“ Address: 40 Frith Street / London W1D 5LN / Tel: 020 7734 9688 „
Japanese food; wonderful ... but kind of expensive. However, if you're willing to compromise on a few aspects of an ideal meal out, you can stuff yourself to overflowing with buckets of tasty sushi and sashimi at this restaurant, a short walk from Leicester Square. That's assuming you can pack away bucket-sized quantities in the space of two hours' dining. If your appetite is quite this extravagant, value abounds at Hi Sushi.
Well-located, and around five minutes' easy walk from the underground station, the restaurant is split over two floors; the upper, street-level floor is light and open, with stools for quick lunches, while the lower level is a little gloomy and shabby, and is a tad dungeon-esque in feel - if you're used to your dungeons coming with floor-to-ceiling mirrors and sunken seating, anyway.
Still, you're not here for the atmosphere - it's all about the food. This is fortunate, as it's a bit of a struggle to get into the seating, and the staff are very insistent about where you sit. Attempt to move from your assigned seat at your peril. Eating options come down to an a-la-carte menu and a buffet; the former is much as you'd expect from a Japanese restaurant, and is good - but it's the latter that seems to attract most diners. Available in the evenings and all-day at weekends, the buffet (£14-16) is itself chopped into two parts - order once from a selected menu, up to a maximum of eight items, most of which are of the fried-something variety, and are tasty, if nothing special, then choose an unlimited amount from the sushi and sashimi menu. Choice is limited; salmon sashimi and five or six sushi variations, but the quality's decent, and you really do get an astronomical amount for your money. Which is, of course, why you came, right?
The sashimi's especially good, and staff are attentive, at least, if not especially cheerful. They'll take your repeat orders quickly, and food arrives smartly and is always deliciously fresh (watch the food being prepared upstairs ... then get scolded for leaving your seat).
Drinks are extra, although green tea (£1) is free to top-up.
So ... the appeal of Hi Sushi boils down to this, I suppose. Would you visit the canteen of a forced-labour camp to chow down on exceptional food? If you can see past the over-officious staff, limited choice and unusual seating arrangements (tables can and will be shared, even when there are few people in the restaurant), you'll love this place. I do - keep your eyes on the prize, munch through a veritable mountain of fish and rice, and remind yourself just how much all this would cost elsewhere. Then go somewhere friendly for dessert and a smile. Cautiously recommended.