Kushi-ya Japanese Grill, has recently opened at Cannon Court in Long Row they describe themselves as “a small independent Japanese grill specialising in kushiyaki. Kushiyaki consists of skewered meat and fish cooked over charcoal”
Kushi-ya had been serving up their offerings through a number of pop-ups over the last year, events that had been most popular and well thought of. Frusher on Food wrote a nice blog about an evening that he had attended, I had a good read of that before I went along to the new restaurant to see if I could get an idea of what I might expect to find. (read that post here)
A glance through their menu suggested that I could expect to find a whole load of different things on skewers as well as a number of small plate dishes. I had to google a lot of them to find out what they were before I had even considered ordering which was just as much fun as eating them 🙂
Kushi-ya has the sort of menu that probably should be judged as a whole as opposed to the sum of it’s parts. When I look back at the experience I thoroughly enjoyed the meal that I ate as an entity and I loved sipping on the cocktails that I chose. Now whether I chose well or sensibly is a totally different thing indeed and if you glance through the things that I did pick out you may have an opinion as to whether I did pick wisely 🙂
I chose sparingly as I was not sure what would be too much, so went for one of the ‘snack’ items the ‘Prawn Shumai,’ one of the small plates ‘Salmon tataki, jalapeni ponzu‘, a special ‘Pork Belly’, and a skewer ‘Tsukune, tare, egg’ yolk’ oh and a dessert ‘waffles’ ooh and of course I just had to try a couple of their cocktails. I felt it would have been rude not to partake of some imbibation :-)
As a meal it all did work, but some dishes I enjoyed more than others
Pork Belly Braised in sake & soy and served with green onion & mustard
The undoubted highlight of the meal was the Pork belly special that they had on, this was Pork Belly Braised in sake & soy and served with green onion & mustard. This was a fantastic bite of food, juicy tender meat, crisp skin and lots of unctious fatty belly pork.
The coating was sticky and sweet and was so very moorish. The green onion added some nice crunch, the mustard added a sour note and the soy added salt. I said at the time that if there was one dish that I would come back for, then it would be this dish.
It was a shame that it was only on the specials board, I have high hopes that it might become a regular fixture on their menu. Value wise if you were only having one or two dishes then I would favour this, as for £7 I felt you had a decent amount of meat on the plate. I know that you are paying for quality and not quantity in places like this, but somehow this felt more fairly priced
Tsukune, tare, egg yolk
I was also somewhat enamoured with the “Tsukune, tare, egg yolk” from the skewers section of the menu. This is a classic Japanese yakitori offering, it looks like a little skewer of meat and that is essentially what it is. In this case you are getting a hand moulded chicken sausage that is glazed and served with tare which is kind of like a Teriyaki sauce. It was also served with an egg yolk which made for a thick creamy sauce as I broke it apart to dip my bits of meat in.
This was a dish that you just had to pull of the skewers by hand, it was a bit too tricky for me to slide them off with my chopsticks. I quite like the flavour of this skewer and I also like the coarseness of the meat as well, which I understand is the crunch from the addition of all the left over bits of chicken that get mixed in.
Visually this is quite a stunning looking dish and even the light gleaning from the plate upon it was served added to the experience as the flutter of light titillated the eye just as the flavours did one’s taste buds.
Prawn shumai, Chilli, Garlic
I do love a great dumpling and I am always happy to see one on any menu. It was then with great pleasure that I ordered the Prawn shumai from the ‘snacks’ section of the menu. These particular ones were described as being with chilli and garlic.
I quite liked the solidity of these, they were packed out with chunks of prawn and the actual dumpling casing was a pretty solid chew. Flavourings wise this seemed quite subtle, I got a bit of spice from the chilli, but I fear that any flavour nuances that I was supposed to pick up had been destroyed by the cocktail I was supping.
I was most pleased also to see an even number of shumai on that plate, even though I was dining alone, I also get grumpy when it is an uneven number and I am sharing. So this was a fairer presentation
Salmon tataki, jalapeno ponzu
I really fancied the sound and look of the Salmon tataki which came with a jalapeno ponzu. If I am honest I was expecting something a little larger for my £6.50 outlay, but I guess that sometimes it is not always just about the size. This dish was essentially about four slices of Salmon topped with some slices jalapeno and crispy bits, all laid out on top of that ponzu sauce.
I am not quite sure what I felt about this dish, I liked it well enough, but perhaps it was all a bit too subtle for my taste buds. It was in keeping with the overall meal and so fitted in well, it was also quite a light dish which was good as I had picked out two meaty and fattier dishes, so perhaps it was a good complimentary choice. I did fear that most of the flavour was lost, overcome by the power of my cocktail. Perhaps a glass of sparkling water next time
Kinako Fried waffle, Blackberry Mousse
I do love a nice bit of waffle so I ignored the advice of my hostess who recommended the Tira’miso and ordered the Kinako Fried waffle with Blackberry Mousse. It was quite nice, it did taste deep fried but the fruit flavours were nice enough. I might have liked this with some sort of ice cream but to be fair I was not picking my choices from the kids menu. If I come back I will try the Tira ‘miso’. (I was just being stubborn)
I did try a couple of the cocktails and I have to say that they were both excellent, and packed a punch. I could easily pop in here for a drink and perhaps just a plate of that Pork Belly to kick off an evening around town
The drinks were a big part of the experience, I was getting quite merry sipping the Yuza margarita and I had to pace myself before the food arrived otherwise I could have been under the table before a single bite had passed my lips. I think it was the tequila as that is one drink that gets me every time 🙂
Yuzu margarita – tequila, triple sec
Lemongrass & ginger sour – whisky, sake
The Lemongrass & ginger sour made up of whisky and sake was equally lethal, it was far too easy to quaff and I could see myself getting into trouble if I was allowed too many of these!!
The menu overall seemed well balanced, but I hope that it evolves and that new dishes come into the mix as I would want more to bring me back a lot. I was still a bit hungry and would have ordered another couple of dishes, if I had seen something that I just had to have. To be honest I wanted to order more Pork Belly but they had sold out quick!
As I said at the start I had a really great experience and some tasty and interesting bites of food. This place is a little different to many places that I dine at around the town so it was nice to be a bit fancier that I normally am.
I hope that they do well as it seems a great addition to the dining options in the city centre and worth checking out if you are in town. I thought it was good value as I had a meal and a couple of cocktails for just under £45. At lunchtime they do a cheaper deal for £10 which you might want to check out if you are just a bit curious and want to dip your toe in to see if you like it 🙂