After missing Japanese restaurant Tsuru’s sake tasting because of a cold, I was instead invited for a complimentary dinner. Accompanying me was my little brother, who makes a good dining companion because he doesn’t dine out as much as I do and therefore his judgement of what he eats is often clearer than mine. Tsuru prides itself on using ethically sourced ingredients such as line caught yellowfin tuna and free range chicken, as well as its famous eight hour curry – more on that later.
The restaurant is small in terms of actual floor space, but because of its design – floor to ceiling window, incredibly high ceiling and open kitchen – it appears much more spacious. Incidentally, the simple but beautiful wooden high tables and stools, which I couldn’t stop admiring, were designed and created by one of the three owners. You can choose to sit at the long counter against the window, facing outside, or at one of the small tables. It wasn’t a particularly busy evening, being mid-week, but I liked the laid-back atmosphere. Manager Sandy looked after us very well, although I think I would be right in saying that he would have treated us the same had we been paying customers.
There are effectively two menus, one for lunch and one for dinner. The lunch menu (you can see this online) is aimed at the nearby office workers and so offers various sushi and katsu curry bento boxes for eating in or takeaway. The dinner menu is quite simple, with a variety of ’small plates’ including the classics gyoza, agedashi tofu, chicken kara-age and nasu dengaku (aubergine with miso), sushi and sashimi platters (there is also a vegetarian option) and four types of katsu curry (chicken, pork, vegetable and scallop).
What we ordered:
free-range chicken yakitori
(£2.95) – I adore all kushiyaki (anything grilled on skewers), so had to order the yakitori. I don’t usually have chicken when I eat out, but knowing that it was free-range set my mind at rest. Three generous-sized skewers arrived, with spring onion placed in between the succulent pieces of chicken
seared scallops, tiger prawns and asparagus in garlic butter
(£5.45) – this wasn’t something I’ve seen before on a standard Japanese menu, but Sandy recommended it. Thanks to him, we were subjected to a lovely ’small plate’ made with very fresh ingredients. Again, simply prepared but delicious to eat!
(£12.95) – there is just the one sashimi platter option. The salmon and tuna were thick cut (perhaps just a tad too thick), but very fresh. I’m never keen on raw mackerel, as it’s just too fishy, but I did love the white fish, which I couldn’t identify, although I’ve had it before
premium sushi moriawase platter
– selection of nigiri and maki sushi (£12.95) – there is just one sushi platter option, apart from the vegetarian one. This was a good selection of sushi, but as we were sharing, we had to ‘make deals’ in order to divide them up as equitably as possible eg the unagi or the tuna, the tamago or the octopus etc. I particularly enjoyed the prawn and avocado maki roll
(£7.45) – by the time this arrived, we were struggling. However, Tsuru’s curry is made with sixteen ingredients and slowly cooked for eight hours (in stark contrast to the curry sauce blocks that many people turn to, which doesn’t take long at all to cook), so cried out to be sampled. The
, which I’ve made many times at home over the years, was nicely deep fried. I couldn’t make my mind up about the curry though. It was well flavoured, I thought, but a little runnier than expected. Perhaps I’m just used to a thicker, more substantial and hearty texture. At any rate, we still managed to eat more than two thirds of it!
Overall, we had a most enjoyable dinner at Tsuru, although we ate far too much as usual – a couple of small plates and either sushi/sashimi or curry would have sufficed under ‘normal’ eating conditions. I also liked the fact that despite a small dinner menu, there were enough options for vegetarians (good news for the husband). I only hope that when they open their next branch, it will be closer to my office in Soho, as I’d like to eat at Tsuru more regularly…
10 – Perfection, 9.5 – Sensational, 9 – Outstanding, 8.5 – Superb, 8 – Excellent, 7.5 – Very Good, 7 – Good, 6.5 – Above Average, 6 – Average
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