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