikeda last night. the sushi was good but quite expensive (average 3-5 pounds per piece). other cooked dishes were also quite authentic (didn't expect to find shishaimo (smelt fish) and stuff like ochazuke (green tea with boiled rice and ikura topping)..however the restaurant is pretty expensive (ended up being a 50 pound meal per person including service!).. i'll go back once in a while but certainly not on a regular basis (i have to tell myself to stop translating everything into US $!! $100 can buy me a really awesome meal there...)

                                                      1. re: manhattan foodie

                                                        That is not that expensive. A meal at any top NYC sushi bar, including one beer and a carafe of sake, will easliy be $120-$150.

                                                        1. re: sushiman

                                                          actually i'm not a big eater, so usually when i go to sushi yasuda, i have around 14-15 pieces and i pay $80 pre tax and tip..and that's for a melt-in-your-mouth, to die for sushi experience. Here in london, i'm paying 50 pounds for a slightly above average japanese meal (let's just say if ikeda is located in NYC and charging the same price, i would never go back..simply because there are so many other good choices around with better value)

                                                          1. re: manhattan foodie

                                                            That sounds about right for Yasuda (unless you have sashimi) and in line with what I generally spent when I went there including a small flask or two of sake.

                                                            Anyway I think that I'll pass on Ikeda for the moment, doesn't seem to offer great value even by London standards.

                                                            These last few days I've had very good sushi lunches at both Mitsukoshi and Dinings. At the former I had 10 pieces of nigiri (scallop, mackerel, yellowtail, sea urchin, marinated salmon eggs, sea bream, omelette, squid, clam, shad) and it was a very reasonable £24 with a mug of tea. Today I had 14 pieces of nigiri (4xscallop, 2xsquid, 2xhorse mackerel, 2xmackerel, 2xmedium fatty tuna, 2xyellowtail) and 2x75cl glasses of junmai ginjo at Dinings and that came to £47 all in. Both times at the sushi counter, I was able to interact with the sushi chefs and get a better sense of which fish they were and weren't able to source year round. So for example deliveries of fish from Japan are limited compared to Manhattan so likely no alfonsino (kinmedai), needlefish (kinmedai), hokkaido sea urchin and also likely no fresh wasabi. They also confirmed that items like mackerel (saba) and sardine (iwashi) are always likely to be very good in London sushi bars because they come from Cornish waters and are prized specimens (see Krista comment above). The sushi chef at Dinings was talking up the quality of Cornish giant crabs which are in season at the moment and dominating the specials board, worth checking out if that's your thing. Also worth noting that Dinings has more innovative nigiri with some pieces garnished and/or already sauced by the chef.

                                                            1. re: oonth

                                                              Hi Oonth. I really enjoy reading your posts on here as I find them a lot of fun to read as well as being very informative!

                                                              I was wondering what it was you didn't like about Sushi Hiro in Ealing? I've heard Sushi Hiro described by several sushi buffs as being super-fresh, with sushi and sashimi to rival anywhere in Japan!

                                                              I've not been to Japan myself so can't compare.

                                                              There's another Japanese/Sushi restaurant in Ealing that nobody has mentioned, which is meant to be very good : http://www.okawari.co.uk/

                                                              Have you been to Okawari?

                                                              Methinks another trip to Ealing is on the cards for you so you can tell us how Kiraku, Okawari and Sushi Hiro compare in the grander scheme of things! ;-

                                                              )

                                                              Links:

                                                              http://www.kiraku-restaurant.co.uk/
                                                              http://www.okawari.co.uk/

                                                              1. re: Nomi

                                                                Thanks for your post and the kind words. I've never actually been to Kiraku or Okawari but I'm happy to act as some kind of special envoy to the board and go try them out and report back. Same applies to Sushi World which is in the same ballpark and has been recommended upthread.

                                                                Ealing probably has London's largest Japanese community so you would hope that there are above average Japanese restaurants in the nabe. About 3 summers back I remember going to a Japanese food fair in a small park somewhere in Ealing, it was quite interesting with some good food on offer.

                                                                I've probably overstated my position on Hiro. I do like it and am happy to go there but I don't think it justifies the level of hype that it gets. It's a very limited menu (no less common fish varietals, no uni), no fresh wasabi, nothing exceptional about the shoyu, you can't do piece by piece omakase in front of a chef, the sake list is also limited , these are my gripes. But yes it is fresh fish, reasonable prices, friendly, popular with Japanese clientele and something of a real Japanese experience. But no not a patch on sushi/sashimi you find in Japan nowhere near tell you the truth.

                                                                You've no doubt read my list of sushi recs in this thread, I stand by each of those places and add to the list Tomoe on Marylebone Lane which I discovered last week. 11 pieces of wonderful nigiri for 25 pounds, I've posted more details in a Krista thread about eating near Oxford St.

                                                                1. re: oonth

                                                                  HeHe! Yes, you can be our official Sushi Researcher/Ambassador.

                                                                  Have you been to Atami by the way? It's had mixed reviews (including a rave review from Fay Maschler!) and they do have fresh wasabi I believe.

                                                                  I really want to get into Japanese food a lot more so thanks for all the recs everyone.

                                                                  Link:

                                                                  www.atamirestaurant.co.uk

                                                                  1. re: Nomi

                                                                    I haven't tried Atami but remember reading about it when it opened, I will add it to the list. Fresh wasabi is superb, mellow, grainy and slightly fragrant so much better than the powdered version. Tell you the truth, I take what Fay Maschler says with a barrel of salt especially where Asian food is concerned. At some point you just got to learn to trust your own palate and I try and do my homework on places I haven't tried in different ways.

                                                                    As for Japanese food, I developed an interest a few years back and just started exploring and keep learning as I go along. 2 years in New York was a good education, so too visits to Japan (although it wasn't until my most recent visit, my 3rd time there, that I felt like I was finding the good stuff) and having food-loving Japanese friends and girlfriends also helps.

                                                                    So far, where in London do you like for Japanese food and what items/cuisine subsets do you favour?

                                                                2. re: Nomi

                                                                  Didn't realise but Okawari now has a branch in Chinatown (16 Lisle Street) so this may be a little more accessible for some folks. Found this out from Eat-Japan Magazine, a wonderful resource for [UK] lovers of Japanese cuisine.

                                                                  http://www.eat-japan.com/

                                                                3. re: oonth

                                                                  hi oonth, where in marylebone lane is tomoe?

                                                                  I tried this restaurant called Cocoro on marylebone for dinner and it was quite good..didn't get any sushi, but got a oyako-don for just £10.. really satisfied my oyako-don craving

                                                                  1. re: manhattan foodie

                                                                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/459192 - here's a bit more colour on Tomoe.

                                                                    it's wigmore street end of marylebone lane, #62 i think. next door to biggles the sausage place and not so far from Cocoro on the other side of the street. ignore the shabbiness of the place and go downstairs to the sushi counter and get stuck in. thanks for Cocoro tip, i have walked by a few times without trying it.

                                                                    tell you something, japanese food culture in London is booming, there's something in the air, great news for us Japanese food lovers.

                                  2. Has anyone tried Miyama on Clarges St in Mayfair. They have fresh wasabi and the quality of the fish is outstanding. I also like Chisou a lot, but do not think they have the best sushi in London -- their soft shell crab and tempura are outstanding, and they have a more varied menu than Miyama. At Miyama -- I generally sit at the sushi bar and allow the chef to make what he wants. It is fantastic, but obviously London's sushi scene cannot compare to New York's, or for that matter, New York's cannot compare to LA.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Will125

                                      And LA's cannot compare to Tokyo's :-) The latter really is an extraordinarily fine eating city. I may well have had my most consistently excellent eating week ever when there in August this year overtaking a week I had in Tuscany back in 2001.

                                      Thanks for the Miyama tip, sounds very promising especially the use of fresh wasabi, I will endeavour to try it out this week.

                                      1. re: oonth

                                        Definitely let me know what you think. My best experience has been sitting at the sushi bar -- it's always the same skinny guy making the sushi. I am by no means a sushi expert, but I have been to Chisou, Hiro (in Ealing), Cafe Japan and Sakura. Miyama is the best thus far, but I did like the toro in at Hiro and I thought the rolls at Cafe Japan were excellent. I need to try out some of these other places everyone has suggested.

                                    2. Wanted to keep this thread going so would be interested in hearing about people's recent sushi/japanese experiences be they good, bad or ugly. I noticed that some modern Japanese place was opening on Seymour Street, W1, anyone know if it's opened yet and if so has anyone been? Also Sake no Hana, anyone been and got a view? I've read universally mediocre reviews but still plan to go when I can find a way to get it on an expense a/c :-) Intrigued that it's ended up as some kind of modern izakaya which is my favourite genre when eating out in Japan.

                                      Some of my recent (last 4-5 months) experiences:

                                      * Tomoe, 62 Marylebone Lane, W1 now my favourite sushi place in London. Was there yesterday lunchtime and was worried that after a recent trip to Japan, food wouldn't impress. But it did especially the scallop and squid sushi and sashimi. There's some good cooked food too including sauteed iberico pork, I need to try more items from the regular and specials menu. Great value for the quality too - £20 each yesterday for a good feed, no booze mind just tea.

                                      * Cafe Japan, 626 Finchley Road, Golders Green, NW11. Picked up a quick and light takeaway one evening last week. It's got all the charm and local feel of old, immediately reminded me why I was a regular when I was living full time in London. I dig their deep fried inside out rolls (yellowtail, salmon, tuna or butterfish) and their nigiri isn't bad either. I also noticed interesting specials including something billed as some kind of hot sashimi, I need to investigate further. Plus king crab specials, it appears that London sushi/japanese chefs are very impressed with the quality of king crab from Cornish waters, the chefs at Dinings were also singing praises when I was last there. Also worth noting that they do miso black cod at a much lower price point than Nobu and their clones.

                                      * Sushi Say, Willesden Lane, NW10. Went back before Xmas and had a perfectly good chirashi at the counter. Mrs Shimizu (co-owner and front of house, husband is the sushi chef) recognised me as a former customer (I used to be a regular) and I got very well looked after by her and her staff. I finally realised that Mr Shimizu speaks little or no English, previously I used to think him rude, now I understand :-)

                                      * Kiku, Half Moon Street, W1. Went back after a 1-2 year interval and was less impressed than I remember being, maybe I've just found better places in the interim. Remember being impressed by razor clam items though and may still keep this as part of my rotation although it's Mayfair and therefore at a higher price point.

                                      * Yazu, off Curzon St, W1. A compact (15 stools max) kaiten place in a small side street connecting Curzon St to Shepherd's Market. Fine, nothing special but some good o-toro as I remember it, was quite surprised to see that item served in a London kaiten. Good if you're on the go and just want a quick bite.

                                      * Centre Point Sushi Cafe, nr junction of Tottenham Ct Rd and Oxford St, W1. This was a fallback after Kikuchi turned out to be closed for lunch. Nice people and vibe but food ordinary especially the sea urchin which was from Canada but which no self-respecting sushi chef should be serving as it was poor quality and unpleasant flavour. Korean owned and staffed.

                                      May have forgotten some places, will post again if anywhere else comes to mind. Still on my radar to try Sushi World on Pitshanger Lane and to revisit Asakusa in Mornington Crescent.

                                      41 Replies
                                      1. re: oonth

                                        I just had a fantastic meal at Eat Tokyo in Golders Green almost directly opposite the station.

                                        I had a Chirashi set which included an assortment of very fresh fish, seafood, tamago, mushrooms and pickles on beautifully sticky and moreish rice, plus a lightly dressed salad, seriously delicious miso soup and a small dish of pickles. This was only 7 pounds! We also shared the best nasu dengaku I have ever had - it was literally bubbling with miso dressing and the skin was crispy and sticky - this was 2.50!
                                        My friend had tuna and salmon sashimi, salmon in a rice broth and a huge portion of tempura cod. We also split an order of edamame and had two green teas each.
                                        The bill (including service) came to 28 pounds (14 each) which I think is a total bargain for food of this quality and quantity. They also gave me a voucher for 10% off my next meal there.
                                        The clientele was mainly Japanese and the atmosphere is very buzzy and fun. Service was rushed but attentive on the whole. I will definitely be going back there as opposed to Cafe Japan which, although busy, lacks the same level of atmosphere.

                                        1. re: zoej

                                          Thanks for the rec Zoe, I've walked by this place a few times and wondered about the food. I will try it out next time I'm in London, it's very local for me.

                                          http://www.allinlondon.co.uk/restaura...

                                          Have you tried or heard about this place by any chance? It's called Armando and it's a kosher sushi restaurant on Golders Green Rd (nearer to Brent Cross tube), I'm curious and would like to try it out at some point.

                                          1. re: zoej

                                            Zoej, I tried Eat Tokyo, it's a good place with very reasonable prices and pleasant waitstaff, thanks for the tip. I ordered scallop sashimi; salmon belly, yellowtail and mackerel sushi; and nasu dengaku, I enjoyed everything. I got the voucher too and on that voucher it says that they are opening a branch in Soho soon.

                                          2. re: oonth

                                            One update I forgot to mention - Jinkichi on Heath Street, Hampstead, NW3. A longstanding izakaya specialising in yakitori. Revisited last November and ordered a selection of dishes from the izakaya subsets. Very good and lots more to the place than simply the yakitori for which they are famed. On the expensive side I guess but not shockingly so. My first night ever in Tokyo back in 2003 I got chatting to a customer at a sushi counter who was kindly helping me explain myself to the sushi chef (he ended up picking up my tab, that's Japan for you) and he mentioned that he had spent time in London before and that Jinkichi was a favourite place of his, a nice little story.

                                            1. re: oonth

                                              In yesterdays crappy metro paper they mentioned endokko in holborn. Have you been? I trust your recommendations so will try if you think its worth the effort.
                                              Also - went past Sake No Hanah (not for food though) and it looks incredible. That and Nobu Berkley are at the top of my 'must try' list now.

                                              1. re: condimentqueen

                                                Thanks for the vote of confidence :-) I think that you're talking about Edokko (old name for Tokyo) on Red Lion Street. Yes definitely worth going to, I mention it in some of my posts above. But first of all get yourself to Tomoe on Marylebone Lane and then try Mitsukoshi, Sakana Tei and Edokko in no particular order. And always sit at the sushi counter and interact with the sushi chef to the extent possible (chap at Edokko does not speak much English unfortunately).

                                                I hope to try Sake no Hana at some point soon and will report back. As for Nobu, I think that you can do better foodwise where modern/fusion Japanese is concerned (Saki springs to mind and also look out for Megu opening in London later this year) but if you do go, I would suggest Ubon by Nobu at Canary Wharf which has great river views and a much cooler and more down-to-earth vibe than its siblings. And avoid the sushi at Nobu, stick to new style sashimi + cooked dishes. Oh and the bento box dessert used to be a winner.

                                                1. re: oonth

                                                  Hello, this is mostly for Oonth. What are Tomoe's opening times? I am in London tomorrow and hope to go. Also what would you recommend? Cheers!

                                                  1. re: rekha

                                                    hi rekha. on friday the opening hours will be midday to 3pm for lunch (last orders 2.30pm) and 6 to 10pm for dinner. i would go downstairs and sit at the sushi counter. i would definitely order scallop and squid sushi or sashimi as these are outstanding, then choose other fish varietals you like, they are good for most things eg tunas, white fish, shiny fish. from the cooked food menu, order the iberico pork special (note may not be available at lunchtime) served on a bed of greens with a dab of yuzu kosho on the side. they have an extensive cooked food menu, i haven't sampled that much tell you the truth. i should point out that it's no frills decor, it's all about the food (and drink, sake list is good) at this place. enjoy.

                                                  2. re: oonth

                                                    thank you - will try your recommendations as you do seem to be the london sushi sage...honestly!
                                                    btw I just love nobu, i cant help myself - for me it is all about the fusion there so new style all the way!! Sake No Hana is also ridiculously glam i hope the food lives up to it. am planning nobu berkley in april after payday!!

                                                    1. re: condimentqueen

                                                      please report back if and when you try some of the recs, always nice to get feedback. tomoe seems to have gone down well with other hounds and if you like nobu style i am sure that you will enjoy saki although is at a higher price point like nobu. oh and umu as well although that's even more pricey than nobu.

                                                      don't get me wrong, i've always eaten well at nobu restaurants but just don't get excited by them in the way i used to. if you haven't sampled their sea urchin tempura, then you should do. and Matsuhisa in LA (the original nobu) is the place where i first tried mochi ice cream, if Nobu Berkeley serves this for dessert, then definitely try.

                                                      I will try Sake no Hana one way or another and report back in due course.

                                                2. re: oonth

                                                  Another update. Selfridge Food Hall sashimi counter has now changed hands. Used to be run and staffed by Atari Ya, now the concession belongs to J Wright & Sons, an upmarket Mayfair fishmonger who have also taken over the running of the fish counter. However, I think they have outsourced the running of the sushi counter back to Atari Ya people, person in charge of the counter is a Japanese lady called Maki, she is very friendly and I have had a couple of interesting chats with her about Japanese food in London. Upshot is that the counter now does sushi to order as well as sashimi and also that you can now get fresh sea urchin from Japan albeit at £5 for a smidgen, it is an indulgence. My favourite item remains the scallops, works out at around £3 per plump scallop (from Japan) which allows for 6 or so sashimi slices when cut.

                                                  1. re: oonth

                                                    What a lot of great recommendations to add to my wishlist! I've been to Sake no Hana twice. It's great if you don't have to worry about money, so the first time was hellish (because I had to pay) and the second time heavenly (because it was a treat!). It's hard to know the sizes of the dishes, and you can't really tell from the prices alone. Back in Jan, the sushi bar wasn't open yet, but they did have a selection on the menu - v fresh. Anyway, I have written extensively about both meals on my blog (I was the first to write a review, with photos before I got stopped).

                                                    I also like Jinkichi in Hampstead and Yoisho on Goodge Street.

                                                    Helen Yuet Ling Pang
                                                    http://worldfoodieguide.wordpress.com

                                                    1. re: foodie guide

                                                      Helen, thanks for your post and your blog review of Sake no Hana which I read. Sake no Hana is basically a modern style izakaya, a genre of eatery that has become more and more popular in Japan. I will try it for sure (if for no reason other than curiosity) but I have a feeling that I will find it a let down when compared with the real deal (as for example you find Rodizio Rico a let down when compared with churrascarias in Brazil, I agree with you 100% on that by the way).

                                                      Anyway if you like izakaya style eating, then I would recommend that you try Akari and Soho Japan for sure. And Saki if you have not been there and if your preference is for modern Japanese. I also hear good things about Aki on Greys Inn Rd, have yet to try it out. And Tomoe is a must for sushi.

                                                      One of the dishes you mention in your Sake no Hana review is hitsumabushi which is a speciality from Nagoya. I recently saw this on the specials board at Dinings and chatted to the chef about it, he said that it was his own take on the dish and whilst I didn't try it, I would certainly recommend this place to you, they are very good both for raw fish and cooked dishes.

                                                      1. re: oonth

                                                        Hello! Yes, it is a very fancy izakaya, as opposed to serving kaiseki as some reviewers have written. I'd be interested to hear your opinion of it, as you've clearly been to a few Japanese restaurants! It's an experience, especially the journey to the toilets. Thanks for all these recommendations by the way. My wish list grows longer and longer, and Dinings has been on there too.

                                                        Looking forward to Sushi Say next weekend though, my first time!

                                                        Helen Yuet Ling Pang
                                                        http://worldfoodieguide.wordpress.com

                                                        1. re: foodie guide

                                                          The Japanese ladies who run the (Japanese) curry stand on Brick Lane on Sundays heartily recommended Asakusa in Morningon Crescent. Anyone been? It was a VERY strong recommendation from them so now I am very curious...

                                                          1. re: kristainlondon

                                                            Have had the same strong rec for Asakusa and it is relatively local for me so must try and get there at some point soon. It's meant to be traditional izakaya style. If you get there first please report back.

                                                            Btw I was at Tomoe last night and we ate chutoro, chopped otoro w/ scallion and mackerel sashimi; scallop, tamago, sea urchin and squid sushi; deep fried chicken and squid; sauteed iberico pork; pickled vegetables and washed it down with sake, plum wine (on the rocks) and beer. It was all very good as usual apart from the chutoro sashimi which was still part frozen, a surprising faux pas from excellent sushi chefs. The scallop sushi is divine and a very reasonable 2 pounds per piece.

                                                            1. re: kristainlondon

                                                              I've been to Asakusa! I've been many times and used to go there regularly with my Japanese colleagues. It's run by Junko and her husband (who used to be the chef at Jinkichi) and it's been there for a long time. Cosy and fun upstairs, bleak downstairs in the basement, lots of Japanese menus on the walls (just like in Japan). Great for sushi, but I love the nabe there. It can be a bit hectic, but it's a popular place.

                                                              Enjoy!
                                                              Helen Yuet Ling Pang
                                                              http://worldfoodieguide.wordpress.com

                                                            2. re: foodie guide

                                                              Helen, please report back on Sushi Say, I hope that you liked it.

                                                              Btw I walked by Yoisho yesterday and took a look at the menu. Looks good and I was pleased to see both soy based and miso based ramen on the menu, have you tried either of these dishes by any chance? I'm yet to find high grade ramen in London, I will keep searching in both Japanese and Chinese places.

                                                              1. re: oonth

                                                                Hello, have only had udon at Yoisho, not ramen. Which means you'll have to try the ramen and report back! Will report back on Sushi-Say, definitely.

                                                                Helen Yuet Ling Pang
                                                                http://worldfoodieguide.wordpress.com

                                                                1. re: foodie guide

                                                                  Will try out both Yoisho and Asakusa and report back. You should try Akari, Tomoe and Soho Japan. By the way this thread should officially be renamed Calling London Japanese Food Buffs as we've moved beyond discussions about just sushi.

                                                                  It is interesting to note that most London Japanese places double up as sushi shops and izakayas, I guess that it's just catering for the local audience who still expect first and foremost to find sushi in a Japanese eatery.

                                                                  1. re: oonth

                                                                    For oonth, who seems to be the resident London sushi expert. Like many posting on Chowhound I've recently moved to London from NYC and find (like a lot of people) that what I miss most is sushi. I've been reading through your posts from in late 07 and 08 but there are so many names floating around it's just impossible to form a difinitive list of places to try - so I was hoping you wouldn't mind posting a summary of your sushi recomendations in central London? I used to eat sushi 1-2 times per week and am missing it more than anything else! Thank you.

                                                                    1. re: melissagrayce

                                                                      No problem, I also eat sushi/raw fish with the same frequency although am always trying to wean myself off it a little!

                                                                      My first and probably best rec is to go to Tomoe @ 62 Marylebone Lane (Wigmore Street end). Go downstairs, sit at the sushi counter, interact with the chefs, try various pieces of sushi and sashimi (especially the scallop, squid, mackerel) and take it from there. Make sure to ask for the special house brewed soy sauce not the Kikkoman on the counter.

                                                                      Generally you'll find a much narrower selection of fish on a London sushi menu when compared with NYC. Also with one or two high end and pricey exceptions, you won't get fresh wasabi here. And you won't find Yasuda calibre although standards seem to be improving all the time.

                                                                      I know the NYC sushi/Japanese food scene very well so let me know which places in NYC you favour and I can suggest a few more places in [central] London for you.

                                                                      Welcome to London.

                                                                      1. re: oonth

                                                                        Thank you. I will try London's Tomoe first.

                                                                        In NY we ate at Yasuda a few times but only as a treat. My favs are Sushi of Gari (ues branch) and Tomoe and at the pricier end Jewel Bako and Blue Ribbon Sushi. For quick delivery I used to order from a place called Aki on the UES.

                                                                        Thanks for your recommendations.

                                                                        1. re: melissagrayce

                                                                          Of course I forgot about the legendary Tomoe on Thompson St although that's nowhere near as good as it once was. I'm sure you'll enjoy London's Tomoe, it does both excellent sushi and cooked food, in fact you'll find that most London sushi shops also double up as izakayas to a lesser or greater extent. Anywhere here goes with some recs:

                                                                          Traditional sushi (cheap) - Atari ya cafe/takeout - James Street; Selfridges Food Hall sushi counter; Tomoe - Marylebone Lane

                                                                          Traditional sushi (mid range) - Edokko (Red Lion Street), Sakana tei (Maddox Street), Mitsukoshi (Lower Regent Street), Sushi say (Walm lane, Willesden Green), Cafe Japan (Finchley Road nr Golders Green)

                                                                          Modern sushi/Japanese - Saki (West Smithfield, expensive); Dinings (Harcourt Street, mid range); Umu (Bruton Street, Mayfair, very expensive.

                                                                          Enjoy.

                                                                          1. re: oonth

                                                                            You d'man, or, um, woman, Oonth. I am visiting London for 4-5 days with my 13 year-old son, and had a very fine meal tonight at Tomoe. We live outside Boston and love our sushi (Oishii/Sudbury, and Shogun/Newton). Our first night here we tried Yo Sushi, and concluded that while an interesting idea, as self-professed sushi snobs we thought it was, um, an interesting idea.

                                                                            Your enthusiasm and appreciation for Tomoe was apparent, so we got there right at 6 tonight (a Friday night) and got seated immediately - in fact had the restaurant to ourselves for probably 30 minutes. I love my nigiri sushi, and thought the scallop was superb. I'm usually not a fan of mackerel, but as advertised in this string the marinated mackerel was really quite good. My son really enjoyed the dragon roll.

                                                                            I didn't think the service was all that friendly (but still perfectly effective), but that may be an unfair comment as we are well-recognized at our Boston haunts.

                                                                            We'll post more comments about all our London eating experiences tomorrow night, in a separate write-up.

                                                                            Thanks again to all who have contributed to this string - very helpful and informative!

                                                                    2. re: oonth

                                                                      Brief report on Sushi-Say (will be posting about this at greater length with photos on my blog):

                                                                      Friendly service and nice interior (recently renovated, I believe), but lunch was somewhat spoiled by a very noisy table at the other end of the tiny restaurant. Food was simply presented, with no frills, and very fresh - kabocha no nitsuke, agedashi tofu, nigiri sushi toku selection, yasai tendon, tori teri don and unagi don (yes, we were really going for the dons as it was snowing and very cold). After warming up, we were ready for the highlight of the meal - home-made ice cream. This really must be experienced. We tried ginger, sesame, wasabi, chestnut, red bean and green tea. All amazing, particularly the wasabi. In terms of quality, Sushi-Say is comparable to Yoisho, Jinkichi and Asakusa, all within a similar price bracket.

                                                                      Thanks oonth...now looking forward to trying your other recommendations!

                                                                      Helen Yuet Ling Pang
                                                                      http://worldfoodieguide.wordpress.com

                                                                      1. re: foodie guide

                                                                        Glad you liked Sushi Say, it's an above average neighbourhood sushi bar + izakaya although I still have it a notch or two below my favourites of Tomoe, Saki, Edokko, Dinings etc.

                                                                        I had a less enjoyable experience over the weekend at Kiraku in Ealing. Service was embarrassingly poor and inefficient but beyond that the food was hit and miss - very good iberico pork tonkatsu, very good mackerel sushi (although it wasn't served to us as the pressed rice "battera" style sushi we had requested), not bad monkfish hotpot from the specials list but average tuna and salmon sashimi (they had run out of scallop sashimi by the time they realised they had mislaid our initial order), average cod roe chazuke and poor quality selection of yakitori both in terms of ingredients used and execution. They didn't have the decency to take something off the bill to compensate for the woeful service, that was highly disappointing. This hasn't changed my view that there is no special reason to schlep over to Ealing for Japanese food, I prefer the options closer to home.

                                                                        1. re: oonth

                                                                          Sadly after all the reasearch I had an unsuccessful sushi experience last Saturday evening. Tried to get into Tomoe and then nearby Kikuchi and was told at the door that no tables were available, despite both restuarants looking near empty and our offer to sit at the bar. This was around 6:30, never would have imagined booking would be essential - is this common in London?

                                                                          1. re: melissagrayce

                                                                            Sorry to hear that. Tomoe is super popular these days especially amongst the Japanese community so I'm not surprised to hear that it was fully booked at 6.30pm on a Saturday evening. In fact the previous Saturday, I went there at 6.15pm with no reservation and was lucky to snag the last table and it remained full for the rest of the evening. And sitting at the bar (i.e sushi counter) is even less likely at a busy time, that's the most prized seating in the house for many Japanese because you can interact with the chefs and get the inside track etc. I've never tried Kikuchi but I suspect it's the same deal.

                                                                            Not really any different to New York. All the places you mention in your post above you would need to reserve [or in the case of Blue Ribbon wait] if you wanted to eat at 6.30pm on a Saturday evening although obviously you can get lucky in certain circumstances.

                                                                            Persevere, Tomoe is most definitely worth visiting time and time again.

                                                                            1. re: oonth

                                                                              Hi oonth,

                                                                              I've trawled through all the posts and have decided to visit the following based on your recommendations: Tomoe, Dinings, Saki, Soho Japan and Akari.

                                                                              A Japanese friend, who works for Eat Japan, swears by Soho Japan.

                                                                              Blue Ribbon has a special place in my heart - my bag got stolen from right under my feet (yes, at the counter)! But the sushi was amazing...

                                                                              Helen Yuet Ling Pang
                                                                              http://worldfoodieguide.wordpress.com

                                                                              1. re: foodie guide

                                                                                Helen, a very good list to which I would add Edokko, Sakana-tei and Mitsukoshi.

                                                                                Yes Soho Japan is very good and authentic, you'll find lots of Japanese customers there, they have a website, you can look at the menu in advance of going. And the place used to be an Irish pub which they converted, you can still see residual features of the pub, it's quite amusing and adds character. And they have good sake there if you're into that, ask them to talk you through their options.

                                                                                Funny I had a bag stolen the exact same way in a favourite tapas bar when I was living in Barcelona last year, sometimes you've got to take your hat off to bag thieves, begrudgingly of course!! If you go back to Manhattan, make sure to alert my attention on this board, I can give you lots of Japanese food tips, I don't think Blue Ribbon would make my top 20 list of sushi places in Manhattan any more.

                                                                                Btw my brother went to Sake no Hana last week and wasn't blown away (and spent a scandalous amount, a lot of it on drink to be fair). I've seen a copy of their menu and it doesn't particularly excite me so I'm going to give it a miss. For this week, I have a revisit to a place called Ikura in Chalk Farm on my agenda, I will report back.

                                                                                1. re: oonth

                                                                                  Hi oonth, thanks for the additional recommendations! My step-mother-in-law is Japanese and she likes Mitsukoshi. As she's a great cook, I trust her (and you of course!).

                                                                                  That ill-fated Blue Ribbon visit was back in 1999 when I was living in NY, but definitely will pick your brains if I do go back.

                                                                                  Look forward to hearing about Ikura!

                                                                                2. re: foodie guide

                                                                                  Helen,
                                                                                  I've just been to Tomoe on Friday (thanks to all the recommendations on here!) and I gotta say I'm joining the Tomoe love brigade. Would also highly recommend booking!

                                                                                  Now to try Sushi Say... I've been reading about it everywhere!

                                                                                  1. re: supercharz

                                                                                    Hello supercharz,

                                                                                    Yes, Tomoe is now at the TOP of my Japanese restaurant wishlist! Because of oonth, I've had to create a separate one just for Japanese food...

                                                                                    Let me know your thoughts on Sushi Say...

                                                                                    1. re: foodie guide

                                                                                      Hi All,
                                                                                      I am thinking of trying Tomoe on Saturday (for lunch) should I book? If so, does anyone have a number? I did a google search and couldn't find it ;-( tried to go to Edokko last weekend but it wasn't open for lunch....
                                                                                      thanks

                                                                                      1. re: J J

                                                                                        No need to book at lunchtime.

                                                                                        For everyone's benefit, full details are:

                                                                                        Tomoe Sushi Bar, Sake and Japanese Tapas
                                                                                        62 Marylebone Lane
                                                                                        London W1U 2PB
                                                                                        020 7486 2004

                                                                                        Opening Hours:
                                                                                        Lunch 12:00 - 15:30 (Last Order 15:00) Tue - Sat
                                                                                        Dinner 18:00 - 23:00 (Last Order 22:30) Mon - Sat
                                                                                        Closed Sunday

                                                                                        1. re: oonth

                                                                                          Thanks, Oonth! Really looking forward to Tomoe, and eventually trying the other recs have posted about - Sushi Guru!

                                                                                          BTW has anyone heard of/been to Ginnan, near Farringdon? My Japanese neighbour rec - he said its pretty close to the stuff he has back in Tokyo...

                                                                                          1. re: J J

                                                                                            Have heard of it (and heard good things, also from Japanese folks) but have never been. If you do go, please report back.

                                                                                            1. re: oonth

                                                                                              Hi - great thread, thanks to all esp oonth. I have been asked to help arrange a reception for 25-30 people linked to the opening of a Japanese exhibition. the group includes a number of Japanese people including some traveling from Tokyo for the event - do you know if any of these places do catering for that size private group?? Have looked for websites for your favorites but not having much luck......

                                                                                              thanks for any advice, I'm not in London which makes it harder to check them out but will visit before booking anywhere obviously.

                                                                                              1. re: durhamgirl

                                                                                                Try Saki in the City near Farringdon. Well designed place, very good food (blending traditional and modern style). I imagine that they would be able to cater well for this size and type of group.

                                                                                                http://www.saki-food.com/

                                                                          2. re: foodie guide

                                                                            I agree that Asakusa (Golders Green?) was very good but it is no more - long gone. oops edit- I was thinking of Akasaka... Asakusa is indeed still present :)

                                                        2. My wife is Japanese and I've visited Japan and Manhattan many times, and I'm originally from Vancouver - so my Japanese Food palette is quite well tuned (or at least thats what I like to think).

                                                          The most authentic Izakaya is Yoisho on Goodge Street, but try to get a seat upstairs. Best for Yakitori and Sake is Bincho on the 2nd floor of the Oxo Tower on the South Bank. Sakura on Hanover St is ok. Japan-Centre is ok, service usually lacking.

                                                          For Sushi, Edokko on Red Lion St. is good, almost like in Japan, but make reservations. Tajima-tei on Leather Lane is very good for Sushi as well. Better yet is Saki in Smithfield Market (and it's trendy to boot). Hiro in ealing is very authentic, but too far out from central. Sakana-Tei on Maddox St is good, but the decor could be better. Jin Kichi in Hampstead Village is good, Cafe Japan in Golders green is good. Donzoko (on Kingly St) is ok, wouldn't rate it as highly as the others but it's good. Matsuri (Holborn) is good-ok.

                                                          I'm lacking experience in some of the more "upmarket" (overpriced and trendy) venues. I've been to Roka many times and it is very good (French-western-Japanese fusion), but way too pricy and last time I was there I had other issues. If someone else was paying I wouldn't say no. The food at Nobu (Berkley Sq) is good-ok, but way overpriced and seething with rich pretentious snots, wouldn't go back. I've not been to Sumosan (maybe not pretentious but very over-priced), Umu or Zuma, etc, or any of the other trendy-type places (ending with uma or aya) so I don't really know how they compare. I don't really rate places like Itsu, Feng-Sushi, Kulu-Kulu, or Yo!, or even Sushi-Hiro.

                                                          Wagamama is good for a quick lunch but definitely not authentic Japanese. One good point is that you can get Asahi-Black there, which is actually from Japan (don't get me started on that subject but stay clear of Sapporo and Asahi Super-Dry in the UK).

                                                          I've not been to Benihana (Teppanyaki?), Sushi Say, or any other place I haven't mentioned and I've been to a few others that I'm sure I'm forgetting to mention!

                                                          I'll tell you what London is severely lacking. There aren't any authentic ramen or soba places, like you'd find in Japan or NYC or even Vancouver to a lesser extent. There aren't any authentic Teppanyaki restaurants (say something comparable to Ohnishi in Kobe). There aren't any authentic Ton-Katsu, Curry, etc, etc places. There are huge gaps in the Japanese-Food market in London and I can only guess the reason is that it is too ridiculously expensive to run a business here.

                                                          1. I would like to give a huge vote to Ikeda (30 Brook Street) as the best Japanese restaurant in London. I think it is authentic, has interity, briliant service and we have invariably have delicious food. The chef is a real creator and the sushi is exquisite. Also try the ebi shin jo, soft shell crabs, yasai sumono and beautifully cut and presented fruit salad. My partner and I are addicted and go at least once a fortnight - we sit at the kitchen counter which is great fun. The zen of cutting vegetables, grilling fish and washing pots and pans - who needs television? Elvis Costello was in last time we were there.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: peterha

                                                              Happy to hear it is still that good all these years later. 22 years is a long time to maintain quality.

                                                            2. Koi (Palace Gate) and Nobu (Park Lane) are both excellent.

                                                              1. In my attempt to revive this thread (because sushi is worth it), I'm surprised that Yumi at George Street (W1) has not been mentioned yet. It's one of the more authentic Japanese places in London that I've been to, and serves great sashimi/sushi and izakaya classics.

                                                                As with some other restaurants that are mentioned, there is a separate Japanese menu with a lot more options (damn) but the waitresses will be more than happy to assist in recommendations. Other sashimi/sushi, inaniwa udon (cold) and yuzu sorbet are must-trys.

                                                                P.S. fresh wasabi is available on request

                                                                1. Oonth - we are heading into London this weekend and are in need of sushi. Is Sushi Hiro in Ealing still highly rated... Or do you have better recomendations?

                                                                  26 Replies
                                                                  1. re: PhilD

                                                                    Phil, I think that Sushi Hiro is still highly rated but more so by the body of London food bloggers and critics than by myself. It seems to have been elevated to some kind of mythical status, my own view is that it's a solid, much-better-than-average, dedicated sushi bar but I didn't find anything standout or exceptional the times I visited, you can find some extra comments of mine upthread. Another factor to bear in mind is that it is almost totally devoid of any kind of atmosphere which can be a little disconcerting.

                                                                    My recommendation would be either Tomoe or Kikuchi in the West End. Both of them are essentially traditional style izakayas incorporating sushi bars but they both offer good food across the board. I've only been to Kikuchi once, comments as per the thread linked below. Tomoe I've been to numerous times, I've enjoyed a variety of dishes including their sushi/sashimi, razor clam preparations, iberico pork dishes, deep fried oysters/squid, tsukemono etc. Tomoe's scallop sushi is the single best piece of sushi I've eaten in London I would say. I also like their squid, mackerel and tuna sushi. At either place you can focus on sushi (in which case it may make better sense to book places at the sushi counter) or mix and match in which case a table may be better. Kikuchi will be open only on Saturday evening and closed Sunday, Tomoe open Saturday lunchtime and evening and maybe open on Sunday too (call to check). If for dinner, reservations essential at both places.

                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/529341

                                                                    If you're interested in more modern/fusion style, you might want to consider Dinings just off the Marylebone Road. Sushi chef is ex Nobu so there's a fair amount of new style sashimi etc. In my experience they also offer good quality traditional sushi and sashimi too. In a converted townhouse, open Sat and Sun evenings. Bellaphon blog recently reviewed in some detail. Again bookings essential.

                                                                    Enjoy your weekend in the Big Smoke!!

                                                                    1. re: oonth

                                                                      Hi there Oonth. Took quite some time to read through your diligent blog entries here. Thank you for taking the time. What a relief. I just moved to London with my fiancee and we are dying for sushi. Having lived in NYC my whole life, the sushi withdrawl is reaching a tipping point.

                                                                      Regardless of price, if what I want is a Sushi Yasuda/Seki/Gari etc omakase style, piece by piece, sushi counter experience, which place would you recommend first? And then what about a second and a third? I will try all of the places that you hold in higher regard (Dinings, Saki, Edokko, Atari Ya, Tomoe, in no particular order), but I'd rather not pick blindly or based on table availability for my first sushi venture in London - and hence I'm asking for you to give me a top 3 in order, starting with the best. I lived here once btwn 02-04 and didnt eat sushi once. It was truly grotesque then.

                                                                      By the way, I know you love Yasuda, and I think it's good, but my qualms with it are that they cut the fish too small given the amt of rice they give you, and I think the rice is hint dense. Gari has a similar problem in that the pieces (rice and fish) are just too big, and their rice is is even denser. For my tastes, I like Seki the best as a clear number 1. Jewel Bako and Sushi-Ann (formerly Sushisay) are my stalward backup plans. I don't like the fish or rice at Blue Ribbon. The cooked food at Soto is fantastic - have you been there?

                                                                      Thanks again!

                                                                      1. re: ghsu

                                                                        Howdy, sorry to interrupt the chow talk, but this NYC sushi is fantastic and we'd hate for the NYC hounds to miss it. Please continue the NYC sushi discussion on the relevant NYC boards, so that the information can be located by the sushi-loving chowhounds who might otherwise be disappointed. Many thanks!

                                                                        1. re: ghsu

                                                                          Hi ghsu, welcome back to London.

                                                                          Some current observations for you on sushi/Japanese in London:

                                                                          * I've never really found places here where you can sit at the counter and do piece by piece or ask the chef for his omakase. That said, I have been able to interact with sushi chefs and do something akin at Tomoe, Dinings, Mitsukoshi, Saki. Most places have sushi counters but one problem is that some sushi chefs eg @ Edokko and Sushi Say don't speak much English and so interaction is tricky. Tomoe has come closest to giving me the experience I was after but in the last few months it seems more problematic getting seated at the sushi counter, not sure what's happened, worth giving it a shot all the same.

                                                                          * I would probably pick from any out of Tomoe, Dinings, Mitsukoshi, Saki, Edokko, Sakana-tei, Kikuchi. Bear in mind that most of these places are sushi bars and izakayas rolled into one. If you want to focus on sushi, you know the drill from NYC - sit at the counter, try and interact, express preferences, show knowledge, ask about specials. Dinings and Saki are more modern/evolved style, the others more traditional. Some of the info/quality control might be out of date and chefs may have changed - I haven't been to some of the places since 2007. Sakana-tei is actually high on my list of places to revisit, I recently read an interesting review on Gourmet Traveller's blog, sounds like there are some excellent specials (eg uni + crab chawanmushi) in the evenings.

                                                                          * If cost is no issue, go to Umu in Mayfair. It's part kaiseki, part modern izakaya, part sushi bar. Food is very good indeed, prices are stratospheric (albeit not Masa levels). Excellent sake selection. One of the very few places in London where you can get fresh wasabi.

                                                                          Umu website link - http://www.umurestaurant.com/noflash.htm

                                                                          * Nowadays, I eat a lot at a couple of dedicated sushi shops - Atari ya in Hendon Central (they also have a small cafe on Davies Street, W1) and a newcomer Sushi of Shiori on Drummond Street near Euston. I have started separate threads about both places, you can do a search. I also regularly buy takeout sashimi from Atari Ya and a place called Fuji Foods in Crouch End, good quality and excellent value for money at both places. Another place I quite like is Ikura in Chalk Farm, again it's part sushi bar part izakaya. All of these places are quite local to me (North London). Oh I also still like the tuna and yellowtail age (fried) rolls from Cafe Japan in Golders Green.

                                                                          Atari Ya website link - http://www.atariya.co.uk/

                                                                          * The scallop sushi at Tomoe and Shiori is some of the best sushi I have eaten anywhere in the world, it's sweet, succulent and moreish (I normally order 3-4 pieces at each). I think that London sushi bars also excel for mackerel, squid, king crab, sardine, sea bream, salmon, razor clam, these are items primarily coming from local waters. Tuna options are generally pretty good too. I still can't find certain favourites from Japan like kinmedai (alfonsino), sayori (needlefish) and madai (snapper). Uni (sea urchin) is generally from Spain or Canada and not the best, occasionally (eg @ Saki) it has been from California or Hokkaido, much better IMO.

                                                                          I've never been to Soto, friends have told me about it and it's on the list for my next NY visit especially for the various uni preparations. In recent years, I've been lucky enough to spend a lot of time living in, and travelling around, a few different places in the world. I miss lots of foods/eateries from all of those places but now I'm getting better at lauding what London has to offer - there is excellence here and, as a keen home cook, I am particularly happy with the quality and variety of produce I am finding in the shops, markets, delis etc. I guess that the summation is that in each location you gain in certain ways and lose out in others, the same goes for London.

                                                                          Itadakimasu!!

                                                                          1. re: oonth

                                                                            Hi Oonth,

                                                                            Tracked down this forum after your comment on my blog and am glad I did since there's a few of your recommendations (Tomoe and Shior) that I definitely need to try! I've been to Dinings before but was underwhelmed but you seem to really enjoy it so maybe will pop down there sometime as well and give it another go.

                                                                            I agree that Umu is great if you have no budget but after having recently visited bar charlie in vegas it just pails in comparison! It really is frustrating that for such a big city, London really does lag behind on the sushi front...but yeah, you learn to live with it!

                                                                            Btw, do let me know what you think if you manage to make it down to Sakana-Tei for dinner.

                                                                            1. re: gourmet traveller

                                                                              Hi again. I think we're agreed on the limitations of the Japanese food scene in London (if sushi options are second rate at best then ramen isn't even worth thinking about!!) but I am definitely trying to accentuate the positives!

                                                                              Just a little bit more for you about each of Tomoe, Shiori and Dinings. Tomoe was my favourite sushi ya/izakaya for a while in 2007 and 2008 and I got to know the sushi chefs who looked after me well. But I haven't been in a while partly because attitudes there have worsened and I started to find find it all a bit rude and aloof. Plus they put their prices up which, bearing in mind the scruffiness of the place, didn't seem particularly reasonable. But the food is still much better than the London average so on that basis it's worth the visit and hopefully you get gracious treatment. Look out for the scallops, iberico pork dishes, grilled razor clams, bonito tataki (if they have it as a special).

                                                                              Dinings is massively hyped at the moment (has become a real favourite place for chefs) and I don't think it's THAT good to justify the hype. When I went a few times in 2007/2008 what I liked was sitting at the counter ordering sushi directly from the itamae who I got to know and who I developed a rapport with. I wasn't that excited by their "Nobuesque creations" but I did like the regular nigiri. I also liked some of their sakes by the glass. And they had an excellent dessert (black sesame something). I probably need to revisit myself to check on current standard.

                                                                              Shiori is a newcomer. Think a better version of Atari Ya cafe. Small space, limited menu, really nice owner and sushi chef (from Hokkaido). No drinks licence at the moment but they have applied for one. Here's a link to the thread I started - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/636919. I've been back a couple of times since and I'm really enjoying it. And here's the link to their website - http://www.sushiofshiori.co.uk/index....

                                                                              I will definitely be making it to Sakana-tei for dinner at some point and will report back.

                                                                              1. re: oonth

                                                                                Oonth - do you think the problem is that under UK law all fish to be served raw must have been frozen first?

                                                                                I am not certain if this is true in other countries, or even if all sashimi fish is frozen on the boat when it is caught (so even Japanese fish is frozen) in order to get it to port in good condition.

                                                                                1. re: PhilD

                                                                                  Phil, don't think that's a problem - whether you're eating raw fish in London, New York or Tokyo these days I think you can expect a lot of the fish to have been frozen at some point (and some of it imported) and as long as a sophisticated freezing technique has been used, shouldn't adversely affect the flavour/texture.

                                                                                  Btw, did you check anywhere out earlier in the summer as per your request above?

                                                                                2. re: oonth

                                                                                  Hi Oonth,
                                                                                  Thanks for the overview of the restaurants - have booked a table at Shiori for dinner with a friend next week and my husband and I will probably check out Tomoe the week after - all the dishes you mentioned sound fantastic so will definitely be looking out for those (will also let you know if their attitudes have improved since your last visit!). As for Dinings, to be fair we did visit in the first month of its opening and didn't try the more traditional fare.

                                                                                  You mentioned the Atari Ya cafe - I often pass Davies St but have never seen it - is it still around, and if so where is it located exactly?

                                                                                  Incidentally I visited Sakana-tei last night for a quick dinner (onsen tamago, uni gunkan, grilled ox tongue, etc) and enjoyed it as always. I've attached a couple of pics but there's more on my blog if you wanted to check it out. http://gourmettraveller.wordpress.com...

                                                                                   
                                                                                   
                                                                                   
                                                                                   
                                                                                  1. re: gourmet traveller

                                                                                    Hi. Am posting the link for Atari ya below. My mistake above - the sushi bar (takeaway) is on James Street not Davies Street and I think you have already discovered this place. They have a proper sit down sushi bar but that's in Hendon Central and probably not very convenient for you. Definitely worth a visit though, you can view the menu online.

                                                                                    http://www.atariya.co.uk/

                                                                                    Dinings now has a website too, here's the link:

                                                                                    http://dinings.co.uk/

                                                                                    Let me know what you think of Shiori and I'll do the same when I make it back to Sakana tei. Thanks for the blog report and photos, that uni looks excellent and I'm fairly certain is Californian or from Hokkaido, my favourites. Btw Fumio san is right, onsen tamago is quite easy to make at home although I find it tricky to consistently cook the eggs at the right temperature and for the right amount of time!!

                                                                                    1. re: oonth

                                                                                      Travelling to London in a few weeks time - found plenty to digest above but would like to narrow down my search for an evening of Japanese chow.
                                                                                      The gold standard are the fun izakaya places in Vancouver - lots of small plates, pitchers of beer.....
                                                                                      Anywhere to compare in the central London area,? Staying near St Pauls.
                                                                                      Saki? Tajima-Tei? Aki?

                                                                                      1. re: SeeDee

                                                                                        Kikuchi is probably the best I've been to in Central London, but it's quite pricey. Some of the kushiyaki and yakitori are probably better at Tosa in Hammersmith, which is a bit more of a yakitori-ya specialist.

                                                                                        1. re: limster

                                                                                          I've still not tried Tosa. They've now opened a 2nd branch in East Finchley which is closer to me than Hammersmith so I plan to try at some point soon. Did you know that they're owned by the same group that owns Teachi and Bento Cafe on Camden Parkway?

                                                                                          http://www.teachi.co.uk/index.php?pag...

                                                                                          FWIW, I quite liked Teachi (for dim sum) but thought that Bento Cafe was pretty awful.

                                                                                        2. re: SeeDee

                                                                                          I've not been to all, so take my recommendation for what it is, but I really like Asakusa. Book a table upstairs (essential to book, and you'll want to be upstairs) and order a bunch of stuff. I like the unagi tamago there a lot and the yakitori items are pretty good, but not as good as they are at Tosa, which limster mentioned.

                                                                                          1. re: SeeDee

                                                                                            Like Limster, my 1st choice would be Kikuchi but it can easily run you £50pp so not cheap. Search for the thread on Kikuchi which Limster started.

                                                                                            Akari on Essex Road is another good bet and cheaper than Kikuchi. Search for the thread which I started.

                                                                                            http://www.akarilondon.co.uk/

                                                                                            1. re: oonth

                                                                                              I recently went to Sushi of Shiori on Drummond St and was very impressed. Not a place to linger (it only has nine seats), which is a shame as the owner is incredibly lovely and welcoming. She was really interested in our feedback, and even gave us one of our ice cream choices for free as it had just been made and she wasn't sure what it would be like! Anyhow, we sampled one of the set sushi plates, as well as having some yellowtail sashimi and some kind of eel and egg roll. The yellowtail was particularly good - very very fresh, cut generously. The sushi platter was also good- I particularly liked the sweet shrimp and scallop. In addition, we sampled the chicken yakitori and the kare-age. Both were good, with the yakitori a standout. I should point out that the presentation was really fantastic too. A good meal, that was definitely elevated by the homemade ice creams. Being gluttons, we plumped for all three - green tea with adzuki beans, sweet potato and chestnut. The green tea was great, and the adzuki beans really contributing to the taste. The sweet potato was very subtle. However, the chestnut was a revelation. It was one of the best ice creams I've had this year. I was seriously impressed. I know this isn't sushi, but boy, that ice cream was good! If you can get a seat, definitely give it a try. It would be great if they could get a bigger premises.

                                                                                              1. re: Sharmila

                                                                                                Sharmila, glad that you made it to Shiori and liked it so much. I have been back a few times since my initial visit and am really enjoying everything I'm eating there - superior sushi, sashimi, rolls, miso. And yes the ice creams are a revelation, I tried the chestnut and sweet potato flavours for the 1st time last week. Wasn't aware that they offer yakitori and kara-age, will check those items out on a future visit.

                                                                                                As you say Hitomi the owner is supernice. I think she realises that she made an error of judgement opting for smaller premises with limited seating, an easy mistake to make for a 1st time restaurateur. She needs to get some take-out/delivery/catering custom from local businesses. If you know anyone who works nearby, take them down there, I've been doing just that and she's very appreciative!!

                                                                                                1. re: oonth

                                                                                                  Well, I work over the other side of Euston Road, so I'll definitely try and hop over at lunchtime and bring people with me. It seemed when I went on Friday night that there was a steady stream of people looking to eat, but lack of seating meant they couldn't. Hopefully this is an indication of demand, and maybe they could potentially move somewhere bigger in the future!

                                                                                  2. re: oonth

                                                                                    Hi from a first time poster,

                                                                                    First of all a big thanks to oonth and all the other contributors to this fantastic thread. On the strength of your recommendations I headed down to Sushi of Shiori, and boy, did it hit the spot!

                                                                                    Both the food and service were top notch. The owner very friendly and it was clear that she cares deeply about her restaurant's standards. Small touches like the black truffle garnishing the scallop and a chibi bird carved from daikon perched atop the gari helped elevate an already quality experience. Would definitely return.

                                                                                    Oh, and I agree with Sharmila about the homemade ice cream. I plumped for the sweet potato. It was lush.

                                                                                    A (slightly off-topic) word about Tomoe. I stopped by for a weekend lunch during the summer with tempura cravings. Was very disappointed by the tendon set – the batter was limp, far too oily and, worst of all, everything was tepid. However, my dining partner enjoyed her nigiri sushi set. I was inconsolable after the tempura though, and couldn't really judge properly what I scarfed off her plate.

                                                                                    By the way, has anyone else been to Mai Food in Earl's Court – http://maifood.kcnote.com/ ? I went there for the kushiage (tasty…the pork was especially good), but noticed they also do sushi. I really enjoyed eating there, but as I was preoccupied with all things artery clogging, did not get round to trying the sushi.

                                                                                    1. re: hakluyt

                                                                                      When to Mai a long while ago, and quite liked it (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/524454). Very grateful for the update hope to hear more reports on other stuff at Mai.

                                                                                      1. re: hakluyt

                                                                                        Thanks for the kind words and glad that you enjoyed your visit to Shiori, it is a real gem. I suspect that it's going to get even better in the near future as the owner's husband, currently a chef at Umu, is going to start working with her at some point. Also they should also be getting their drinks licence very soon.

                                                                                        I haven't frequented Tomoe much this year (see my criticisms re attitude, service and price above), sorry to hear about your disappointing experience. I also find the decor and state of premises at Tomoe offputting and don't buy into the suggestion that this adds some kind of authentic Tokyo charm.

                                                                                        Never been to Mai, sounds like a kushiage specialist from what I've heard.

                                                                                        1. re: gourmet traveller

                                                                                          Bumping this thread as i'm looking for a good sushi place for a couple of week's time. I'm basically after what Oonth mentions in the original post, and from what I have seen, Dinings fits best.

                                                                                          However I've been there before and thought the range of sushi/sashimi was a bit limited, ie, no specials board with stuff flown in from Japan.

                                                                                          Is there anywhere else in similar price range, with similar ambience, sake list, selection of inventive newwave izakaya dishes, but with a wider range of sushi? Or I am better off sticking with Dinings? Umu looks good from what I have seen but is a bit too expensive, and the only others places that might be worth a look are Saki and Kikuchi.

                                                                                          1. re: oonth

                                                                                            Finally made it to Shiori today and love it! fantastic quality of fish and the chef takes real pride in preparing everything. Only quibble would be with the portion sizes - I had the special Chirashi Don and was still hungry after! On another note, have you re-visited sakana-tei yet? I had an incredible meal last week (blogged about it if you want to read in greater detail) and tried some great new dishes.

                                                                                            Johnnypd - I know i'm a bit late with this but if you're still looking for an izakaya-type place you should check Sakana-tei out - I recently went to Kikuchi twice and Sakana-tei really is much better (again, had a post on blog if you want to compare the two).

                                                                                            1. re: gourmet traveller

                                                                                              Thanks for the suggestion, traveller. I looked it up on your blog and i'll keep it in mind for next time.

                                                                                              I ended up going to Saki - which was decent. Was bit disappointed on learning that there was no extra fish on that day. that is one thing London needs to improve on. in, say, LA, the sushi places will have a dozen or so specials for sashimi each day, depending on what is fresh and good that time of year - maybe better air trade with tokyo fish market is needed?

                                                                                              Anyway, the quality of the toro was very, very high, and i was also very impressed by the scallop nigiri. The Uni was really delicious, but in a ridiculously small portion. One burst of flavour and it was over. The mackerel nigiri was poor, i felt, as though it had been marinated in vinegar too long. i find only the best sushi places serve good mackerel due to the preparation involved to stop it spoiling, and saki fell short here. I can't remember everything else we ordered, though i recall some cucumber and soy concoction with was pretty bland, and a decent carpaccio in yuzu. Overall, it did some things very well, but you get tiny bits of fish when ordering sushi (tho the otoro sashimi was pleasingly generous), and a couple of dishes disappointed. I did love the ambience and the room though, very cool place.

                                                                                              1. re: gourmet traveller

                                                                                                Nice GT, really good write ups of Sakana-tei on your blog, enjoyed that. Not to lower the tone, but I'm a student on a budget: how much does an evening sampling of the specials board set you back? Would love a ballpark figure of how much I should save before I went there. Thanks.

                                                                                                1. re: skut

                                                                                                  Thanks Skut, I would say for two (food only) it would range from £80-£120 depending on what you order. we always have sashimi and that really brings the cost up, especially if you order the more unusual items. However the cooked dishes are pretty reasonable and you could definitely spend less than what I quoted.

                                                                                                  Johnnypd, you're right - just returned from a trip to LA and had the most spectacular kaiseki/sushi at Urasawa (lengthy blog post went up today) and now everything in London seems to pale in comparison!