Two doors down from its Japanese competitor, Taberu, hides Sushi Corner. I’d rode past it on my bike many times before but this was my first time inside. It appears a quite ordinary on the outside, but once we stepped in, we entered a cosy and authentic-looking Japanese restaurant with a relaxed vibe.
We were warmly welcomed by Taoyu, the owner, who was very happy to show us around the kitchen. Gyoza (Japanese dumplings) were frying away on a stove top, and at the back was a bucket of fresh salmon heads. Taoyu explained that all their fish are fresh and are ordered in every three days.
The menu at Sushi Corner is fantastically extensive, and we were overwhelmed by the choices on offer. With Taoyu’s assistance, we settled on a bento (a traditional meal with rice, meat or fish, and pickled vegetables, all served in a box), donburi (a Japanese rice bowl dish with meat or fish and vegetables, simmered together and served over rice), and some sushi, with green tea to wash it all down.
First came steaming hot miso soup. I’m not usually a soup fan so this was my first experience of miso! But for the sake of an inclusive review, I had a go. It was warm, comforting, and had a fishy taste. On researching what miso soup is actually made of, I discovered it contains sardines, kelp, tuna, and shiitake mushrooms, so the fishy taste made sense.
Next came out a stream of food – a tempura prawn curry bento box, a gyudon beef bowl donburi, tuna nigari, and a salmon & avocado inside out roll. We started devouring our meal, wondering how we were going to finish it all, when the waitress brought out a huge eight-piece dark dragon roll.
We started with the gyudon beef bowl donburi. This hearty gyudon beef bowl donburi was packed full of beef, egg, rice, and veggies like bok choy, green pepper and carrot, and was filling enough just by itself.
Onto the bento box, which contained four pieces of tempura prawn, a salad with a winning dressing, rice, two pieces of sushi with pickled vegetables, a fried pumpkin dumpling, a vegetarian spring roll, and some picked vegetables (I could identify the pickled cucumber, but I wasn’t sure what the other pickled veggies were). The curry tasted quite similar to a typical Japanese katsu curry sauce. The tempura prawn batter could have been a bit crispier, but was tasty none the less. The pumpkin dumpling and salad were my favourites from the bento box. The pumpkin dumpling was nice and crispy, and who doesn’t love pumpkin in everything? The salad had a nice, light dressing which was refreshing alongside the fried tempura, dumpling, and spring roll. Again, the bento box was quite filling by itself.
The unagi was warm, and the rice fell apart in my mouth, mixing with the eel in a very delicious sort of way that is supposed to happen when you eat fresh sushi
Next, we moved onto the sushi! I’m a huge sushi fan and, having been to Japan twice, I’m a bit of a sushi snob. It’s not easy to find decent fresh sushi in Oxford. None of the typical UK sushi chains that you can find on Cornmarket and George Street really satiate my sushi appetite. It’s easy to tell the difference between freshly made sushi with fresh ingredients, and sushi that’s been sitting on the shelf for the day. This sushi was fresh. The salmon and avocado inside out rolls were easy to eat, with a good ratio of avocado to fresh salmon. The tuna nigiri was light, with decent sized chunks of fresh tuna on a neat little bed of rice. The highlight of our whole meal, however, was the dark dragon roll. This enormous eight-piece inside out roll had unagi (eel) and cucumber, topped with a generous heaping of avocado and dried shallots. The unagi was warm, and the rice fell apart in my mouth, mixing with the eel in a very delicious sort of way that is supposed to happen when you eat fresh sushi.
Finally, the green tea was a nice and light accompaniment, and I basically drank an entire large teapot’s worth by myself. After we could not stuff any more food in our mouths, we took the remaining food home to enjoy for lunch the next day, and hobbled off home, full and satisfied.
As Japanese places in the UK go, Sushi Corner is quite decently priced. The gyudon beef bowl donburi served with miso soup (£8.50), or the tempura prawn curry bento which comes with miso soup, green salad, a spring roll, a pumpkin dumping, and two sushi rolls (£11.80), are both incredibly filling meal choices. If sushi is more your thing, (and keeping in mind that sushi in the UK is usually quite pricey), a large sushi roll, like the dark dragon roll (£11.90), plus a medium roll like the salmon & avocado inside out roll, (£4.70), or something smaller, like the tuna nigiri (£3.60), would be enough to satisfy a hungry sushi punter.
Sushi Corner also does takeaway and delivery, and if you spend £15 you can choose from a list of free special offers including sushi rolls, drinks, miso soup, and prawn crackers. I’m a sucker for free stuff, and a massive sushi lover, so I will certainly be back again for that dark dragon roll. I’m also excited to try their soft-shell crab and crunch salmon roll next time.
Verdict: A little sushi gem, tucked away in Cowley. If you like Japanese food, or haven’t tried it before, we would certainly recommend Sushi Corner for its affordable and extensive selection of sushi and other Japanese food!