Only mothers can explain this phenomenon. Quite bluntly put, during the summer holidays my brain went to complete mush. Between lying on my stomach playing with trains, singing nursery rhymes and getting excited about counting I managed to invite a complete stranger to join me for dinner.
On the day I was exhausted after getting up early, doing a shoot for a restaurant client and lugging heavy camera equipment around. Imagine my surprise when a man appeared knowing my name. In a few weeks my intended invitee managed to change race, grew by a few inches and started wearing glasses. The effects of the custom cocktail the amiable Portuguese bartender concocted for me magically wore off instantly when I tried to hide my shock.
There were two options I had to choose from:
- Do I let the guy know that he’s not who I was expecting?
- Do I play it casual and be happy go lucky?
I opted for the latter, not wanting to make him feel unwelcome but there was a downside, which quickly became apparent as we started chatting. He knew all about my blog and unfortunately, I couldn’t reciprocate the interest because I knew …. well, zilch.
Here’s another confession. I’m a sucker for sushi but know not much else about Japanese cuisine or custom. In fact, Watatsumi was my first visit to a proper Japanese restaurant. And no, Yo! Sushi doesn’t count.
The food was a good conversation starter though!
So much for creating a good impression, I attempted to eat my first Spicy Edemame (£3.80) pod whole, which was unpalatable. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone! Only when I caught the drift of sticking the whole bean in my mouth and pulling out the shell was the chili-salt fully appreciated.
If calamari came in the form of a model, ALL the dishes I’ve eaten in the UK thus far featured the emaciated kind that wobbles on the catwalks these days. In contrast, “models” in South Africa are of the Renaissance kind: curvaceous, plump and sumptuous. Although flavour-wise it was pleasant enough, the Crispy Calamari (£6.50) was unfortunately prepared with the former, i.e. skinny-assed, type and thus let down the whole dish.
Three types of fish, salmon, tuna and yellow tail, were available for sashimi (£13.50). Fresh. Silky smooth. Top quality.
The non-oily, light and crispy Mixed Vegetable Tempura (£8.50) is the best I’ve had to date. Spectacularly presented Spider Soft Shell Crab Sushi (£9.00) ticked all the right boxes.
Lastly, five Yuzu Garlic Prawns (sautéed prawns with yuzu garlic sauce and hiyashi wakame, £16.50) came on a white, rectangular plate. Did I mention we only had chopsticks to eat with throughout the whole meal? This is when the annoyance factor set in because these big beauties were just about impossible to fit whole in my mouth, which meant bites had to be taken, which made for some very awkward eating. The bits and bobs on top and under the prawns were also superfluous.
How did the night end? Luckily, my well-read, well-fed, well-traveled dining companion and I got along just fine and discovered we had plenty in common. Check out Louis’ blog, Tuck & Vine.
6/10: Except for the calamari, the overall quality of the food was good but lacked the wow-factor.
5/10: £8.50 for 7 small pieces of vegetables is a rip-off. Other items are more reasonably priced.
8/10: Friendly and well-informed.
8/10: All good.
5/10: The high ceiling and chic, minimalist decor are big pluses but there is only one narrow window in the whole room which left me somewhat claustrophobic.
5/10: Sushi, sashimi and tempura are safe bets.
P.S. I was a guest of Watatsumi.
7 Northumberland Avenue