What: London’s first Japanese-Brazilian fusion restaurant, serving sushi with exotic twists, colourful caipirinhas and plenty of sake.
New? Having opened in February, Temakinho’s vibrant style has slotted in nicely to Soho’s dining scene.
Where: Halfway between Theatreland and the neon mile. In other words, the perfect location for a restaurant constantly in Mardi Gras mode. 10 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 4TF, www.temakinho.com
On the Menu: Spanning three sides, Temakinho’s menu isn’t afraid to mix things up. This isn’t one of those sushi restaurants obsessed with authenticity – you’ll find a real mix of traditional and experimental flavour combinations. The starters span ‘Petiscos’, bites to share as appetisers, ceviches, tartares (raw fishcakes) and tiradito (sashimi), with the mains featuring long list of maki rolls. It’s a bouncing anthology of fish and seafood, unafraid to challenge diners with surprising twists.
The Look: From the moment you walk in, you can feel the love and effort that’s been poured into Temakinho. The whole restaurant screams ‘carnival’, every detail bursting with Brazilian charm. Jungle print wallpapers, tropical shirts for the waiting staff, plumes of features, porcelain monkeys, and a samba-based soundtrack all create a party atmosphere.
What We Ate: Temakinho isn’t just a party animal, though they’re the first restaurant to win a Friends of the Sea certificate, showing that they go above and beyond when it comes to sustainability. On the night of The Handbook’s visit, that means there’s no tuna on the menu, as it’s mating season and stocks need to replenish. But there’s still plenty to enjoy. We start with Camarão bananinho, tempura king prawns with a punchy banana dip – yep, that’s right, prawns with bananas – and straightaway we’re impressed. The thick, pulpy banana sauce is a surprisingly good partner to the battered prawn, a classic sweet-savoury combo which has us racing to finish. It’s followed by Maresia, two exquisite little haystacks of nori seaweed filled with scallops, flying fish roe and passion fruit. A ceviche of salmon, lobster, octopus and king prawns served in a sundae glass eases us towards the main courses with a medley of chilli, coriander and ginger.
The main attraction? The maki rolls. They come in dozens of flavour combinations, from salmon tartare and flying fish roe to breaded prawn with spicy mayonnaise and cream cheese. We order four rolls, which come with six or seven individual pieces each, working our way through them one by one. Our favourite has to be the Siri Completo: deep-fried soft-shell crab, which brings a crunchiness to the soft sushi rice. Ornate, delicate and full of big flavours, the maki rolls are the star of the show.
Big South American flavours dominate the desserts. We try the chocolate coconut cake, a huge slab the size of a hardback covered in coconut shavings, and the churros with dulce de leche sauce. The churros, our waiter explains, are a daily special, but have been so popular that they’ve been on the menu three weeks running. It’s not hard to see why: they’re the freshest, most indulgent churros I’ve ever had, partnered with the luscious coffee-coloured dulce de leche. The coconut cake is delicious, too, soft and crumbly, but after a few forkfuls we’re defeated. Luckily Temakinho fix us a little doggy bag, allowing us to finish it for breakfast.
What We Drank: As you’d expect, caipirinhas are king here. They come in all flavours, from peach to passion fruit and graviola, but they all share one thing in common: Temakinho’s signature organic cachaca, made especially for the restaurant and imported from Brazil. Sweet with a lip-smacking burst of lime, the caipirinhas are a reason to visit Temakinho in their own right. But if cachaca’s not your thing, there are plenty of pisco sours, sake-cocktails and wines to try, too.
Go With: A big group of mates – Temakinho’s maki roll platters are made for sharing, and the restaurant’s upbeat vibe and great cocktails have the makings of a good night out. One for the work colleagues at the end of the week, perhaps?
Final Word: Most sushi joints take themselves very seriously, so Temakinho’s playful menu and carnival colours are a breath of fresh air. Not all the dishes will delight – some sushi lovers will baulk at cream cheese or sweet’n’sour sauce on their salmon – but a diverse and experimental menu means there’s something for everyone. Oh, and it’s one of those place where the staff are genuinely having a good time – all the more reason to dive in and have a good time. Felicidades!
Temakinho: 10 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 4TF