* Prices may differ from that shown
20 Bury Street, London EC3A 5AX
One Saturday when we we going to be in London I booked to go to this restaurant in the evening. I had managed to get a great deal through the site www.groupon.com and we were very excited about visiting this posh Japanese restaurant at the foot of the famous London landmark known as 'The Gerkin'.
My daughter, Emma and left the Ciao meet and took the bus in the direction of 'The Gerkin' and as we walked the last part of the journey I was quite amazed to see the streets completely empty, it was as if the area had been hit by some disaster and wiped out all the population. My daughter explained that during the week the area would be heaving as it was a real business area but on a Saturday night the area is dead and this did impact upon the atmosphere in the restaurant too which was a shame.
We met my husband and daughter's partner outside the restaurant and then made our way in. The voucher had stated that we were invited to enjoy a cocktail (included) in the bar downstairs before enjoying our meal upstairs. Well, the bar was closed so we made our way upstairs. We were a bit early but as the place was a little lacking in busyness it didn't matter and we were invited to sit at a table to enjoy our cocktails.
There were four different cocktails so we each chose a different one so that we could sample the entire range. The official price for each of these was £8 and having tasted them I'm not sure I would pay that again. The simple Tokyo Martini was okay, the one with fresh ginger, lychee juice and vodka was quite nice while the blue lemon one was the nicest in my view. The men quickly abandoned these and went on to beer so my daughter and I shared the cocktails and finished off with tap water. With the cocktails came fresh adame beans and wasabi coated peas which were delicious and disappeared in no time at all.
The first course we enjoyed, or should I say experience was a very strange tofu egg custard type of solid soup with vegetables - very odd and we all voted that was not something we would order another time.
The next course was beautifully presented in a lovely curved dish and this was the sashimi of three or four fresh raw fish served with wasabi and soy sauce. The wasabi was fresh and hot but I found the soy sauce a bit strong so that if you did put any on it completely over powered the delicate flavour of the delicious fresh fish.
The main course we could choose between a pork dish or a tofu dish and we all chose the pork. The pork was slow cooked in a sauce and so tender. It was absolutely delicious and voted by the men as the best course in the whole meal.
Following this yummy course we were brought a small glass with a soy and lemon palate cleanser. This was positively disgusting and we all decided that we would have preferred to have our palate left with the delicious pork flavour rather than the rather odd lemony yuk flavour.
The next course was a lovely fresh bowl of salad with a cup of miso soup. The salad was very flavourful with a distinctly Japanese salad dressing. I love miso soup but it didn't go down to well with my husband who thought it was tasteless.
The sushi arrived and wow what a lot we got. There were two huge plates of sushi and although it was nice the flavour does become a bit samey after awhile. My daughter and I gave up after about four pieces each but the men did manage to finish all theirs. Once again I found the soya sauce too strong, the pickled ginger was nice and fresh tasting acting as a balance to the richness of the raw fish. Personally I think the rice could have had a bit more flavour - a touch more dashi in the stock that the rice was cooked in and a bit more nori on some of the sushi.
Finally we all enjoyed the really rich chocolate brownie with cherry sorbet both of which were delicious. The brownie was so chocolatey and the sorbet fresh and quite tart contrasting with the rich dark chocolate. My sweet tooth voted that course very high on the list but I think maybe the pork did top the popularity poll for all of us.
The restaurant was very nicely decorated in a minimalist Japanese style. The bar along the side of the main restaurant had stool where diners could sit. Behind the bar we could see a chef cooking which was interesting and did add to the atmosphere. Our table had beautiful Japanese designs under a glass cover and all the tables were in their own sectioned off area like the old steak houses used to be but much more minimalist and refined.
The service was excellent and could not be faulted. As each course was brought to our table the waiter or waitress explained what it was and what the ingredients were. They were Japanese and at times it did make it a little hard to understand what they were saying especially when they were explaining the unknown food.
Our deal was £24 per person but this deal is normally £60 per head. I think we got good value for the price we paid but I'm not sure I would think that at full price. The beers were £5 each but that is an average sort of price for a London restaurant. I'm not sure what price other drinks were as we didn't have any others after the cocktails.
This is a very different sort of restaurant and on a week day the area around might be a bit more active and buzzing but on a Saturday night it was a bit dead around the restaurant which meant that the restaurant was also rather lacking in atmosphere which was a shame. The menu choice is left in the chef's hands so this isn't a place for fussy eaters, though fussy eaters would probably not venture into a Japanese restaurant anyway. I would suggest if you fancy an interesting, pretty authentic Japanese meal then go with an open mind and Soseki and its chef will take you on a sophisticated, varied, interesting and definitely surprising taste sensation
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