Bentalls is a popular shopping destination for a lot of my friends. It’s right in the centre of Kingston-upon-Thames and very easy to reach by car or by train from Central or West London. And, it has a couple of large multi-storey car parks which link directly to the department store by covered walkway. I’ve never tried eating there before but the idea of a sushi bar did appeal so I was curious to find out what was on offer.
We made our way to the third floor, through the Children’s clothes and toys to a selection of in-store cafes and restaurants. Satori is tucked away in a corner behind a display stand of sake and Japanese beer! The restaurant has a conveyor belt bar which, when we arrived at 1pm, was completely full with a mix of shoppers, a few with children and what looked like local office workers. As my dining companion, who has three children, pointed out the conveyor belt system is a great way to get kids to try ‘different’ food. Plates are colour coded by price on the conveyor belt with the prices clearly marked up on the wall. There are also few tables, with waiter service, where we sat, overlooking the atrium of the department store. The lunchtime atmosphere was buzzy without being overly noisy and well laid out so that everyone could see the kitchen in action.
We chose a selection of gzoya to start (small dumplings which originated in china but have been ‘adopted’ by Japan). Duck for me, tofu for my Pescatarian companion and then a mixed sea food and a prawn twist. The prawn twist arrived first on a pretty serving dish with a chilli dipping sauce . The wrap was perhaps a little overcooked, but the filling still moist and tasty. The other Gzoya arrived shortly afterwards and were perfectly cooked and very well balanced.
We had ordered a fuji sashimi selection and a selection of sushi called a naama platter. These arrived beautifully presented on bamboo trays with the traditional accompaniment of wasabi paste, ginger and soy. It was actually quite hard to choose what to eat first. The sashimi was perfectly fresh, moist and flavoured and we were offered a good mixture of fish including salmon, mackerel, tuna and halibut.
Our sushi platter was similarly well presented and was a mix of mostly nigri and maki sushi with one inari sushi (golden tofu) that you can see lurking on the bottom right hand side of the platter. We’d already ordered FAR too much food, or we might have been tempted by the splendid looking tempura that was being served to an adjacent table – it’s on my list to try next time!
Our saki arrived in a pretty earthenware flask with matching cups. The menu had a few Japanese beer options and jasmine tea, together with a range of Western drink option. Our total bill would have been around £70 but that included two flasks of saki in addition to perhaps more food than was strictly necessary and some very well prepared sashimi.
Apart from sushi, sashimi and gzoya, Satori offers a range of other Japanese dishes including a variety of tempura, noodle dishes and bento boxes. My only criticism of the meal was a few details of presentation which let down the otherwise ‘well above the normal conveyor-belt sushi chain’ meal; the menus were laminated, but rather tired with peeling plastic edges and my green tea was served in a glass mug with a teabag, which looked just a little incongruous next to that really pretty saki jug. Other than that, an excellent ‘lunch time’ option with food that made me feel, at least, like I was being healthy!
I ate at Satori as a guest of the restaurant.
You can find Satori on the third floor of Bentalls, Kingston Upon Thames.