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Craving for Sushi...Atari-ya @ Swiss Cottage

Monday, 26 July 2010

Reviewed by The Wild Boar

First noticed Atari-Ya when Kang first blogged about it. From his review, it seems that Atari-Ya supply top grade sashimi to some of London’s finest Japanese restaurants. I tried to double check this with a waitress during my lunch there, but I was only able to confirm that Atari-Ya started out as mainly distributors of fish before expanding into the restaurant business and that they do indeed supply “lots” of restaurants, but she wasn’t able to tell me exactly which.

Well anyway, that doesn’t really matter right? It’s all about the food. And there are lots of places to get the food too as Atari-Ya have 4 shops scattered across West London, a take away sushi bar behind Selfridges (!!) and two restaurants in Hendon and Swiss Cottage respectively. We tried the latter as it was the newest chain.

On a quiet residential area just off the busy A41, Atari-Ya was a great open bright restaurant with the front windows allowing lots of natural sunlight in. The interior had a very modern clean orderly look about it. I wasn’t much impressed as one part of the wall opposite the reception area was just bare brick, but the PigPig seemed to like its plain appearance.

Atari-ya, London 1

It’s also worth mentioning that although we only noticed two parties of Japanese, the first one was a family of four who were seated in a little section partitioned away as they sat on the floor in their traditional manner (I’ll never be able to sit like that). There was also a larger private section up the stairs.

Some hot green tea was served by default. We also had some bits to start with although I’m not sure if this is for everybody or if it’s because I ordered from the set lunch. At any rate, the shredded marinated mackerel had a slight piquant taste which worked well enough to get our taste buds up and running. Similarly, the salad also had a sour/salty dressing.

Atari-ya, London 2

O-toro sashimi
. Essentially the fattest of the fatty tuna belly, this is highly desirable simply because fat makes everything taste better hence the fattest tuna bit should taste the best. Simples.

Atari-ya, London 3

Now I am a great fan of eating food, but sadly I think I actually know very little about the stuff I eat. For example, why does my o-toro today have those irritating lines of connective tissue? Admittedly, it wasn’t chewy or fibrous at all, but it still irked me that those lines were present. I would have preferred it to just be generally marbled like in Sushi-Say. According to a fellow food blogger, both types are accepted, but if anyone else can enlighten me on the subject, I would be much appreciated.

Anyway back to the o-toro – it was great. Meltingly soft marbled fatty tuna belly. Could have eaten it everyday all day.

Black cod. Pretty good version here with the fish still being very juicy and had just enough glaze to provide the flavour as there isn’t a pool of miso sauce sitting around.

Atari-ya, London 5

Chirashi. At £10 I thought this was a steal. A fairly large portion of pretty tasty marinated sushi rice topped with generous portions of various seafood such as salmon, tuna belly, scallops, sweet prawn, flying fish and salmon egg roe as well as crab. Most other versions of chirashi I had so far was the bara type where the stuff were all diced into squares so seeing it all in big pieces was nicer as we could eat each individual piece and taste it better.

Atari-ya, London 4

*I just had the realisation that the bara from bara chirashi and bara-bara fruit (I wonder how many will recognise where this came from?) were the same and bara means split up or chopped.

Sushi set lunch. For another £10 we had this platter of 7 pieces of nigiri as well as two rolls each of California and plain tuna; even without the miso soup and dessert I thought this was pretty decent value for money already. Even more so when I realised how great the assorted fish were as they all had good texture and still felt fleshy and firm.

Atari-ya, London 6

The nigiri pieces were sized appropriately too as they were just the perfect size to pop into a hungry greedy mouth. The rice also seemed to be just right for me, well packed without being condensed or squashed and it all held together from the journey from plate to piehole. Perhaps a little bit more seasoning of salt and vinegar would have been better for the rice, but I suspect that was more to do with the liberal seasonings I’m used to at home when the PigPig makes sushi.

We had some fruits for dessert as part of the set lunch which did nothing but make the PigPig crave for some ice cream so we ordered a scoop each of matcha (green tea) and red bean. They were both ok but I thought the red bean was too sweet (always seems to be the case with red bean stuff) while we found the matcha ice cream a bit icy.

We ended up paying about £20 each for two of us but we could probably have eaten quite a bit more; we had a big dinner so we were holding back on lunch.

Atari-ya, London 7

Food – 7.0
Service – 5.0
Atmosphere – 6.0
Value – 7.0

The menu is actually quite limited with the main emphasis being on the sushi and sashimi. Sure there are some other bits and bobs but nothing near as extensive as a typical traditional restaurant like Sushi-Say or Kikuchi. Still, what we tried was all good and I’m certainly very tempted to come back for more.

Best bit: good sushi and sashimi.
Worst bit: having sushi and sashimi cravings the next day.

Swiss Cottage
75 Fairfax Road
Tel: +44(020) 7328 5338
Official website
Other branches available

Atari-Ya Sushi Bar Swiss Cottage on Urbanspoon

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