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Jul 15, 2009 03:45 PM

London - Sushi of Shiori - Japanese comes to Drummond Street!!

Stumbled across this place on my way to Nic Rascle's excellent fish shop on Robert Street (between Hampstead Road and Albany Street). I liked the look of the place from outside and was amused by the juxtaposition with one of London's best-known subcontinental enclaves.

Turned out to be a winner. Very compact (9 seats, 3 at a small sushi counter and 6 at the window counter), menu more or or less all sushi + sashimi + rolls with a few sundries. I ordered a lunchtime sushi set (4 x nigiri, 2 x California roll, 2 x oshi-zushi, miso soup) @ £9.50 plus one piece of scallop sushi @ £2.40. All tasted good and the scallop was reminiscent of Tomoe's, sweet, succulent and moreish. Superior touches like using proper crab meat rather than surimi in the Calif rolls. Got chatting to the owner Hitomi, a 1st time restaurateur whose husband is a chef at Umu. Lovely lady, I wish her and her business well although I'm not convinced that the location is the best. Through her husband's connections, she is able to access better quality fish from Atari Ya, the distributor that supplies fish to most of London's better Japanese eateries, that explains the quality of the fish/seafood especially the scallop.

Shiori is the Japanese word for "bookmark" and rather than business cards, she hands out bookmarks with relevant restaurant info to customers, a cute touch.

Sushi of Shiori
144 Drummond Street (nr junction with Hampstead Road)
Tube: Warren Street or Euston
Lunch: 11.30 - 15.00
Dinner: 17.00 - 21.00
Closed Sundays and Bank Holidays.

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    1. Here's a review I wrote of Sushi of Shiori - as you can see, I very much agree!

      My partner and I are always on the lookout for the best Japanese restaurants we can find in London, searching for the quality and freshness of the sushi and sashimi we’d experienced in Tokyo, or on our travels elsewhere in Japan, New York or California. Despite its unlikely setting behind Euston Station, tucked in among the Indian restaurants of Drummond Street, Sushi of Shiori is the closest we’ve come to the atmosphere and flavours of a true Japanese sushi bar. This little place only has about 7 or 8 seats, three ranged along the inner bar and the rest looking out of the front window. (We like to perch at the bar, where you can watch the almost preternaturally skilled chef at work, slicing into the finely textured wedges of tuna, or shredding daikon to lacy thinness.) If you’ve been to Tokyo, you’ll recognise the set-up from the multitude of micro-eateries dotted around that city; like those, Sushi of Shiori manages to feel at once pared-back and homely, thanks to the charming husband and wife team who run it. For years we lamented the lack of a North Londoner’s Sushi Hiro – when it comes to the food, Shiori is it and more.

      The style of the food at Shiori initially seems on the traditional side – what you might expect from Hiro, or the Edoko – Tajima-tei – Matsuri trio around Holborn – but marked out by the delicacy of the cuts of fish and their presentation. Before setting up on his own, Shiori’s chef first came to London to work at Mayfair’s Umu, and it’s in the kaiseki-like flair of the way he sets up his plates – the placing of a daikon-curl just here, a spray of spring onion just there – that his training shows. (Though in our opinion, the omakase at Shiori far exceeds what you get in the sushi and sashimi courses at Umu!) This attention to detail might mean that with a full house orders can take a little while to arrive, although thanks to the intimacy of the restaurant and attentive service, you know you’ve never been forgotten. The little, inventive touches, like a creamy scallop touched with black truffle, or a slice of octopus brought to life with a fragrant homemade shiso-leaf pesto, show that something interesting is happening here, which you won’t have encountered elsewhere. That’s not to say that it’s full-blown fusion, as at Dinings say, but rather an entirely Japanese palate and aesthetic, with hints of modernity. Because of its size, Shiori does a healthy take-out trade (if you call in advance, you can pick up your order already made-up) and we envy those working nearby who could pop in for a quick sashimi salad at lunch. Over the last few months – it’s still relatively new – we’ve tried a range of the set sushi plates, but what keeps us coming back week after week is the outstanding omakase option, where you name a price from £30 a head and let the chef do his thing. (I think they prefer if you let them know when you call to reserve if you might want omakase.) His combinations will vary slightly each time and according to the seasons. So in winter you might expect a warming egg and mushroom stew (chawanmushi) in place of the regular miso soup, and in the summer months the nigiri start to include refreshing and flavoursome vegetables (bamboo shoot, grilled aubergine topped with bonito) in among the expected yet ever-varying selection of fish. In spring the lovely proprietress has bunches of the first cherryblossom FedExed over from Japan, so a pink bloom will appear, salted, atop a seabass nigiri, or as the killer ingredient in one of their homemade sorbets.

      Certain things stand out: the rich sea urchin folded in a creamy scallop, an appetizer of translucent squid tartare laced with green chilli, the huge and succulent spot prawns, the razor-thin slices of sashimi (usu zukuri) laid out in a fan, all made from ingredients sourced with loving care. Of this last, try both the glisteningly tasty salmon and the edge-seared tuna, which are lent a ceviche-like inflection by the tangy citrus in the ponzu dipping sauce. We rarely leave without a scoop of one of the homemade ice creams, topped by a sesame and sunflower crisp. If the cherryblossom sorbet is out of season, don’t miss the sweet pumpkin, or the most recent addition to the menu, a black sesame ice cream of charcoal-like intensity, that quickly became our favourite. Don’t expect the instant trendy ambience or expensive interiors of a Roka or Sake No Hana, but for a quiet meal with a couple of friends, in our experience you won’t find better sushi in London (and incidentally at such reasonable prices).

      1. Oonth, we followed your suggestion from this earlier thread <> to visit Shiori and absolutely loved it. We've been twice, once getting the omikase and once for lunch with sashimi platters and some rolls. We've also tried walking in on a couple of occasions, and found the restaurant already full to capacity, so calling ahead for a booking is recommended, even early in the week. We're actually thrilled that they are getting so much business, as they surely deserve it. (I've been somewhat reluctant to add to the accolades for this place, only because you hate to share such a good secret.) The quality is outstanding. And the owner (Hitomi?) is so lovely and really cares about giving each diner a good experience.

        Sarah London also summarises the menu highlights beautifully, and we too adore the scallop with a touch of truffle and the umi enclosed in scallop. Also got to try skate sashimi for the first time ever. Really nice. The sweet potato ice cream was unusual and delicious, and we are looking forward to trying the cherry blossom sorbet when back in season. We are fairly new to London and can say without hesitation that Sushi of Shiori is the best we've had yet.

        4 Replies
        1. re: gemuse

          When you say you found it full to capacity, do you mean lunch or dinner?

          I was thinking of walking over there for lunch in the next week.

          1. re: r.vacapinta

            Vacapinta, both. However, we did manage a walk-in for lunch on a Wednesday and got the last two seats (and watched a couple other patrons get turned away shortly after.) It might help to go on the early or late side, since it seems like the lunch crowd is from local offices. I believe their lunch hours are 11:30 to 14:30. (Changed from 15:00.) If you are eating alone, you may find a seat, because it seems like there is often a spare seat at the bar due to many patrons coming in pairs. Which reminds me to add that this is not a great set-up for a party of more than two. You will have to sit side-by-side, as there are no tables.

            Also beware it is quite hot sitting in the window on a sunny day, even with the shades down, so dress light. (We felt sorry for two guys wearing suits and ties from the office.)

            1. re: gemuse

              I just want to add my love for Sushi of Shiori. I went earlier this year and always try to stop by and grab a takeaway on my way back to Birmingham from London (How convenient it's right by Euston station!). I've only ever eaten in once though, photos can be viewed at

            2. re: r.vacapinta

              I popped in for a lunch take-away today and it was empty! I was the only person in there. I was very surprised, after the comments on here. Maybe because it's lovely and sunny outside and was rather warm inside, even with the blinds down, the door open and the fan on full blast...

              Anyway the deluxe sushi set was delicious, and prepared while I watched. 4 nigiri, 3 salmon thin rolls and two bo-sushi, and miso soup. At £9.50, it's not an everyday lunch option, but considering Itsu right by my office charges £8 for boring old salmon, I think the extra couple of pounds is worth every penny.

              Today's my first day back at work after a holiday and my beautiful lunch has made it bearable!

          2. Just had an excellent lunch. We stuck with the set menu lunch platters, I had the sashimi lunch and my friend the gen sushi combination. Very good ingredients and fish is ultrafresh and of the highest quality. Watching the chef assemble the dishes was a delight, serious care went into it.
            2 perfectly satisfying lunches + iced green tea + tip £26. It's more than I generally spend for a workday lunch but I have certainly had far less impressive sushi for a far higher price.

            1. thansk, oonth...i will check it when i am back in London next month...

              When i was there last month, i went to several sushi places, and my favorite ended up being the sushi bar at the Mitsukoshi Department store restaurant...sort of became a regular there over the course of two weeks...

              also, since you reviewed Tomoe a while back, it's either gone really downhill or i hit it on a very off night, as the sushi i had there was pretty dreadful and the vibe of the staff, etc was dour and grim...

              7 Replies
              1. re: Simon

                Stopped by Sushi of Shiori tonight as a treat for my Sister's Bday. We opted for a £40 p/head Omakase and I must say, the Scallop with white truffle was pretty much the closest thing to a religious experience I've ever had from food. I'll stick my photod onto Flickr soon and post a link here but I just wanted to (again) re-iterate my love for this place.

                1. re: YSL

                  Hi all,

                  I've stuck photos from my excellent meal at Sushi of shiori yesterday onto Flickr. You can view them at

                2. re: Simon

                  Simon, good to have a fellow peripatetic in this part of the world. I'm loosely based in London again although still somewhat nomadic and travelling here and there. Oddly enough am back in NYC this week for the 1st time in 2.5 years, will search for some of your recent posts on the Manhattan board.

                  Re Japanese food in London, definitely a fast improving scene. I've eaten a few times at Shiori and always been impressed plus the owner Hitomi is a lovely lady and deserves to succeed. One of the only places in London where you can sit at the counter and do omakase. And possibly the only dedicated sushi ya as everywhere else doubles up as either izakaya with sushi bar or generic Japanese. From recent experiences, other places you should have on your sushi radar are Sakana tei, Saki (bukkiri don £6.50 takeout Monday lunchtime is one of London's true bargains IMO), Suzu, City Miyama, Chisou. Kikuchi is another worthwhile place although only open evenings. Check out the following blog entry which I generally concur with (see my comments) although note that the analysis only extends to chirashi.


                  Also check out her posts on Sakana-tei's evening menu (in Japanese only but can ask for translations). I have eaten well at Mitsukoshi in the past, I need to revisit. Agree with the downhill alert for Tomoe, shame as it used to be ichiban. For udon noodles and some izakaya style offerings, do not miss the recently opened Koya on Frith Street in Soho, chefs were brought over from Paris I understand. And if you need non Japanese recs for your upcoming London visit, let me know. I have eaten some good and, on occasion, outstanding items so far this year in London eateries.

                  Bon appetit in Paris. I look forward to reading your reports.

                  1. re: oonth

                    Nice to see you back, oonth. Would be interested to hear your non-Japanese recs for London.

                    1. re: oonth

                      hey oonth...perapatetic, yes, though i prefer "vagabond", "rogue", or in Japanese "maigo no inu"...*smiles*

                      i'll def check out Sakana-tei...will be in London for the first week in August, so will go there and prob Mitsukoshi...i wanted to try Koya, but the girl i was dating in London loves it and then we broke up, so i avoided it...

                      i don't think i have too many good suggestions on the Manhattan board, as i've been in Paris and Asia for most of the last year...will be there for the last three weeks in August and plan to hit old favorites Ushi Wakamaru, Scarpetta, and Malatesta...

                      i do have some vagabondish London questions for you though, as i'm hoping to be based there this fall...if you get a chance, email me at

                      1. re: Simon

                        Hi Simon - I think you gave me some good suggestions for Manhattan when I was there last September, staying in Greenwich Village. Is Malatesta the neighbourhood Italian you recommended, which we liked very much?

                        If you're going to be based here this Autumn you should definitely come along to some Chowdowns. You can email me at lesleytaylor118 at yahoo dot com.

                      2. re: oonth

                        Hi oonth, your posts have inspired me to start 2 new threads on the best authentic Japanese foods in London (sushi and non-sushi). Would love if you would chime in and share your wisdom here (best authentic sushi): and here (best authentic Japanese foods, e.g. katsu curry etc.):

                        Thanks in advance!