Is there a good place for sushi in Birmingham?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: Still no, I’m afraid.

I am a fan of the small, independently-run Mount Fuji which somehow survives as a small oasis in the culinary desert of the Bull Ring complex. The restaurant is squeezed on all sides by low quality chain offerings. Note how Jamie’s Italian and Wagamama are always full on a Saturday afternoon, but Mount Fuji is usually half-empty. You can eat fairly well here if you stick to the small plate options; I like a little plate of sushi, usually some eel, the dashi tofu, chicken karage, tempura vegetables and a miso soup. But the sushi is not great, it’s not really even good by standards of anyone who’s eaten at a half-decent Japanese restaurant. But I mention it simply because little independent places like this desperately need some support in Birmingham.

Yo! Sushi = No! Fuck Off! Sushi.

There’s also Ocean Dragon which YSL has been to, and thinks is OK. But Lap hates it, I think.

So where to head for good sushi? Your closest option is Ebi Sushi – in Derby! – which Lap blogged about way back in 2008. Sushi in Derby? The explanation is that Derby has a Toyota factory, and this restaurant caters to the Japanese managers. If you have a sushi craving, point your vehicle East (!!) for an hours drive and Mr. Ebi will see you right with some spanking fresh fish served in a very traditional style, including cuts of the fatty belly tuna, toro.

After that, you need to head further afield. We like Sushi of Shiori very much. OK it’s in London, but Sushi of Shiori is but a chopstick’s throw from London Euston. You could get there, have a meal and get back to Birmingham in just over four hours, if you timed it right.

A new place – Sushi Tetsu has just opened in Clerkenwell and we are keen to check it out soon as the early reports are very good.

Update 6th July 2012: There’s a new sushi joint in the Birmingham Indoor Market called Sushi Passion – needs to be checked out!

7 thoughts on “Is there a good place for sushi in Birmingham?”

  1. Slightly more convenient public transport wise is Hanako in Watford. Just 10mins walk from Watford Junction.

  2. There’s a new Sushi place in the Cornmarket, Worcester. Double Sushi, I’ve not tried it yet as they only do california roll style sushi & I don’t eat rice (no carb diet, it works for me!) Perhaps one of the gourmands could try it out

  3. Whilst I would have completely agreed with nick 6 months ago after some research and a lot of sushi eating I beg to differ. Birmingham has a lot of sushi to offer. My absolute favourite and I think most authentic being the small hidden away place that has made a reputation by word of mouth is sushi passion, you can find it in the indoor market. The sushi chef although he is not japanese has studied the art of sushi for many many years and after chatting with him clearly knows his sushi and his clients relationship with sushi. My other half who has been to Japan and has friends there says it’s the most authentic thing he’s seen in England especially as it’s in the market so gets the choice of the freshiest fish in all Birmingham If on the other hand your have a real hankering for sushi and money is limited woktastic’s all you can eat buffet is brilliant as you can be full until sick and green-teaed out for £17.35 but it’s not up to the standard of sushi passion. There’s also Mount Fuji ( which I must add is actually more expensive and not as good as sushi passion), Ocean dragon, miyako teppanyaki and shogun in the cube. Whilst I understand that the sushi isn’t as great as that in the restaurant in London nor is the decor I think birmingham does tick many boxes. There is a distinct lack of very high quality sushi restaurants here but frankly I don’t think there’s a high enough client base for it to be worth while.
    All of this is just my opinion, do people agree/disagree?
    What do people think of shogun?

    1. I’ve been on an aeroplane but I couldn’t tell you how they worked. I suspect your husband is the same as me in this respect. In other ways however if he’s been eating as good a sushi in Japan as that found at Sushi Passion, then he needs to get out of the airport.

      I cannot agree with your assertion and assumption that just because Sushi Passion is in the market that somehow the sushi has been magically bestowed with provenance. I love the indoor market, I’ve been shopping there for over 30 years, but you are not in La Boqueria or Tsuikiji or Rialto markets, where the fish is literally jumping at you with freshness. The food vendors at those places really do have the pick of the catch. That’s why those places are magical, the connection between those who sell the fish and those who prepare and cook it actually exists, a symbiotic relationship that ensures the highest quality. Next time you are at Sushi Passion ask him which fish he uses from the market. Very little. He like 100s of other mediocre sushi restaurants use Tazaki http://www.tazakifoods.com/ , the Tesco of UK sushi. Ask for the saba, ebi, tako nigiri next time and see those flabby precooked, presliced pieces of seafood being removed from their polystyrene tray onto the cold hard compacted rice. Not my idea of good sushi.

      One thing I cannot argue with you though is he does know his “clients”. Though I like to call these people customers so as to not imply a level of personal service akin to psychotherapy. If, as in your case, his customers are happy with the sushi he provides then I’d be a stubborn fool to argue, continue with your blissful sushi state of mind. I have no problem with a guy dedicated to his work satisfying his customers. He like all the other sushi places in Brum; Woktastic, Yo Sushi, Ocean Dragon et al are not pulling the wool over anybody’s eyes. You certainly get what you pay for, if you think the highest form of Japanese cuisine, where chefs may take 7 years to achieve basic competency can be experienced in a £15 all you can eat buffet then good for you. I’m not Japanese so I have nothing emotionally vested in how it’s food culture is represented in this country but I fear like Chinese food, Japanese food has become a race to the bottom in our city. In particular I think it may be too late for sushi.

  4. Hi Nick, have you heard about our Japanese pop-up restaurant – Kinome, currently serving at Kitchen Garden Cafe in Kings Heath, Birmingham? We are there every Friday evening until the end of September 2016.

    Sachiko Saeki is the chef. She was brought up working in her parents restaurant in Japan and over the past decade has worked as kitchen assistant to the Head Chef at Umu, a Michelin Star Japanese restaurant in Mayfair, London and also at another London Japanese restaurant called Wabi.

    Sachiko also regularly teaches at different UK cookery schools – Leiths School of Food & Wine in London, Demuths Vegetarian Cookery School and more recently at Harborne Cookery School. Alongside her pop-up restaurant she manages a Japanese fishmongers two days a week in London, cutting/producing sashimi for a mainly Japanese clientele.

    With regards to authentic flavours, whilst Sachiko was working at Umu each staff member cooked the staff meal during the week. Despite working alongside Michelin Star trainees, the Executive Chef said to Sachiko that her meals embodied the most authentic flavours out of all the staff (apart from the Head Chef’s of course). This was probably due to having been brought up in Japan and her experience in her parents restaurant.

    We have a 7-course menu and a 3-course summer sushi menu.

    If you would like to eat at Kinome please book either through our website or through kinomejapanesecooking@gmail.com / 07504 327840.

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