Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pham - wham, bam, sushi slam

By a rough estimate I must have walked past Pham around 1000 times over the past 5 years. But the location (until recently Whitecross street has looked more like the kind of place where you are likely to find mothers and babies in a pub at noon than a gastronomic experience) has always put me off. More recently though, I've heard a lot of high praise for this humble-looking sushi joint, both from newly discovered food blogs and from real people. The first few attempts to go there failed -- a pregnant friend couldn't face watching us gorge on raw fish which she wasn't allowed, a macho male friend was unimpressed by the idea of going anywhere that didn't serve giant slabs of beef and then last Friday when we finally made it there, they were fully booked.
So we cheated and ordered takeaway. (For the record, the decor was standard casual Japanese - close together tables, small room, a couple of Japanese prints on the wall.)

I had the sushi and sashimi combination set (15). There are 4 bits of juicy, thickly-cut sashimi of tuna and salmon. There are also six slices of the chef's special maki roll, which features avocado, tuna, crab stick and fish roe. I am not normally a fan of maki, but these are giant and gorgeous. Finally, there are four bits of nigiri, thin slices of fish atop mini-bricks of rice: tuna and salmon again, as well as sea bass. It's good. I'd even say very good. And after polishing off the lot I am well and truly stuffed, which with sushi for 15 quid is a bargain. But I guess I'm a little disappointed that the types of fish aren't more exciting.

Still, this time I definitely beat the husband who went for the house special bento box (12). The miso's good, as are the pickles and the sashimi appetiser. But the main course of sesame-seed covered pork loin is overly sweet and over cooked. (Though it's still nice enough to ensure there are no leftovers.)

Ultimately I guess that's always the danger with recommendations - it's easy to build up your expectations way too high. But we've got a copy of the menu now, and next time I will go for some more exciting things (like the "dragon" roll with eel, tobiko, asparagus and avocado.)

Pham, 159 Whitecross Street, EC1Y 8JL; Tube: Barbican or Old Street; Tel. 020 7251 6336;


Anonymous said...

Try the crunchy tuna roll. It used to be an "off the menu" item but they added it officially a little over a year ago. It's my favorite.

EdibleLondon said...

Thanks very much for the tip, will definitely give that one a try the next time.