Itoshi

Nelson Road, SE10

The latest incarnation of the Restaurant Formerly Known As Thai Chung until it got burnt-out is one of those Japanese conveyor-belt jobs. It is, as far as I can tell, an independent, which is always A Good Thing. It’s been open for a couple of weeks now, and I thought it was about time I popped in.

I guess the watchword here is Novelty. It’s just fun watching your dinner going round on a little automated track, choosing what you fancy as it goes by. It works on the same system as the Yo-Sushi chain – plates are colour-coded, you pile ‘em up as you go along, and they count the different coloured plates at the end. It’s good as you never order more than you can eat and fear of the embarrassment of having so many empty plates you can’t see over the top prevents you from being too much of a greedy pig.

The place is spartan – white-painted and unadorned with pictures or paintings. There are a couple of lucky gold waving cats and the odd pot plant and that’s it. For me it’s just a little too spartan – I don’t mean they should get flock wallpaper or paper garlands and fancy lanterns or anything, and I know that Japanese style is generally quite minimalist, but it does feel a bit, well, unfinished. Perhaps it is. I don’t know whether they’ll add any more to it later.

Most of the place is taken up with the shiny new conveyor belt and bar stools, though there are a couple of tables if you want to order food-to-measure.

So. Is it any good? I’d say it’s not bad. I didn’t find myself hyperventilating over either the choice or the quality, but save for one very sad-looking bowl of snow peas that trundled miserably around, looking just that little bit older every time it went by, the sushi was fresh, perfectly enjoyable and nicely presented. Hardly pricey either. I always find sushi far more filling than it looks and I felt nicely satisfied by the time I left and happy-enough about the experience that I stopped in at the new Japanese grocery store on Trafalgar Road to buy some sushi-making ingredients on the way home.

This isn’t Ginza. It isn’t even Zin. But the service is friendly and very sweet (“Please tips me…” says the little saucer next to the till of a completely automated service…) the dishes perfectly enjoyable and the experience fast and filling. And of course it is far better than its near-neighbour, the appalling Noodle Time, which surprises me every time I go past in that it still manages to find customers. Check it out – take the kids – the fun bit is definitely the food going round.


One Comment to “Itoshi”

  1. Michael Stanfield says:

    Just noticed in Greenwich Time (22nd March 2011) that the restaurant has been closed down for hygiene reasons!

    As someone who ate there once a month or so, I am amazed by the fact that it took 4 inspections before they were closed down. During these visits they found mouse droppings on work surfaces, dead flies in the soy sauce bottles and mould in the chiller. Considering that sushi is not subjected to any heat, the restaurant should have been shut down immediately!