Yashin Sushi is tucked away in the most unlikely of places – behind the Tesco Metro on High Street Kensington. A few blog posts alerted me to its existence (it only opened last month) and its blow torched sushi and I was keen to try it out, especially with its close proximity to my workplace. Two weeks ago, I met Rahul and Marco there for lunch and we sat at the sushi bar (in addition, they have one large table upstairs and a number of smaller ones downstairs with the bar) with great views of all that was going on sushi-wise. The sushi bar on the ground floor is, of course, the place to sit as you can see the sushi chefs at work and all the blow torch action in the middle. A neon sign above the chefs announces that the sushi comes Without Soy Sauce; it and wasabi are already added to the sushi by the chefs.
From the lunch menu, we all opted for the £30 Omakase Eight: eight pieces of nigiri and the roll of the day. Of all the lunch sets available, this one sat somewhere in the middle of the price range. First, a large teacup of miso soup with mushrooms started us off nicely, taking the chill out of our bones.
A salad with what I think was an onion dressing and garlic chips followed and that was quite delicious with plenty of dressing and chips to keep one entertained (how entertaining are plain leaves otherwise?).
The roll of the day turned out to be gorgonzola marinated tuna rolls. I’m sorry, but what?! The name alone had us silent in shock; my Italian friend raised a skeptical looking eyebrow. I watched as he put one roll in his mouth and began to chew very very slowly. He smiled! With that encouragement, I stuffed one of the massive maki rolls in my mouth too – the gorgonzola wasn’t overwhelming but it was certainly there, giving a bit of funkiness to the tuna mixture.
Onto the nigiri! Counterclockwise from the top right (because that’s the way it was all introduced to us!): yellowtail with sliced jalapeño, prawn with foie gras, sea bream with rice cracker, tuna, sea bass, fatty tuna, razor clam, and salmon with ponzu (?) jelly. Now, I don’t profess to be a sushi expert but it’s very clear that the fish and seafood are all of excellent quality and freshness so I won’t dwell on that; instead, I was surprised by the different and very unique toppings they chose to pair with them. The prawn and foie gras was quite the stunner; the slivers of blowtorched fatty liver just perfumed your mouth when you ate it. The razor clam (no topping) was another that truly surprised me, being extremely tender and flavourful. Surprisingly, my favourite may have been the yellowtail with the jalapeño, the chili a wonderful fruity complement to the fish. The only slight dud was the salmon with the tart jelly; the amount of jelly on top overpowered the fish and next time, I’d knock off about half of the topping. I do have to say that I’m not fond of their huge wedges of pickled ginger; the fibres got all caught in my teeth when I bit into them.
I returned with Blai a week later for lunch again. This time, it was his turn to try the Omakase Eight, which that day contained a few different pieces of nigiri to what we had the previous week. (The roll of the day was again the gorgonzola one – I suppose there’s a rota for the week.) He loved it all.
I wanted to try one of the more budget sets and so went with the Salmon set (£12.50) – five pieces of salmon nigiri (two were blow torched), all with a different topping (also served with the miso soup and the salad). As the restaurant was quite empty that day, we got our plates of sushi very quickly and so the blow torched pieces were still warm: they are wonderful when served immediately! (Previously, there was quite a wait as the chefs assembled a number of plates at a time and any textural difference due to the blowtorching was lost.) The nigiri were all excellent with my favourite toppings being the jalapeño and the garlicky ones.
The roll accompanying my set was a spicy salmon inside-out roll which was perfectly pleasant even if it wasn’t spicy in the least.
As I thought it wouldn’t be enough food, I ordered a Soft shell crab roll (£5.90) from the dinner menu (also available at lunch time though these orders may take longer). Of course, it turned out that the salmon set is perfectly enough for lunch and this just took us over the top to belly discomfort. However, I cannot resist soft shell crab rolls and this one was pretty good – lots of the deep fried crab and flying fish roe, just the way I like it.
Despite feeling ridiculously full, Blai immediately perked up when he saw the dessert menu – only four different ice creams or sorbets were listed. There’s always room for ice cream! We shared the Shiso leaf sorbet (£4.90), which came with a small cupful of fruit salad. It’s certainly not a conventional flavour but the citrusy-herbalness of the sorbet was delicious and I loved its almost chewy texture.
This is definitely going to be my place to visit for lunch on a weekday when I feel like I need a treat! Not an everyday lunch for sure (I’d be broke!) but for the occasional treat, it’s just perfect. The dinner menu is longer and features a few small dishes (but the main thing is the sushi here) and as I mentioned before, is available at lunch time; they have a homemade tofu dish that I hope to try next time. Yashin may not be a traditional sushi joint but I like it!
1A Argyll Road
(off High Street Kensington, behind the Tesco Metro)
London W8 7DB