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Kaiseki at Saki, October 2007. [Jun. 25th, 2008|09:31 pm]
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(I'm shunting this over from the RGL entry because I want to cut the existing text on the entry down a bit in order to add info about a subsequent visit. Apologies to those who've already read it.)

Saki is probably one of my top five — maybe even my top three — London restaurants at the moment.

Situated just across the road from Smithfield Market, it's perhaps not in the most obvious part of town for fine dining; but it's worth the trip.

My first visit was on a Wednesday evening in October 2007; I dragged uon along with me, having booked two places at the sushi counter. There were a few people dining at the smaller tables, and another couple joined us at the counter a little later on. We had the six-course kaiseki with matched wines and sakes. The wine pairing was perhaps a mistake; it wasn't paced particularly well, with too much alcohol at the start of the meal and not enough at the end.

The food was very good though.

The first course was half-cooked lobster with mizuna in a tasty sesame sauce. I do like the half-cooked (mi-cuit) style for fish.

We were both very keen on the second course of seared salmon slices wrapped around marinaded raw onion and served with a thin green chilli sauce. Looking back, this dish is comparable to the yellowtail sashimi with green chilli salsa that rjw1 and I recently had at Dinings. I would like to eat more sashimi in this style.

Tempura was third; I am never very excited by tempura, so I'm not the right person to comment on this course. I had absolutely no complaints about it though; the batter was hot, crisp, not greasy, and not tough.

Salmon teriyaki followed this; the sushi chef said we could have rice with this if we wanted, but he didn't recommend this since the sushi course was next, and so we followed his advice. He was right.

The fifth course comprised chutoro, yellowtail, and prawn nigiri, and inside-out rolls with shiso leaf. We were positively encouraged to eat the nigiri with our hands; the waitstaff brought round warm handwipes in advance, and the chef recommended we use fingers instead of chopsticks. The rice portions on the nigiri were smaller than I've had anywhere else, which I was pleased about in the context of the multi-course meal, and the fish portion was in proportion to the rice.

The final course was ice cream (green tea flavour, I think), and a small portion of cake, which doop was very pleased with. (I'm not a dessert person, but he is, so if he likes it then it's good.)

Service was patchy and sometimes slightly awkward. One of my wine glasses was removed before I'd finished drinking from it, and doop's dessert plate was whipped away just as I was about to transfer my portion of cake to it. Overall, I did feel as though we were rushed through the meal slightly. (Note: these issues were not at all in evidence on our latest visit, earlier this month.)

The sushi chef was very chatty and friendly, and sitting at the sushi counter was definitely a good choice. In fact, he remembered us when we visited nine months later, accompanied by julietk, for the vegan kaiseki which I will post about shortly. I'm always surprised when someone recognises me! Though I have a feeling that when they do, it's because I was the scruffiest person who ever entered their restaurant — this would explain why it never happens in pubs :)

Hello Kake!

I read this
You used too many words that I didn't understand
I'd like to read more restaurant reviews on yr livejournal
You should totally get a standalone blog so you could be an Official London Food Blogger
I read RGL anyway so I'll just keep up with your writing on there

[User Picture]From: miss_newham
2008-06-25 10:18 pm (UTC)
Please use more words I don't understand!
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[User Picture]From: nou
2008-06-25 10:50 pm (UTC)
Aw, you are ace :)
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[User Picture]From: atommickbrane
2008-06-26 10:17 am (UTC)
Wot they need is a copy of Wine no Hajimekata! It teaches you how to be the perfect sommelier! I have a copy but unfortunately contemplation of the colour of Jin Akanishi's p4nts has not taught me enough Japanese literacy skills to identify my claret from my beauuuujolaaaaais. But, wot you could do is bring the game along and make them select yr booze in accordance. Yep, I bet they'd LOOOOVE that.
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[User Picture]From: nou
2008-06-26 07:40 pm (UTC)
I am never quite sure whether it's safe to Google for the things you talk about :) That game does sound really quite cool though! How on earth does it work?
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[User Picture]From: sphyg
2008-06-26 10:21 am (UTC)
Damn, craving sushi now ;)
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[User Picture]From: caramel_betty
2008-06-26 01:47 pm (UTC)
For Official London Food Blogging, assuming there's some site syndicating such things or something, you could just use a consistent tag and they take the RSS feed for that tag.

mjg59 does similar sorts of things for some of the Unix-y type places, for example.
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[User Picture]From: nou
2008-06-26 07:42 pm (UTC)
Hm, maybe. I think Proper Bloggers don't like commenting on LiveJournal though, and it was more for the community aspect that I was considering it.

However I have come to my senses and realised that the absolute last thing the interweb needs is yet another London food blog. Probably.
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[User Picture]From: beeswing
2008-06-30 06:52 pm (UTC)
Hello, I hope you don't mind if I add you! I've been loving your vegan recipes and see that we have a couple of mutual friends on here. :)
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[User Picture]From: nou
2008-06-30 08:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes, hello! I wondered who this new person was. I'm afraid I don't make all that many public entries (though I suppose this will change if people want restaurant reviews...)

Are you vegan, then, or do you just like vegan food? (I'm in the latter situation.)

The vegan kaiseki at the restaurant I describe in this post is really really good.
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From: kaet
2008-07-05 12:49 am (UTC)
Sushi's not dead enough for me, but I like to read reviews of things.

I wish there were posh restaurants where you ordered stuff at a counter, all at the start, paid for it, and then they brought it out at the right time. All this catching the waiter's eye thing, and waiting to ask for the menu so that you can wait to ask for dessert, and stuff, can be really irritating. Also, ones where there aren't tips, where the service is included, so that you feel more like your engaging in a fair exchange of goods than friendship-prostitution. All that, like at cheap places, but nice food.
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[User Picture]From: nou
2008-07-12 04:22 pm (UTC)
Yes, I do see what you mean, though a lot of the time service irritations are down to the service just not being as good as it could be. It is a very skilled job, really, though it's not usually seen as one by the general public.

I think the custom of ordering dessert separately is probably because you don't really know if you'll still be hungry after your starter and main until you've seen how filling they are, isn't it? I'm sure that most decent restaurants would let you order dessert at the same time as starter and main if you asked; they just don't expect people to want to.
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