27 Catherine Street,
Late in 2009 the news broke that Toyko had overtaken Paris as the city with the most three Michelin starred restaurants. Some pay no attention to the guide released every year, but for many chefs it’s the ultimate recognition of their work. During a brief visit to Toyko I witnessed for myself the Japanese appreciation of perfection, in every part of their lives, but especially in their food. The attention to detail and love of the aesthetic is something that sets their cuisine apart from others.
It was therefore with much anticipation that I stepped into the stage set that is Hi Sushi Izakaya in heart of theatre land (Covent Garden). The restaurant is based around a set from The Mikado, with the calming sound of water falling into a pond repleat with koi carp. I was there to experience the January tasting menu matched with Laurent Perrier Ultra Brut. Ultra Brut is a ‘lower cal’ champagne, serving as the perfect antidote for a gloomy January (as did the food incidentally).
Head chefs Eric Fu and Douglas Kan say they have created a light, three-course menu that is a gentle “mix of fusion and traditional Japanese culinary tastes”. I’m not sure if it’s entirely possible to make a ‘light’ three-course menu but I started with some excellent sashimi of sea bass, tuna and turbot. The carefully cut soft, sweet slithers of fish were presented as crafted sculpture. Very impressive. Unfortunately the trio of soft slices of salmon carpaccio was bathed in a dressing that left the dish tasting a little flat. The first course also included two fat cut tempura sushi rolls which arrived dressed with small teaspoons of tiny black caviar atop of each. Dressed to impress and delicious.
The tasting menu is designed for two people, but not for vegetarians which left my dinning partner able only to ogle the dishes as they arrived. However, the helpful, attentive staff sorted out his dietary needs and soon enough there was a selection of veggie items that would sate anyone’s appetite.
The next course on the tasting menu was black cod and chicken teriyaki. Teriyaki is a popular and sweet treatment for fish and chicken in Japan. The meat is coated in thick sauce made of soya, mirin (Japanese rice wine) and sugar or honey and then grilled. I sometimes find the sweetness of teriyaki overly syrupy, but it worked well on the black cod. The skin was crispy and the flakes of white flesh were soft and tasty. The chicken was also succulent with a sweet crisp edge, but the combination of the two dishes was a little too much for me. (Teriyaki is delicious but extravagant in the quantities served here). I also have a weakness for well-cooked rice (with which it was served), but I left it in favour of the fish.
The final course of the menu was a decadent chocolate fondant that oozed a bright green tea flavoured infusion. Fortunately we had final sip of the Ultra Brut to cut though the excess! The Laurent Perrier Ultra Brut tasting menu won’t fail to impress a guest. Go on a quiet night, book a good table, take someone who is very good company and enjoy the experience. Just don’t eat anything before hand.
Dishes at Hi Sushi are priced around £7. The three-course tasting menu is £100 for two people, including a bottle of Laurent Perrier Ultra Brut Champagne. It is available only for the rest of January 2010 at the following Hi Sushi locations: Koi Sushi (1e Palace Gate, Kensington, W8 5LS), Hi Sushi Izakaya (27 Catherine Street, Covent Garden, WC2B 5JS), Hi Sushi Salsa (16 Hampstead High Street, NW3 1PX), Hi Sushi Salsa (3a Camden Wharf, 28 Jamestown Road, NW1 7BY).
**Reviewed by:** Anne Giacomantonio.