Atariya – Serious Sushi – Japanese for Delicious!
Atariya, my local sushi eatery has now become something of a pilgrimage for North Londoners like myself.
Located on Fairfax Road, Swiss Cottage you could be forgiven for passing Atariya’s unassuming white frontage without paying too much attention to the melange of Japanese culinary delights that await you within.
On one occasion when a woman visiting with her parents was told there was no availability we watched helplessly from the window as she began sobbing violently outside. As her salty tears began streaming down her face I was tucking into my beef fillet tataki and I could only wonder what was going on in her parents minds as they tried to comfort her.
What is it about Atariya that makes certain people cry? Atariya is distinguished from other sushi restaurants not for the freshness of ingredients, although when savouring a delectable plate of sashimi one cannot help but feel as though one is taking a bite out of salmon that has just been airlifted from the sea and placed delicately onto your plate. Nor is it the culinary wizardry of the chefs that construct the dishes, although upon further inspection of my omelette sashimi it remains to be seen how one can simply conjure up a stone cold miniature omelette of such angular proportions.
No, it is neither of these two factors. Rather, what sets the food in Atariya apart from the good but not great sushi restaurants is the diligence and the beguiling attention to detail by which the food is prepared. To give an example, the crab meat and avocado salad is decorated with a threads of saffron which not only adds aesthetic appeal with the fiery red saffron by beautifully juxtaposing the avocado but actually adds an enticing and complex sea side flavour to the dish.
At its very best the dishes in Atariya are of an exemplary standard and at the very least they will still make you crave more food. Quite frankly I can’t understand what all the fuss is about with Nobu, I would pick Atariya every time.