EXCLUSIVE: Issho-Ni (Japanese) – Shoreditch, London
After last week’s joy of introducing you to Japanese restaurant Mitsuryu in Chinatown (grab your 20% discount and go enjoy) – possibly the first one to offer a fully Halal food menu in London – we’re excited to announce the discovery of another.
Unlike the above, however, this particular one, which easily qualifies as a casual-premium establishment, couldn’t be any more exotic given its location.
Having only recently opened in October at the far end of Bethnal Green Road in Shoreditch, Issho-Ni, or “together with” in Japanese, is the inspiration of Claire Su.
Having taken over from the hard work of her parents, who have the distinction of opening the area’s first noodle bar so many moons ago, Claire informed us that she wanted to make Issho-Ni accessible to all, including the area’s large Muslim community.
As such, not only has she and head chef, Eduardo Aguiar – a man who’s worked at high profile restaurants Roka, Moshi Moshi and Chisou while having created menus for Kiri and Bone Daddies – catered for Halal, but also put in place strict working methods to ensure the zero risk of cross-contamination, with different utensils and a separate section dedicated to prepping and cooking the pork.
What’s more, not only is there no pork or alcohol used as ingredients, which includes non-alcoholic teriyyaki, but we were also told that their fish is sourced fresh from the very same suppliers of London’s world-renowned Nobu restaurant chain!
Using a primarily black and white colour scheme, Issho-Ni is elegantly decked out, with large windows confidentally offering a tantilising dining experience to all and sundry walking by.
The Green Iced Tea was an apple-based drink with perhaps some pear and a little physalis stirred in. With fruity-floral tones, this was a refreshing drink made better by taking a bite of the fruit garnish.
As for the Virgin Bloody Geisha, then this wasn’t bad, except that the dominant flavours were the worcester source and chilli. The tomato, therefore, could and should have come through more strongly to balance things out.
It was the tangy-cum-sweet honey mixture coupled with the lingering fruity aftertaste, which made this Honeymoon Mocktail such a good one. Easily the best of the three.
This Salmon Tartare not only looked visually appealing, but tasted even better.
Topped with some fancy caviar, this tartare was perfectly seasoned, and had a hint of a spicy-smoky undertone that allowed the flavour of the salmon to come through nicely.
While the shallots provided some texture, its silky-smooth consistency combined really well with the thin, ultra-crunchy sesame seed crackers.RECOMMENDED
Another beautifully crafted dish, with thin slithers of seabass, dexterously arranged in a floral pattern, being topped with a simple salad and an edible leaf giving the whole thing some height.
But it was the outstanding truffle yuzu sauce on the outside, with its slightly sticky consistency, which made the entire thing sing from the roof tops.
Although we didn’t pick up on the apparent taste of the jalapenos, there was certainly a gentle heat to this, which married well against the lovely tanginess of said dressing.
And the hits just kept on coming with this outstanding Tuna Tartare.
Putting aside the obvious quality of the fish, with its red hue and fatty exterior, and the fact that this had us salivating even before we picked up our chopsticks, it was the same shiso leaf gochujang sauce used in its aforementioned salmon counterpart that impressed us.
What really got us though, was how utterly soft and tender the fish was. With a tart, vinegary flavour to the sauce, the plate also came with a simple salad and that customary yellow edible flower for a splash of colour.
Thanks again to some fresh seafood, the crab was the centre of attention being soft and flaky.
The squeeze of citrus therein contrasted well against the natural sweetness of the crustacean, the earthiness of the radish and the pepperiness of the rocket leaves.
We also enjoyed the textural interplay between the smooth avocado paste and the crispy lotus leaves. All in all, a fantastic bowl that kept things interesting right till the end.
While two Lions would have preferred the rice to be served less chilled than it was, this plate of sushi, unlike many others we’ve had in recent times, not only looked the part, but actually had some meaningful depth of flavour too.
In terms of textures, this had it all. The cucumber rolled in with the salmon, tuna and seabass, along with the delicate shards of crispy golden salmon skin lodged atop orange and black roe, all combined to provide a soft, chewy-cum-crunchy texture.
Flavour-wise, the mild headiness of the truffle mayo lurking in the background was a subtle foil to the subtle flavour of the sea imparted by the trio of fishes, making this a satisying eat.
Similar to the above, this Chef’s Selection of Sashimi also turned out a little too chilled for our collective liking.
Nevertheless, it was attractively set out, with the carefully cut portions of salmon and tuna, which one Lion considered a little too thick, amounting to a near-satisfying mouthful. The chunks of seabass, however, turned out a little on the chewy side.
There was the argument forwarded that these would have been more manageable had they been served closer to room temperature and sliced more thinly.
Topped with yakiniku sauce, which had an almost marmalade consistency to it, these were cooked medium, and came out with a glistening sheen and some attractive charring to them.
Not only were these succulent and juicy, but being striploin, they had a satisfying bite to them too, which allowed us to kick back and masticate with quiet satisfaction.
The sauce itself added a rich, tangy edge to all that meaty goodness, making this a wonderful plate of steak.
Overall, this Yakisoba revolved around the subtle, allowing one to enjoy what little seafood there was (we would have preferred more).
It was, thus, a simple dish, with the noodles cooked with absolute precision, the baby octopi as tender as could be, and the garlic crisps adding both some additional flavour and some much needed texture.
Having seen these Sweetcorn Kakiage being made in one of his all-time fave Japanese movies, Still Walking, one Lion finally got the chance of trying them!
Accompanioned with black truffle aioli, we really enjoyed the way in which the natural sweetness of the corn played against the headiness of the earthy truffle. As such, these golden nuggets of goodness, beautifully crispy while being a touch oily, turned out to be an extremely satisfying snack.
While we were all agreed on the chicken’s lovely and light crispy exterior, which itself was as juicy and tender as one could hope for, we couldn’t quite see eye-to-eye on the curry.
The problem with the latter was two-fold: its texture and its taste. As such, while two Lions didn’t mind its runny consistency and its taste, which had a touch of sweetness to it as well as some lingering heat, the remaining Lion put forth a compelling case to the contrary. He was of the opinion that not only would he have preferred a “hotter and spicier katsu”, but also wanted this to be of a “slightly thicker consistency” for it to properly coat both the chicken and rice.
These pair of Chicken Yakitori skewers, or Chicken “cooked over charcoal”, were ridiculously good!
It was the effortless way in which the deep flavour of the terriyaki sauce married with the smoky barbecue char, which convinced us that, given the chance, we could have devoured a dozen of these dainty little nuggets of absolutely succulent poultry, they were so damned good!
These were large and alluring, and covered in a kombu butter dressing that complimented its naturally sweet, tender flesh.
For those not in the know, then simply twist the head and detach from the body before sucking out the juices therein. As for the body, then peel the shell off carefully – not forgetting to pull the meat out of the tail cavity so as to make sure nothing’s left behind – before devouring.
Tasty little bowl of addictive peppers that were well salted, with a touch of the sour to them.
Small bowl of simple, crunchy Lotus Root chips, with a hint of pepper seasoning to em, that will set you back £3.50!
Really good – glossy sheen; just sticky enough without being overly so; and sprinkled with sesame seeds for extra aroma.
Presented in large, attractive cups, and complete with inner glass strainers, we had Green, Rice, and Roasted, respectively.
The idea is to strain the leaves before putting them aside and enjoying.
All three had subtle earthy tones to them, with either one being good enough to end an evening.
- YES/ YES
- CHILD SEATING
- DISABLED ACCESS
This was a place that punched way above its perceived weight - a perception created perhaps by the area in which it's located. In any case, the menu is extremely varied here and comprises of both modern and classical dishes, with some fusion thrown in, to produce high calibre food that's absolutely fantastic.
Issho-Ni is one of the better Halal-friendly Japanese-oriented restaurant we've been to in London; and for this reason they get a 4.5/5 ROAR rating.
Don't forget to check out our video, which includes an exclusive interview with owner Claire Su. Also, grab your exclusive 50% discount through FtLion (offer ends 13th Dec 2018).
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