Kushi -ya is a monthly supper club that has been running in Nottingham since late last year, serving up Japanese inspired pub food. Each sitting is small, around 15 tickets are made available and they pretty much sell out within the hour. So the wider Nottingham fooderatti were more than a little excitable when Kushi-ya took over the Cottonmouth Cocktail Bar for two days this month.
Kushi-ya is the product of a collaboration between Simon Carlin, head chef at Iberico World Tapas (most people’s ‘go to’ Tapas bar in town), and their former sous chef Tom Clay. And it was pretty marvellous.
The menu consisted of snacks, small plates, skewers (cooked on a traditional Japanese Konro grill) and a choice of 2 desserts. Between FWH and myself we ordered 11 dishes, but I could probably have got through the entire menu with a little more effort on my part and perhaps if I hadn’t filled up on a Pornstar Martini at The Alchemist first.
We had the “snacks” while we chose the mains – the pickle plate was lovely, delicate pickled veg and mushroom, really nice, refreshing and subtle, the crispy chicken skin with Szechwan pepper (probably the least exciting for me – was literally crispy skin). The Prawn and Shiso Spring Rolls with yuzu kosho though were superb. Possibly the best spring rolls I have eaten, not that I can make a claim to any kind of expertise in this field but they were hot, salty, crispy – just fabulous, 2 weren’t really enough (especially as FWH had the other one).
From the small plates we chose the Ox cheek with Shitake ketchup, this was pretty huge compared to the other small plates – rich, dark, intense and falling off the bone, the sticky rice with furikake (“sprinkles” essentially, which I think were some kind of micro seed shoots and seaweed?) and the Tuna tataki with jalapeno ponzu. Not a massive fan of raw fish of any description (shellfish yes, but not fish) but the FWH is a huge fan and he loved the tuna (as did the couple on the table next to us…).
From the skewers I had the Beef with black garlic mustard (superb), aubergine with barley miso (also excellent) and the mackerel with fresh wasabi, (which I am told was also really good).
The desserts were intriguing I was torn between “Tira’miso’” or a Kinako Fried Waffle with matcha mousse. Needless to say, I threw caution to the wind and went with the waffle. It isn’t just fried, though, it is deep fried. I loved the taste but I think this was a deep-fry too far for me, and even for the Scottish FWH who, let’s be honest, will eat most anything if you deep fry it first. Very rich after the delicate flavours of the rest of the meal.
We kept up the cocktail theme – well at least I did with a Sakura cocktail with sake, gin, green tea and cucumber. FWH stuck with Japanese whisky (eye roll).
This food was so good, only 1 or 2 failed to hit the high mark for me, and, for once, the portions were a great size too, to too large, meaning you could try most of what was on the menu (well probably all if you wanted to). Really hope these guys think about a more permanent presence, or at least more frequent pop-ups, we would definitely be up for return visit.