October 23, 2015
When we lived in San Francisco one of our Sunday night traditions was going to get sushi at one of our local joints. Why we always both had a craving for sushi at the end of the weekend was anybody’s guess but the feeling was always there. Now we knew that of all nights you could possibly eat sushi, Sunday was arguably the absolute worst.
Think about it … most deliveries are made Monday through Friday (Saturday sometimes) but usually not on Sundays. Now there were some places that got certain types of fresh fish from the markets or fishermen but not all of them so it wasn’t the absolute freshest day you could go but it was our thing.
Since being out here not much has changed and it’s usually Sundays that we crave some sushi although London isn’t exactly crawling with great spots that don’t cost an arm and a leg or as the Brits say, a bomb. Luckily we are almost next door to a pretty solid little spot called OKA. which has 2 locations in London.
We haven’t visited the seemingly larger location in Kingly Court between Piccadilly and Oxford Circus although we’ve been by it on our way to one of our favorite cocktail spots, Cahoots (which will earn its own post because it’s that good). The smaller version is right here in Primrose Hill on the high street. First thing I’ll say is that you should absolutely make a reservation online if you’re going to go. It’s not a big place holding maybe 24 inside and another 6 outside when it’s nice and always busy.
Plus even when it doesn’t look busy they are strict (sometimes a bit too much) about holding their tables for upcoming reservations … even if there is plenty of time to grab a quick meal. So while we’ve been 3 times so far we’ve probably tried to go at least 6-7 in total. But it is busy for a good reason and that is their food.
Not only is it a sushi restaurant but it’s also got a pretty full Pan-Asian menu and their larger spot is also a Robata Grill restaurant. As with just about every sushi or Japanese restaurant we start with sea salted edamame. It’s funny because one of the big, hit things here in London is chili edamame although it’s (as expected) some weird semi-spicy, semi-sweet, not real chili paste.sauce slathered over the edamame … stick with the original is my recommendation.
Next up is maybe our favorite item there, the miso soup. This isn’t your normal miso soup however … sure it has the tofu, spring onions, etc but they have 2 other ingredients which make it. The first is edamame beans. I mean how can you not love them, they’re just so good. The second, which is the real winner, is kimchi. This gives it a very rich and full flavor which pops, in a good way.
Now we’ve tried a lot of the Pan-Asian and side dishes but tonight it was all about sushi and sashimi. We did 3 rolls and a plate of amazing (and huge slices of) sashimi. First up was the basic and kinda boring Spicy Tuna roll with avocado and cucumber. Next we went with the Dragon Roll which is prawn tempura, asparagus, spicy mayo topped with avocado. Finally we got the Jalapeno Salmon Roll which is pretty self-explanatory but is an inside-out roll with salmon, spring onion, shichimi spices, avocado and cucumber rolled in tempura crumbs with citrus mayo. This one was by far our favorite roll as the salmon was absolutely dynamite and the jalapeño gave a nice kick to it plus the crunchy tempura flakes always get me.
Now the sashimi we got was so incredibly delicious, as I mentioned earlier, that I wasn’t able to get a picture of the full plate. But I will assure you that there were 3 pieces of both Salmon and Tuna on there plus the little side salad with peanut dressing. Another neat thing they have is incredible wasabi. It’s not some green-tinged paste that is scooped out of a 5 gallon jug. It’s tough to describe (you can see it on all the plates above and the one below, but it is a slightly more liquid base with actual chunks of wasabi cut up as opposed to being pulverized into a paste (we always ask for extra).
Now of course the meal wouldn’t have been nearly as good if I hadn’t gotten some sake because, as you could tell from yesterday’s post, I’m kinda on a sake kick. So I went with some Dewasakura “Oka” Sake Junmai-Ginjo. It was nice and light with tons of fruit flavor (pear and green apple) and seemed pretty simple from some of the ones I tasted the other day but still perfect for what I wanted.
So next time you find yourself craving some sushi and in the Primrose Hill or Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus area, stop in at OKA. if for nothing else than some miso kimchi soup and wasabi.
Address: 71 Regents Park Road
Closest Tube: Chalk Farm (Northern)
Tip: Make a reservation and sit outside if it’s nice enough