This restaurant is the haunt of many regulars who, if they are sensible, will not be spreading the word. Who wants to find their favourite eatery fully booked every night of the week? There is a danger that Tsunami will be… or at least should be. If I was a selfish reviewer (and bearing in mind I want to return often) I would be carelessly forgetting to include the name of the restaurant or perhaps I might consider a misspelling to put you off the scent of this gem.
Tsunami is at the quiet end of Charlotte Street. It’s just a stone’s throw from Goodge Street station but this is a tranquil spot away from the rush of Tottenham Court Road.
It isn’t a huge restaurant. A narrow front leads to a wider area which is cosy and welcoming. The walls curve into the ceiling giving an agreeable intimate effect. The décor is minimalist without being too Zen or stark, and polished walls reflect light with a blossom motif in gold. The restaurant hints at traditional Japan but avoids the too-themed design of many a lesser establishment. Even the door handles give the impression of style.
It’s the attention to detail that is remarkable. The waiting staff are knowledgeable and engaging and take evident pride in their work. The presentation of each dish would not have been out of place in a 5-star restaurant. Each serving dish was different and thoughtfully chosen and even the paper liner for fried food was folded in the classic manner.
Nasu Goma (Grilled Aubergine with Sesame Paste) were delicious bites of piping hot pleasure. A marvellously welcoming start to a cold-weather dining experience. The hot Sake added to the warming comfort. Courgette Flowers stuffed with blue cheese served with miso dipping sauce continued the thawing. The tempura was light in both colour and texture and was a sweet counterpoint to the salty ooziness of the filling. Moreish, I’d say.
Lamb Cutlets (Organic best end lamb) grilled in Korean kimchi chilli sauce and served with daikon radish kimchi presented us with the most tender and flavourful meat. It’s one of the most popular dishes and a must-try. OK, it might not be the first dish that comes to mind when visiting a Japanese restaurant but it works.
Yellowtail Sashimi Jalapeno is a visual triumph. Thinly sliced yellowtail fish with coriander, garlic and finely sliced chilli in yuzu ponzu sauce was delicate but with a hot and spicy kick. This was another dish that seemed much favoured by the regulars.
The pièce de resistance (although there were two so I guess they would be pièces de resistance) was/were firstly the Black Cod with its sweet glaze. This was melt-in-the-mouth tender and succulent. It flaked into translucent petals at the slightest pressure of a chop stick. The second was beef. This wasn’t the Kobe beef of legend: each cow being massaged and fed beer makes for an amazingly expensive steak. This was Aberdeen Angus and one could have eaten it with a spoon. If you are a card-carrying carnivore you’ll not want to miss this. Tsunami offer two alternatives: Wasabi Aberdeen Angus Fillet of Beef with creamed leeks, oriental mushrooms, wasabi pepper sauce and foie gras, or Aberdeen Angus Fillet of Beef served with sea urchin and foie gras butter. Both are good but the foie gras butter adds a touch of creamy luxury.
The desserts made a memorable finish to a memorable meal. The Chocolate Fondant was as good as you might find in France. It moved with a sensual shimmer when poked and that’s a good sign that there really is some molten chocolate sauce inside rather than the accusing void that I have been confronted with at other restaurants. The Green Tea ice cream was vibrant and refreshing and the tangy Crème Brulée served in a lidded tea mug was a rich and decadent conclusion to a thoroughly good meal.
Tsunami is a restaurant to which I want to return. A reviewer’s palate can become jaded after a succession of evenings of food tasting but I left this restaurant with a skip in my step and renewed enthusiasm. Tsunami offered quality at affordable prices. I hope no changes are made. There is nothing to be improved upon and that is a rare accolade.
London W1T 4PY
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018