Hashtag Life’s Top London Restaurants this November featuring three of London’s top Japanese Fusion Picks
Autumn-Winter is in full swing, which means winter coats are out, al fresco terraces are no more, and every Londoner is on the hunt for the best indoor social spots. For the next few months we will be rounding up our favourite restaurants for the season, and this November we’re kicking off with three of our favourite finds in London. In short, whether you’re a seasoned Londoner, occasional visitor, or new to the city entirely, here are three restaurants you cannot miss for their flair and of course, for their food:
Sticks N Sushi
I first discovered Sticks N Sushi in Copenhagen. Our dinner plans had fallen through one evening and we stumbled across this Japanese restaurant nearby, and thought what every reasonable person would think: you can’t really go wrong with Sushi. Not only, did we discover that we were right, but that this would become one of our favourite Sushi restaurants that night, and we had one of their branches to go home to in London!
Sure enough, I booked a visit as soon as I was back to London and the love affair continued there after. They have since opened many branches due to exploding popularity in Soho, Covent Garden, Chelsea, Canary Wharf, Wimbledon and Victoria! With one on every side of London you’ve no excuse not to visit.
But What Did We Eat?
With a ‘photo album’ style menu its easy to decide with your eyes here and know exactly what you’re getting. Here were our top picks from the menu:
Crab croquettes with wasabi caesar – they taste just as moreish as croquettes always do, and to be honest anything would taste spectacular when dipped in this spicey, mayo version of a caesar sauce.
Scallops, miso aïoli, trout roe & cress – these scallops are earth-stopping. They are fried in a greek/arabic filo style breadcrumb (if you know knunafe, its the stuff that is made of) crispy on the outside, and juicy on the inside and definitely not a plate you want to share!
Tuna, salmon and hiramasa tataki topped with green leaves, lotus chips & parmesan cheese – we all disagreed on what our favourite dish of the evening was, but this was quite possibly mine. Again, its the sauces which make the dish, slightly cheesy but also ‘green’ as the name suggests with hints of mint blended into a green sauce which these beautiful slices of fish are swathed in. Such an incredible dish.
These are Robata style sticks with small pieces of charcoal grilled fish, meat or vegetables. We ordered the black cod and miso (an absolute must – it oozes succulence), scallops with miso herb butter, and of course the wagyu – beautifully tender, pink, squares of Japanese wagyu, as soft as you’ll find in London.
We also ordered a copious selection of maki rolls which I tend to think are a personal choice for people, subject to their sushi cravings! But one thing is for sure; the rolls at Sticks N Sushi do not disappoint. In fact, no dish at Sticks N Sushi dissapoints, making it a firm favourite restaurant of mine and a staple every Japanese-food-lover should visit. Sticksnsushi.com
Speaking of must-visit Japanese Restaurants; any seasoned Londoner and foodie, when probed for top Japanese fusion restaurants should have the words Chotto Matte rolling off their tongue. If they don’t, stop trusting them!
This has been another firm favourite restaurant from me, since my city-banking days, simply because it also offers a stylish, buzzing reprieve from the stuff office environment, any day of the week. Chotto Matte is always full. Not only that, its always full of all sorts of people. And for that, I salute it. If you are a banker who wants to blend with a hipper crowd; this is your spot. If you’re a hipster who wants to celebrate art, and graffiti walls, and create food, and excellent bar-tending: this is your spot. If you’re new to London and want to live that ‘Friday night out as a foodie’ experience, this is your spot, and so on, and so forth. Having established that Chotto Matte is one of the most fashionable places in London to dine, I can also confirm it is one with the most substance. A fusion of two of possible the worlds best cuisines: Japanese and Peruvian, it has a NO MSG policy (something I salute endlessly) – so you can safely deduce that all its flavour comes straight fro its well sourced ingredients and not from any flavour enhancing chemical agents.
So What Did We Eat?
WARM BEEF TATAKI
Beef tataki almost forms a trend in my food-writing, but it is one of those undeniable dishes. It is even more so, at Chotto Matte, where it is served in a smoked Peruvian red pepper garnish called “aji panda” and a passion fruit salsa to cool the taste buds. A must-order.
Have you even visited a Peruvian restaurant if you don’t order tostaditas? (Crispy, mini versions of tacos) – here they serve two tantalising selections the Classic, which comes with tuna sashimi, coriander and wasabi emulsion, and the tostadita de hongos, which comes with eryngii mushroom, yuzu truffle, and parmesan. Both spectacular.
NIKKEI DRESSED SUSHI
A selection of nigiri in the form of: tuna yuzu soy, sea bass ceviche, salmon black garlic aioli, yellowtail yuzu truffle, snow crab ponzu, scallop aji amarillo, turbot anticucho and aubergine miso. One of the absolute best selections on the menu, is the selection of nigiri which comes flamed and your table. The fresh flavours of the flambeed fish, make this selection of warm grilled nigiri so moreish and quite unforgettable. We ordered two!
NIKKEI ROBATA BARBECUE
This is yet another place which not only specialises in, but sets the bar for, Robata and Antichucheria – the Peruvian version. We sampled the beef fillet with spicy teriyaki and pomegranate salsa, a perfect balance of sweet tangs and mellow spices alongside soft succulent beef fillets.
Another must try is the GAMBAS A LA PARILLIA – tiger prawns grilled and grqanish in a lemon garnish and pear salsa – again, perfectly juxtaposed flavours.
Although the list of commendable dishes goes on at Chotto Matte, you must visit at least once (at least five times, really) for the finest of Nikkei Cuisine you will find in London. A beautiful blend of Japanese and Peruvian flavours, in a hand-picked, expertly-crafted, gourmet way, set in the most stylish and urban-contemporary of environments. You simply cannot and will not regret a visit to this London gem. Chotto-matte.com
What is London’s Soho area if not a melting-pot of all the finest foodie, and tourist, and seasoned-Londoner’s experiences in one? Soho, in a phrase, guarantees that whatever restaurant you stumble upon will at the very least be an experience. Not all, however, will be the authentic, home-spun experiences you receive at Robata. We’ve been talking about the Japanese art of charcoal grilling at varied speeds, at length in this article. One of the top contenders you will find for this in London is Soho’s Robata restaurant. The restaurant is quaint, cost, efficient, and true to culture. That says, it does sprinkle truffle on nearly every dish it can do so with – and we are NOT complaining in the slightest. In fact, some of the best dishes are those garnished in truffle here, so take a look at what we ate:
What Did We Eat?
Okay okay the first dish we ordered was more Spanish than it was Japanese, BUT it came in the form of Japanese peppers, with a yuzu zest & maldon sea salt. Its a hearty portion and a great way to start off the meal, because who, tell me who, does not love a padron pepper?!
I nearly never eat pork – it is just not a meat with the right texture for me. However these were one of the best dumplings I have had in the last few years – crispsy on the top, moist on the bottom, and filled with perfecty minced and marinated meat. This dish embodies such feel-good cooking, and whether you opt for these or the vegetarian equivalent of Kimchi Gyoza with cabbage, spring onion, seaweed and chilli soy, I know neither will disappoint.
These slices are cut to a generous thickness instead of the usual paper-thin tataki at many a restaurant which you can hardly taste. They come drenched in a yuzu pepper soy sauce , garlic chips, and a healthy dollop of truffle aioli & spring onion on the side. What more could you ask for at a restaurant/in life.
Tuna any way is one of my favourite foods – it carries a truly versatile and – I like to think universal – flavour with it. But tuna here at Robata will take unprecedented forms: I have never tasted tuna which has its ceviche-form accentuated so well and so beautifully. The cold, soft textures of the black caviar and the egg yolk, add even more to the already moist, slightly sweet flavours of the cubes of tuna, whilst the truffle mayo adds a salty and aromatic pinch which absolutely completes the dish. All other plates on the menu, in my opinion, are non-contenders with this perfectly executed plate.
Whilst I thought the Beef Fillet in a spicy soy sauce would be the show-stopper, it turns out the Lamb Breast in a home made Japanese five spice and lime marinade, is worth ordering two of! Very soft, juicy and perfectly charred, this was my favourite meat skewer. Enter, however, the vegetable skewers which take on a whole new standard of their own in the vegetable contentions! The skewer of asparagus sticks in a miso and sesame seeds glaze is phenomenal, and the grilled oyster mushrooms in a chipotle glaze tastes meaty and juicy and ever-so-moreish. This is food you will crave long after you’ve left the restaurant.
SOFT SHELL CRAB
The soft shell crab here takes no prisoners. I’ve thrown around the phrase ‘favourite’ a few times in this piece, but really who doesn’t go weak at the knees for the fried goodness that is crab meat? Luckily, at Robata, you’ll have it in the form of a crab-packed maki roll, as well as a soft shell crab bao bun with spicy mayo, cucumber, and red chilli – both as good an option as any on this jam-packed menu.
The Robata menu is too vast, and too wholesome, to adequately serve justice with a review, so simply put, you must visit, and you must visit on an empty stomach. The sharing dishes come in the form of home-comforts which you won’t actually want to share at all – from crispy squid, to gooey flavour-packed maki rolls, truffle-infused dishes absolutely everywhere, freshly grilled skewers of meat and veg, and large sharing plates of timeless dishes such as black cod, miso aubergine, and smoked beef – this is one if the most feel-good restaurants you will find in Soho. Robata.co.uk