Il Pastificio went from word-of-mouth hot ticket (tables rarer than an earthworm with a Drama degree) to mini-empire very quickly. One mushroomed into four, but now just as quickly what was their original home, and latterly their pizza joint, finds itself up for grabs, and Sushi Life are the new kids on the block.
It’s a small space and destined to be busy, you’d think. There’s some real demand for good options in this diverse area- one part young families, one part student footfall, one part older child-free couples in the posh seats up the hill in Penylan- and Chai, Porro, Cameo etc have raised the area’s profile of late, so there’s room for something fresh. Yes, the parking is often an issue- something about the highway being jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive, though I may be wrong- but sometimes the inconvenience is worth it.
And based on what we ate last night, that won’t be a problem. Chef is from Yakitori #1 and Sushi Life sets out its stall with a core menu of Japanese classics- think sushi, maki rolls, noodles, rice and the like- which they hope will show they know their stuff. The small beer list is mostly Japanese (Sapporo, Ichiban) with a crisply dry Asahi (£3) the pick of the bunch.
This will, self-evidently, stand or fall on the freshness of its ingredients. Apparently the new owner has taken the decision to omit all ‘hot-holding’ equipment from the kitchen. No bain marie, no microwave. In short, nothing to make their lives easier, and nothing to adulterate the freshness of the food. When it’s ready, it comes out. The anticipation of more to come is eventually tempered by the sad realisation there’s no more on its way. It’s that good.
Chicken gyoza (£4.20) are crisp and delicately herby, a light hand with the fryer evident: skewers of salmon (£8) are presented and cooked with precision. It’s an encouraging start.
On a chilly night, Chicken udon (£7.50) is a big hug in a bowl, the flavours in the meat the result of some careful marination. It’s as comforting a dish as you’re likely to find, though it’s run close by a bowl of chicken and egg fried Cha Han rice (£7.50).
A selection of maki rolls is the standout, though. ‘Hell In The Kitchen’ (£8.50) teams tuna, avocado and cucumber with prawn tempura. It smacks of the sea without being overpoweringly ‘fishy’.
‘Spider’ (£9) builds its flavours around a crisp kernel of the eponymous crab tempura, adding flying fish roe (Tobiko) and avocado. It’s a lovely thing- they both are- and spankingly fresh-tasting. They look immaculate, too, and skilfully assembled.
So- another independent business bringing a touch of quality to the area. Handmade food, good service. No colour-coded plastic bowls, no conveyor belt, just a succession of good-looking and even better-tasting dishes. It’s not hard to see why that’s something to celebrate: and with nothing on the menu over £10, and portion sizes more than decent, you can see yourself becoming a regular here. Recommended.
The Globe Centre
Open at 12pm; closes at 10pm Monday-Thursday,
11pm on Fridays and Saturdays
and then 9pm on Sundays.
This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.