Sushi Shop: it does exactly “what it says on the tin”. The French chain has some 130 stores across the globe (though mostly in France), including three in London, serving up Californian style sushi on an a la carte basis, or via selection boxes. It is, in essence, an upmarket sushi takeaway that aims to offer restaurant-standard sushi to go, and a creative fusion of Japanese and Western food; it even has a France-based, Michelin-starred Japanese chef consulting on the menu.
I have to admit that, while I do enjoy it on occasions, I’m sceptical about takeaway sushi and tend to avoid it. The problem is that, while it always looks good, the pre-made, fast-food nature of it means that quality can be variable, and something like sushi requires consistency and quality enough for all the flavours to be discernible. This all said, I agreed to head to Sushi Shop to try their new limited edition selection as I’d heard good things about the place and its quality, and I’ll try anything once. Furthermore, though Californian style sushi may not be truly Japanese, it is creative and interesting, to such a degree that it’s influencing chefs from London to Tokyo.
The limited edition selection in question is a collaboration between Sushi Shop and Scott Campbell, the tattoo artist, who’s worked with the likes of Penelope Cruz, Heath Ledger, Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton. They have previously collaborated with Kate Moss, Kenzo, and Lenny Kravitz. The box itself contains forty-two pieces of nine different varieties of sushi, maki, and nigiri, together with a limited edition transfer tattoo designed by Campbell, and will set you back £39.90. At forty pounds it isn’t cheap, even for two, by standards of takeaway sushi.
- 2 x Tuna zuke & tomato nigiri
- 6 x Citrus salmon rolls
- 6 x Spinach & tempura maki
- 2 x Salmon nigiri
- 2 x Prawn nigiri
- 6 x Philadelphia maki
- 6 x Spicy tuna maki
- 6 x California chicken Caesar salad
- 6 x Cooked tuna avocado spring rolls
The box was brought to our table from the kitchen where it had been freshly prepared – this is the case with much of their food, and the kitchen is open behind the order/pay station so you can see the cooks at work. You order from a menu book, the food is prepared and then packaged up for you to eat in or take to go; it is very much a restaurant that just serves in a that “bar service”, takeaway manner.
It’s difficult to review the box as a whole, given that it’s a collection of different items. That said, it’s a well-balanced box in terms of a cross section of what Sushi Shop offers and balanced flavour profiles, with some more interesting items designed for the box, instead of including more ornate items from the standard menu.
As a whole, I’m afraid the sushi tended to lack build quality and consistency. Each piece should be identical to the rest of its kind, but wasn’t, some were less than a third full of ingredients, others lacked some of the advertised ingredients, and others only had three sides of rice. While this is further evidence that the sushi is made to order (though how long the rice and ingredients have been ready waiting and standing before use is still something to consider), it is not good from a customer satisfaction point of view.
The food isn’t cheap and to have it fall apart and lacking all the proper ingredients is not good. The soy sauce, far better quality than many of the small takeaway bottles you get, was helpful both from a seasoning point of view, and for adding the merest mirage of Japanese culinary authenticity to some of the sushi. Wasabi would also have been a boon to a few of the sushi but was not apparent anywhere in the store.
Whether all these issues are to be found in every store or indeed on every occasion of ordering in the same store, one cannot comment, but if you are after Californian style sushi you can do far worse than Sushi Shop.
Sushi Shop The store visited was the Marylebone store. For more information on the Scott Campbell box click here.