Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Restaurant Review: Sushi Hiroba

In the 90s I remember that conveyor belt sushi sounded like a fantastic idea.  That was possibly because I was a child, however, a lot of big grown up people seemed to share my enthusiasm.  It seemed very modern in a kitch kind of way, it was informal and fun and apparently they did it in Japan a place much trendier than London since Brit Pop kicked the bucket.  So we all loved it.  But not as much as the restaurants that served it.  'Here's a clever way to stop people paying attention to how much they're spending.  Sure the price of each plate is up on the wall, but these idiot are far too lazy to count'.  They were right.  A quick lunch anywhere with a conveyor belt when you're hungry is the same as putting your credit card behind a bar 'to save you the hassle of having to pay each time' - a bad, expensive idea.  Well a whole decade removed from the 90s I fell for this trap, in the nicely decorated and okay but unspectacular Sushi Hiroba in Holborn.  Have I learnt nothing!

The reason for stopping off here was that I was going to the theatre and it's close to a lot of those.  It's particularly convenient for this kind of thing because you don't need to worry about slow service since you just pluck your food as it swivels futuristically by!  The place it self looks very nice.  A lot of black with occasional bright, bright colours and intense spot lighting in an otherwise low lit dining room.  You can see the chef's making the sushi as well, which is fun.  There are places that do just table service as well, but the aforementioned conveyor belt is very much at the centre and very nice it looks too.

Plates come in five price categories starting from around £2.50 up to £5 and the selection is wide.  Cheap stuff is obviously mainly salady, which I can't comment on.  The standard salmon sashimi and nigiri sushi with various toppings, including a very tasty scallop and good fresh squid, which had a lovely sweetness and avoided the rubberiness you sometimes get with raw squid.  The cooked eel was also very good.  They had a selection of californian style rolls as well, which I generally avoid because I think mayonnaise, cream cheese, et al are disgusting on sushi.  I did, however, have one (mainly on the basis that it was big), a hot smoked salmon thing that made me feel a bit sad.  The prawn tempura was also pretty sub-par, unfortunately these were the two most expensive plates I had.  In general though everything was good.  Not ground breaking, but above average for an upper mid-range place like this, though not as good as somewhere like Feng Sushi.  I would have liked a little more flavour from the rice, but the texture was good.  The fish was fresh but could have been fresher.  It certainly wasn't the kind of fish that you eat and wonder why anyone would ever bother cooking the stuff.  All in all though it was decently made and tasty and I would go here again.

I would go here again, that is, if it wasn't for my ridiculous inability to control myself with food in front of me.  If you are a restrained person, that can pace your eating even when you haven't eaten for a whole, I don't know, three or four hours then this is a good place.  It won't cost the earth and you can eat some decent fish in a nice setting.  If, however, you are like me, this is practically impossible and any kind of conveyor belts that bring food should be avoided at all cost.  The price wasn't ridiculous it was just a lot more than I planned.  What added insult to injury, however, was the adding of a 12.5% service charge.  I hate it when people don't tip when the service is fine because they think its not compulsory, it is...normally, but not when your food is being brought by machine.  The only thing our waitress got me was a glass of water and she did that slowly.  So if your at the counter remember that, I think its fine to not pay this on principle.  Anyway even though the food isn't fantastic it is tasty and solid, I think the photo speaks for itself, I'll let you do the math's I didn't.   If this kind of thing is still the future, then the future for me at least is bloated.

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