Sushi. Deliciously delicate and oh so pretty.  I’ve always been partial to those little bite-sized gems and recently spent a fun afternoon discovering how to make it for myself. UNI is a Japanese and Peruvian fusion – ‘Nikkei’ – restaurant in London’s Belgravia and I was there with a group of bloggers to try out UNI’s new sushi and cocktail making master class. If I didn’t know my sashimi from my sushi before, then I definitely do now.

Cocktail Master Class

Before we unwrapped the secrets of sushi-making we had a taster of some of Uni’s signature cocktails made by Rafa, bar manager and master mixologist. We tried Chilli Mojito, Pisco Sour and the UNI Martini which together showcased UNI’s Japanese, Peruvian fusion theme perfectly – and all before lunchtime!  We sat up at the sushi bar in the lively upstairs area which had a relaxed feel and where you can watch the sushi chefs working their magic.

Cocktails at UNI Restaurant

Rafa – Master Mixologist serving my Chilli Mojito

The Chilli Mojito was my favourite with a kick from the swirl of fresh chilli softened with a faint sweetness of coconut water.  The nearer I got to the bottom of the glass the more warmth there was as the chilli infused more into the Mojito.  In a nod to Peru the next up was a Pisco Sour.  Made with Peru’s national spirit, a grape brandy called Pisco, and combined with citrus juice, sugar syrup, bitters and egg white to give a perfect blend of sweetness and acidity all under a soft foamy topping.   There’s also a range of healthy detox smoothies at UNI which looked just as tempting.

The UNI Sushi Masterclass

We went downstairs to the intimate atmosphere of UNI’s elegant restaurant for the masterclass with our sushi guru Oscar Cuevas.  First off we made California Rolls or inside out rolls, as the rice is on the outside and a sheet of paper-thin seaweed on the inside packed with crab, avocado and cucumber. It’s then rolled into a long tube on the sushi mat (how it didn’t fall apart I’ll never know) and cut into perfect bite-sized pieces.

Ingredients for California Roll

Ingredients for California Roll

Sushi Rolling

This is how we roll…

Sushi making

Sushi in easy stages…

Sashimi is raw, sliced fish but becomes sushi when the short-grain, vinegared sticky rice (sushi-meshi) gets in on the act.  I quickly discovered that sticky rice is, well, pretty damn sticky and will stick to everything – except where it’s meant to.  The wetter your hands are the easier it is to mould the rice into the correct shape when pressing it into the sashimi. But not before I got it all over myself. Oscar taught us how to roll, fill, mould and stuff the sashimi making it look a whole lot easier than it really is.

Sushi Platter

I made this!

Ceviche was next up and we watched as Oscar made his exquisite Sea Bass, mango, coriander and chilli cured in a zesty sauce of lime and ginger.   This was one of my favourite dishes and I would happily travel to London just for a taste of this any day.  Absolute heaven.

Oscar - Sushi Chef

Oscar – Sushi Chef

UNI Restaurant

With the master classes over it was time to delve deeper into UNI’s menu so we moved into one of the restaurant’s intimate little cubby holes – warm and inviting with a gold-leafed ceiling and comfy banquette seating.   Perfect for a romantic meal for two or a small group of friends – we sat six quite comfortably.  That’s me on the far left and next to me is Angie from Silverspoon, then Emily from Curious London, Ashleigh from Quintessentially Me and the lovely Travelhack aka Monica.

The Bloggers at UNI

The Menu

We tasted a huge selection of dishes from UNI’s menu starting with a nibble of deliciously warm edamame beans in rock salt and chilli sauce.  I may also have had another of those gorgeous chilli mojitos.

warm edamame beans in rock salt and chilli sauce

warm edamame beans in rock salt and chilli sauce

 Mini tacos with salmon, king crab and and scallop all drizzled with a divine miso dressing.

Salmon tartare mini tacos & miso dressing

Salmon tartare mini tacos with divine miso dressing

The vibrant Kaiso Seaweed salad with goma dressing – while silky smooth the salad had a refreshingly crisp bite to it and was a nice contrast to the fish dishes.

Kaiso Seaweed salad

Kaiso Seaweed salad

Dragon sushi and sashimi with transparent slithers of ginger and wasabi pearls on the side.

Sushi Platter

Sushi Platter – how it should be done!

More ceviche –  the delectable sea bass ceviche followed by octopus ceviche.   Who knew food could look so pretty.

Sea Bass Ceviche

Sea Bass Ceviche

 

Octopus Ceviche

Octopus Ceviche

Two vegetarian dishes arrived next; baked aubergine with sweet miso sauce which was gorgeously soft and silky and a tofu soup.

The food just kept coming and next to arrive was Chilean sea bass with chilli shiso salsa and a crunchy topping.  Quite delicious.

Chilean sea bass with chilli shiso salsa

Chilean sea bass with chilli shiso salsa

They saved the best til last – the Wagayu Beef with rock salt and chilli –  so tender it just fell apart.  This together with the sea bass ceviche were my absolute favourites of the day.

Wagayu Beef

Wagayu Beef

Finally dessert.  I was struggling to eat any more by now and then these little globes of  sweetness pitched up. Mochi is Japanese ice cream coated in pounded sticky rice and were the pefect way to finish off the meal.  Not too big and not too sweet.

Mochi Moriawase selection

Mochi Moriawase selection

The food at UNI Restuarant was excellent; full of fresh zingy flavours with a warm Peruvian twist and all beautifully and vibrantly presented.

UNI Masterclasses

The next set of dates for masterclasses 2015 are:

14 March, 18 April, 16 May, 20 June, 18 July and 15 August

Classes cost £35 per person.  12:30 – 14:30 pm

UNI London is just a two minute walk from Victoria Station at 18A Ebury Street, London, SW1W 0LS

Tel: 020 7730 9267

[email protected]

UNI is open Monday to Saturday 12pm to 10.30pm

A big thank you to UNI for inviting me along to their sushi and cocktail master class.  All views and opinions, together with my new found penchant for Chilli Mojitos, are, however, entirely my own.