Atari-ya, London

at long last, the day has come when i finally decide that this update drought has been going on for far too long, and am jolted into taking action to revive this space… hello, it’s been a while, but i can never stay away for long, and am back in action! thought chinese new year was a pretty apt time to do this – new year new beginnings, eh? 🙂 (gong xi fa cai, everybody!)

its been close to 6 weeks since i’ve started my final term (yes, you read that right – FINAL TERM :O 😥 😦 ) and close to the end of my final reading week (yes again – FINAL reading week 😥 ) here in london, and needless to say, my imminent departure from this city i have come to love has resulted in me venturing out to feast with unbridled fervour. i’ve been on quite a roll (i use this not merely in the figurative sense of the word 😛 ) and good things definitely need to be shared, so here i am 🙂

what better way to kick off this renewed updating enthusiasm than with a post about a meal shared with a certain someone who likes to go by the coveted title of “co-founder and non-executive editor” of this blog? 😉 may i direct your attention to the photo on the right of the banner that heads this page – indeed, last week, i had the privilege of dining with none other than the elusive mr nic hsien. (may or may not be the reason why i was inspired to get back to this space; it’s always a good time eating with him 🙂 )

i was recently hit with a serious sashimi craving – no thanks to my parents’ enthusiastic sharing of pictures of their omakase meals back home… – so our lunch venue of choice was atari-ya, the oft raved about sushi bar along james street aka (alleged) supplier of fresh fish supplies to fancy restaurants around london, nobu and the like. no idea what took us both so long to give this hole-in-the-wall sushi bar a try, but boy am i glad we did just shy of the midpoint of my final term in london rather than on the day just before i board the plane home for and say sayonara to london for good (are you feelin’ them #finalyearfeels that i have been plagued with of late?)…

the james street branch of atari-ya is the perfect post-shopping sushi stop. located literally a stone’s throw away from selfridges and operating largely as a takeaway shop, it occupies a space just large enough for a sushi counter and a handful of 2-seater tables.20150209_135913this picture was taken at lunchtime on a monday afternoon and as you can see, it gets pretty crowded (with plenty of asians no less; #signsoflegitimacy), so its best to get there early. we reached at noon and were happy we did because as we very happily savoured our slivers of fish, we heard people being told that they would have to wait half an hour for their food to be prepared.

i didn’t even need to look at the menu to know what i wanted to order; i had set my sights (and tummy) on the super deluxe chirashi and rainbow roll from the moment we decided to check this place out. it was an oddly long wait for our food considering we were early and there was only 1 other customer in the shop who was already served her food. we gathered that it was a combination of the fact that they were busy preparing orders which were placed by phone and that they were pretty slow-moving with this sushi-making business in general, with the scales of probability leaning heavily towards the latter. all qualms about the aforementioned inefficiency were forgotten once we were served with our food though:
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super deluxe chirashi – £16.50
i hereby present to you the best chirashi bowl i have had on this side of the world, by far. by best i mean that it has the winning combination of extremely fresh fish and a wonderfully generous portion – amazingly value-for-money and guaranteeing satisfaction. £16.50 may sound steep for a hole-in-the-wall takeaway shop like that, but you soon learn that the price is warranted (or more than warranted, i dare say) as each bowl of this super deluxe chirashi comes brimming with tuna, salmon, horse mackerel, sea bass, sea bream, boiled prawn, sweet prawn, crab stick, crab meat, scallop, vinegared mackerel, ikura, tobikko, negitoro (or uni aka sea urchin, depending on what is available that day), tamago, and some other stuff which i couldn’t quite identify but were delicious anyway.

not only is the fish extremely fresh, smooth and naturally sweet, the slices are of just the right thickness such that they retain a satisfying bite and facilitate maximum appreciation of their goodness. of course the star of any chirashi bowl is the fish but the rice here is also worth mentioning. dressed in eel sauce and topped with a sprinkling of an assortment of pickled toppings such as mushrooms, it was a great accompaniment to the fish.

the bowl is huge and if you aren’t as greedy as we are, i think it could even be shared between 2 people if you’re planning on ordering a range of other rolls and such as sides. but then again, although sharing is caring and all good things should be shared, i doubt i’ll be sharing my chirashi bowl with anyone anytime soon… all. mine. yas. 😛

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rainbow roll – £7.00
we also ordered a rainbow roll to share between us. the sushi rice was lovely – soft, moist and held its form very well even when i bit half the sushi rather than devoured the whole thing (good things ought to be slowly savoured). once again, the fish in the rolls was top quality and toppings to rice ratio was golden.

needless to say, we left extremely satisfied and vowed to return again soon. i’ve been wondering whether there is a super super deluxe chirashi bowl and if so, what amazing goodies it will contain but for now, the super deluxe chirashi bowl is more than enough to satisfy the sashimi monster in me… definitely the kind of fishy business i love 😉

Atari-Ya Sushi Bar
20 James Street,
London W1U 1EH

PS. they have other outlets and they are proper sit-down restaurants so if you’re looking for somewhere with better ambience, you might want to head there instead. check them out here.