Tokyo Retro

For some reason I have writers block and my mind isn't in it at the moment so please excuse the lack of finesse with this post...i'll get it back, I promise!

My cousin is currently a non-Londoner (he used to be) therefore, he is determined to get his fill of sushi before he heads back 'up North' and I am more than happy to be his guest. Last night I decided to take him to a local wonder that is, Tokyo Retro in Abbeville 'village'.

They are working hard here to create more of an atmosphere, which it lacked in slightly on first opening. But, they have changed the layout, covered the windows slightly and added pictures and softer lighting - much better!

On arrival we ordered some drinks and the boys asked me to order for us claiming they were 'starving'. So, I settled on two dishes from each section, missing out the ramens and rice dishes in favour of more 'sharing' plates.

We started with a sashimi salad made up of tuna, salmon and four cucumber wrapped sushi rolls served with a carrot and, I believe, white radish. As with all the fish here it is top quality and really, really fresh. A simple, pleasant dish to start those taste buds off with. 

Two types of spicy Karaage followed - octopus and chicken. The chicken is a staple order of mine when dining here. The batter is light, crisp and never greasy. They manage to keep the chicken succulent and the accompanying sauce packs a decent punch. 

The octopus was ever so slightly less successful in that the occasional piece was a little tough but, still the batter was as above and otherwise pretty much spot on and served again, with that delectable spicy sauce. 

One of my staple things to order when eating Japanese is the miso baked aubergine. Such a simple (and vegetarian) dish made to really sing and shout. In this case, Tokyo Retro's version did not disappoint. The aubergine was so tender and silky grabbing a good spoonful with the sweet and savoury sauce made for an extremely enjoyable mouthful.

Ordered almost every time I see it on (any) menu is soft shelled crab. Naturally, I pounced on this when it arrived. The tempura version here is incredibly delicate and crisp leaving the meat still succulent and juicy showing there's a lot of skill behind this kitchen door (head chef is ex Nobu).  

Next up was the wonderful sushi selection consisting of tuna, hamachi, salmon, prawn and Ikura (salmon eggs). Beautifully plated and served, as it traditionally should be, on ice. 

Rolls were equally as delicious. We chose the spicy tuna and another of salmon and crab. Executed well, and filled generously with fish, cucumber and a different mayonnaise for each. The sushi rice was spot on with a slight stickiness to it and served at room temperature. If you're one for only ever having a chain restaurant sushi lunch (don't get me wrong I have this almost 3 times a week!) you will never have appreciated how good the rice is when served correctly like this. It makes for a totally different sushi eating experience and an even more enjoyable mouthful. 

Fast becoming a Tokyo Retro signature dish is their jumbo shrimp tempura. The photo sadly doesn't show the scale of this shrimp but it is huge! Served with two spicy sauces and a warmed soy. A must have when dining here.

Not quite satisfied in filling our tummies we then decided a couple of dishes off their 'hot main' section of the menu, one being a staple Japanese dish, teriyaki chicken. Coated in that gloriously sweet, tangy and sticky sauce the chicken as previously said was cooked beautifully and the sauce gave a fantastic sheen. Served with a refreshing cucumber crab salad, japanese omelette and salad. Really enjoyable and one of the better versions we had all tasted before visiting here.

Lastly (we were finally beginning to feel stuffed!) came the grilled salmon and scallops with miso butter sauce. This, sadly, was a dish that none of us really enjoyed but, in hindsight that may be because we had previously scoffed so many clean and simple flavours that the buttery sauce just didn't go down well. It was very rich and sadly overpowered the delicate scallops which were, on the other hand, cooked perfectly! It just wasn't to our taste(s).

Us Claphamites are lucky to have such a local gem that is Tokyo Retro. It deserves to be successful.  The staff are so utterly charming that I want them to be a big part of our community. The food is of incredible quality, always super fresh, and there’s wonderful skill going on in that kitchen. Approx £50-60pp incl. booze. 

Address: 57 Abbeville Road, London SW4 9JW
Phone:020 3302 7574 (Closed Mondays and Sundays) 

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Kouzu...the finest sushi i've ever eaten - FACT!

Courtesy of Kouzu
Thursday of last week, I was invited down to a brand spanking new sushi restaurant in Belgravia 'Kouzu'. When being invited to restaurant openings I'm usually ever so sceptical as I deem it unfair to comment on a place that has only just hit the ground running. But, last night was a different story.

Arriving far too overexcited for my own good my cousin, Mr H, and I arrived at the impressive Grade II listed building and were greeted with warm smiles from the FOH and a resounding “Irasshaimase”,  from the sushi chefs, meaning “Come on in”. 

Courtesy of Kouzu
The owner is actually Greek and came over to our table to greet us and tell us about his vision and story. His vision is to serve 'the best sushi there is' and, to be quite frank, he's not far off... This is a man with a real passion to find the best. So much so, that they closed the restaurant for NINE days over Christmas due to the lack of fresh sushi grade fish supply. Head chef is none other than Kyoichi Kai whom is originally from Kyushu and worked for ten years in Japan before moving to London in 1988. He has since worked at Zuma and countless other London institutions. So, we were in for a treat. 

The restaurant is set over three levels. A lower ground 'chefs table', a ground floor dining room (where we were seated) and an upstairs more casual sushi bar. Minimal, muted tones run throughout the space and a rather impressive chandelier dominates the entrance hall...

Settling down at our table we decided on a rather delicious bottle of Sicilian white and nestled into the menu. Expect classics as well as restaurant specific signature dishes, to be honest they all sounds pretty incredible and looking at the plates going past our noses we weren't going to be disappointed. 

Plates are made for sharing which is always a winner with me and first up was one of the best things I have ever eaten...

Torched scallop Nigiri. A mouthful of perfectly 'flame licked' buttery scallop served with a plum and tomato compote. Literally heaven. I am going back purely for another one (or ten) of these...

We tried their Spicy California rolls which had a great balance of both texture and flavour. A decent kick from the spiced mayo and again, merit to how fresh every ingredient was. I was told they source and ship every single ingredient directly from Japan so, this is more or less as authentic as you can get.

We then started to move onto our bigger plates. Yellow tail with truffle dressing was the first of these and it was, delicious (I say this a lot through this review!). Sashimi was easily the best I've ever tasted and (again) wonderfully fresh. The truffle was only slightly apparent so's not to over power the delicate fish and teamed with ponzu giving it a good sour tang. 

Prawn tempura was served with a fresh citrus dressed salad and a spiced mayo. Perfectly light, crisp tempura batter coated six jumbo, juicy prawns. A thoroughly well executed dish and one that I would definitely order again and insist others do the same.

Less associated with traditional Japanese food we chose, on recommendation, the lamb chops served with a spiced miso paste, rocket and vegetables. Served pink, both meat and fat were juicy, lightly charred and wonderfully sweet.

Hearing excellent things about their black cod, I knew this was a must order. It certainly didn't disappoint, especially given the hype. The fish was so silky and soft (as it should be) it flaked away with even the lightest of touches. Marinated in white miso this was as good a version of any other I have eaten and of decent portion size too. Served with a zingy orange and fennel salad to cut through the richness, this is a dish to not miss out on when dining at Kouzu.

We moved onto pudding and seemingly all are traditional Japanese delicacies with a twist. They looked as impressive as the savoury dishes I had just gorged eaten however, the flavours just didn't seem to excite me enough - n.b. this is hugely on personal taste as fellow bloggers have previously cooed about them all - but, you can't please everyone and I was already sold from every single previous dish.

A sign of a good restaurant is how much you talk about it afterwards and, In this case, the conversation was enthusiastic and very animated. Our praise continued well into the night. I know, already, this may be my new 'go to' place for exceptional sushiLeaving on a high after a thoroughly enjoyable evening, I immediately booked the next day... 

T: +44 (0)20 7730 7043

Square Meal

Kouzu on Urbanspoon

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    The Tommy Tucker...Fulham's hottest newbie

    Dry January doesn't really ever last long for me. This year was a record and I managed up until 2pm on the 4th. I decided to open a bottle of decent white in front of the Tigers game, faced with a massive pile of shirts (work was fast approaching) and a roast in the oven meant I had finished the bottle by 6 and the shirts were just as crumpled. Excellent.

    So, to keep with the tradition of mucking everything up (in this case, healthy eating!) I booked us into the The Tommy Tucker (TTT), in Fulham, for its 'soft opening' - it happens to be the sister to my favourite 'go to', Claude's Kitchen. Refurbished with eclectic furnishings, a fantastic bar area and wonderful 'Alpine' style loo. The once drab and empty Pelican Pub now houses our lovely chef Claude and his beaming team of fantastic wait staff and FOH. 

    The cellar loos
    We were sat in a wonderful cosy corner spot surrounded by sheet music, industrial lighting and perched on a bench. A great table for rowdy friends and even better for a cosy table for two...

    The menu read far to well for their own good, having to send our gorge waitress away twice through lack of decisions we finally settled and ordered away whilst sipping from the perfectly formed wine and booze list.

    Never one for eating something in a restaurant you can try at home, my brother and I decided on getting a portion of the 'crispy sandeels' as a 'pre-starter' and were surprised by the size, both expecting similar to whitebait but, these were about triple the size, wonderfully 'meaty' and flavoursome especially with a good dollop of the garlic mayo... first thumbs up of the evening well under way.

    The menu is a little more relaxed than Claude's Kitchen further down the road showcasing 'pub classics with a fun twist' as Claude himself put. Therefore a wonderfully good looking burger was being scoffed on the table next door, as well as a decent portion of those delicious sounding beef ribs...I am told the menu won't change weekly like it's elder sister, but still, regularly.

    To start us off I went for the Raw beef fillet pastrami celeriac and horseradish 'slaw. A fantastically light and fresh dish with really clean and simple flavours. The beef was outstanding and seriously tender. Think of it as a 'simplified' steak tartar. The meat, perfectly brined and not overly seasoned - delicious!

    I managed a taster of the scallops with home made chorizo. A classic combination and TTT's version does not disappoint. 

     Another starter, which got a resounding thumbs up, was the rabbit and it's liver terrine served with warn sourdough. 

    Onto mains and (unsurprisingly) I opted for the catch of the day. Today's was Sea Bream. Cooked with a fantastic crisp skin and served with Jerusalem artichokes, fennel, watercress and parsley potatoes. Every element of this dish had its own part to play and each was apparent with every mouthful and cooked to perfection. If there ever was such a thing as a perfect boiled potato these were it - buttery and sweet. For such a normal veg these in particular were, a real delight to eat!

     A popular dish throughout the dining room was the pork chop which we also ordered and weren't disappointed by in the slightest. Served with charred hispi cabbage, bacon and apples. Simple, yes, but plentiful and perfect. Claude's cooking always shows that you only need a few simple elements to make a dish really stand out and this was a great example of that. 

    Being rather full of yummy things however, not being able to resist anything with salted caramel on a menu we shared the 'choc ice' with almonds and the now 'infamous' caramel cloud I love so much. A seriously sexy pudding and one that is perfect for sharing... that's if you're able to!!

    A wonderful evening as expected and one that certainly didn's disappoint, made even better by seeing some familiar friendly faces from Claude's team. 

    TTT is open from the 15th Jan. They're currently running a soft opening whereby the food is 50% off so, if you're feeling lucky, call up and grab a table. I can assure you this will be as popular as it's sister, if not more so, with people being able to pop in for a bar snack and booze throughout the day. 

    Claude and his team know how flavours go together and there's some serious skill coming out of this new kitchen - watch out, it's going to be a hottie.

    W -
    T - 0207 736 1023
    A - 22 Waterford ROAD, SW6

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