Sushi Tetsu (Clerkenwell) – The Sushi Gods do exist in London too

Sushi Tetsu is based in an unassuming nook in Clerkenwell, opened in June 2012 by Toru Takahashi and he keeps gaining a cult following for his much revered sushi. I’ve not known any restaurant in London or anywhere else I’ve been to for that matter with a full web page on their booking policy! Before he was a chef at Nobu for seven years, Toru studied British History in Kobe before training as a sushi chef and arriving in England during 2000. The venue is intimate – 7 seats intimate to be exact that form into a wooden bar with Toru hand crafting sushi right before your eyes.

We go for the a la carte but omakase is also available if you’d prefer and we’re served each piece of sushi in accordance to how Chef Toru sees fit in your meal.

We kick things off with a Sapporo lager (£4.80) and edamame beans which were on the house. Our lovely waitress even shows us how to squeeze them out of their shells, this is the proper way and putting the whole thing in your mouth and sucking them out isn’t cool apparently.

The set-up reminded of my time in Tokyo eating sushi – a plate for the chef to serve each piece pf sushi to be eaten with your hands, a damp cloth to clean your fingers and chopsticks to pick up pieces of house pickled ginger to cleanse your palate in between each bite. Disclaimer – **Do not eat the sushi and ginger together, drown your sushi in soy, or ask for extra wasabi**. The chef spends a lot of time creating the perfect balance so don’t commit these sins!

Tuna – the red part £5.80. Despite being a leaner cut the richness and buttery mouth-feel is still there.

Turbot £5.80. It’s seasoned with soy and ginger paste to bring out the flavour. It’s a fine fish when cooked and it’s a fine fish in sushi form too.

Sweet shrimp £4.50. The pictures didn’t do the beauty of the hand-crafted morsel justice.

Yellow tail £7. This little morsel dissolves on your tongue and coats it with awesomeness – I could have eaten these by the dozen.

Tuna – medium rich part £7.20. Toro is prized for it’s taste due to the higher fat content, mouth-feel and textural excellence. I have strong predilection for this!

Seared shrimp £8.80. The sear provides a deep nutty smoked flavour but to be honest it really didn’t do it for me. I would have preferred a cooked one.

Sardine £4.80 – I’m a huge fan of sardines and after eating this one it galvanised my love of the fish. The flavour was wonderful.

Seared very rich tuna £9.20. It was magnificent.

Mackerel £5. This one was a surprising little gem and one of my favourite things to eat. You can definitely tell that it was mackerel you were eating from the oily characteristics but the flavour was balanced and it lingered in a good way.

Snow crab £6.80 – sweet like candy and it’s cooked too. Every portion should come by the half-dozen, period.

Omelette £8. I was expecting something sweet with this one, on the contrary it was savoury and imparted strong shellfish flavours. I later found out that there was a special blend of fish in the ingredients including prawns. I probably wouldn’t order this again.

Eel cucumber £17. In the past when I’ve eaten these the cones are packed flush with ingredients – this one nori loosely wrapped the slithers of eel, cucumber and sweet unagi sauce. Nonetheless, it didn’t stop it from tasting really good.

Verdict:

When did I go? Aug 2016
The damage: Expect to pay £100-£125 per head with drinks.
The good: I must confess this is the closest experience I’ve had outside of Tokyo which is akin to the sushi in Tokyo. Not only that the experience is a theatrical one as you will watch in awe whilst your sushi is beautifully crafted right before your eyes. I love the husband and wife partnership too, the story itself is nice and all the ingredients are sourced locally at Billingsgate. And if the fish isn’t right Chef Toru won’t buy it or serve it.
The bad: The booking policy is like getting the yellow pages and you’d be lucky to get a seat without a long wait!
Rating: 4/5
Would I go again? Yes
Address: 12 Jerusalem Passage, London, England, EC1V 4JP, United Kingdom
Closest tube: Farringdon
Phone: 020 3217 0090
http://www.sushitetsu.co.uk

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