Clapham’s Tsunami have a new bottomless brunch menu. Theoretically bottomless sushi? Yes indeed! Does it work? Yes – if you can get served…
In A Word:
Hip and cosmopolitan Clapham people. Small groups of friends celebrating something, locals, the odd businessman drifts in as well as one or two couples.
When it comes to trendy eateries in South London, Clapham is one of the best places to be. There’s an exciting mix of European, American and Asian restaurants here, so there’s plenty to tempt taste buds. To add more excitement, Japanese restaurant and bar Tsunami has recently launched a brand-new lunch menu. It’s available between Fridays to Sundays (only) and we’ve been invited to try it.
As I walk in, I feel as though I’ve left Clapham. The restaurant has a cool, modern feel to it. It’s spacious and has a strict colour scheme. There’s lots of neutral brown tones, wood furnishings and Japanese floral designs which emphasises the style of the Far East. As I walk to my seat, I notice the street art mural on the wall at the back of the restaurant. It gives the restaurant a Western, contemporary feel.
Its ultra-stylish setting provides a chilled and relaxing atmosphere. The continuous bursts of jazz and somewhat obscure J-Pop coming through the speakers gives the restaurant a laid-back feel. This feels like the place to be if you want Japanese fine dining with an easy-going vibe. So what about the food?
The Lunch Menu
We’ve been invited to sample the bottomless buffet lunch, a trend that has really caught on in London. Bottomless lunches are rising in popularity, but can Tsunami take on the challenge?
Unlike regular buffets in other restaurants, you can’t just go over to the counter and pile up your plate with as much as it can hold (…pizza hut?). There’s a good choice of dishes and sushi which obviously has to be made by order, so the waiter makes a note of our choices and places the order.
The menu is split into five categories (appetisers, mains, sushi wraps, nigiri and sushi rolls) and you’re free to choose what and how much you like. However, we’re told it’s best to choose only one main as it’s a large serving. I should also warn you that menu states a maximum sitting time of one hour and 45 minutes. Not good if you’re after a quick bite. I suppose that’s why it’s only available on Fridays and the weekends.
There’s a bit of a wait for the appetisers, but I’m pleased to see my Salt and Chilli Pepper Squid arrive as it’s served in a metal tub next to a mayonnaise dip and lime wedge. This is definitely pleasing on the palate. The squid is perfectly cooked and has a delicate, crunchy coating. The salt and dusting of chilli leaves a satisfying fizz on the tongue! A drizzle of lime and a touch of mayonnaise gives the squid pieces a cool and refreshing lift.
I have to admit, my first thought on the Edamame beans is, ‘that’s a lot of Edamame beans!’ Sadly, these aren’t as exciting as I hoped. The salt gives it an edge, but is only sprinkled on the top beans. It’s a bit bland at the bottom (none of the salt makes it down there) and there’s too much to get through.
Things improve when Jack’s Nasu Goma arrives. It’s not the most colourful dish, but it’s truly warm and satisfying. The soft aubergine slices come alive with the thick miso paste sauce. It’s the kind of thing you want on a cold day. This definitely whets your appetite for more!
There’s a considerable wait for the mains which is slightly frustrating. I’d understand if the restaurant is packed, but it isn’t.
When the mains do arrive, Jack and I are both eager to tuck in. My Salmon Teriyaki with Vegetables is incredibly moreish. The salmon fillets are tenderly cooked and have a perfect soya sauce glaze. The vegetables are more or less raw to keep their full flavour. This one’s a winner.
As I eat, I can hear the gentle sizzle of the egg on Jack’s Korean Stone Bowl Bibimbap with raw beef. It’s another dish that’s full of interesting flavours, but like the Edamame beans, the flavours are confined to the top. When you get to the bottom, it’s just rice and hot sauce and there isn’t anything to wash it down with!
We have to keep waiting for the staff (who aren’t particularly busy) to keep filling our glasses with water. Jugs of water aren’t on any of the tables for some reason…
Onto the Sushi Rolls and Nigiri. At first glance, it looks well presented, however, some of the rolls are untidy. It may be a small issue for the casual diner, but for the dedicated sushi lover – that guy who went to Japan or Nobu, perhaps… this is a big deal. Jack also realises that the 2 Sea Bass Nigiri previously ordered are missing. A possible oversight?
Taste-wise, I find the rolls slightly bland and the rice is a bit too mushy for my liking. Jack finds the nigiri fiddly as it falls apart over his plate – again, not something that should happen. The chef may be new to sushi? Overall, we’ve had better.
Tsunami have created an exciting lunch menu, there are some beautiful dishes here. However, overall it seems to me that they’ve overlooked the basics. Neatly packed sushi rolls should be second nature to sushi chefs and I’m still confused as to why the service is so….glacial? We didn’t have our own jug of water on the table. Surely it would be easier to have one rather than keep asking a waiter to refill our glasses?
That being said, Tsunami does have a cool atmosphere with some fantastic lunch dishes, it’s just a shame there seems to be some complacency over the simple details. There’s so much more potential here.
5-7 Voltaire Road, Clapham, London, SW4 6DQ