Currently sitting on my sofa dreaming of sushi.
That’s not exactly something I’d have expected to hear myself say prior to last weekend. I haven’t actually had much experience with sushi, and in the past have often (unjustly) found myself thinking I’m not a fan. But when it’s done well, I’m so in there.
Especially after experiencing Izumi aboard Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas.
The man behind Izumi is master chef and all-round lovely dude Travis Kamiyama. During a day aboard Navigator of the Seas, a group of us bloggers were lucky enough to meet and chat with Travis, as well as being given a demo of how he makes his awesome sushi dishes. In 2009, Kamiyama began working with Royal Caribbean to create Izumi, with restaurants making their way across the whole fleet of ships.
After watching Travis work his magic featuring $300 knives (and that’s cheap, apparently…!), we sat down to try out his handiwork for ourselves.
Bowls filled with pods of edamame beans were put out on the table to get us started off. Slightly salted, they were really fresh – although perhaps it’d have been good to have some soy sauce on hand, as I do prefer them that way. Or perhaps slightly more salt. Either would work. But still, they did a great job in making me want everything else to arrive LIKE NOW.
Thankfully, the rest didn’t take long to appear…
Sashimi is always the bit of Japanese cuisine I’m slightly nervous about, as it’s basically just thinly cut raw fish. And I’m not usually the biggest lover of raw fish. Thankfully, Travis used a mixture of ingredients and dressings to complement the fish, which also made for a hella cute flatlay subject. Oh, and they were pretty tasty too!
Sashimi tuna has always been a bit of a sticking point for me, as I’ve tried it before and wasn’t the biggest fan. But in an exciting turn of events, I’m pretty sure this was actually my fave out of the three. The dressing and jalapeno slice on top of the tuna gave it a spicy kick and a totally different taste.
I also got my first ever taste of octopus. Feelin’ so fancy. It was a bit of an unusual texture, very chewy, but I did enjoy it. I think.
If you’re not feeling rice’n’fish, or just want something a bit different with your meal, Izumi also offers some non-sushi Japanese eats.
The three-piece hot appetizers plate consisted of crispy prawn rolls, tempura battered vegetables and crispy chicken pieces. And they were AMAZING. I think I could legit eat my way through a whole plate of these on my own. Each came with a complementary dipping sauce.
It was pretty tough to work out which was my favourite of the three, but the chicken managed to win the day with this one. Just!
The Izumi Sushi Rolls
This one you might have to bear with me a little on. I’m definitely no sushi expert, as I’ve only actually had it twice before. And one of those was from Sainsbury’s, so I’m not sure that even counts? Answers on a postcard (or in a Tweet, cause stamps are pricey these days).
My resounding opinion? Sushi is actually pretty darn awesome.
We were able to try out five different sushi rolls, with a variety of fillings and different roll styles. The pieces were small enough to be eaten in one mouthful, which meant the expertly matched flavours and textures came in one hit. Plus, eight pieces per sushi roll is a pretty impressive serving.
My favourite was definitely the crispy coated roll – the slight crunch and softness of the rice and fish were a perfect pairing for an interesting texture. The whole range of textures and flavours on the plate made for an exciting and really filling lunch – we actually ended up leaving a few bits because we were that stuffed.
(Massive props to David from Six Out Of Ten for being an effortless hand model, too.)
Vegetarian Sushi Option
I’d let them know I couldn’t really eat mushrooms (not allergic, they just make me feel sick if I eat a lot), so got given a plate of veggie sushi as well as the main platter. Despite the fact there were actually no mushrooms in any of the main dishes. More food though? I ain’t complainin’. Especially as it was super pretty to photograph.
Although I’ll always go for the meaty dishes, it’s good to know there’s a veggie option on offer, and that despite seeming simple, it’s actually still very tasty.
Mochi Ice Cream Dessert
Mochi ice cream is basically a Japanese rice cake, made into a paste and shaped, filled with…you guessed it, ice cream. And y’know what? It’s really tasty.
I’ve had mochi desserts before at Yo! Sushi, but this was a whole new league. We had four different flavours on the plate served with fruit and a berry compote. I got in fast and went for the mango – sweet, delicious and very moreish. In fact, my only disappointment is that we only had one piece each, as I def could have eaten all four. And then some.
Over to you guys – now I’ve got myself a bit turned on to sushi, where in London should I hit up for dishes just as good as Izumi’s? Leave your recommendations in the comments below!
Also – stay tuned for a sneak peek aboard the Navigator of the Seas ship!
*I was a guest of Royal Caribbean, all opinions honest and my own as per.