Having cut his teeth at acclaimed sushi restaurants Hakkoku and Sushi Jin in Japan and Michelin-starred Umu just off New Bond Street, chef Shaulan Steenson has brought his passion for temaki to Brixton Market. Temaki, which means ‘handroll’ in Japanese, are long, cone-like nori wraps stuffed with rice and a variety of raw fish and vegetables, and eaten with fingers instead of chopsticks.
Temaki is London’s first dedicated handroll restaurant, and eating there is an intimate experience. Monochrome marble-effect walls are the backdrop to little more than a dozen wooden stools and a U-shaped counter that wraps around a black, wood-clad bar, where, in traditional Kappo dining style, Steenson prepares his rolls right in front of you. He’ll also happily talk you through his ingredients, processes and the stories behind his love for this Japanese delicacy, and he might even flash you a glimpse of huge hunks of fish from the fridge. Find yourself on a dry date here and you’ll at least get good chat from the chef.
The brimming prawn tempura roll stole the show
The temaki, which start from a little as a fiver, consist of a paper-thin, sweet-salty seaweed casing packed with Steenson’s signature golden uruchimai rice, which is prepared using a secret ratio of light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, red vinegar and Marmite (a tip he learned in Japan, apparently) in a traditional wooden tub. Accompanying fillings include bright-pink akami tuna (a lean cut that’s deep in colour), which was fresh and delicate in flavour, and melt-in-the-mouth otoro tuna (a fattier cut that’s paler) kicked with fresh spring onion and a sesame nuttiness. But the brimming prawn tempura roll stole the show for me, with its crunchy, lightly battered morsels of sweet shellfish coated in a silky, spiced mayonnaise. I could eat those all day.
Be sure to venture into the small-plates section of the menu too, as you’ll find plump and meaty deep-fried monkfish karaage with creamy roe-specked mayo, and a delightfully smoky trout tataki with fish that had been seared on the outside and left wonderfully tender on the inside. Both dishes are complete steal, too, at only £7 each.
A special of buttery otoro tuna slices artfully balanced on almost-sweet nori scratchings, topped with salty herring’s roe and splashed with a monkfish sauce was a triumph of flavour-profile harmony. Here’s hoping that it becomes a permanent fixture on the menu.
Don’t miss the dangerously drinkable pre-bottled cocktails by Hackney’s Firewater Workshop, either – the floral Sakura Yuzu Negroni is a good place to start.
With a triple whammy of expertise, exceptional produce and classy execution, Temaki serves up Mayfair-quality sushi at Brixton prices – and with plenty of SW9 buzz to match.
The vibe Super-chic but fun and intimate – perfect for a party of two.
The food Delectable, authentic temaki and a handful of Japanese small plates.
The drink A sprawling list of sake, plus classic cocktails given an East Asian makeover.
Time Out tip Ask for the ‘Surprise Me!’ temaki for an off-menu roll of the chef’s choosing.