Thursday, July 19, 2007

Tsumani, Clapham North

So, I am going out for dinner with a friend. What do you fancy eating? is the usual question. My usual response - 'anything but Moroccan or Japanese'. I may be a foodie, but this does not necessarily mean that I enjoy all kinds of food. I try to be as adventurous as possible, but there are, I am afraid, one of two things that simply do not float my boat.

One of them is the combination of fruit and meat. Or fruit and anything savoury in fact. I can handle apple sauce with my pork and plum sauce with my duck but that is about where it ends. Coleslaw with sultanas? Please, no. Gammon with pineapple? Definitely not. A salad involving peaches? Only for pudding. So Moroccan tagines, as you can imagine, are not top of my list. I love the idea of the slow-cooked meat with all those lovely spices, but then the whole thing is ruined for me by the addition of dried apricots or similar fruity pieces.

As for Japanese food, I have to admit to not being too fond of raw fish. I am not sure why - I enjoy smoked or cured fish, so it is not a question of texture. For me, the flavour of many of these fishes is just more pleasing when it is cooked. And as for sushi - I am simply not hugely fond of all that sticky rice.

So. It was with some trepidation that I accepted an invitation to a birthday party at Tsunami, a restaurant in Clapham North whose kitchen is headed with an ex-Nobu chef. My dear friend Laura, knowing only too well my dislike for raw fish and my very unfortunate allergy to shellfish, assured me there would b plenty of other options that would please me. I trust her implicitly (she is similarly foodie) and braced myself for the experience.

And what an experience it was. I am ashamed by my naive assumptions about Japanese food. It was stunning. Platter after platter of divinely flavoured fish and meat was placed on our table to share. It was beautiful to look at and even better to taste.
The modern, unremarkable-to-look-at restaurant is located in the most unlikely of places. Tucked in a backstreet near Clapham North tube station - you would never find it unless you had received a tip-off. Clearly plenty of people had received said 'tip-off' - the restaurant was busy, a well-known politician amongst the diners.
We started with Japanese soy beans with rock salt - perfect with the celebratory glass of Champagne. Next we savoured melt-in-the-mouth chicken dumplings and seared salmon sashimi.

Next came sushi and the gleaming raw fish - I nibbled on a bit of sushi. It was excellent, as sushi goes. But I remain unconvinced. Still. It didn't matter as there were so many other wonderful dishes to enjoy. Vegetable tempura was light and tasty and, as with everything, came with wonderful dipping sauce.

The meat dishes were spectacularly good. I was surprised as I had expected the fish to be the star. Beef fillet was tender and flavoursome and accompanied by a delicious soy-based sauce. Teriyaki, perhaps, but I couldn't be sure. There was also good chargrilled lamb with wasabi pepper sauce that was memorable.

Sea bass was spectacularly presented...

I thought that the strong flavours of the accompanying sauce might overwhelm, but they complemented the fish perfectly. The best by far, however, wast the eagerly awaited black cod with sweet miso. This dish is legendary and harks back to Nobu. I felt sure it would disappoint, such was the build up. But oh no. Truly marvellous. I am unable to understand how the flesh of this fish could be made to seem to rich and luxurious beneath its sweet, sticky exterior. It was divine. I was disappointed that I had eaten so much already as I couldn't manage as much as I would have liked. So. A definite thumbs up for Tsunami. And a turn-around for me and my blinkered view of Japanese food. This was truly one of the best meals I have eaten in some time. In fact, I think it could be one of the best ever for the interesting flavours, varying textures and faultless service from the Tsunami staff. On the matter of service, the staff were informed ahead of time that I was allergic to shellfish. As each platter was placed on the table, three waiters would individually come and explain (discretely) what I could and couldn't eat, offering substitutes where necessary. I was seriously impressed.

Next stop, Morocco! Any suggestions?

Tsunami, 4-7 Voltaire Road, Clapham North, London, SW4

1 comment:

Margaret said...

Hello - thank you for visiting my foodblog and leaving a comment. Of course you can link with me and in due course, I will put you on as a reciprocal link. I've really enjoyed looking at the photographs and reading about the delicious food etc. Where I live, I think I would be hardpressed to find anywhere that could serve up such spectacular food!