I fail to understand people when they say the don't like sushi. What do you MEAN you "don't like sushi"?! What a cup of the masses lack in knowledge over sushi is how much encompasses the cuisine itself. When we think sushi, many assume raw fish, wiggling tentacles; rice, and a soup that has odd floating, miso lusted and dusted petals swimming about like the now deceased fish on your plate.
But the fact of the matter is... sushi is significantly more than that. It's carpaccio of wagyu beef. It's hoisin infused shredded tender strips of duck wrapped in a cone of rice and crisp nori seaweed, complemented by a sesame sauce. It's the matcha green and verdant gleam of ripe avocado, swirled in pretty patterns, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds and scattered with splodges of invigorating wasabi. It's rice. It's noodles. It's dessert and fruit. It's a spectrum of inquisitive delights that the senses will rapture over and be utterly spoilt for choice by.
Once upon a time, sushi was almost all I'd eat. It just satisfied every craving in one go. I'm now past that hurdle and will quite happily go from Japan to the big ol'USA and ravenously sink my teeth into a cheeseburger and fries (extra onion rings please!), but sushi will always hold a special place in my heart.
To bring you some inspiration, now that we CAN eat out again, LAITMYLK rattles off the top 3 places in London to get truly damn good sushi. Chopsticks at the ready... let's go!
Walking in, you are met with the Japanese sair of tranquility and grace. A zen abyss of high ceilings, complementing a minimalist interior; the floor dotted with white and black tiles echoing ones gentle footsteps as they are seated onto their wooden block table, almost as if reflecting the chopping board from which the prestigious sushi chef shall prepare your meal. A body of natural light streams in like spotlights of God and his angelic choirs with a marriage of circular hatched and oblong windows, whilst rivets of brass and honeycomb fencing make for a sense of security... you are securely in your sushi haven.
My eyes graced what the restaurant titles as The Grand Menu, offering a rich and eclectic a selection of unusual dishes, each titled in their traditional Japanese stylistic form, from Shoku to Sumi Yaki and classic Sashimi.
English asparagus with tahini miso
Spinach and seaweed salad Sweet sesame soy, goma-dare vinaigrette, bubu arare
Perfectly in season now, the asparagus was steamed to a soft yet crisp nature; the taste typically at its British best with the incomparably distinct, and assertive bitter undertones, complimented beautifully by the oceanic tang of white miso, whilst the nutty and cream slicken lap of tahini blanketed everything with an unusual comely culiniary hug.
Sweetened sesame oil with the sharply salted tongue of soy and goma-dare, with the snapping, crackling and popping bubu arare rice puffs create a textural crunch against the gelatinous and sensually slimy seaweed-spinach combination. A classic Japanese salad all must try in their lifetime.
Sous vide wagyu beef sashimi with truffle and ponzu jelly
Toro tartare with Oscietra caviar Tsukuri soy, British wasabi, monaka, gold leaf
Salmon belly with onion jam
Marbled with magnolia veins of fat, the wagyu sashimi cut into medium moreish chunks had the unparalleled buttery, almost sweet and delicate notes of umami one wowuld expect it to. The citrus tang of the ponzu jelly cuts beautifully across the succulent beef, whilst the earthy near mushroom toned kiss of truffle oil further enhances the opulence graced upon your plate.
Toro tartare, aka the fat cat of the ocean, oozes mellifluous morsels of savoury smoothness; like meat jelly sprinkled with memories of its salty waves from which he was fished. The caviar, onyx like the galactic sky, brings together the plates with a combined earthy, nutty and fruity hue; married in holy matrimony with the robust pungency of refreshingly heated wasabi to create a plate of sheer sashimi perfection. Lastly on the dish is the monaka, a Japanese sweet made of azuki bean paste sandwiched between two thin crisp wafers made from mochi. The cherry blossoms decorated wafer adds both a visual and tasteworthy sweetness.
Now for the salmon sashimi, which naturally I saved until last. There is an almost honeyed texture to prime selected salmon, each chunk a butyraceous buttery blob of bliss. Christened in a little soy sauce and blessed by the sweetened savoury notes of a tangy onion jam, and the notes intensify into a balmy delight incomparable to any other selection of fish for sashimi.
Tahini creme brûlée with a Goma tuile, toasted sesame oil
We went on a spin from Asia to the Middle East for dessert, with the dominant ingredient of choice by the kitchen being the nutty, earthy and almosy mushroom glazed sesame sumptuousness of tahini. The creme brûlée, a dessert that perfectly combines the complex flavors of a light and airy vanilla custard with the nuttiness of a caramelized sugar top-layer. The custard interior did not disappoint, adopting a new level of richness in its level of cream; balanced with the aromatic and floral notes of the vanilla bean while the caramelized sugar added much desired texture. With a goma wakame tuile, a saltiness is scattered delictaely into the intense sweetness present within the brûlée; the sesame glaze acting as the final touch to bring the olfactory pleasures into their prime.
Brazilian Yellow Bourbon
Brazilian yellow bourbon coffee is a delicate roast of arabica bean, with a high sweetness and low acidity, ultimately producing a cup of floral, grape like, and barely noted coffee that lacquers the tongue with a cleansing and yet caffeinated curl of the lips... into a smile. A smile for a meal we salivated, a meal we savoured, and a meal we will save in memory.
to start and share
Starting fresh with savoury notes to tempt and excite the palate for an abundance of wondrous delights to come, classically crisp and wholesome edamame beans lightly treated with the distinct salted notes of soy, against the slippery, oceanic wetness of a kaiso seaweed salad marries in perfect harmony. A subtle sesame oil drizzle coats the mouth like a light scarf in a chill breeze, the tangy sharpness of the assorted konomono pickles slicing through the mellifluousness of the seaweed and giving the edamame the lift they rightfully deserve.
yellowtail truffle sashimi
octopus and kizami wasabi
from the grill
nasu dengaku (fried aubergine coated in dark miso paste)
saikyo (creamy black cod marinated in white miso paste)
tempura and deep fried
vegetable and avocado tempura selection
kaki fry (deep fried oysters)
gyoza (deep fried chicken dumplings)
Wagyu Steak Foie Gras Truffle Teriyaki
The main event of the evening cumulates to this! The sashimi arrives, and it is the octopus that first catches my eye like a magpie: plated beautifully, as if freshly plucked from the sea, with an ivory bone glossy gleam. The tentacle texture is present but dressed with subtle verdant micro greens, as if Eve is walking through the Garden of Eden. A delicate flavour glazes the tongue, not too dissimilar to lobster, which is masterfully cut and prepared to avoid the chewiness octopus can sometimes adopt. As for the yellowtail tuna sashimi, an earthen kick of truffle creates a woody hue throughout the dish, which the octopus's wasabi amends by adding a fiery dragons breath across the aphrodisial textures.
To balance the fish element, we of course needed to try the wagyu steak foie gras truffle teriyaki. Seared just enough to bring what can only be described as literal 'meat butter' to life. The richly marbled nature of wagyu births a flavour unlike any other cut of beef; with a succulence that - when paired with lustrous near liver hue of foie gras - only intensifies.
From the grill, we have more gelatinous tastes to graze over, with slippery morsels of fried aubergine, which is the sponge of the vegetable world. Absorbing the oils within which it's been fried, the taste is dominantly of miso. Dark miso, at that. The tang cuts through the fried food taste we are often so familiar with, making a fresher, more contempo vibe to the dish. We chose to eat the Nasu dengaku more so with the blackened cod, which is marinaded in the yin to the yang of the dark miso... white miso - which his a lot sweeter and tarter than dark miso.
More fried accompaniments emerge from the kitchen as the final garnish, shall we say, to the meal. The lubricious nature of oysters becomes plumper and more explosive with sensual juices; the crisp exterior becoming an encapsulating shell of flavour. A combination of crisp vegetables and smoothness of avocado in tempura form also add dimension and complexity to the dish... whilst, morally, giving us the feeling we've had our five a day.
LAITMYLK was invited to sushisamba to try a selection of the desserts they offer! Here is what we tried from the tasting menu provided and our thoughts...
mazamorra (yuzu sphere, maiz morada pudding, orange emulsion, cinnamon ice cream)
zen garden (yuzu curd, bergamont tea biscuits, chocolate lychee peach stones)
welcome to the rainforest (asháninka chocolate, asháninka coffee, coffee, vanilla, pistachio, macadamia nut, sugarcane)
The mazamorra dessert emerged from the kitchen and landed onto our table like a UFO, the sphere perfect in its curved form and otherworldly. Globules of colour perfectly placed onto a turquoise agate slate plate, with delicate floral and citrus scents perfuming the air around us from the yuzu and vermillion orange emulsion. The plate is undeniably pretty, almost too pretty to eat. The cinnamon ice cream, by far, was the most defining element of the dish. It wasn't Christmassy cinnamon as you'd expect, but more a gentle kiss on the lips of a sugar dusted cookie, with vanilla hues and tonka bean undertones.
Next was the zen garden... bringing us, yes, a literal garden. More yuzu greets the palate, a citrus fruit cultivated in the Asian continent (dominantly Japan, China and Korea), which is frequently described as a hybrid between lemon, lime and mandarin. Intertwined with the very British nature of curd, or more fittingly, set custard, one is met with a creamy yet fruity experience that is soothing and refreshing in unison. Bergamot, yet another deliciously aromatic citrus fruit, further defines the plate with a sharp, intensely sour zing, which is nullified by the maltiness of the biscuit base to which it has been baked, alongside the softer fruit inclusions of peach with sweet and milky chocolate. Ultimately, it's the presentation over the taste that make it truly exquisite.
And last but most certainly not least... welcome to the rainforest. Another curious and consciously crafted dessert that transports the senses to a wildly tropical and exotic abyss. The specific breed of chocolate used to make this dessert, Asháninka, comes from a sect of people. They are an indigenous people, living mostly in the Peruvian Amazon. Harvesting and selling cacao provides them with sustainable income stream, and it's their richly intense, near onyx toned 72% average Asháninkan cacao that formulates this picturesque dish. It's intensely sweet, with the cacao married in holy matrimony to the identical breed of coffee beans (Asháninkan coffee beans), softened by creamily pure and speckled vanilla, crumbled and caressed by mellow nuttiness of macadamia and pistachio nuts and finally... sugarcane. Pure. Unadulterated. Sweetness.
Where will YOU venture to first?... wherever you choose: get rolling n chopping, baby! 🍣