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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?