No14 [Restaurant] The city’s hidden gem

no14rThe city’s hidden gem

Tucked away among the diamond shops of Hatton Gardens in central London lies a hidden Japanese gem. ‘Tajima-Tei’ restaurant is on Leather Lane and you would really have to know it’s there to find it. It looks inconspicuous from the outside but is beautifully decorated inside with a fusion stylish Japanese modern and traditional decor that splits into two levels. There is sushi bar also where you can sit and watch your meals being made. It is a family run restaurant with and the head chef, Mr Miyakawa is also the owner. He has over 30 years experience as a professional chef and was trained at ryotei in Kyoto, a high honour indeed. Ryotei is a type of luxurious traditional Japanese restaurant, it is an experience that goes beyond pure gastronomy. It is total immersion in Japanese culture. The ‘Sashimi special’ on the menu is definitely a must for Sashimi lovers, you will not be disappointed. This dish is made up of tuna, salmon, mackerel, sea bass, scallops, sea bream and sweet prawns (amaebi). Whilst sashimi is a very simple dish, in principle it’s just pieces of raw fish, it’s got to be really fresh as only really fresh fish will still have all the flavours of the sea and the right texture that makes sashimi so tasty. It is the freshness and quality of the fish at Tajima-Tei that is so apparent. You really get an understanding as to why sashimi should be cut just when you order it as it is here. That is what makes such a gap in taste between this restaurant and the sashimi you get in many of the chain Japanese take away places that are now all over London which pre-prepare their fish. The sashimi is so beautifully presented, it is a work of their art in itself, and it seems a shame to eat it with its beautifully cut and shaped cucumbers and carrots as garnishes. The sweet amaebi prawns are very hard to get hold of in London and are a real treat. As the name suggests they are sweeter than a normal prawn and the taste is also clearer and more concentrated, they go very well with the wasabi and grated ginger which accompanies the dish. The beautiful pink salmon was incredibly tender and creamy and the tuna was of a deepest red. The mackerel was exquisite. It has a strong flavour which lends itself to simple preparation as it stands out on its own. This way, the mackerel in all its buttery, salty glory is the star of the show and the tang of the lemon pleasantly cuts into the creaminess of the flesh. Another highlight of the menu is deep fried oysters. In a word, they are superb. They are lightly coated with breadcrumbs and fried in fresh hot oil. The briny oyster flavor is incredibly freshy. You will love the texture of the light crispy batter contrasting with the pop of the juicy, succulent warm oyster but with a tasty coating. Like sashimi and sake is an integral part of Japanese cuisine. Tajima-Tei has a wide ranging sake menu. In particular the ‘Kasumi Tsuru’ sake is definitely one to try and ideal with sashimi. Kasumi Tsuru sake is also a celebration of the small town of Kasumi, located on the coast of Japan Sea in the Tajima district of Hyogo prefecture, where Mr Miyakawa comes from. There is a wide selection of wines, Japanese beers and soft drinks on offer. Typical for the City, this restaurant is very busy at lunch times and in the evenings where it is full of Japanese businessmen so it is best to make a booking. It can cater for private parties of up to 16 people which is available upon request. It is closed on Saturdays and Sundays. If you want an authentic Japanese experience with fresh high quality beautifully presented sashimi and sushi. Tajima-Tei is definitely worth a visit.

Luke Bissett

Reference: Tajima-tei Japanese Restaurant