Well my new found love of Ping Pong (see ‘Chains Round-Up’) looks set to be short-lived: wanting a quick bit of sustenance before sitting through two hours of Phèdre at the National Theatre, Simon B and I popped into the South Bank branch only to be told that despite all visual evidence to the contrary (i.e: empty seats aplenty) there would be a wait of half an hour for a table. Not by us there wouldn’t be; neither of us had any intention of risking indigestion with Helen Mirren and Dominic Cooper waiting for us, so off we buggered to Feng Sushi a few doors down and - dreadful name notwithstanding – it wasn’t a bad performance.
It has to be said that for a casual diner – generic modern-Oriental elements including white walls, bare wooden tables and disposable chopsticks all present and correct – the menu struck me as being not only fairly expensive, but also haphazardly priced. The wide but incohesive range of starters, bento boxes and sushi and sashimi in both selections and individual servings roller-coastered from four or five quid to around £20, eschewing the familiar pricing structure of comparable places such as Satsuma and Wagamama where the distance from cheapest to dearest dish is no further than about a fiver.
Stability was better however in the main courses section, where from a short selection all around the £12 mark Simon and I both chose ‘Japanese Fish and Chips’ for £11, three fat goujons of cod tempura served with hand-cut potato and sweet potato chips. It was a hefty portion - never a bad thing in my book – and completely delicious. The full-flavoured cod retained all its firmness under the light crunchy batter and was accompanied perfectly by a generous mound of tasty, chunky chips, sweet chilli dip and Feng Sushi’s own special, herby mayonnaise. It was a clever, well-executed take on a quintessentially British dish, and something I’d definitely go back for.
And speaking of quintessentially British dishes of which I’d most definitely like a large portion, Dominic Cooper as Hippolytus was amazing – brooding, angst-y, strong and – in a little black singlet and army trousers - tastier even than cod tempura.
Feng Sushi, Unit 9, Royal Festival Hall, London SE1 8XX and branches tel: 020 7261 0001 http://www.fengsushi.co.uk/