20 Bury Street, 1F
London EC3A 5AX
020 7621 9211
Soseki is fortunate to be located in a building with a beautiful view of its famous neighbor, the Gherkin.
Note to restaurants: first impressions are very important. The way your customers enter your restaurant is one of the first things they notice. The sliding doors outside Soseki refused to slide, and we had to almost push it with all our body weight to get into the restaurant – truly bizarre. The same happened on our way out – not good.
Once inside though, we were seated by the sushi counter in a discreet corner and presented with the menu. We must have interpreted the toptable offer wrongly as we were told we could only have the Haiku (sushi kaiseki kappo) set at 50% and not the Hanashi (kaiseki kappo). That was fine though – the Haiku was cheaper than the Hanashi anyway. One thing to note about dining at Soseki is that it is a Japanese Kaiseki restaurant. Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. When you order, you do not know what will be brought to you – everything is left to the discretion of the chef, who creates the menu based on what ingredients he has for that day. So this was extremely exciting for us, and we were prepared to be wowed by the day’s offerings. Having said that, there is still a very limited selection of a la carte dishes, designed possibly for those who are less trusting.
Our first dish was Chawanmushi, which was very light and flavourful – an excellent start. Our Sashimi came next. We had requested for no wasabi on our sashimi, and we sent this back since it had wasabi on the pieces. When the fresh portions came, it was very quickly gobbled up (read: small portions). We happened to be sitting just in front of the sashimi part of the sushi counter, and K very much wanted to reach over and grab some sashimi for himself while the chef wasn’t looking.
Our next course was something wrapped in a parcel. We don’t remember what it was called, but the dressing had a very nice acidity to it, which complemented the fish inside the parcel.
On the side, we ordered tempura, which came at this point. The tempura was good, but not outstanding.
The main was quail with mushrooms and Chinese vegetables. By this point we were beginning to wonder about the flowers that were placed in almost every single dish. K happily ate it not even stopping to think if they were indeed edible, but since he’s still alive, we guess they were.
Our palate cleanser was less successful. Once again this came with flower petals, and while it did cleanse our palates successfully, we’re not sure if that was for the better.
The sushi selection came next. This was very nicely presented and tasted pretty good. Nothing stood out for us though. We tend to see a general pattern with sushi platters. Hardly any sushi platters seem to wow us – they’ve all just been competent, though fortunately, never bad. Maybe we should just be thankful for that.
The penultimate course was salad, miso and pickles. This was once again rather ordinary, bordering on the sour side.
As earlier mentioned, the nature of the Kaiseki dinner is such that you do not have a choice of what you will end up eating. Hence, we were praying for this particular dessert which we had heard about from an online review. I’m not sure if we got it, but it seemed pretty close to the description given by said review, and it was very good. Our dessert was a chocolate lava cake with a very nice ice-cream and vanilla sugar underneath.
Overall this was an interesting experience. We probably won’t go back again, since it’s not the most affordable restaurant around, and the food is just alright. The novelty of not having a say in what you’re going to eat wears off very quickly, and I’d rather go for the certainty of being able to order what I feel like having instead.
Additional Comments: We had the toptable offer of 50% off their set menu.