I have to admit that when I eat at Japanese restaurants my tendency is to go for a beer rather than a glass of wine. Of course, the really traditional accompanying drink when eating Japanese is sake. Tsuru restaurant is aiming to change this sort of thinking. They have developed a wine list created by Damian Tilson of Sotheby’s wine department to try and encourage people to try some wine with their sushi.
Tsuru invited a lucky group of wine and food bloggers along to check out their wine and food pairings through a wine tasting lead by Damian. I will try to be as unbiased as possible in reporting but please bear in mind that I was eating and drinking for free which makes everything taste just that little bit better.
Tsuru is hidden away in a pedestrianised street at the back of Tate Modern. It is modern in style with large glass windows fronting the street and lots of high wooden benches that you can perch at on chunky stools. Damian talked us through a tasting of six different glasses of wine as we nibbled on a sample of Tsuru’s food. Damian has a fairly laid back approach to matching wine and food. His philosophy is that 80% of food and wine go well together, 10% of food and wine pairings can be stunning and 10% can be appalling. Generally most food and wine is going to go together pretty well and Damian’s aim is to try to get the Tsuru pairings into that stunning category.
From what we sampled it seems like Damian is on track. Delicate tuna nigri and crab california rolls were paired with subtle white wines that accentuated the sushi rather than overpowering it. Do yourself a favour and order the Domaine de Ricaud, Entre-deux-Mer. It is the cheapest wine on the list at £15 a bottle and the gooseberry elements that Damian pointed out to us really blossomed when paired with the sushi. The sushi itself was good but did not have that super fresh taste of truly fabulous sushi. I was also concerned by the fact that there was no wasabi in sight which seemed very strange for a Japanese restaurant.
Not to worry though, skewers of chicken karage which is chicken marinated in soy, ginger and garlic were moreish (pictured) but the highlight were the skewers of seared steak. The meat was excellent quality and perfectly pink leaving us clamouring for more. The steak also gave us an opportunity to try some red wines with the food. My favourite was probably the La Tunella a Cabernet Franc from Italy. Bold and peppery it had big flavours that went well with the steak and even better with the fudgy chocolate brownies that were served up for dessert.
There are a lot of good things about Tsuru besides the fact that they provided me with the chance to meet up with some lovely new people such as The Wine Sleuth, Ms Marmite Lover, Wine Conversation and Krista from Londonelicious who I have been dying to meet for ages. The carefully selected wine list is available at very low mark ups to try and encourage people to experiment with wine and Japanese food. The restaurant also takes an admirable interest in the ingredients it sources using line caught tuna, organic farmed salmon and free range chicken. What’s more they may just have reformed me from the habit of always ordering an Asahi to accompany my sushi.
Details: 4 Canvey Street, London Bridge SE1 9AN (Ph 020 7928 228)
Damage: Free! But if you were paying the prices fall under Reasonable. Look out for the £10 for a Katsu curry and glass of wine special on at the moment.
If you enjoyed reading this you might enjoy Pham Sushi for cheap, cheerful and excellent sushi or if you are in the London Bridge/Southwark area Village East is another option for something a bit fancier (and pricier) than Tsuru.