Thursday, 6 June 2019

HOT STONE - THE BEST SPOT FOR SUSHI IN LONDON THAT NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT (YET)...






Finding expertly made, high quality sushi in London is far from easy. On the surface sushi is readily available, there is an Itsu and Abokado at every street corner, and almost every supermarket will sell you something that they coin sushi. Of course, this may in theory be sushi, rice topped with raw fish though that isn’t a given either, but in reality, is as far from the real deal as you can really get. 

If you’ve ever seen ‘Jiru Dreams Of Sushi’ you know what I am talking about. Preparing sushi is somewhat of an art, the chefs that master it for decades learning every small detail in the preparation process, spending years learning how to cook the rice and slice the fish in the most masterful of ways. Every piece created is almost like an artwork and not something you get in a cardboard box for £6.99 out of a cooling shelf. I know it is an easy lunch fix but let’s not call that proper sushi but a westernised alternative to a Pret sandwich that has never massively appealed to me.

Of course there is the other side of the scale also available in London, super high end, high class sushi joints that have imported the best of the best sushi chefs from Japan, places where it is pretty hard to not spend a small fortune which means I have really struggled to find the kind of sushi that is still semi affordable but is also authentic with fresh ingredients that make all the difference.
I was therefore more than excited when I was invited down to try Hot Stone in Angel, an unassuming looking Japanese joint specialising in handmade sushi (the charming and highly skilled head chef Padam will prepare it right in front of you if you perch on one of the stools at their wooden bar) and hot stone cooking, more on that later, which simply blew me away not only with the food served but also the incredible attention that is paid to hosting each and every diner.

First things first let’s talk about the location and interiors, I know Angel well, I spent most of my Sundays pottering around the area, and had no idea this utter dining gem was in this part of world. Why? Well it is in a bit of a random location down Chapel market, passed a point where the bet shops and 99p stores begin to appear and where you just wouldn’t expect world class cooking to take place.

That may be a blessing in disguise as Hot Stone will never be overrun by tourists, though I do hope more people will make the trek down here after reading this post, well not exactly a trek being 5 minutes from Angel station but you know what I mean, to discover Hot Stone for themselves. Once we got past our initial doubts on the location we knew authenticity was high on the agenda as we stepped foot inside the restaurant, instantly transported into what felt like a little sushi bar in the heart of Tokyo. Classic minimalist wooden interiors, staff in traditional Japanese dress and faux Cherry trees climbing up the walls- I instantly loved how far away this was from the hipster eating out culture of exposed brick walls and tattooed staff one gets so accustomed to in London.

The staff were incredibly attentive and informative, highlighting chef recommendations and making sure we got a good balance of flavours through our menu choices. The menu is divided into different sections, there is a section dedicated to tataki, very briefly seared fish or meat, which stunned us with an incredible butterfish tataki served with jalapeno sauce and equally amazing seabass tataki with yuzo miso sauce and truffle onion salsa that which tried as part of this section.

There is sashimi, we could not get over how silky and beautifully presented the salmon sashimi with spicy truffle yuzu sauce was, as well as more class sushi maki rolls, hand prepared to order of course, with our favourite being the aptly named ‘crunchy hot stone’ roll- king prawn tempura, teriyaki sauce and crunchy tempura flakes, each dish incredibly well prepared, stunningly presented (works of art on a plate I would go as far as saying) and fresh tasting, leaving us nothing short of complete awe.

We then moved on to their grilled section and sampled an out of this world blackened Miso cod which at £27 was not cheap but a work of culinary art worth paying for, and also tried a very nice grilled aubergine dish with homemade miso sauce, though I do have to say if you don’t eat fish Hot Stone is really not the place for you.

Of course, meat eaters will also have a great time here, especially when it comes to their hot stone offering. For those who don’t know hot stone dishes are cooked by the diner themselves on their table using sizzling, super-heated slabs of granite, with the quality of meat and fish left for you to grill to your heart’s desire being the real star of the show. And with quality I mean Wagyu beef, huge juicy king prawns and the freshest chunks of salmon and tuna you could imagine and which you would never be able to find in a UK supermarket. Here the ingredients did the talking, a few sauces served on the side, with dining suddenly becoming a real spectacle, both in terms of the presentation of food but also the outstanding yet stripped back flavours we were presented with.

Yes, Hot Stone will definitely set you back a little more than a takeout at Itsu but considering the love, labour and attention to detail that has gone into every aspect of Hot Stone, from the cooking execution, to the commitment to authenticity (wasabi is freshly grated in front of you) to the absolutely flawless service, this was an overall dining experience I will not forget in a hurry and have been talking about for days since. If you want to splash out on the best sushi in London skip the Roka’s of the dining scene, head to Hot Stone and experience head chef Padam’s magic for yourself.

*the meal was complimentary but all views are mine and I only post about restaurants I feel you should be trying

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