Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Delicious Donzoko (though I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt as I cant really remember)

Kingly Street
This is what I remember from my birthday sushi meal, in no particular order.
Slapping Bloyd
Fisherman bringing some home made sushi with some sea trout he had caught (now you understand why he got his name). Really super sushi and a really nice present
Donzoko being a small-ish very busy restaurant. Full up apart from the table they held for us. Very good atmosphere and a great place to pop into if shopping in the west end, or if drinking that way
Boo not knowing where Oxford Circus is
Slapping Bloyd with a wooden plank in the restaurant (which I think Bloyd stole)
Buzz and Chute
Falling asleep on the bus and waking up at the last stop. Having to walk 4.5 miles home in uncomfortable boots and messing up my legs to the extent that I now cannot run
Quality salmon roe
Very tolerant waitresses
All the pubs in Carnaby Street being dead after 9.30
Ordering Sake, then deciding that that is not enough and ordering some more
16 hugs from Jean
Slapping Bloyd using Tinker's hand (might seem that Bloyd is getting a tough ride here - but he deserves it)
So... not the best review. But a very fun night out, though obviously I was paying for it the next day.
Fisherman's Sushi
Nummy nummy nummy
Nummy numm

Monday, May 23, 2005

Donzoko: More inside action. Posted by Hello

Donzoko: The sushi certainly looks delicious. Cant quite remember how it tasted. I'm sure it was very good. Maybe. Posted by Hello

Donzoko: Nice chopsticks. Posted by Hello

Donzoko: Pretty much the last thing I remember. Posted by Hello

Donzoko: Well it was my birthday... Posted by Hello

Donzoko: Not shown- everyone turning around to look at us as we make alot of noise. Posted by Hello

Fisherman: Freshly caught wild sea trout made by Fisherman. Pretty awesome and a very nice present. Posted by Hello

Super Sakana-Tei

Maddox Street
I’ve signed myself up to run in the Dublin Marathon on 31st October (Halloween- spooky- whoooo!!!). I’ve always wanted to run one and just come into work one day, thought “fook it”, tried to find a marathon and signed myself up. It was only after that I looked at the amount of training I had to do.
It is a lot.
So I went down to the gym with the goal of running 6miles and doing some stretching.
Found a locker.
Changed into t-shirt.
Changed into shorts.
Changed socks.
One Nike trainer on.
One Addias sneaker trainer on.
So that was that. It was birthday the next day and Star Wars Ep III on Thursday so I wasn’t going to go to the gym again until Friday. What with my recent illness and now being amazingly stupid by picking up the wrong shoes my training hasn’t really got going. Maybe my subconscious is trying to tell me something. I think Jean had a rubbish workout as well, though maybe not quite as bad as mine. Must be something in the air.
On the plus side I went for sushi.
Sakana-Tei is on Maddox Street, just off Oxford Street. The majority of the road is filled with art galleries, infact as I left the restaurant there was an opening across the way. I was very tempted to try and crash the party- but wanted to get home and go to Marks to get some fruit. Rock and roll.
From the outside Sakana-Tei doesn’t look like much. Infact it looks pretty rubbish. Inside is very plain, with just a sushi bar and a single table on the ground floor. I suspect that there was more action downstairs and several salary men came in, nodded to the waitresses and headed below.
I’m going out of a limb but am assuming that the place is run by a husband and wife. Her, running the front of house team consisting of a few other Japanese waitresses, him the sushi-chef with another very attractive helper. There is a specials menu written in Japanese and everyone else in the restaurant came from there aswell, though that only consisted of a couple and another salary man. That said it was early.
I was presented with a little starter and I thought “oh super, its one of these lovely places that gives you free food”. Always read the small print, they charge £2 for it. That said its probably worth it, a nice little medley of vegetables. Good chop stick practice aswell. I also ordered a green tea, which I think was free of charge. My cup was topped up only once though.
I ordered the superior selection at £18. Was going to order some extra tuna roll but the head waitress (the mrs??) told me that this was included in the selection. When it came it turned out that this wasn’t the case- I think the tuna must have been of that day as there was no nigri included either, which just goes to show that they insist on the highest quality of fish. Instead of tuna roll there was salmon and avocado, 8 nigri and one roe sushi.
It was bloody super.
Each piece of sushi was practically a meal in itself. A yummy, delicious sushi flavoured meal. The cut of the fish was thick and practically steak like, overflowing the rice, which itself was perfectly balanced. The fish itself needed no soy sauce and each had an individual flavour- though I did not know what each of them was! (need to buy a book or start taking notes or something). This was unpretentious sushi of some of the highest quality. Don’t be put of by the outside. Go there.
Nummy nummy nummy

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Sakana-Tei: This. Is. Sushi. Posted by Hello

Sakana-Tei: Soy-sauce on left. Nice little bottle. Posted by Hello

Sakana-Tei: Little starter. Not free. Cheeky. Posted by Hello

Sakana-Tei: It doesnt look much from the outside... it doesnt look much from the insider... but your eyes can decieve you... dont trust them. Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Matsuri Meltdown

Bury Street
I shouldn’t be writing this. I'm meant to be enjoying the soul sound of John Legend at Shepard’s Bush Empire with Jean. However as Jean phaffed around with the tickets for ages they sold out (tomorrow as well). Tickets on eBay were going for waaaaaay too much and so we were left at the mercy of the touts. To be honest I wouldn’t mind paying twice the price of a ticket if I was buying it from a decent human being who was going to use the money to feed his family, or at least smile and be nice, but they were such a bunch of fooking wankers I resented any dealings with them. And that probably came through as we left ticketless. Though they were buying them from people for £35 so maybe I'm being too hard on myself. The thing that really annoys me is that I didn’t even get the chance to have a good argument with one of them (though with hindsight that was probably a good thing as there a few of them (though none with tickets to sell) and only one of me. Though I had Jean who can kick serious ass - but not mine despite what she says)).
Couple of pieces of other admin before we hit the sushi action. And hit it we shall. Hard. Apologies that there have been no updates in I while. I've been sick. Well poorly. The sniffles really. But it was enough to knock me out for a few days. Its my own fault really- I should start wearing more than just a t-shirt when out and about. The thing is that wearing a jacket or a jumper just makes me look fat (well my fat makes me look fat but a jacket or jumper doesn’t help). Attempts to get Jean, Boo or Tinker to dress up as a nurse and... well... that’s it... ended in failure. Although some nice people in the office were kind enough to ferry me cups of honey and lemon every half hour. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. For anyone who cares I'm fine now. Yay.
Secondly I've had to make a change to one of the blog entries below. Now I was pretty loath to do this, I hate censorship, but this was in the interests of preserving a friendship. To be frank some people can be soooo sensitive. Christ I'm probably going to have to edit this too. Anyway there is a special sushi related prize for anyone who can spot the change (come on- its Monday- you wont be doing any proper work). Answers, abuse and wit to sushi.nol@gmail.com
Birthday upcoming and so Padme came up from the suburbs for a visit. Like Jean I had engaged in serious phaffing and so instead of going to the cinema or theatre I had... nothing planned. So when there's nothing planned there is only one thing to do (no... not sushi... not yet), Borough market!
I used to work in London Bridge and used to love coming here Friday lunchtime to get a burger or more often a chicken wrap (no tomato sauce, extra mayo). Now I only get to come on Saturdays and it is so busy. I would be interested in knowing how many of the people there actually lived in London and how many were tourists. Though it’s all a good thing. If you don’t go there on a regular basis you should, for a start its not as expensive as you think it will be, certainly the veg is not any more expensive that supermarkets (I'm excluding scummy supermarkets like Morrisons, Liddle, even Tescos and Asda). Secondly artisan bakery makes THE most delish raisin and chocolate cakes. I had three. I wanted thirty-three.
Despite that I thought we could go for sushi for lunch. The thought had actually only occurred to me the night before when lying on me sofa feeling sorry for myself and reading the new Vogue, I thought that maybe some of the more expensive places in town would do super-cheap(ish) lunches. So from London Bridge we jumped on the Jubilee Line (my favourite- probably because its new) and went to Green Park. There was some dithering outside The Wolseley wondering if we would get in but I was confident that we would not. And besides that I had the taste for sushi.
Matsuri is located on Bury Street just down from Quaglino's. That place is responsible for sucking up a lot of my funds over the years with its delicious champagne and cigars. But those "glory days" are behind me now. Entering Matsuri I wasn’t sure if we would get a table (I was in my trademark jeans and t-shirt) however we were seated easily enough in the M A S S I V E restaurant downstairs. This place really is big. It has to be one of the biggest restaurants in London (outside the hotels) and on a busy evening you can imagine quite a buzz- must be a great place to come with a bunch of work buddies, especially if the company is paying (again - those "glory days" are behind me). The restaurant itself does have a slightly outdated and corporate feel though.
You are seated at a teppanyaki hotplate table which will seat around 7 or 8 each (so a total of 16 can sit at an actual table - which is composed of two hotplates). However we had this to our selves for most of the lunch. When we entered there were only two other groups- both Japanese, which I guess some people would take as a good sign (for me the proof is in the pudding - or sushi).
Green tea and water was ordered and the examination of the menu began. Set lunches start at a very reasonable £10 and they all come with miso and rice. There’s a pretty comprehensive range for all budgets and I think the teppanyaki starts at around £20. Padme when for the weekly special bento box (think it was a panic decision- she hadn’t mentioned it while pondering the menu) while I went for the regular sushi plus Japanese pickle maki plus soft-shell crap maki.
Some Euro-types (her especially) on the table next to ours had gone for the deluxe teppanyaki (with lobster), but for my likening you are better off going to Benihana for that kind of thing. I've been a couple of times and the chefs usually engage in some lighthearted banter (though I cant really remember much about my first visit - too much sake), whereas here the come, cook, serve and then fook off.
Miso and my small appetiser arrived very quickly. Guess this just shows me as uncultured but my starter did taste a little of cat food flavoured fish food (or at least what I would imagine that would taste like). That said I gobbled it down and the miso soup was very tasty. According to Padme miso soup is meant to make a super breakfast, though I think Pho would be a better alternative (would have to have a lot of miso to fill me up)- I should still give it a try. Though Sainsburys are have special offers on raspberries at the moment so I am enjoying them with some yogurt in the morning. Hopefully they will have blueberries on offer soon.
I digress.
Miso finished the sushi and bento soon arrived. All through the meal the service was very attentive, though at times overly so. And none of the waitresses really figured on the cute metre. Sorry waitresses.
I'm always amazed at how much people get in a bento box compared to sushi. Especially as it always costs half the price. (Oh- by the way my sushi was £15, £3 for the Japanese pickle maki and £10 or something for the soft shell crab maki). Padme had a selection of vegetable and meat dishes and a load of rice, plus an ickle bit of fruit and yummy pickles. Super.
My sushi looked delish although I really wish it was tuna maki rather than cucumber. This could of been achieved by upgrading to the superior sushi but this was an extra £15, though included 3 more pieces of nigri. The sushi itself was very well cut and constructed, and the fish tasted fresh if a little bland (needed to use soy sauce). The shrimp was a little disappointing but then that never is my favourite. The tuna was super. Japanese pickle maki made a refreshing change, although with the cucumber maki as well it was slight overkill. The crab maki was totally delish, a little warm (presumably from the cooked crab) with some of the crab legs still attached, enabling me to do "comical" little routine with them. "The crabs coming to get you".
It was all very nice.
A special mention should go to the wasabi. Usually there is a massive pile of it, whereas at Matsuri you just get a little bit. Which is the way it should be. Oddly soy sauce came straight from the packed bottle, rather than a nice ceramic one.
For a set lunch for visiting friends or family Matsuri would seem ideal. Likewise for a fat cat evening out I don’t see any difficulties (didn’t look at the wine list but there is probably something for everyone). However avoid if you are after a romantic dinner for two. Unless you are cold and dead on the inside.

Nummy nummy

Matsuri: Sushi. Again. Closer. Posted by Hello

Matsuri: Sushi. And its all for me. Bwahahahaahaha!! Posted by Hello

Matsuri: Small starter. V small. Posted by Hello

Matsuri: Padme's bento box. Posted by Hello

Matsuri: This fearsome fellow guards the stairds. Posted by Hello

Matsuri: Nice(ish) chopsticks. And v nice chopstick holders. Posted by Hello

Matsuri: I prefer plain cups, but I did like the little wooden mats. Posted by Hello

Matsuri: It is fooking huge. Posted by Hello

Matsuri: If you dont like it you can always go to Quaglino's for champange and cigars. Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Gili Gulu Go (and lets hope a nicer sushi restaurant opens)

Gili Gulu
Monmoth Street
Woke up with the mother of all hangovers, made all the worst as I had been smoking like a chimney the night before, and technically that morning as well I guess. Don’t ever smoke- except when I’m out with Jean and Fisherman and they light up and I am a few drinks down and I’m having a damn good time. We all went out salsa dancing and I’m pleased to say that I wasn’t the worst dancer in the club, that honour goes to Fisherman, just the 2nd worst. I can move my feet, I can move my hips and I can move my hands… I just can’t move them all at the same time. I do have rhythm though. For a white English boy. By the time I managed to actually get up I felt I needed some sushi, but not just any kind of sushi.
I needed all you can eat.
I needed it real bad.
My original intention was to go to City Miyama where they are meant to do an all you can eat for £20 but after ringing them for an hour I remembered that it was on Saturday, not Sunday.
Instead I went to Gili Gulu in Covent Garden, which is a place I used to go to ALL the time, and the only reason was that it was all you can eat. And each time I left I swore that I would never go there again, its £14 or something for the “buffet” and I always kinda thought that it would have been better to go to Tokyo Diner twice instead. Its one of the reasons why I started the quest- so I could discover better sushi, rather than going to the same place time and time again.
But I needed all you can eat.
I needed it real bad.
Gili Gulu is on the corner of Monmoth Street and consists of two large conveyer belts to carry the sushi up and down the sushi up and down the restaurant, although only one was in operation today. There are plasma screens on the wall playing MTV hits, which I would normally enjoy, however today I wanted to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations, and the latest tunes made this hard to do. When I first walked in the place was pretty empty, which is a very very bad sign for conveyer belt, means the fish will be on there for a long time. A few people came in around 1ish including a group of cute American girls whose conversation it was I wanted to eaves drop on, probably talking about how cute and little London is. There were a couple of other American couples as well, I think I might have been the only English person in there now I think of it.
In addition to the sushi its also possible to order noodles and I went for tempura with soba. The tempura itself was very soggy but the noodles and the soup helped clear by hang over, I could feel the life flowing back to me as I sipped the soup in particular and I was returning to my normal happy self.
The sushi itself is below par, probably about as rubbish as Yo! They usually do at least decent Unagi (eel) here however this time it was undercooked. The salmon was flavourless and I had to use a lot of soy sauce to taste anything! The Mackerel tasted just plain wrong and I didn’t touch the tuna that was going around. It was so devoid of colour that it was practically sea through. The rolls, which most places manage to put some flavour in through mayonnaise or something, were equally devoid of tang. Avoid.
Unless you need all you can eat.
You need it real bad.
I don’t know whether it was the drink or the sushi but the food passed right through me.
Okay… sharing error.
I walked up Covent Garden to Forbidden Planet where I wanted to get a present for a friend’s daughter. Its not because I wanted to look at the new star wars toys or catch up on what Superman got up to last week or anything. Honest. Outside was a man dressed in a devil costume holding a sign saying “I live with my Mum”. A pretty obvious joke I thought and looking around there was a camera crew filming the store. At first I thought it might have been for some wanky art assignment but I would later learn that it was for Channel4. Anyway I went into the store anyway looking for present, something to do with The Simpsons as she really likes them. Obviously a girl of good taste. When I walked out I made the mistake of making eye contact with Satan and sure enough he started to follow me with his giant sign.
So I did what any self-respecting geek when faced with the devil would do, I grabbed the fooking signed and legged it down the street. What I didn’t realise was that Lucifer was still attached to it, and the beast was not going to let go. In fact he basically lay down on the floor so I was literally dragging him along the street.
Think about the scene from Reservoir Dogs with Tim Roth on the floor and Harvey Keitel standing over him, except think of the Devil as Tim Roth and me as Harvey Keitel and instead of guns we have a massive sign. I wasn’t going to get it away from the fiend, I guess because he has the power of evil and I just go to the gym a couple of times a week. He was a big guy, about 6’3” and I’m just 5’11”, which according to Boo is too short. Though for what I’m not sure.
So I give up and start to walk off but spend the rest of the day thinking of ways that I could of got the sign away from him. How funny that would have been to seen me running down the street with it. Or even better beating him with it.
Anyway I give up and am another 20m down the street when a lovely little media type appears by my side, at first I thought she was just a tourist who wanted to know what was going on but after turning off my iPod I learnt that she was the producer and that I needed to sign a waver. She said that I had “good reaction” to what happened. Yeah… well… I did say that she was a media type.
So its going to be a trigger tv type show on channel 4 on Friday nights in August or September. I signed the waver as I thought what I did was actually quite funny, but it only occurred to me later that they could edit it so that the devil just holds the sign over me and I look like a normal geek, rather than a normal geek who can kick Beelzebub's bitch ass.

Gili Gulu: Soggy tempura but my god the soup tasted good. Posted by Hello

Gili Gulu: Small and not perfectly formed. Posted by Hello

Gili Gulu: Roll with it Posted by Hello

Gili Gulu: Needs ALOT of soy sauce. Posted by Hello

Gili Gulu: This just tasted plain bad. Posted by Hello