A friend and I checked out the new look Satsuma restaurant in
Soho last week and were pleasantly surprised. We'd heard the menu
had been given a new twist, but it was great to see that the décor
has had a refreshing revamp too; within moments of arriving we were
seated in an orange "pod" downstairs that gave us some privacy,
without leaving us feeling too isolated from our fellow diners.
I've always found the food at Satsuma consistently good, and
this visit confirmed that impression. Along with the new décor,
Satsuma have tweaked their menu to include Katsu dishes.
We tried the Assorted Katsu Platter (£16.80) that gave us a
sampling of the pork, chicken and vegetable Katsu on offer (plus a
scallop and an oyster, if memory serves) as well as three different
dipping sauces, which are sweet and mild on the whole.
We also ordered Soft Shell Crab and Ebi Tempura Rolls, both
dishes arriving beautifully-presented and delicately-flavoured. If
like me you have had the misfortune of becoming accustomed to the
chilled, hard sushi of your local supermarket, the freshness of
Satsuma's will remind you what you've been missing.
We washed down these dishes with Japanese beer (we opted for
Kirin Ichiban on this occasion) and then ordered some warm sake,
which arrived in a charming jug with two teeny serving cups. With
autumn on the way, this very warming, lightly flavoured beverage
was a perfect way to accompany our meal.
Dessert followed, as it tends to do. Green tea ice cream is a
long-time favourite and can't really go wrong, and the tempura ice
cream with mango went down well too. Both dishes are priced at less
than £3, which is good, but means they are also pretty
insubstantial. Satsuma's Kiwi and Strawberry Juice proved a nice
refreshing end to the meal instead of coffee; generous, thick and
"actually made of strawberry" confirmed my companion.
There really is only one thing standing in the way of Satsuma
becoming a fairly regular haunt of mine: the service. As we sat in
our pod, happily tucking into our meals, a fleet of friendly,
well-meaning staff circulated so frequently down the rows of pods,
often carrying nothing but just making themselves available on the
off-chance someone needed an extra fork or had a soiled napkin to
be whisked away, that it started to feel a little intrusive. It's
annoying to be left waiting for long periods at restaurants, but it
can also be a little distracting to have so many staff passing by
to check on you so frequently. This is, of course, a very
minor complaint, but if it got through to management and the
service eased off a bit, I'd consider Satsuma one of my top
affordable restaurants of choice in central London.
Find them at:
56-58 Wardour Street
London W1D 4JG
020 7437 8338
Open daily 12pm-11pm