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Dozo Soho

17 Jun

Working in Soho I am spoilt for choice when it comes to food and with new places popping up so often there’s an abundance of restaurants to take your pick from. I’ve been burned before in getting too attached to places however, so I try to spread the love around. My lost loves include Mooli’s and Mangosteen. I literally cried when I realised they weren’t coming back.

After mixing it up and trying everywhere and anywhere, there is one place in particular that not only do I keep coming back to, but it actually gets me a bit excited because it really is a treasure trove. I love this place and its food is exquisite. It’s in the heart of Soho on Old Compton Street and although the tables are a little hard to sit at, the hollowed out ground that you have to crouch your way into, definitely not a good idea to wear a skirt to this establishment, it’s worth the unladylike wrench to get yourself in there.

I love that this place is packed with Japanese people, proving that if the cuisine’s own approve, then it really is the real thing, the service is simple, quick and a no fuss kind of approach. And the menu; well that is to die for.

I’ve ordered many things from here, but will give you a run down of a select few.

Salmon and Avocado Cut Roll is always a staple when I go to a sushi place, it’s the base of a good place. So much can go right and equally it can all go wrong. This however is spot on. The rice is soft and a touch warm. The avocado is ripe and unbelievably soft, it’s perfection. And the salmon is fresh and cut into a perfect, tender chunk.

The Crunchy Spicy Tuna Roll. Beautifully presented, this has been rolled in crispy tempura flakes to give a dusting over the outside. The drizzle over the top is an incredibly delicious, spicy mayo that really sparks a contrast with the shredded cucumber in the roll. The tuna is succulent, the whole dish is well put together and has not only strong flavours but is a truly artistic design. more spicy tunaChilli Chicken Ramen. Holy crap this is good. I had previously been across to Bone Daddies that has all the culinary finesse of a 16 year old Saturday jobber at Burger King, but with a queue of hyped up trendy idiots out the door and down the stinky street. Let me tell you, scrap the bum numbing stools at Bone Daddies and try this ramen out for size as it is incredible. It’s spicy, it’s salty, it’s got all the ingredients you want and more. It’s comforting and yet also feels healthy. Incredible ramen and a portion to match.

ramenThe Volcano Maki – Eel, leeks, bonito flakes, eel sauce, avocado & mayonnaise. This is a little pricier at £15.80 but if I’m honest I would pay three times that just to lick the bowl. THIS IS IT. This is the dish you dream of, you think it doesn’t exist with most of the tasteless, nondescript dishes that are out there and then this comes along, swoops you off your feet, butters you up and makes you realise that actually nothing else matters more than the mouthful you are about to witness. Witness it you will, and savour it as you don’t get a taste like this often. Stacked up and presented like a sculpture comes this roll, smothered in a sauce that can only be made of magic as it tastes so good. The sauce is creamy, mayonnaise like, with a sweet soy drizzle and a smoky flair to it that becomes all-encompassing.

volcanoDozo has a second branch along Old Brompton Road which I’ve yet to visit, but will and if it’s anything like its Soho sister, I know I’ll be in for a treat. There’s very few sushi places that are worth going to in London…I say this because I’ve lived in New York and Sydney and my taste buds know the best there is. A food snob yes, but at least it makes me give the best recommendations.

Try Dozo and don’t leave without trying the Volcano Maki. That’s an order.

Rate: 5

Dozo – 32 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 4TP

Tel: 020 7434 3219

http://www.dozosushi.co.uk

Follow them on Twitter @DozoLondon
Dozo Soho on Urbanspoon
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Kurobuta Pop-Up Chelsea

11 Feb

The buzz has finally come over to the west side. Well I never! It’s always ‘Hoxton this’ and ‘Shoreditch that’ and whilst I love those places and all they have to offer, it’s nice to have something that doesn’t take me an hour and a half to get to.

Hearing quite a bit about the Kurobuta pop-up that is currently residing on The King’s Road, soon to be a permanent feature in Marble Arch, I decided to book myself in. It was far more casual on the inside than I had anticipated; temporary looking wooden tables and flyers pinned to the walls, it had a beach-side shack vibe to it. After a chat with the nice, but slightly over familiar waitress, about the menu, which involved her pulling up a chair and sitting next to us to tell us about it, we decided to pick a few plates to share.

First up BBQ Pork Belly in Steamed Buns with Spicy Peanut Soy. You get two buns and it’s at a pricey £13. I was really intrigued about this as I’ve sampled the delights at Momofuku in New York and more recently at Flesh & Buns in London. This style of bun has never been my favourite consistency, but when the meat is cooked to perfection and marinated really well, it makes it into a comfort food of sorts. This didn’t hit the spot for me. I found the meat to be a little too fatty than normal and it was flavourless. I’ve noticed from photos that our dish doesn’t look nearly as marinated as other people’s, it looks very pale, maybe ours missed the dip in the marinade pool? I really liked the chilli and pickled cucumber as that added a burst of spice and texture to the dish. The peanut soy dip was too concentrated and severe, it needed to be a little bit diluted for it to be appreciated.

pork bunsNext was Salmon Gravadlax and Avocado Tartare with Dill Mayo, Rice Crunchies and Fresh Yuzu Zest. This was a small dish, but worth every penny of the £11 it’s priced at. The creamy sauce drenched the finely chopped and full of flavour salmon and it was accompanied by diced avocado, sesame and a nice sharp tang of yuzu. The rice crunchies added a good solid base to the dish and there’s a strong taste of dill, but fortunately for me, I love dill. It was presented beautifully and tasted fantastic. I would order this over and over again. By far the best dish I tried.

salmon tartareAs more of an appetiser, but everything comes out when it’s ready, we chose the Sweet Potato and Soba-Ko Fries with Sauces. The fries were seasoned impeccably, they were chewy and crispy and had a strong, ripe flavour to them. The dish was accompanied by two dips; a green one that I wasn’t a huge fan of and an orange one that was delicious, it was thick and creamy and had an addition of lemon juice that gave it a burst of something extra. This was a simple, grazing dish, I just wish it had come out at the start.

sweet potato friesHaving a hankering for some sushi we opted for Spicy Tuna Maki Rolled in Tempura Crunchies. This one is cut into 6 pieces and is a relatively modest £8.50. The tuna itself was delectable. It was clearly of the best quality and tasted as such. The rice was soft and a touch warm, which I love, I feel it denotes a freshness and high calibre. However, the tempura crunchies ruined it for me. They didn’t have a crunchy consistency in the slightest, more the texture of cake crumbs and the taste was almost sweet, it didn’t contribute anything to the dish, in fact, if anything it just took away from it. This was a hit and miss dish for me.

tuna makiThe final dish, the second best, at £9.50: Tuna Sashimi Pizza with Trufle Ponzu, Red Onions and Green Chillies. A delightful, crispy tortilla base topped with very thin and beautifully flavoured slices of tuna sashimi. A dash of a light, cream sauce drizzled over it and a tonne of colourful tobiko. It was wonderful. I realise I sound like a spoiled brat when I say this, but the tuna pizza at Morimoto in Meatpacking is out of this world. I mean, like nothing you’ve ever tasted before. The most incredible, mouth-watering, innovative and delicious dish and whilst this one was pretty good, it just wasn’t ‘Morimoto good.’

pizzaAfter a good experience here, a couple of lacklustre dishes, but overall really nice, the waitress went and ruined it. She stepped way over the mark and the over familiarity of before was now just a distant memory; she just kicked us out of bed. Let me proceed in telling you the tale:

  • The bill arrived after being told it was coming, not after having requested it, even though we had been there for just under an hour and my reservation told me I was entitled to the seats for an hour and a half.
  • There is no subtotal and ‘service charge’ is bunged in there too. I’d like to point out the lack of the word ‘optional’ here. The service was at 12.5% and was £5.52. The total bill came to £51.52. I always pay service when I feel it is earned, however given that we had been there less than an hour and I wasn’t particularly taken with this waitress’ approach to serving us, I did hesitate slightly. However, I intended to pay it.
  • I popped £1.50 in change on the tray and then we decided to split the rest over two cards (£25 on each).
  • When she came over with the card machine I said, ‘Can we do £25 on each card and the rest is in change?’ This took her a moment to process. She replied ‘So £25 on each and did you say the rest was in cash, where is the rest?’ I replied that the rest was on the tray. At this stage I just wanted her to get on with it, I didn’t even have to put that £1.50 down, it was part of the service and think she had been given more than enough.
  • She then had the nerve to say ‘And the 2p? Where’s the 2p? Did you not have the 2p as you haven’t paid the full amount?’ Well that was a bit of a shock to the system. and she was pretty rude for asking. I replied that I did not have 2p to hand and it can come out of the service. IT’S TWO FRICKING PENCE. I left this one to Aky as I was so riled up by her audacity so he went to speak to the manager.
  • After a bit of a discussion the manager handed him back the £5.50 tip. Too bloody right. It’s just a shame there was a bit of a sour end to an otherwise good meal.

I felt that it was a delicious meal overall, some dishes I’d love to have again, but because of other ‘misses’ I wasn’t blown away and I think I expected a bit more from Nobu alumni.

Rate 3.7

Kurobuta Pop-Up

251 Kings Road, London, SW3 5EL

And coming soon to: 17-20 Kendal Street, London, W2 2AW

http://www.kurobuta-london.com/

Follow them on Twitter @KurobutaLondon
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Tobiko

22 Aug

I’m a sushi lover, a connoisseur of all things raw fish. I love the art behind the food, the attention to detail that doesn’t come with many other cuisines and the beauty of the presentation. It is the food that makes your eyes open wide and truly appreciate the chef’s work.

Tobiko is an absolute gem. A take-away sushi place in between Covent Garden and Leicester Square. It’s near all the out dated Spaghetti Houses and Pasta Browns that adorn the central London streets and it stands out as a beacon of hope for fish lovers!

There are a handful of tables outside, under the canopy giving it such a friendly feel. Pop inside and the chef never fails to give me a beaming smile and greeting, before getting back to preparing the sushi. You can pick and choose to make up your own box, or choose from one of the ready-made selections. I always go for the Salmon Box, priced at £6.50 (4 salmon nigiri, 2 salmon and avocado rolls and 4 salmon rolls). Occasionally I’ll opt for some Miso or Edamame too, which are also great. but my heart lies with the Salmon Box. Spend £8 or over and they give you £1 off your next visit!

The fish is SO fresh and the taste of it just melts in your mouth, the avocado is always soft and ripe and I can honestly say it is the best fish used in sushi in London that I’ve had. Unbelievably delicious. It is so finely prepared, the best cuts of the fish used, and honestly, there’s nowhere better. DEELISH!

Rate: 5

Tobiko

8 Garrick Street, Covent Garden  London, City of London, Greater London WC2E 9BH

020 7836 7291

http://www.tobiko.co.uk/
Tobiko on Urbanspoon

Sushi Samba London v Sushi Samba 7 New York

3 Aug

The highly anticipated Sushi Samba arrived in the daunting Heron Tower a week ago. Having booked about 2 months ago, this has been a long time coming. I’ve been to Sushi Samba 7 in New York, many times and believe me, London had a lot to live up to. The essence of the New York one is perfect. While it’s more upmarket than other sushi restaurants in the area, giving it a bit of an edge, it’s aware that it’s in The Village and can’t be too exclusive as it’s on 7th and Bleecker not Perry and Bleecker if you understand me. What I mean is that it’s leaning towards the dive bars, late night pizza places and student haunts and while a mere stone’s throw, it isn’t conversing with the town houses and boutiques that are just ever so slightly west. Therefore, you have an eclectic mix of young and old, tourists, business men and artists all coming together for the love of fusion, ambience and great food. Fly across the pond and somewhere along the way they forgot what it was all about.

Hop in the lift to the 38th floor which zooms at a hugely accelerated pace, and you are greeted by one of the many clipboarded hostesses that are all wearing the same slinky, orange dress. As smiley and well presented as they all seem, later on they proved they had no customer service knowledge whatsoever. The bar area inside is nice enough, nothing spectacular. The focus is on the raw bar, but you can’t see what the chefs are preparing as the wooden border goes up just too high. The bar over to the right is pushed into the corner and if you angle yourself just right, behind the massive staircase and a few oddly placed pillars, you can see the breathtaking view; Tower Bridge, Gherkin, The Shard, The Thames.

The Outside bar, is chaos; broken bottles on the bar, empty cigarette packets, loads of empty glasses with a seemingly well staffed bar. Service is hard to come by, they’re all looking down, talking to each other and not really paying attention to the task in hand ‘Excuse me, do you have a drinks menu?’ ‘No, you’ll have to go inside for that.’ ‘So, you don’t have a menu out here?’ ‘Hang on (rolls eyes)’ Then a couple of minutes later she threw a couple of menus on to the bar. Wading through the gluttonous sea of ugly mouthed, suited city boys was an atrocity I’d rather not repeat. The general demeanour of the clientele had about as much charm and grace as someone throwing a brick through the all glass wall. Unfortunately, sitting on this outside terrace on the 38th floor entitled me to simply look at a conservatory roof from the floor below and in the distance, look north to what could have been Mongolia, suburban Texas or anywhere. Why on earth the bar, or any seating for that matter is not South facing, so this investment wasn’t all in vain, is beyond me. The photo below is that same view, but from the inside of the restaurant.

I had a ‘Nina Fresa’ which was pretty tasty (Ketel One Vodka is shaken with freshly squeezed lime, grapefruit and guava juice and sweetened with strawberry puree and simple syrup. Served ‘up’.)

We were initially showed to our seat in a corridor, I politely declined, looking through the glass to the side of the outside terrace at the back of city boys or, on the other side, a white wall, whilst a constant stream of customers pass through, was not what I had in mind when booking a table at the top of the Heron Tower. We waited…and waited…and then were seated in the restaurant, as opposed to the periphery, but our view was now of the conservatory roof I so fondly described earlier, and some sort of crane like contraption blocking any minute side view I might have once been able to have. I settled for it as realised fighting it would have been futile.

Next, I’ve worked in restaurants, expensive ones, cheap ones and I know the drill. Step One: Establish the clientele. This is a simple test to determine how much attention bad waiters will give to said patron. The water question. Still or sparkling. They might as well ask, ‘How much money are you going to spend?’ I have no qualms with responding to this by saying ‘tap’. The next is asking if you’d like any edamame, tempura etc etc. This is before you have even seen the menu…I again declined. The reluctance of handing over the menu is strange, you can’t even find it online.

After deliberating, we chose the Poussin and four different Samba rolls; BoBo Brazil,  Neo Tokyo, The Samba London & the last one was a mixture, like a Rainbow Roll. Presentation was good, not quite as spectacular as NY, but credit where credit is due, it was good and very colourful, for London, sorry. The tempura crunch was salty with just the right amount of crunch and the fish was good although wasn’t that flavoursome. The Wagyu beef roll was lovely and very decorative, with a good smoky taste to the meat. The most simple thing however, the base for all of this which is so often overlooked is the rice. To quote Jay Rayner when talking about Sushi Tetsu ‘It is all detail…the rice is exactly how you always wish it might be and so rarely is. It is the right side of just warm.’ Samba had cold rice that was not fresh and Rayner’s description is so spot on as not only does fresh, warm rice accentuate the taste of the fish, it’s soft texture and freshness are so much more appealing than rice you know has been kept chilled for a while. For around £15 a roll you expect the best of the best. The Poussin was really nice; smoky, soft chicken with a delicious barbecue style and slightly spicy sauce, great as something a little different on the side.

Samba New York gets the rice just right, the fish is fresher, the crunch, crunchier. They are also a lot bigger! Photo below is from Samba NY to compare and we had very similar rolls, so that the comparison could be more accurate.

After dinner we walked out onto the other balcony, where a few people were drinking (you aren’t allowed to eat out there) and in one small corner of this balcony is the view you’ve been waiting for. It was amazing to see, it’s just a shame they didn’t design the restaurant in a way so it could be enjoyed by all it’s customers.

I wouldn’t say it was an amazing experience, it was lacklustre if anything. And for those prices you can go to Sushinho for a much nicer atmosphere and keep your feet firmly on the ground, which is maybe what Samba should have done…in more ways than one.

Rate: 3.2 (London)

Rate: 4.8 (New York)

Sushi Samba

110 Bishopsgate

London

EC2N 4AY

020 3640 7330

Sushi Samba 7

87 7th Avenue South

New York, NY

10014

(212) 691-7885

http://sushisamba.com/
Sushi Samba on Urbanspoon

*SPECIAL* – Amber Sushi – NYC

19 Jun

This is a very, very special place. It’s creative, it’s quick and it’s absolutely deelish. I would have this everyday of the week if I could!

I have been here a million times and it is never ever less than perfect. It’s not the kind of cheap where you think ‘Should I really risk eating mega cheap raw fish?’ But, equally it isn’t expensive either. They often do deals like $1 Tiger beers on a Monday and their 2 and 3 roll specials for delivery are great for lunch times.

I always get the Salmon & Avocado Roll and the Spicy Tuna Roll, but aside from them, my FAVOURITE is The Golden Dragon Roll (Spicy crunchy salmon & avocado roll topped with fresh mango slices and red caviar). This has a delicate sweetness to it, they always use immensely ripe avocados and the presentation looks like a work of art.

The service is great and the restaurants are very cool, definitely go here!

Have a peruse of the photos so you can get a feel for this little gem.

Rate 5

Amber

432 6th Ave  New York, NY 10011, (212) 477-5880

http://ambervillage.net/
Amber on Urbanspoon
&

381 3rd Ave New York, NY 10016, (212) 686-6388

http://www.ambergramercy.com/
Amber on Urbanspoon

*SPECIAL* – SUSHIGOI – SYDNEY

31 May

Aky and I were in Centennial Park and spotted a couple in front of us eating what looked like the most creative, delicious and unbelievably big portion of fantabulous ‘sush sush’ (sing along if you know the words) I’d seen! I had to ask them where they’d got it. They told us it was Sushi Goi in Coogee. We went the very next day!

We chose to get a take-away and how they do this is they give you the empty box and you can stand by the conveyer belt and pile it in to the box, stack up the plates like you would when you eat in and pay for it at the end. They even gave us a 10% discount for taking away!

The choice was ENDLESS! Australians seem to put raw very finely sliced onion rings on top of their sushi, giving it a real spark of flavour. They also scorch the fish occasionally with a blow torch or just a bit of a roll on a barbecue and the smoky taste is just unbelievable. This is not classic, plain sushi, it is wonderful, colourful, creative and so delicious you just won’t want it to end.

The ‘Spicy Tuna Crunchy’ was so good! The fried spicy garlic that it is topped with just blends in with the flavour and gives the rice a new, bold accompaniment. The ‘Salmon & Onion’ roll is also a definite must. The fish itself is very fresh and whilst you can get the plainer rolls, this is the place to be a bit daring.

Their clever techniques and fresh approach make dining in or out of here a real thrill. A true hats off to the chef. London needs to take a leaf out of the Aussie’s book on this one.

Rate: 5

Match the sushi in our boxes to the menu above…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sushi Goi

230 Coogee Bay Rd, Coogee Beach NSW 2034

0416795888
Sushigoi on Urbanspoon

Abokado

10 May

One of my favourite lunch places to go to at the moment is Abokado…I’m all for eating healthy snacks and as you know I love me some sushi!

Abokado do a delicious treat called a Schwrap. It’s a steal at around £1.50 and perfect if you get a couple of them for a light lunch or just one on the go.

My favourites are the Sweet Chilli Salmon & Fresh Dill or the California Salad. If you pass one, be sure to try it!

 

Rate: 4

California Salad Schwrap

Abokado

Various Locations

http://www.abokado.com/

 

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