Thursday, 29 March 2012

Jose Speaks Plain Spanish

I love Boris Bikes, and their extension to East London with a docking station just outside my flat couldn’t be more convenient. Mister overcame his fears of cycling (for me) and we took advantage of the superhighways that took us to Tower Bridge in less than 20mins. We docked at St. Katherine Street and strolled our way to Bermondsey Street, a block away from Zucca.

This tiny tapas bar is the closest to the ones in Madrid I have seen in London. About 12 people were rubbing shoulders around the marble bar, where fresh fish and Iberica pork fillet were displayed in a glass cabinet, and whole cured pork legs were dangling from the ceiling. While we stood sipping our wines, our waiter found us a couple of stools, so we sat with a brass pillar between us.

Jamon Iberico Manuel Maldonado
We have been hooked to high quality jamons since our trip to Iberica in Canary Wharf – no way we‘d give this a miss. This was like a cross between the jamon from Huelva and Salamanca; it had the best of both worlds. It didn’t have the fat marbling but the sweetness was unbelievable, with an aromatic aftertaste that loitered forever.

Pluma Iberica
The grilled pork was still slightly pink in the middle, with a faint crusty bite from the sea salt. This was surprisingly different to the pork loin “secreto” in Iberica; just as tender and juicy and meaty and flavoursome, but the texture had some coarseness to it, giving it more chew and substance. It was a different kind of piggy brilliance.

Prawns, Chilli & Garlic
The best part of prawn is the roe packed in the head, the sweeter the fresher the better - and these were bursting with it. Most prawns we get here in this city have previously been frozen, and we don’t usually get that natural bounce like fresh prawns; these were bouncier than the usual. The de-shelling was a nice touch, flavourings penetrated better and much less fussy.

Mackerel, Jamon & Spinach
I have been craving for mackerel for months; there seems to be a shortage of this scrumptious fish in the supermarkets near my area. And this was the silkiest mackerel I’d ever eaten, oozing with gorgeous oils. Interestingly the subtle nuttiness in the cured meat was much more pronounced when deep fried, and added more dimension to the dish.

Iberico Manuel Maldonado Meatballs
I don’t have a natural passion for meatballs, so to me, these are just meatballs with a coarser texture to usual. An appetising start with the tomato sauce, nothing too spectacular though.

There is nothing complicated about the food here – in fact it’s so simple that the tiny corner of the bar was the kitchen. Chefs were working it like a teppanyaki, a quick stir on the hot surface followed by a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil. No fancy recipe, no fancy accompaniments, no fancy sauce, just plain simple top class ingredients flawlessly cooked with minimum seasoning. The laid-back ambience, elbow-bumping, easy-drinking wines and simply perfect tapas made an extraordinarily Jose.

104 Bermondsey Street
Tel: 0207 403 4902

José on Urbanspoon
You may also like: Tendido Cero, Iberica Canary Wharf, Polpo

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Pearl Liang - Just another Pretty Face

We went to Royal China last time for dinner, so my folks wanted to try something different. Somehow Pearl Liang came to mind. I remember having dim sums here a few years back, but had absolutely no recollection of the food itself, just vague memories of a beautifully decorated dining room with something not clicking. Well, it’s worth a punt if it’s not on my black list.

As soon as I sat down, I recalled exactly why I hadn’t been back – the seats. It is not an issue for anyone else around the table, just me. For a petite person (or just short arse), the chairs are slightly lower than usual. Don’t get me wrong, you can still see me sitting there, just marginally less comfy when picking up food from the centre of the table.

Peking Duck - Half (北京填鴨)
Specifically requested by Dad, on behalf of Bro as I (rightly) suspected. Peking duck is one of my favourite dishes too, much more skilful than the aromatic crispy duck.

Unlike the standardised version in Hong Kong, restaurants here tend to have various interpretations of this dish. Traditionally only the crispy skin is sliced off the duck in a uniform shape and size, served with pancakes, crunchy veg and Hoi Sin sauce. The remainder of the duck is de-boned and the meat is used in another dish or two.

At Pearl Liang, the meat is served as roast duck on the side. I quite like that arrangement. The duck skin was brilliantly roasted to a fragile crispiness with a thin layer of duck fat to keep the juices running. Muscular duck leg on the side was tender and perfectly seasoned. Unlike Harbour City in Chinatown, there were plenty of pancakes for seconds.

Taro Dome with Monk vegetables (佛飄香)
This would have been even more visually enticing had the taro dome been fried to a golden glow instead of a matt brown. Taro mash fried in a fluffy and brittle shell topped with mixed vegetables in a viscous oyster sauce; it’s like a massive vegetarian taro croquette. The mash was probably a bit thin compared to the batter, but overall it was okay.

Braised crispy bean curd in brown sauce (琵琶豆腐)
I am such a fan of this braised tofu, yet it’s almost impossible to find an authentic version, for the recipe is rather complicated if you do it properly. The bean curd is supposed to be mixed with either shrimp paste, or fish mince or even pork mince in some variation, but definitely not just deep fried tofu in a thick sauce. The skin is supposed to be softened by soaking up the sauce, married with a soft bouncy texture in the filling. Needless to say I was disappointed with this simple, or lazy, version of deep-fried firm tofu.

Stuffed crispy boneless chicken with prawn paste Half (炸子雞)
This is where the meal crumpled. I had to wave the manager to confirm this indeed was half a chicken, as priced in the menu. Indeed, he confirmed.

The size / portion issue aside, this is not 炸子雞. Firstly, people do not stuff prawn paste with this classic chicken dish. Secondly, why boneless? A real 炸子雞takes two days of preparation and two rounds of marinade, one for the entire chicken, one for the chicken skin only. It needs to dry overnight, and deep fried twice, often manually pouring boiling oil over the meaty parts to ensure the rest of the chicken remains succulent with a crispy skin. These six pieces of chicken left me speechless.

Chicken was parched and tasteless; frankly we didn’t notice it was stuffed with prawn paste until I looked at the English description on the menu afterwards. Returning it wasn’t an option either; there were 5 of us, each took a piece, all hated it but only 20% of the dish left. I was so upset I wrote to the manager that evening. He explained it was a complicated dish that after the breast was de-boned, there was very little chicken left. My foot! Breast has no bones, and if I stitch those 6 slices up it wouldn’t even make up half a thigh.

Tao Mui (豆苗)
This was relatively well-priced. I could be wrong, but I think Mandarin Kitchen at Bayswater charges 30% more for tao mui compared to other veg (£10.50 vs 7.90); all the seasonal veg at Pearl Liang is around the £8 mark. Not the typical baby shoots we’d be served in HK, but generally good with little grease.

Braised E-fu noodle with seafood (干燒伊麵)
Don’t remember eating this; trust it went down okay.

Special Fried rice with shrimp and pork (楊州炒飯)
Dad voted this as the highlight of the evening. Like I said for Dishoom, it can’t be great when the best part of the meal is rice. That said, this could be the most authentic special fried rice I’ve had in London; moisture of rice was just right, ingredients, their proportion and seasoning were spot on. Like paella, special fried rice has defended its definition, so it’s not just any odd combination.

One of the reasons for my disappointment with Pearl Liang is that the Chinese name of the dishes hugely differs to its English translation. Interestingly while the English description is accurate to a certain degree, they are misleadingly paired with the names of some well-established Chinese dishes. I feel the kitchen has underestimated the complexity and sophistication of some Chinese classics, and went overboard with gimmicks for others. All in all, just another dolled up room for “Britain-ised” Chinese cuisine.

8 Sheldon Square
Paddington Central
W2 6EZ
Tel: 0207 289 7000


Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Pierre Hermé . Jean-Paul Hévin . Blé Sucré

We didn't get round to Pain de Sucre (above)...gutted.

Pierre Hermé
The eccentric creations of Pierre Herme needs no introduction. With PH's boutique in Knightsbridge and counter in Selfridges, we lucky Londoners get to sample his adventurous macarons. So for this visit I'm here for his croissants and vanilla flan, which apparently are equally exquisite.

To cut a long story short, I didn't get my croissant. The lady in the Bonaparte store (the only croissant selling store) packed it up but left it outside my shopping bag...ROAR! The next day they were sold out by the time I got out of bed. I was seriously depressed... So depressed I made a special trip to Knightsbridge only to be told the croissants are no in UK market, yet.

Flan des Amateurs
Yes it was a good flan, with wobbly custard and buttery crust, probably better than a regular flan. But nothing sent me over the moon. It was just, nice.

Ombre & Lumiére
I thought this was better, at least the construction has been given more thought and complexity; the density varied throughout the cake with mousse, sponge and a brittle biscuit base. But the chocolate could be smoother and the lump of sponge cake (?) sitting atop was inevitably stale. I did enjoy it at the time, but then I met Jean-Paul Hevin... 

Olive OIl & Mandarin, Rose Petal & Litchi, Creme Brulée
We stuck to the trusty macarons, and yea, he's still got it.

Jean-Paul Hévin
This man is a Meilleur Ouvrier de France, which basically means he is officially the best chocolatier. Period.

On the designer flooded rue Saint-Honoré, JPH's salon de thé was nested above his boutique, where pastries, macarons and chocolates were shimmering like jewels in the display cabinet. Prices were leaning on the extortionate side when dining-in. But then JPH is supposed to be the best.

Chocolat chaud Mélange JPH
It was much thinner than I expected. It tasted distinctively different to what we typically perceive as hot choc, the cocoa aroma was mild at first, then slowly unravelled to release more roasted bitterness, just faintly sweet as the flavours eroded. I liked it, but had it not been the fame of JHP, I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it as much.

Chocolate Passion
This was love at first bite. This was rich, but not to the point that you think you've had enough. As the flavours evolved, there was a fruity undertone to it that made the cake lighter. Even that little nut was coated with a thin layer of salted caramel before enveloped in choco...

Blé Sucré
We were lucky to have Blé Sucré a couple of corners from our hotel. Fabrice Le Bourdat, once the pastry chef at the 3-starred Le Bristol, took care of our breakfasts by making legendary madeleines and croissants.

72 rue Bonaparte, 6th
Tel: +33 1 43 54 47 77
Nearest Métro: Saint-Sulprice

231 rue Saint-Honoré, 1st
Tel: +33 1 55 35 35 96
Nearest Métro: Concorde

Blé Sucré
7 rue Antoine Vollon, 12th
Tel: +33 1 43 40 77 73
Nearest Métro: Ledru-Rollin

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Lucky Chip - Burger Heaven

Lucky Chip is supposed to top the London burger chart - no expectation. It was way too cold to eat outdoors in the winter months when Lucky Chip was still grilling up burgers in a truck at Netil Market, so I was relieved to hear it had temporarily pinched a spot in Sebright Arms. 

Typical English pub hosting a microbrewery ale tasting session; we got the last table but the place wasn't crammed, just a relatively young crowd chilling on a saturday afternoon. The burgers came out of the kitchen in a batch of 10; we were the second batch after placing our orders; roughly a 20-min wait.

Tom Selleck
aged beef patty, oak smoked bacon, beetroot flavoured onion ring, pineapple, cheddar & bbq sauce
Could have imagined it, but I swear I heard the melted cheese saying 'eat me, eat me.'

And this was a 10/10 burger; juicy beef, thick cut bacon, smoky fragrance and mature cheese. Meaty flavours were concentrated and powerful but not overpowering. The genius of the onion ring batter soaking up all the beef and pineapple juices, keeping each bite dripping wet and fruity sweet. The combination has been well-thought out, no sloppy lettuce or tomatoes to dilute the intense meatiness and turning it into a soggy mess, no excessive bbq sauce to render the burger a deadly sugar bomb. Everything was perfectly balanced. Invincible.

Kelly Lebrock
aged beef patty, caramelised onion, philadelphia, applewood smoked bacon, cheddar & aioli
This was a different kind of 10/10. It wasn't just another typical burger with an extra cheese spread, it was a completely different burger with yet another winning combination of flavours. Sweetness came from the caramelised onions; the sugary sweetness paired off with philadelphia, which smothered the bun. This was creamier and curvier compared to the more macho but exotic Tom Selleck. 

Fries with Wasabi Mayo & Sweet Chilli
I think crispy fries are out of fashion at the mo, I don't' remember being served a portion of crispy chips in any of these hip burger spots. I shouldn't be surprised with the orders flying out of the kitchen every 10 mins.

Still super fluffy in the middle and superb flavours, like curly fries. The wasabi mayo was very good, strong with that pungent, nose-itching punch.

How good was Lucky Chip then? Fucking brilliant. I was stuffed by the time we licked the paper plates clean, yet the only thing I could think of was trying out another burger next time. I might even splash £16 for that John Belushi of duck, veal and marrow patty with foie gras & truffle oil. Meatliquor who?

The Sebright Arms
31-35 Coate Street 
E2 9AG
Netil Market
E8 3RL
Tel: 07795 816 355
Worth checking on their FB page before setting off

Lucky Chip on Urbanspoon
You may also like: Meatliquor, Bukowski, Villandry

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Paris: Le Gaigne - Mini Sketch

This was our first stop from Gare du Nord. I had high hopes for Chef Mickael Gaignon, who had trained in a couple of Pierre Gagnaire establishments.  So I refrained from gorging on a snail pie at Pain de Sucre as we wandered along Rue Rambuteau.

The restaurant was small, even by Parisian standards; but still cosily elegant with aubergine-tone wallpaper and gentle lights. The menu was equally small, just four or five choices per course, and we opted for the tasting menu, which covered two items from each section. I fell in love with this butter stand; the little hook for the butter knife was too clever.

Spanish Mussels in saffron aspic on a bed of frisee lettuce and croutons
A cold starter of jelly vegetable stock with crunchy celery and plump creamy mussels. Not the most exciting and creative flavours, but the bouncy texture of the jelly melted into delicious soup in mouth gave it a special touch. 

The organic Egg-fried with chorizo and Morteau sausage and soft-boiled with nutmeg cream
 The soft boiled egg was actually gorgeous nutmeg foam, with a gooey, almost cheese-like, yolk set at the bottom of the shell. The other egg-white was fried into a ham and pancetta omelette and topped with a raw egg yolk; this was slightly too heavy with seasoning even with the runny yolk.

I thought this was another take of the English Breakfast at Pollen Street Social, which probably had a slight edge of finesse and sophistication over Le Gaigne's. Still a playful and scrumptious starter. I shall elaborate my addiction to eggs in a later post on The Breakfast Club.

Oven-baked Pollock steak, with a parmesan crumble and soy confit turnip
Pollock resembles cod, only it's firmer in texture and holds less moisture. This would easily pass as cod; succulent and slithery flakes of flesh, just marginally under-cooked to retain the juices. The winner was undoubtedly the fragrant, nutty parmesan crumble. And being Asian by origin, I always favour the combination of fish and soy-based sauce, so close to mum's home-cooking.

Roast supreme of Guinea Hen seasoned with herbs, grilled thigh, sauce diable, braised cabbage
Doesn't the cabbage parcel look familiar? A miniature version of the cabbage cream served at Sketch Lecture Room.  This guinea hen was a thousand times better Gauthier; though not a fan of breast meat, this was soft and moist. Of course not as tender as the grilled thigh, which was full of bounce and juice from the thin sheet of fat under the skin. Simply delicious.

We think the herb bundle was random; Mister had mint and parsley, I had chive, parsley and coriander. Any ideas?

Breaded Camembert with hazelnut dust, mesclun salad (3Euros supplement)
This could be the weakest of the lot. Camembert weren't as nutty as we'd like, the case wasn't as crusty as we'd expected and the hazelnut dust wasn't as pronounced as we'd imagined. It was alright.

Lemon-orange Tarte
This was complex. Buttery, crumbly base, plus a custard-rich, silky smooth orangey egg pudding, topped with marmalade-marinated orange and a segment of blood orange, sprinkled with popping candy! Loved it.

This was seriously a bargain, all that for 48Euros per person. The food was fantastic, recipes were fun and imaginative with a wide range of ingredients, execution of each dish was precise and skilful. One person looked after the entire front of house, from booking to seating to ordering to serving food and wine. That said we were still very well looked after, with prompt bread basket and water refills. The menu changes every month and depends on seasonality; I might have to keep Le Gaigne on my permanent eat-list.

12 Rue Pecquay, 75004
Tel: +33 1 44 59 86 72
(closed Sundays and Mondays)
Nearest Metro: Rambuteau

You may also like: Le DauphinPearlArtisan

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Paris: Panic Strikes at Le Dauphin

We had to draw up an eat-list before hitting Paris. The aim of game was to get our fix of classic bistro fare, nouvelle French cuisine and state-of-art pastry creations. When I sat there crossing out restaurants / cake boutiques we didn't have time for, I wished I hadn't wasted my previous visits drooling over the latest IT bags, which are all grumpily sitting at the bottom of my wardrobe... I forgot my food camera this trip, these are the best 4S managed.

Top of my list was Le Dauphin. The hopes have been ridiculously high for Le Chateaubriand next door (also the brainchild of Inaki Aizpitarte) ranked 9th on the list of World's best restaurant. Mixed reviews from fellow bloggers meant I was hesitant, so I wanted a trial run at Le Dauphin, where they serve"French tapas".

No booking, no first seating - I was asked to return at 9:30 for a queue round the bar for second seating. Probably 12 tables and 10 seats around the bar, and it was absolutely sardine-packed. We sampled two reds by glass at the bar before getting seated. The menu was simply printed on an A4; my French got me as far as deciphering 70% of it and the super friendly waitress helped me with the less conventional items.

Out of the 5 dishes - 1 was oddly interesting, 1 was pleasant, the other 3 were unbelievably gorgeous. So stick with me...

Oursins & navets - Sea urchin & turnip
This was the oddly interesting one. 

Morsels of sea urchin served with pickled turnip and carrot slices... well, that's it. Not a lot of chemistry; sea urchin was creamy but nowhere near the top-notch king-size Japanese style we're used to. The combination was new to me, but being an anti-pickle person, I thought it was an odd match. On the other hand, Mister thought these were brilliant in opening up his palate.

Ceviche, eau de concombre - Raw fish in cucumber water
The slightly salted cucumber water was refreshingly cool, went well with the springy and fleshy chunks of raw fish. It made a good starter, though not particular exciting. This reminded me of the salmon appetiser in Texture, where the cucumber water was in the form of sorbet and foam so they "hang" better on the fish.

Risotto de céleri et truffe noire - Celery risotto & black truffle
Now we're talking - something completely unique. 

The texture of the mini cubes were nothing like celery, they carried a mushroom-like bounce with a mildly crunchy case. Each cube soaked up the rich essence of truffle and flavoursome stock, finished with a light touch of celery aroma to keep the tastes young. It was one of the most delicious things I had ever eaten.

At first I wasn't sure about 22 Euros for some diced celery, then it got me panicking - it was hand written on the menu. There is a chance I may never see it again.

Wagyu, navets & choux de Bruxelles
Our waitress told us this Wagyu is a special beef from Spain. Have you heard of this? No, me neither. So we weren't expecting the Jap Wagyu. 

The cut and the breed aside, the beef was barely cooked - just the faintest rim of brownness with the deepest ruby meat holding up the juices and flavours. The lean strips of meat were incredibly tender, not to release a mouthful of grease but concentrated beef meat juice. Imagine the meatiness of a dry-aged filet steak locked in the medium-rare ribeye... Argh it was so damn good!

Cochon de lait & salsify - Suckling pig & salsify
Brittle skin covering a thin layer of lard, followed by a slightly thicker layer of collagen to give that gelatinous, silky texture. The meat was succulent and gentle, carrying a delicate weaning sweetness. Simply as good as a suckling pig can get, roasted to absolute perfection, with a blob of mandarin puree for that little twist.

There were another 6 things on the menu that appealed to me: St Jacques, navets & mandarine, wagyu tongue (langue), tempura de gambas... but after the 6-course lunch at Le Gaigne this was the best we could do.

No doubt about the bold creations of Chef Inaki Aizpitarte; it only took a couple of his dishes that hit all the right spots, and there he got me worrying about my fix of his creations. He just does his magic to nonchalantly remind you why he ranks higher on the world's top 50 than any other French chefs. Just didn't fall in love with Rem Koolhaas' marble morgue decor... Point is, I'm totally curious about Le Chateaubriand now. 

Le Dauphin
131 Avenue Paramentier, 75011
Tel: +33 1 55 28 78 88
Nearest Metro: Goncourt

You may also like: Santa Maria (Barca), ViajanteTerroirs

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Senkai - Quality. Amateur.

Frankly since Sake No Hana I had lost faith in Mayfair Japanese restaurants without official accolades; the only reason for booking Senkai is because Yashin was booked up, and I wanted to treat my Bro for something more extravagant to celebrate his scholarship.

Senkai is the ex-Cocoon. It has replaced pan-Asian fusion with Japanese-inspired cuisine. There is nothing Japanese about the décor; we were greeted and de-coated at the ground-level entrance, where the bouncer was stretching his calves by the door. Then we were led up the dimly lit, earth-orange toned spiral stairs to an equally dimly lit dining room; it was MEATLiquor kind of dark. Ambience was mellow and definitely romantic. 

We were offered still or sparkling water, neither arrived until we asked again, twice. Service was so bad it was bordering on comical. I was interested in the sushi & sashimi platter, so we asked our server what was included:

Server: Ah that’s 30 pieces of sushi and sashimi
Me: (yes, thanks. I can read) Yes, but what’s included in the platter?
Server: Well sushi and sashimi of course
Me (Duh): Thanks - what sashimi? Like what fish?
Server: You see the 10 sashimi we have here, it can be any of these because it’s a surprise!

I think Senkai is pitching itself as a high-end restaurant, surely the prices seem so; then why am I getting retarded services? Ideally the server would commit to finding out from Chef as opposed to bluffing this ‘surprise’ bullshit… Assuming it’s the ‘freshest of the day’, Chef has had 20 hours of the day to decide on the selection, so what’s the challenge here? I wasn’t being a difficult prick, I just wanted to order the extras that weren't on the platter.

Yellowtail tiradito, garlic chives
We started with some ceviche and tatakis, both of which turned out to be absolutely superb. The tiradito was dressed with a mildly spicy sauce that was toned down by the coolness of the dish and it didn’t overpower the delicate flavours of the yellowtail. The slithery fish almost dissolved to leave its aromatic oils trailing behind.

Salmon, wafu sauce, red shiso
Wafu sauce was very similar to yuzu, a grapefruit based dressing with a gentle citrusy kick, minus the unpleasant bitterness. It went beautifully with the slices salmon, softly seared on the outside with a raw centre of distinctive bands of fat against the brilliantly orange fish. The light acidity in the wafu sauce lifted the luscious raw salmon and finished off with characteristic shiso fragrance. My favourite of the evening.

Wagyu rib-eye with Japanese rice

There is no refusing to Wagyu beef. It doesn’t say which grade, but let’s be realistic about it, at £65 a pop I am not exactly going to get the best of A5 grade marbled Wagyu and the rib-eye cut too; £65 probably won’t even get me the rump of an A5. Nonetheless it was still a gorgeous piece of steak, packed with globules of melted fat oozing from the deep ruby meat. Though it didn’t quite dissolve away on tongue, it was like chewing on a softer “chewits” made with beefy bovine fat and juices, hysterically satisfying. It could do with less, or none, of the curry powder-like seasoning though.

Chef sushi & sashimi (30 pieces)
The actual items appeared on the plate was disappointing. Then again I should have seen the warning signs flashing when the server refused to spell out what was on the plate. However the quality or grade of fish was absolutely first-class. We got 5 thick slices of Yellowtail, Akami Tuna, Sea Bass and Salmon sashimi, and 10 pieces of salmon, bass, bream, tuna and mackerel sushi. You see, had I known this was the combination, I would gave gone for Ikura, sea urchin and scallops as individual orders.

Anyway the yellowtail sashimi was particularly good, it was so rich it felt like chewing a sac of fish oil encased in super bouncy flesh, bursting with freshness and healthy oils. Tuna akami, the leanest loin cut, was also outstanding with intense fishy flavours plus a hint of mineral tone. 

Sushi, however, was less impressive as the rice ball crumbled with a light squeeze, which means I couldn't dip the fish into soy sauce by turning the sushi upside down without it falling apart. They were super mini-sized too...

None of the staff were Japanese, so I’m highly sceptical of Chef being one. Or even a qualified Itamae in this case. Sashimi were poorly sliced, I had a piece of yellowtail that was an inch thick, while Mister had a few half-inch versions. And all the fish were treated with the same cut, neglecting the tendon patterns and fat distribution of the fish. That said, I reiterate the quality of the fish itself was supreme.

Soft-shell crab tempura roll
The soft shell crab was excellent, possibly the meatiest I have had with a pretty light batter. It needs something softer in the middle to juice this roll up, ripen avocado or some chilli mayo would do the job.

I am prepared to pay a considerate mark-up for sushi / sashimi, because I am also paying for the skills of the Itamae, exposing the potential of each fish to the max with his knowledge and experience. Otherwise I could just buy a massive hunk of sashimi grade tuna from Billingsgate and munch on it like a burger. Clearly the itamae here is not up to scratch, but luckily didn’t ruin the sashimi too much.

I know I have been critical, but most of the food here at Senkai was actually excellent, and the quality of ingredients was fabulous. It’s just with the prices they are asking for, I would expect everything to be spot on, and they weren’t quite there. Service was particularly appalling, it was almost impossible to get any attention as the room filled after 9pm, by then both the music and chatter got louder and it took 25mins to settle the bill. Given the limited choice of raw fish (the iconic O-toro is nowhere to be seen on the menu) and the amateur skills in the preparation of sushi, I’d say Senkai is more of English-Japanese with a suited and booted clientele that concentrate more on their hot blond dates than the food on plates.

65 Regent Street (corner of Air Street)
Tel: 0207 494 7600

Senkai on Urbanspoon

You may also like: Sushi of Shiori, Atari-ya, Koya