I first tried sushi about 10 years ago. I was working in a small group up in Edinburgh and we gave Yo Sushi a go. We loved it, well most of us did. One girl refused to eat any raw fish because of ‘the parasites’ but as she ate with unsnapped chopsticks (still attached at the end) I didn’t really take much notice of her.
A couple of years later, thanks to Wasabisabi, sushi came to Sheffield. On our first visit Gavin and I were incredibly naive. Back then I think I was still smearing wasabi directly onto my sushi and using the pickled ginger as a garnish. Thankfully we were sat near an expert and, on watching her, we learnt how to eat sushi properly. So, we poured our soy into the little dish, added some wasabi (HOT horseradish) and mixed it in to make a dipping sauce. Hallelujah, sushi began to make sense! We later learned that the ginger was to be used between different types of sushi; to cleanse the pallet. I can’t stand the stuff though so I never use it.
Since then we have been to Wasabisabi many times. Sheffield now boasts three further sushi restaurants (if you can count Yo Sushi’s conveyor belt in Meadowhall as a restaurant), but Wasabisabi is, in my opinion, still the best. They have a lot of variety on their menu and they have a Teppanyaki restaurant too. It’s also a bit smarter than the rest and apt for a celebration.
We had a drink at Platillos first. Gav had a white Russian which, thanks to the Big Labowski, men can now drink in public. I had a dry gin Martini, dirty, made with Beefeater 24, currently my favourite gin. A good start to the evening.
Drinks drunk, olive stone spat out, we get a cab to the restaurant. It was pretty quiet when we got there, although a few more did come in as we ate. The decor is Japanese influenced, with little water features, fake orchids dotted around and fabric at the windows. The staff are also dressed appropriately. We sat at the high tables and ordered some Prosecco (which is lovely for the £19.50 price tag). The waitress struggled with the cork so Gav had the pleasure (it’s his favourite job) and he was delighted as he opened it almost silently. Apparently fizz should ‘sigh’ on opening. Nothing more.
We agreed with the waitress that we would order in bits as we went along, rather than having a set number of courses. This would probably annoy some waitresses as taking orders in 4/5 parts must be quite a bit of work, but our waitress was happy to assist. In fact, our waitress was very good. Attentive, but not in our faces, and perfectly pleasant.
To start we ordered some sushi and sashimi. Over the years, I have worked out that the one form of sashimi that I really adore is salmon, so we had some of that. Sashimi is essentially raw slices of fish; it isn’t seared, it isn’t cured and it has no marinade. We also went for Unagi Nigri (grilled sea-eel) and Ikura Nigri (salmon roe). Nigri is a rectangle of sushi rice with a strip of fish (or whatever ingredient used) draped across the top. We also got some edamame too, which are soya beans. They are boiled and served sprinkled with salt. Don’t make the mistake I made when first eating these and eat the whole bean, casing and all. You just need to pop the bean out of the case and eat that. They’re great with drinks. As good as peanuts, but healthier.
The sashimi was as good as ever. Lovely thick slices of fresh salmon with strips of fat running through. It’s so fresh and creamy. There was also ample wasabi and ginger served. The unagi, eel, was grilled with, we suspect, some miso flavouring. The fish is perfectly cooked and tasty. I love ikura, salmon roe. I love to pop the eggs between my teeth allowing the slightly jellied juices to splash out onto my tongue. It’s probably more of a texture thing than a flavour thing for me; in fact they’re not all that flavoursome really. The edamame was served warm and had a good level of seasoning.
Next up we had some gyoza, which are little dumplings stuffed with a variety of fillings. We went for the veggie ones. I think I prefer seafood gyoza as they have more flavour, but these are fine. Fried, but not greasy and packed with strips of veg which is still crunchy. Our next dish is probably our favourite dish available in Sheffield. Japanese black cod, or gindara saikyo miso yaki, which is grilled cod topped with miso.
This stuff is seriously very, very good! The fish is so tender and creamy; it literally melts in the mouth. The miso gives a bit of sweetness and it really is truly amazing! It is also quite expensive; two smallish fillets for £12 is about £1.50 a bite. However, it is worth every single penny! Black cod is a species of cod and I’ve just googled a few suppliers, so I may be trying this dish at home one day soon.
We then ordered katsu kare which is another favourite. It comes with a miso soup, so we ordered an extra soup so that we can have one each. The waitress serves this to us on its own which allowed for a short break between dishes. It comes in lidded black cups and you drink it rather than use a spoon. Chopsticks can be used to pick out the chunks of tofu along with the strips of seaweed.
The katsu kare arrived next; pork cutlet, breaded in panko breadcrumbs which gave it a crispy coating. The curry sauce wasn’t particular attractive, but this dish is about taste rather than presentation. There were some potato chunks in there and it was served with a decent mound of sticky rice. The sauce was slightly hotter than others that I’ve had, but it wasn’t overly hot at all. Unfortunately I have developed an addiction to Sakushi’s version of this dish and this one didn’t quite hit the spot for me. It wasn’t bad, I just preferred Sakushi’s version. We also ordered nasu no dengaku which was half an aubergine cooked in the same way as the cod. Again, this was very creamy. I love aubergine anyway so this was always going to be a hit.
By this point we were quite full, but by having the dishes spread over a number of different courses, we were not stuffed, so we ordered dessert! Tempura Delight was deep fried battered banana served with ice cream. A Japanese banana split maybe. It sounded as though it would be greasy but it wasn’t and the banana was still quite firm.
We shared this along with a Japanese Bellini which is champagne with lychee purée. Probably not as good as sipping the original peach version in Harry’s bar, but, for Sheffield, it was lovely. After all, you can’t really go wrong with a bit of fizz can you? Gav had an eau de vie de poire William which is kind of a French brandy.
Suitably satisfied, we got the bill. It’s not cheap at almost £90, but we did have a few dishes. Also apart from the slight disappointment with the katsu kare, everything was perfect. The service had been excellent also and we’d had a fantastic evening, so it was well worth the £90.
What do you guys think? Are you more of a Sakushi or Yama Sushi fan? Any tips of where to get good sushi outside Sheffield?