It turns out North West London isn’t as bad as I first thought for restaurants. With Highgate Road, West Hampstead and Primrose Hill to choose from, you’ve got a good restaurant for just about every cuisine. After a boozy weekend I needed to feel the cleansing powers of Japanese food. A green tea and platefuls of raw fish was bound to add a couple of years back onto my liver.

The decor is simple and clean, so very Japanese in that respect. There’s a seated bar area that was fully booked where you can watch the chefs efficiently get on with their work. It’s hardly like the counter at Zuma, but it still makes for good spectator sport if you’re struggling for mid-week conversation with your missus. A specials board was set in front of us, along with a fairly long menu of just about every fish you can imagine. Deciding not do go for the standard California roll we mixed it up, starting off with the Eel, avocado and cucumber (£6.50 for 6 pieces). The rice was at that perfect warm temperature, something chain sushi joints with those bloody awful conveyor belts can never get right. Or to put it another way, Yo! Sushi.


Next up was a selection of seaweeds (£7.50), a bit over-priced for something you can pick up for free down the beach. If this wasn’t going to heal up my liver then I don’t know what will. It came with a lovely smooth peanut dipping sauce that really worked.


The sashimi selection included sweet prawns, scallops and salmon (£10.40) which were incredibly fresh. Obviously all food served in a restaurant should be fresh, but a lot of people’s experience of sushi is the £1 packet from Asda. Held up against that there really is no comparison for the real thing. The freshness came through in the texture which was incredibly light. It was nice to have scallops without black pudding or chorizo anywhere in sight.

The braised pork belly (£6.50) was served up in its braising juices which were real porky goodness and soon slurped up.


My favourite was the Dasu Dengaku (£6) which is deep fried aubergine with sweet miso. The miso works so well with it, giving it a caramel like flavour.


Last up was the squid legs tempura (£7.50) which had an excellent sweet and light batter, absolutely free from any grease. The only complaint about the spicy sauce on the side was that there wasn’t enough of it.


This is a midweek sort of place, somewhere to nip to after work or for a quick meal with your partner. Being away from central London it is also kinder on the pocket. Although not by much. Still though the sushi is much fresher than the dry and bland crap you’ll get served at all of these chains, and so if you live nearby then it is definitely worth the trip.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Atmosphere: 6/10

Value: 6/10

Overall: 6.5/10 

75 Fairfax Road, NW6 4EE

Atari-Ya Sushi Bar Swiss Cottage on Urbanspoon


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