Tsukijii is an area of Tokyo that plays host to the Tsukijii fish market, the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. Its global outreach is just that, global. The Westbury Hotel in Mayfair is equally world renowned and stands prominently on Conduit Street in London’s Mayfair district. Understated to the right of its off street entrance is positioned Tsujiki Sushi, the small restaurant with the big name. I was intrigued as to whether this restaurant could live up to both its name and its setting. However, I was confidently presumptuous that the Westbury would be in such close proximity to a surely fine establishment.
Head chef Show Choong from Malaysia is the man behind creating the delightfully sounding dishes on the menu at Tsukiji Sushi. Choong has sharpened his culinary skills in restaraunts in London such as Azuka and Yan-Baru so I know my guest and I are in capable hands. After exiting our taxi and being shown the way by the Westbury Hotel’s door porters, we were greeted on our entrance and shown to our seat in the window overlooking Conduit Street. Just then a Rosso red Ferrari drove past, leaving us in no doubt as to where we were. The glitz and the glamour of Mayfair literally passing us by the window. Sitting and reflecting on our surroundings, my first thought was the size of the restaurant. Far smaller than I had initially been expecting, Tsukiji seats 20 in a chic boutique setting, that is glamourous yet downplayed. The tables have a deep red colour to the wood that echoes a sense of traditional Japan. Simplicity seems to be the overall design intent, a nod to the culture of the far eastern nation.
“Show Choon takes a positive approach to reinventing traditional dishes with healthy, flavour-filled organic ingredients, while renewing his menu each season.”
The menu has a healthy range of choices, not overbearing the diner with too many options and decisions to select from. We settled on the chef’s recommendation of the Tasting Menu, as this would offer us the best range of dishes from the menu.
Tsukiji Sushi’s Tasting Menu (£59.50 per person)
Hamachi New Style Sashimi
Tataki Chu Toro
Seared Salmon Maki
New Style Sushi
Green Tea Ice Cream
Having selected a wine, our first dish was bought to the table and what a treat appeared. Buna Shimeji (also known as brown beech mushroom) is a mushroom dish, using fungi native to East Asia. The mushrooms on their own have a full flavour, yet on this occasion they are enhanced by a wonderful sauce of coriander, spring onion, garlic and olive oil. The two together work brilliantly and I was now very excited about the remaining dishes to come. Next was a sashimi, Hamachi to be precise – a fish native to Japanese waters. Serveed raw in small rolls, the cool sensation of the fish was served alongside a spicy sauce. The two together worked brilliantly in the mouth to both cool and heat the palette. Interesting sensations indeed and absolutely delicious.
Tataki Chu Toro followed, that in appearance at least was a very simple dish. For those that are not Japanese fusion food afficioandos, tataki is the method of preparing fish in which it is very briefly seared over a flame and chūtoro is tuna. It is worth mentioning that in Japan chūtoro is typically served only on a special occasion, thus giving you an indication of the efforts Tsukiji Sushi goes to impress its diners. On this occasion continuing the subtle spice of the previous dish, the Tataki was served with jalapeños in a spicy salsa type sauce.
Taking a short break from the food, we were enjoying our visit so far. A tasting menu is always an experience that is to be savoured, without rush and in good company. The Reisling 2013 from the Mure vineyard, our wine of choice was going down a treat. It has a very light and fruitful flavour, of course perfect for fish, not overpowering the flavours that the plate provides. I was able to by now take stock of my surroundings a little better. The décor is as I mentioned delicate, but I could not help but think that something was missing. Sure there were great details such as a glass floor with white pebbles underneath and impressive spherical chandeliers, but I couldn’t help but feel it was missing that wow factor, despite its strive for simplicity. The chef’s prep area is open to one side of the restaurant and although we had a fantastic view of the street, we could not see the chef, perhaps a little disappointing. It would be better if the chefs area was open to the entire restaurant rather than one side. However, let’s focus on what was happening behind the screen and being bought to our table. Because so far, it was certainly fabulous.
Moving on to the Octopus Carpaccio, the dish that was presented to us was certainly elegant in appearance. The octopus is served on a bed of daikon in almost paper like slices, a mild radish that is very fresh in texture and light in taste. Over the top, is a truffle sauce that really packs a punch. Again this course is a masterpiece in counter flavours. The heavy hitting dressing is cooled by the crunchy radish. The Oyster, seared salmon maki and three sushi selection courses were to follow. My favourite of the three was the seared salmon maki. Beautiful in appearance on the plate, it is served with fresh ginger, yet again a powerful flavour but simply one of my favourite flavours. Every mouthful was worth savouring.
The salmon is presented in two small sushi rolls with a plum sauce. It topped the flavours of the oyster and whilst not being as much of a lavish ingredient, the salmon in both its flavour and display topped the three of these final courses. The final main was a seared black cod that was succulent with a black crisp outer, almost giving the flesh a shell. It was a fitting end to a delightful meal.
Tsukiji Sushi and the Westbury Hotel is an occasion venue with food to match. Every dish stands proud on its plate and the flavours are well considered and work together to enhance themselves. The décor in contrast is simple, elegant and takes a step toward the shadows allowing the food to do the talking. For those special occasions, you would do well to consider Tsujiki Sushi.
Tsukiji Sushi at The Westbury Hotel
37 Conduit Street
T: 020 8382 5066