Birthday dinner at Ebi Sushi

I was treated to a lovely birthday dinner at Ebi Sushi in Derby over the weekend. Japanese food is one of my absolute favourites and being brought to probably the best Japanese restaurant in the East Midlands got my tastebuds all a-tingling on the days leading up to it. The story goes that the chef was brought over from Japan to cater to the Japanese staff working over at the nearby Toyota factory, so authenticity is guaranteed!

It’s an unassuming frontage that greets you and inside is again a modest affair with bamboo blinds over the windows and simple art on the walls, plain tables peppering the floor and the sushi bar tucked in the corner. But the food more than makes up for it.

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We started off with complimentary fried mackerel in a vinegar and onion sauce. This was light and fresh and whetted our appetite for what was coming up.

Sashimi platter

There was a choice of three, five or seven fish types for the sashimi platter and we opted for the middle one which came with sea bream, tuna, turbot, salmon and yellowtail. The pieces of fish were all incredibly fresh and sweet. The salmon, tuna and yellowtail especially ate like butter. My favourite was the yellowtail whilst G really enjoyed the tuna.

Pickles

The pickles were a lovely crunchy counterpart to the fish were were having and we thought they were daikon, and maybe umeboshi (salt plum) and aubergine. Maybe I should be a better blogger and ask for more details before eating the food.

Tuna belly roll

Next up was a tuna belly roll with spring onion. The nori sheets had been toasted before rolling up the sushi and gave it a lovely depth of flavour. We could have easily eaten another plate of these, they were so good.

Soft shell crab

After the cold dishes, the hot dishes came out in succession and first up was the eagerly awaited soft shell crab. We missed having this when we were recently down in Cornwall and were so happy to be able to order it this time – it was just as anticipated. Hot and crunchy with a light greaseless batter encasing the soft sweet crab.

Chicken yakitori and miso black cod

Trust G to order chicken skewers for a fancy meal out. His words, not mine! But boy, were these yakitori such a good choice. Pieces of chicken thighs were grilled and coated in a sticky sweet and salty yakitori sauce with lovely flavours of sake coming through. My only very slight criticism was that the meat could have been charred a little more, but the flavour of that sauce was an unexpected delight.

Black cod with miso was again incredibly fresh and this time had a great charry flavour to it courtesy of the grill. The unctous flakes of fish came slid down our throats very easily indeed.

Pork tonkatsu

Tonkatsu is a deep fried pork cutlet coated with panko and this was a superior version of it. That chef’s got a great hand with the fryer. We poured tonkatsu sauce over this liberally and savoured every single morsel. By now we were pretty full but there were still two more dishes to come.

Cold soba noodles

I think having cold soba noodles on a very wintry-like night was not the best idea, and even though I still enjoyed it, it was perhaps a better choice for warmer weather. Saying that, the buckwheat noodles were perfectly al dente and the dipping sauce was a light savoury accompaniment to the noodles. G had a much better choice of tempura prawns with soba in hot miso soup which was again delicious. We were struggling a little from over-ordering by now, but had dessert on one person’s insistence. Heh.

Japanese cheesecake

We shared a slice of Japanese cheesecake which was a baked cheesecake layer topped with a very generous amount of cream. This was off-menu, offered by our lovely waitress but I did wonder whether a green tea or black sesame ice-cream would have made a lighter finish to the meal.

Onigiri 1

Onigiri 2

After our bill was settled, our waitress presented us with two onigiri to take home. What a lovely touch to a wonderful meal. I ate mine for breakfast as suggested, the bit in bed was my idea. The packed rice was mixed with bonito flakes and had a tangy pickle centre to it and I thoroughly enjoyed the last of my amazing birthday meal.

I highly recommend Ebi Sushi to anyone looking for authentic Japanese food. The pricing of the menu would suggest special occasion meals but if you stick to the hot cooked portion of the menu that would keep the bill more reasonable. Parking is conveniently located directly across the street. We went on Bonfire Night so it was a bit quieter than usual but be sure to book a table in advance as it usually gets very busy.

Ebi Sushi
59 Abbey Street
Derby DE22 3SP
Tel: 01332 265656
Open: Tues-Sat 6-10pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Birthday @Higoi

For my birthday earlier this month we went to an old favourite, Higoi. The restaurant is situated in the most unlikely of places, smack dab in the middle of student land sharing a street with the local Sainsbury’s, kebab shop and Ladbroke’s. It’s inconspicuous – blink and you’ll miss it as you drive by. And I kinda like it that way. It feels like a serendipitous find every time I go back. Higoi has been around for 21 years and a restaurant that has lasted this long in that particular area in the midlands has to be something special. Inside is decorated in a cosy Japanese theme, seating probably 20 at most. There’s a cute low table and cushions seating two at the front. We tried it once and it was so uncomfortable, we went back to sitting ‘Western style’ on normal chairs!

We usually go for one of their dinner courses which never fail to impress but this time we decided to splurge on their kaiseki, the taster dinner. My oh my, every dish was exquisitely prepared and presented and all of them excepting one were scrumptious. The only drawback was that the first few dishes took a while to arrive and we had to wait quite a long time in between. Obviously portion sizes were small and combined with the waiting time you’d almost feel hungry again by the time the next course came along. That speeded up towards the end though, as the chef had pretty much prepared everything by then. We didn’t end the meal feeling stuffed as we usually did after one of their dinner courses, but just full enough. Which could be a good thing. Not so good if you’re gluttons like us. Service was their usual good standard and they very nicely introduced each course to us (the saddo foodie that I am, I had to write down each one. The website doesn’t go into too many specifics).

Anyway, on to the good bits. Pardon the blurriness of some shots, I couldn’t wait to dig in!

 

Zensai: Scallops, fish roe, salmon roll

 

Suimono: Sea urchin soup

To be honest, I couldn’t differentiate between the sea urchin and the shiitake mushrooms but it was delicious nonetheless.

 

Sashimi: Raw scallops and prawns with wasabi mayo

 

Yakimono: Black cod with miso sauce

This was so sweet and melt-in-your-mouth, I wanted more!

 

Agemono: Soft shell crab and scallop tempura

So. Good.

 

Nimono: Salmon and Cucumber roll; Prawn and Octopus roll

The salmon and cucumber roll was alright, but the prawn and octopus roll was yummy.

 

Sunomono: Salmon wrapped in chinese cabbage

I think this is where the chef started to run out of ideas, pretty uninspiring tastewise, but credit for the presentation!

 

Mushimono: Prawn and sea bass

Back to high quality deliciousness!

Rice (gohan), pickles (tsukemono) and miso soup (misoshiru)

The prawn and sea bass dish was served with the above

 

Okashi: Dessert of mochi, ice-cream and dorayaki (I think)

This was good, although the dorayaki was quite dry.

The kaiseki dinner has to be ordered two days in advance and is only available from Tuesdays to Thursdays. Everything on the a la carte menu is good! My favourites are the sushi and sashimi dinner, sushi/sashimi moriawase, agedashi tofu or nasu, iro iro maki and hitsumabusi (their current special). The sashimi dinner was my first taste of raw scallop and it was sweet heaven melting in my mouth. During weekdays you can walk in without a reservation but it gets pretty busy during the weekends, so book in advance. On the plus side you can always get takeaway for a 15% discount! Check out their website.