Sushi bars seem to be all the rage these days. The growth of their popularity seems to have skyrocketed recently. In fact, it was only the other day that I overheard a young couple talking about how much they spent on sushi each month, and it came to hundreds of pounds - now that's an awful lot of sushi! Unfortunately the only problem seems to have been that if you want to eat sushi you have to travel into London. There simply are no sushi restaurants in The Home Counties. That is, I am very pleased to inform you all, until now.
Satori Sushi, located in Kingston's Rotunda complex, has been open for business for the past three months, and already it has proved to be very popular. The restaurant is the brainchild of two local entrepreneurs, both connoisseurs of Japanese food, who noticed the gap in the market, yet decided to try to offer something a little more than that which is currently offered in the more established sushi outlets in Town - and that they seem to have done superbly.
The first thing that I noticed was obviously the décor - very modern, very attractive, and quite a stark difference from the harsh "industrial" feel of many other sushi places. All the equipment was imported specially from Japan, and Satori Sushi boasts the first conveyor-belt style sushi bar outside of any main city in the UK - you just take a seat at the bar and the food revolves round on a small conveyor belt, from which you take your pick from a wonderful variety of small dishes. You can even watch the sushi chef prepare the dishes right there in front of you, and believe me it's an art form in itself!
But what sets Satori Sushi apart from other sushi bars is the extent of the menu - not only do they serve sushi (traditionally cold), but if you prefer your food 'cooked' then they also have a selection of nineteen hot "tapas" style dishes and nine Chef's Special Platters, including fillet steak with teriyaki glaze, duck, tofu steak and vegetable tempura. There's also a special platter for kids served on a "boat", which, together with a free drink, is a bargain at £5.95. In fact there are over 120 items to choose from on the menu, and if you don't see anything that you like on the conveyor belt you can ask the chef to rustle up something especially for you by simply pressing the button on the bar in front of you! All the produce is delivered fresh every day.
A nice selection of beverages are available, including three types of Japanese beer, a range of Japanese cocktails, and (of course) sake, together with a range of more main stream spirits and alco-pops, which are available in a self-service ice bucket - you just walk up and help yourself to whatever you'd like. I also liked the idea of the serve-yourself green tea, available with unlimited refills for only £1 - pinched from the well-known American philosophy, and is a practice which I've felt is long overdue in the UK.
So, Satori Sushi certainly 'walks the walk', but as they say, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating", so how was the food, I hear you ask. Now I'm admittedly no gastronome or aficionado when it comes to sushi, but I can tell you that I was not disappointed in the slightest. Simply mouth-watering. And bearing in mind that I can be quite fussy about my food I was amazed at how even the dishes that I was a little reluctant to try were absolutely superb. I tried the salmon nigiri (salmon with rice), the omelette nigiri (sweetened omelette with rice), the crayfish wakame (seaweed) salad, the special prawn temura hand roll (with salmon, flying fish roe and avocado wrapped in seaweed, which I can thoroughly recommend!), and topped it all off with a choco berry cup (strawberries in a Belgian chocolate cup filled with chocolate mousse). Together with a glass of Coke and a green tea this came to a grand total of just over £13 - an absolute bargain - which I'm sure is a great deal less than you'd pay in a trendy Up-Town sushi bar1
I simply couldn't fault this place. I'll definitely be coming again soon, with an army of friends. Not only is the food great, but it's all the little touches that make this restaurant a truly remarkable place to eat, whether you just want to pop in for a quick snack, or you want a full-blown meal. Express lunches of five plates are available for only £4.95, a buffet is available on Tuesday nights, and they are even proposing a regular champagne and oysters night in the near future. There is even a take-away service! "You'll be offering a home delivery service next!" I joked with them… only to be told that it's something they already have in the pipeline. Believe me, these chaps have thought of everything.
Satori Sushi is open seven days a week from lunchtime until 11pm. Get down there as soon as you can because during June you can get 10% off meals when you mention the advert in Go! Magazine!
Satori Sushi, Unit 8 Rotunda, Clarence Street
Kingston Upon Thames
Tel: 020 8546 5533
Words by Ozz
When I decided to sample the French cuisine at Le Chien Qui Fume in East Molesey, near Hampton Court, I didn't expect to get such a warm welcome!
I have to say, that never before have I dined in a restaurant where the service could not be faulted, and this is undoubtedly due to owners Luigi and Carlo Dioli. Helpful, attentive and very amusing, Luigi made our meal a memorable one, and I would certainly recommend dining at this superb restaurant for any special occasion.
Elegant, but cosy; and very relaxed, as soft music plays in the background, Le Chien Qui Fume (The Smoking Dog) is a great choice of restaurant for a romantic meal for two, or a special celebration with friends or family. The open-plan kitchen makes the restaurant even more unique as you can see the chefs as they work.
I was surprised to see only a small selection of dishes for the set main menu, but the daily specials more than make up for it. I tried the Supreme de Volaille Grille (chicken), which was cooked to perfection, on a bed of salad. This was followed by Les Crepes Suzette for dessert - pancakes with orange juice, sugar, lemon and butter, flamed with Grand Marnier and Brandy. The dessert choice was particularly hard to choose from because they all looked so fantastic! Nid de Meringue, a meringue nest filled with vanilla ice cream and fresh fruit, and Les Oranges Grand Marnier, orange segments cooked with sugar, white wine and Brandy, are just some of the desserts available to make your mouth water. If I had my way, I would have stayed there all night and sampled them all…
Carlo is the main chef, but Luigi cooked my pancakes right in front of me that evening. Watching the flames flare up from the brandy, I had my camera posed perfectly to get a fantastic shot, only to realize that I'd pressed the record button instead! So, although the film footage looked great, it can't be seen in the magazine…
Food from Le Chien Qui Fume also extends outside the restaurant, as the owners run a corporate hospitality business. As well as catering for special occasions such as weddings and birthdays, the company can also provide Champagne receptions and all-day hospitality for corporate events. Companies they currently cater for include some of the country's biggest sporting events, such as Royal Ascot, the British Grand Prix, Epsom, Kempton and Sandown Races, the Varsity Match, Henley Regatta and more.
Although the prices at Le Chien Qui Fume may be higher than some would pay, the meals are worth every penny. As the service is priceless, you can't get better value for money than that.
Le Chien Qui Fume
107 Walton Road, East Molesey, KT8 0DR
Tel: 020 8979 7150 www.chienquifume.co.uk