Whenever I think of Japanese food, I think of delicious sushi, and thick, Japanese udon noodles. The kind of noodles that you can use to tie up your dining companions, as a lasso to requisition more food, or, use as a rescue rope for a friend who had been “accidentally” pushed over a cliff after they noticed your recent weight gain. Udon noodles are versatile noodles, and they are, without a doubt, my favourite member of the noodles family.
Such is my enthusiasm for udon noodles, that when I first caught wind of Sushinoen – a Japanese eatery with a separate halal menu, I suddenly developed a manic craving for them. Given that it was only a matter of time before I tried to devour my own shoe laces, Steak and I promptly headed over to alleviate my symptoms.
We first visited Sushinoen a couple of years ago, and since then, the menu has undergone a few small changes. There is now a separate halal menu for a selection of chicken, seafood and beef dishes, whilst all sushi and sashimi dishes remain halal by default. We began our own meal with a selection of sushi, including the intriguing “London-London” roll. This is essentially a California roll (crab stick, avocado, and cucumber) topped with a piece of prawn tempura, and a “white mayo sauce”. Undoubtedly, this was one of the highlights of the meal, as the combination of sharp, umami flavours and firm, crunchy, and creamy textures integrated seamlessly, delivering nothing less than total satisfaction.
London-London roll (£6.30) *Must-Eat*
We also tried the spicy salmon roll, which consisted of salmon, avocado, cucumber, “spicy sauce”, and fish roe. Here, we encountered a sharp, spicy kick with a mellow heat, which did not linger or singe a hole in the tongue. It was certainly enjoyable, but we both thought that the presentation and form could have been better, as the roll was as wide as my waistline, and as loosely packed as the contents of my skull. As a result, it didn’t hold together particularly well, but this is a fairly moot point.
Spicy salmon roll (£7.40) *Recommended*
We also ordered a plate of salmon sashimi, which was thick-cut and pleasant, but did not seem to be of a particularly exceptional quality when compared to sashimi I’ve enjoyed elsewhere.
Salmon Sashimi (£5.90)
After glancing through the selection of main courses, Steak decided that she wanted a spot of Yakiudon with seafood. Having clearly failed to understand that “seafood” refers to food from the sea, she then decided that its aroma was far too “fishy” for her liking, and grovelled at the mercy of the waiter until he very kindly exchanged it for a chicken Yakiudon instead. Here, the thick, yet tender chunks of chicken breast were basked in a rich, sweet sauce, which was complemented well by the thick udon noodles, and the array of crunchy vegetables.
Yakiudon (£10.90 Seafood / £9.90 Chicken or Veg)
For our second main course of the evening, I opted for a portion of beef bulgogi and steamed rice. To my delight, the thinly-sliced beef remained tender and well-cooked, though personally, I would have liked for a sharper, stronger, and richer kick from the bulgogi sauce in which it was basked.
Beef Bulgogi (£12.90)
At this point, we realised that our dinner had been relatively fat-free, and so, to introduce some balance, we rounded it off with a dark chocolate and hazelnut mousse. The firm, velvety dark chocolate shell instantly tore away to reveal a thick, gooey hazelnut core, and the two layers were contrasted rather well by the pistachio and hazelnut crumbs that littered either side of it.
Chocolate Mousse / Royal Dome (£6)
Value For Money: 3.5/5
With our stomachs on the verge of qualifying for the World Sumo Championship, we assessed the damage, which was approximately £60 for two. Across the menu, you’ll find that starters, sushi, and sashimi range from £4 to £12, whilst mains cost between £10 to £15, and desserts range from £4 to £6. Relative to the quality and calibre of the food, we felt that this was within a reasonable range, and you should find that Sushinoen offers a fairly cheap and cheerful Japanese dining experience.
You should also find that staff members are incredibly hospitable and courteous, and take the time to ensure that your meal goes smoothly. Service was also relatively speedy and attentive, despite the fact that the team were hosting a large party of diners on the top floor.
Decor / Ambience: 3.5/5
The building in which Sushinoen resides is fairly aged, and no doubt, holds much history and character behind its worn facade. This character continues on the inside, where you’ll find an attractive dining area that retains a touch of Japanese traditionalism. The dining areas are spread across three tiers, and provide a variety of seating styles – from glossy wooden chairs to two sunken tables for those who wish to truly embrace the Japanese dining experience. (Though, if you do use them, try not to get your food belly stuck). The restaurant can be found adjacent to Aftab Ali Park – a quick hop away from Aldgate East station. Paid parking can be found in and around Brick Lane, which is a short five to ten minute walk away.
Halal Japanese eateries in London are few and far between, and Sushinoen’s halal menu is no doubt alluring in its own right. Whilst they are certainly not the most refined Japanese eatery in town, they do offer a reasonable, and affordable taste of Japanese cuisine, and remain on the higher end of the “average”. Should you ever find yourself in Whitechapel, bored and infuriated by the endless array of mixed grills and burgers, you would do well to give Sushinoen’s wholesome Japanese menu a go.
Halal status: A separate halal menu with chicken and beef options is available. All sushi and sashimi are halal, and no alcohol is used in any of the accompanying sauces. Alcohol and pork are served on the premises.
Originally published: 04/02/2016
Address: 2 White Church Lane, London E1 7QR
Telephone: 0203 645 6734