Recently, I met up with some of my relatives, one of whom wanted to eat Japanese. My aunt had tried Tomoe the week before this meal, which she found to be pretty good so she was all too willing to recommend it to us, after she herself had been recommended it from several Japanese business colleagues (always a good sign).
Another good sign is the restaurant’s clientele – to a large extent the crowd were speaking in Japanese. The interior meanwhile is more reminiscent of what I imagine an izakaya would look like in Japan – homely, rustic and not fussed with the concept of décor at all.
Edamame – we arrived first so we started with some edamame beans, something I particularly love to snack on.
Agedashi tofu – ok fair enough, it’s hard to make out the tofu underneath all the bonito flakes, but you should definitely seek it out as the tofu itself was silky smooth and the crispy fried layer is a nice contrast of textures.
Spider roll – a maki roll containing a rather large sized deep fried soft shell crab, it was pretty good. There were some inconsistencies with the sushi creation though, as we ordered two plates, one had the cucumber coating and the other didn’t. Also, the roll is normally cut into six pieces, not four; the waitress explained this is due to a new sushi chef at work today.
Caterpillar roll – my favourite maki roll of the night, firstly because it simply just looked fantastic. Secondly because the double dose richness of unagi and avocado was really good.
Dynamite roll – the sushi itself is good, with fresh fish as far as I could tell. The special bit to this one though is the addition of birds eye chilli, something which left me gasping for breath for a while. The PigPig meanwhile loved this and immediately asked for another!
Unagi and avocado, California roll, dynamite roll (from left to right) – this was an addition halfway through our meal, so they just put it all together on one plate this time. The unagi and avocado roll contained the exact same ingredients as the caterpillar roll, but with less avocado; I don’t really see the reason why anyone should order this instead of the caterpillar roll! The California roll was pretty standard.
Gyoza – pretty good filling, very tasty and juicy. Even better however was the sauce to accompany, although to be fair the gyoza was tasty enough to be eaten on its own.
Chicken teriyaki – this dish disappeared quite quickly, but from the piece I got it was pretty decent, if nothing too special.
Beef teriyaki – certainly a better choice than the chicken version. The beef was cooked perfectly pink and was seasoned more than sufficiently well. The sauce in the little pitcher was also amazingly tasty, although we’re undecided whether its for the salad or the beef.
Deep fried soft shell crab – well, it’s hard to make this stand out from other versions and this was pretty standard too (although there’s nothing wrong with being ‘normal’ when it’s pretty good and tasty to start with).
Aubergine with miso – the mild meat of the aubergine was a good building block for the addition of the strong and sweet miso. My aunt was curious why I didn’t eat the skin, but it just didn’t strike me to do so.
Octopus carpaccio – this didn’t really strike me as an authentic Japanese dish (is it?), but the combination sounded pretty good; octopus with a layer of salsa, tomato and lemon. I was a bit silly at this point and ate the whole lemon rather than squeezing the juice out. Anyway the combination of flavours was very good, but the octopus itself was a bit on the tough side.
Tempura udon; seaweed udon – the udon was quite good actually, nice chewy texture which was very tempting to slurp up. The soup was also tasty and worth drinking every drop.
Black miso cod – after Nobu popularised this, everybody and his step-brother Jacob has attempted their own plagiarised version. Tastewise, this was not half bad at all, sufficient miso for taste but not to overpower the fish. However, the texture seemed just a tad rougher than usual.
Fried oysters – I overheard someone on the next table saying this was good so naturally I had to try it too! It was actually rather good, although purists may say that the frying and breadcrumbs overpower the taste of the oyster itself.
Prawn tempura – not bad, but nothing too great either.
Ok right, I was actually watching a replay of Heston’s Feasts on 4ondemand while typing this so its probably not as detailed as normal.
My aunt paid for our dinner so I can’t tell you how much it cost but I’m estimating it cost £30-40 each for our group of six. But then, I’m nearly six feet and the other three guys in our table are near my size too, so we tend to eat more than the average diner.
The food was actually rather good, especially as the basics were done well and all the dishes were actually full of taste.
On the most important bit though (the sushi rice), I find the rice well seasoned and tastier than most of the other restaurants. Unfortunately, it didn’t pack well and tended to break apart quite easily.
Would I eat here again? I still think Sushi-Say is nicer and I had very strong cravings to go back there again after this meal.
62 Marylebone Lane
London W1U 2PB
Tel: +44(0)20 7486 2004