Eat: Hi Sushi Izakaya
Last month I was invited to review Hi Sushi’s latest restaurant in the heart of Covent Garden. Normally I would run a mile to avoid a restaurant chain – having worked for Michelin starred Umu I am a self confessed sushi-snob. I once asked head chef Ichiro Kubota about Nobu and he scowled ‘Nobu Bullshit!’ and I have to agree. I don’t think cheap sushi should be allowed – it stinks.
And I don’t have time for all that cutsey Japenoiserie bandied by the K10 bandits. So what brought me to Izakaya? Perhaps it was the persistence of the PR! Then thank god for PR! I was overwhelmed by the great food, calm atmosphere and understated service. The place looks great with sunken tables, beautiful dark wood and even a waterfall which at first annoys, but as you zone in/out whatever you do you start to feel calmed by the rushing water (or did I drink too much?).It looks like an expensive restaurant – a far cry from Yo ho.
The food isn’t and shouldn’t be cheap. I am not talking Nobu expensive but if you order nearly everything on the menu like we did the bill can quickly mount up. Executive Chef is Eric Fu, previously of Roka in Charlotte Street and Lisbao Hotel, Macau certainly seems to know how to deliver authentic, exciting food. The Gyoza dumplings were good. We loved the eel and the aubergine from the grill – forget sushi – I could eat these little skewers all night. The rock shrimp tempura was to die for – perfectly crisp with an extra wasabi kick – so good we ordered three portions. The ubiquitous black cod in miso was delicious – thank you Nobu for this (please don’t tell Ichiro!). The huge wasabi deep fried prawns were deep and flavourful when large crustaceans so often disappoint. We even managed to cram in a good value bento box. Then came the sashimi and sushi – perfectly fresh and expertly prepared. The only thing we didn’t eat was dessert. My only gripe is the rather limited wine/sake offering.
Don’t go to Izakaya if you want to see D-list stars nibbling edamame and behaving like spoilt children. Izakaya is for grown-ups who want to eat real food, at realistic prices in beautiful, calming surroundings. Hi praise, Hi Sushi!
Address: 27 Catherine Street, Covent Garden, London WC2B 5JS
Tel: 020 7 836 9398