July 9th 2012
Last week I had lunch at Satuma with Len and Su. Satuma is a small Japanese restaurant in Kentish Town (close to the tube) which does reasonably priced Bento lunches. Bento is the Japanese equivalent of a packed lunch, though they go to a lot more trouble than we do. A traditional bento box contains rice, fish or meat, cooked or pickled vegetables, etc. In a restaurant these boxes are generally lacquered and of high quality, though in Japan one can buy them in department stores varying from cheap plastic to hand made. When buying a takeaway bento meal, these boxes are generally polystyrene.
Su ordered a Genmaicha, a green tea containing roasted brown rice – some of the rice pops during the roasting, you can see some floating on top like popcorn. The green tea tastes as expected, but with an aroma of rice.
All the lunches included miso soup as a starter. Miso soup contains a broth called dashi, a simple stock, often made with fish. Miso paste is dissolved into this stock, generally made with fermented rice, barley and or soybeans. To my western taste buds this was a very good savoury (umami) tasting soup. Note the cute chopstick holder to the right of my bowl.
Su and I had a delicious Chirashi Sushi Donburi – Chirashi Sushi is raw fish on top of rice and in this case with a mixed salad and chilli sauce. Donburi means bowl. Len had a fantastic looking Mixed Sushi Bento (not pictured) and I’ll have to try that next time.
Our lunch included a beautifully presented and refreshing fruit salad for pudding.
We drank Sapporo beer with lunch (of course).
Everything was excellent and I will be going back. The staff were very friendly, food was served promptly and it had a good atmosphere. It is, as noted in Time Out, very small and only has 10 tables, however, I find that quite authentic – there are lots of little restaurants like this in Japan. If you are unlucky and can’t get a seat, it’s worth noting that Satuma sells takeaway bento boxes. Food was about £10 per person which is good value, though there were also some cheaper options.
Satuma is at: 8 Fortess Road, Kentish Town, NW5 2ES
Tel: 020 7485 7078