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Thursday 8 June 2017

Tsukiji Sushi – Tasting Menu Reviewed

Name: Tsukiji Sushi

Where: 38 Conduit Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 2YF, http://tsukijimayfair.com/

Cost: Average cost per person is £45 not including drinks or service charge. There is a set dinner including tempura, a main course and dessert for £45. We opted for the tasting menu at £65 per person, or £95 with a matching sake flight. Or if you fancy just an assorted platter of sushi or sashimi, they are available in platters at either £23.50 or £36.50.  

About: Set in Conduit Street inside the swanky Westbury Hotel, this intimate Japanese restaurant seats just 14 people at sleek red wood tables, plus another 6 at the sushi bar counter.

With Head Chef Show Choong at the helm, Tsukiji Sushi, oozes elegant restraint, and has a sushi chef beavering away behind the bar. 

Simply decorated with white wall panels broken up by red wood borders like a Kandinsky painting, minimalist artwork and an unobtrusive backing track of lounge music, the restaurant has a restful feel.   

What We Ate: The first dish of the Tasting Menu (£65pp) was named buna shimeji (brown beach mushroom). Simply pan-fried, these lovely little funghi were served with a fabulous green sauce of parsley, coriander and spring onions, vinegar, olive oil and garlic. The sauce reminded me of a Mediterranean bagnet vert, it was fresh and with great acidity.

Next up was hamachi (yellowtail) usuzukuri (thinly sliced), served with yuzu ponzu (a zingy citrus dressing made with soy and yuzu juice), topped with a small amount of oroshi (shredded daikon and chilli), and thinly sliced spring onion. 

The tataki chu toro (lightly seared fatty tuna), was served with a delectable and refreshing jalapeño salsa made with onion, vinegar, garlic, ponzu, and an intensely herbaceous Japanese kinomi leaf. With a rich and creamy mouthfeel I thoroughly enjoyed this dish, I just wished there was more of it!

To follow, we had the octopus carpaccio served with a truffle mustard, saikyo miso and vinegar dressing, all on a bed of fennel shavings. The octopus was softly textured, with a thrilling heat from the mustard, tart vinegar notes and sweet miso. This was another refreshing and very well seasoned dish.

A single grilled oyster with creamy sauce and tobiko egg followed. With Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise, sweet chilli and rice vinegar, this had the fresh mineral aroma of the sea, and a lovely creaminess. 

Equally good was the unakyu maki, served with a few splashes of rich, sweet teriyaki sauce. A lovely eel sushi, the rice was soft and yielding, and tasted fresh and expertly cooked. 

Better still were the nigiri sushi - the chef's omakase selection of five different types. On the evening of our visit, the chef had chosen a variety of fresh and blowtorched sushi. The tuna belly with sea urchin was exquisite - complex, minerally, with layers of texture and flavour.  The salmon belly with wasabi was also good, as was the prawn, but the seared butterfish was better still, with an aromatic, smoky finish and creaminess only highly fatty fish can give. Best of all for me though was the scallop. I have always loved the outlandishly huge and creamy scallops served in Tokyo, and the scallops at Tsukiji Sushi with black tobiko eggs were not too far off!

The last dish before dessert was a fine piece of black cod with saikyo miso sauce and a slice of grilled red pepper. There was a time in my life when I ate so much black cod that I went off it, but this dish reminded me what I had been missing. It was rich, soft as caramel, and exquisitely buttery. 

In Japanese restaurants in the West, the almost inevitable dessert is green tea ice cream. However, at Tsukiji Sushi, this was served with a lovely crisp of white chocolate embossed with a Japanese traditional floral design, plus chocolate ripple, raspberry compote, dried raspberry crumb and Cantonese cocoa nibs. 

What We Drank: We opted for a bottle of Sancerre Rose 2015, from Pascal Jolivet. Made from 100% Pinot Noir, this had peach and ripe red berry fruit, with a distinctive mineral character, with a fresh acidity and elegance. It was clean and refreshing, and made an excellent partner for the sashimi and sushi. 

Likes: I enjoyed every single dish on Tsukiji Sushi’s Tasting Menu, but some of the highlights included the omakaze sushi platter, the tataki of fatty tuna, and the octopus carpaccio as well as the grilled oyster!

Dislikes: I would have loved a little rice dish and a bowl of soup to finish the savoury part of the meal, this is knows as the shime, and is customary, specially with tasting menus like this. I must admit being still a tad hungry as I left the restaurant but this could have been avoided.

Verdict: Tsukiji Sushi is an intimate restaurant serving great quality and well-made sushi, sashimi and cooked Japanese dishes. Just by manic Oxford Circus, this is a little haven of tranquility and a real find. Recommended.

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