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|Address:||Aldermary House, 10 Queen Street, London EC4N 1TX|
|Tel:||020 7248 1525|
|Price: £32.00||Wine: £15.00||Champagne: £38.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Fri 11am-10pm|
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Tsuru’s Bishopsgate branch sits neatly in a glistening cyber vessel. Prodding into the air, arena scaffolding connects the Star Trek ship design to other neighbourly offices, underneath which Tsuru is settled. Trying to find address: Tsuru 201 Bishopsgate, was a relentless search, eventually overcome by asking a passing fat businessman if he knew where there was a sushi restaurant nearby? He did. My chubby knight, my hefty cherub, pointed me in the right direction.
And so I found Tsuru and met with other likeminded and grumbling foodies to sample dishes from Tsuru’s new menu. After an aperitif of Quinta da Lagoalva rose that looked like Ribena and tasted like cranberry, we dived into our first plate of Aburi Saba (seared cured mackerel served with a glowing dollop of English mustard). A lovely presented plate showed the top slices of seared mackeral, crispy and pearly silver, with its pink and meaty centre underneath. The fish tasted so plump and clean that I didn’t want to ruin its freshness by mixing with mustard, so instead enjoyed the solo taste of seared mackerel before Carla jumped in to consume the remains. This was an excellent start to the evening and I frantically desired more.
Kushi Katsu followed (pork and red onion katsu) served on sticks and deep-fried to create a golden crunchy effect. Pork, mushroom and red onion lined the stick, all coated in breadcrumbs, allowing them to crisp and brown on the outside while remaining tender and moist inside. Kushi Katsu was served with luke-warm Akashi Tai honjozo sake served in an ochoko (a small, cylindrical cup). It wasn’t great; a drab straw-like taste failed to develop and remained a flat and generally lacklustre finish for sake.
Luckily there were better things to come from our third plate of dragon rolls matched with a deliciously syrupy Akashi tai daiginjo sake that had a long and soft ricey texture with a warm sweet finish. The dragon rolls were made from unagi, cucumber and avocado and placed neatly in a line. Paper-thin slices of cucumber nestled with sticky rice, holding the soft and chunky avocado slices on top with a zigzag drizzle of cream. Inside the rolls, cucumber crunched against unagi and I completed each mouthful with a dabbing of soy sauce and slice of fiery ginger. Each ingredient’s flavour was intensified by its freshness and the careful sushi constructs were executed with delicate craftsmanship precision.
Niku miso followed, served as beaten beef in red miso and accompanied by a New Zealand pinot noir with a peppery lick. The deep red painted the throat like biting into a ripe plum and the niku beef was served on top of a cube of white tofu. There was a bolognese meets con carne quality about the beef, mounted on top of the creamy, wobbly tofu. It was fine but there really wasn’t enough beef served to fully appreciate the flavour. Or perhaps there was and I’m just too much of a voracious eater, wanting more and more.
Chilli rice arrived mounted high with shichimi (seven flavour chilli pepper, including coarsely ground red chilli pepper, ground sansho, ground ginger and black sesame seed) and served with crispy chicken katsu curry and a punchy glass of La Tunella Cabernet Franc. A racy Italian wine, its vineyard takes its title from a nearby hamlet, said to be named in honour of a beautiful woman. Fighting the famed The Wine Sleuth and the greediest of diva’s Greedy Diva for the remaining dribblings, it was consumed in record time – clearly popular with the foodie and wino masses. Within seconds it had vanished, washing down the stunning chilli rice and katsu chicken, as Jeremy and Luiz stared on in disbelief. To an extent at least, as Jeremy was lapping up any resonance of sake left in each and everyone’s glass. Whether they liked it or not.
Dessert arrived with typical Asian inspired elements. Why is it that green tea always features in any Japanese or Asian dessert? Last week I had green tea tiramisu at the Michelin-starred Umu in Mayfair. There they serve such desserts as matcha green tea ice cream and even green tea cakes. The dessert at Tsuru was yuzu, green tea and seasame mochi ice cream served alongside golden-coloured dessert sake named Akashi tai umeshu, which smelt of almonds and had lifting sweet tones. The sake was too sweet for me – and anyway, I still had a few delicious drop of La Tunella remaining – so, yep! you guessed it, Jeremy was on hand to finish my Akashi tai umeshu for me. A true friend.
There was a lot of seasame casing to get through before reaching the contents of mochi ice cream and it was chewy and laborious to cut through with a small spoon. The yellow mochi ice (pounded sticky rice) on either side of the lonesome seasame, had an exciting citrus sting while remaining soft and milky.
There’s warmth and personable style to Tsuru Bishopsgate and each dish is presented supremely. Designed by Design LSM, the team behind Galvin La Chappelle, the restaurant has a 32-cover and is the second site for founders Emma Reynolds, Ken Yamada and John Zimern (the first Tsuru is on Canvey Street, Bankside). Emma was present with a sunny welcome and talked us through the dishes. Many of the dish options are priced between £4.50 and £7 and you’re guaranteed the finest and freshest of ingredients, made onsite.
There’s somewhat of a Japanese and sushi craze sweeping through at the moment with the likes of Nobu, Wagamamas, YO! Sushi, Hare and Tortoise and thousands of other assorted noodle bars popping up on nearly every highstreet or road corner. The Asian-inspired influence is outstretching itself to rival the American fast-food industry, it’s as though the chefs and talent of Chinatown are spilling over into the surrounding streets. It’s considered food. Worked into rolls, in bowls and as little parcels. Tiny constructs. Origami food. Great for finger picking on-the-go or as one-hundred tapas portions. Tsuru is all this, and is doing it very well indeed.