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What did our reviewer make of the city's longest-running Japanese restaurant?

PUBLISHED: 08:22 09 October 2019 | UPDATED: 15:58 09 October 2019

Restaurant review at Shiki, in Norwich. Photo: Lauren Cope

Restaurant review at Shiki, in Norwich. Photo: Lauren Cope

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It's a mainstay of the city, having recently celebrated 15 years in Norwich. Lauren Cope visited Japanese restaurant Shiki.

Shiki Japanese restauranton Tombland in NorwichShiki Japanese restauranton Tombland in Norwich

The hardest thing about eating at somewhere like Shiki is knowing what to order.

The choice is huge. Sushi? Gyoza? Salmon teriyaki? All of the above?

It's this dilemma that inspired head chef Shun Tomii's otsumami menu - a selection of sharable dishes which he hopes will enable his diners to try a little of everything on the menu. Hear hear.

Dishes come when they're ready, and we started with tori kara (£7) - deep fried marinated chicken thighs with Norfolk sweet plum vinegar.

Crispy, salty, sweet and served with a fresh, crunchy salad, I could have eaten this all night. The portion size was generous even for two, and the chicken was pull-apart tender.

Restaurant review at Shiki, in Norwich. Photo: Lauren CopeRestaurant review at Shiki, in Norwich. Photo: Lauren Cope

Next was the prawn tempura (£6), three prawns in light, crispy batter. They were served with a salty dipping sauce in which we were encouraged to mix ginger, giving a strong punch of heat.

Third was the yakitori (£4), chargrilled chicken and leek on skewers, which felt like good value for £2 a pop. The smokiness of the chicken was wonderfully intense, and the chicken the level of soft and moist that only seems to come with yakitori.

It was difficult to not order what is described as THE gyoza (£4), three pork dumplings 'a la plancha' (grilled), with a crisp cornflour base underpinning them.

Silky, meaty and perfect dipped in soy sauce, they were great. I could have happily picked more dishes off the otsumami menu (starting with another portion of THE gyoza).

But a review of 15 plates of gyoza wouldn't have provided much insight, so next we opted for the omakase 9 (£16) off the sushi menu, a dish named after the Japanese tradition of letting a chef choose your order.

Restaurant review at Shiki, in Norwich. Photo: Lauren CopeRestaurant review at Shiki, in Norwich. Photo: Lauren Cope

It's made up of nine pieces of the day's nigiri - fresh fish or vegetables draped on top of rice - and four of its maki, the rolled variety.

In the interests of having something to tell you in this review, we asked what would be on the platter but - as by its name - no promises were made and we were told some of the fish it was likely to include: tuna, salmon, eel and so on.

For £16, it felt like really good value, and while I couldn't tell you with confidence all nine types, they included salmon, tuna, sweet shrimp, yellowtail and eel.

Melt in the mouth tuna, sweet, smokey eel and smooth salmon, topping pillowy rice and dipped in salty soy sauce. Delicious. One of the maki rolls had a strong hit of spice, and only one of the nigiri was tougher than the others.

By the time I'd eaten my last piece of sushi I was full (a pleasant surprise, as I am a terrible judge of quantity with sushi) - tempted to order another portion of tuna, but aware that I'd crossing the line into I-need-a-lie-down-right-now.

Restaurant review at Shiki, in Norwich. Photo: Lauren CopeRestaurant review at Shiki, in Norwich. Photo: Lauren Cope

Our food reviews are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience of the venue when they visited. The establishment is not aware of our visit, is not informed we intend to write a review and bills are paid by the reviewer. The choice of places reviewed is also independent and is not based on venues which do or do not advertise in our publications.

Value for money

From £3 to £12 for its otsumami (smaller, shareable dishes) menu. Bento boxes - a traditional assortment of dishes served in a box - cost from £22 to £25 and sushi ranges from £2 for individual pieces up to £35 for a platter.

Restaurant review at Shiki, in Norwich. Photo: Lauren CopeRestaurant review at Shiki, in Norwich. Photo: Lauren Cope

Setting

It's set in the heart of the city centre, on the corner of Tombland and at home in a historic building.

Ambiance

Restaurant review at Shiki, in Norwich. Photo: Lauren CopeRestaurant review at Shiki, in Norwich. Photo: Lauren Cope

I really love the ambiance at Shiki - it's always busy, warmly-lit and the bench tables makes it feel as though you're dining in someone's living room. Casual, and with a buzz.

Service

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Friendly, prompt and helpful when we asked what was on the sushi platter.

Drinks

A varied menu - soft drinks, wine, beer, sake (and descriptions of the flavours of each), cocktails and more. I had Ramune, a sweet Japanese lemonade, while my partner had green tea.

Accessibility

There is a step in to the restaurant and another to its eating area. Its menu clearly marks vegetarian dishes, as well as those that can be made vegetarian and information about other allergens.

Toilets

Up a flight of stairs, separate for men and women, functional and clean.

Parking

It's city centre so parking is limited right outside, but it's well-connected by bus routes and a 10-minute walk up Prince of Wales Road from the train station. The nearest car parks would be St Andrew's or St Giles.

Price

We had four otsumami dishes, two drinks and the smaller platter of sushi for £47. Everything felt reasonably priced and of decent value.

Highlight

The food. The pork gyoza and tori kara were the highlight of the hot dishes, while the tuna and unagi were the stand-out sushi selections for me. Not really much to fault.

In summary

A must-visit if you're a fan of Japanese food and fancy something special. I'd particularly recommend it for groups of friends - particularly on Tuesday nights, when they run an all your can eat sushi offer.

If you like that, try these

- Ciscoe's Pan Asian and Sushi, 25 Ber Street, Norwich - A popular sushi spot in the city centre, Ciscoe's has become as known for its sushi schools and event catering as it has for its varied menu.

- Soyokaze, 13 St Giles Street, Norwich - From sushi and sashimi to tempura and its rich tonkotsu ramen, this small eatery is nearly always busy.

- Momiji Japanese Restaurant and Bar, 74 London Road, Harleston - Momiji's main menu, which focuses on casual Japanese dining, includes well-known cooked options, and it serves sushi and sashimi at special events.



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