Yoshino – Sushi


March 6th, 2012

I had a real craving for sushi today and went to visit my favourite Japanese delicatessen, Yoshino. I’ve been buying takeaway from Yoshino for about 10 years – they beat supermarket sushi by a million miles and put some of the conveyor belt restaurants to shame. The main thing I’ve noticed here, is that the rice is fresh and the food is constantly being prepared behind the counter – it doesn’t have a chance to get stale. Supermarkets can’t compete with this, their rice is always a day old and it starts to have an unpleasant crunchiness when it’s not recently made.

yoshino window

The word sushi means sour tasting and historically would have been fish that had been fermented by wrapping it in soured rice (the rice wasn’t eaten, it was just used  in he preparation of the fish). This sourness is one part of the Japanese five basic tastes, along with sweet, bitter, salty and umami (savoriness). Seven or eight hundred years ago, vinegar was added to this fermented rice, which helped to preserve the fish – by the eighteenth century rice was being pressed in moulds with the fish. Contemporary sushi (fish with rice) became popular by the nineteenth century and the fermentation process was abandoned. It was intended to be quick, fast, fresh food.


I had a selection of sushi, starting with the tuna, squid and salmon nigiri above (left to right) – raw fish on an oblong mound of sushi rice (flavoured with a little rice vinegar and wasabi, a type of horseradish).

crabstick salad

Crabstick salad, which I suspect is a modern combination wrapped in the traditional nori seaweed – this style of fat sushi roll is called futomaki.

piri-piri king prawn and chicken

Piri-Piri king prawn and chicken, another futomaki wrapped in seaweed.

eel and cucumber

Eel and cucumber, an uramaki or California Roll , with rice on the outside and nori on the inside – apparently this style was created because Americans didn’t like the look of seaweed! This is becoming a popular sushi styke in Japan now.

españa bonito

España Bonito – how could I resist! Another uramaki, made with Spanish tuna and decorated with toasted sesame seeds.


I just happened to have some Sake (Japanese rice wine, though it’s actually brewed, like beer, rather than fermented) to help wash down the sushi. Mr. Bond would have us drink sake at 98º F, but that’s only correct for the likes of junmai or honjozo. Namazake (unpasteurized sake) should be served at 41 – 50 º F and gingo and daigingo (fragrant sake) should be served at around 50º F.

I was, of course, listening to Ryuichi Sakamoto for the right vibe while eating.

Yoshino is at 59 Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 6LF

About Mad Dog

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22 Responses to Yoshino – Sushi

  1. ChgoJohn says:

    My experience with supermarket sushi is much like yours and I avoid it. I’m fortunate that I’ve a few sushi restaurants in my immediate area that deliver. Although I much prefer to dine in the restaurant, there’s a lot to be said in favor remaining indoors, especially in Winter. Oh! Thanks for the history of sushi lesson. 🙂

    • Mad Dog says:

      I think sushi was popular in America long before Britain – 25 years ago there were only 3 decent Japanese restaurants in London! In the last 10 years Japanese food has become very popular here, but I’m not sure that all of it would pass muster with Japanese people, especially the sushi in supermarkets and chain restaurants. Fortunately in London there are a few very good restaurants and a couple of excellent shops.

  2. rutheh says:

    Yes, I learned a LOT reading your post today. Thanks for the good photos and explanations.

  3. Nice post. Love the explanation of the different sorts of sushi.
    Would be great to have a place like this near me. I make my own now, it really is easy.
    Good effort on “just happening” to have some sake 😉

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Marcus – when I’m feeling in the mood for a long trip by public transport I go up to an excellent shop in North Finchley called
      Atari-Ya, it’s one of the best ones because there’s a large local Japanese community. I love watching the precise way in which they cut the sashimi.

  4. Interesting history and lovely looking sushi, something I’ve never really experienced having been put off by my occasional tastes of the supermarket stuff. Being Welsh, though, of course I love laver bread which is sea weed in a different form!

    • Mad Dog says:

      I think the nori (seaweed) tasted very good. You can make sushi just with Japanese rice (it’s good to add a little flavouring like rice vinegar and Mirin), omelette and cucumber. You don’t even have to roll it in a mat – make little cones of seaweed and stuff them with the ingredients. I have it on good authority that Japanese people often have it like that at home – it’s simple to mix and match ingredients 😉

  5. Ooh – lots of info there! I sometimes make what I think are called California rolls (like your picture of the crabstick salad) and we both enjoy them. Can you believe we can´t get some really basic things here like red lentils but I can get what I need to make sushi?! Didn´t know that about the temperatures of the sake – very interesting. I ate lots of Japanese food on my round the world trip…so good n:)

  6. Those are tastes that I miss living in the depths of Provincial France. I have to say, however, that I always favoured sashimi over sushi. I think the original idea of using the rice as a casing and eating the fish was not bettered by the modern concept. Very envious of the sake.

    • Mad Dog says:

      Me too! I only eat the rice because the fish is so expensive. I suppose you could go out fishing if you are close to the sea – eating raw mackerel sashimi on a fishing boat is hard to better 😉

  7. camilla says:

    Nice info here,

    and I’m off to a sushi tonight

  8. Karen says:

    I enjoyed your post, Mad Dog. I wish I could say that I enjoyed sushi. I have eaten it but it just doesn’t send me head over tails like most people even when the restaurant is great. I know I am in the minority…my husband loves it.

  9. Now I have to go and buy me some sushi…
    Nice review and sushi guide, thanks! 🙂

  10. Audrey Evermore says:

    mmm! interesting … I thought sushi was japanese jewelry … i have been pinning it to my lapel for years … you can actually eat the stuff…amazing ! I must take you to Sushi Waka 75 Parkway … the best jewelry ever .

    • Mad Dog says:

      That’s an oldie but goodie – I last went there in about 1985! The friend I was with ate a lump of wasabi – people new to sushi did that back in the 80’s 😉

      • Audrey Evermore says:

        wasabi mustard from the mustard man at Borough Market is to die for … even in lumps …

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