E Sushi


SLIVERS of raw seabass arrive arranged like a kiss from a rose on the grey, to steal a line from Seal who’s entirely coincidently singing sweetly on the sound system right now. Sprinkles of orange flying fish roe are dusted over fish the chef has carefully arranged into petals.

It’s fresh, cool and delicate eating as Glasgow’s Byres Road outside bakes quietly in the unusual June heat.

“That seabass just came in today,” the waiter had said earlier while gesturing to the counter where a woman is preparing sushi. “It’s super, super fresh but" – and he added this ominously – “I’ll be honest with you, because there is no point in lying. The sweet shrimp sashimi are frozen.”

This is not that shocking considering where we are (Scotland) and where those shrimp come from (Japan, maybe). They are pretty little things, cleanly prepared, lovingly laid to rest on dark grey ceramics, gleaming even in the muggy evening sun. And tasting of well… absolutely nothing.

Sushi may have lost its Eastern mystique the minute Marks & Sparks started banging out sanitised versions from a High Street chill counter near you but it, and definitely sashimi, remain something best eaten where you can trust the kitchen. Or better still see it.

I’ve been in E Sushi for half an hour or so and already know who their fish supplier is, how apparently difficult it is to get live Scottish prawns and that the original idea for the restaurant’s name was that customers would order from those little Lenovo tablets that are on every table – showing dishes in glorious truecolour.

“Some customers would be pressing the tablets to order and it wasn’t coming up in the kitchen while other customers wouldn’t be touching their tablets at all and orders were coming up in the kitchen. We had to stop all that ordering.” Indeed.

Tuna sashimi, then? This fish is caught in India; Scottish mackerel are soused sweetly and deliciously in soy and vinegar. Pause for some Ika Karage; light tender squid in a diaphanous tempura with chilli, sea salt and sesame. This is the definitely weather for eating sushi, but tonight as we swelter in the sticky heat, the best, most refreshing thing is that soft, succulent and vibrantly green mound of crunchy kaiso seaweed sesame.

Seaweed is something else we have rather a lot of in Scotland and, if you follow the latest American food fads, something that has just been rediscovered and is crossing the Atlantic like a billowing squall to appear on a plate, a snack-pack, or even a crisp packet near you.

If you pop into any of Glasgow’s many Chinese supermarkets and see rows of cartoon character packets containing dried, flavoured, impossibly delicate stacks of seaweed wafers it’s pretty clear Korean schoolchildren at least have been enjoying the health benefits of seaweed for a very long time. And let’s not say anything about the Highland Clearances.

Now, did I mention the eel fried rice? Space is made amongst glazed earthenware bowls containing soy and wasabi, green tea, holding chopsticks, and that Lenovo tablet is moved as a huge dish of this arrives.

This baffles me. Not that I didn’t order it. I did. I just forgot. But it’s only £3 on the menu. Is this the same thing? Never mind, it’s a unctuous sweet and slightly sticky concoction, the meaty eel chunks seared to crisp or spread throughout the whole thing in little flakes of meat. A lingering flavour of eel after every mouthful. You’ll know whether you like that.

It’s now quarter to ten on a weekday night, the kitchen closed at 9.30pm, and the other customers, including quite a few Japanese couples, have left. I’m still talking to the manager about fish. Squat lobster, I say. “Yes, he says. “We could do those.” Michelin-starred restaurants all over Europe are now serving raw Scottish prawns and scallops, sliced with razors, served with glory. “Price,” the waiter says. “Would people pay here?”

Maybe they would – and it could raise this honest little place to the next level.

E Sushi

130 Byres Road,


0141 339 8970

Menu: Sashimi, sushi Japanese dishes shown in glorious Technicolour on little Lenovo tablets. Nothing hugely unusual but tidily done. 3/5

Service: Bustling and hustling when it’s busy and when the dust settles and the place quietens, friendly, chatty and enthusiastic. 4/5

Atmosphere: Darkly modern and quietly comfortable shop front lay-out, just across University Avenue. 4/5

Price: Their secret weapon as most dishes float around the £5 mark with generous portions and careful and clean presentation. 5/5

Food: Honest little place where they are up front about where everything comes from and skilled in what they serve. 7/10