292 Upper Richmond Road, Putney, SW15 6TH
Telephone: 020 8788 9626
Cho San is one of those restaurants in which you can trust in its quality as it’s frequented by Japanese clientele. Once you’re inside, you are at once struck by its friendliness, quaintness and charm. It is only a small restaurant and can only accommodate maybe 26 people at one time. It is very tastefully decorated with sake bottles and other Japanese artefacts to create an area of warmess and authenticity. A CD playing popular Japanese pop softly wafts through the small space. Stretch your imagination a little further – you could be in Tokyo. The centre of attention is a small bar where people can sit and eat watching the sushi chef performing his art. The sushi chef, is always the same – a Japanese man. This may seem like a moot point to some people, but the number of times I have been to a sushi place only to have a white or Indian sushi chef nattering away in their own tongue…well it’s off-putting to me. I’m not being racist. I just find that when I’m paying a lot of money for supposedly authentic food, I want the characters to act their part.
We decided to go the whole hog and ordered for starters the chef’s compilation of sashimi delights for £20. It came in a small wooden boat and consisted of raw salmon, tuna, scallops, mackerel, swordfish, yellowtail fish and shellfish. We were practically salivating at the thought of it, so when it came we wasted no time in demolishing it. Only remembering at the last few pieces, that we had forgotten to take an all important photo. Never mind. We will order it another time. Each bite was bursting full of flavour and freshness. There was none of that ‘how thinly can we slice this fish’ crap you get at other sushi bars. The portions were generous and I could actually taste what cooks often refer to the “fattiness” of the fish. Divine.
My partner ordered the beef sukiyaki and when it came on the gas burner it was very impressive. It comes with a bowel of rice even though there are glass noodles in the soup. The beef was finger-licking tender and with flavour in abundance to boot. I have to warn you though….it is very filling. It may be an idea to share a portion with another.
I ordered eel with rice (miso soup was free).This very traditional dish is bound to be found on most Japanese menus. I couldn’t fault this dish. Very generous in their portions of eel and rice. I have had this dish in many restaurants around the world and to be honest, there is not much between them.
All in all the dinner cost £63 for two which included 2 Sapporo beers. A bit pricey for my liking, but if you’re looking for an authentic Japanese meal with guaranteed quality and great service then Cho San is the place to be.
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CHO SAN - REVISTED
I’m not one for remembering dates. But after nine years of remembering when my hubby and myself first started ‘dating’, you’d think I would remember this year. But apparently marriage does this to people. It deceptively infiltrates peoples minds and wipes out certain sections like a virus. Imagine my shock and horror on only realizing it halfway through the day when hubby texts me.
So that’s how we ended up at Cho San again. Yup we were there exactly one year ago as it is quite dear and we only save it for really special occasions. Sad I know.
It was like de ja vu. We were seated at the same table, in the same positions. Fish tank on my right, waitress (an older lady who I think owns the restaurant) on my left, the sushi chef at eleven o’clock.
For a Wednesday they were pretty busy, but not packed. Service as usual was attentive and prompt. We decided to hit all the side dishes we had never tried before, plus the irresistible sashimi boat.
First up – beef heart. Not my choice but in the spirit of trying things new I did have a nibble. More than a nibble in fact. Chewy, tough with a gamey aftertaste. Squeeze a bit of lemon onto a piece to bring out the flavour. Great with a swig of Asahi. I have to admit that the thought of eating another animal’s myocyte (heart muscle to you) did scream from the deep recesses of my mind.
Sauted asparagus in what tasted like butter and soy sauce. Great combo.
Whelks in a watery soup with lemon. Never had whelks before. Tasted much the same as snails but much bigger and chewier.
Cold yam noodle salad with sesame seeds. Quite an unusual and refreshing dish.
Steamed clams – a little disappointing as they were a bit bland and chewy. Did an embarrassing thing. Claims were perched daintily upon white mounds. I automatically thought that these white mounds were pulped raddish. I swear they look exactly the same! I took a huge portion of it with my chopsticks. As I placed it delicately in my mouth I happened to look at the sushi chef looking at me. His eyes widened momentarily as he watched in slow motion what was unfolding. He raised his arm to warn me – but alas it was too late. I had just put a whole mound of salt into my mouth. You have been warned.
Grilled salted sea bream head – delicious, but a little expensive for a part of a fish that most people throw away. Not much meat there at all.
The sushi and sashimi boat was a little disappointing. Not as fresh and with thinner pieces of fish.
Would actually think twice about coming here again whether it would be on a special occasion or otherwise. I know other places that are much more consistent, reasonably priced and offer a wide variety – Asakusa.