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Sushi Tetsu - top class new sushi bar in Clerkenwell


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Sushi Tetsu opened on Monday night in the very tiny premises formerly occupied by Passage Cafe on Jerusalem Passage in Clerkenwell (next door to the Dove Belgian bar). It's owned and run by Toru Takahashi and his wife. Toru was sushi chef at Nobu for five years before leaving to open his own place.

I don't want to burden them with massively inflated expectations, but this was the closest thing to the Yasuda experience I've found in London. Toru served up piece after piece of top class sushi whilst keeping up a patter on Belgian beer, bossa nova (Astrud v. Bebel Gilberto), blues (Does Johnny Winter hate Japanese people? Why Bobby Bland isn't really blues) and the relative merits/demerits of various sushi restaurants in London and further afield (in fact he namechecked Yasuda as an influence).

It's a more classical sushi bar than Sushi of Shiori (which I also very much like). No hot food, no miso. Just sashimi, nigiri and maki. It's a true sushi omakase experience, one piece of nigiri at a time, the meal developing its own flow, its own momentum. It is quite traditional, occasional use is made of a blowtorch but not to the extent it is used at Yashin. The torch giving an effect not unlike the grill used by Masa in Tokyo.

In the end, of course, this is London. Billingsgate is not Tsukiji. The fish is not quite at the level of Yasuda or Kuruma (who can import directly from Tokyo) not to mention the Tokyo heavyweights. But it's very, very good and it's prepared with immense skill and passion.

This was a hugely encouraging first meal (all the better for it being 400 yards from my front door). I suspect the London sushi scene has a new contender.

Edited by IanT (log)
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Sushi Tetsu opened on Monday night in the very tiny premises formerly occupied by Passage Cafe on Jerusalem Passage in Clerkenwell (next door to the Dove Belgian bar). It's owned and run by Toru Takahashi and his wife. Toru was sushi chef at Nobu for five years before leaving to open his own place.

I don't want to burden them with massively inflated expectations, but this was the closest thing to the Yasuda experience I've found in London. Toru served up piece after piece of top class sushi whilst keeping up a patter on Belgian beer, bossa nova (Astrud v. Bebel Gilberto), blues (Does Johnny Winter hate Japanese people? Why Bobby Bland isn't really blues) and the relative merits/demerits of various sushi restaurants in London and further afield (in fact he namechecked Yasuda as an influence).

It's a more classical sushi bar than Sushi of Shiori (which I also very much like). No hot food, no miso. Just sashimi, nigiri and maki. It's a true sushi omakase experience, one piece of nigiri at a time, the meal developing its own flow, its own momentum. It is quite traditional, occasional use is made of a blowtorch but not to the extent it is used at Yashin. The torch giving an effect not unlike the grill used by Masa in Tokyo.

In the end, of course, this is London. Billingsgate is not Tsukiji. The fish is not quite at the level of Yasuda or Kuruma (who can import directly from Tokyo) not to mention the Tokyo heavyweights. But it's very, very good and it's prepared with immense skill and passion.

This was a hugely encouraging first meal (all the better for it being 400 yards from my front door). I suspect the London sushi scene has a new contender.

Rats! I walked past this place last week, and noticed it but did not pay much attention. Sounds excellent. 400 yards from your door!! you sure have some excellent

dining options in your neighbourhood! I was in the Zetter Townhouse for the week, and drank way too many of their excellent cocktails.

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I tried Tetsu last Saturday night (their 6th night of their soft opening week). They don't have a website yet and they didn't even have a phone number until very recently (it wasn't printed or to be found anywhere and I had to ask them when I was there - it's 020 3217 0090; they're closed Saturday lunch and the whole of Sunday but otherwise open; last orders at 14:00 and 22:00 respectively).

7 seats at the counter in front of the sushi chef and 2 tables of (I think) 2. Just Takahashi-san who started in Kobe and last worked at Nobu London for 6+ years; and his charming wife (Harumi). Takahashi-san's English is very good (he graduated from a Japanese university with an English/British culture degree) and as mentioned above, he's more than willing to talk and banter.

Everything is still new so, for example, there were currently no desserts, there are only four sakes on the list at the moment and they had run out of egg by the time I arrived (near the end of the night). They do have a menu but rather than waste time with that, I just went for omakase in the true sense - being fed until I asked to stop without any idea how much until the end.

The flavours of the fish were left to speak for themselves with only things like a few drops of juice, some salt, a lick of sauce or a quick blowtorch to complement/enhance the flavours. It was sushi in a traditional but refined form (no fusion) and similar to what can be found in many good sushi places across Japan (even in airports like Haneda in Tokyo) and in countries like Hong Kong (e.g. Sushi U in Central now closed) but rarely in London.

As far as I'm concerned for best sushi in London, Tetsu's only other contender is Shiori which I love. Shiori is more refined than Tetsu (no surprise given that Takagi-san there trained in Kyoto) and Shiori's plates of food are works of art unlike Tetsu which is simply "raw" (in a nice way). None of the other places in London work for me. Dinings is fusion and doesn't have the fresh clean taste which I prefer (sometimes it works but other times not). It's the same for Yashin plus they have their frankly silly hangup about providing soya sauce. (Tetsu do provide soya sauce without having to ask.) Finally, there's Mitsukoshi which is traditional but lacks refinement.

What I found pretty unique in London about Tetsu was the omakase experience as mentioned above. Tetsu was the closest I've come so far to how I feel in Japan.

Edited by John Man (log)
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Went here on Thursday evening after work, the place is tiny, just seats 7 at the bar and 2 tables. The menu offers chefs choice where you can select from 3 price options for sashimi and 3 for sushi sushi and there is also a detailed menu for sushi and sashimi.

For drinks 5 sakes on offer, 3 beers, tea and could be more but can't recal. My companion and I both went for the mid point option for the chefs choice sashimi and sushi and some saki.

This turned out to be the best Japanese meal I've had, everything very fresh and clean tasting with some excelent touches of sauces, scorching and garnishes with textures being adapted by use of cutting techniques which was amazing to watch. Chef Tetsu kicked of the conversation by asking if I had been to Japan, I hadn't and asked why and I received a huge compliment that the way I was eating my sashimi was very Japanese. And off we went through the meal trying various sakes and had a great time, had never really got the "omasake" experience but now I do. Where there for around 2 hours, left a bit earlier as could see they were about to turn away a couple and didn't want them to lose the trade. Cost for food and drink £80 per head and worth every penny.

Highly recomended

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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Sashimi from my first visit

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And from my visit on the 27th June the Sashimi

Sweet Shrimp, Sea Bream, Vinegared Mackerel, Fatty Tuna, Yellow Tail

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Then the sushi

Sea Bream

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Turbot

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Tuna

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Salmon

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Horse Mackerel

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Sea Urchin (uni)

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Scallop Skirt, Cucumber, Japanese Basil -oops ate one before the photo

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EggIMG_0736.JPG

My mistake, I think, should have asked for Omasake (but new to this) for the sushi as the uni actually came after the egg and I could have probably ate a few more.

Still learning and this seems a perfect place to do it. They are so friendly, nothing is wrong but nudges, and if you want gentle advice given to help you get the best.

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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