M and I are HUGE fans of Japanese food. Pretty much anything (stress, hunger, gluttony) sets off the craving for sushi, and when that happens in London, which is ridiculously often, we head to our favourite place, Sushi-Say. We love Sushi-Say for all sorts of reasons. The owners and serving staff know us well so we always feel at home at the restaurant. Where parking is such a hot and expensive commodity in London, we never had problems finding free parking when we dine at Sushi-Say (we only had dinners). Most of all, the husband-and-wife team take pride in serving fresh, quality fish to diners, and the hot food items are fantastic as well, especially since they are whipped up by a Japanese kitchen. All this at a more affordable price, as compared to restaurants located in Zones 1-2 in London. We’ve tried a couple of Japanese restaurants in London, and even though our list isn’t exhaustive, I would say that Sushi-Say is one of the best and most consistent eating places we’ve been to, anywhere.
So I’m going to yak about the items that two of us usually order when we’re at Sushi-Say. We never get bored of them, and always always always leave the restuarant impressed, satisfied and happy.
Kaki Su, or fresh rock oysters with ponzu sauce is one of the appetisers that we love. They aren’t always available, but when they are, oh gosh, the oysters are to-die-for. This photo was taken months ago (yes I’m on a serious backlog!), but yesterday we were at Sushi-Say again, and I really regretted not bringing my camera with me. The oysters were the freshest, largest and fattest ones I’ve ever eaten. The dimensions of each oyster corresponded to the lengths of my index finger and thumb, and they were really, really fat, plump and juicy. We were really lucky yesterday, usually the oysters are half the size, but still as fresh and really worth having.
We also love the geso tempura, which are squid tentacles fried in a batter. These are gorgeous! The squid isn’t rubbery, it’s good-chewy and soft and the batter is very thin and crispy. This is a crowd-pleaser, our friends love it too!
I adore the yakitori here, good chunks of tender chicken skewered on a stick that aren’t disguised by unnecessary amounts of fat. No-frills, honest, my type of comfort food.
The grilled chicken wings are also a hit with our friends, not so much with me as it tends to be too salty, but the generous amount of salt is the reason why the wings are grilled to crispy perfection. M and I always request for less salt when we order this.
We often arrive at Sushi-Say with empty stomachs, huge appetites and a mentality to spend. So we usually go for omakase sushi and sashimi and the owner (he’s the only sushi chef helming the sushi bar) is always very generous with us. The omakase sashimi you see here is a platter for two, filled with the finest cuts and freshest stock they have. There’s always otoro and hamachi on our plate, which are very good (my favourite, of course, is the otoro), and the rest varies, depending on what they have in the kitchen. It could be uni, salmon belly, razor clam, hotate, and many times we have been treated to a mind-blowing array of fresh shellfish that I don’t even know exists! It’s the same with sushi. Sushi-Say is very generous with the amount of fish given the price that we pay, we tend to get half to two-thirds the portions here, of inferior quality for the same amount of money spent in other Japanese restaurants. The fish at Sushi-Say leaves you wanting for more.
We usually finish off our meal with the delectable range of home-made ice cream at Sushi-Say. My favourites are matcha and sesame, no surprise there. I love the other flavours too, such as ginger and wasabi to name a few. They are incredibly creamy, velvety and smooth and you must have them even if you’re bursting at the seams.
On one occasion, the kitchen was experimenting with new flavours, and gave us complimentary scoops of Calpico-flavoured ice cream to try. Calpico is a Japanese yogurt beverage, much like Yakult, and it was delish! I wish they would feature it on the menu soon, but it hasn’t happened yet.
We have tried other items on the menu, and they are fab as well. I can’t remember the name of this dish but it features chicken oysters and those are really really good, a little expensive for the smallish serving but it’s the chicken oyster we’re talking about, so of course we have to pay more for tender, flavoursome pieces of heaven. The tempura udon here is also a good bet if you’re not in the mood for sushi, the soup’s packed full of flavour and you know that it’s been brewed with goodies in it. We have also been very lucky to be on the receiving end of some complimentary seasonal items, such as shellfish and asparagus tempura. Both were seriously good stuff, I never knew asparagus could be so fat, sweet and juicy!
They have a good sake list here too, so if you’re appreciate sake, ask for recommendations and go for it, but be prepared to splurge.
We usually spend at least £40 per person on a meal of epic proportions here, we’re very huge eaters here so please don’t gawk at the price. I would say people with normal appetites can get away with a high quality, unpretentious and filling meal for £25-£30. I can’t say the same for other places in Zones 1-2 where we usually spend £40 per pax on good meals and still feel unsatisfied, or £30 per person on eeeeky meals and feel regrettably bad-full.
The service here is impeccable, polite, unintrusive and warm. The food is of amazing quality at a reasonable price. What I’m trying to tell you here is you need to make reservations, especially on weekends, because it’s almost impossible to get a table. I’ve seen people getting turned away, and you don’t really want to travel all the way to Willesden and not get your fix of good Japanese! Business has been exceedingly good here, so much so that Sushi-Say is closed for two days a week (Monday and Tuesday I think, can’t remember so it’s best to call and check!).
This is actually our favourite place to dine at in London, and I reckon this will be the one of the things that we will miss most about UK when we move in a few years’ time. I didn’t really want to blog about this because this is one of the best-kept dining secrets, but argh, The Pleasure Monger thinks that the best-kept secrets should always be shared!
P/S: The omakase sets we had were tailor-made, in that we asked the chef if he could prepare a selection based on a price we’re willing to pay. This is different from the omakase on the menu.
Sushi-Say is located at:
33B Walm Lane, NW2 5SH
(Nearest tube: Willesden Green)