Japanese food is my absolute favourite. Clean and clearly defined flavours, delicate portions, spankingly fresh fare and an absolute joy for those of us who are dairy and gluten free (just go easy on the soy sauce). Sushi and all things fishy seem to have gained a lot of press attention in recent weeks as hot on the tails of the successful 'French Women Don't Get Fat' comes a Japanese version which also claims to delay the signs of ageing. Hmmm.
So, when my very slim and amazingly youthful-looking friend, C, emailed to suggest a catch-up, sushi seemed to be the obvious choice. I had previously initiated C into food of the Land of the Rising Sun at a kaiten-zushi (conveyor-belt) joint to ease her and her nerves in gently. Having not only survived but thorougly enjoyed that experience, C was now ready for the next stage. A full on Japanese restaurant. And so we skipped to Kisso in South Kensington, my favourite.
As ever at this wonderful little local, the service was erratic at best, tediously slow at worse however the waiting staff are so delightfully sweet and the food is beyond comparison at its reasonable price that one can't help but be happy to bide one's time.
We shared a bowl of steamed edamame beans sprinkled with sea salt, the beans feeling like pearls in comparison to their hairy pods when prised apart with one's teeth. The puckering of one's lips should be an indication that enough salt has been consumed, however I can never heed such warnings as I just cannot get enough of these little jewels. I fail to understand why some lesser-quality restaurants insist on serving edamame cold as the heat is needed to transform these soy beans from hard pellets to silky buttons.
I chose scallop sashimi - the sweetest, most tender savoury food that I have ever experienced. And such freshness. I could happily eat this everyday for the rest of my life although I didn't dare ask if the scallops had been diver caught in case my conscience didn't like the reply.
I followed the sashimi with unagi (grilled eel) and cucumber rolls, the coolness of the cucumber proving to be the perfect foil to the oily eel fresh and all wrapped in perfectly vinegared sushi rice which was so freshly prepared that it was still slightly warm. Combined with a sinus-clearing dab of wasabi these rolls were a big hit.
C's cod on a bed of ginger and mushroom rice was wonderfully perfumed, the ginger adding to rather than masking the delicate flavour of the fish.
Two glasses of wine and a small bottle of water later, the whole thing came to under £40. And we felt safe in the knowledge that our waistlines and wrinkles were safe.