Tucked away amid the traditional pubs at the west end of Rose St, Japanese restaurant Oishii comes as a welcome surprise on a street more commonly associated with pre-marital booze ups. The interior is sleek yet comfortable, a collection of shining black table tops and wicker which thankfully owe more to function than design concept. The chef works away behind the counter top, and diners can sit at the bar and watch him prepare their food, should they so desire.
The menu offers a wide selection of sushi-type dishes, ramen, tempura, accompanied by a little bit of explanation for people (me, for example) who are novices when it comes to Japanese cuisine. We ordered gyoza chicken and spicy tuna hosomaki for starters, followed by a mixed tempura and the Oishii ramen. It was my first time trying the gyoza, soft savoury dumplings fried on one side and accompanied by a dipping sauce, and I’m very pleased to have encountered them. Crispy on the outside and moist on the inside, the meat was delicately flavoured and perfectly complemented by the sauce. The tuna in the hosomaki was fresh, soft and only moderately spicy; the tight seaweed rolls disappeared pretty damn quickly.
The tempura was light and crispy, and the ramen a generous pile of succulent roast pork, egg, vegetables, noodles and a rich broth. I became strangely obsessed with the fried rice, which, containing peas and sweetcorn and spring onion and something of delicious yet indefinable flavour, represented an unexpected improvement on what had seemed previously to be an unimpeachable dish. Desserts of green tea ice cream and azuki bean pancakes presented an unexpected mixture of textures and flavours that somehow worked well together.
To accompany the meal we had a bottle of the house white, which turned out to be a South African sauvignon blanc that went easily with all the dishes. With the bill coming to around £40, Oishii offers a place dedicated to creating tasty, authentic food at reasonable prices in an unpretentious environment, safely removed from stag dos. [Rosamund West]