Jacqui – Dec 2013
With its eclectic mix of cuisines, you’re pretty sure to find something you want to eat on Cowley Road – from diner to dessert parlour, from Nepalese to Chinese. Since the closure of Gashi Gashi (before my time) though, what OX4 was missing was Sushi.
You know what it’s like, you wait ages for a Sushi joint, then two show up at once! Wait. Or is that buses? Anyway, the battle was on – Taberu Oxford opened first, to much anticipation, closely followed by Sushi Corner, a mere three doors away.
I popped into Taberu a few days after it’s initial ‘soft opening’, to grab a take-out of Vegetable Gyoza (£3.80) and Salmon Skin Roll (£5). The place didn’t seem very open at the time, with chiller cabinets and tables both glaringly empty, front door closed and lights low – confusing a number of people into not visiting. Thankfully for me though, it was open and serving very good food indeed!
The salmon skin was crispy and flavoursome, the gyoza plump, golden and delicious. Not being much of an authority on sushi, I didn’t have a huge amount of experience to call on for comparison – what I can tell you though, is that the moistness of the rice was superior to that at Yo! or in supermarkets, and almost on a par with that found at Shangri-La Bangkok (best Sushi I’ve had, by far). So, having sampled a brief taste, I popped in for a spot of lunch with fellow foodie Katy.
On entering, you’re greeted on the left by display cabinets, followed by a counter and short row of white, plastic, slightly space-age looking chairs. Climbing up the stairs ahead you enter a small restaurant area, with four tables seating around fourteen in total on benches. Further through seemed to be a few more secluded tables, in little cubby-holes.
Minimalistic monochrome seems to be the design style of choice here, with glistening black floor tiles, fresh white walls and bright white spot lights, all softened up with black mesh panels descending from the ceiling.
The menu is set out incredibly simply, with a good selection of Classic Side Dishes, Sushi, Rice & Noodles, Bento and Ramen to choose from. We opted for a few dishes to try between us, including Goma Wakame (£3 – a Japanese seaweed salad), Chicken Katsu (£3.60), Chilli Squid (£5.20), Cucumber Hosomaki (£2.80), Crispy Prawn Roll (£8.20) and Salmon Nigiri (£2.50).
But – stand aside – first we had to fight our way into a bottle of Japanese Lemonade! OK, so fight may be an exaggeration, but it did take us literally five minutes to work out how to open the damn thing (the instructions on the side went unnoticed for at least half that time). After the removing a cap, then using the cap to pop a glass marble into the bottle, I was finally able to access my drink. Sweeter than any other lemonade I’d sampled, I truly felt I’d earned this.
Without delay, the food began arriving – plate after plate of wonderful colours and textures, till our table top was hidden beneath a display of Japanese delights. Each dish was pleasing to both the eye and the mouth, with seemingly quality ingredients and skilled preparation. The rice, again, was moist and plump (thumbs up for consistency), with the flavours well-balanced.
In terms of any niggles, they would only be one minor from me: the excessive mayonnaise atop the ISO Rolls (see above). Other than that, I thought the food was great. The service was efficient, though communication occasionally let them down. We were left hanging at one point by a waiter who began taking our order, then walked off.
At around £16 a head, including drinks, it was an entirely decent meal. I understand delivery is now available for evenings, with lunchtime delivery available soon. So not only can I finally get my fix of sushi within walking distance – more importantly, I can now get it delivered! Bang goes the budget…