Legend has it that the Atariya group supplies some of the best restaurants in London, and even across Europe, with fresh seafood - our curiosity took us to one of their little known sushi takeaway shops just across Bond Street Station, where they’ve sandwiched themselves between a Nando’s and an Osteria Ambrosia. The place is small, little more than a wider corridor, with some tables and chairs squeezed in along the edges of the room. Tiled grey floors, light beige walls and the occasional glimpse of a staff member in an almost surgical attire working in the storage room behind the counter; it’s as though we’ve walked into one of their wholesale stores. Yet instead of an array of seafood on display at the entrance, we’re greeted by a long counter of beautiful, mouth-watering slabs of fresh fish, a grand sight for any sashimi lover.
Sporting a menu that offers a long list of reasonably priced sushi, rolls, and other bites, the rice bowl items are what’s really of value here. With options like Negitoro-Don (Chopped Tuna with rice) or Una-Don (Grilled Eel with rice), most were within a price range of
£15, although the prices seem to fluctuate. We chose to go with the Una-Don, Salmon Oyako-Don, and the pricier but tremendously value-for-money Super De Luxe Chiraishi Don.
I mean seriously, just look at that.
£20 price tag, its still of amazing value for the variety that you get. This bowl here has yellowtail, tuna, salmon, mackerel, scallops, ikura (Salmon Roe), tobiko (Flying Fish Roe), crab sticks, boiled and fresh prawns, tamago (Egg), pickles… In addition to these, there’s a small amount of Uni (Sea Urchin) and proper crab meat, which are both somewhat uncommon to see in a Chiraishi don. Unfortunately this glorious bowl didn’t belong to me, so I can’t attest to the freshness of most of the seafood here; I did, however, have a small taste of the uni just to test its freshness, and it certainly wasn’t straight from the sea, but was fresh enough for it to not be unpleasant. (Just barely, though) The tuna was better than average as well.
Despite it’s humble appearance next to the Super De Luxe Chirashi Don, the Salmon Oyako Don is also really worth its price of
£10.75. A satisfying 10-11 pieces of melt-in-your-mouth (really) salmon, and flavorful Ikura, a good choice for anyone who’s perhaps new to sashimi or just needs a quick fix for their cravings. I should note here that the although the ala carte sashimi slices of Salmon were
£1 a slice, they were somewhat larger than those used in the don.
It’s been said that many Japanese sushi chefs despise salmon, and true enough, many restaurants in Japan don’t serve this fish that’s widely popular in the rest of the world. Not an ingredient that’s traditionally used for sashimi, salmon was introduced to the Japanese to be consumed raw by Norwegian trade delegates looking to promote their seafood market to Japan in the 1980s. Having spoken to a couple of sushi chefs, there seems to be a consensus that the quality of salmon has a much lower cap than that of tuna and other fish; however, at this price point, who cares? Order that salmon, I say, and enjoy something that’s familiar, quality, and likely to be more savory than low-grade tuna.
I’m going to be coming back here - a lot. It’s probably a better alternative to other popular Japanese cuisine destinations like EatTokyo, with higher quality product, and no ridiculous wait to get in; when we arrived at 6 pm on a weekday, the store was completely empty, with customers trickling in throughout the hour, and most only getting takeaway sets. It’s not the kind of place where you hang around and have long chats though, especially if it does start to get crowded. Fresh wasabi was perhaps too much to hope for, but I’ll forgive them for delivering on that Salmon-Oyako Don, the thought of which is really making me hungry as I’m writing this.
Haggis with neeps and tatties, Fresh potato pancake with Scottish smoked salmon, and Seared sea scallop with spinach-cheddar gratin and crispy bacon from the Scotland Booth available during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
Stories of Sapporo: A Japanese set lunch featuring Sushi, Uni, Scallop and Salmon Roe on rice and MIso Crab soup photographed by my friend Daniel Lo
Whilst I’m in Singapore for a month, my best friend Daniel of danlophotography will be in Japan and will join me as a contributor to this food blog with the wonderful adventures from the health food paradise that is Sapporo. Be sure to follow his blog for landscape photography, and drool over his food here at redefiningfood.