October 8, 2021

It’s great to report on the opening of another Japanese restaurant in the city. Even better, it’s on the London Road, walking distance for me. Best of all, it’s really rather good.

Mitsuki is opposite Saxby Street, in the site that housed Uighur restaurant Karamay before it relocated down the hill a bit, and another Chinese restaurant that got caught by the nightmare of 2020. So it’s a small venue, and you are all quite cosied up when it’s busy, which it has seemed to be fairly constantly since opening two weeks ago. It’s done out with lovely pink cherry blossom and parasols but retains a simple zen feel.

The menu is wide with all the regular varieties of sushi and sashimi, gyoza, tempura, ramen noodle dishes, rice bowls, even a few curve balls such as beef rendang – don’t know if they get in lemongrass and palm sugar just for that. Nonetheless on our visit it seems the kitchen is up to the task – everything we had was nicely done, some of it really lovely.

The restaurant is licensed and there is a very short and simple drinks selection, and we started with glasses of Japanese plum wine – served over ice and absolutely delicious. Then along came the ‘deluxe’ sushi and sashimi selection – featuring salmon and avocado maki rolls and a variety of nigiri. The latter in particular were fantastic – the saba (mackerel) outsanding, both aesthetically delicate and shimmering and terrific on the palate. There was a good range of flavours and textures across the selection – lightly torched sea-bass, crunchy and salty tobiko (flying fish roe) and of course heat from ginger and wasabi.

We also enjoyed pair of crispy duck hirata buns – soft and squidgy bao – with duck dressed with sweet and salty eel sauce (made for eel dishes, not made from them!). Then we had main course dishes of smoked duck and kimchi ramen and a teriyaki chicken rice bowl. Both delivered umami in spadeloads – the ramen with a rich pho-like broth and plenty of well-flavoured meat, the chicken being sweet, sticky, generous and moreish and coming with excellent miso soup. There were nice touches like a crispy leek chiffonade too. It was maybe an error to order the rice bowl following all that sushi but every morsel was still happily tucked away.

I can’t tell you too much about the background to the restaurant – it was too busy to have more than a quick chat with the manager but it seems they are new to Leicester and beginners in the restaurant business. The kitchen was running smooth and efficiently though and they have clearly hit the ground running. Call me shallow, but it seemed significant that the majority of the clientele were young and good-looking types – not just me and Gill, of course – and the buzz was that of a modish North London joint that had just had good write-up in Time Out.

We spent £50 for two, but this is a place where you can just as easily pop in for a quick sushi lunch or a bowl of something filling for a tenner or less. It’s obviously a good sign when you leave a restaurant having peered at everyone else’s dinner and planning your next visit – soft shell crab hand roll, octopus rolls and prawn tempura currently on my mind.

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