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Friday 19 May 2017

Sexy Fish & the 12-Dish Sekushi Menu Reviewed

Name: Sexy Fish

Where: Berkeley Square London England W1J, https://www.sexyfish.com/

Cost: Average spend is around £50 per person (not including drinks or service). From the a la carte menu, cold starters cost from £12 to £38, with main meat, fish and seafood dishes costing from £17 to £89. The Sekushi menu, a tasting selection of 12 dishes chosen by the Head Chef is priced at £82 per person. 

About: Set on one of the swankiest of Mayfair squares, Sexy Fish offers an Asian-inspired fish and seafood menu developed by Chef Director Bjoern Weissgerber. 

With luxuriously painted ceilings dotted with abstract scarlet motifs by Michael Roberts, rich onyx floors, original Damian Hurst artwork on the walls, and huge, floor-to-ceiling tanks with the most beautiful coral and exotic fish, I dread to think what Sexy Fish would have cost, but I hear it was around the £20m mark! It is an impressively looking restaurant no doubt, but a tad OTT.

I must admit that facing such opulence, I had my reservations about Sexy Fish (style over substance?), but my experience proved me wrong – the food on the Sekushi Menu (£82pp) was actually pretty good though I could have done with a little more carbs.

The man behind Sexy Fish’s menu, German-born Bjoern Weissgerber, trained at some of the most prestigious kitchens in the world including Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in California and El Bulli in Spain. 

Sexy Fish's Open Plan Kitchen

He earned his first Michelin star at the age of 27 when he was running Ca’s Puers in Mallorca, and has been setting up new restaurants all over the world for the Zuma Group for the past 11 years.

Damien Hirst Artwork Commissioned for Sexy Fish

I have read some criticism of the restaurant’s greeting desk and front of house staff, but in my experience we were warmly welcomed and quickly shown to my table, and service continued in that vein throughout our dinner.

The most glitzy toilet in London?

Sexy Fish is not a place for a quiet meal out - the soundtrack is loud and raunchy, so come prepared for a buzzy atmosphere. The clientele ranges from young, 20-something couples celebrating birthdays or other special occasions to a mixture of expense accounts and well-heeled folks dressed to impress.

What We Ate: We opted for the Sekushi menu, a tasting selection of 12 dishes chosen by the Head Chef, most of which were brought to our table together or in quick succession.

Watermelon and crispy duck salad was delicious with good contrasting textures and depth of flavour. It had mitzuna leaves, mint and tarragon, seasoned in a refreshing dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and lime.

Equally good was the salt and pepper squid (£11.50), dusted with katakuri Ko (Japanese potato starch), pepper and spring onion. Well seasoned, the squid was crunchy and tasted fresh, I just wished the portion were a tad more generous! 

We enjoyed the smoked cured salmon rolls filled with fresh pear and crispy curly kale, served with a delectable and creamy dressing of lemon, mustard and olive oil. 

The paper thin slices of yellowtail were transformed by a stunning and zingy green mandarin ponzu dressing, topped with a light filling of myoga mixed with avocado, purple shiso and a slice of green chilli, the fish slices were folded over these and quickly devoured! I was scraping my plate for more.

A trio of prawn, squid and dried tofu gyoza dumplings was served in a light but well-made dashi broth with hints of ginger. 

Next up was the sashimi platter – this contained a slice each of salmon, tuna and yellowtail – the fish was of excellent quality and freshness, although again we felt the portion rather ungenerous.

The sashimi platter was followed by a sushi roll filled with soft shell crab, coriander and tobiko fish eggs. It was wrapped in nori seaweed as well as a paper-thin layer of daikon skin for added texture and flavour. Served with a bracingly spicy sauce of gochuchan, rice vinegar and mirin, we thoroughly enjoyed this.

We were offered two main courses to share - the first was a fish main of Thai-spiced stone bass, marinated in coriander and cooked in pandan leaf. Served with a zingy green curry sauce, and garnishes of green papaya and ginger, the fish was fresh and bursting with flavour. To accompany it, we were also served Japanese white miso soup, tofu, wakame and spring onions, spiked with fragrant sancho salt (from Sancho peppercorns).

The second main course was beef tenderloin with black pepper and smoked onions – it came with a side serving of sauce made from soy sauce, mirin (sweetened sake) and sugar. The beef was bloody, tender and delicious, but for my palate the sauce was a little too sweet. 

I loved the presentation of the dessert platter – this included an unctuous warm chocolate fondant, slices of fresh fruit like pineapple, star fruit, physalis and lychee as well as coconut cake and rose sorbet. 

What We Drank: We started with a Big Four (£18), combining the national spirits of the big four fashion capitals of the world - from London (Beefeater Crown Jewel Gin), Milan (Campari), Paris (Dubonnet), and New York (Hudson Manhattan Rye). This was a strong, well made and highly alcoholic cocktail akin to a Negroni, and I loved it. 

The Sexy Fish Champagne Cocktail included the classic Martell Cordon Bleu cognac, with Gyejacquot Champagne, Merlet peach liqueur, rosemary bitters, a sugar cube and Angostura bitters.

With the meal, we shared a bottle of Albariño Leira Reyero, Pascual 2015 (£50). With fresh citrus fruit, good minerality and a crisp finish, this was a good partner for most fish dishes. 

Likes: The yellowtail tiradito with green mandarin ponzu was exceptional; we also liked the crispy salt & pepper squid and the watermelon and crispy duck salad. Strong, well made cocktails and informative and friendly waiting staff.

Dislikes: I must admit I was still a tad hungry as I left Sexy Fish, and this was after 12 dishes! I wish we had been served some carbs like bread or perhaps two big bowls of Japanese white rice with our mains and to line our stomachs before the end of our meal. In my opinion each guest should have had one of the 12 dishes rather than sharing each dish between 2 people.

Verdict: Love or hate it, you will not be left indifferent to Sexy Fish. We had some great food, cocktails and service here and for a bit of Mayfair glam and people watching, few London places can beat it! Recommended.

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