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4 Reviews

SUSHI. 118 Draycott Avenue, Chelsea, London, SW3 3AE. Tel:0207 590 2400

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      18.11.2013 13:21
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      Beware of the Butterfly logo

      Founder: Julian Metcalfe

      By not being part of Japanese in-crowd whose entity compiles of being permanently wired to thousands of pounds worth of digi-ware, in different languages and sizes - all digi-things great and small. The idea that I could fit-in, let alone eat here in relate comfort, made me an Itsu late-comer. So late, I was surprised to learn, the Itsu experience has been in London since 1997. Doesn't time fly? Itsu originally made in Chelsea has now spawned to forty other UK districts; and twenty other vending outlets; this has been the eye-opening reality series that has stalked the lives of rich sushi lovers for sixteen years. You use to tell if the district was affluent via whether or not Itsu had sneezed onto the scene, now - with their new menu updates and options of a takeaway service, the brand is no longer for the elite. In fact the price range is 'Pret A Manger' all over again. This isn't a coincidence, oh no - Itsu and 'Pret' are business sisters, which have spawned from Julian Metcalfe. Now commoners can enter the Japanese in-crowd and mingle into the world of Asian-style delicacies, well to the commoner its fish-orientated finger food, that doesn't fill any gaps; the main ire of healthy eating; "the old Pukka bloater, Jamie Oliver, strikes again" - healthy to the point I was amazed on Itsu's website Metcalfe had a 'cookie policy' of the non-calorific kind, although the connotations will be enough for the weak-willed to reach for the cookie jar. There are worse crimes, such as the 'stealth of health' the money-spinning campaigns aimed to engulf you with guilt for not eating in their establishment. I envisaged a skit from the mid 1970's sit-com 'The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin' - when CJ stretches out at his work desk and says to Perrin; "I didn't get where I am today by eating fishy finger food."

      For those whom are coy and suffer the annoyance of early influenza - the hissing sound of; "Itsuuu" is advertised endlessly. There are worse brand names, fancy going to an eatery called 'Virus' - it'll be a sell-out - just like the cigarette sales of 'Death?' Obviously purchased by immortals; Itsu are occupied by those who're afraid of premature death - who've bought into their health prophecies. Itsu is the result of listening to forever dieters whining: 'hey, why not consider us wannabe skinny types?' Their response, a tasty packaged meal 'gone in sixty seconds,' and portion-controlled to death - the vileness is that Metcalfe and his teams of prize-winning chefs know more about your luncheon calorie intake that you do. I suspect as soon as the skinny salad offerings get till blipped and a card payment is accepted, 'Google' will be notified and automated to organize your dietary plan and it'll appear miraculously as you instruct a search. 'Amazon' will send you an electronic mail link to their 'Eat Less with No Fuss' books. 'Costa' will be informed of your beverage order before you set foot in the place; "something Skinny - latte top of the pile."

      Hard to believe an economic down-turn has been the longest since living memory, alas for the capitalists it was a meager topic of fascination. The Asian-food-outlets was immune to the fiscal shenanigans and customized their menu options, for example; 'smaller food package done eloquently to induce a profiteering machine' - accompanied by the 'healthy self equates to a healthy wallet', rhetoric. Let me introduce you to an additional service; 'itsu fast-food'; 'see-sea-food, leave, and quickly eat beautifully' - which I did; a hot vegetable and noodle soup, better known in the world of itsu - 'hot potsu.' It hit the roof of my palate and I lost a layer of skin, several grams of weight were shed - amazing what cute and friendly looking noodles can do. As the noodle soup is produced by in-house chefs, therefore it determines what is in the fridge to what vegetables you'll receive in their vegetable and noodle soup - alias 'hot potsu.' Five hundred percent the fee of a standard 'Pot Noodle' - you get the hint of milky coconut in the Dynamite Broth, combined with a citrus edge and chards of ginger - the roasted seeds and gyoza dumplings are a succulent taste delight, a master-class in flavour - I didn't count seven vegetables, but I knew the concoction of blended vegetables surpassed my daily allowance. A burst of health, perhaps not, I was reminded I had consumed 526 calories, hereby didn't disclose the salt intake and three hours later I was famished. What Metcalfe has manifest is a false ideology geared around 'healthy eating' - I read his grammatically lazy promise to his 'Pret' consumer; "customers encouraged us to build a new type of food place dedicated to skinny but delicious food ; sixty two dishes - light, green and good for you." The problem with high volumes of tasty food is it galvanizes the taste-buds, wakes them up for more, for many hours after consumption, and inadvertently defeats the object of the 'skinny' diet. Ultimately the best foods to lose weight over are the banal, cardboard tasting dishes which sedate the stomach's gastric juices in duping them, without waking-up the taste-buds. Why itsu still portrays this healthy image as gospel comes to the evidence we have taken to the Asian-orientated food culture too our bosoms; regardless of what the reality is, we still like to believe itsu has a health value, eating beautifully is a good thing, I've seen it done, burgers and chips eaten with panache and eloquence - Metcalfe has cashed in on the placebo health factor.

      Much as I like to describe the shimmering futuristic décor of squares and lights shining behind them, I couldn't do it justice. Suffice to say; two words, 'Doctor Who' - so futuristic that Metcalfe's online philosophy explodes into song; well almost, the breathtaking audio-beauty of 'Pink Floyd' - ' it is much about what they left out as what they put in;' itsu true - just as itsu have left out the salt content on each dish. My mind boggles at what the sodium levels are by those who 'eat beautifully' everyday. Wired up to devices twenty four seven, who've never had the time to question what they consume; too busy see, fluttering tirelessly daily... living active lives; just how you like it Metcalfe.

      'Float like a butterfly, but sting like a busy bee', I do.©1st2thebar 2013

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        04.11.2009 10:04
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        Definitely worth a try

        Itsu is without doubt the best sushi you can get in London. The whole set up it like a cooler, trendier version of yo sushi and the food is a million times better.

        You sit in front of a conveyor belt with food trundling along for inspection. When you see something you like, you just pick it up off the conveyor belt and tuck in. The novelty of this doesn't really wear off and I love the space age feel that it gives.

        There is also a menu with other food that is not on the conveyor belt. This is where the best dishes are so I would recommend having a few of these on your first visit. The best ones a teriyaki chicken and prawn tempura but there are also a variety of tasty hand rolls. I would also recommend ordering rice because its great with all the sauces which come with the other dishes.

        They serve saki if you want it and the coke and beer is always out of a bottle which always distinguishes a good restaurant. The interior design is very inspiring and the lighting sets the mood for a relaxed lunch out with friends or a romantic dinner.

        All this does come at a price. Its all to easy to get carried away and eat more than you can afford without even realizing. Get to know the prices of each colour plate before you dig in to 5 golds and end up paying loads and leaving hungry. If you want to save money at itsu, order rice because it is very filling and you won't spend too much on the conveyor belt food.

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          05.02.2009 17:45
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          A lovely treat !

          Itsu is a private UK company owned by Julian Metcalfe and Clive Schlee.
          Their ethos is Health and Happiness. So their food healthy without being boring.
          The Itsu at Lime Street is based underneath the Willis Building.
          This branch has seating outside and is undercover. It is very modern and clean. Entering the branch the tidiness and cleanliness hits you. In front of the entrance are the fridges which are usually well stocked with lovely looking sushi and noodles priced between £3 and £8 (cold) there is also a section which has a heater in which the hot noodles are kept.

          These come in a variety of flavours but all have special recipe Miso soup (which is yummy) and fat noodles, which are cooked to perfection. These come with Duck, chicken, vegetable dumpling, salmon teriyaki and other bits and pieces.
          Itsu have also recently made a smaller version of these pots, as they were very filling and the smaller ones are cheaper (as one of these large pots is between £5-7, the smaller ones are £3-4). The staff are excellent, very friendly and helpful and are mostly Eastern European in this branch. I ahve only ever had their hot food, but am going to make it a personal task I ahve to go and taste their sushi.

          All ionformation on each branch is on their website with full price information and some items do have pictures if you are not sure what you like the look of.

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            21.09.2001 07:32
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            Itsu, the kaiten brainchild of the team behind Pret a Manger, is very much a Chelsea take on sushi and no worse for that. Like Pret, it uses good ingredients and doesn't leave stuff out long enough to look tired. The plates are a little more expensive than at Yo! Sushi, but for that you get more of a sense of occasion, and rather less hustling to get you out and the next diner in. There's now a branch in Wardour Street, so you don't even have to trek out to Chelsea to visit. The food is excellent - sushi is fresh and clean, with some interesting new spins on traditional dishes, like salmon nigiri with Asian pesto, or chilli tuna sashimi. Soups are good, and they circulate little pots of rice, which help to fill you up and prevent the bill from escalating too far into the stratosphere - although to be fair, even if you can't resist the lure of the ever-spinning kaiten, you're not going to pay much more than you would for an average pizza and a few beers round here. Upstairs is a bar, which gets rammed with Sloaney types at the weekends, when the staff operate a flashing pager system to alert you when your table's free. All in all, a great place for a post-shopping treat that won't leave you feeling too big for your Joseph pants.

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