There are plenty of places in London claiming to serve good sushi, but few of them have as great a claim as Temaki. The new opening in Brixton market - supposedly the first and only handroll bar in the capital - blends a casual dining atmosphere with high quality ingredients and an innovative menu that is well worth travelling across town for.
The menu is not extensive but provides enough variety to ensure you’ll want to come back again and again. It’s in two parts - the temaki and a selection of small plates. For the unfamiliar, temaki are handrolls made of a seaweed cone filled with rice and fish. But to reduce it to its composite parts is to do it a disservice when you have chef Shaulan Steenson in charge.
Steenson, who trained in Japan, starts building the temaki with his golden Uruchimai rice, brushed with umami flavours, and topped with everything from BBQ eels (utterly delicious) to prawn tempura. We had the crab with egg yolk and white soy, miso aubergine with sesame, and otoro tuna (a fattier and tastier cut than the akami). Each more mouthwatering than the last, we couldn’t resist ordering a second round.
We supplemented our temaki with a selection of small plates: the miso soup (flavoursome broth with a kick), the salmon tataki with pickled onions, the monkfish kara age with spicy mayo, and the two daily specials - the tuna and tempura vegetables. Every one of the dishes at Temaki centres phenomenal ingredients, which are cleverly prepared.
The pared-back wood and concrete interiors have a slight Scandi vibe, and sitting at the communal counter, diners are invited to not only enjoy the theatre of their meal being prepared in front of you, but to engage with the highly knowledgeable staff and the raw produce. But this is no Yo! Sushi conveyor belt, Temaki is sophisticated and elegant while feeling relaxed.
Finishing with a surprise off-menu dessert from a bakery elsewhere in the market summed up our time at Temaki: staff going above and beyond, even when faced with some tech-related teething problems, to ensure guests are fed and watered (the sakura yuzu negroni cocktail is a must order) and are planning a return trip before they’ve finished their food.