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Saki

4 West Smithfield , London, England, EC1A 9JX, United Kingdom

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This is a basement place, with a bar to one side and the dining room on the other (upstairs is a food shop selling Japanese food). It is smartly decorated in a modern style, with plenty of black in evidence. The menu was quite approachable, with a range of starters, then a long list of sushi, followed by some “light main” dishes and also noodle soup (udon) dishes. Portions were modest except for the soups and main courses, encouraging tapas-style grazing.

A starter of pork belly and new potato casserole was pleasant, the new potatoes managing to retain reasonable texture in the casserole, though the carrots were a little overcooked; the pork itself was pleasant but not more than this, lacking the richness that it can have (11/20). A “mini forest” of vegetables sounds grander than it was, but had a few grilled vegetables resting on a bed of a large field mushroom and onion (11/20). Sashimi tuna was of good quality, prettily presented. This was not of the calibre of somewhere like Umu, but it was still above average. It was served just with a few salad leaves and a little wasabe (12/20). Chicken teriyaki was cooked well enough, served with a few wild mushrooms and a soy-based sauce (11/20). The udon noodle soup had excellent vegetable stock, served in a large black granite bowl with noodles that retained good texture, a little vegetable tempura that did not (it was a little soggy) and further wild mushrooms and a little rocket as garnish (13/20). Miso soup was rather light on the distinctive dashi flavor, to the extent that it lacked intensity (round up)) Rice was good (12/20).

Overall either a strong 11/20 or a slightly weak 12/20, though on balance I would give it the benefit of the doubt. Service was friendly and capable throughout. The place was mostly full and the bar was quite busy even on this mid week night when most people were outside on the pavement soaking up the sunshine. Prices are very fair, and this is certainly a pleasant place that I would return to if in the area.

 

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