Sushi Tetsu // Islington // London

Once you’ve found-out the date and time that you can make a booking, you’ll need an army of people and a personal concierge to get your reservation confirmed at Sushi Tetsu. With only one bar, seven seats and effectively only two sittings a day, it’s little wonder why. If you finally manage to get a reservation, you’ll most probably feel that you need to go for the top set-menu (Omakase – chef’s choice), to make-up for all the anguish that the booking’s caused.

After the usual edamame, the chef starts preparing an amazing palette of sashimi: sea bream, sea bass, turbot, seared scallop, snow crab, yellowtail, sweet shrimp, and two sorts of tuna, one being toro; well-known as the fattiest and consequently the most sought after. The quality of all the fish is exceptional and the chef can certainly thank his supplier for sourcing such impeccable products. Following this, you’re served marinated mackerel and sardine, whose tastes are fully revealed by the simple salt and vinegar seasoning.

Next comes a medley of nigiri sushi. Eat them one-by-one as they arrive to maximise the taste of the fish, as they come at different temperatures to achieve different effects. This is particularly true for the nigiri that are lightly seared. Though unfortunately, the chef uses a blow torch which leaves a residual taste of gas, which is a shame.  You’ll also be served a hand roll with avocado, mixed with seared and fresh toro, giving you a chance to discover how “real” seaweed nori should be!

The experience comes to an end with a sweet Japanese omelette, which has a very light shrimp flavour. This might be a bit challenging for some diners.

We found that the surprise of the Omakase doesn’t translate into a terribly creative or exotic experience, as you might expect. The parade of nigiri, while succulent, also seems a bit simple. If Tetsu only added some kind of twist to its dishes – something special – it would certainly get repeat customers. At the moment, it feels that word of mouth is making this place a bit of a stale, tourist trap. Being simply a fashionable restaurant will not create an ongoing success in ever evolving London.

So while Sushi Tetsu serves fish of unquestionable quality, it’s difficult to see where the added-value is, and what makes it unique. Japanese cuisine can certainly be elegant and creative. You just have to look to Zuma in London or Guilo Guilo in Paris to see that. Diners might also find the “captive audience” nature of the restaurant a bit dry.

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