It is a brand new year with brand new resolutions and this year I have just the one aspirational goal. I am therefore obliged to embrace wholeheartedly the notion of not being at my desk all the time. It is one of the joys (not) of being a writer, where you spend every gold-dust minute plotting Book Three and increasing your word-count. After a particularly full-on day of writing – I had started at 6am on a weekend and I was flagging by 11am – I decided I needed a time-out.
What better place to go, than an eatery which had been on my radar since last year?
Kushi-ya is an independent Japanese restaurant in Nottingham, specialising in kushiyaki and serving a variety of skewers, small plates, desserts and sake.
I have always adored Japanese food, and a recent trip to Kyoto simply compounded my love for this cuisine. Would Kushi-ya deliver and sate my appetite for Japanese food?
The location is unassuming. Nestled in Cannon Court, Long Row Nottingham, the exterior painted white walls exude calm, an eponymous wooden plaque putting your mind at rest that you’ve finally found the restaurant (we didn’t flounder too much, thank you Mr. Google Maps).
It feels as if you’ve stepped into the Tardis. The décor is tasteful, think high-end Japanese a la Hakkasan. The foyer is discreet, the downstairs toilet embellished with works of art and plants. (I love it when restaurants make an effort with their facilities.)
We were in time for lunch and took a seat in their beautiful dining room. Again, more Japanese artwork adorned the walls, and although it can appear to be a little on the cosy side, it feels just right. I loved the ample spacing between tables and the chilled, luxe ambiance rendering Kushi-ya more than a place to dine, but also a pit-stop bar.
My cocktail of Umeshu Fizz (prosecco with a dash of plum wine) was fizzilicious, the ripe plum really coming through after a few seconds. Dining partner’s cocktail of Pickle Back was a glorious tangle of warming whisky and tart pickled ginger juice.
The lunch menu is oxymoronic, being both compact and comprehensive all at once. It is also very pocket-friendly too. For £10, you get one snack, two skewers and rice.
I started with prawn shumai, delicious open-faced dumplings filled with minced prawn that still had a little bite.
As it’s Veganuary, I have made a conscious decision to consume less meat and increase my vegetable intake. This is why ordering skewers of aubergine and tofu made perfect sense. Squidgy aubergine delivered a punchy umami hit (that’ll be the barley miso), whilst breadcrumbed tofu dunked in katsu sauce was one of the best things I had eaten that week.
I love rice, and this bowl of sticky rice was pretty to look at and munch my way through too. I asked for some soy sauce and ate the rice with a liberal glug of the salty sauce, which was filling and tasty.
Dining partner’s pickle plate arrived with a flourish, laden with tantalasing slivers of pickled ginger, root vegetables and mushrooms. He also enjoyed his skewers of tsukune, Japanese chicken meatballs cooked yakitori style. Meaty morsels were delicious (yes I managed to snaffle a bite). Prawn skewers were scrumptious too, the chilli and ginger sauce a revelation that left me wanting more. I was totally enamoured with the sauce, so much so, that I had to ask if they sold the sauce. (The answer is no.)
Kushi-ya is that rarest of places that leaves you feeling as if you’ve just been handed the most beautiful present, and you’re a little bit in awe because you weren’t expecting it. From the stellar service (Amber is a delight), to food that will make you fall in love (I would happily do a daily commute from Derby for those prawn skewers), Kushi-ya is my new favourite place to be.
Rating: (1: Hate: I’d rather eat my shoe – 10: Love: I’d sell my kidney for a meal here)
Restaurant name: Kushi-ya, Nottingham
Open since: October 2018
Covers: 33 (28 + 5 bar seats)
Address: 1A Cannon Court, Long Row, Nottingham NG1 6JE
Opening times: Tues – Sat: lunch service 12:00 – 14:30 | dinner service 18:00 – 10:00)
How to make reservation: online booking via res diary or telephone
Call: 0115 9411 369
Head Chef: Simon Carlin
General Manager / Front of House: Natalie Carrol
Wheelchair friendly? No
Cater for dietary requirements? Yes
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Whilst in the area: See if there is anything in the sales in the Intu down the road. I picked up some candles and have my eye on a Sara Miller candle when I return.