I’ve spent the last few years being dismissive of the whole Twitter thing. Why should anyone care that you have just woken up or are going to the supermarket? Can anything of 140 characters or less really be that witty or informative?
But I think I’ve just seen the light. I’m not sure my (as it stands 13 strong…) Twitter followers get much from me, but if you watch the musings of better connected foodies, you can get some pretty good tips. And top of the tips last week (thanks @LondonEater, @chrispople and @hollowlegs) was a sushi joint, just north of the Euston Road. They tweeted on Thursday and Friday. I shamelessly copied them and went on Saturday.
Sushi of Shiori is miniscule. There are only 9 seats – 3 at the bar, six in a line at the window. The decoration is plain, unassuming and unpretentious. The waitress welcoming, efficient and calm (Japanese, basically).
The simple charm gives no hint of the beautifully crafted food that awaits.
Sushi is almost always pleasing. But when you’re lucky enough to witness an Itamae (chef) transform rice and raw fish into something way beyond the sum of its parts, your meal becomes instantly memorable. Our evening was off to a good start, then, when the three of us were offered the counter seats with full view of the chef’s preparation section.
Negi-Toro Gunken. Tobikko. Anago. Donburi. Bo-Zushi. The more you stare at the words, the more they fly around confusingly in front of you (like it’s a foreign language or something). It’s surely standard practice for confident, well travelled white folk to submit to the pressure at the last minute and (despite best intentions) end up ordering a bowl of miso soup and the assorted platter. With this in mind, I consider there no shame in telling you that we decided to order the house sashimi selection so as to buy us some time to be a little more adventurous with our sushi order.
The chef dude’s sashimi choice was tuna, salmon, raw sweet prawn, sea bass, scad and scallop. His presentation was superb. Beautifully sliced fish and various condiments (shredded carrot and mooli, seaweed, wasabit etc) were carefully, meticulously and artfully placed on the tray. A seriously stylish and appetising offering. [This is one of the few times, I think, that I will regret having a no photo for restaurant reviews policy. I cannot describe quite how good the food looks at Sushi of Shiori. So do have a look at London Eater and Hollow Legs's posts.]
The fish didn’t disappoint taste-wise. I liked the scad, in particular, and the salmon was better than usual (but could have been a little thicker). Best of all, though, were the awesome, creamy, melt in your mouth slices of scallop (more on this marine bivalve mollusc later). A super start.
We went a bit more freestyle with our sushi selection. In fact, first up, we went completely off the menu and requested Salmon Aburi nigiri (where they briefly flame-grill the fish). Beautiful. As with the rest of the sushi that we ate that night (which, from now on, was ordered from the menu), the fish was fresh and relatively generous, and rice was well cooked, well seasoned and a tiny bit warm (just how I like it and how most (if not all) sushi I ate in Japan was presented).
Spicy tuna hosomaki was good. But not a patch on things to come.
The next three types of nigiri were quality. Zuwai crab was a first for me, but will not be the last (“tastes just like a really nice crab stick, only better“, someone insightfully said). The sea bass was fresh and, from memory, served with a touch of their creamy wasabi. I’m a sucker for grilled eel (unagi), and I think Sushi of Shiori’s might be the best I have ever had. It wasn’t like the usual eel, which is dark, slightly curled up and a tiny bit crunchy at the edges; rather it was flat, thick and the flesh relatively pale. I didn’t ask whether this was home grilled or bought in. Whatever. I Loved it. Loved it.
Unbelievably, though, all three were trumped by our final two choices.
Ordering scallop (hotate) nigiri was a no brainer following our sashimi experience. The generously sliced scallop was decorated with a dollop of truffle sauce. What a combination. Amazing. If you only have £4.40 remaining in the world, I would seriously consider heading to Drummond Street and buying yourself a 2 piece portion of this.
Finally, we went beef.
Now, as a rule, I don’t agree with meat sushi (duck rolls, in particular, should be outlawed), but it was impossible not to order the wagyu beef nigiri topped with ponzu jelly. I don’t really need to tell you that this was really, really good, do I? Well it was. In fact, it was super, uber good. I wasn’t alone in thinking that the beef didn’t need the rice. But that’s about the only thing that wasn’t perfect about the unctuous seared slices of massaged, beer drinking, totally chilled out cow and the jelly that was slowly melting on top.
Sushi of Shiori is a great sushi bar. Right now, it’s going viral on Twitter (I’ve just in the last few minutes seen two more tweets noting how orgasmic the scallop was). And I think this is deserved. Little touches – the dabs of truffle or other sauce, the wasabi placed on little slices of radish, the way the shredded mooli, carrot and spring onion decorations were used generally – add to the fact that the fish is fresh, the chef is skilled and the hostess accommodating (there was no problem making everything in threes and dealing with our irritating questions). Go.
At Sushi of Shiori, nigiri average a touch more than £2 per piece; slices of Wagyu beef heaven are £3.50 each; the sashimi platter is £25. Sushi and sashimi are never cheap. But this place is worth it.
Our evening was a smidgeon over £40 a head including (in addition to what was mentioned above) a couple of bowls of miso soup, some rice, three beers each and tip. You could easily spend more (they do a special menu for £50). I think you could also just about get away with a bit under £25 per person including a drink and a tip (the Shiori sushi platter of 8 high grade nigiri and 3 hosomaki looks ok value at £18). But I bet you’d either be hungry, tempted to get more, or both.
www.sushiofshiori.co.uk - 144 Drummond Street, NW1 2PA – 020 7388 9962