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Satsuma Restaurant

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by Mistress of Culture Vultures (subscribe)
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Published May 26th 2011

In the early days of accessible, communal-eating style Asian fusion you had your Wagamama, but you also had Satsuma. This was the 1990s and suddenly it was OK to be sat at a long, hard bench table with strangers and to pay good money to eat with disposable chopsticks that you had to break, carefully, in half first.

Satsuma sushi
Satsuma sushi
Satsuma shares some of the Waga-style, but now you have a point of reference there are lots of differences too. Satsuma does sushi and sashimi as well as gyoza and Chicken Katsu Curry. They do udon and other noodles too, but they also have a wider range of rice dishes and the pièce de résistance of their menu, and of quick Japanese cuisine in general: the bento. In short the Satsuma menu is about three times the length of the Waga-one.

Back to the bento, or bento box. This is a square box with separate portions for different segments of your meal, so you have your rice in one area, your 'main' in one, some salad in one and some sushi and pickles in another. This ingenuous way to serve food is a very quick and convenient way to get several courses in all at once – especially the way they do it at Satsuma where you get your miso soup on the side as well.

Satsuma bento
Satsuma bento
Satsuma do a Salmon Teriyaki Bento, Tofu Steak Bento, Tempura Bento, Chicken Katsu Bento, Chicken Teriyaki Bento a Sashimi Bento and several different different kinds of fishy bentos. At between £11 and £17.50 these make for a filling and good value multi-course meal. And of course you get to try a bit of everything.

If that sounds like a bit much for you, but sushi never seems like enough, then try the Bara Chirashi rice set (£8.80), which is the ingredients of sushi, but mashed up like a salad, so you get sticky rice slivers of salmon, tuna and six other kinds of fish, fish roe, cucumber, spring onion, egg and sesame. It's served cold with that sushi rice zing to it, and comes with miso on the side.

Satsuma sashimi
Satsuma sashimi
The drinks menu is decent – the plum wine worth a try if you've not had it before, they serve it with a fermenting plum in the bottom.

Satsuma will leave you feeling healthy and full in that way good Japanese food does (even the tempura'ed dishes which you know are a bit naughty), and ready to spring on to whatever you're about to do next.
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Why? Colourful, healthy and reliable
When: Mon-Sun 12N-11pm (Wed-Thurs -11.30pm Fri-Sat -12M Sun -10.30pm)
Where: 56 Wardour Street, London W1D 4JG
Cost: About £35 for two including drinks
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