Sosharu (which translates “to socialise”) takes residency in the beautiful Turnmill Building in Clerkenwell. Promoted as some sort of Japanese izakaya, it’s casual with a bit of swag (and you don’t get any more swaggy than Evisu aprons on servers). The menu boasts of refined Japanese favourites from a kitchen under Alex Craciun’s (former Pollen Street Social) command.
The space is set on two floors: the izakaya-style main restaurant and Kisetsu, a chef’s table with sake sommeliers, occupy the main floor whilst Seven Tales, the cocktail bar, occupy the basement. The automatic loos downstairs are a riot, too and I was reminded of my teens when Utada Hikaru was all I listened to.
MG invited me for dindin and we set the date as early as February for an end of March booking. I asked if we could sit by the counter because lovely as the wood-adorned seating area is, I wanted to see the chefs in action. Case in point:
I just wanted to poke those cakes with a fork.
But first, cocktails.
I opted for the Yugen (£10.5 – rosé wine, Sakura nigori, sparkling wine) whilst MG went for the Seijaku (£11 – Absolut Elyx, sakura honey and pickled turnip).
We ordered some salmon (£7.5) and hamachi (£7) sashimi. These might just be the smallest portions of sashimi I have ever encountered. Admittedly, the texture was great and the fish tasted really fresh. However, I’m not sure the price justified the portion.
I ordered the tuna temaki (£7.5 per piece) and it was fantastic. The battered nori “taco shell” had a good crunch and did not at all compromise the flavour of the filling (tuna, scallion, tobiko and sushi rice). I savoured each bite which was a taste party in my mouth.
The salmon temaki (£6.7 per piece) was equally as good. The filling consisted of chopped salmon, sushi rice, spiced cabbage, coriander and avocado so it was slightly creamier than its tuna counterpart.
Another delightful raw plate was the bream sashimi with schichimi crispy potato (£11.5). Crispy potato strips wrapped in raw fish sounded gimmicky to me, but it absolutely burst with flavour. I hope there was a bit more shichimi, though, but that’s down to my preference of hot food.
The one thing I didn’t like as much was the stuffed chicken wings (£8.5). Flavour-wise it was decent but whereas the other dishes were full of texture, this fell flat on that department.
I was super excited to see tonkatsu (£18) on the menu as I’ve been looking for the stuff here in London. Admittedly, it’s not as robust as the ones in Asia (like Ma Maison) and the sauce can do with a bit of smoothness… but it had a good crumb coating and the pork itself was succulent and satisfying.
For dessert, I knew I had to get the matcha mille crepe (£8) because it’s been under my nose for hours. And what a good choice it was. Light mille crepe with a very well balanced matcha flavour paired with an equally balanced matcha sorbet? Come on.
However, MG’s Japanese rice and mango (£8) was an absolute stunner in terms of presentation and flavour. You can never look at rice pudding the same way, as Sosharu’s gorgeous dessert takes you to a tropical place where you can just dream of palm trees and fresh fruit.
A week and a half later found us back at the same seats by the counter, ready to try more on the menu.
We started with cocktails, naturally: Kanso (£10 – gin, sake, grapefruit, lemon, soda) and Shizen (£10.5 – banana liqueur, Aperol, yuzu, grapefruit, sparkling wine). We definitely preferred these from the ones we had on our first visit.
First to arrive was the cobia temaki (£8) and again, it was delicious. Gone in three bites (doable in two) I totally devoured this with much gusto as the cobia flavour was very prominent despite the complexity of ingredients.
If Sosharu became a restaurant devoted to only sell these open temaki bad boys, I’d happily queue up every singly day.
Next up was the white crabmeat salad (£13.5). Crabmeat, edamame and shiso jelly dressing lay atop a generous portion of iceberg lettuce. This was very refreshing although compared to other dishes the novelty wore off quickly.
The Kyoto style chirashi (£12) toppings include chopped sashimi, lotus root, nori, egg threads, tobiko and some turnip. It came with its own small spatula for mixing and a small pot of soy. It delivered good flavour and I wish it had more!
Sosharu’s wagyu sukiyaki (£25) was actually the reason we came back. I’ve been on the hunt for good sukiyaki in town since my visit at Tokimeite. Sosharu’s offering is almost half the price and has more exciting textures and flavour from veggies, tofu, and shiitake mushrooms. It’s still a Westernised version but I would eat this again and prefer it to Tokimeite’s.
From the hibachi grill, we ordered the chicken skin and tsukune skewers served with an egg yolk in yakitori sauce (£10). The chicken skin skewers were so good, calories and cholesterol be damned. The tsukune is delicious with a hint of earthy liver which I liked a lot.
MG opted for the same Japanese rice dessert while I opted for the sesame cake with soy caramel (£8). Served with a portion of banana cooked on the robata, I thought the cake was light but a slight notch sweeter than my liking. Star of the plate had to be the soy caramel ice cream, which bound everything together and made the dish yummy.
Jason Atherton’s Social empire expansion just continues to impress and there’s no stopping soon. There are two more to open in the foreseeable future too – one in Philippines (in his wife Irfa’s hometown Cebu) and an Italian in Victoria. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
I really like Sosharu and I think it’s actually toppled Social Eating House as my favourite of Atherton’s London establishments. Service is good and the vibe is buzzy. Though it’s fair to say portion size isn’t particularly the restaurant’s best selling point, the menu is rather exciting. If you’re looking for texture, flavour and a side of swag, here’s a good place to go.