Sushi and cocktails is our favourite food trend for 2015. Victoria Purcell heads to Locale Restaurant in Blackheath to discover how to pair sushi and cocktails properly…
Food trends come and go, but there are some you really hope will stay. For me, that’s sushi and cocktails. Sushi Samba blazed a trail here, blending the delicious, but somewhat serious cuisine of Japan with the fun and vibrancy of Brazil and Peru.
I’ve never been to Sushi Samba, but I have been to Locale in Blackheath, as most Blackheathians who like a good steak have, and now the restaurant is embracing the trend wholeheartedly. If you haven’t experienced Sous Chef Noel Hernandez’s Japanese cuisine yet, call in on Raw Wednesdays, when sushi platters are on special offer.
When the restaurant launched its sushi menu late last year, however, some were pondering how Italian and Japanese food would come together. But the chef knows exactly what he’s doing: ‘It’s fusion,’ says Noel, who has worked at Benihana and Zuma. ‘I like to use typically Italian ingredients like pancetta and risotto to make daily specials. For example, grilled seabass in tomato salsa, or hibachi-style steak, grilled with soy sauce, garlic puree, sesame oil, sesame seeds and chill flakes. Here, people usually order béarnaise, pepper sauce or hollandaise with their steak, so I try to do something a bit different. When people smell it cooking they always want to know what it is.’
But with so many delicious-sounding dishes on the menu, where do you start?
‘I’d start with the sashimi platter,’ says Noel. ‘Especially when it’s hot outside, because it’s really fresh and healthy. But I like the prawn tempura roll and the salmon ceviche salad, too. Then I’d order the rib-eye steak, hibachi style, with grilled vegetables.’
When it comes to the cocktails, Jack Sutcliffe, Locale’s bar manager, knows exactly how to pair them with sushi – by sticking to dry, light drinks that won’t overpower the delicate fish.
‘Try something like the Royal Rhubarb with Aperol, Bombay Sapphire gin, lemon juice and rhubarb bitters – it’s very refreshing, dry and citrusy. The same goes for a gin Martini – it’s light, easy drinking and summery. And just for fun I would try a Sake Sour to mix it up a bit, or an Aperol Spritz.
‘Even with something like prawn tempura – my favourite dish on the menu – it’s still seafood, it’s still very light, so I would have a gin Martini. I’m a big fan of gin, so I’d have a gin Martini with anything to be honest!’
Jack seems to be a big fan of this new trend too: ‘Cocktails have been trendy for a while but sushi is definitely up and coming. It’s an easy match – look for anything dry, light, fresh and easy to drink. But if you really do want a glass of wine, go for a light wine like a Riesling.’
Locale, 1 Lawn Terrace, Blackheath Village SE3 9LJ; 020 8852 0700; localerestaurants.com