Last weekend, Shiima and I went to SushiSamba for our anniversary dinner. Shiima spontaneously decided to try the tiger maki, which wasn’t a terrible idea because the “fish” in the maki was prawn tempura, which is cooked. But try as she might, Shiima couldn’t eat it … because of the seaweed. So, I searched for restaurants that serve sushi without the seaweed, and I came across Oliver Maki. The menu looked promising and I tried to get Shiima to look at the menu, but for a myriad of reasons that never happened …
Oliver Maki is a contemporary Japanese restaurant that blends in Mediterranean flavours and textures, and with a large dose of creativity inherent in the dishes and its presentation. Oliver Maki is very much in the heart of Soho, so there are a lot of ways to get to the restaurant, but we got off at Tottenham Court Road station and walked (about 6 mins). We stepped into the rather snug restaurant and were immediately checked in and led upstairs to a room not much bigger that the ground floor … it’s a fairly small restaurant with simple indistinguishable décor. The menu, which rather unusually is on an iPad, was handed to us soon as we were settled. The iPad menu is a cool concept because you get to see pictures of the dishes and you order through the iPad … one slight problem is that the iPads aren’t synced to one another and so you don’t exactly know who is ordering what and orders can be duplicated, but then you could always just talk to each other lol.
We ordered padron peppers, chicken plum sauce, rock shrimp tempura, azayaka chili shake (chilli salmon sashimi), sushi jewels omakase, robata miso baby chicken and veg fried rice. The pardon peppers were spiced differently from what we are used to, but this is where the Mediterranean flavour comes in, I imagine. It was err … okay. The chicken plum sauce was really good … it was essentially well-cooked chicken tossed in really tasty and spicy plum sauce. The rock shrimp tempura was also really good, although Shiima thought it tasted more of fish than her favourite shrimp tempura from SushiSamba. Regardless this was the second best rock shrimp tempura she’s enjoyed. This made us order spicy shrimp tempura tacos, which we didn’t really enjoy because there wasn’t much shrimp tempura in the tacos, and there wasn’t much avocado in the taco either, just a lot of salad … the taco itself was crispy and delicious though.
The chilli salmon sashimi was very well presented, top marks for that, and did a fair job of masking the limited portion of salmon lol. But it also tasted delicious; salmon is inherently delicious but with jalapeño and spicy plum sauce, it’s even more delicious. Now for the sushi jewels omakase, which is the point where I believe Oliver Maki slightly overdoes it, and in my opinion focuses more on presentation than taste. The sushi jewels are presented amazingly (there is a video in the gallery), but not one of the nigiris or gunkans stood out in regards to taste. They are made with brown rice, which is a neat idea. I was still hungry, so before Shiima’s miso baby chicken arrived, I ordered another chicken plum sauce and two pieces of eel nigiri.
The eel nigiri and chicken plum sauce arrived before Shiima’s main. As expected the chicken plum sauce was delicious; the eel nigiri on the other hand, was not. The miso baby chicken came moments later; it looked good and tasted good too. Perfectly grilled chicken marinated in well-spiced miso. The vegetable fried rice was tasteless though, and both of us just about had a spoon of it.
We had a look at desserts, and a couple did interest me but I was more interested in Chin Chin Labs, which we walked past on our way to the restaurant. Our experience in Oliver Maki was mixed, our waitress was really nice, the environment was blasé, and the food was really good in parts and utterly average in others. There is a lot more to the menu though in regards to sushi, so maybe a solo excursion or another visit with a sushi fiend will garner a better experience. Oliver Maki is also expensive, which is somewhat to be expected, so I’d recommend for dates and special occasion for sushi lovers … but if you’ve got the money to spend and you love sushi, go enjoy Oliver Maki.
Dress Code: Casual
Shiima & Amen’s star dish: Chicken plum sauce
Price: £40+ each (excluding alcohol)
Rating: 2.7 out of 5
33 DEAN STREET, LONDON, UK, W1D 4PW
To reserve a table, Call 020 7734 0208 or at OpenTable