Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Restaurant Review: Sushinho

The idea of a restaurant fusing Brazilian and Japanese food sounds somewhat way out, neither country having an obvious cultural or geographical connection with the other. Until you start to think about raw fish, that is. While Japan is famous for its sashimi, Brazil and much of South America are well known for ceviche, a dish which is fast becoming a staple on London restaurant menus. Think then of beef, and again there are parallels to be drawn. Where Japan has its world-renowned Wagyu, Brazil is no stranger to steak. It’s in these two ingredients that you have the basis of Sushinho, already a successful restaurant in Chelsea and now the newest opening in Devonshire Square, an increasingly foodie office quarter which houses Cinnamon Kitchen, New Street Grill and Kenza among other restaurants.
This new opening is much larger than the West London original, with the addition of The Cutler Bar in the basement which offers a small selection of dishes from the main menu, along with an eclectic selection of punchy cocktails which are loosely tied to the restaurant’s theme through an overzealous use of both sake and Brazilian spirit cachaça. Our waiter is just as zealous with the topping up of our crisp, salty and ridiculously addictive cassava chips, but that’s entirely a good thing.
With a more substantial platter of nigiri and sashimi to start than most japanese venues can muster, perhaps I should have eaten those cassava chips with less vigour. Still, light and bright flavours make easy work of polishing the lot off, including a sprightly mix of eel and fresh papaya, and unctuous roasted pork topped with sun-drenched droplets of sphericalised pineapple - pineapple caviar, if you will. Scallop ceviche comes with real caviar as well as a generous glug of truffle oil. Raw apple brings the dish back down to earth, cutting through the luxuriously heady flavours to keep up the signature fresh feel.  
Beef is the only natural follow-up to all that fish, and Sushinho’s selection includes grilled steaks as well as some neat wagyu sliders in which admittedly delicious toppings of comte, onion relish and pickled cucumber come disappointingly close to out-flavouring the much heralded beef. A picanha steak, a popular Brazilian cut which boasts a large rim of meltingly oozy fat, fares much better, being at once deeply charred and smoky tasting, bleedingly rare and packed with its own, earthy beef flavour. Quite why Sushinho has chosen to use USA beef over Brazilian (or indeed British) for this classic South American dish, I do not know, but it does deliver the goods.
A selection of tropical fruit sorbets makes for a less dynamic ending than one might have hoped for, but they are homemade, vibrant and refreshing: exactly what is called for after a packed meat feast that started prematurely when the cassava chips came out. For all those fusion food cynics out there, be aware that eating at Sushinho may involve you eating your words, too.

Devonshire Square, EC2M 4AE
Tube: Liverpool Street
Price: £££
Written by Ben Norum

Originally published in Scout London magazine

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