Sushi is just about everywhere these days, from the ready-made (yet oh-so-tempting) platters in Sainsbury's to the al desko lunches that come courtesy of Itsu. But there are also places that offer beautifully prepared, high-class fare in stunning surrounds. I’d heard on the grapevine that there was a new Japanese restaurant in Notting Hill from sushi master Endo Kazutoshi (who runs the Michelin Star restaurant, Endo at the Rotunda). With Sumi now on my radar, I just couldn't not check it out, right?
Over on the leafy road of Westbourne Grove, which has colourful townhouses and blossoming trees lining its streets, I found Sumi. Planted next to only a small smattering of other restaurants and bars, with a pretty outdoor area for when the sun’s smiling down on us, it looked hella inviting. As I stepped through the doors, I was met with a warm, minimalist aesthetic. Echoing Japanese stylings, this joint had a white and cream colour scheme, which lended itself to the wooden tables, tiled walls, rustic-chic stools and glowing pendant lights. While bright and airy, it still felt intimate and cosy.
We were seated at the bar in front of the open kitchen which, let me tell you, is one way to summon an appetite. Watching the chefs work away was a bit like watching your favourite show (to be honest, any show with food is a favourite of mine). The furrowed brows as the chefs carved each fine piece of sashimi, the precise fingers calculating every cut, and the intricate, almost theatrical, cleaning of the knives. They worked together in unison like they were one organism, shouting enthusiastically whenever someone entered the restaurant (which is apparently a custom in Japan, as I later read on Google).
With my intrigue piqued and my stomach growling, I peered at the menu. My boyfriend and I then looked at each other greedily, "Boy, this looks good." We ordered a few plates then, to wet our whistles while we waited, we went for a bottle of DOC Paradiso Soave (£40). It was quite a warm day, and this was the perfect tipple to cool us off – it felt sweet, light and deliciously refreshing. And then? The feast began.
The edamame (£4) was lovely – freshly cooked, covered in crystal salt and very tasty indeed. While we sipped and nibbled merrily away, the next round of our order arrived. The five types of sashimi (£30) were absolute heaven. I don’t know about you, but there’s something about a beautiful, high-grade piece of raw fish that just gets me going. Presented on a bed of ice, garnished with a few pretty flowers, this was stunning. There were two pieces each of five different fish and, while I won’t pretend to know what they all were, we definitely had salmon, tuna and scallop. Every bite was melt in the mouth and absolutely gorgeous – I was sad when it was finished.
But my sadness was cut short when the nigiri turned up. Served on a stone slate, lined up like a little army ready to take on my tastebuds, our akami (tuna, £9), sake (salmon, £8), hamachi (yellowtail, £8) and hotate (scallop, £11) were mouthwatering. You could tell that the rice had been freshly cooked, so much so that it was still a little warm and sticky, which I loved. And, of course, the fish was *chefs kiss* delish.
After this, we received our two temaki rolls. We chose the toru-taku (£12), which was minced fatty tuna, fermented radishes, chives and soy. We also had the hamachi (£8), made of chopped yellowtail and topped with mioga-shiso, white sesame and soy. These came cradled in a piece of dried seaweed, served in a dainty-looking wooden holder. I couldn't fault them. And for our final dish, we went for the robata fish of the day (market price), which on that lovely Thursday evening was halibut. This came garnished with seaweed and a ponzu sauce. Fresh and succulent, the fish just flaked away – and the dressing was incredibly moreish.
Yes, I did say that was our final dish, but I couldn’t help myself but order a couple of desserts to see off the dinner. After the waiter read out the desserts, I knew I wanted the matcha mille (£10). It was a Japanese twist on the classic French pastry; it was tangy yet creamy and went down in a quick second. My partner had gone for the miso ice cream (£8). This tasted a bit like salted caramel and was a total stunner. Yes, I did have a scoop of both at the same time, and yes they were a match made in heaven.
The food at Sumi was superb (there wasn't a single thing I didn't devour within seconds) and the service was impeccable. And while a little on the steep side, I feel like that's not out of the ordinary for that neck of the woods and for such high-quality ingredients. Especially considering that it's the sister site to a Michelin Star restaurant no less. Endo Kazutoshi, you've smashed it.
💰 The damage: Around £150, plus service.
📍 The location: 157 Westbourne Grove, W11 2RS
👌 Perfect for: Relaxed date night dinners.
⭐ Need to know: If you book a seat in front of the open kitchen before 7pm, you get your dishes cooked right in front of you and passed to you by the chefs.