Thursday, 8 September 2011

Atari-ya Revisited - Sushi Fix

Since the disappointing dinner at Tosa a couple of months back, I hadnt craved for Japanese food. Mister recovered much quicker than I did and (asked me to) book for a sushi binge session.

Nothing much has changed at Atari-ya; still full-house, still walk-in diners resorted to its takeaway service, still super busy. This time, the menu has expanded and I stayed well clear from the deep-fried items.

Baby Squid in Guts Sauce
I cant imagine anyone being drawn to ‘guts sauce. We did, because Mister decoded it to be the fluorescent squid we had at Sakaegawa back in Hong Kong. And the man was right. It’s not a dish for everyone, slimy, fishy and heavily marinated in alcohol. I love it. Its flavours evolve gradually, first an overpowering saltiness, but then the alcohol slowly diffused into a trail of aromatic perfume, leaving a raw piece of squidgy squid with its natural sweet juice. Repeat, I love it.

O-Toro, Scallop, Vinegared Mackerel & Ikura Gunkan
Oh the O-Toro... the healthy, shiny, peachy tuna belly sashimi were divine. The piece slowly melted away to unleash the rich oils and I kept giggling. Scallops were served at the right temperature, i.e. not straight from the fridge and they removed the lemon! Yay! Plump, fleshy and succulent though not as sweet as Id hoped. The mackerel was slightly too lean and slightly too citrusy. Lucky we were only brought 1 portion despite asking for 2.

Summer Chef Special: Botan Prawn, Tuna, Seared Salmon, Turbot, Vinegared Mackerel

This wasnt what I ordered. I actually asked for Chefs Special of seared sushi selection, including seared O-Toro. Not too fussed though. The platter was beautifully presented; reminded me of Sushi of Shiori, obviously less refined and elegant but Chef here made a great effort.

Sushi were paired with yuzu jelly, ponzu jelly, shiso pesto, marinated flower and mild chilli paste. Each piece stood out from the traditional version as the accompaniments added more layers to the flavours. Not as sophisticated as Shiori, chef is still a few levels from the ex-Umu, but these were still good qualitystuff.

Avocado & Eel Roll
I had an urge for eel, and the prawn rolls werent supposed to be on the sushi platter I initially wanted. Benchmark stuff.

Grilled Yellowtail Jaw
Then I made the mistake of ordering hot food. Why?
Yellowtail jaws are never going to taste as good as Salmon collars. Fact. Dont think the kitchen has done anything wrong, the fish is simply not as oily and holds less flavours.

The service was appalling; clearly not enough people on the floor and I almost threw myself at the waiter to get his attention for my orders. I wasnt too frustrated, however, because he was ever so polite and apologetic, and gave his 100% in jotting down the order. We could see his thought process: listen to English orders, read English on the menu, translate to Japanese writing, translate writing back to English, and repeat the orders in English. Having said that, he still got a couple of orders wrong.

As long as I get my sushi fix, I have little to complain.

75 Fairfax Road
London
NW6 4EE
Tel: 0207 328 5338

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