Irashimase! Is the chorus that will greet you when you step through the doors of tajima tei. Everyone there makes it a point to greet you personally. Nestled just on Leather Lane near Chancery Lane tube, Tajima-Tei is easy to get to if you’re in the City.
Looking at the menu it looked like standard fare for a medium to upper end Japanese restaurant. Tajima tei is no noodle bar or conveyor belt sushi place, it’s the sort of place you take clients to or a date if you’re really trying to impress her.
The tempura was good, vegetables cooked but it was still really light and without the heaviness you sometimes get when the chef doesn’t know what he’s doing.
Whilst sashimi is a fairly simple dish, in principle it’s just a bit of raw fish, it’s got to be really fresh and only really fresh fish will still have all the flavours of the sea and the right texture that makes sashimi so yummy, and here it was very fresh, I enjoyed it to the point where I scoffed most of the dish.
Agedashi tofu is yet another seemingly simple dish that is deceptively hard to get right. Use tofu that is too soft and it just breaks up in the pan. Their agedashi tofu was fried nicely on the outside, yet melt in the mouth on the inside. Delicious and also a technical achievement I’ve not seen before.
By now the meal was turning out like one of those thrillers that grips your attention building gradually to the point where it suddenly explodes.
The marinated mackerel sushi arrived. Now, usually I’m a stickler for what things are called and the proper names for everything, but I had kinda stopped caring at this point. The flavour was all that mattered and that sushi was fantastic. Mackerel’s usually a very strongly flavoured fish, but the way it was done it was much milder and slightly sweet. We liked it so much we ordered some more!
The piece de resistance was, however, the baby octopus. These little guys were fried in a slightly spicy batter. Octopus, especially when it’s that small usually falls foul of getting a bit too overdone and coming out rubbery. These little guys were all just nicely done, soft and with the flavours of the batter on them were absolutely divine.
The service was great, they were attentive and did everything right, and I didn’t notice them at all, probably because it was excellent, and also because the food was really good.
All in all, a great place to bring people when you’re entertaining, it’s not so formal that you’d feel you have to mind your p’s and q’s all the time, and you can relax into the experience, and the food certainly won’t let you down. It’s a good place to bring a date if he or she’s really into Japanese food, Taijma Tei isn’t set up for those romantic stare-into-each-others’-eyes sorts of dinners, but if you want to impress them with spanking good food, you can’t really go wrong here.