Scratch beneath the surface of our city and you'll find some real hidden gems. So we have set out to explore the best-kept secrets and unsung heroes of Birmingham. This week, Emma Cann ventures to the fabulous Sushi Passion...
Birmingham has a fantastic foodie scene for different types of cuisine from all over the world yet, until the last couple of years, the city has been lacking a really good sushi offering. However, since the opening of Rofuto at the Park Regis Hotel and the utterly gorgeous Sushi Passion, Birmingham can now offer some of the best sushi experiences in the country.
Sushi Passion is a petite but perfectly formed restaurant in Birmingham’s Great Western Arcade. The Great Western Arcade is in itself one of the hidden gems of Birmingham. Tucked neatly in between Colmore Row and Temple Row, this stunning Victorian arcade boasts a glass domed roof, intricately painted ceiling and gilded golden balconies. It is one of the best places in Birmingham for independent shopping and little foodie retreats; one of my favourite places to simply wander and pass the time, feeling like I have taken a step into the past.
In this glittering arcade, Sushi Passion is a subtle, unassuming presence. The window display of bonsai trees, pebbles and trickling water feature, combined with the dark curtain fluttering across the entrance, instantly convey the traditional Japanese design of this restaurant. Upon entry, we were very taken with Sushi Passion’s showpiece - two traditional low tables, raised on a small platform, with cushions to kneel on and a beautiful painted backdrop of a Japanese mural and sliding walls.
Greeted by a waitress wearing a traditional kimono, we chose to sit at the open bar and kitchen. I love to sit in the thick of the action so I can see the chefs at work! Everything about Sushi Passion is simple yet stunning, from the tactile slate teapot, to our polished lacquer plates and bowls. Even on a busy Saturday lunchtime, the restaurant is completely tranquil and calming; it’s hard to believe that Pigeon Park is just a stone’s throw away!
We ordered a pot of green tea and a bowl of miso soup each to begin our dining experience. I loved the lightly brewed green tea, which I always find is the perfect, refreshing accompaniment to sushi. Our miso soup was served in grand style. One of the delightful, quirky features of Sushi Passion is a miniature steam train, which glides around the gleaming bar top, serving drinks and soup to the waiting customers. I was so distracted by this adorable novelty that I forgot retrieve my miso soup from its carriage! The miso was satisfyingly salty and comforting, with gorgeous pink and white swirled tofu.
To complete our light lunch, we opted to share a platter of traditional Japanese sushi. As salmon and tuna maki are served by all sushi restaurants, I always order them as an easy way of benchmarking my favourite sushi places. I wasn’t disappointed: the seaweed outer was rich and full of flavour, the rice gorgeously sticky, and there was a generous amount of both tuna and salmon.
Another reason we went for the traditional Japanese platter was the opportunity to try a wide variety of nigiri - tuna, salmon, monkfish, cuttlefish, eel and octopus. All served on a delicious bed of vinegared rice, the fish was incredibly fresh with the refreshing and subtle flavours characteristic of Japanese cuisine. I was quite nervous of trying the eel but it was absolutely amazing, with an almost smoky flavour and surprisingly delicate texture.
I would highly recommend Sushi Passion for an indulgent yet light and delicious lunch. The atmosphere is incredibly tranquil and relaxing, and the traditional Japanese decor transports you far away from the streets of Birmingham. It would be perfect for meeting up with a group of friends, so you can order multiple platters and sets to enjoy a wide variety of stunning sushi.
Review written by SWOOPE content partner Emma Cann.
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