Chatting with the sainted Mrs FM the other evening, we realised that we have access to a growing number of restaurant types in the Lincolnshire post code area, but are still slightly short on fine dining or traditional British food establishments. While I am certain that as our economic circumstances improve from their admittedly all-time-low level, we may be able to look forward to a higher grade of dining opportunities, even I was surprised to discover that a brand new Japanese sushi restaurant has opened adjacent to Waterside North.
As the adventurous Mrs FM was unavailable to sample the wares of Kashi Japanese Restaurant, my good friend from the motor trade, Swiss Tony, joined me for the evening's adventure. He admitted that his only former authentic sushi experience had come from Disney's The Epcot Centre in Florida. I have consumed lunch at the Yo Sushi! chain in London and on a trip to Tokyo a few years ago, but I remain largely unaware of the broader Japanese style of dining, which I know is a lot more than just tempura battered fish, vegetables and rice aplenty.
The word sushi means literally "it's sour" and is one of the five basic tastes known as umami in Japan. There are several different ways of serving the hand-formed rice entrees, which normally consist of vinegared rice and fish morsels, flavoured with the peppery-hot wasabi sauce, and it needs to be borne in mind that fish predominates in Oriental cooking. However, beef, pork and chicken are also popular, more usually as a main course. You start your meal by partaking of tea, which helps with digestion. We also ordered a quarter-bottle of sake (rice wine) served hot in a china flask.
Most of the starter courses consist of cold sushi rolls (a morsel of highly flavoured fish, rolled in sticky rice and wrapped in a vine leaf), nigiri sushi (also cold), various light and crispy tempura battered vegetables (courgette, carrot, aubergine, radish and so on) or prawns, meat strips, hot grilled seafood or meat (robata kushi yaki) served on a skewer. Sashimi is thinly-sliced raw fish. In all cases, the quality is carefully monitored and the flavours are simply stunning.
The Kashi restaurant tends to follow a western style, which was invented in North America to better suit western palates. However, the quality is superb, the rice is beautifully cooked and the fresh flavours are no less than tantalising. It is interesting to note that a complete Japanese meal is low on fat and high on carbohydrates – useful knowledge for serial dieters.
Both Tony and I used the opportunity as a voyage of discovery and we sought the advice of our lovely, traditionally-clad waitress as to how we should start our meal and progress through to dessert. The menu is laid out as main courses with supporting roles given to the various colourful and flavoursome sushi dishes, which are served not dissimilarly to Spanish tapas, in small samplers, to be dipped, should the diner wish, in a teriyaki-type, piquant soy sauce. All courses are light and can be augmented at any time, prior to the bento main meal, which is served in a compartment box, complete with sweet pickle, fresh and lightly vinegared salad leaves and sesame topped boiled rice.
In all cases, the impeccably fresh fish was either raw or lightly seared. It is exceptionally easy and very tasty to eat using either the short wooden chopsticks provided, or (if you ask) a fork and spoon. I am not going to centre on any one particular dish, as they were all stunning and looked wonderful, served on small glazed trays. In fact, we both agreed that we ought to return to try other dishes in due course. The mains of teriyaki flavoured beef and Tony's prawn tempura and chicken teriyaki were utterly beguiling and exceptionally more-ish.
For dessert, I tried the tanbaya dorayaki, Japanese red bean cake which is like a sweet pancake filled with a bean jam, and Tony chose the Japanese cheesecake, which has a very slight cheesy consistency, but is more like a light, eggy sponge. Conveniently sliced in two, we were able to split the taste experience equally, as indeed we could do with our other courses. After settling the bill for a most reasonable £52.30, for which we sampled a truly representative cross-section of Japanese dining, I have to say that while we were thoroughly satisfied with the amount of food we had consumed, we did not feel stuffed and it should be possible for most diners to enjoy a cost-effective, sound and nutritional meal with a good conscience. As the first such eatery to open in Lincoln, we welcome its educative integrity – even though it might be pleasant to have more British-type eateries as well.
Kashi Japanese Restaurant
LOCATION: Unit 1, The Slipper Baths, 22 Waterside North, Lincoln LN2 5DQ
TEL: 01522 521444
IF YOU LIKE THIS, WHY NOT TRY:
ASK Pizza & Pasta - Located on the Brayford Pool, Italian fast food served at a moderate pace - FIVE STARS
La Famiglia - Located in downtown Lincoln, traditional Italian bistro eating with oodles of flair - FIVE STARS
(1) VISIT AGAIN? - There are first-rate health reasons for going Japanese and I am glad that Lincoln now has this eatery.
(2) GOOD FOR? - Quality of food, presentation style, décor and charming staff.
(3) FAMILY FRIENDLY? - Families are welcomed and well catered for at lunch and for evening dining experiences.
(4) ACCESSIBLE? - Parking on-street or in the car park above bus station, brief walk, only a couple of steps or ramp access.
(5) VEGGIE-FRIENDLY? - Some of the dishes will meet vegetarian dietary requirements.
FINAL BILL: Spicy tuna sushi - £3.50; large dragon sushi - £9.50; scallop sashimi - £3.00; sea bass nigiri - £1.50; prawn nigiri - £1.50; enoki with bacon - £1.50; chicken yakitori - £1.50; beef teriyaki - £5.80; prawn tempura & chicken teriyaki - £9.50; tanbaya dorayaki - £4.00; Japanese cheesecake - £3.50; ¼-bottle sake - £4.50; Chinese green tea (x2) - £1.50 - Total: £52.30
FINAL VERDICT: Deliciously different, Far Eastern produce served in stylish City centre location - FIVE STARS