I'd wanted to try Soseki since I'd heard about its kaiseki concept and sustainable fishing credentials when it first opened a few weeks back. I suppose 'sustainability' resonates even in this location, beside the Gherkin in the beating heart of Capitalism when these days a banker might be considered optimistic if she irons 5 shirts on a Sunday evening. The upside to the downturn became quickly apparent when my weekly sweep of squaremeal.co.uk turned up the elusive 'meal deal' we turn to in troubled times - I couldn't believe my luck to find 2 for 1 at this beautifully reviewed venue, even if we had to be there for 6.30pm.
So, tonight we headed into the evening gloom to the eerily quiet square (what happened to post work boozing in the city, it really is a ghost town out there). My only gripe was that I requested a 7pm table, and when told only 6.30 was available on the meal deal I took it thinking that bargain hunters couldn’t be choosers - but we were the only people there when we arrived at 6.45pm.We quickly decided that while the £25 sushi menu was tempting the £50 Haiku Sushi Kappa would be even better if it was half the price.
The chef chooses the market best fish, meat and vegetables on the day and constructs menus around that - it isn’t the place for trendy rolls but for considered and beautifully constructed food in our case starting with an appetiser - pickled lotus root and the oft "drunk-with-dandelion-but-never-eaten-before" burdock and some thinly layered tofu. Warm, earthy and very seasonal.
Then there was sashimi - salmon, yellowtail and bass - good texture and incredibly fresh.
Next up was a very special clear soup with a nugget of fried Pollock, a shiitake and the most beautiful piece of tofu I've ever eaten.
Nigiri Sushi came immediately afterwards and each piece was lovingly dusted with pretty flavour dust - ginger on the horse mackerel is quite usual but the chili on the Pollock, a fish I had never eaten before, made my lips tingle. I particularly liked the citrus zing of shiso cress on the salmon. Really, a very pleasurable plate of sushi. My only comment is that the rice is a tiny bit more vinegary than I would like and in a restaurant with this eco bent surely the time to try brown rice is nigh!
Next up came chicken porridge for my husband and I had the plumpest steamed scallops with shimeji mushrooms and ponzu sauce. I quite liked mine but he thought the porridge was a bit too much like baby food.
The tempura (pictured at the top of the post) was light and lovely and featured another two firsts - celery leaf and carrot - crispy and delicious and the first time I've ever seen my husband eat celery!
Just when I was starting to flail we had the final sushi course - two salmon and avocado maki and a salmon and a mackerel & mint kappa. This was good but accompanied by a slightly heavy brown crab and wakame salad. The homemade pickled daikon instead of ginger was nice, but I would have liked to have had ginger too, not instead of because I love ginger so much, especially in the cold and flu season.
Finally, there is dessert - I couldn’t taste any wasabi in my chocolate covered apricot and wasabi jelly, nor the macha in the very smooth macha one. I also thought the mini macha financier (sp :)) was a bit dry. But it was pretty and a perfectly acceptable end to a lovely meal.
The staff never made me feel mingy about being on the 2 for 1 and were a delight all evening. We didn't drink much (I had tea) and the bill came to £65. Imagine! But even at £105 it would have been worth it - I’ll definitely be back, hopefully before the end of Jan when the 2 for 1 offer ends and maybe to see how they would fare with an entirely vegetarian menu!
20 Bury Street, 1F, London EC3A 5AX T: 020 7621 9211 F: 020 7621 9210