Restaurant Review: Maze Sushi

I believe I have mentioned my goal to sample all the Gordon Ramsay restaurants in London while I am here. As I progress through the list, I’ve mentally ranked all of them in order of preference.

Current king (queen?) of the list is: Maze Sushi. Specifically the sushi bar, which took separate reservations than the Maze Restaurant or Maze Grill.

The ranking might not be particularly fair.. but sushi done well has always had a special place in my heart. If anything, I walk away regretting the years of not knowing and opportunities to visit this place more regularly.

Of first note was the bar. The sushi bar was really an extended addition to what would have been the bar counter itself. Perched in the corner, we had a great view over the bar.. and saw three large glass canisters of some liquid infusion. Intrigued and distracted from the drink menu, we kept guessing what it could be until one of us worked up the curiosity and courage to ask a server. What novel solution. The answer? Maze infuses and makes their own flavoured spirits. How awesome is that? Of course we had to order something that incorporated those ingredients, and fruit martinis all around it was. They were gorgeous, sweet but not overly, flavourful and deceptive. It was tempting to gulp the whole glass down and order a second.

We opted for the Chef’s Menu, as expensive as it was:

Salt and pepper soy beans

Kani snow crab
Snow crab flakes, wakame seaweed
pickled wasabi

Sea bass truffle
Sea bass, shiso, ponzu,
truffle oil

Hamachi pecan
Yellowtail, yuzukosho
pecan nut, pecan oil

Sushi platter
California roll
Spicy tuna roll
Seared salmon belly
Sea bass
Dumpling of lobster,
Tiger prawn and salmon,
Aromatic lemon grass broth
Strawberry and mint sundae
Lemon meringue pie

I had my desserts substituted with sorbet because of my lactose intolerance. Actually, they forgot, so as an apology, we got an additional scoop of sorbet. What a lovely and unexpected gesture.

┬áThe extra bonus wasn’t the sorbet or the consideration. It was the service. We felt truly valued as customers. The restaurant was busy, but Laura, our server, always came back to us with her bouncy enthusiasm and follow up. Her asking how the food was didn’t feel like routine, but a sincere interest in ensuring that we were happy with our plates. At the end of the day, good food is easy to come by, but good service is what keeps us coming back.

Restaurant Review: Isao

This was a rare recommendation from a friend. As the reader and adventurer of our group, I’m the one usually looking up new places to try. This one is now one of my favorites, a rare repeat spot for me.

Isao Sushi Restaurant is tucked away on Sukhumvit Soi 31 between two rather neoned-out restaurants. One is a pizzaria, which I will cover later. The other one, I never really paid attention since I hone in on the sushi when I go. Yes, I get that focused on this one.

Usually, when ordering sushi, I have my usual pieces I’ll get like salmon, eel, and tuna. I hate the labor intensive work of going through lists (yes, restaurants, this pseudo-foodie uses pictures) and ordering one by one. C’mon. As if arriving hungry wasn’t stress enough on my temperament. Granted, I am spoilt. My relatives run a Japanese restaurant and they knew my childhood favorites and would have them ready at a moment’s notice whenever I am visiting. Dining out in sushi places is a relative new practice for me.

Back to Isao. Isao’s biggest feature is their large selection of their own rolls. Their menu comes in categories. Tuna. California rolls. Signature. Crispy. Salmon. The rolls have been grouped in logical themes. Within each roll type there are variations around the central theme. Various types of tuna rolls and wraps. The rolls come in healthy portions, with all the ingredients wrapped. I have never had a ingredient that wasn’t fresh. Even in a busy roll, the distinct texture of salmon would still stand out. Whoever the chef is, s/he did the homework and tested which ingredients blended well together, how to mix the textures up, and give each bite the biggest bang for the baht. In other words, the chef has done the work of selection and combination and I just sit back and enjoy the meal.

Yes, it's smiling at you!