Sushi Express Sheffield: My hangover was magically cured by the ramen at this city restaurant
Wash your wintery blues away with spicy ramen and hefty pieces of sushi at Sushi Express.
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Talk about Express. When my mate and I set aside Sunday afternoon for lunch, we were a bit mindful about how we still needed to catch a film afterwards and he "had to be away by 5pm, remember".
So we blinked in surprise a bit at how, when the bill came, it had only been 45 minutes.
So that's the Express bit of Sushi Express endorsed, how about the Sushi bit?
I chose Sushi Express by virtue no one else I asked seemed to have heard of it, and even when I gave mate Steve directions that it was less than a minute down the road from The Washington (his favourite pub) on Fitzwilliam Street he answered - "what, really?"
It doesn't announce itself, to be fair. It's tucked under a student accommodation, the entrance is plain and even inside it isn't big on decorations. Don't pass it over though, Sushi Express is serving up a feast on a decent budget for less than the price of the all-you-can-eat deals elsewhere in town.
It was empty for lunchtime on a Sunday sadly, but we won't judge them on that. They were also sold out on our first choices from the sushi selection as well - tuna and octopus sashimi - but we won't judge them on that either, except to hope it means they were very busy recently.
Not to worry. Truth be told we were both hungover and starving, and that steered my next choices - spicy pork belly kikanbo ramen (£12) and six Takoyaki to split (£6.80).
"What's Takoyaki?" said Steve.
"Like a fried batter ball thing with seafood in the middle," I said. "Comes with Japanese mayonnaise and bits on top."
They came out the kitchen in minutes, so I let him have the first. I don't think I even saw him chew.
"Oh my god, they're amazing."
It was true. Hot and melty and salty and a little crunchy, full of flavour and weight to them. The plate didn't last a minute between us.
We ordered some sushi they weren't sold out on - eel, flying fish roe, and salmon (about £4 for two pieces each time) - and they also disappeared. I'm not an afficionado but they were deliciously salty even with only a little soy sauce, not too chewy and served with more rice than most places I've been to, giving them a hefty size. No pickled ginger on the side, sadly.
I don't know if my spiciness tolerance is better than I think, because when Steve had a go at my ramen he wheezed quite hard. For me, though, it had a great kick to it and washed away my hangover, and I gratefully slurped it down to the last spoonful. The pork belly was served in one piece and dropped squarely on top of the noodles - maybe not how everyone would want it, but I enjoyed biting down on it whole like a carnivore.
Steve's salmon oyakodon - basically a pile of salmon and fish roe on a bed of rice for £11.50 - also vanished, so call that a stamp of approval.
I'll be coming back to Sushi Express soon with more mates because I want to try half of everything else on the menu as well. The entire rice menu - with its bevy of pork, avocado, fried eggs and teriyaki chicken - looked damn good, and there's a select maki menu we didn't even try. I might even be able to get the octopus and tuna next time.