Restaurant Review – Sakushi

Yesterday four of us went for a late lunch to Sakushi, Sheffield's first sushi bar. Yum.

It is a very elegant space, almost opposite the Wig and Pen on Campo Lane. The conveyor belt travels in a loop from the kitchen, past the edges of a handful of white leather booths, around a stone water feature, and back along a bar where you can sit on a stool. Away from the belt is a normal seating area, where you can do pukka restaurant stuff if you don't fancy the belt.

We didn't get there till just after 2, and they close at 3. So there was a limited selection on the belt, but they were happy to make anything to order. The belt concentrates on sushi and side dishes such as gyoza, pickles, deep-fried bits of meat, salads. There were also a few desserts randomly scattered – chocolate fondant and a mousse thing. You can have sashimi, which is always cut fresh to order, and a selection of soup or fried ramen dishes. There's not a wide range of drinks, but there is Asahi beer, a large wine list, sake, juice and fizzy water. He's quite proud of having Asahi Black, which is apparently a bit rare round here.

We had two beginners with us, including a fisheating vegetarian, so we decided to go with what was on the belt and not get into the really exciting stuff on the menu. Although we did get four orders of sashimi – two salmon and two hamachi (yellow tail). The belt moved slowly enough to get stuff off it easily, but fast enough to provide an interesting show. The table was stocked with soy sauce and some excellent pickled ginger slices, and freshly-prepared wasabi arrived with the drinks.

I can't remember everything we had, but it included: California, Philadelphia and Ebi Ten Uramaki, Edamame Beans, Japanese Pickled Vegetables, Chicken Gyosa, Kushi-Age, Vegetable Croquettes, Spring Roll, Tonkatsu, random nigiri and maki, and some little fried nibbles that we couldn't identify. With a beer for John and soft drinks for the rest of us, it came to £20 per head.

Sushi is one of those things, especially with the belts, where you could go on grazing for ages nages, and we did rather overdo it on quantity. But it was great fun, if you took something and didn't like it there were three other people to take it off your hands. And we tried all sorts of new stuff.

I'd definitely go again – you could do it a lot cheaper if you were careful what you had, or you could really splash out for a special occasion. There were a few things I spotted on the menu that I'd really like to try, as well …

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Restaurant Review – Jabu

We're going to Jabu tonight, we haven't been for quite a while. Last time we went, I wrote this:

 

Can't believe I haven't mentioned Jabu before, but it seems not, or at least I can't find it. Went out with John, Guinness, the Lawsons, Julia, and Julian, for a pre-Eastercon gathering as some people are heading up today and will miss the regular pub this evening.

Jabu is a Chinese Fondue and Dumpling house, a dark pine and orange plastic cafe. Each table has an electronic hotplate. First course is a choice of fresh steamed dumplings, Northern Chinese style. Lamb and Coriander is one of our favourites, there are beef, pork, chicken and veggie based ones, heavy on the seasoning and with lots of interesting textures. £4 for 12, with dipping sauces, one soy/vinegar, one chilli/sesame. Then they bring a wok-style pot, with a divider down the middle. You choose two flavours of broth (chicken and spicy for us), they fill the pot and put it on the hotplate. Little plates of goodies (from a long, long list) arrive and you cook your choice in the broth. More dipping sauces – sesame paste, sweet chilli, garlic, wasabi/soy. Goodies last night included squid, salmon, scallops, chicken, paperthin sliced beef and lamb, assorted veggies, udon and slim noodles, and a softshell crab. You can also have a range of tofu, meat and fish balls, mushrooms, seasonal veggies, more seafood including about four types of prawns, and tripe. After you've played the cooking game for a while and run out of things to experiment with, they bring small bowls and you have the last of the noodles with the now concentrated and flavoured soup. A few pieces of cut fruit for dessert. Tea to drink throughout, they have a full menu of Chinese teas and will explain the differences. The main waitress is a phenomenon, permanently bouncy, enthusiastic about everything, will show you how to cook things if you're wary, and scurries around refilling tea, soup etc  as necessary. It was a fun evening, it's a highly social event with lots of messing about. Seven/eight is about the maximum number, though, even then people were having to stand up or stretch to reach the pot. And stunningly cheap – it worked out at £10 per head for a good 2 – 3 hours entertainment and gorgeuous food. Healthier than your average Chinese meal as well, with no deep-frying or overly sweet sauces. Yum Yum.

EDIT – I did mention it before, just didn't tag it properly. Fuller review here – nothing much seems to have changed, though! http://frandowdsofa.livejournal.com/77301.html

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Yorkshire Wraps

Have just been out to The Museum pub in Orchard Square. John's in town for a job thing, so we had a treat lunch together. I noticed a strange item on the menu, but it was too hot to order it and see what it actually was. Luckily the woman on the next table had one, so I now understand the principle behind the Yorkshire Wrap.

In a lot of pubs round here you can get a yorkshire pudding, usually somewhere between 4 and 10 inches across, filled with meat and gravy. The meat is traditionally a roast dinner – beef in gravy, say, and you get chips or roast potatoes on the side, plus boiled veg sometimes. The puddings are thick and flabby, like a very stodgy round pancake but with high side edges to hold in the filling. Someone has had a flash of inspiration, and re-created it as finger food.

Take a ready-made catering size pudding, and warm it through. Don't let it get crisp (which I think of as one of the key criteria for a yorkshire pudding, oh well, never mind). Lay it out flat and top it with slices of roast beef smeared with horseradish. Roll it up. Put it (or, dear god, more than one) on a hot plate, add a portion of chips and a large ramekin of good gravy, a salad garnish to look healthy and colourful. Eat with your fingers, dunking as you go.

The pub does two of these, the beef one as described above and another one with sausages and fried red onions, each priced at £6.25. Which is slightly cheaper than one of their (rather good) burgers.

 

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Momtaz

Last night I went to the Momtaz restaurant on Chesterfield Road, with Doug and Julia. It's practically at the end of our street, and I haven't been for years. Before this incarnation it was an Italian restaurant for a while, and a different Indian before that, which was probably the last time I've been in there. We've had fliers for their takeaway / delivery service, and I have wondered about trying them, but got no further than that. There is a surfeit of Indian restaurants and takeaways in our area, even a dedicated web-based delivery-only place, and you always tend to ignore the one right next door.

Well, not any more. It was completely empty, not unexpected for 8:30 on a Tuesday, especially with a match on at Bramall Lane. They have a wide-screen TV on the wall above the bar, which was playing mostly Asian music videos, not too loud. A joss-stick was burning on the bar, which I suppose is nicer than cigarette smoke but got a bit overpowering. The furniture is all decked out in a red and white livery, a bit too grubby for elegance but smarter than normal – showing willing, at least. The two wait-staff were attentive and cheerful – they told us later they'd just had a letter from the Good Food guide putting them Top, but Top for What and Where we don't yet know. I'm sure a certificate will materialise in the fullness of time.

The menu was yer bog standard, with some very rich Northern Indian additions. The terminology was bit unusual for round here, I ordered a starter called a Nababi Murgi Stick, and it turned out to be tandoori chicken on the bone – which I wouldn't normally have, still, my fault for experimenting. And not saying it wasn't good, because it was.

We started off with poppadums and pickles – no lime pickle, boo, but there was mango chutney (thin, no lumps), onion salad, and yellow yoghourt which was Very Sweet. Sweet was definitely the theme of the evening. Doug and I had Tiger beer, they've got Cobra in bottles too, nothing unusual.

Starters were the aforementioned Stick, which still had a lot of marinade/paste clinging to it, not just dried out red chicken. Julia had a puri, again it was called something else (which I forget), and Doug went for the sizzling Cox Bazaar Prawns, which were very very sizzly and had potato mixed in. Wolfed down in short order, we moved onto mains.

Lamb and aubergine for me, not too hot, lovely smoky taste from the aubergines. Julia had a chicken karhai "delight", which was their version of a korma, and came in a mini-copper-clad bucket. Incredibly creamy and sweet, with cardamom and shreds rather than lumps of chicken. Doug scored top, though, with the tandoori butter chicken – not only sweet and rich, you could smell the butter from across the table, but with added topping of aerosol whipped cream. Sides were a couple of garlic and coriander nan, which were smallish, but enough – crisp on the bottom and soft and puffy at the edges, and a keema rice which was well-flavoured but quite fatty from the minced meat.

We didn't investigate dessert, due to strawberries lurking at home. No idea on the total bill, as I was a Guest, but the menu said the Stick was about four quid, the lamb six, with a nan at two.

I picked up an up-to-date takeway menu, which says free delivery, 15% discount on collection and 10% on delivery. Think I'll add it to the favoured supplier list.

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