So Japanese (3-4 Warwick Street, London)
Wriggling by the Secret food and travel reviewer.
If you happen to peer through the window of this slick looking restaurant just off Piccadilly recently and spotted me perched at the counter, you may be mistaken for thinking I was attempting to impersonate a snake charmers python by the amount of wriggling and swaying I was doing. She, the big boss, the supervisor, was in situ at the Sanctuary in Covent Garden and the phone in my trouser pocket had just started vibrating again just as the rather pretty waitress placed an ice cold Ashai beer in front of me. I wriggled some more and managed to retrieve it just in time to hit receive. “Hello darling it’s me” Never a good sign if CEO uses that as her opening line. “I’ve just finished a muscle melt massage and the girls and I feel like we need a strong cocktail so we are off to Mahiki Bar” Clearly, my assumption that the “Sanctuary” was some kind of rehab clinic for shop alcoholics was badly wrong. The reality of this brings on more wriggling and the now worried waitress must have taken this as a sign that I could do with another beer and places one in front of me cautiously. That’s what I call attentive service.
This is my first visit to So Japanese although I have passed it many times on the way to another favourite of mine in Brewer Street. The menu proudly announces “So is contemporary Japanese with hints of European cuisine. We serve fresh & natural produce with feature dishes cooked over volcanic rocks from Mt Fuji” On reading this, I’m slightly confused, concerned, but excited all in one!
I am met by a warm welcome as are all the customers that soon appear during this busy lunchtime. I like restaurants that cater for sole diners and have a counter to sit at rather than stick you in a corner next to the hand stand. I am positioned with a clear view of the super fresh looking fish.
I can tell immediately that I am going to like this place. The service is very efficient and polite. The owner glides gracefully around letting you know he is there if you need him. A Japanese lady appears at the door with her small child and they also take position at the counter. This makes for a nice relaxed restaurant and I am all for restaurants that make everyone feel welcome and equally as important, regardless of age or children in tow. There’s no snobbery here.
The test for me is the Miso soup and mine comes piping hot with some small chunks of tofu, sliced spring onion and seaweed,. It’s very nice, but lacking slightly in depth of flavour and could do with a bit more punch. The Sushi however is excellent and the fish portions in comparison to rice parcels are very generous and occasionally difficult to pick up with my chop sticks, there so big. A salmon hand roll is expertly prepared and the crispy seaweed outer nicely warm as it should be. Their current special is a apparently famous Mackerel timber roll. They are also well known for their Foie Gras here, which certainly backs up their statement about hints of European! My green tea came at a cost of £1.50 which I thought was slightly mean as many Japanese restaurants usually offer this free. Overall an excellent meal in a nice restaurant and I would return without hesitation.
Just as I am dabbing the last drop of soya sauce from the corner of my mouth, my phone rang. “Hi darling – it’s me. It’s okay, we are staying at the Sanctuary as we have found out they do a wonderful treatment called a Champagne day spa, so it’s okay!” Thank God for that I mutter. I can do no more than order a snake bite.