A traditional Japanese Sushi Bar, called Sushi Tetsu, opened last month in London. Tucked in a cobbled alleyway in Clerkenwell, it has already caused sensation among food bloggers and writers, who are racing to be among the first to review it.
I happen to work one minute away from this little gem. I often walk through Jerusalem Passage on my way to Exmouth Market and months ago I noticed a sign on the door, announcing that a new sushi place was opening soon. For some reason, I expected a chain, a Wasabi or Abokado style shop. I didn’t think too much of it and didn’t bother check it again.
Until one day my friend Erik started posting Instagrams of Sushi Tetsu at a nearly daily rate, then I knew this place was something special. So when he organised a visit with our common friends Cherry and Wendy, I decided to join the trio for lunch.
Stepping in the tiny restaurant, I immediately felt transported back to Tokyo, which I visited in 2009. Sushi Tetsu can accommodate only 7 people at the bar (there are no tables). Behind the counter, chef Toru Takahashi prepares everything in front of your eyes, chat with the customers and recommends the best dishes. His wife Harumi moves around the tiny space, serving the guests.
Chef Toru has a vision of bringing a relaxed sushi experience to the hidden alleyways of Clerkenwell, London. Nicknamed ‘Tetsu’ when an apprentice working in Kobe, his belief is to source the finest ingredients to create mouth-watering dishes, whilst making a connection with each of his diners. For the best Sushi experience, leave your dining in his hands. [quote from the official website]
The menu focuses on sushi and sashimi, with a choice of single dishes or set menus. The food is sourced daily from Billingsgate Market (or sometimes even shipped directly from Japan). I chose Lunch Set A (£9.80), which included three pieces of Salmon avocado roll, one Tuna nigiri, one Salmon nigiri and one Shrimp nigiri. With a pot of tea and service, I spent a total of £15.
The rolls and nigiri are brushed with homemade soy sauce or vinegar, as required, and presented on a wet bamboo leaf. The six pieces of my set menu were served at different times, as they get prepared by the chef. I had to be patient and eat slowly, but rather than finding this annoying, it improved my experience and made it even more enjoyable.
If your knowledge of Japanese food only goes as far as Yo Sushi, then you might find Sushi Tetsu expensive. But it really isn’t if you consider the quality of the food, the service and the overall experience that you get. I am definitely keen in going back to try a bigger variety of dishes. Before the whole of London discover it and it will be then impossible to book a seat!