Paddington is not an area I’m familiar with, but if I’m offered food, I can be coaxed just about anywhere around London. Well, nearly anywhere. Until the Northern Line spur is built through Nine Elms, I’m afraid Battersea is a bit of a mission to get to for me. Oh, and pretty much anywhere on the District Line west of Victoria. And Ickenham. No offence–if you live in those places, you try and get to Stoke Newington and keep your sanity.
Last Thursday, I was a guest, along with my friend Dan of Delicious by DS5 fame, to dine at See Sushi in Paddington, near Edgeware Road station. Well, near one of the Edgeware Road stations, as there are two Underground stations which confusingly boast the same name. Who’s genius idea was that? Well, whatever Edgeware Road station you wind up in, it isn’t hard to walk to walk to Praed Street, no matter what side of the Marylebone Flyover you’re on.
See Sushi isn’t directly on Praed Street, but rather in the tucked-away bit facing Paddington Basin, which can make it hard to see, especially in the dark evenings we’re getting that start in the late afternoon. We nearly went through housing flats, oddly, as we saw the See Sushi logo through an apartment lobby. However, between the two of us (probably more so Dan than myself) we figured out we needed to go around, and lo, along a strip of water, See Sushi gleamed brightly at us.
During the course of our meal, we found out that See Sushi was formerly a couple other different restaurants from the same company–a Chinese restaurant and a Thai restaurant. The sushi venture was its latest incarnation, however some vestiges of former menu items still exist in its current menu, like chicken satay and Thai curries. Although I grew up for a few years in Japan, I’m hardly a purist when it comes to restaurants serving up ethnic cuisine. None of the menu items seemed as if they didn’t belong, whether they were considered Japanese cuisine or not. In fact, I’ve seen a number of Thai restaurants in the US dabble in sushi sides and starters as well, so I think it’s only fair that it can go the other way around as well.
Between Dan and I, we ate a fair amount of food, with me opting for the veggie bits I fancied and Dan getting his omnivorous selections. I think it’s good to see a restaurant’s ability to cook both vegetarian and omnivorous food, as sometimes eateries seem to lack good veggie options. This normally isn’t the case in a Japanese restaurant, but every now and then, you find one that doesn’t seem to get that there are people who don’t eat fish, like yours truly. Luckily, See Sushi had a large array of vegetarian options, including “Tofu Teriyaki” which features tofu in a teriyaki sauce.
Ah, next time…
My starter, the gyoza, was spot on. Steamed and slightly pan-fried, the veggie gyoza was perfectly savoury and delicious. I quite like gyoza, but not all Japanese restaurants offer it, so it’s a treat to enjoy it when I come across it on a menu. See Sushi’s offering did not let me down.
On the other side of the table, Dan was enjoying his soft shell crab, breaded crisp with a wasabi sauce. He commented on how the place didn’t skimp on the amount of crab he got, either.
Then came the sushi bowl.
My vegetarian sushi maki were quite hefty discs of tastiness. I wasn’t actually expecting them to be as massive as they were. They were proper two- or three-bite pieces, packed, as you can see in the image above, with carrot, avocado, cucumber, kanpyo (gourd) and pickled daikon–“takuan” on the menu. They were good, and at six overstuffed pieces with great ingredients at £4, I think it’s a good deal. In the upper part of the photo, you can see Dan’s temaki, which I can’t remember whether it was salmon or something else. Whatever it was, it was soon vanished from this realm.
I should mention we arrived at See Sushi with exceptionally healthy appetites. In other words, we were both starving.
Dan’s eel bento was pretty sweet, and it came with a pumpkin fritter he said I would have enjoyed, so I’ll have to try it on another visit. His remarks in-between bites were positive as he tucked into the saucy eel, the rice and the fried gyoza piece, which looked as if it were deep-fried as opposed to pan-fried, like the ones I had earlier.
I went for udon noodles as my main, which is a favourite of mine.
The udon was well-decked with generous strips of the bean curd, mushrooms, carrots, seaweed and a half of a hardboiled egg. Quite a hearty affair. I’ll be completely honest that this kitsune udon was great, but I prefer the udon noodles I get from a place more local to me, which is the gold standard of udon noodles, having had them for around two years now. However, this bowl of udon was a good contender, and is generously portioned at £7.50–in fact, I couldn’t finish it because I was so full.
Except I did manage to save a bit of room for blood orange sorbet. Nom.
Overall, my friend and I both felt the food was excellent value, and although the restaurant wasn’t full on a Thursday night, there were a number of people who seemed to be able to find See Sushi at around 8 pm in its less-than-well-lit surroundings who seemed to be enjoying their evening, including a few Japanese people, whose familiar language I could overhear next to us. In fact, they seemed to be doing good business, and the manager informed us that there would be better lighting for the Paddington Basin shopping/housing area, which can only encourage folks to come into the place.
According to their website, they’re shut on Sundays, and don’t offer lunch service on Saturday, but the kitchen’s open Monday through Saturday until 11 pm, which is great if you want to get a fairly late bite in.
Also, I’d like to say that the staff were extremely kind and attentive–not just for us, but also for the customers around us. So, if you’re in Paddington near St Mary’s Hospital, See Sushi is a good place for lunch or dinner. It’s got a lovely atmosphere, nice staff and the food, as far as we can tell in our edible investigations, is wonderfully satisfying for a reasonable price.