Sunday, 2 September 2012

Kikuchi - High end sushi off the Tottenham Court Road - Aug 2012

I once took my small, Northern mother for a sushi blowout at Jenny's in Manhattan, keen to introduce her to my new favourite thing. She flashed me a helpless pleading look as the enormous plate of mixed sashimi and nigiri landed and I hastily ordered her a side salad with (cooked) tuna before nailing the lot myself. 

If you were a sushi newcomer, Kikuchi probably wouldn't the most accessible entry into the world of high-grade fish. Even for people who know their nigiri from their nitsume we had some problems with the ordering. The staff might be bright and friendly but given the extremely high ratio of Japanese customers, they assume that you know exactly what you're doing here. Asking for advice on the sake generated confusedface from our waitress, who stabbed the page at random and shrugged apologetically. Similar worry radiated when we asked whether we'd under-ordered, although looking at my ever expanding stomach probably made that a more delicate question.
The supermodel of Japanese food, black cod marinated in miso, is one of my favourite plates in a good Japanese restaurant. It's an expensive fish, but the flavour is divine, and here it's one of the best I've had. At £20 for a single fillet it's steep, but against the £42 you'll pay at Nobu it's a steal. If you wanna spend a lot of money on food, go for sushi. Every time. It's the food choice of the gourmet aesthete and the cash-loaded philistine alike. The former seeking out the rare and the subtle, the latter seeking pricey ostentation. It's overtaken caviar, even among the Russian super rich (though to be fair that's probably more the influence of their fashion conscious girlfriends).

At the other end of the pricing spectrum, we shared a small hot plate of sliced fish cakes - thin patties of crab and shrimp and other white fish, compacted into a thinly fried slice, a grownup fish ball if you will.

Nigiri - a good selection freshly made, more fish than rice, and every piece exceptional. We had 12 pieces to share, each with a different payload. Fatty o-toro tuna was, as expected, the standout for flavour. Marbled like a fine steak, potentially an ecological worry but unavoidably gorgeous. Eel was dark and brooding, a tang of the estuary to go with the fresh flesh of the open sea. Buttery and sweet silken tuna reared its fin again as thickly sliced yellowtail sashimi, close to perfect for my gaijin tastes.

The only disappointment was a final menu Tourettes order of duck skewers, too quick off the grill and still shocked to tight chewiness by the lick of the flame.

The crowd is as you'd expect from a high-ish end sushi joint in central London. There are a fair few tables of Japanese businessmen, interspersed with the odd couple on a special date night (guilty) and a scattering of braying hedge fundies, piling in with the sad acceptance that there's nothing like this for them in Zug or Zurich.

Kikuchi on Urbanspoon

Square Meal


  1. Great review. Particularly like the Tourette's order. Will try this now...

  2. Thanks! Can't stop doing it.. just as I hand the menu back, I have to add something else on. It's why I shouldn't be allowed near a dim sum menu.