I’m going to be honest – I’d never heard of Feng Sushi before (ahem, even despite this smashing review). Thus, on the way to review the restaurant’s eighth and newest member in Hampstead, it dawned on me that the Japanese eatery must have had some special training in stealth in order to evade my ever-curious culinary divining rod. What’s more, the next day I realised I must have walked past their Southbank branch 100 times during one of my lunchtime jaunts. Me stupid. Me know.
Having now visited, I wish I’d noticed sooner. Feng’s message is one of sustainability, shunning the practises that fill our high streets with cheap produce at often devastating environmental cost, and instead opting for a responsible, seasonal and UK-based approach whenever possible. And don’t just take their word for it; in March 2012 Feng Sushi won the Sustainable Cities Award for their efforts.
While sustainability is a mantra central to all the Feng Sushi outlets, the new Hamstead branch has been privy to a little extra jazz, with increased service, ambience and seating designed to encourage a more relaxed dining experience. Inside you’ll find signature kimono pattern design and fish tanks, blue leather and warm wood panelling.
On my visit, co-founder Silla Bjerrum was at hand to help show off the produce, beginning by slicing, dicing and – showing it’s quality – literally teasing tuna from the bone with the slightest of efforts, before allowing us to try the fish. Bloody marvellous it was.
Moving on to try some of the seasonal dishes on the menu, we began with cold summer tofu (£4.25), accompanied with ginger, spring onions and bonito flakes (dried, fermented and smoked skipjack tuna). The texture of tofu is not to my liking normally, but here it was firmer and somewhat richer, making all the difference.
A summer salad of okra, mange tout, cous cous and sesame dressing followed (£6.50), which was rounded and satisfying – if a little difficult to pick up with chopsticks. This made way for the delicious chilled raman noodles with prawns, tamago (Japanese omelette), cherry tomatoes and seaweed (£6.50).
Last to be showcased were the MSC Cornish sardines: a particular favourite for Silla, and something which proudly represents the sustainable British-Japanese sushi fusion approach. Available either crispy with a tofu dip (£6.50) or ‘unagi style’ with a ginger teriyaki sauce on a bed os sushi rice (£7.00), they were both very accomplished and appetising, and well worth staying on our shores for.
There is little to fault at Feng Sushi, at least in what I tried. The prices are reasonable, the food is accomplished and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. Throw in their sustainable approach, and this British-influenced Japanese fish restaurant will likely have no trouble casting an even wider net in the future.
280 West End Lane
Tel: 020 7435 1833