Sushi Tetsu is based in an unassuming nook in Clerkenwell, opened in June 2012 by Toru Takahashi. Single handedly he seems to be gaining a huge 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 you’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 using fingers, which is the proper way. Putting the whole pod in your mouth and sucking them out is a faux pas apparently.
The set-up reminded of my time in Tokyo eating sushi, where the chef expertly crafts each piece of sushi, then gracefully places it onto your plate to be eaten with your hands. There is damp cloth to cleanse your fingers, chopsticks to pick up pieces of house pickled ginger to refresh the palate for the next 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 gem dissolved on my tongue with minimal effort, I could have inhaled them in 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 melting texture. I can’t argue with that.
Seared shrimp £8.80. The sear gave a bash of 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 from the oily characteristics, but the flavour was balanced and lingered in a good way.
Snow crab £6.80 was so naturally sweet it would have you roaring with delight.
Omelette £8. I was expecting something sweet with this one, but got a surprising savoury whack with 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. Nori is daintily wraps slithers of eel, cucumber and sweet unagi sauce. It’s brilliant.
When did I go? Aug 2016
The damage: Expect to pay £100-£125 per head with drinks.
The good:I’m not afraid to say that this is the closest experience I’ve had outside of Tokyo which is like the sushi in Tokyo. Not only that, the come-hither theatrics Chef Takahashi uses to craft your sushi puts you in awe. I love the husband and wife partnership too, the story itself is nice. All the ingredients are sourced locally at Billingsgate so you won’t be punished with Tsukiji fish market prices.
The bad: The booking policy is like getting the yellow pages and you’d be lucky to get a seat without a long wait!
Would I go again? Yes
Address: 12 Jerusalem Passage, London, England, EC1V 4JP, United Kingdom
Closest tube: Farringdon
Phone: 020 3217 0090