Where the wine illuminati go for sushi

[image image_id=”10″ align=”left” title=”Sakana Tei”] When I meet my friends the conversation invariably turns to the subject of wine. Consequently it is a great compliment to Sakana Tei, an unassuming little Japanese restaurant just off Regent Street, that even when dining with Paul Day, the grand wizard of arcane wine knowledge, we largely discussed the food.

I had visited Sakana Tei before and found the experience to be distinctly ordinary. Paul demonstrated my mistake: I should have sat at the sushi bar.

We started off with some form of pickled vegetable affair that was totally unidentifiable – I was never that sort of biologist. Despite its mysterious nature it was quite delicious, a good palate cleanser to start with.

[image image_id=”11″ align=”right” title=”Sashimi from Sakana Tei”] The following dish was also a new one on me, toro that had been minced up and served much as steak tartare is. The minced fish was good, even thought the texture was a little mushy. After that it was time for top sashimi action. Every piece of fish, even the horse mackerel which normally colours me unimpressed, was quite brilliant. They were served at the correct temperature and the textures, especially that of the toro, were completely compelling. The fish was served with some fresh wasabi, much more powerful than the normal powder mix, which quite blew my head off and made me feel alive. Yeah, quality noshing for the boys!

[image image_id=”12″ align=”left” title=”Poached chicken with Japanese radish in a brilliant broth”] With the next course I was surprised, nay mortified, to find myself enjoying a vegetable which I had previously thought was only eaten by the gustatory-challenged diner. Giant radish (mooli) served in a brilliant broth with some of the most incredibly flavoursome poached chicken I think I will ever eat. Everything about this dish worked perfectly and was extremely satisfying; from the mooli to the chicken skin it was all about pleasure.

[image image_id=”13″ align=”right” title=”Sakana Tei Sushi”]We finished the meal with a few pieces of sushi. Stellar, beguiling sushi of extreme delight. It would be easy to say the toro was best, but the squid and the scallop warped my mind with their mesmeric texture and rich, mouth-coating flavour. Without a doubt quite wonderful sushi, streets ahead of anything else I’ve had outside of New York. Food porn, yeah.

The owner generously poured us some plum wine as we prepared to face the horrors of travelling on the Tube in summer. I haven’t had plum wine since I made it myself at age 13 to sell at school; Sakana Tei’s offering was much better than my attempt.

Sakana Tei is very popular with Japanese in London, and so can be slightly intimidating if you don’t know the form. Moreover, dining at a sushi bar with personal attention from the chef and fish of intense quality is never going to be cheap, but the experience is worth every penny. The thrill of chewing a butter-soft piece of raw fish and feel its decadence slather your palate is difficult to beat. Sakana Tei deliver the fishy goods in fine style and I would not hesitate to go back there.

Contact details: Sakana Tei, 11 Maddox Street, W1S 2QF Telephone: 020 7629 3000

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