Monthly Archives: November 2009

Sushi go round – Itsu vs Moshi Moshi Sushi

I loves me sushi! And I also like eating without being hassled so conveyor belt sushi or Kaiten sushi is sometimes the perfect combination. My first experience as most peoples was at Yo Sushi, the ubiquitous fishy-go-round found in most medium to larged sized cities, I mean, even Leicester has one! In my opinion, quality has taken a nose dive at Yo Sushi and they seem to be moving from offering more exotic options to just sending round chicken nuggets in a sweet sauce and some of the beginner sushi such as salmon and prawn. Spreading my wings further and now with London in my realm I recently tried the small chains of Itsu and Moshi Moshi Sushi.

Itsu

Itsu in Canary Wharf

My first visit to Itsu was on its first restaurants in Wardour Street, London. Following the Yo Sushi model of sending around popular items with waiter service for more unique fare I remember enjoying its more sophisticated environment (Lower lighting, more intimate feel, lack of huge plasma screens and bleeping robots). Interestingly, they sent round hot food on the conveyor also with tea lights burning underneath which I thought was cute.

My recent visit was to the Canary Wharf Branch at Cabot Place. Being the only diners there the atmosphere was a bit dead but we got our flask of Sake and pulled up to the belt. The food was alright I suppose, lots of meat dishes and hybrid ‘oriental’ items such as duck crystal rolls. Miso soup went around sitting on the tea lights but were scalding hot and almost impossible to remove from the belt without burning yourself. The a la carte menu was uninspiring and seemed to consist of hand rolls and little else. In the end we classed it as a starter and paid up to go somewhere else for ‘dinner’ as it was a real struggle to construct a meal.

Score 4/10

Moshi Moshi Sushi

Moshi Moshi Sushi

I have a feeling that MMS was the first conveyor belt sushi joint even before Yo Sushi though I could be wrong. Anyway, it seems to have been at the mezzanine level of Liverpool Station for ever. Meeting a friend during a connecting train journey we talk the trip to the nearly hidden doorway into MMS. It has a great atmosphere and is a cocoon away from the windswept platforms down below. The decor is innovative though seems a bit tatty and dusty on the day we visited. Food is prepared in a traditional kitchen (unseen) and emerges to wind its way around patrons before disappearing again into the kitchen. The food is extraordinary and I would imagine very traditional. Unusual flavour combinations incorporating ingredients such as natto bring bring back a feeling of discovery that has long been missing from other sushi joints. Along with the sushi you can choose larger courses such as noodles or ton katsu (breaded pork with bulldog sauce and sticky rice). The service was kind and attentive and the atmosphere relaxed. I could really imagine hanging around here and would not feel out of place if I was dining solo.

I would highly recommend a visit to Moshi Moshi Sushi and in my book it wins hands down.

Score 8/10

Itsu Locations

Moshi Moshi Locations

Food Destination – Aldeburgh

Late in 2009 I had the pleasure of visiting the pretty Suffolk seaside resort of Aldeburgh. The town is a very pleasant mix of quaint seaside village with London sophistication. Needless to say, the restaurants are pretty top-notch. We ate at two great establishments.  Regatta and The Lighthouse.

Regatta is along the seafront and has a very contemporary design and a rather eclectic menu. I ate a very good sirloin steak there but was more taken by the starter of smoked prawns. These were served very simply in the shell with some rustic bread and butter but the flavour was extraordinary. Locally smoked they were absolutely delicious and one of the most memorable things I ate in 2009. The rest of my family had a delicious looking piece of belly pork with a delightful carapace of crisp crackling. Feeling a pang of jealousy I made a mental note to order when I next had the chance.

The Lighthouse

Oysters Yum!

We ate at the Lighthouse on the Sunday afternoon. On a sidestreet a stroll away from the High Street I would imagine that this restaurant relies on its reputation rather than passing trade.

As the only diners we had the place to ourselves. A carefully placed Hardens guide to restaurants showed that its credentials to those who cared to look. The menu is nicely balanced between fish and meat so I started with Oysters which were well presented and flavorful. My niece had the scallops which were well cooked and tantalizingly presented. For my main course I siezed upon the chance to have belly pork which was served with risotto. The pork was delicious but the risotto slightly under in my view. Other main

Belly Pork with Risotto

courses including beautiful Fish and Chips which had bubbly golden batter and crisp hand cut chips. Choosing to skip desserts and coffee we instead headed back to the house for a self-satisfied nap.

Score 8/10

The Lighthouse

77 High Street, Aldeburgh IP15 5AU

Tel: 01728 454477‎

1573 – Leicester

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1573 Bar and Grill

I’ve been looking forward to 1573 opening for some time. It is owned by the same people who own the Colourworks canalside restaurant whose food is above average for the city. The rumour was that 1573 was going to be a Fish Restaurant and I was quite excited by this but sadly they seemed to have chickened out and opened as a grill or more to the point a steak restaurant. I was overdue taking my friend Carl out for his 43rd birthday so we decided to give it ago. The restaurant is locared in the Old Free Grammar School is a Grade II listed building built originally in 1573 thus the name. Its been nicely done out, rough stone walls are well lit giving a cosy atmosphere. We were seated downstairs and given the menu.The waitress mumbled ‘Creamy Vegetable’ to me and I presumed that this must be soup of the day.

Starters choice was a bit odd. Nothing really tempting: dough balls, soup etc. We both went for salmon teriyaki which came with a salad. Bit odd as a starter, more like a childs portion main course but we went for it anyway.

Worryingly, the couple seated next to us were grumbling about their food, it seemed to be incorrect and then the steak came out and it was overcooked so had to go back. Service was slow, we waited for about 15 minutes for starters and the place was close to empty.

The salmon was ok. It was as described, though nothing special. Was cooked well and the teriyaki sauce was not overpowering which was good.

The steaks took ages. About 30 minutes after the starter was finished the steaks came out. They were served with chips and a salad. We both had the ribeye, it looked a bit overcooked to me after prodding. Chips tasted ok. I dipped a couple into the ordered bearnaise sauce but it tasted more like peppercorn sauce. I called the waitress over and she declared that they ‘weren’t our meals’ and took them away. Depressingly after a short pause at the pass she took the plates to the correct owners even though we had added seasoning, prodded the steaks and ate some of the chips/salad.

This is not on, we probably should have complained but were starving by then.

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2 Ribeye Steaks

Eventually our steaks came out and appeared to be as cooked. Mine seemed medium rare and she seemed pleased that I gave her the thumbs up, however the thicker parts of the steak were quite undercooked and were easily described as rare, however I prefer under than over so I ate it all. Steak was clearly from a good source as it was tender and had the nice nugget of fat that you get in the centre of all rib eye steaks. Chips were OK, they appeared to be pre-seasoned with black pepper which might not appeal to everyone. Bearnaise was very good. Salad was alright,  nice little halved cherry tomatoes. It would have been nice to order sides of portobello mushroom though and they might be missing a trick in not encouraging side orders.

We skipped dessert and coffee and got the bill. I slyly slipped a buy one get one free voucher in so it was extremely good value.

I think I would leave it 6 months before I go back so that they have time to get things together. Certainly taking already started plates of food to another customer is not on and I hope that this was an ‘off’ night for them.

Score 6/10

1573 Bar & Grill
Unit R12
The Old Grammar School
Freeschool Lane
Leicester
LE1 4PB
0116 2516879

Yauatcha – London

I love dim sum and am not priggish about when it should be eaten. Last week on a chilly Sunday ill advised trip to Selfridges we decided to reward ourselves with some lovely steaming dumplings. We cross referenced our iPhones and found the nearest dim sum joint was Yauatcha on Broadwick Street not far from Carnaby Street. I had heard a lot about Yauatcha. Some things were postive such as their supremely balanced steamed goodies and some negative such as brusque service and cramped eating environment. After eating we found all those comments were fair.

Sadly, we couldnt eat in the upstairs room which was far more roomy and were whisked to the basement. To be fair we hadn’t booked and it seemed rather busy so weren’t too bothered until we saw the table we would be eating at and also the proximity to a rather boorish family who were crammed on the table next to us. I made apologies and tried to navigate my booty around the small gap between the tables but the presumed father made no attempt to move any of his stuff so I trod on his Uniqlo bag. He was so wrapped up in his dull diatribe with his family that he didn’t even notice.

Good.

Yauatcha

The basement at Yauatcha

The menu is interesting, there is dim sum obviously but also traditional full plate items such as crispy duck and sweet and sour pork. We decided to concentrate on the dim sum. I had a glass of voigner and Rich had a japanese beer. The waiters were attentive but seemed a little bored with what they were doing.

We ordered Har Gau, Scallop Siu Mai, Lo Bak go, Lo mei gei, a mango and prawn fried thing, and some spring rolls perhaps we had more stuff, not sure. Whilst the order was taken we had a look around the room. It was designed for the evening really. Exposed brick with hundreds of pretend candles with clever rocking mechanisms to evoke real candlelight.

Meanwhile the family grim droned on. Mother grim opined ‘Our cleaner claims every benefit there is going and she goes to Florida every year’. Kids set the agenda as seems to be the case in the modern family. All rather depressing. We nibbled on complimentary sweet pickled cucumbers which were delicious.

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Beautiful Scallop Siu Mai

Soon the procession of Dim Sum came out which were uniformly great. It was good to see chilli oil being provided as standard as it is my favourite dipping sauce. Sadly dim sum and small table space are not happy bed fellows so some shuffling was required but staff were quick to clear empty plates. Special note should go to the Lo mei gei which tasted like chinese risotto with delicious minced pork and dried shrimps. Lok bak go was equally good due to the addition of chinese chives. Star turn though was the scallop siu mai which was beautifully cooked, light and flavourful.

The bill was reasonable but we only had dim sum so was about 50 quid each.

I would definately go again but would book so I could have a bit more space, perhaps on the first floor.

Score 7.5/10

Yauatcha, 15 Broadwick Street, London W1 (020 7494 8888). Open 10am-11.30pm. Most dim sum cost £3.50-£5 and cocktails cost £7.