Saturday, July 20, 2019

Restaurant review: MAI SUSHI (Kings Cross)

Eat Tokyo is my favourite Japanese restaurant in London. Their dishes are marvellous, so reasonably priced, and their meals are both flavourful and healthy. Because of this, I've dined there over ten times, and it's become my go-to Japanese place when I don't feel like researching other places.

Concerned that Eat Tokyo was becoming my favourite due to my own laziness and inertia, I decided to scope out its competition. As part of my job, I have tutorials for professional actuarial qualifications in Kings Cross, and I saw that Mai Sushi, which has a very salubrious TripAdvisor rank of being a top 1,300 restaurant in over 19,000 in London, was located in the vicinity of where my classes were. Thus, I decided it would be rude not to go there for lunch one day.

To start, I had veggie tempura. It was nice, but for £6.50, the structural integrity of it could have been more precise, robust (John Wick Chapter 2 reference, ehehe). You get roughly the same quantity of food for the same price at Eat Tokyo, and the one at Eat Tokyo is much more satisfying.

There were a few sushi boats on the menu at Mai Sushi. On one of my countless revisits to Eat Tokyo, I had actually tried a boat once, pictured in the centre below:


There's something about a whole lot of sushi, all laid out together, that I just can't resist, and the quality of the salmon at Eat Tokyo is unparalleled.


However, I was more discerning about the boat on offer at Mai Sushi, because it featured 'chef's selection' as one of the options served. Having been to (and reviewed) many London restaurants, experience has taught me that 'chef's selection' is a euphemism for 'whatever dregs are left over and we can't flog'. So I was less keen to jump on Mai Sushi's boat.

Instead, I got four different thick rolls, which, when chopped up and presented as below, made my mouth water far more than the choices in the boat dish:


I had the dragon (inside out roll), soft shell crab (thick roll), King Cross roll (inside out roll) and the dragon roll. They all tasted very good to great, with the Tiger roll, which contained a heavenly blend of deep fried prawn and salmon skin, cucumber and avocado, pleasing my tastebuds the most.

I was impressed by the fact that the restaurant didn't skimp on the seafood, as some sushi places have done (and tried to disguise it with an abundance of rice instead). The green and orange seaweed-looking topping on the two inside-out rolls were a really nice touch, and gave the rolls an unusual, but interesting texture.

The price of each of the four cut rolls in the photo above ranged from £8.00 to £9.50, however, meaning that for a plate that only just filled me up for lunch, it set me back a not-insubstantial £35.

For that price at Eat Tokyo, you could get a Bento box, a starter, an alcoholic beverage and cover the tip, and be equally nourished. So, whilst I was well-fed and happy with the service and the food I had at Mai Sushi, it left me a bit wanting in terms of value for money.

I can definitely see why Mai Sushi is popular, as they produced the food at a rapid speed, and the waiters were efficient and attentive, without being in-your-face with it. The food was yummy (although I think it's hard to go wrong with sushi). But for a cheaper meal, where the dishes are even more delicious, and the starters have had more care in their preparation, Eat Tokyo still remains the O.G.

Grade: B

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To read more of my experiences of spending my hard-earned cash on various restaurants around London, and my reflections on them, click here.

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