103 Wardour Street, Soho
London W1F 0UQ
Tel: 020 7479 4790
Nearest Tube: Picadilly Circus
Other branches: Chelsea, South Kensington, Canary Wharf
www.itsu.co.uk (for other locations details)
Average price per head: 18 (including one beer)
Its to my shame that there’s been so little activity on Culinary Hags from my part. Poor excuses really but the contributing factors of flat hunting, packing and work have all resulted in this poor blog being ignored for a bit. No excuse really and as you can tell, Her Royal Hagness’s is going strong from Sydney, which has shamed me into action. Anyways, enough waffling and lets get on with it.
Throw a stick at any restaurant in Soho and its likely to be a Japanese one. After an afternoon of my second favourite form of exercise i.e. shopping, it was time for a little refreshment of the beverage kind before contemplating dinner choices. We were an odd party of 6 – some of us had a late lunch and some of us, despite the late lunch were quite famished. The solution – head for a Japanese restaurant with the pre-requisite conveyer belt. That way, each person could appease their own appetites as they liked. After wandering around Soho for a bit, we stumbled across Itsu and headed in.
It was our lucky our day – we were a party of 6 and Itsu has only 1 table which could have accommodated the 6 of us. We were shown to our table to this half full restaurant and quite literally, within minutes the whole restaurant was filled and buzzing. Our waitress came to take our drinks order quite promptly after we were seated and to both the Man and Prince Consort’s delight Itsu served the elusive Asahi Black beer.
Once our drinks orders had been dispensed, it was time to help ourselves to the delectable looking dishes on offer. Like most of these places, utensils were just at our finger tips and if we were lacking anything, with a press of a button, we could summon help anytime. As well as the many plates of food being conveyed around the restaurant, there was also a small ala carte menu for those who specifically want something that can’t be found. For our party, firstly 3 serves of sashimi were ordered to whet our appetites.
The generous pieces of bright orange salmon were welcomed with open arms and devoured in a blink of an eye. Fresh and tasty, it took the edge off the hunger pangs but it was definitely not enough. Having this first just whetted the appetites for more and it was a good thing that all the other food was at our fingertips. After that, no holds were barred as our table was filled with plates of sushi, sashimi and other offerings quicker than a blink of an eye. Maki rolls, salmon rolls, California rolls - all the typical offerings – we gobbled it up. Who said that we weren’t hungry?
To give Itsu credit, as well as the typical sushi fare it had also had some unique offerings. Crystal rolls (vietnamese rice paper used instead of rice) filled with duck, spicy tuna and crab, steamed spinach rolls served with an interesting sauce and a poppy seed encrusted salmon maki roll which was barely sealed on the outside on a bed of interesting leaves just to name a few.
Also something different was a dish of raw salmon marinated in a dressing of sesame oil and some soy – delicious.
Also something a little different was the lightly seared tuna with chives on a bed of mixed leaves. The seared outside takes a bit of the edge off the “raw” taste yet was still fresh enough for the hardcore sashimi fans.
At the end of the night, the damage was around 20 per person, including a beer each. Its not too bad value – a little more expensive than say Kulu Kulu or Yo! Sushi. But if you want to head somewhere where you can grab a quick bite with not too many surprises on its menu, head to Itsu. It’s standard Japanese fast food but at least you know what you’re getting.