REVIEW: Sushi with a sweet smile at Sheffield’s latest Japanese

food review, Mr Miyagi,
food review, Mr Miyagi,

Step off bustling Division Street and into the city’s latest sushi joint - and you could almost be in downtown Toyko.

Mr Miyagi has an immediate impact, and not just with its name, which is bound to be a hit with anyone who grew up in the 1980s.

food review, Mr Miyagi division St,

food review, Mr Miyagi division St,

There are red lanterns hanging from the ceiling, wooden tables arranged around the central sushi conveyor belt and Japanese music channels playing on the wall-mounted television.

Combined with the green neon light around the ceiling and the - always a good sign - fact that many customers are from Asia, and with a bit of imagination it really is like stepping through a magical wardrobe into a nigiri rather than Narnia heaven.

“We want it to be young, fun and easy,” said manager Yeebin Tham, who hails from Malaysia.

“People should be able to come in and take some dishes from the conveyor belt for a quick lunch if they want.”

food review, Mr Miyagi, sushi conveyer belt

food review, Mr Miyagi, sushi conveyer belt

The number of sushi outlets in Sheffield is multiplying rapidly along with the number of Asian students, although not all have a conveyor belt.

Mr Miyagi was unveiled in September and another venue has also opened just slightly further down Division Street.

Unusually, at the former customers can watch the chefs at work close up, as they craft artistic creations right behind the revolving feature.

Two were concentrating intensely on shelling prawns as I waited for my companion and her young son last week.

food review, Mr Miyagi, mama sita roll

food review, Mr Miyagi, mama sita roll

Yeebin added: “What makes us special from the rest is because in other sushi restaurants you don’t get the chance to directly have a chat with the chef - here you could ask for what you want and they can pass it to you.

“We want to really encourage the interaction between customers and the chefs as well as our staff.

“Most of our customers so far have been students so are staff are trained to be friendly with them and bring them out of their shell.

“Not all our customers have been to this type of restaurant before so we like to help them feel at home and try things out.”

food review, Mr Miyagi, a selection of dishes

food review, Mr Miyagi, a selection of dishes

The first thing that became abundantly clear from our visit was the service. All the staff went the extra mile with our smallest guest, a three-year-old entranced by the passing bowls of food.

They tried to persuade him that superheroes really did eat sushi, and supplied free Yee Kwan ice cream when things got a bit sticky.

It’s been a while since we had customer service with such a genuine and sweet smile, and the result was easy forgiveness when my oyster sashimi was forgotten from the order.

I’m told the staff also helped to influence the stunning cocktail created by Eat Sheffield’s newest bartender of the year, Alexander Wright from Cubanas, by suggesting cherry blossom garnishes.

When the oyster did arrive, it was worth the wait. It was served in the shell and had been grilled but it was the topping that made it sing.

Spicy orange chilli crumbs provided the ‘umami’ element, with tiny diced onions, tomatoes and peppers on top of the soft flesh.

The pricing at Mr Miyagi will also appeal to students, with the oysters costing £2 each. Yeebin said: “Our main courses are about £4 to £5, which means people can have one and then try some sushi as well.”

Ellie’s highlight came in the form of a soft shell crab temaki, a hand-rolled seaweed cone filled with rice.

There was a real mix of textures, from succulent crab to soft rice, tiny fish eggs and a creamy avocado bringing the whole thing together.

Head chef Michael NG is from Hong Kong and trained as a ‘Japanese master.’

It showed in the more extravagant dishes, each a tiny piece of artwork.

Chicken yakisoba was ordered for the little one - but the delights of Peppa Pig proved too engrossing - so we ate it instead. It was a good choice for children as it had less spice and more of a sweet soy sauce.

However, we found the chicken pieces a little too fatty.

On and on the dishes came - we had ordered far too much.

Chicken gyoza were piping hot crisp dumplings with a fine meaty filling and moreish sesame oil dip on the side. Spicy chicken rolls were excellent, with a good base heat.

Cucumber maki - another dish left behind by our tiny friend - were plain. Perhaps there’s not much you can do with rice and a vegetable that is 90 per cent water.

For the piece de resistance we toyed with the aptly named ‘wax on’ and ‘wax off’ rice dishes but went for a special wooden boat filled with sushi to share, because why wouldn’t you?

It actually turned out to be a bridge of sushi and sashimi.

Slices of high quality tuna and salmon slid down, although those of octopus and surf clam appealed less.

California rolls proved to be intricate parcels topped with vibrant, fresh roe, although they came with, slightly unnecessary, crabstick in.

With no description of the special it was hard to know what to expect - prawn and eel nigiris were fab but a squid option was too dry.

We finished with mochi, an authentic but uniformly dull Japanese rice cake, but it will be the taste of the oysters that makes me go back.

We paid £51, including green tea with free refills and drinks. The menu has since been updated and delivery is now available.

n Mr Miyagi, 74 Division Street, Sheffield.

0114 2753832