TEMAKI in Brixton’s Market Row is a unique Japanese-inspired dining concept inspired by Executive Chef Shaulan Steenson’s time living and working in Japan.
It’s an intimate but ultra-modern open-plan design where you can watch the sushi chefs hand prepare the rolls in front of you. The space mainly has wood and concrete accents, allowing the kitchen to take centre stage.
Chef Steenson says he enjoys the open dining concept as it allows him to interact with customers adding, “I’m not exactly shy when it comes to food as it’s the easiest way for me to express myself so I really enjoy performing in front of people.”
Temaki directly translates into ‘hand roll’ where a fresh and crisp sheet of nori is layered with high-grade sushi rice along with the option of different types of fish and vegetables. There are also small plates, deserts and three set menus to choose from.
It’s a very relaxed dining experience where guests are encouraged to eat with their hands as a piece of nori is tucked under the base of the roll to prevent spillage. Each roll is a delicate balance of ingredients and allows you to sample all kinds of flavours as you order and eat at your own pace.
We can recommend The Temaki made with the fatty part of the tuna, shiso and caviar, along with the Prawn Tempura and Monkfish Karaage. The special of the day, smoked otoro fattened tuna with Cornish sea salt and sesame seeds, also melts in your mouth so it’s worth checking if it’s on the menu during your visit.
There are so many exciting dishes to choose from but if you can’t decide, the must-orders are, “The Temaki [which] is fatty tuna followed by the Prawn Tempura, BBQ Eel and The Aubergine. From the small plates, I’d say the Monkfish Karaage is our most popular dish, period,” according to Chef Steenson.
As he pulled out a rather large piece of a sustainably-caught fresh piece of bluefin tuna, we started talking about the ingredients which are mainly sourced locally aside from a small portion coming from Europe. The menu is pretty stable year-round and contains a variety of fish that is unique for London but not enough to scare you off.
Chef Steenson has been cooking since he was around five years old before moving to Japan in 2016. He worked at the two Michelin-star French restaurant L’effervescence in Tokyo but he has also worked on the southwest coast of Japan and Australia. He says he was always drawn to sushi as it’s “the purest form of food.”
The drinks menu is equally well thought out with a range of sake, beer and Japanese pre-mixed cocktails to choose from. We tried the Tedorigawa sake made in the Kinka unpasteurised tradition which has a full, clean taste with a nice balance of sweetness and acidity.
For cocktails, the must-try is The Sansho Peppercorn Gimlet which has a fiery kick (but not too spicy) otherwise, there is a range of non-alcoholic options available too.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to TEMAKI as it was refreshing to find authentic Japanese food in the capital, elevated by gorgeous interiors and an Executive Chef that wants his customers to have the best possible dining experience.
“I’ve never sat on the other side of the counter so for me, the experience is, hopefully, unique. The vast majority of people that come in walk out happy and that’s what is most important to me,” he says.
TEMAKI is open Tuesday to Thursday for dinner or Friday and Saturday for lunch and dinner but also keep an eye out for their special tasting menus inspired by some of Japan’s most respected sushi meccas for the full dining experience.