REVIEW: Sushi and Robata, Whole Foods Market, Kensington, London

Published 18 July 2016

By Gary Berry

You know, I do love sushi and over the last few years I’ve developed a dangerous obsession with this Japanese staple. Though it’s not always been plain sushi sailing. Back in 2010, believe it or not – I used to hate the stuff. The texture of it used to send me into a near coma. I don’t know why, but thankfully I’ve come to my senses, through one meal at one very special Japanese restaurant in London which converted me – ever since then it’s been a beautiful love affair.

Nowadays, I literally salivate at the thought of eating sushi and so got rather exited about trying one of London’s newest Japanese restaurants, Sushi and Robata – putting provenance, sustainability and sourcing at its core. This lavish new restaurant is located inside Whole Foods Market Kensington, a store which is really showing London how restaurant and shopping life can be combined under one roof. We started our Japanese journey here with the scallops arare age, which were a lovely addition to the menu, cooked perfectly on the inside – but crunchy on the outside. Better still was the gyoza with its lovely deep flavour and a plate of tuna tataki, smothered in a delicious ponzu dressing. The appetisers here are excellent.

But what really stands our here at Sushi and Robata, is the sushi. It’s not just good, it’s excellent – and incredibly messy. We started with an unusual, but lovely salmon tartar on a bed of sticky and crunchy rice. We wasn’t sure at first but they became oh-so moorish. Quickly following was the stunning Triple Heaven – a nori sandwich with handpicked crab, scallops, prawns, crunch, spring onions and spicy mayo. Such a delight to eat, but again – very messy (the good kind).

And the sushi just kept on coming. Our lovely waiter kept sneaking in the words “if you liked the last dish you should try…” – how could we possibly resist. The best of our dishes here was the awarding winning Genji Tuna Crunch. A mouth-watering mixture of prawn tempura, cucumber, spicy tuna, spring onion, tempura crunch, spicy mayo and teriyaki sauce. Eating each piece gave you that rare tingling in the mouth, making you gasp in enjoyment muttering the words “oh my god this is so good”. Sushi is very good at doing that to you, but it rarely happens. The nasu dengaku (miso marinated aubergine) was also a dream – soft, moorish and smokey. Firmly staying strong in the sushi category, the mango tango was an unusual but utterly delightful taste experience. A thin sliver of sweet mango sat draped across a tightly packed roll filled with crispy prawn tempura, spicy mayo and katsuobushi. A must order when visiting Sushi and Robata.

With a name like Sushi and Robata, you’d expect both of those items to be the highlight but oddly only one was – the sushi. Sometimes it was even extraordinary, but the robata sticks were a little disappointing if I’m honest. The quail egg was least successful. Grilling an egg only dries it out, meaning overcooked and the developing of a chewy skin. The beef scoties were nice enough and the best was the salmon negishio with a lovely sweet glaze. I don’t know if the restaurant was having an off day or if it’s always like this, but either way the sushi here is the winner.

After the mammoth quantities of food we’d gotten through we barely had room for dessert – but all in the name of research I say. Three plates of sweet dessert heaven. We loved the cream puffs, one filled with a light liquorice cream and the other matcha. Essentially oversized stuffed profiteroles, yet with a whole lot more deliciousness. But my favourite was the chocolate spring rolls, packed with chopped hazelnuts, lots of chocolate sauce and small bowl of additive coffee dipping sauce for dunking.

We had such a lovely afternoon at Sushi and Robata. Only a few years back you’d have been eating “fast food” inside a food store, but no more – department/food store dining is getting wise and finally taking note of what we customers want. Sushi and Robata isn’t the best restaurant in London and it’s robata area does need a little work, but the sushi, service and appetisers are all fabulous. I think I may have found my new sushi haven when shopping in South Kensington.

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