Tsunami made waves for uptown rival Nobu when it opened in 2001 with a serious sushi offering south of the river. At a fraction of the cost and needing no excuses on sustainability, it’s no wonder Tsunami is serving up to those looking to dine closer to home.
Tsunami is subtly located away from the hordes of Clapham’s main road and close to Clapham High Street station. Step inside and the subtlety continues with the restaurant sheltered from view and darkened, so that the closely clustered tables each retain their own intimacy. Delicate yet vivid cerise orchids enliven the deep chocolate tones of the room.
An equally exotic looking bar area is four times the size of any you would find in Tokyo. Consisting of three or four tables, it is designed for mixing and mingling, cocktail in hand. There is, however, a decent heated outdoor area allowing a little more breathing space for drinkers.
The numerous tables and copious waiters are cut out for a sizeable population. Even weekdays are busy and turnover is fast. The service is not rushed but speedy and suitably attentive for a pacy, youngish clientele with places to go and people to see. Diners are fashion set cum media darlings but the difference between Tsunami and sushi places in Central London is that here it’s not flashy and the people are not here to be seen.
Tsunami encourages sharing so pick what you fancy and relax about the etiquette, which is expertly handled by those in the know. Picking what you fancy, though, sounds easier than it might be, since there is an awful lot of choice. Appetisers of snow crab and prawn dumplings (£4.50) with moistly wrapped, creamy seafood, or scallops (£6.80) flambeed in whiskey, get the fish off to a flying start, but don’t overlook the vegetable items. A crisp sugarsnap and green bean salad (£3.20) drenched in a moreish goma ponzu dressing should not be overlooked, especially for fans of sesame flavour combinations in Eastern food. The tempura mixes make for a good early course, with more seafood and vegetables served with a very light miso dipping sauce.
The colourful sushi and sashimi list has both selections and individual pieces, the platters so beautifully presented that they could be ornaments, not dinner. Highlights include rich oily yellowtail, octopus, sweet shrimp and soft yellowfin (albacore) tuna sourced in the Indian Ocean, but all can be found in the Luxury Sashimi Selection (£21.50).
Mains move away from the fish dominated earlier courses and feature tender roast breast of duck with thick hoi sin miso (£12.50) and Aberdeen Angus fillet (£15.50) which comes with sea urchin and a sinful foie gras butter.
The cocktails at Tsunami are exquisite and exotic and the funky twist on traditional drinks is brilliant: the Chilipolitan (£7.50) with passion fruit and chilli is eye wateringly delicious and the Lychee Mojito (£7.50) slightly sweet but refreshing as all mojitos should be. That said, the Katana, made with three-year-old El Dorado white rum, lime and kumquat liqueur, has the type of tang that sets your teeth on edge. Rather than being zesty and sharp, and the lack of sweet side balance makes the drink take a fair while to sip. Like the samurai sword that names it, a shiver goes right through you from the sharp bite of ginger.
The white list is far more prominent than the reds, which goes without saying. By the glass, wines are average and unpompous, so as not to detract from the flavour of the food. The house sauvignon at £4.50 is pleasantly grassy but unspectacular; the only rose is medium, fruity and mellow. Clean, citrus led Asahi is the only bottled beer around, at £3.70.
The Last Word
Proving it is more than a match for its rivals, with excellent service and reasonably priced food, this place is head and shoulders above a lot of Clapham restaurants, which can lack polish compared to what’s in town. But when fed up of floundering for good sashimi outside of W1, think of Tsunami as the epicentre of the south London sushi scene.