The Big Review: Satuma, Fortess Road

New Year is all about healthy, clean foods, and we’re lucky Camden is blessed with excellent sushi options. The best …


New Year is all about healthy, clean foods, and we’re lucky Camden is blessed with excellent sushi options. The best is Asakusa on Eversholt Street, still as busy today as it was a decade ago when I lived round the corner. But there’s also Hi Sushi, Feng Sushi and several jostling for attention on Parkway, including bargainous Bento Cafe, Sushi-Waka and recent opening Shimogamo.

In K-Town there has long been just Satuma (the second ‘s’ is missing to avoid confusion with the similarly-named Soho restaurant). After walking past frequently when it’s either been shut, or we just haven’t quite fancied sushi, it was a relief, just before Xmas, to step through its doors finally.

The interior is suitably simple, dimly-lit and clean. There’s a drinks cabinet on your left, an open kitchen-cum-counter and big pictures of sushi hanging on the wall. Three or four chefs buzz around chopping and cutting. It did, in fact, remind me a tad of the kind of hole-in-the-wall place you get in Tokyo.

It was a Friday night, and after a couple of pints of Hell’s at the Brewery we were feeling lazy, so opted for a selection of tempura, nigiri, and gyoza. Edamame beans, which we nibbled to accompany our Sapporo lager, were fine. But the chicken gyoza, which arrived very soon after, were burnt on one side.

The winning spicy salmon nigiri
The winning spicy salmon nigiri (left)
The king prawn in the tempura was succulent and fleshy, and tasty dipped in the denshu sauce, but just three small pieces for £6.50 seemed steep. And – sin of sins – the salmon temaki hand roll was fridge cold, the avocado hard, surely undermining the point of sushi. Better, however, was the spicy salmon roe gunkan nigiri: finally something soft, packed with flavour, perfect temperature and seductively moreish. A dish to order again. Its spicy tuna equivalent wasn’t bad either.

There was only one other table in on a Friday night, Satuma’s main trade being weekday lunchtimes, Forum-goers and takeaway orders. And the atmosphere wasn’t entirely conducive to lingering: as we ate, the chef was crashing about cleaning his oven in the small open kitchen behind the counter. But generally the service was fine: neutral, friendly enough. And as is often the case with sushi, it didn’t seem particularly good value for money: without eating or drinking much, we left sixty quid lighter.

I want to support our local Japanese restaurant, and so am tempted to return to try more dishes, perhaps the intriguing Korean options like beef marinated with wine, pears and soy sauce. And it goes without saying that an independent place like Satuma is a great fixture on the high street. But aren’t the owners missing a trick? It’s the only Japanese food in the vicinity and, with tweaks to their offering, and better pricing, it could be a real contender.

This is box title
Kentishtowner Rating 6/10 Meal for two with drinks around £50+ 8 Fortess Road.

Words & Pics: Stephen Emms


  • Show Comments

  • leslieworks

    Totally agree. Overpriced for what you get and quality. Nice enough service. They should take note as it hardly ever seems to have customers when I pass it.

  • Sushi lover

    I’ve decided to trek that bit further to get my sushi fix from Bento, or even better Asa Kusa after one too many bad experiences at Satuma.

    The miserable and brusque manageress became the clincher but it wasn’t helped by inconsistent pricing (allegedly it’s 10% off if you collect but it seems arbitrary depending on what you order) and I’ve never got what was promised on the menu on my plate.

    It’s a real shame as Kentish Town needs a good Japanese restaurant to balance out all the pizza joints.

  • Tigger

    Have you checked out the new sushi place on Highgate Hill opposite the Whittington Hospital? Went in there at lunchtime before Christmas and it seemed okay. I may go back in the evening and see what it’s like then.

  • Nuggett

    Unfortunately I completely agree with Sushi Lover. We’ve given it a couple of tries as we love Sushi and the food, i think, is very good. However, the manageress does sooo not want to be there it makes the whole experience completely unenjoyable. Service from the other waitress is not bad but if your left alone with the manageress on, god help you if you want to get fed and out in under 3 hours.

    For such a small place the service is shocking, I’ve had to collect my own food off the counter before and get up to grab the dessert menu’s. And there was only one other table in!

    We’ve also had prices from the menu put up when we’ve ordered takeaway and I think this is to cover their 10% discount.

    It’s a real shame as it could be great but the customer service lets it down massively.

  • Dave Hodgkinson (@davehodg)

    Having had Izakaya in Tokyo and around the West End, Sushi Waka is the winner for me. Although Not having experience Asa Kusa…

  • Nick Groombridge

    I will never be visiting this restaurant again. I love Japanese food, but this was disappointing. The food was over priced, portions were small, the service was terrible. We had to by pass sainsburys on the way home. It’s a shame Yuku aren’t a sit down restaurant , their Chicken Katsu Curry Is delicious.

  • Jamie Nicholas

    Whatever happened to EatZone? Is it still there? That was my favourite Chinese but been on 2 occasions recently and was closed. Indefinitely?

  • Minority?

    I wen here once, not too long ago, and really enjoyed it. Perhaps this manageress wasn’t working?! I opted for the Korean dishes rather than the sushi, but was very pleased. Lovely meal with my boyfriend

  • Claire

    Sadly we have to agree. My partner and I adore sushi (and this is on our doorstep!) but we regularly walk into Camden or bus into Soho. We’re not asking for much. A few little tweaks, a smile or two….and something to enhance the atmosphere – and we would be regulars!

  • Natalia S

    We need a great local Japanese around here, sadly not this one as they have given me wrong order twice on take away which I had to go back & collect the right food. I thought I’d give them another chance, again no improvement was made as we waited for 45 mins for food! No wonder it is now sitting empty when it should be thriving by now. To Jamie yes EatZone has gone for good, very sadly as that was one of the best Singaporean/ Malaysian cafe! We also need a fab Dim Sum Cafe in Kentish Town!