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Now that word has got out, it’s not so easy to bag a table at this dinky sushi joint, so phone ahead. Why the popularity? It’s Atari-ya’s flipping fresh fish – the quality soars above what you’ll
find at chain sushi joints, but not the prices. Glossy slivers of tuna, salmon, yellowtail and mackerel are neatly lined up on wooden boards with mounds of wasabi and pickled ginger. Sushi
aside, there’s much else to please: deep-fried halibut is like a fishy version of agedashi tofu in a soft, fragrant broth; chicken yakitori come as tasty little skewers; and the tempura has all
the requisite crispness without any grease. Drink draught Asahi or warm saké and be sure to bring cash: you’ll want to reward the obliging staff, but tips aren’t accepted on credit cards.
One Sunday, after a long week at work, my sister and I decided to treat ourselves to a Thai massage. Since the massage parlour was close to Atari-ya in Swiss Cottage, my sister suggested we go there for lunch. She had been a few times before and always raved about it, so I was looking forward to trying it myself. It was pretty busy and since it was just the two of us, we were happy to sit by the counter and watch the sushi masters work their magic. We decided to order the mini soba noodle and eel sushi bowl and assorted sashimi from the special lunch menu which came with salad, a marinated salmon appetizer and dessert....
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When my desperation for Japanese food gets the better of me (which is often) I seem to repeatedly find myself fleeing to the Bond Street Atari-Ya branch. I think it serves one of the best sashimi/sushi for its price/quality ratios in London. Having partook of their raw selection multiple times, I was always curious to see how their cooked food fared. However, such an undertaking required an audacious trip to the provinces (Swiss Cottage).We were the first ones in the restaurant at 6pm but by the time we left, it was packed to the rafters.
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