Sumi is the more casual sister restaurant of Endo at The Rotunda, and opened fully in June 2021. The restaurant is on the busy Westbourne Grove and is named, incidentally, after Endo Katsutoshi’s mother. It has an open kitchen and several outside tables on the terrace in addition to the dining room. The head chef here is Yasuda Akinori, who was previously head sushi chef at the (now closed) noodle restaurant Yen and before that was senior sous chef at Zuma. The menu focused on sushi and sashimi, but there were a few snacks and a couple of Japanese main beef courses available. As well as a range of sakes to drink, or Sapporo beer, there was a short wine list of a dozen bottles, mostly French. The list ranged in price from £30 to £110 with a median price of £62 and an average markup to retail price of three times, which is pretty decent for London. Sample offerings were a pleasant and crisp Albarino Davila 2019 at £40 for a wine that you can find in the high street for £16, Canard Duchene Cuvee Leonie NV champagne at £70 compared to its retail price of £34, and Meursault Les Vireulis Domaine Dupont-Fahn 2018 at £110 for a bottle that will set you back £43 in a shop.
Miso soup illustrated the level of attention to detail here, a blend of four different dashi stocks with several different mushrooms including shimeji, oyster mushrooms and girolles. It had very deep flavour and compared well with several that I have eaten in Japan (15/20). Sushi rice was at the correct body temperature; it should never be fridge cold, as happens far too often in UK restaurants, and the rice here had subtly applied vinegar. The word “sushi”, incidentally, just means ”sour rice” and so refers to vinegared rice, rather than to the topping. The rice element of sushi is the “shari”, while the topping, which may be seafood but can on occasion be something else, is “neta” in Japanese.
On the vinegared rice base we tried several sushi pieces including sea bass, salmon and yellowtail, the fish all in excellent condition, as was Isle of Skye scallop sushi, with lovely natural sweetness (15/20). A nice touch was the sansho pepper leaf garnish on the sea bass. Sansho pepper is a Japanese mountain pepper, a relative of Sichuan pepper, and has a gentle numbing spice. Though this was just a small leaf and so the effect was subtle, it was a pleasing touch.
Also excellent was the classic trio of tuna sushi: akami, chutoro and otoro, these coming from a Spanish fish, the tuna itself having silky texture (15/20). We also enjoyed tuna rolls, the pieces of fish marinated in soy and serve with wasabi, and a roll of sea bass prepared with wasabi. Even the pickled ginger on the side was unusually well balanced. The staff were friendly and helpful, and the bill, even with sharing a bottle of Albarino wine, came to £80 each including service. Sumi is an excellent addition to the London sushi scene, showing the level of attention to detail that I would expect of sushi master Endo Katsutoshi.
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