After reading all the rave reviews online and seeing pictures of the food on social media, my expectations were set extremely high and taste buds were very excited to finally be going to Rock Star Sushi in Colliers Wood.
I had heard the restaurant was tiny, only 5 tables to be booked but after speaking to the owner and head chef Igor, he explained the reasons behind this. Igor expressed that high quality sushi restaurants should serve a small amount of tables at once to ensure the fish used is the freshest possible and that they only order enough food for the amount of tables booked – leaving no leftovers or wastage. I also learned the inspiration behind the restaurant – Igor’s love for rock music which originally brought him to the UK where he would continue to build on his skills and passion for making sushi. The restaurant decor was filled with rock ‘n’ roll images, posters of famous bands, a fish tank with a picture of the boat his Grandma was on board to move from Japan to Brazil, and a huge screen where rock videos and music are continuously played.
Being so small, the restaurant gave a sense of intimacy and I could see Igor taking the time to talk to each customer to explain the history and detail of each dish in between cooking and preparing all the food for each table. This is something, as a foodie, I always appreciate. I love knowing the stories behind the food I’m eating and feel interaction with the chef always makes the experience more personal and memorable.
When we first sat down, we started off with some chilled sparkling sake. I never usually like sake, but then again I have never had it chilled or sparkling and I absolutely loved this one. It was the perfect amount of sweetness and was a great way start to the meal while working our way through the menu.
The menu was filled with all my Japanese favourites including sushi rolls, sashimi, hot dishes and sides. The menu was not overwhelmingly big but it also was not small enough for a case of ‘I’ll have one of everything please’ (which obviously I would have loved to have been able to do if my ‘eyes bigger than my tummy’ stomach had let me). We started off with one of my favourite hot dishes, the starter portion of miso black cod. This was served with a cabbage garnish, goma dressing and black sesame seeds. I have had a lot of black cod in my time and this was up there with one of the most delicious, melt-in-your-mouth dishes I had ever had the pleasure of eating. Every mouthful was full of flavour and straight away I knew the amazing reviews I had read previously were going to be correct.
For mains, our food was presented not in a rubber dingy, not a boat, not even a casual ship, no. Cast your mind back to 1912 (or 1997 when it was filmed), Titanic was deemed that year as the biggest ship ever to be built, this was that! Our main course was served in the Titanic of all sushi boats, minus the awful ending of course! The variety of sushi, sashimi, rolls and sauces at first glance looked absolutely outstanding. The vibrant colours, flowers and overall display of the boat looked flawless and the best part about it was it tasted as good as it looked.
Igor talked us through each roll, giving us a bit of background and explaining which type of fish should be used for which dipping sauce. One of the rolls we loved was the smoked salmon and cream cheese roll. We were told this was a Rock Star Sushi favourite and the salmon was smoked in their own smoker on site. The flavours worked so well together and I could taste a hint of dill too, which was not too over-powering.
When it comes to my sushi, I’m happy with a dip of soy sauce and tend to leave out the ginger and wasabi. Not this time though. I wanted to try the wasabi as Igor had explained they buy the wasabi sticks and grate it themselves using a tool made out of shark skin. I couldn’t not try this as it looked so fresh and beautifully presented. I gave it a go and loved it so much I ended up having it with each roll and mixing it into my soy sauce for that extra kick.
Choosing my sushi rolls can be an extremely hard task for the indecisiveness and greedy side of me. So I was overjoyed when we were able to try each of the ‘Rock ‘n’ Rolls.’ These were filled with prawn tempura and topped with a number of different variations such as avocado, salmon, tuna, eel and kampachi. Each of these were incredible and even though they had the same filling, all tasted remarkably different. In some of my sushi experiences the fish has been chewy, tough and difficult to bite into, at Rock Star Sushi each piece of fish was so fresh and light making it so easy and pleasurable to eat.
To mix things up we also tried the new summer rolls: the salmon avocado rice paper rolls and the vegetarian rice paper rolls. These were accompanied with a specific sauce to dip into and all of this together matched perfectly. Being a huge fan of rice paper rolls anyway, this was always going to be one of the winners but nothing prepared me for how good it was actually going to taste. The rice paper was ultra thin, making sure we could taste every detail of what was inside. The salmon avocado ones especially were fabulous and definitely gave me that summer rock ‘n’ roll feeling.
Additionally we were lucky enough to sample another of the new dishes for the summer menu – the soft shell crab roll. Each of these were topped with a cooked prawn and a sweet teriyaki-like sauce. The crunchiness of the crab with the softness of the prawn in one mouthful filled my mouth with a party of textures and flavours and is in my opinion a great addition to the menu.
Finally we moved onto the nigiri, sashimi and tataki. The nigiri came in 3 varieties of salmon, tuna and prawn. Each were delicious and not at all dry, as I usually find nigiri can be. However, our absolute favourite for the evening was the platter of seared salmon sashimi, kampachi and tuna tataki. The salmon was served with a touch of sweet teriyaki sauce, kampachi served with a dollop of truffle mayonnaise and tuna cooked with a peppery/chilli crust. As a self-confessed sushi snob, I can honestly say this sashimi/tataki was the best raw fish I have ever had. It literally melted on our tongue and I could 100% taste the difference between this sushi-grade fish compared to others in my past experiences.
Before moving onto dessert, once the boat had been emptied into our stomachs and sailed off back into the kitchen, we thought we’d get one more dish just because we couldn’t leave without having another helping of that seared salmon sashimi! Keeping with the ocean theme, this was stunningly presented in a giant shell and again tasted as amazing as it looked. This time the salmon was dipped in the sweet teriyaki sauce as well as a spoonful of black sesame. The second time around was even better than the first helping!
I could have gone on for days but I knew I had to leave some room for dessert and thankfully this final dish did not disappoint. Before the sweet ending we were presented with 2 plum wines. Yes, that’s right, wine made out of plums, not grapes – who knew such things existed? But it does, and it was great. It was probably the sweetest drink you could possibly find but with an unexpected slight hint of sourness which I think is the best pairing as most wines are too sweet for me. The wine had the most interesting taste and was served with ice which again was great for a hot summer night. I really enjoyed this and think more places should serve plum wine from now on!
Moving onto the final dish of the meal – the yuzu and chocolate mochi. Mochi is a sweet traditional Japanese rice cake made out of mochigome and often served as a dessert in sushi restaurants as a sweet finale to the meal. The Yuzu mochi was filled with ice cream and the chocolate one with a thick-textured chocolate filling. Around the plate was raspberry coulis, dragon fruit and a tiny cucamelon. The dish looked superb and was the perfect end to our experience at Rock Star Sushi. Neither my guest or I have a particularly sweet tooth so this dessert was the perfect mix of sweet and sour and we both agreed all the elements of the dish work perfectly together, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
Overall, our experience at Rock Star Sushi went above and beyond all expectations. The food, the service, the drinks, the presentation and attention to detail were all totally faultless and I have not stopped recommending it to all the sushi lovers I know. It comes as no surprise after eating here that head chef Igor, has passed the prestigious examinations to award him with the AJSA Sushi Proficiency Certificate. It really could not be more deserved. We left the restaurant feeling like total rock stars and can’t wait to return!
Rock Star Sushi
Unit 5. Merton Abbey Mills. Watermill Way
London, SW19 2RD