Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Sushi Ga Ga

It was with some trepidation that I accepted an invitation to review Sushi Ga Ga. Located on Lisle Street, Chinatown isn't particularly known for its good Japanese (or otherwise) restaurants. Fears were strengthened when we walked into the packed restaurant and were studiously ignored for a good 10 minutes. I noted that all the staff there were Cantonese, as were most of the customers, save the two teenagers sulkily queuing who decided to tastelessly mimick everyone around them.

The waitress would do anything at all but to approach us. In the end I marched to the counter at the back of the restaurant to explain I was booked in and they had no idea about it. A few minutes later, and with an apology from the what looked like the head waitress or manager, we were seated. The same lady served us, and when I asked what she would recommend or what her favourites were, she was stumped. Eventually she led us to the specials page, and to the most expensive dishes. We ordered our selection, and she retreated back to the counter to eyeball us for the majority of our meal.

House sake was served hot - an oddity for summer, especially as we weren't asked how we wanted it. It was mostly tasteless. A bizarre platter of sushi and sashimi arrived first; garnished with mint, a leaf of lollo rosso and a sad little pile of cress, it was rather pitiful. Nigiri were skinny and flacid.

Nasu den, miso grilled aubergine was soft, silky and sweet. This was to be the best thing we'd eat at this meal.

Agedashi tofu was made with firm rubbery tofu, no silkiness within it and none of that gorgeous jelly-like texture you get through the crunch of the crispy shell.

Seaweed salad was served with a thin, watery sesame sauce on the side. It tasted of nothing. Oh no wait, the sesame sauce gave it a faint hint of the seed and the tang of vinegar. At £6.50, it seemed a whopping rip-off. We didn't finish it.

Speaking of whopping rip-offs, this black cod miso was a sorry affair. At £17, the plate was enormous, making the portion size look small. Deep fried aubergine on the side drizzled with some sort of sauce tasted like air freshener. The fish had obviously been a corpse for longer than is good; its skin was tough and I spent my entire journey home with the stale taste of fishiness in my mouth from it. Extremely unpleasant.

On par with unpleasantness was the tempura scallops with a wasabi dressing. The dressing tasted of mayonnaise with a dab of mustard in it. The scallops tasted of old oil.

The list goes on, really. A side of rice had a hard crust on it, as if it had been hanging around for a while. Miso soup was pedestrian. The dessert menu was comprised mainly of ice cream and I was excited to see mochi on there, but alas, we were told the ice cream machine was broken. I didn't really fancy a plate of mixed fruit, so we called it quits.

We left feeling despondent, the whiff of disappointment about us. If we had paid we would have easily hit the huge £70 mark though it's currently running 50% off on it's menu to celebrate it's opening. I shan't be returning; unfortunately, Sushi Ga Ga was just blah blah.

Sushi Ga Ga (they don't seem to have a website)

16 Lisle Street,
London,
WC2H 7BE

Tel: 020 7287 6606

Sushi Ga Ga on Urbanspoon

26 comments:

Chris said...

Looks fucking rank. Won't be going there, then.

catty said...

Wow, sounds awful and I'm booked in to go on Friday. Like you said, at least it was an invite, I'd kill myself if I spent £70 on that!!

ginandcrumpets said...

Is this the place that has taken off the old Okinwara site? That was my office canteen and we were hoping that the new restaurant would take its place in our hearts. Sounds like it won't.

Helen said...

As soon as I put that aubergine in my mouth I said, 'air freshener'. It tasted solely of cleaning product. That wasabi mayonnaise had no wasabi in it I'm sure of it - just a bit of mustard. Oh, and I'm actually ill today. I mean, it's a strong accusation to say they gave me food poisoning, it could of course just be a coincidence.

Hugh Wright said...

If the place is really that bad - and I don't doubt that it is - what was the restaurant's rationale in inviting along someone they knew was going to write about it? I know the generally accepted line is that everyone should be treated the same whether press, blogger or non-review-writing paying customer, but presumably if they're giving out free meals to people they must be confident that the product is good enough to garner positive reviews?

Would be interested to know how this one came about!

Mr Noodles said...

What a shocker! £17 for that black cod is criminal.

On Cantonese front-of-house staff, this isn't that unusual. There's a few Japanese places in London that are owned by Chinese entrepreneurs.

Chris said...

Hugh: I know! It's so odd isn't it, I often think that. I know of a blogger who was invited to Cantina Laredo but her reservation was cancelled after mine and Lizzie's "unfair" reviews!! Staggering.

Becci said...

Two words: yuk.

Looks like sushi hell. I think people think that "sushi" is a cash cow and they can just serve anything and charge a fortune for it. Paying £70 for this crap would be tantamount to rape.

I think you would have been totally justified in using the word "gash".

Lizzie said...

Chris - I would suggest not.

Catty - Good luck...

Gin & Crumpets - Yes it is, and it's unlikely it'll steal your hearts. I didn't try the ramen though, so maybe that is more successful.

Helen - yep. Remember I said "god wouldn't it be bad if we got ill? We have a party to go to on Friday!" ...d'oh.

Hugh - Perhaps the restaurant and / or PR don't think they are as bad as I've said? Self-belief can be very strong. It came about as most of them do - an email with an invite.

Mr Noodles - Fair enough; I've only experienced it in one other place (the staff and the chefs being Chinese) and the sushi there wasn't very good either.

Chris - WHAT? Unfair? I'd like to see them eat that chicken dish and then they can tell me what 'unfair' is.

Lizzie said...

Becci - Exactly. If you use premium ingredients, not treating them well means it's all a waste. Not sure about rape - wallet rape, yes.

coolography said...

Went here last night, can't say I had the same experience.

Service was prompt and pleasant, no real issues there. As for the food, the chirashi sushi was good enough for what we paid (half price at £4.50). The spicy tuna hand roll was pretty good, though the seafood tempura selection perhaps didn't use the freshest fish/shellfish. Looking at the other dishes though I admit it looks pretty bad.

At half price you get what you pay for i suppose, though would have much preferred the old Okawari...

BeccaRothwell said...

You'll get a reputation for scathing reviews if this keeps happening! What is the point in inviting you to review then ignoring you and serving sub-par food? It doesn't matter if the food is ten times better every other night, they've buggered it up on the night they knew someone was coming who could potentially win or lose them customers!

I love Japanese food but doubtfully could tell the difference between the good and the bad, unless something was exceptional or completely stomach turning, so it's good to have someone more discerning whose advice I can read, thanks! Not one I'll be wanting to try any time soon.

HungryinLondon said...

I went a couple of months ago and it was actually really nice and the staff was lovely. It seems to have gone downwards from there though...
sounds like a horrible evening...

Lizzie said...

Coolography - funny we should have such different experiences. Aside from the initial ignore, service was fine after that. It may be half price now, but would you be satisfied if you'd paid full?

Becca - I know! I have been rather unlucky recently. To be fair to them, they apparently weren't told by the PR that I was coming and was very apologetic. Still, had I been a normal customer I'd have been very pissed off about being ignored.

Hungry In London - It must have done; it hasn't been open for long, it's a small window of time to have slumped.

The Grubworm said...

The worrying thing here is that if you were invited, perhaps you did get better than average Sushi Ga Ga food. God knows what anyone else was eating if that was the case.

The whole meal looks terrible, particularly in light of what you ate earlier for only about £30 more. Criminal.

Northern Snippet said...

Grim.Lollo rosso,mint and cress???

LexEat! said...

Oh gosh how grim! Sounds like you have a 3 rd shocking experience to go then you'll have earned something truly fabbo!

MaryMoh said...

These people do need to go for business coaching! I'm most annoyed when eateries have bad service. My family once went to an Asian restaurant here in Aberdeen. As usual my children love sweet corn soup. My girl ate through half way and found 2 short pieces of thin wire in the soup!!! The waitress didn't apologise. The boss didn't apologise and we still had to pay in full!! A few months later it closed down....good for them. They could have killed someone!

Helena Lee said...

'nigiri was skinny and flaccid'. that is a sentence you never want to hear. thanks for the warning - will steer clear!

Wild Boar said...

Was also asked to go review but thankfully you've beaten me to it. Will stay well clear now.

Anonymous said...

It is terrible. The staff attitude leaves a lot to be desired and the portions of sushi and sashimi were tiny. I won't be going back.

Lizzie said...

Grubworm - Exacly! I'd choose Shiori any day.

Northern Snippet - Bizarre, right?

LexEat - Ah, to be fair I've had some right lovely meals recently too ;)

Marymoh - I don't see why they think they can get away with such rude service. Very annoying.

Helena - I did it so you don't have to...

Wild Boar - Oh, I don't know - maybe you'll have a better experience.

Anon - I'm glad you agree with me.

shayma said...

air freshener, oh my!! sorry about that. the photos make it look delish, though....x shayma

Jonathan said...

It's always a lot more entertaining when the review is a shocker like this. Sorry you had such a bad experience... but it made for a good story and firy comments.

That poor miso cod looks terrible. And that's coming from someone who has ruined their fair share of fish in an attempt to cook this dish!

London Chow said...

Oh dear, I'm heading there tonight. Will report back. Cantonese serving sushi always sounds dubious. It's like Japanese serving dim sum. Hmm.

The London Foodie said...

Oh no, I am booked to go there tonight! Damn!

Luiz @ The London Foodie