Eye-catching, mouth pleasing.
Following my consumption of at least two depleted animal populations during my lunch at Archipelago (bees and eel), I decided to make up for it by seeing if they were any sustainability-conscious restaurants in London. As luck would have it Moshi Moshi, a Japanese restaurant I’ve been meaning to try for a while now, also claims to serve fish sustainably sourced from British waters. To try it out I dragged along fellow sushi aficionado The Lensman, pescatarian-turned-proper vegetarian the Flame Haired Squelchie and her carnivorous Viking Sidekick.
Moshi Moshi has been on my radar for a while due to its eye-catching appearance. With room for only three or four dozen punters at most, the small dining space uses dramatically curved wooden partitions to separate the standard tables from the booths and the kaiten conveyor belt bar and stools. Even more unusual is the restaurant’s location nestled among a parade of cafes and shops on the upper level of London’s Liverpool Street train station. The booths have a bird’s eye of the train platforms.
Tear down this wall! Actually, keep it up. It looks nice.
Platform nine and three-quarters?
Since I’m a glutton I had not one, but two starters which turned out to be a good idea since the portion of gyoza was a bit on the small side. They were tasty though – the chicken gyoza had thick, well-grilled, moist and supple skins. The juicy chicken filling was a bit too salty, but otherwise these were among the best gyoza I’ve had in London to date.
I also enjoyed the soft shell crab tempura. The soft, moist crab legs tasted fresh and creamy. The batter was a little too thick and stodgy, although it did soak up the ponzu dipping sauce. It was remarkably unoily too, which probably let the fresh, clean taste of the crab come through on its own. Judging from his silent nods of appreciation, the Lensman seemed to have a similarly enjoyable time of his prawn tempura.
The Flame Haired Squelchie snacked on soybeans steamed in their pods, or edamame, which most fans of Japanese food will need no introduction to. She thought Moshi Moshi’s version could’ve done with more salt though (sorry folks, no pic of this one). The Viking Sidekick was impressed with the chicken yakitori, declaring them worthy of Odin – well-grilled and juicy with no fatty bits to get stuck in between his carefully-whittled incisors.
‘Surely the yaks sacrificed to make these yakitori shall enter the halls of Valhalla!’ the Viking Sidekick declared. Actually he didn’t really, I just made that bit up.
I can’t comment on how sustainable Moshi Moshi’s supply of fish really is (I could mount a sting operation I suppose), but unagi eel is notable by its absence from the menu, as is the near-total absence of tuna – both suffer from overfishing.
Although a tad small compared to Ten Ten Tei’s sushi sets, I was generally impressed with Moshi Moshi’s Fitzroy sushi set. Both the salmon and scallop nigiri were standouts thanks to their deliciously creamy and buttery tastes. The unusual-looking gunkan maki roll was overflowing with creamy crab meat although it was a touch too salty for my tastes.
On the downside the okra maki rolls were a little disappointing – the small chunks of okra buried deep within the rice were too small to leave much of an impression although the Squlechie seemed to enjoy hers. The tuna nigiri tasted far too chilled as if it’d just been fetched from the fridge.
My Fitzroy sushi set was accompanied by miso soup. Moshi Moshi has a couple of unusual options available besides the classic tofu and seaweed – pea and broad bean or sardine and ginger. I opted for the latter, although apart from a salty hit of fish and some strands of ginger at the bottom of the bowl, it didn’t look or taste radically different from standard miso.
The Lensman’s choice of the Rockall sushi set seemed to be dominated by maki rather than nigiri rolls, but he enjoyed it nonetheless. He took special pleasure in devouring the tamago omelette nigiri – ‘so wrong it’s right’ he said cryptically.
Previously a diehard sashimi fanatic, the Flame Haired Squelchie hasn’t been able to enjoy most Japanese food since she became a proper vegetarian. This has been due to the presence of dashi, a fish and kelp stock, in even the most innocuous Japanese dishes. This apparently isn’t the case at Moshi Moshi, so she was able to lap up the vegetarian bento box.
Apart from the aforementioned okra maki rolls, the Squelchie quickly devoured the glossy-looking and buttery tasting grilled aubergine, soba noodles and brown rice which is always a good sign. She did think the sweet potato tempura needed more cooking time though and I thought the agedashi tofu looked far too white with none of the crisp, golden sheen that dish should have. Still, she gave her bento an appreciative thumbs up.
The Viking Sidekick continued to stand out from the rest of us by continuing his carnivorous streak of destruction with his main course of medium rare rib eye beef teriyaki. He declared it to be better than pillaging a village full of maidens as the cooked just-right flesh melted in his mouth, the juices dribbling down his knotted beard.
All of the desserts must have been prepared off-sight given the almost galley-sized kitchen. The Euro Hedgie would’ve avoided them on that basis alone and I was tempted to give them a miss, but I took the plunge anyway – all for your benefit! Well, plus I’m a shameless glutton.
The Squelchie passed on dessert as she was watching her finely honed hourglass figure, as did the Lensman who has a rakish profile to preserve. I obviously had no such qualms and picked the unusual-looking cherry and almond dessert. The almond paste has a dimpled, almost grainy texture which was unusual but pleasing, even if the actual almond taste was very muted. This is a shame as it could’ve gone quite well with the juicy, sweet cherries.
Although the almond and cherries was, as expected, considerably less than perfect it could’ve been much worse. It could’ve been as bad as the Viking Sidekick’s unadventurous selection of a chocolate pot with biscotti – quite possibly the most un-Japanese dessert you could have in a Japanese restaurant. I suspected it would taste like an inoffensively bland, economy brand supermarket chocolate mousse (marked up for restaurant sale too) and it did.
While my dining companions wetted their whistles with bottles of Asahi beer, I went for the blend of passion fruit, apple and orange juices instead. As expected the latter two cheaper juices were there to bulk the drink out so the passion fruit taste, although present, was subdued at best.
Moshi Moshi’s service started out friendly, helpful and informative, although as we lingered past last orders it declined almost to the point of non-existence.
Although our dinner at Moshi Moshi wasn’t faultless and some of the portions may seem a tad small, taken as a whole it was both filling and full of tasty highlights. The quality of the sushi is pretty good and although I still prefer Ten Ten Tei overall, Moshi Moshi is a good alternative, especially if you have sustainability concerns or just can’t be arsed to wander too far from the City for your raw fish fix. Four stars.
Name: Moshi Moshi
Address: Unit 24, Liverpool Street Station, London, EC2M 7QH (above platform 1, behind M&S)
Phone: 020 7247 3227 or 020 7247 3237
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 11.30-22:00; Saturday 11.30-19:30. Closed Sunday.
Reservations: highly recommended.
Total cost for one person, shared between four: £25