Mar 30 2012

Shiori, The

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I had read a lot of reviews of this restaurant and almost every acclaimed London food critic was giving this place 10/10 or 5/5. I am not trying to be controversial or stand out in my much lower rating, I just want to explain what went wrong when I was there which left me feeling a bit disappointed. I was hoping this was going to be as good as Sushi Tetsu, another great Japanese restaurant which I really like, but it was not.

I had booked a table for dinner on a Saturday evening at 6.30 on the Easter weekend and I wanted to have a nice and early dinner and be back in time to watch some nice movie with my boyfriend before going to bed. I did not know I was going to spend 4.5 h in the restaurant, freezing and being hungry for half of the time (hence I never made it back in time to watch a movie).

The Shiori does Japanese Kaiseki food under the main chef Takashi Takagi who built his career as a chef in Kyoto under the philosophy of his old master Chef Mori and he tries to achieve “perfection focused on balance of the taste, texture, colours and appearance based on seasonal theme”. When we arrived and the lady that was serving us (1 person serving 5 tables in the restaurant) saw my big camera she said I could take pictures of the food but not of the chefs (which is fine as it was the same thing in Sushi Tetsu). I studied the menu and we had the option to order a la carte or chose a tasting menu (Kaiseki Hana for £65 or Kaiseki Kokoro for £105) and they greatly encourage you to have the longer tasting menu which I had already prebooked when I booked a table (the lady on the phone said they could run out of these and that I should pre-book).

Even though we arrived at 6.30 the food was not served to us until much later and we got the first course almost an hour after we had ordered (as there are 12 different courses I was starting to get a bit worried), and the thing that annoyed me the most was that people that arrived almost an hour later than we did, at the end were served food at the same time as we were, so almost does not matter what time you arrive they want to serve the same course to everyone at the same time, which really disadvantages the first people that have arrived, such as us.

To go with our meal we ordered some sake and by the end of the meal I had finished 2 bottles of sake but was feeling not drunk or even tipsy and I kept drinking and ordering only because I was so bored and as much as I love my boyfriend even he can’t keep me entertained in the same place for almost 5h. The sake was not as nice as in Sushi Tetsu, the waitress (wife of the chef) in Sushi Tetsu suggested an amazing sake for us and in Sushi of Shiori the sake was much stronger (despite the waitress telling us we were having the mildest sake), and just not as nice.

As I mentioned before another thing that totally ruined our dining experience was the temperature. The restaurant was freezing and the waitress had put a tiny heater on one side of the room that was supposed to heat us but even if you went 1m close to it, you could not really feel any warmth coming from it, so most of the evening I spent freezing and constantly ordering tea (which was not brought to me quickly as one waitress was not enough for the whole restaurant, and whilst one waitress is enough for 7 people in Sushi Tetsu, it is not enough for 5 tables in The Shiori). At one point my poor boyfriend was so fed up with this place he said I should give it 1M. Also the thing that annoyed me was how towards the end of the meal the waitress suddenly realized she could close the outer door and switch on another set of heating coming from the ceiling which was very powerful and immediately warmed us up, and why we had to freeze (and we told her we were freezing) for 2/3 of the meal without this amazing heating, I don’t know.

Ok, but enough about the rest of the things, and now I will focus on the food, which I did think was excellent. The first dish that arrived was an amuse bouche, fish marinated in miso and green tea and it had a strong and interesting flavour, nothing like I have had before, and even though I did not love it, I could see the skill that had gone into it. The next 2 courses that followed, “starter” and “appetizer” had small pieces of fish (and uncooked scallop for the 2nd dish) in different preparation methods and the scallop was topped with some caviar. The 2 dishes were decorated with a leaf which was not very tasty but because I was starving, I ate both. The fish were great, fresh and lovely flavoured. Next followed the seasonal soup which had fish, tofu and mushrooms in it, and which I thought had lovely and strong flavour and I could have had much more. The next course was a wonderfully presented sashimi, they gave you 5 different types of fish, including lobster and fatty tuna and it was decorated with leaves and a flower (which I ate as I was so hungry and the waitress was laughing at me doing soand said it was edable which I doubt as it was so bitter) and you were advised to start eating the fish from left to right to bring out the best flavour. Next came the “grilled dish” which was probably my least favourite dish of the whole evening and had vegetables in a folded omlette and presented like sushi pancake which you dipped in the sauce.

Then came the “simmered dish”, amazing and super super tender wagye beef on some vegetables and I absolutely loved this beef (but wagye beef is almost always absolutely mouthwatering). After this we got a “vinegared dish”, clams in a vinegary type of dressing, which were ok. Then followed the nigiri sushi which together with the next seasonal rice dish was my favourite part of the meal. The nigiri sushi was brought to us in 2 different batches, first came fatty tuna, the belly of tuna, which the waitress explained was even better than fatty tuna and another white fish, and all this was sensational. Next followed 2 other types of nigiri, a scallop nigiri and a prawn one, equally sensational. And for our “seasonal rice dish” we got eel sushi, which was thin but tall topped with wonderful pieces of eel, and the best eel sushi I have ever had. I know my boyfriend does not have fond memories of this place, but I think I should drag him back to this place for some more of this amazing sushi, which was equal to Sushi Tetsu. The last main course was “Tomewan” which means “last soup served in a Kaiseki course” which was a lobster miso soup and even though I could not find any lobster meat to eat, just the head, the flavour of the broth was great. To finish our meal we had cherry blossom sorbet and Japanese green tea ice cream, and I loved the sorbet, such an interesting and lovely taste.

Had the restaurant not been as cold, and had the service been better and faster and also had we not had to wait almost 5 hours for the whole dinner to be served, I would have given this place a much higher rating, as I though the sushi and the fish were incredible, and even the dishes I did not find extremely tasty were created with superb skill and thoughtfulness, but yes because our experience was not that great, I can’t give this place more than MMMm, which is still very good.

Date: 30/03/12
Price for 2 people with alcohol and including service charge: £286.76
Location: Bayswater

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3.50

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Shiori, The
45 Moscow Road, W2 4AH
London
United Kingdom
GB
Shiori, The Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 3.5