Randomness Guide to London - Differences between Version 14 and Version 13 of Kulu Kulu, W1F 9TX
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Accessibility: A large step to get in. Toilets are in the basement, down a staircase with a handrail on one side and at least one bend.
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Conveyor belt sushi restaurant in Soho.
Entry is into a narrow passage alongside the till. It opens out further back to a space mostly filled by the sushi conveyor belt (with seating for around 30), but with one table for four tucked into a corner. The decor is plain, with cream-painted walls lined by coat hooks and a couple of art prints.
It's not somewhere for a romantic date — the (free) green tea is dispensed by means of a hot water tank, a box of teabags, a shelf of mugs, and an invitation to help yourself; and they have notices up stating that the maximum stay at busy times is 45 minutes.
Kake has visited twice now, most recently on a Monday lunchtime in September 2018. On that visit, I was one of four customers when I arrived at noon, but there were around a dozen of us by 12:15pm and only a few free seats when I left at 12:30pm. Music was playing, extremely quietly.
Nasu miso (deep-fried aubergine in miso sauce; £2.70) photo was disappointing; the sauce had a decent flavour but the aubergine had very tough and bitter skin, and there seemed to be much more skin than insides. Spinach in sesame sauce (£2.70) photo was better; not outstandingly good, but perfectly competent. Tofu steak in chilli sauce (£2.70) photo was perhaps the best of my non-sushi dishes, with a good, light batter on the tofu and a savoury, not-too-sweet sauce.
I tried two types of nigiri: mackerel (£2.10) photo and salmon (£2.70) photo. The rice in both was competently prepared; it had been washed properly, was lightly seasoned, and wasn't packed together too hard. (In the case of the mackerel nigiri, it actually wasn't packed quite tightly enough, as it fell apart when I tried to pick it up.) The mackerel had a good flavour, but unfortunately also a large bone.
Highlights on a July 2007 visit by Kake, bob, Alison, and James included the agedashi tofu (deep-fried tofu with spring onions in a soy-based sauce), and the seaweed salad with sesame seeds and chilli. We spotted two kinds of handrolls; salmon skin, and avocado/tempura prawn. As well as the more suspect kind of gunkanmaki (something that looked like prawn cocktail, and something else that obviously involved canned tuna), tobiko (flying fish roe) and ikura (salmon roe) were also in evidence. They also had all the usual suspects — tuna nigiri, salmon nigiri, tuna rolls, inside-out rolls, California rolls. We paid £25/head for four people, including a beer, a bottle of wine, and a "reaching 20 plates is a challenge!" bob.
We did note that you sometimes have to be quick to decide — on our July 2007 visit, oysters came out at one point, and Kake thought "mm, oysters, will grab some of the next batch" due to already having a bit of a queue, but they didn't come out again while we were there. This could be considered a plus point, though; it makes it feel a lot less samey, a bit more of an adventure.
There are branches in Covent Garden (51-53 Shelton St, WC2H 9HE) and South Kensington (39 Thurloe Place, SW7 2HP). claud has been to both (although not the Soho branch) and standards are comparable, although the Covent Garden one seats about twice as many than the South Kensington one.
Kake's verdict: It has more character than the usual conveyor belt places such as Yo! Sushi and Itsu; there's more interesting stuff, and a wider range. I'd come back if I was in the area and wanted a quick lunch.
- Photo of the hot food menu as of September 2018
- Photo of the conveyor belt plate prices as of September 2018
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