Ordinarily, the only time one would expect Mediterranean food to collide with Japanese food, would be when visiting a sushi restaurant with a friend who does not particularly enjoy sushi, and finding out that they had the audacity to buy a kebab on the way home. Such an act is, in my book, punishable by life imprisonment – (though, I do accept that sushi is not everyone’s cup of tea).
Take a stroll into Soho’s Dean street however, and you will come across Oliver Maki – a contemporary Japanese eatery that adopts a number of Mediterranean influences. Armed with a craving for good sushi and a taste of something unique, Steak and I headed over for a quick bite.
After settling into our seats, a waiter kindly handed over a pair of iPads. Just as I was about to reassure him that Steak’s company wasn’t THAT dull, he demonstrated Oliver Maki’s electronic menu, complete with beautiful photographs of every dish, which eliminate any sense of guesswork with regards to what you would be getting.
We began our meal with a pair of shrimp tempura “shots”. Large, crispy, and tender, each tempura shot demanded a fun, hands-on approach, and combined wonderfully with the rich and creamy wasabi mayonnaise.
Tempura Shots (£5 each) *Must-Eat*
From the signature sashimi selection, we tried the chilli shake, which consisted of thick, yet tender slices of salmon that offered a mild kick when combined with the accompanying chilli sauce.
Chilli Shake (£10)
From the signature maki selection, we ordered the sam maki, composed of prawns, olive oil and lemon, all held within a thin plum wrap. Here, the sharp and vibrant plum wrap went hand in hand with the citrus-laden contents, and was somewhat contrasted by the sharp, dry heat of the accompanying chilli dust. Overall however, this was still a little too “citrus upon citrus” for my liking, and a more substantial, fiery element would have done better to cut through the sharp, acidic flavours.
Sam Maki (£9 / 8pcs)
We also tried the plum chicken, which was crispy, tender, and pleasantly sweet.
Plum Chicken (£5)
A debate soon ensued when it came to the business of ordering dessert, and after finding ourselves unable to agree on a single dessert, we decided to compromise and order two.
Matcha Tiramisu (Left) and Chocolate Garden (Right) (£8 each) *Must-Eat*
The matcha tiramisu – elegantly presented in a disney-esque glass dome, dazzled the senses with a rich, earthy flavour, and a thick, creamy texture.
Matcha Tiramisu (£8) *Must-Eat*
However, Steak’s choice of the “chocolate garden” instantly stole the show, with a combination of textures that could only be described as utterly divine. The crumbly chocolate soil gave way to a rich, decadent chocolate mousse, and both were contrasted by a firm chocolate butterfly, and a duo of light and crisp sesame and raspberry wafers.
Chocolate Garden (£8) *Must-Eat*
Value For Money : 3.5/5
Altogether, our bill amounted to approximately £56 (including service), which we felt was relatively reasonable for an “upmarket” sushi restaurant in Soho. However, though we were completely satisfied and in no way hungry after our meal, we had ordered a fairly small number of items. As such, you should expect to pay anywhere between £30 to £40 a person for a more belt-bursting meal.
When it comes to service, you should find that the waiting staff at Oliver Maki are simply exceptional in their hospitality. Our waiter remained attentive and accommodating to our needs throughout the course of our meal, and even relocated us to a bigger table by the window once he realised that I had the appetite of a large horse.
Decor / Ambience: 3.5/5
The restaurant itself is decidedly minimalistic and reserved in its decor – particularly in comparison to the presentation of the food. It is however, smart and attractive all the same, and though it may not be particularly “dazzling” for a special occasion, it’s a pleasant space for a casual, cosy meal. The restaurant can be found a short walk away from Tottenham Court Road station, and public transport is advised. Alternatively, parking spaces can be summoned with the use of a magic genie, should you have one spare.
As a contemporary Japanese eatery, Oliver Maki ticks many key boxes. Elegance in presentation, crisp flavours, and killer desserts are just some of the reasons to visit, and whilst it may not be the most dazzling Japanese restaurant, it certainly offers a dining experience that is somewhat unique.
Halal status: Only the chicken served here is halal. Seafood and vegetarian options are plentiful. Alcohol is served on the premises.
Address: 33 Dean Street, Soho, London W1D 4PW
Telephone: 020 7734 0408