Sushi, something that looks so simple yet elegant, and is now available in many cities as their popularity keeps rising in recent years. In London, where the gourmet food gathers, finding a good sushi restaurant/bar can be a tough job as there are countless of them in a wide range of quality and pricing. My friends and I spend our last lunch before the trip ends searching for them, finally decided on one when our stomachs growl.
This time, we found this place called OHISAMA Sushi, a small sushi bar in 39 Paddington Street that can be quite hard to find. Its front entrance is not as eye-catching compared to other restaurants in the same street. But when you go inside, (we are their first customers on this Sunday Early Afternoon), you will enter some peace from the outside world. This is a proper sushi bar.
(this review is a Limited review—means I have not tried all of their choices and it will be updated each time I visit them)
*This review is not sponsored by OHISAMA Sushi and I paid for the meals out of my own pocket.
**Updated on 9/4/2017 with more food ordered
The waitress, a Japanese, greets us in a welcoming tone and we are not being rushed to order. We take our own sweet time looking at the bar and several fresh sashimis in the counter. The chefs do not talk to use, but they are doing their work seriously so it’s still pretty cool. Food is served slower compared to Yo-Sushi-style restaurant, though I’m not really complaining as the atmosphere is serene.
Of course, we started with Sushi sets, which you can change the combination but the price will be updated depending on what you chose. The set cost around £20 and you get 8 types of sushi. It contains tuna, salmon, tako, ebi and tobiko in the original combination. My friend, Kev, swaps the ebi for Chu-toro with an increased price of +0.5op. He said it’s pretty fresh and taste better than expected. It’s not mind-blowingly delicious like when you eat in Japan, but for London’s standard and the price, it’s a great value sushi that manages to achieve the delicate balance between taste and pricing. The wasabi is already inside the sushi (ala original Jap style) so all you need is to dip them slightly into the sauce before eating. He specially mentions that the tako is excellent and stands out aside from the Chu-toro, where a blissful face is displayed as he chews on it. The tamago, which is in the cover picture, taste just alright, nothing exceptional.
Another of a friend, Nov, gets a nigiri that consists of a mixture of ingredients. It’s pretty filling with its size and the rice, but she does not mention anything else aside from it being just good. So this is more of their average dish which you could order if you want to fill your stomach up faster.
Next, another of my female friends, Khelen, ordered an Assortment Tempuras with ebi and vegetables combined. They are crispy but not too oily. Their size is not as big as I have seen in other restaurants but I guess with less panko coating, means the taste of the meat and vegetables is more pronounced when you taste them. This can be a great follow-up after your sushi set.
This is a chilled tamago slice ordered by Nov, it tastes just alright as well. Though the cooling sensation on the tongue actually makes it taste better than she thought.
This is a Mystery Menu, like literally, they stated there you will get 8 rolls of ‘Mystery’ which I ordered to see if they can give me surprises. Turns out, they do! First of all, the dish design is pretty special with the glass plate. The 8 sushi rolls form similar to ancient Japanese compass points with the ginger and wasabi in the middle. In between are some sauces with a gradient of red to green, representing life and nature. I took my some ginger to wash off my palette, then proceeds to try out one of them. I dipped it in the sauce slightly. *Chews. There are some varying ingredients inside, I could only tell there are guava, tuna, fish roe and some unknown crunchy texture. They taste weird for my first impression but even weirder is they seemed to complement one another, so no single ingredient hogs the attention of my tongue. Next, I tried it with wasabi, the spicy taste created yet another weird sensation. The only way I could describe was that the crunchy texture with the guava and wasabi makes the original taste better. These are really a mystery indeed, and they change every day I think! So if you have the cash and courage, do try this out 😉
My friend, Kevin, ordered the Omakase A Chef’s course section for one person. The appetiser is six slices of raw fish with strong yuzu sauce. One bite brings a refreshing flavour of the yuzu and rawness of the fish intermixingly onto your tongue, though it can be quite sour for the uninitiated. For Kevin, this is one of this favourites, but for me, it’s kind of too sour, though I can appreciate the overall unique flavour which does give the fish a new taste that’s different than usual.
Next is assorted sashimi that comes included in the course. It is a mix of tuna, salmon, yellowtail amberjack, hotate and two different types of seaweed. I did not try any of these, but Kevin says that they are fresh and the seaweed is chewy and bursting with flavour of the sea. It seems like a typical sashimi dish, but the presentation in a bowl of ice and the design makes it eye-catching and definitely pleasing to the eye and to the tongue as well.
Finally, he has 7 selection of nagiris that are served in a traditional manner over Japanese plate. I have accidentally tried the three from the left as I mistook them for mine. The uni is pretty decent, though not the freshest that I have tried before. While yellowjackets and swordfish are great and definitely deserved to be chewed thoroughly to appreciate their true tastiness. I do not get to try the others but when I see Kevin eats, he looks as if he is in heaven, so it must be great. I will try them out the next time I visit the restaurant.
My only food this time is sushi plate, Tokujou, with several pieces of sushi being served together on a long plate. They are pretty standard types of sushi but you get some higher quality ones such as uni, otoro and other rarer fish that you can find. The tamago and hotate are taken by Kevin as repayment for me eating his other sushis, and so I do not know of their taste. In a way, these sushis are great and can be quite filling, due to the amount of rice you eat per sushi. Some of them are alright, and some do stand out like the tuna otoro and the fish roes. Overall, I think it’s a kind of hit and miss, but I do enjoy all of them together with my Hakkaisan sake, which goes surprisingly well with the sushis, and also helps bring out the fresh flavour of the seafood.
For the drink, I got myself a Kirishima Shochu, which has a fresh delighting aftertaste. It complements the sushi and helps to gives a refreshing taste after the Mystery Menu. What I love is that it is not overly sweet like some sake, and you can drink it slowly to appreciate its wonderful taste.
I returned to Ohisama with Kevin, who previously joined me in the last visit to this secret sushi restaurant. For the drink this time, I got the Hakkaisan sake, which the staff recommended for my Tokujo sushi set. It is essentially a rice wine that has 15.8% alcohol content. The flavour is refreshing and smooth, easy to drink before, during and after the sushi meal. It costs a pretty decent sum of 40 pounds per bottle, but I think the taste itself is worth the asking price. Try it and share with friends when your ordered courses are mostly sushi.
Finally, we got ourselves a wonderful dessert in the form of MOCHI ICE CREAM. We tried the Yuzu, Salted Caramel, Green Tea, and Cheesecake. I love the Salted Caramel’s as its mixture of sweetish and saltish creates a unique aftertaste. For the cheesecake, the cheese is quite pronounced but nevertheless, it still tastes just like a chilled cheesecake LOL. I did not try the Yuzu and Green Tea, but judging from the satisfying smiles of my friends, I would say they would order them again if their stomach were not too full.
For the dessert this time, I got the same mochi ice cream but with a hazelnut flavour. It comes in with beautiful presentation as if snow just falls on the ground with the green leaf representing a coming spring. The taste is excellent with chewy ice cream that delivers a strong hazelnut flavour, definitely get this when you are able to reserve more space for desserts in your stomach.