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Sep 5, 2010 07:08 AM

Tajima-Tei, Holborn, London

Good horenso goma-ae, delicate spinach, dressed perfectly with an excellent sesame sauce.

Mackerel/shimisaba, lightly marinated, with just the right sheen of vinegar, sits big and heavy on a high pedestal of rice, neat sections of pressed sushi that seemed larger than most battera/Kansai style-pressed sushi (fish and rice that is molded and pressed in a box and then sliced). The fish was excellent, its natural oceany flavour sustained and balanced by the light vinegar, and subtly cut by a thin translucent drape of pickle that was barely noticeable and covered half the fish. Rice was very good, more glutinous and gently sweet than vinegary, well textured, the grains individualised, somewhat loosely and delicately packed. Big pieces that required 2 bites each, but the amount of rice was nicely calibrated to balance the thick slices of fish. Wondering if they have real wasabi, I only had the regular mint green paste.

One advantage of sitting at the sushi bar is being able to look at the hunks of fish. Some salmon belly caught my eye -- nice slices without any sinew or tough bits were thinly and accurately dabbed with the perfect amount of wasabi, contrasting the buttery salmon belly with nuanced piquancy, and once again a balanced amount of excellent rice. While I longed for an even more intense salmon flavour, this was good.

Stir-fried baby octopus (a special) was also enjoyable, small snappy pieces of octopus given a little touch of chilli, bolstered by garlic and contrasted with the bite of green onions.

Yakitori (ordered with salt/shio instead of with the tare/sauce) was ok but not fantastic. Generous pieces of good tasting but also very slightly dry chicken interspersed with green onion. Needed a touch more salt for me, but nicely perked up with shichimi powder (a Japanese chilli-based seasoning).

A fairly well made scoop of matcha/green tea ice cream.

Pleasant helpful and gracious service.

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  1. P.S. has anyone who reads Japanese compared their Japanese and English menus? I noticed a few dishes at other tables that didn't seem to be on the English menu - e.g. zaru soba.

    1. Ate there again - the nikujaga flavoured korroke (croquette) is fantastic -- it really captured the flavour of nikujaga -- Japanese meat stew (this was a beef version) -- and the crumbs on the surface were light and very crisp.

      Scallop sashimi was also great - firm, delicate, sweet.

      Also enjoyed a miso-flavoured pork belly -- grilled (I think) to a texture a step away from twice cooked pork.

      4 Replies
      1. re: limster

        This place sounds amazing. It's a shame I'll have to wait quite a long while to make it over here, though.

        How does this place compare with Tomoe on similar dishes?

        1. re: JFores

          Been a long time since I went to Tomoe, so my memories are dim....but I do like Tajima-Tei a lot. Incidentally it's full of Japanese salarymen.

          1. re: limster

            how much are we talking for a meal here?

            1. re: t_g

              My meal in the original post (pressed mackerel sushi,salmon belly nigiri baby octopus, yakitori, ice cream) was ~£30 iirc. They have a menu on their website with prices:

      2. i went there in early August for lunch and was very's a 5 minute walk from my new home, so i'm sure to return and report back...