SW4 – Clapham Old Town – Zumbura

NB: Pictures to follow. I have recently moved house (still in the SW postcode!) and have no internet so uploading images has been a tad tricky! When I find a suitable connection they will be uploaded!

 

Despite being there since November 2013, Zumbura in Clapham Old Town had escaped me. I don’t often head down to the Old Town and from a casual passer-by perspective you might not notice it yourself as it’s a little out of place in Clapham (in a good way). The interior is minimalist café-cool; greys, blues and brick with splashes of yellow.

“But we don’t care about the interior Heather! Tell us about the food!”

The reason why I am waxing lyrical about the café, trendy-feel to Zumbura is because the dishes rather reflect that too. Small plates to me have become synonymous with an overpriced expensive dinner (I’m looking at you House of Ho) and I was slightly worried Zumbura was heading down the same path. What Zumbura has over its Soho, small-plated counterparts is that its street-food style dishes should, in their traditional form I’m told, be served on the smaller side – in shareable, social portions. If you think you’re not getting your money’s worth – you’re wrong. It’s a delightful way to eat Indian food. It makes for a welcome change from the heavy north Indian curries I have reviewed on one and two occasions.

I won’t start by saying “to start with”, because that’s not really how it works with small plates is it? Our pakora was light and crispy and it was served with a tamarind, and mint dip / relish. Brilliant…next!

My dinner date for the night was The Mauritian, as he is to be known, and as his ma is a bit of a dab hand at cooking Mauritian-style bitter gourd, we decided to pit Zumbura and The Mauritian’s mum head to head (you can tell how this is going to end). Funnily enough bitter gourd (kerela) is, well, bitter (or is WELL bitter). Honestly if you don’t like strong flavours then really don’t go for this. The only thing I can really compare it against is when you accidently and rather unfortunately bite into the skin of a chestnut at Christmas. To be honest the kerela wasn’t that bad – there was some joy in the pre-acerbic flavour which coated the inside of your mouth (the texture of the gourd is really rather lovely). While you may think we’re brave (or worse, stupid) for trying something which is by namesake bitter, then well we do have a defence. You can (and most do) soak bitter gourd in salt water to remove some of the more unappealing traits of the vegetable – but Zumbura, in perhaps a test to their customers, does not! (NOTE: Please don’t interpret this as a scathing review – just not the one for me /us)!

Ghuggni is the sort of sound I make when I have my annual bout of flu but THIS dish was the bees knees of the chick pea world. Lavish amounts of black chick peas braised in onion and mango powder – is what ghuggni is. Go to Zumbura. Try this dish, it’s like crack. Thick, nutty, wholesome and well-seasoned are exactly the words I’d use to describe it. And there you go – those are the words I have indeed used to describe it.

So glad I managed to get a crack simile in there.

The pollock with mustard seeds and fenugreek (machli ka salan) was really beautifully cooked, but the accompanying curry sauce didn’t really stand out – if you’re looking at it from a fish curry perspective, which I was. I wanted it to be richer, fishier and to feel like in some way my fish and sauce had at some point been cooked together.

The Mauritian ordered lamb chops (sikkiwe chops: twice marinated in herbs) – which are his favourites. Although I don’t eat lamb he said that while tasty, they were dry. His murghi ka salan (chicken curry) WAS rich and it WAS addictive (although not as addictive as the crack-like chick peas). Yes Zumbura!

I don’t want to end a review badly, because Zumbura is a really nice venue, with fresh, delicately spiced ‘thoughtful’ food (I mean they’ve taken care to think about the ingredient combinations). But the paratha really was horrible. In my experience paratha is light, layered – you pull it apart and the layers flake away from one another. Zumbura’s paratha was thick, leathery, and semi translucent (like it had been sat in oil – or worse, microwaved). Paratha is one of my favourite Indian breads and I wanted it to mould round my hand like a ladle and scoop those divine black chick peas up. It was not to be.

While we experienced the dinner service at Zumbura, they do open for lunch and have light bites which I think would sit pretty darned well with a lunch-time cocktail (I hear they are pretty slick). I don’t normally give scores on the doors, but Zumbura secured at favourable 7.5/10. I would go there again, and I have recommended it to a friend since. So there you go.

Zumbura
36a Old Town,
Clapham,
London
SW4 0LB

SW4 – Clapham Common – The Dairy

I’m not a romantic type, but I am a pedant when it comes to choosing a venue which is appropriate for the atmosphere, company and of course food. The Welshman and I had a free evening on Tuesday, and as it was just the two of us at the beginning of the week, we though it an appropriate occasion to try The Dairy in Clapham; subdued quality dining which would be relatively informal.

It’s a small, narrow restaurant which squeezes itself between two units (which I forget the name of) as the pathway from the Clapham Common Tube station gradually bends into Old Town. In a sense it is enigmatic from the front; upon walking in, it suddenly strikes you that it is much, much bigger (or should I say longer) than you might expect. The high benches at the front exude ‘wine bar’, sharing snacks and shifting uncomfortably on stools. At the back, you find the restaurant, with the traditional table and chair set-up. The tables are small, and with the sharing platters that the menu proffers, alongside the dim candlelight – it is a slightly cramped, elbows-at-dawn intimate affair.

The low lighting is the stuff of food blogger nightmares. Sadly, and as a result of this lack of ambient brilliance, my photography efforts were somewhat hindered. I have credited the photographer where I have borrowed an image.

Each dish on the menu is starter sized. Between us we chose seven dishes (including two deserts) and we were offered, on the house, bread and smoked bone marrow butter (heavenly), and a complimentary appetizer to go with our aperitifs.

The menu is sectioned into: snacks; garden; sea; land; sweet.

Snacks

The truffled brie de meux on toast with acacia honey was obscenely decadent (not that I am complaining). A beautiful combination of sweet, salty and textured crunch. (£8.5)

The padron peppers, cod head, smoked cod roe (£6) was one of my favourite dishes. This is the perfect aperitif if you enjoy strong flavours; the kick of the chilli, the soft creamy roe with the added surprise of the delicate head meat. Sublime. A perfect sharing dish.

Photo by Wrap Your Lips Around This

Garden

To be fair, I wasn’t overly enamored with the selection on here; nothing really appealed. In the end we chose the rooftop carrots, goats cheese, oat granola, buttermilk (£7.5) – it was more to fill us up and reach the seven-plate quota we were recommended. In truth, it wasn’t necessary. However, the sharp textures of the pickled vegetables, the heartening crunch of the immaculately cooked carrots (which had that slightly leathery, caramelised structure to their skins) and the crunch of the walnuts, made it a very welcome dish indeed. And, frankly, one of the most beautiful which left the pass.

Sea

If you try one dish, please try the mackerel. Nigel’s mackerel – as it was described – with Swiss chard and bonito butter (£9) was a delight. The fish was seared and still pink on the inside. It melted like butter.

Photo by Wrap Your Lips Around This

Land

The presentation of the 32 day aged Irish onglet, butternut squash, black cabbage (£9.5) was divine. And, even though I would consider myself a butternut squash skeptic, this was a delight on the tongue. The onglet was a bit disappointing – slightly tough and lacking in flavour. The steak The Welshman enjoyed at L’Eto was better.

Photo by Wrap Your Lips Around This

Sweet

For the sake of a comprehensive review of the menu, we shared two puddings. While I normally have no sweet tooth at all, the clementine with brown butter ice cream and rice (£6.5) was a phenomenon. Butter ice cream will change your life. As The Welshman said: “Well, I wasn’t going to live that long anyway.”

The other sweet dish – a deconstructed Eton mess – was boring and unimaginative. It paled into insignificance against the butter ice cream and the other fantastic dishes we’d enjoyed.

What defines a good restaurant? The Dairy is certainly good one – and at just under £40 a head including drinks, it’s incredible value for money for the quality dishes served up. I was initially contacted by Match.com who asked me to recommend a place where a couple on a date might enjoy an evening out. I do think The Dairy could be that sort of place – it’s somewhere to impress, but is understated and unpretentious. It’s not raucous and you can freely enjoy conversation while there is still a foundation atmosphere which would put a new-ish couple at ease.

It’s definitely somewhere, if you live in the area, you must try…but if I’m honest, I think it’s a ‘once only’ place for me. I’d much rather go to somewhere like Abbeville Kitchen or Bistro Union where they have ‘robust’ dishes with more complex flavour combinations – and – just that little bit more space to bend your elbows.

SW18 – Wandsworth – Queen Adelaide

I love old fashioned, scruffy pubs. They can have dirt and grime on the chairs, as many tatty beer mats and wine stains on the tables as their surface area permits, and at least one corner which is occupied by a (working) neon fruit machine. I’ll still love it. There was a phase in the early 90s where these bastions of culture were turned into ‘gastropubs’. Their original décor was stripped out, floorboards and walls were painted the most yawn-ful shade of magnolia, and any sort of gamification was replaced by a touch-screen version of Deal or No Deal.

Thankfully gastropubs have moved on considerably since then and the Queen Adelaide is refreshing, even in 2014. It’s cosy as you walk in – comfy chairs, roaring fires, scatter cushions and tartan upholstery. It’s not twee in the slightest before you jump to conclusions. The menu is clean and interesting. It doesn’t raise too many surprises in terms of the variation of dishes it serves – in the sense that you could go elsewhere for something similar, but the chef makes an effort to veer from sticking to the tried-and-tested mainstream versions of these dishes.

To start, I enjoyed a broad bean and goat’s curd, truffle on sourdough toast. The green in my photograph (although slightly grainy, apologies) shows – for those of you who cook your veg al dente – that they were tender and exactly cooked. Only aspect of note was that broad beans are in themselves quite floury and goats’ curd is creamy – the two need to be evened out, in my opinion, with something more acerbic.

Starter of broad beans, goats curd, watercress and truffle

Starter of broad beans, goats curd, watercress and truffle

My guest, The Welshman, enjoyed a platter of Suffolk fennel salami, chorizo, olives and sourdough toast.  Simple. Did. The. Job.

Charcuterie starter

Charcuterie starter

I ordered a main of steamed mussels, coconut, lemon grass and chilli broth. The mussels were steamed for a matter of seconds, all opened, it was garnished with aesthetically-pleasing micro herbs – yes! I wish the sauce who have lived up to to great quality ingredients. Woah, too salty. A little taste by the chef would have gone a long way. I pointed this out to our waiter, so I do hope the message was relayed.

Mussels, coconut, chilli and lemongrass

Mussels, coconut, chilli and lemongrass

Our  other main was a home made chicken Kiev with celeriac and truffle mash, summer greens and smoked bacon.  Ah, the pain of cooking chicken breast; ever so tasty but the meat was slightly dry.

Homemade chicken kiev

Homemade chicken kiev

The Queen Adelaide is a gorgeous-looking pub, between Wandsworth and Putney, selecting well-known dishes which are thought out and are that one step above what you might expect from your average Young’s pub. Although I haven’t sampled their Sunday dinner, if you’re part of the Sunday Lunch crew, it might be worth a visit –  it really is a nice place. There’s plenty of space and in the summer, there’s a large conservatory space and outdoor eating area. You know, I so wish my sauce hadn’t been so salty – I might have sung The Queen’s praises some more – but you know what – I’d like to go back. That says enough, right?

SW9 – Brixton – Sorry, No Vacancies

Sorry, No Vacancies – if you can find it (because believe me, it’s further and more hidden down Brixton Road than you think) – is located at number 378. The door in the parade of shops – just a little past Morley’s – eventually catches your eye as it’s the last bastion of light (or so it seems) before you hit Kennington. Of all the gin joints in Brixton, we found it!

Classic Magarita

Classic Margarita – old habits die hard!

Priorities / common sense mean the Welshman and I get the cocktails in first. Determined not to be the creature of habit I usually become when I go to new places, I opt for a Californian Sunrise in the hope the gin, Aperol and lillet rouge, topped with San Pellegrino aranciata rossa, casts me to Venice Beach, or at the very least a state of intoxication in which I can dream of the sand, sea and the rest. My tongue always deserves the bitterness; there’s no chance I’m opting for a sickly sweet cocktail. That I cannot abide. Lord also knows why I’ve added the Margarita photo first. I had that next, and while we’re on the subject – that’s more like it! Margaritas are my favourites, and not being a cocktail girl at heart (beer and wine only, and a distinct lack of nail varnish), I slug it down like no tomorrow.

Why are Margaritas always so small?!

Both the Margarita and Californian Sunshine were both more than quaffable. If you go out for cocktails with the girls on a Friday, have dates on Wednesday evenings in low-lit trendy places, you’ll be drawn to Sorry, No Vacancies.

Priority number two: hotdogs!

*Insert wurst pun here*

*Insert wurst pun here*

The hotdogs were pretty suave. Doughy bread (in good way) were filled to the brim with onions, and the dog itself was *oh yes*. The chef responsible for such a mealy hotdog (consider it substantial enough for dinner) is Chris Gillard – the man from St John’s Restaurant. I’ve since heard that they’ve also added a vegetarian option too, if you swing that way.

Californian  Sunshine, in Brixton

Californian Sunshine, in Brixton

Alas, we see a picture of Californian Sunrise, which I was banging on about earlier…the dimly lit bar and red down lighting ensured my photos were sufficiently poor quality enough to put a strong sepia filter on them. American beers also proliferated the drinks menu. The Welshman opted for Brooklyn, which was served by the bottle.

The bar at Sorry, No Vacancies

The bar at Sorry, No Vacancies

Cocktails are priced at the standard rate you’d expect the in London Town,  around the £6-7 mark or just a little over. The decor is dim, 70s, pop-up like (it’s a pop up). Not over enthralling and highly predictable. What was pretty cool though was the upstairs duplex bit, and the cywch (Welsh word, Google it) in the back which is more than passable for a small gathering. Otherwise, I feel it’s a tad lacking in atmosphere.

Sorry, No Vacancies runs from November until January.

378 Brixton Road
London
SW9 7AW

I was invited by Sorry, No Vacancies to sample the menu and cocktails.

SW3 – Chelsea – L’Eto Caffe

Simple ingredients cooked well don’t need a great deal of introduction.

Burrata and tomatoes

Burrata and tomatoes

To start, I ordered burrata with Toscana olive oil and seasonal tomatoes. The mozzarella shell yielded to my fork – and the cream did flow. Tomatoes and cheese are God’s way (said even as an agnostic) of saying a human’s diet is to consist and dine on both vegetable and animal – sour tomatoes and creamy cheese, a combination parallel to ambrosia (even if the elixir credentials are not quite as comparable). It was, yes, incredibly simple, but all credit to L’Eto - it was simply divine.

Crab and avocado salad

Crab and avocado salad

The crab and avocado salad with soy and lime dressing, did also deliver. Zesty, zingy – you know what lime tastes like – was matched rather damn well with the soy and creaminess of the crab and avocado. A beautiful tower was presented on the (gorgeous) plates – the crab flaked with the texture of rice and submerged itself underneath the dressing; ready to be scooped and siphoned into the Welshman’s mouth. I also had a good go at it too.

12oz Côte de Boeuf Steak

12oz Côte de Boeuf Steak

Steak, cooked medium rare was also flavoursome, well seasoned and wholesomely presented with a selection of roasted vegetables and a few radishes. Only slight, and slight being very much emphasised, was that the cut wasn’t as tender as it could have been. But let’s not linger on this point.

Côte de Boeuf

Côte de Boeuf

Rib eye steak close up

Close up!

Gnocci with toasted almonds and rocket…I told you this menu was simple! Buttery, moreish (moreish – despite the fact I could probably hazard a guess at how many grams of butter, to the first decimal place, was in there). Not floury, not hard, not plasticky, but succulent, incredible pristine flavours and the insatiable sensation of wanting to shove it all in your mouth at once.

gnocci with toasted almonds and rocket

Gnocci with toasted almonds and rocket

gnocci with toasted almonds and rocket

Gnocci with toasted almonds and rocket

gnocci with toasted almonds and rocket

Gnocci with toasted almonds and rocket

I did not order dessert, but I can comment on the wine. In my youth I would never have claimed that the shape (nor material) of the vessel from which one drank would have affected the flavour of the solution of which one drank. Well it bloody well does. L’Eto have beautiful, ‘correct’, glasses which served our respective choices of a Merlot and Malbec between the Welshman and I. Good wine; good food.

L'Eto deli's aubergine salad

L’Eto deli’s aubergine salad

Although I didn’t sample it, their buffet deli – I’m sure – would also be super for a lunch date.

L'Eto deli's potato & sugar snap salad on the deli

L’Eto deli’s potato & sugar snap salad on the deli

Waxed lyrical? Perhaps. But most enjoyable. Thank you L’Eto for inviting me.

149 King’s Road,
Chelsea,
London,
SW3 5TX
020 7351 7656

SW4 – Clapham Common – Clapham Tandoori

I’m going to save you my usual preamble and jump straight in with this blogpost. On tonight’s food blogger menu is Clapham Tandoori which is opposite Clapham Common tube station.

To start…Baingan E Bahar on the menu was described as baked aubergine steaks stuffed with paneer. The image does allude to something similar, although it looks slightly different; more like an aubergine sandwiched between two chunky of paneer – not really stuffed. The aubergine was as one would expect and the paneer really was quite bland. There wasn’t any sauces or condiments save for the garnish and swirl of mixed sauce which had a bit of a skin on it – as if it has been sat under the heater, waiting for everything to be plated.

Baingan E Bahar at Clapham Tandoori The SW Food Blog

The Welshman and I ordered something more unusual I spotted on the menu as I do like to try out new things. This dish was significantly more rewarding in flavour – Patty Bola Chingri…

IMG_1974

The gram flour pancake, which surrounded the prawns in the mild tomato-based curry, was tasty enough and crispy on the outside. Gram flour, as I’m sure you are familiar, is made from chick peas and therefore has a similar flavour to popadoms which are made of the same thing. This pancake was crispy on the outside but a little tough as I bit through. The additional peppercorns embedded in the flour mix did give it a little more lift.  The prawn mix was well flavoured but could have done with a few more prawns. What is with these wet iceberg lettuce garnishes though? Please cut it out (or be more inventive – does anyone ever eat them?)!

IMG_1975

Photographing curry at Indian and making it look delicious, is never an easy task regardless of whether you have an iPhone or a DSLR. I apologise in advance.

Onto the mains, first up was the The Golda Chingri Morrisha – grilled king sized prawns, cooked with green peppers, onions and fresh green chillies in a hot sauce. Allegedly it was awarded the Best Seafood Curry of 2006. That’s not that strange, but closely followed after that statement was this – House of Commons –  in brackets. Whether or not this curry has been honoured in statute, remains to be seen. The sauce was a little cloyie (suspiciously shiny and a little gloopy) but had a decent kick which pleased my taste buds. There were more giant king prawns than you could throw a stick at, although they’d been grilled a little too  much beforehand and were slightly chewy and overcooked.

Golda Chingri Morrisha The SW Food Blog

Th Welshman ordered Chicken Xakuti; a South Indian-style curry which was prepared with freshly ground coconut – again bestowed with a House of Commons award and looked something like this…

Chicken Xakuti The SW London Food Blog

As I’ve mentioned before, The Welshman is a man of few adjectives and still he described the chicken as a stringy and dry. The sauce was fresher tasting than mine but was too coarse as a result of the nobbules of coconut. The sauce didn’t do too much to bring out the individual spices and they were lost as a result.

Chicken Xakuti The SW Food Blog 2

The Peshwari naan was pleasing enough, although why they drowned it in sweet syrup is beyond me. My saag paratha had been waiting under the heater for way too long – DRY!

The service was good and despite this not being the most favourable review, Clapham Tandoori wasn’t a terrible meal. They’ve been in the same location for about 70-odd years and the business is still run within the founding family – they’re a stalwart compared to the vast majority of Clapham Common restaurateurs. It does appear they are trying to give that ‘finer dining’ experience to that of your average curry house. The execution was haphazard in places and although there were some pleasing flavours in both mine and The Welshman’s dishes, there were the tiny details which had been neglected. It would be the place to go if you had a lot of hungry friends and were searching for a substantial Indian / Bangladeshi meal in Clapham, but if you’re after finesse and beautiful flavourings and accompaniments, it’s probably not for you.

Clapham Tandoori on Urbanspoon

I was invited by Clapham Tandoori for this review. 

SW9 – Stockwell – Dolcezza

Let’s start with cake.

Dolcezza Stockwell Italian Fruit cake

An Instagrammed cake nonetheless. Filter or no filter, you’d definitely eat it.

A cafe in Stockwell? In my mind, I envisioned small, budget, basic. Instead guests were greeted with chic, bare brick walls, contemporary lighting and some freaking delicious cakes and pasties. Dolcezza, is a traditional Italian sweet bakery, or ‘pasticceria’.

Dolcezza cafe Stockwell welcome mat

And now for more cake…

Dolcezza Stockwell mini apple cakes

And some more…

Dolcezza cafe stockwell mini patisseria

And Aperol and prosecco, with a generous slice of orange.

Dolcezza Stockwell aperol and prosecco cafe

Dolcezza cafe Stockwell launch event 1

Dolcezzo Stockwell Italian coffee

The launch party sent off some very good signals for Dolcezza.  There was a stance which lent towards detail, and intense, well-balanced flavours (my observations are based on the canapés and sweet selection they offered round at the event). From my experience on Thursday evening, I would make the effort to go there for a weekend occasion. If you live close by, lucky you.

Dolcezza is open from July 4th on Clapham Road, near Stockwell Tube station. It serves hand-made cakes, pastries, tarts and chocolates alongside Italian coffee. More substantial lunch bites include sandwiches, pizzette and salads. Dolcezza is open at 7.30am for breakfast until 6pm Monday – Friday and 9am – 5pm on Saturdays.

http://www.dolcezza.co.uk/

SW11- Battersea – The Northcote Road Summer Fete

The Northcote Road Summer Fete is coming next week…

Northcote Road Summer Fete

The Northcote Road Summer Fete is coming to Battersea on Sunday 7th July, from 11am until 5pm. The whole road will be closed to traffic all day for the event – no parking and no buses! Imagine that, just pushchairs and people. I’m very excited about some of the main highlights of the event especially the ping pong tables which will be at various intervals along the road, plus there will be the Wimbledon Men’s Final on the big screen…C’mon Tim!

Oh hang on…

There’s going to be tons of visiting stall holders selling their wares including jewellery, handmade cards, photo frames, children’s clothing, cosmetics, snacks and much more.

What we’ve all been waiting to hear about is the delicious food and drink items which will be on offer. Word has it that there will be a traditional hog roast and barbecued food, Spanish tapas, an oyster an Champagne bar run by Fish Club, jugs of Pimms, real ale and gallons of wine. *Hic*!

There’s much more information at www.northcoterd.co.uk; on Facebook – www.facebook.com/NorthcoteRd and Twitter  – @Northcote_Rd. Ill be helping out at the event; so if you see someone maniacally running up and down the street with a lanyard and a hi-vis vest on, that’ll most likely be me.

See you there!

At Home in SW12 – Bulgar Wheat, Quinoa, Roasted Vegetable and Lime Salad

the sw london food blog - quinoa salad recipe

Serves four.

Ingredients

For the roasted vegetables

  • 1 x yellow pepper
  • 1 x red pepper
  • 1 x courgette
  • 1 x aubergine
  • 1 x small red onion
  • (Un) healthy glug of olive oil
  • Tsp of smoked paprika
  • Tsp of paprika
  • 1/2 tsp of dried chili flakes
  • Salt and pepper

The middle class bit

  • 300g Quinoa / bulgur wheat (or 75g each)
  • 1/2 x stock cube
  • 250ml boiling water or till it covers the grains by about 2cm

the sw london food blog - quinoa salad dried grains

Mixing it up after

  • Handful of mint
  • Handful of parsley
  • 1x 400g tin of chickpeas
  • 3 x diced tomatoes
  • Half large garlic clove, crushed
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Handful of green beans

Chop the vegetables into substantial chunks – they’ll shrink after cooking. Shake the paprikas and chilli over the vegetable and give it a good toss with your hands. Generously season.

Shove in the oven for 20-25 minutes at about 200 degrees. Check every 10 minutes or so in case it needs a drop more oil – give them a mix too.

Add the stock, boiling water to the grains and let it simmer until the quinoa gets its little tail out (about 20 minutes). The water should have evaporated. Turn off the heat, add the crushed garlic and place the saucepan’s lid on top.

Cook the green beans in boiling water until al dente. Blanch in cold water.

Once the grains have dried out add the roasted vegetables, drained chickpeas, torn mint, parsley and chopped tomatoes. Mix thoroughly and drizzle over the lime juice. Mix again. Taste and add more seasoning if it needs it. Add a drizzle of olive oil if you’re that way inclined.

Serve on its own, with a lamb chop or whatever other thing you gets you carnivores off.

the sw london food blog - quinoa salad

Yo! Burger – Launch Party

I remember the first time I was confronted by sushi; I was about six or seven and I couldn’t have been more horrified. Raw fish and a modern popular delicacy it was, but you may as well have said, “here’s a plate of salmonella”. Salmonella maki. Yum. These were pre Yo! Sushi days too you know. Selfridges was the first time I was able to stomach this pesce dish, and despite my trepidation at putting an uncooked sliver of rice and slime into my mouth, I did – and it was completely underwhelming.

These days I could be sushi – if the saying “you are what you eat” has any truth. Although I don’t frequent Yo! Sushi – I find it mediocre for the price one pays – I was invited there for the launch of their new and rather ingeniously named concept, Yo! Burger.

The launch party was pretty slick and the PRs had done a good job of creating an atmosphere around a conveyor belt. I was plied with their new burgers – my first choice was the tilapia Yo! Burger. Let me first de-construct what I mean when I say burger, however. The bread is replaced with a sticky rice patty which has been toasted on the both of its outer sides. I guess the best analogy is when you get those crispy bits on the side of the pan after cooking risotto. These, in my opinion, are the best bits – much like the Yo! Burger.

OK, I am going to stop writing these branded exclamation marks in the text now.

Their view...

Their view…

My view...

My view…

My write up of this burger is that it tastes like McDonald’s, right down to the plastic cheese that accompanies it. Mayo too (although it professes to be wakame tartar sauce).  Wet and limp it really was like fast food.  Sushi, by definition, may be the fastest food on earth but this tasted like I could have driven through Burger King when I was hungover.

Apologies for the quality of the photos – there wasn’t a great deal of light.

Next burger was the prawn Yo Burger. It was katsu – prawn katsu cutlet. This had a great deal more flavour; served with white cabbage, sprinkled with spring onion and diced beni shoga, and lubricated with curry mayo.

The Yo! Burger - Prawn cutlet

The Yo! Burger – Prawn cutlet

Did I just say lubricated in a post – oh sorry – wrong blog!

The creamy curry flavourings gave the rice bun more to enjoy and the zest of the spring onion was complimentary to the prawn, which by the way, was actually substantial in quality (juicy prawn bits, for the win).

With every burger meal you’re also given nori crackers, daikon slaw and ‘misochup’. It’s not a steal at £8 either.

On paper and as a concept, it’s a PR’s and fast-food fiend’s dream. Exciting, innovative and slightly limp with a salty, moreish conundrum; is it nice and naturally flavoured – or is it just fuck-it-artificially-enhanced goodness?

It’s not my thing. I will stick with the sushi bit of the YO!

My favourite flavour :)

My favourite flavour :)

Your nearest Yo Sushi if you live in south west London, is in Victoria:

Main Concourse Victoria Station Terminus Place
London, SW1V 1JT
T:020 3262 0050

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