The Shiori, London
I love The Shiori. I love its quiet, tiny interior. The two cosy tatami matted booths are my favourite place to sit. Chef patron Takashi Tagaki's quiet but intense pace of work is fascinating to watch. And his wife Hitomi's friendly and at times entertainingly kooky approach to guests is a nice counterpoint to his silent concentration. The service is laid back - don't expect to arrive, eat in a hurry and leave quickly. This is the kind of evening that should not be rushed. The delicacy of the flavours and the beautiful balancing of textures and tastes deserve to be enjoyed slowly and thoughtfully. To me it is a wonderfully romantic evening, a perfect way to spend time together and enjoy something exceptional.
We have been twice to far, the first time in May...
Late afternoon light and we are the first arrivals
The short menu
Sparkling sake with wild strawberries - the heady aroma of fruit combined with sake lacking the acidity of sparkling wine, creating a hint of vanilla in the aftertaste
Taro potato stems with sesame vinegar - delicate translucent shoots almost reminiscent of white asparagus
Simmered bracken wrapped in yuba skin with aromatic sancho pepper leaf - a little leaf but packing a punch in flavour
Clear soup with sea bass, shreds of smokey grilled aubergine, soft simmered broad beans and watershield - a extraordinary plant with a jelly-like coating
Sashimi plate, clockwise from left - horse mackerel, sea bream, tuna with sweet potato and seaweed sauce and sweet shrimp
Taro with crushed rice cracker, stuffed with prawns, shitake mushrooms and ginkgo nuts - dense squidgy pastry with savoury stuffing
Fried then lightly pickled snapper
Nigri from left to right - toro with wasabi stem, salmon with seasoned seaweed, turbot with Japanese spices and yellowtail with spring onion
More nigri - Japanese scallop with black truffle, Crystal Bay prawn with shiso leaf paste and lightly seared squid with ginger
Yuzu sorbet - deliciously refreshing
And a second time in June...
The long menu!
Japanese kamiage yuba with wasabi and seaweed
Potato somen noodles with grated ginger, ginger shoot, spring onion and oscietra caviar
Clear soup with red mullet, okura (a sticky leaf in a star shape) and that entertainingly crazy watershield again
Sashimi, clockwise from top left - a type of clam, lobster, sea bream, seared squid, a seared fish I can't remember and mackerel
Lemon sole kawari-age - deep fried in a delicate rice cracker crumb batter
Slow simmered aubergine with peas and diced duck breast - the aubergine tasted rich and savoury thanks to its meaty sauce, and retained its structure despite being meltingly soft
Palate cleansing baby peach jelly
Nigri sushi - fatty tuna with wasabi stem, yellow tail with spring onion and a white fish I forget...
More nigri - excellent scallop with wasabi and black truffle and sweet shrimp similarly dressed
And finally - rare, red beef fillet nigri - bloody delicious
Tomewan - simmered crab soup
I am already looking forward to our next visit.
45 Moscow Road
London W2 4AH
Tel: 020 7221 9790