So Restaurant’s upstairs sushi bar brings quick but well prepared sushi for those who’d rather not take too long at a table.
Cool Soho combines with minimalist Japan at So Restaurant, where the light green walls contrast nicely with the dark seating. The two floor restaurant’s sushi bar is on the top floor, just to the right of the entrance. Although it’s quite a small fit with only four chairs, this makes it ideal for eating alone or intimate meals. The thick and heavy wooden bar top is directly in front of a glass case filled with gleaming morsels of fish and seafood that you watch disappear from their plates whilst you wait for your food.
Sushi bars in general are usually really casual places – you’ll find mostly single diners or pairs of sushi fans, as the seating arrangement doesn’t really lend itself to group conversations. And just like a good bartender, the chef behind the sushi bar should be able to carry on a conversation without getting too distracted, and the chef at the So Sushi Bar is perfectly amiable with single diners wanting to discuss the finer details of the famous Japanese cuisine. The service is cheerful, friendly and particularly good at recommending dishes and explaining them once they’re brought out.
Raw fish might be the order of the day at the sushi bar, but there are many other options. A starter salad of scallop and daikon (sweet Japanese radishes with a water chestnut-like consistency) consists of tender scallops, slightly browned on the outside, perched prettily on a bed of leafy greens and a pile of daikon slices, whilst the tuna tataki is cooked perfectly – warm on the outside, pink in the middle – and is complemented well by the sharp lime ponzo dressing that comes served on the side in a small glass bottle.
And for the main event, you’d be mad to pass up So’s sushi, although there are the other usual options like tempura, teriyaki and black cod and miso. Pieces of nigiri (slices of fish or vegetables laid on an oval of rice) start from £1.50 for tofu and go to £4.00 for sea urchin. Particularly recommended pieces include the creamy scallop, smooth salmon and the nicely textured eel with a sweet glazing.
Their rolls are quite large and so much thicker than normal make that it’s hard to eat them in one bite, and prices range from about £3.00 to £10.00. California rolls are usually a good option for sushi novices, but the ones at So are so succulent, with big chunks of crab and avocado that even experts won’t be able to pass them up. The spider crab roll is definitely impressive, with fried spider crab legs emerging from huge rolls along with stalks of spring onions and sweet red peppers. The prawn tempura hand roll is great as well, with a lightly fried piece of juice prawn buried in a seaweed-wrapped cone of rice – don’t even bother with the chopsticks on this one and just use your hands.
Desserts are above the bar for typical Japanese restaurants – specials include daily mousse and tart options (go for the walnut tart if it’s available) as well as tofu cheesecake and a thick slice of rich chocolate cake that tastes like a giant brownie.
So has a nice wine list with quite a few options, with house reds and whites starting at about £14.00. The house white is Fuzion, a sweet and citrus-y Argentinean wine. There are about 15 sakes on the menu as well, which range from £14.00 - £90.00, as well as cocktails, Japanese beer and shochu.
The Last Word
Luscious sushi in a luxurious atmosphere that’s a step above normal sushi bars. Treat yourself or the sushi lover in your life.