I was recently invited by Chris (Tikichris from Qype) to participate in Tsuru’s Sake Cocktails and Japanese Tapas Evening alongside other 9 Qypers and food bloggers. Situated on Canvey Street, in the new Bankside development behind Tate Modern, Tsuru is a sleek restaurant, with a trendy but unpretentious interior, serving one of the best Katsu Curries in Central London.
Assisted by Wakana, a delightful Japanese sommelier from Akashi-Tai Brewery, the proprietor, Emma Reynolds gave us the low-down on the evening’s four cocktails and accompanying dishes.
We started off with a glass of “Kappa Saketini” – a Japanese version of the classic dry martini which replaces the usual vodka and vermouth with Japanese Shochu and Sake. Served very chilled with a fine cucumber slice, this was a refreshing and elegant cocktail.
To accompany our Saketini, we were served a platter of their free range Chicken Yakitori. The chicken was succulent, sweetened by the subtle teriyaki sauce; it complemented our Saketini perfectly.
The “Tokiwa Honeytini” (Tokiwa Shochu with Drambuie and Honey) was served next. The combination of flavours was amazing and a little reminiscent of a Rusty Nail (whisky and Drambuie).
The “Agedashi Tofu” was good – the delicate batter soaked up the “dashi” stock well while remaining slightly crispy on the outside. I normally make this at home, and find it an excellent introductory dish to serve to friends who are still not madly keen on tofu.
The “Tempura Prawns” were also faultless. With a crisp and light batter, the tempura batter was not overly greasy. They had been cooked perfectly for the prawn meat was succulent and not rubbery as some overcooked tempura prawns can be.
Our next dish was the “Fried Gyoza Dumplings” – Tsuru makes its Gyoza dumplings from scratch, which is impressive. I normally cook these from frozen, buying them already made from Asian supermarkets. It takes about 5 minutes to prepare and they taste nearly as good as Tsuru’s.
Next on the list was “Nippon-Fashioned” – a delightful cocktail made of Japanese whisky from Nikka and clementine peel. I had never tried Japanese whisky before but was pleasantly surprised by the lightness and subtle flavours which partnered well with the clementine.
Tsuru’s “Chicken Katsu Curry” was sensational and I simply cannot praise it enough – I am a Katsu Curry Fanatic, and have it for lunch at least once or twice per week. I have tried every outlet in the City of London selling Katsu Curry but have been mostly disappointed until now. Tsuru makes its own curry sauce from scratch, a task that takes 24 hours to perfect, and very successful it is. The curry sauce was packed with flavour but was delicate and not overly flavoured or pungent with MSG and curry spices as so often seen with SB cubes.
“Tsuru’s Sushi Moriawase” platter had a good selection of different fish – these were very fresh, as raw fish used for sushi should be, and the rice was perfectly cooked. Tsuru uses yellow fin line-caught tuna for their sushi.
To wrap up the evening, we had what I felt was the best dish – “Chocolate Brownies topped with Green Tea Ice Cream”. Rich chocolate served with green tea ice cream is a heavenly combination and in my opinion is the best Japanese dessert for the Western palate.
My favourite cocktail of the evening was the “Ume Hot Toddy” made of hot umeshu plum sake and Tokiwa shochu, served with a slice of lemon studded with cloves. This was incredibly warming and delicious and I will now hope to try and replicate this at home – very seasonal, this is perfect for a good Xmas tipple or any other cold night.
Verdict – Uncomplicated, good quality Japanese food in Central London at reasonable prices. The cocktails are priced between £6 and £7, and are a MUST on any visit to Tsuru. Highly recommended, I will certainly return.