Category: Brasserie (£££)
Sushi Tetsu is an intimate, miniature sushi bar just down the alleyway from The Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell. It was opened by the ex-Nobu chef Toru Takahashi in June, 2012; I would have eaten there far earlier, if it hadn’t been for my pregnancy and the unanimous medical recommendations to avoid all raw fish while incubating a little human. It was a difficult 9 months without sushi — I remember salivating over instagram pictures and blog posts of beautifully crafted nigiri or perfectly fresh sashimi and I honestly couldn’t wait to dive in myself.
Once the baby was born and well-established, I procured a babysitter and, thanks to a good friend who could obtain a reservation (more on that problem below), and off I finally went to Sushi Tetsu. Much has been said and written about Sushi Tetsu and I very much agree with the blogosphere verdict that the sushi there may just be the best sushi in London. Now comes the downside and it’s a big one: Sushi Tetsu is, in the tradition of authentic Japanese sushi bars, tiny. Seven bar seats are arranged around a sushi counter made of shiny cedar wood and these seats are booked out months in advance. It’s not only that 7 seats are not very much, there is also almost no turnover as the best thing to order are the Omakase (the chef’s choice) meals which means feasting for up to 3 hours.
I admire a chef who decides against commercialisation and easy money and as a consequence keeps his little sushi bar authentic and atmospheric with food of outstanding quality, showing minute attention to detail. Which is all good if you manage to get a seat and not so good if you are forced to admire Sushi Tetsu from the distance of twitter, instagram and reviews like this one….
Our Omakase (£70 per person although we paid a small supplement for the addition of an Unagi to our menu) lasted for about 2.5 hours and was worth every last pence. There are also omakase option for £50 and £90 available. I have eaten fancier sushi but I don’t recall encountering sushi of such outstanding quality anywhere outside of Japan. In fact I’m not even sure I had such good sushi in Japan to be honest. The fish is the star and it truly IS the star. One exceptional dish followed another.
I will let the pictures speak for themselves:
It wasn’t only the food that I enjoyed. The experience was both zen-like and meditation-stimulating. We enjoyed watching the chef calmly preparing dish after dish (often wielding a blow torch most expertly) in front of our very eyes. The chef’s beautiful wife was incredibly attentive and pleasant serving our drinks. I wish service would always be like this! On the drinks – Sushi Tetsu offers a nice selection of quality sake. We tried the medium and drier versions, and they were superb (and served in a champagne flute). As my friend kindly paid for the drinks, I have no idea if they are pricey or not, but I certainly recommend the dry, chilled version in particular.
A tip on reservations: Sushi Tetsu takes reservations for 60 days forward on the first of every month. Be assiduous, as the reservation list fills up in the first two days of each month. You can call or email, but the reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis, with priority given to phone calls. So good luck!
Be aware though, that Sushi Tetsu will spoil you for life: after having eaten sushi like this you may find it tough to go back to “normal”, cheap sushi. I kind of used to like cheap sushi….But no more.
- Food: 10/10
- Service: 10/10
- Ambiance: 7/10
- Value for Money: 8/10
- Chances of Returning: 100% (if they let me….And I get a reservation)
- Verdict: amazing sushi
More Sushi Tetsu on Rocket and Squash, The Skinny Bib, Andy Hayler and London Tastin‘.