Being a bank holiday weekend, there were some travel difficulties. The whole of the Jubilee line being under maintenance, for example. Because of this, I had to get a train, then a tube, then another train and then a bus in order to get to Willesden Green. It took me almost 1.5 hours. I hoped it was worth it.
Upon arrival, the restaurant was nearly empty. There was a young family sat by the sushi counter, and two other tables were occupied. I sat down opposite my companion, who had a face resembling thunder. Apparently when he asked if we could sit at the sushi counter, the waitress told him that it was not for lunchtimes. And yet there was this family sitting there, happily munching away. If I'm honest, it put a little damner on my excited spirits.
The menu is vast. We opted for tempura soft shell crab, which was delicious. Not a hint of grease, light and fresh. We also ordered the top picture, a raw squid dish. My companion wasn't too sure of the texture but I loved it - slimy, slightly crunchy with a little heat from grated ginger and the umami of the nori seaweed. An excellent start. Some vegetables lightly poached in dashi stock cleansed the palate and were refreshing.
I also ordered an uni nigiri, only because I've never tried sea urchin before. This was perfectly tasty with that iodine tang that they're famous for, although I can't help thinking it would be more delicious scooping the orange roe straight from the shell in the sunny south of France with a glass of chilled rosé.
We both opted for the 'Maze Chirashi' set. This consisted of the 'Chef's Special Clear Soup' which was surprisingly flavoursome given it was completely clear. This accompanied a deep bowl of rice with raw fish which came already soy sauced. I was quite surprised when this turned up, as I had envisaged large pieces of sashimi adorning the rice, rather than the slivers and chunks. The use of diced fake crabsticks also confused me a bit; I'm not adverse to them, but they don't really scream high quality to me. I was impressed by the amount of tobiko, though. This was a filling dish. I finished all of mine like a good girl, but my companion struggled to do so.
To finish, we ordered a scoop of wasabi ice cream and a scoop of red bean ice cream. The wasabi ice cream was delightfully pungent, although after two or three mouthfuls I'd had enough. I did muse whether a lime and wasabi sorbet would be more appropriate.
All in all, a nice little place. The waiting staff telling us we couldn't sit at the counter whilst others could left a bit of a sour taste in our mouths, especially since they weren't busy. The food was lovely (£30 a head with a beer), but we left a little despondent.
33B Walm Lane
Willesden, NW2 5SH
Tel: 020 8459 2971