Feng Sushi Chalk Farm sits in a fantastic location and has used the space well. However similar compliments can’t be given to the service.
A stone’s throw away from Chalk Farm tube station, and with floor to ceiling window-come-doors, Feng Sushi sits in a great spot and catches the eye with a refreshingly different tone to the rest of the road. Stepping inside, you’ll find a variety of seats and tables, from solid wood high chairs and tables, to sofas along one wall. As the place is small and inhabits a corner, the arrangement has made the most out of the space allowed, even if it is a touch too tight for the staff to get around. A particularly nice feature is the large freshwater fish tank separating the kitchen and dining area – reminding you of the cuisine’s culture and somehow managing to avoid inducing any guilt as you tuck into their little fishy friends.
Unfortunately, there's little atmosphere or ambience found here. A hint of music can be heard, but it's so low and nondescript that it might as well have been turned off. Moreover, although the restaurant can get filled with a casual crowd wanting a catch-up, there really isn't much of an atmosphere. Surprisingly, the staff seem equally casual in attitude. There's a laid-back approach in waiting tables that's so laid-back, in fact, that you can easily be completely forgotten about – waiting thirty minutes and then having to ask for a dessert menu yourself is most definitely not the conventional, or rather, polite service you might expect. An neither is having that request waved away with a flick of the hand.
The food, on the other hand, is lovely, and very authentic, with just one exception: the chilli edamame beans (£4) which see the usual vibrant green beans covered in the thick, sticky and commercial sweet chilli sauce. However, the scallop maki (£6.25) is a delicious change from the usual, and the toasted black and white sesame seeds add a real depth of flavour.
The soft shell crab maki (£9.50) has a lovely crunch to it, and is fantastically meaty. The udon noodle salad (£9) is packed full of flavour from the spring onions and special Feng mayo dressing, however the udon oddly resembles the texture of linguine – so maybe it's not so authentic after all. The pici-pishi mixed sashimi (£11) gives a selection of mackerel, tuna and salmon with salmon roe, with no skimping on portion-sizes. And they're pretty good too.
The ice-cream desserts finishes the meal on a low. Ice crystals suggest a bout of defrosting and re-frosting which takes away what should be a silky smooth texture, and the black sesame ice cream (£3.25) has only the slightest hint of a flavour that disappears almost straight away ayway. The sweet chestnut ice cream (£3.25) has more caramel frappacino taste than nut.
A simple but true-to-its roots drinks menu can be found with sake, Japanese beers and plum wine. If you opt for a summer cocktail, the one to try is the lychee martini (£6.25) which has great floral notes and a touch of sweetness. The Japanese bullet with Japanese sochu and ginger beer (5.75) is very refreshing, but the one limp mint leaf floating around (and lack of any ice) means it doesn’t stay cold or appetising for very long.
The Last Word
Feng Sushi Chalk Farm has a fantastic and (mostly) authentic menu which has clearly been lovingly put together. The letdown comes from the staff, who pay minimal attention to their customers and who consequently take the joy out of somewhere with promise. Just go for the take away option instead.