Fine dining / Restaurants / United Kingdom

Sushi Tetsu

Sushi Tetsu

This is a gem in London sushi scene that I have been longing to visit for a while. The problem is to secure a booking. With only 7 seats and close to perfection sushi (assuming that perfection exists somewhere) it is almost certain that you need to wait another month if you miss to book on the first day of the month. It might get even more difficult now when they have changed to 1 month advance booking from 2 months they had before.

Sushi Tetsu is located in an unassuming alley in Clerkenwell shared by The Zetter Townhouse and The Modern Pantry. When I saw the dark front door cloth with two Japanese characters memories from past sushi experiences in Japan flashed through my mind. I was thinking zen-like music, well orchestrated welcoming greetings and intimidating atmosphere. However these images were shattered as soon as I stepped into the restaurant. The restaurant was run by 3 people that night, 2 front of house and 1 chef (Toru Takahashi) creating an intimate and relaxed atmosphere. Old classics were streaming in the background. I was shown to my seat by a friendly woman who is also the wife of Toru. She is running front of house helping guests to choose sake and explaining how to eat sushi the right way. The intimacy of sitting in front of the chef creates a whole different ambiance compared to sharing a dining room with 150 people with the accompanying noise in one of the more fashionable sushi joints in London. It was a delight to watch Toru’s attention to details in action, from slicing the fish to applying seasoning drop by drop. It was a performance but without the flash, just the essentials.

I had the big omakase which meant that the chef chooses what to serve you depending on what produce he find good that day.

Sashimi Selection
Sashimi Selection 1

The meal started off with the above plate of sashimi. From the front clock-wise is Monkfish liver, Black Yellowtail, Seaweed Marinated Sea Bream and Sea Bass. It’s the first time I tried Monkfish liver (ankimo). It had a creamy texture similar to foie but with a lighter feel. There was a slight spiciness in the garniture. The sea bass was the surprise on this plate. It was much more firm than I expected and almost crunchy.

Sashimi Selection
Sashimi Selection 2

The second plate came with more colour and also flavours to escalate the meal. From the front clock-wise is sweet shrimp, yellowtail, medium fatty tuna (Chūtoro), seared mackerel and seared scallop. The shrimp had a wonderful natural sweetness and had a silky texture. My favourite on this plate was the mackerel. It was the more flavourful piece on the plate and I think that a fino sherry would be an interesting match with it.

Sea Bream Nigiri
Sea Bream Nigiri

Underneath the fish slice was a green leaf (same as the one found in sashimi selection one and two) which worked surprisingly well. It gave the nigiri a light sharpness.

Salmon Nigiri
Salmon Nigiri

What would a sushi meal be without salmon? It’s probably the fish that lure most people into sushi. At least the easy to appreciate flavours did for me and this piece was no exception.

Prawn Nigiri
Prawn Nigiri

I loved the texture of the prawn. The inside was slightly seared.

Black Yellowtail Nigiri
Black Yellowtail Nigiri

Yellowtail is a fish that is growing on me. It’s more firm and sharper in taste than salmon. This one is from Vietnam and apparently according Toru it has become quite popular recently.

Seared Fatty Tuna (Toro) Nigiri
Seared Fatty Tuna (Otoro) Nigiri

When I saw Toru starting to prepare the fatty tuna (belly) my heart started to beat faster. The excitement in it lies in the richness and buttery character of this cut. The richness was nicely balanced with the tiny citrus/peppery like topping. The searing created another layer of flavour to it. To say the expected this was one of the highlights of the meal.

Salmon Roe
Salmon Roe

After the fatty tuna this was a refreshing break. The burst of saltiness from the roes and the freshness gave contrast to the tuna.

Tuna Temaki
Tuna Temaki

This was the last piece of the meal before dessert and also the most complex one. The soft part of the belly was scraped of the skin with the back of the spoon showing how soft it was. This was minced together with other cuts of tuna. The pickled radish provided a nice crunchiness and a zing of acidity in the roll. I really liked the bold flavours in the roll.

Tamago
Tamago

This was a classic end of a sushi meal, Tamago (cooked egg). It is slightly sweet and has a very light texture. I couldn’t help but think about the movie Jiro Dreams About Sushi and how he makes his apprentices practice months just to make the egg perfect.

I had a glass of Gokujyou Yoshinogawa sake with the meal. Knowing very little about sake all I can say is that it had a good balance and went well with the food. After only talking about the food I feel the need to shed some light over the service. It’s not as well choreographed as in Michelin star temples but then Sushi Tetsu wins on personal touch. Since there were only 7 guests it was easier to have a casual conversation with the staff and the people next to you. Overall I can’t say anything negative about the meal. In fact Sushi Tetsu exceeded expectations. This is pure sushi, pure joy. If you want something else, there are other places.

For more photos from Sushi Tetsu, please visit my Flickr set.

Sushi Tetsu
12 Jerusalem Passage
London
EC1V 4JP

Tel. (+44) 020 3217 0090

http://www.sushitetsu.co.uk/

Sushi Tetsu on Urbanspoon Square Meal

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One thought on “Sushi Tetsu

  1. Pingback: Yashin Sushi | Drifting Epicure

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