London’s once-clamouring City area is bouncing back post-pandemic; not just with commuters and day-trippers swarming in from Liverpool Street, but with glossy new developments behind the major station.
One of these is Broadgate Circle, a still-being-sculpted shopping and dining complex with a growing pack of great restaurants and bars, as welcome to out-of-towners as the after-work crowd. Portuguese tiled hangout Bar Douro, José Pizarro, The Botanist and cocktail bar Mr Foggs have all sprung up in recent months.
It’s a chilly winter’s night when we slip into Shiro, an understated yet quietly glamorous Japanese restaurant from the luxury-focused Aqua Group. It’s as shimmering and elusive as a silvery shoal of fish swimming by, with a curious chain mail-like installation hanging from the ceiling, giving a feel of waves or seafoam. The look is just what you want from a swanky Japanese: minimalist cream and pine tones, a smooth-edged sushi counter, and a pack of industrious chefs chopping and rolling away in clear view of the punters.
It’s not loud, it’s not edgy or carving out a new niche in sushi, but everything we ordered at Shiro hit the mark when it comes to the trifecta of criteria: presentation, flavour, quality. We started by sharing the two appetisers we could agree on: fried rock shrimp and a duo of salmon and tuna tartare. The shrimp were in a feather-light batter through which the juicy plumpness of each prawn could really sing; served with a zingy spiced mayo, they were incredibly moreish.
The tartare was fresh and light with slender lotus chips to smear the fish onto, plus a delicate ginger and shallot dressing. We nibbled at these while sipping a cocktail from the neat little list: a classic Champagne cocktail was elegantly sherbety, and a Negroni perfectly mixed. So far, so “mmm” worthy.
Next, we had the chef’s selection sushi platter, which we were told would include “crystal sushi”, a speciality of the house. New to the concept, we tucked into the crystal rolls, which were coated in a slim layer of flavoured jelly, adding a fruity, refreshing dimension to each. Frankly, I prefered the traditional maki and nigiri; the jelly aspect didn’t change the game for me, and Japanese food purists will likely find it gimmicky.
The selection also felt on the small side, given the price point of a sushi platter here (from £26-36) – but while it was petite, everything was fresh, interesting and light in texture. Some rolls come topped with little mounds of tobiko or caviar, plus sprigs of herb, adding to the carefully-crafted feel.
From a dizzying selection of mains – robata-grilled meats and fish, mushroom and cauliflower creations, wagyu steak – we plumped for a seafood ramen and a teriyaki salmon to continue the pescatarian feast. The ramen was generous and steaming, served in the sort of earthy, unglazed ceramic bowl you dream of picking up at a Tokyo market. The salmon was the highlight that rang in our minds afterwards, with memorably crispy skin and caramelised flavour.
Desserts at Shiro happily went above and beyond the usual matcha’n’mochi offering – despite eyeing the mango tempura for a few minutes, we decided to split the black sesame fondant. This oozed sticky-sweet filling when stabbed and had a delicious, savoury umami quality as well as the sugary notes you’d expect from a chocolate fondant. Best of all, friendly and quick-to-appear staff never led us wrong: despite a long and unwieldy menu, they guided us to order exactly the right amount of food for two. No upsell, no waste. If only I could say the same of all London restaurants.
The bottom line? Shiro is real special-occasion fare for Japanese fans, with everything presented as prettily as a jewellery box and five-star cocktails and service. If your partner took you here to celebrate a promotion or birthday, you’d feel instantly spoiled. It’s easy to rack up quite a bill here, but every bite does feel worth it. Along with its foodie neighbours and fashion boutiques, it hopefully heralds somewhat of a revival in the business quarter behind Liverpool Street. But even if it doesn’t, it’s absolutely worth the trip across town.
Shiro Broadgate | 100 Broadgate, Liverpool St, London EC2M 2QS | 020 3873 8252 | shirosushi.co.uk