Once the fanfare of dieters and Far East gap yah travellers, sushi has changed…calmed, humbled even. Now even old Phil who sits across us in the office has a couple of pieces for lunch now and then.
But don’t let the now widespread adoration of this traditional Southeast Asian fast food leave you thinking there’s no originality, flair or taste sensation left to be discovered in our favourite healthy meal. We’ve searched the streets of London to find the top five hotspots for a rice-fuelled hit. Sushi, we salute you.
When a London-based, Chinese-born sushi fan whispers the words, “you need to book if you want to eat there, it’s the real stuff”, about her favourite restaurant, we get shivers down our spine. Eat Tokyo are the originals. They are a Japanese-owned company with six branches in Tokyo and five in London, so whichever is more convenient, call up, book and make sure you go with an empty stomach. The boat-shaped plates are generously filled with the freshest, most tender and exotic sushi we have ever had. The staff in traditional Japanese outfits, the unbeatable prices, the near-perfect tastes are all a revelation. But be prepared to queue, even at lunch time and maybe take a notebook so you can jot down the impressive technique as the sushi is rolled and crafted in front of your eyes.
Rachel’s Kitchen is the sort of London secret we aren’t sure we want to share. We LOVE being the only ones who know about the inspiring, bubbly Rachel and her incredible intimate cookery classes based in North West London. The Sushi Masterclass in particular is one you really have to experience to truly appreciate. For a mere £65 (early birds can enjoy a satisfying discount), you are taught how to craft your own array of tasty sushi including maki, hand rolls, nigiri and inside out rolls, followed by a sit-down meal to enjoy the fruits of your labour. The lovely Rachel will also make sure you are well hosted with a couple of glasses of wine, some saki and a dessert or two for your delight! The price is worth it for a three-hour class, where you can ask and learn from a real culinary expert and have the chance to meet a group of lovely Londoners, not to mention walk away a semi-sushi expert. A perfect option for dates, mates, even parent visits to town. Book quickly to avoid disappointment and don’t be surprised if you then fancy the Patisserie Masterclass…sushi then coffee éclair anyone? Don’t mind if we do.
The phrase – you mustn’t judge a book by its cover – is hugely applicable in the case of Sushi-Say. From first glance, it isn’t what you’d describe as a ‘looker’. However, if you can see past the façade you’ll be rewarded by fantastic, fresh, delicious and authentic Japanese cuisine. This family-run business thrives in North West London and is regularly filled to capacity – which makes for a relaxed and bustling vibe. The service is refreshingly no-nonsense, yet helpful when needs be. Sushi-Say has such an enticing and varied menu that you run the real risk of over-ordering. But please, try to restrain yourself or you won’t have room for the famed home-made ice cream. If you manage to keep some space in your pudding compartment (which, trust us, will be hugely challenging), you will face a difficult decision….red bean, green tea, chestnut or wasabi ice-cream?! Perhaps one scoop of each – yummy.
Dining at Sushisamba is an experience that is unrivalled at any other place in town. 38 floors up, in the second tallest building in London (second only to the Shard), you get a pretty amazing and unique view of London’s city-scape. The vast expanses of glass frame East London and East Village beautifully. It is this unique setting, among the clouds, that makes eating at Sushisamba such a special experience. Saying that, it would be unwise to overlook the food, which is rather delicious. As the juxtaposed Sushisamba name suggests, this restaurant is no ordinary sushi spot. Rather, the menu is an infusion of Brazilian, Peruvian and Japanese cuisine. We know what you’re thinking… “what were they thinking?”. But this eclectic mix has seen huge success and surprisingly works well. Sushisamba began life in the states, with locations in New York, Miami, Las Vegas and Chicago, before arriving here in London. The food is colourful, deliciously tasty and caters to all pallets. If you want to get a table, you will need to book in advance. We suggest (weather permitting) eating on the roof terrace. The ambience is truly spectacular.
Oddly located in the heart of Chinatown, this delightful, authentically Japanese restaurant offers affordable sushi and friendly service. For the environmentally conscious among you, you will appreciate that Tokyo Diner refuses to include tuna on its menu in an effort to protect the worryingly depleted, global tuna stocks. The menu is simple and unpretentious – perfect for a quick lunch or a solo dinner, and it’s even open on Christmas day!
For your chance to win two spots at Rachel’s sushi masterclass on June 20th, worth £130, where you’ll be treated to a 3 hour workshop, dinner, wine, saki and dessert just leave a comment below telling us what your dream hand rolled sushi filling would be. If it sounds yummy to us, you’ll get the chance to make it with Rachel and become a semi-sushi-expert. Get that on your CV. Good luck, competition closes on Friday!