Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Sushi Tetsu

Hands down, Best Sushi in Town

To be honest, I really shouldn’t be writing a review for Sushi Tetsu; why create more competition for the mere 7 seats at the counter, its hard enough as it is to get a booking. I really should just keep it a secret, but then to do so is to go against my natural instinct, if I kept all the good stuff to myself, I wouldn’t have started a blog now would I?

Freshly ground wasabi 
Sushi Tetsu has received some stellar reviews in the blogosphere as well as food critics, all singing it praise, I’m not the first person to say it’s the best sushi in town, nor will I be the last. I heard about Tetsu end of last year, but when it came to booking, it was full until end of Feb 2013 and the booking line (by email only) is only open on the 1st of each month. So what does someone desperate to get good sushi do? Book Sushi Tetsu at 2 am on the 1st of January, while on her way home from celebrating new year’s eve. Is my obsession with food excessive? Some may think so, but when I sat at that counter a few days back and had the foodgasm I had, I was so glad I’m a bit nutty for food.

First plate of Sashimi
Second plate of Sashimi
Husband and wife, Harumi and Toru, run Sushi Tetsu, working together seamlessly; she’s front of house and he handles the fish. This is not your usual Sushi restaurant: whether you’re used to fast sushi from Itsu or glitzy sushi from Nobu, Sushi Tetsu simply serves traditional sushi made with the freshest fish (sourced from Billingsgate). There’s no bells and whistles, and you won’t find fancy cocktails, but it truly is a sushi restaurant in a league of its own.

When we arrived, there was already a couple sat at the counter and another diner who was dining alone. It was quiet; Soft music played from a cd player and all you could hear was a low murmur (between the couple) and the Chef’s hands at work—forming the sushi rice with his fingers and palm,  a long sharp knife slicing into the fish. The atmosphere was a bit thick, and as we were a party of 4, loaded with happy hour drinks, I felt like we were a rowdy pack who had invaded an elegant and serene setting. Then the sake arrived (only beer and sake in Sushi Tetsu, no wine) and our first plate of sashimi, nothing breaks ice like “hmmms” and “ahhs” and “omg this is so good”. We opted for the 70 pounds per person Omakase, which means that the chef chooses the freshest fish of the day and serves it up. Really, there’s not a lot in this world that can beat the freshest seafood and when it’s that fresh, it’s best raw because the cooking process destroys that freshness and sweetness. 

The chef worked with quiet resilience, carving the fish carefully and with precision. There wasn’t a single sashimi or sushi that we didn’t thoroughly enjoy. Even the plainer and more common fish such as salmon and normal tuna tasted outstanding. The highlights for me were the mackerel roll that’s slightly seared with a blow torch and my absolute favourite was the medley of normal, medium fatty and really fatty tuna, chopped and served with yellow pickled veg rolled in a handroll. I loved it so much I actually asked, without any shame, for 2 more at the end of the meal. In fact, I eyed up the two boxes of fish and wondered how much more sushi I could put down.

A few pieces of sashimi in, my enthusiasm for sushi piqued the Chef’s interest and we struck up a conversation, talking about Japanese restaurants in London, Hong Kong and Tokyo. The opportunity to have a conversation with a chef, who is at the same time serving you, is one of the biggest reasons why I love Omakase style of dining because in modern dining, it’s so rare to get to know the person behind a dish, which more often than not, enhances the dining experience. It feels so much more personal, intimate, and when the food’s top notch, you feel privileged as well. It was such a satisfying dining experience that I sent them a thank you email the next day, something I’ve never done before.

I asked the Chef given the success of the restaurant, whether they would consider opening a bigger restaurant and he shook his head with resolve. I guess with only his two hands, there's a limit to how many diners he can feed while keeping up the stellar quality. This type of sincerity and dedication to serving good food without a quest to capitalise on the hype is refreshing and deserves tons of respect. This is a restaurant for foodies, you don’t go to schmooze or to celebrity spot, but do go if you enjoy watching a master at work and if you love your fish raw.

Sushi Tetsu on Urbanspoon

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