Sushi Tetsu, Clerkenwell
I have had a few busy months since I started my supper club, and I have really enjoyed seeing my well-fed guests go home with big smiles on their faces! On one hand I am glad it is going well, but I also feel a bit sad that I stopped blogging. I still eat out a lot and take lots of photos, but with so much going on, it is hard to wind down and find the time to write a post. I think I have reached a critical point, where if I do not write a post this week I will fall deep into depression and hate myself. Also my little brother has just returned to Hong Kong for good, so I am feeling a lot more emotional than normal, and need a channel to express myself. So here I am, my first post after so so so long, if you are reading, THANK YOU!
I took my brother to Sushi Tetsu for his farewell dinner. Let me explain why I took him to a Japanese restaurant even though he is heading to the Far East. Choosing a Japanese restaurant in Hong Kong is a bit like choosing a Chinese restaurant in London. There are so many of them – you can go to China town for a quick and basic meal, or Hakkasan and Yauatcha for special occasions, but you really have to know where to go when it comes to finding a particular dish you want to eat. For instance, did you know that the best twice-cooked pork dish can be found in Camberwell? For a traditional sushi restaurant, I would say the quality of the fish is responsible for 80% of the taste, and the rest depends on the skill of the chef. So even though the quality of the fish in Hong Kong is generally higher than in London, the skill can sometimes be lacking. I have yet to find a sushi restaurant that is comparable to Sushi Tetsu outside of Japan.
Tetsu offers a very unique experience. To quote my husband after our first visit, 'it is like eating in somebody's home, isn’t it?' Yes, exactly that. Tetsu is run by ex-Nobu chef Toru Takahashi and his wife Harumi. There are only seven seats at the counter, and two small tables next to the entrance serving as a waiting area. There was a bowl of edamame to nibble while Harumi san carefully explained the menu. We went for the omakase (chef’s choice) with a budget of around £70 per head. You can ask for sushi only, or a mixture of sashimi and sushi.
Toru san started the meal off with milder flavour fish – sea bream and turbot. There was no need to add soy sauce or wasabi (unless he asked us to) as he had already done it for us.
Sea bream タイ, Turbot カレイ
Engawa エンガワ is my favourite cut of fish, it is the thin muscle next to the fin of a halibut or turbot, which has a texture between squid and fatty tuna, with a rich flavour. The guests sitting next to us were further down their omakase menu, which meant they had already had a couple of blow torched (Aburi 炙り) nigiri. The wonderful smell of the bubbling fish oil filled the room in no time, I inhaled as much as I could, almost feeling a little guilty for stealing other guests’ food.
Tuna 中トロ, Razor Clam 炙りテマ貝
Sardine イワシ, Cooked Prawn 蒸しエビ
Next up was a tuna and pickled radish hand roll. The chef made this temaki using the same cut as the tuna nigiri he had made for us earlier. He first gently minced the fish using a spoon (showing just how tender the cut was) and then chopped it. The soft tuna together with the mildly sweet radish worked perfectly, possibly the best temaki I had ever had.
The final item was the egg. I heard that Toru san spends around two hours every day fter service to make this. These little cubes of eggy cake are light and spongy, slightly sweet, but with a hint of savoury thanks to the addition of prawns.
Sushi Tetsu is certainly not a place I can afford to go regularly, but it really is worth every penny. There were no short cuts, what you get is a combination of very high quality fish, perfectly cooked sushi rice, and lots of care from the chef. If you go there, trust Toru san and tell him your budget, and then let him take care of the rest. You will not be disappointed.