Editor's note - in December 2012 Shiroi started serving kaiseki meals rather than just sushi. It has moved premises to The Shiori, 45 Moscow Road London W2 4AH. Tel. 020 7221 9790 - The original in Drummond Street has closed.
Sushi of Shiori is a tiny establishment at the west end of Drummond Street, able to accommodate just nine diners on bar stools, three facing the kitchen and six looking out onto the street. The view is a lot more interesting on the inside, as you can watch chef Takashi Takagi, who cooked most recently at Umu but trained in Kyoto, meticulously preparing the dishes. The fish is supplied by Atari-Ya, who specialise in fish for Japanese restaurants and also supply Nobu and Umu.
I had a plate consisting of grilled eel sushi (£4.40), tuna sushi (£4.60) and California roll (£3.70). The tuna itself was excellent, the roll having good components served at a nice temperature, which is a key thing with sushi. Of course the fish should be refrigerated, but when served it should not be stone-cold or it is hard to enjoy the flavour; the temperature of the fish here was just about right. The rice itself was served, as it should be, at around body temperature, but was just a little heavier in consistency than it would be at a top place in Japan; however the quality of the fish was high, as was the salmon and crab used in the roll; the eel was the least impressive of the trio (14/20 overall). Presentation was extremely attractive, with a lot of care and attention paid to the layout of the elements on the plate.
On the side, miso soup (£1.50) was made with red beans and was very good, a rich, complex broth (14/20). A fried prawn (£3) was wrapped in a roll and served in three little pieces, the prawn itself of good quality and carefully fried (14/20). The only let-down of the meal was the wagyu beef served on rice (£7). I have always been sceptical of wagyu beef from anywhere other than Japan, and this further confirmed my prejudice. The two small slices of beef here had a stringiness of texture that is utterly at odds with the buttery consistency of the finest Japanese waygu beef, such as that from Kobe or Miyazaki. For me, the beef was also cooked a little longer than ideal, just to add to the disappointment. The ponzu sauce with the beef was nice but this could not distract from what was essentially a slightly overcooked slice of stringy beef (barely 11/20).
The solitary waitress was courteous and efficient. This was a cut above most sushi places in London. I would have scored this 14/20 if it had not been for the beef. The bill, with jasmine tea, came to £26. It appears that you can pre-book a more elaborate menu where you set a budget and the chef prepares a meal for you, and that may well be an interesting thing to consider given the level of skill evident at this lunch.