Monday, 7 February 2011

Review: Teri-Aki Restaurant & Bar, Cambridge

Sushi Heaven - if you don't mind waiting

Even though a big lover of sushi, I would still class myself as a sushi restaurant virgin. I eat it a lot, from supermarkets and sandwich shops, but its always been slightly off my radar as an "eating out" choice. I'm not sure why. Maybe its a UK thing.

I recently went to Teri-Aki for the first time (actually I went twice in two weeks). It is situated in Cambridge (UK) in the area called Quayside, by the river Cam and opposite Magdalene College on Bridge Street. This has always been one of my favourite areas of the city, so I was disappointed to see that many businesses are closing down here. Henry's Bar was definitely not open for business (on a Saturday night) and Caffe Uno looked like it had been boarded up for a while. Its a shame as Quayside used to be a busy little square of bars and restaurants and had a lively atmosphere. Perhaps things will pick up again in the summer.

The lack of atmosphere in the area is certainly made up for by what's on offer at Teri-Aki. The restaurant (which is deceptively large) sits to one side of an archway, and the bar, cleverly named Aki-Teri sits on the other side, across a courtyard with a nice fountain. The buildings are a bit corporate and the bar and restaurant can't both be accessed through one entrance. Not too much of a problem for customers but the staff seemed to be constantly crossing the courtyard, which must be annoying! In the bar, which is very spacious and simply furnished (used to be Bar Coast - my first bar/club experience as a teenager!), there are a few tables for larger parties and a karaoke room. It was really, really hot in there but the staff were nice and friendly and the Japanese beers were very refreshing! The restaurant has a mixture of long, sociable tables and smaller tables for parties of 2 - 4. It has a nice feel, lots of busy staff, and a good hostess,who on Saturday night knew exactly what was going on throughout the whole restaurant by the looks of it! Its perhaps not the perfect place to go for a quiet chat or romantic date, but for a standard sushi restaurant I guess most people would know that already ... (the first time I visited Teri-Aki was on a Friday lunchtime and, whilst there was a steady flow of customers, it was much more chilled). We waited for about 20 minutes for a table because we hadn't booked. Not bad for a Saturday night. The food is served really quickly so that made up for the wait. On to the food...

We shared quite a few sushi dishes and a couple of side dishes. I can't remember everything so below is a little selection. We also tried the cold sake - it came in a delightful mini glass jug with ice in the centre. If you haven't tried it before, this is a good one to have but it wasn't anything amazing (and I think it was about £8 for 250ml).
Side of chicken teriyaki: delicious, flavourful, perfectly cooked chicken breast, with a good amount of sauce and a touch of chargrill with a little kick of spice. Perhaps a little expensive at £4.90, considering its size.

Tempura Prawns Rolls: the second time I've had them and again delicious - lovely mixture of moist rice and crispy tempura. Very filling!

Crab meat rolls and the eel rolls: we liked the taste of the fillings, but they weren't anything special - I couldn't really taste any difference between the two (kind of a generic fish filling).

Roast duck spring rolls (deep fried): these are amazing, if a little calorific! Dipped into the hoisin sauce, they are really delicious. Moist, rich, crispy on the outside and not greasy at all. The duck is really well flavoured and not fatty.

There is a pretty extensive menu to choose from, and quite an interesting drinks menu. The funky serving dishes and boards complement the simple decor and colour schemes in the restaurant really well.

Good for: learning to use chopsticks and trying a variety of sushi.

Bad for: posing. Its not the trendy nightspot it was touted as when it first opened.
But I think that's a good thing :-).