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My tastebuds do not really do subtle, especially after a beer, sometimes they need a kick in the balls to make them pay attention. Perhaps that is why Japanese cuisine has not featured at all in our restaurant outings. My wife kept it secret that she likes sushi so after eating some from good old M&S we thought to try the real thing, so to speak.

After some good suggestions on here, I was tipped off about Yashin which won Timeout's Best sushi bar 2011 so off we traipsed to W8.

Now the last time we were in this postcode was to eat at Michelin starred Kitchen W8, and very nice it was indeed. I realised this first proper excursion into sushi would be expensive given the location to Holland Park's multi million pound mansions.

I had to placate my wife yet again as I secretly booked a couple of stools at the bar to watch the chefs work. For me this is the best seat in the house. There is a downstairs dining area which is dark and largely unappealing.

As a newby I thought it best to trust the chef and go for the Omakase or roughly translated as "up to you" meaning that the chef chooses what to serve, in other words a tasting menu.

I foolishly thought each piece of sushi would be prepared and presented one after the other. How wrong I was, it was all served on the same plate.

The Yashin

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What your looking at folks is fifteen pieces of sushi for sixty english pounds plus service charge. Just over £4 a bite.

Was it worth it?

What you see is too much to describe, I would be here all day, but includes the following.

Sea Bass with soy sauce and marinated onion,

Salmon with BBQ sauce,

Sea Bream with seaweed paste and strawberry,

Yellowtail with sweet soy sauce and parmesan cheese,

Parrot fish with salted finger.

Iberian Pork with tomato and truffle and ponzu jelly.

Razorclam with sweet soy sauce.

Wagyu beef, truffle oil and black pepper.

Dover sole, black bean sauce.

Shrimp with foei gras

Spicey crab with marinade with tobico

Tuna with tomato berries

Mackerel with ginger miso.

I,m glad we only had this one omakase plate as we could witness more interestingly plated food coming from the kitchen.

The omakase comes with miso, and a salad with onion dressing, which were pleasant enough if unremarkable.

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We wanted to try the attractively presented Sashimi set (£25) as we witnessed the chefs building the dish right in front of our eyes.

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Two more dishes to try and we were finished.

Watarigani (£9.80)

Was on the Yashin roll menu, and was an irresistible deep fried soft shell crab with sweet soy sauce.

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Last but not least was the dish that we first saw on the counter as we entered the restaurant. On the menu as Una pine (£9.30) BBQ fresh water eel , marinated pineapple, mango sauce.

Second time in as many days to eat eel and good this also was.

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Well this turned into a bit of a marathon. Lots of different variations on a theme, but sadly nothing really jumped out. The most disappointing morsel was the wagyu, it did nothing for me. I dare say if I was massaged daily by the woman of my choice for months, and fed copious amounts of beer or sake daily, my extremities would taste a lot better than this.

Interestingly the best dishes for me were the last two. the soft shell crab was great Also the comforting fatty eel and the sweet, slightly tart pineapple worked well and these were the only dishes that we judiciously added our own soy sauce.

I need to explain. If you look at the second photo the neon sign states boldly " Without soy sauce " meaning that the chef considers his food sufficiently seasoned without the need to add further soy at the table. To a point I agree, but strangely enough the last dishes we ate, we added soy sauce.

I rest my case.

You know by now we are not too interested in wine or sake come to that. From memory only two bottles are below £30 on the list, its onwards and quickly upwards from there. We chose a New Zealand white which seemed quite ok.

Put it this way it did not jarr

It is a bit of a bling place with a smattering of diamond encrusted rolex's, louis vuitton, and various other fashion statements on display. We enjoyed it up to a point. Very much of a muchness for me, a lot of fun visually though. My wife enjoyed it more. It was different taste wise from what we are used too. We could not eat sushi on a daily basis, for us its a once in a while excursion, perhaps a couple of times a year. Having said that I would love to try one of the cheap places as a comparison.

Our bill topped £150, a lot for what we got, although I did not resent paying it, that is until I got the bill.

Thats when I noticed a £1.50 charge for extra ginger?

I queried the charge and insisted it was removed.

It was, but not without me having to explain, but it left a nasty taste in the mouth.

Yes I asked one of the chefs for some sliced pickled ginger and offered the unsliced piece off one of our dishes (see the crab dish) for him to slice, he declined, and sliced three strips no bigger than a ladies pinkie from his side of the counter.

WTF is that charge about, get real, meanness of that order will cost you customers :raz:

So what do we think of Timeout's Best London sushi bar 2011?

Well we need to eat some more sushi first to compare, however,

If this is the best in London. I'm stuck as to what to say.

(for once)

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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I've got to say David, this place may the the Time Out best sushi place in London but it looks totally charmless to me (unlike your report itself, of course :rolleyes: )! Not surprising that the clientele (in your shot at least) is entirely Western, and the £1.50 is the icing on the cake on the charmlessness front. Keep trying, I'm sure you'll hit on a better place (though I'm not sure whether any offers a massage, you may be best off at home for that...).

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Personally I regard Sushi and Sashimi as too complicated a subject for anyone who has not had many many years of experience eating it to really pass judgement on. I mean for an expert all kinds of subleties seem to come into play when grading the quality, most of which the casual eater will have no knowledge of. Angle of rice grains, number of slices, day on which the boat went out, fisherman's star sign etc

Me, I just go on taste and whether or not the fish smells like a docker's armpit. I do know that I'd only ever eat sashimi in a high turnover place because the odds on the fish being fresh are much higher. In London that means somewhere like Yashin or somewhere equally central and expensive.

The charmlessness may have been that the camera antics meant that they pegged you as a blogger who probably wouldn't be coming back. I imagine their wealthy regulars don't take snaps of their food or indeed argue about £1.50!

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Personally I regard Sushi and Sashimi as too complicated a subject for anyone who has not had many many years of experience eating it to really pass judgement on. I mean for an expert all kinds of subleties seem to come into play when grading the quality, most of which the casual eater will have no knowledge of. Angle of rice grains, number of slices, day on which the boat went out, fisherman's star sign etc

Maybe that us true if you are debateing the best of the best but I find it quite easy to tell good from average. It is almost one of those "eureka" moments when you have good stuff, you suddenly get what it is all about.

That said the weirdly non-traditional shushi would send warning signals to me so not surprised nothing stood out from the platters - gimmicks over quality?

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Some good replies there. Its comforting to think a review can create a bit of healthy debate.

Needless to say you will all be kept informed of any future excursions. It could easily be Nickloman's recommendation of Ebi Sushi in exotic Derby.

Perhaps PhilD is right about "eureka moments".

I hope that I have one sooner rather than later. :wink:

Sunbeam, I wonder who, if anyone on Timeout's team can regard themselves an expert on sushi? Best London sushi bar is a big claim if not coming from an expert as such.

Mind you having said that, London is bereft of choice, so it should be simple.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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Personally I regard Sushi and Sashimi as too complicated a subject for anyone who has not had many many years of experience eating it to really pass judgement on. I mean for an expert all kinds of subleties seem to come into play when grading the quality, most of which the casual eater will have no knowledge of. Angle of rice grains, number of slices, day on which the boat went out, fisherman's star sign etc

Good point, but if you aim at fine distinctions isn't that true of all types of cuisine? For example, we Italians argue on aspects of pasta that non-Italians rarely if ever consider. I've read long and heated debates on tiny differences in surface texture, and on whether pasta Senatore Cappelli is better than pasta Cavalier Cocco. I guess it's almost impossible to be experts on many types of cuisine. That is why, incidentally, I dislike intensely the habit of giving marks to restaurants, implying some degree of objectivity and with the inevitable impression of being the 'master', instead of limiting oneself to narrative, subjective opinions. Beside, of course, the ever useful photos.

Edited by Man (log)
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I kind of agree with PhilD about eureka moments. Really good sushi is something that's hard to describe, but you know when you get it.

The closest I've probably come to it would have been the old sushi-hiro in ealing (so long as you remembered to bring cash!). Nowadays sometimes Atari-ya, Dinings or Soho Japan on a good day. Not Sushi of Shiori (at least on my visit - others will disagree) nor Cafe Japan nor Sushi-Say.

But with reference to sunbeam I do think that for us initiated, at the top end there are diminishing returns. Particularly for traditional sushi joints where you're not going to get a radically different dish or technique, just the same thing done better with better ingredients. Imagine if all three star restaurants served perfectly roast chicken and a lemon tart. You'd probably get a better chicken and lemon tart at say L'Ambroisie... but would it be that much better?

J

PS Yashin was pleasant when I went, but didn't blow me away. I didn't think the slightl avant-garde Yashin was anything I couldn't have gotten at Dinings for less. (having said that be careful about criticising them for going at £4 a pop... if you get to the Masa's or Urasawa's of this world across the pond you'd be paying a damn sight more!)

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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David, I feel I must caveat Nickloman's Ebi Sushi recommendation and manage expectation slightly. From the outside it looks like a run-down café on a Derby backstreet. Inside it's very basic and the food is very traditional, you will not find any flourishes or avant-garde touches here. Sole Chef-Patron Mr Ebina caters for the Japanese ex-pats at the nearby Toyota plant, so while his customers are very discerning they are also very conservative, they want the taste of home. I love the place, I reckon it's my most visited (non-Chinese) restaurant. But there are flaws, he runs out of my favourite things quite early and stubbornly refuses to refurb the toilets. He was supposed to upgrade them last year but spent the money on a new Toyota Land-cruiser much to the chagrin of his regulars.

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Fairy muff Nick, you know i'm protective of Ebi Sush. I only introduce the best poeple I know to it :wink: Our dear old David will love it too i'm sure! Here's a photo of, to me, sushi perfection from Ebi. Saba (mackerel) and Otoro (fatty tuna belly):

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As for London sushi/Japanese places, I think every knows from the Sushi of Shiori thread that i'm a big fan of the place. I didn't like Dinings, I went soon after it opened and got unanimous rave reviews in the press. I felt it was mean, cold and overpriced. The only redeeming item we ate was the foie gras and unagi nigiri, oishi! If you want to try something other than sushi then Tosa in Hammersmith does fantastic Yakitori and other chargrilled food, I could eat the whole menu at that place.

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Thanks for your concern guys. As there is no website for Ebi I did a bit of research myself visiting good old Tripadvisor :unsure: One thing is for certain if anything grates on a reviewer it gets put on that site. I was immediately aware the place was grungy to say the least.

Needless to say I would not trust any food reports on there but to get a general feel of the place is just perfect.

Your recommends are good enough for me. Will report back in due course.

Bet he got a good discount on that Toyota :laugh:

At some stage we hope to get around to trying out Dinings, Shiori, and perhaps Zuma, plus some of the cheaper places. Watch this space.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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One question I have for the sushi experts - do you still use chopsticks or do you go for the fingers/rotate method?

I am a chopsticks person, and from memory my Japanese colleagues in Tokyo are as well, I am there tommorrow so shall ask.

One story to share. On my last visit we went for sushi and shasmini at the fish market, my sushi platter has a prawn dish with the usual presentation with the tip of the shell left on. As I reached for it the tail fluttered, I jumped a mile. My colleagues told me I was lucky as it is a sign of how fresh it is and of the chefs skill: it was very good.

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