London’s Mayfair is home to some of the world’s best hotels and restaurants. Our House of Coco team of Omo and Eulanda visited Tsukiji Sushi to explore Japanese fusion cuisine and sample the spirit of Mayfair.
This is the place to see and be seen if you’re into high-end fashion and style. Bordered by Hyde Park on the west, Green Park and St James’s Park to the south and Soho to the east, it is home to many of London’s high fashion labels, five star hotels and Michelin starred restaurants.
Navigating our way from Oxford Circus station on a Friday evening, a late summer evening breeze picked up as we headed to The Westbury Mayfair hotel, one of London’s top luxury hotels. We were guests of Tsukiji Sushi, a Japanese fusion style restaurant located on its ground floor.
Tsukiji Sushi is in esteemed company; sharing the location with the Michelin-starred Alyn Williams at the Westbury. Some might say that this is tough competition to contend with. However, we found out that Tsukiji is in a class of its own, where the art of Japanese fusion food is elevated to the point where the artist deserves to be judged on his own merit.
The ‘artist’ for the evening was Malaysian Head Chef Show Choong. His Tsukiji menu offers an extensive and slightly overwhelming range of traditional Japanese dishes including sushi, sashimi, grilled dishes, sakes and fine teas. However we opted for a nine-course tasting menu that would give us a chance to experience Tsukiji’s highlights.
Tsukiji Mayfair is a world away from (and unrelated to) Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji Market, reputedly the world’s largest and busiest fish market. The space Tsukiji occupies is small, seating only 20 covers at a time. The interior décor is tasteful without being ostentatious; the polished red wood theme and low white cushioned seats give a nod to Japanese culture. The simplicity seems designed to remove distractions and focus the visitor on the food.
Photos ©Eulanda and Omo Osagiede
Tasting style and spirit
Our tasting menu experience began with a dish of lightly steamed Buna Shimeji; dainty edible mushrooms native to East Asia. The mushrooms were served with a coriander, onion and olive oil sauce and were beautifully presented on a mushroom shaped plate.
The next dish to arrive was the Tataki Chu Toro, thin sashimi slices of lightly-seared yellow fin tuna, served rare with a citrus soy sauce and paired with a jalapeño salsa which introduced a mildly spicy theme. Each bite was an invitation to our taste buds to linger for a while. This wasn’t a dish to be rushed.
Although just two dishes in, even non-Japanese food connoisseurs like us could appreciate the artistry on display. Chef Show Choong’s style achieves an innovative fusion of textures, flavours and colours complemented by his use of fresh and organic ingredients. Although he was hidden away from our view, Show Choong was demonstrating his art and the serving plates were his canvas.
Seated by the window overlooking Conduit Street, we observed a typical Friday evening in Mayfair. The fashionable working crowd slowly made way for the equally fashionable party crowd and their sleek cars. For some, the night was just beginning. For us, the focus remained on the food.
What followed was a selection of dishes that established Tsukiji as one of our favourite Japanese fusion restaurants in London. A grilled Octopus Carpaccio dish served with radish and fennel was topped with a truffle mustard-miso dressing. The flavours at first seemed overpowering but did nothing to disrupt our enjoyment of the texture of the meat.
Photos ©Eulanda and Omo Osagiede
The grilled oyster and creamy sauce was served on a bed of edible seaweed which we didn’t care for because of its rubbery texture. We made short work of the oysters, cleansed our palate with ginger and quickly moved on to sample some salmon sushi rolls topped with a plum sauce. The sweetness of the plum surprisingly did not overpower the taste of the salmon.
Our favourite dish of the evening was the Nigiri Sushi. This was a chef’s selection that included a delicious trio of Hamachi (yellowtail) with tamari sauce, Hotategai (giant sea scallops) with caviar and yuzu miso and a seared Abura Bouza (butterfish) with yuzu onion sauce. In an evening of highlights, this dish hit some rather high notes. We would go back again just to have this again.
The tasting menu was rounded up with seared black cod served in a saikyo miso sauce. Dessert was a palate cleansing green tea ice cream. As a treat, we were offered a roasted green tea which had a refreshing pop-corn aroma; definitely one to be hunted down when next we visit an Asian food shop.
As we said our goodbyes and exited through the luxurious lobby of The Westbury hotel, we remembered what a Michelin starred chef once told us. He said that good food is simple and stays true to the original flavours of its ingredients. Chef Show Choong and his Tsukiji team had certainly offered up food that had style but whose spirit remained true to its simple Japanese roots.
Tsukiji Sushi Restaurant is located at 37 Conduit St, Mayfair W1S 2YF. For reservations and enquiries, please call 0208 382 5066 or email [email protected]
Opening hours are: Monday to Saturday from 12 noon to 10.30 pm