Bang in the centre of Soho, Taro adds decent and reasonably priced sushi to Old Compton Street.
At first sight, Taro looks more like a shop than a restaurant because of a huge panorama window which enables you to look straight down into the basement where the actual restaurant is based. You can see the sushi chefs at work when you enter, and once down the flight of stairs down in the basement you’ll appreciate the window as it gives a lot of natural light to the place and makes for a comfortable surrounding.
At lunchtime, Taro is frequented by a young professional clientele whilst in the evenings gay Soho reigns with a very friendly and relaxed crowd looking forward to a night of clubbing in the area. The staff seem to be mainly Japanese, very friendly, attentive and very quick, if sometimes a bit challenged with English. Don’t be offended if you’re sat down with a table of people, this is normal and it can be quite a laugh.
Sushi and sashimi are simple but fresh and come at very reasonable prices. Get started with gyoza, a fried dumpling, that is either filled with delicious pork meat or cabbage and dipped into a light and slightly spicy vinegar sauce for about £3 for around five to six pieces. If you like fried chicken with the crunchy skin still on try the chicken teriyaki next. It comes on a very thin bed of vegetables – if you add a “don” to the “chicken teriyaki” you will get the same thing just with rice (around £5 - £8). It’s served in a small, rectangular dish and the chicken is light and crunchy and goes really well with the vegetables in a light brown sauce.
If you’re not a fan of chicken try instead the beef or even salmon teriyaki – they are both slightly grilled and the salmon is deliciously tender. If you fancy a bit of soup try the ramen that again comes either with chicken, beef of salmon. Don’t order ramen if you want to try a lot of other things – they are huge and will fill you up very quickly and there’s so much more to try.
Another really good option is the simple classic, the maki roll. It comes at the very affordable price of around £2 per roll (four pieces) and is always freshly made - sometimes a little too fresh as the avocado can be a bit too raw and quite chewy. Lately it seems as if Taro have become a bit tight with the ginger; there never seems to be enough nowadays but at £1 for a refill it’s worth ordering more. To cover most of the different kinds of sushi simply order a bento box (between £11 - £18) which, depending on which one you choose, contains maki, sashimi, nigiri, edamame and much more. For dessert only the green tea ice cream is worth mentioning, it has a lovely delicate taste that reminds you faintly of white chocolate.
The drink menu is a bit on the light side but then you probably wouldn’t want to leaf through a 20 page wine menu when you’re out for healthy sushi. Green tea is the best option; it comes in cups without handles and will be constantly refilled. The plum wine is very sweet and comes with actual ice cubes; try the hot or cold sake for a more spirited approach.
The Last Word
Fresh and cheap sushi in the heart of Soho, Taro on Old Compton Street is always a winner.