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Restaurant review: Japanese fare in peculiar yet stunning surroundings at Oshibori in Dundee

Oshibori dishes.
Some of the dishes at Oshibori in Dundee.

I don’t know why, but when I think of sushi and Japanese cuisine, I always feel like there’s this elegance to it. This finesse you don’t see in other styles of cooking.

It might be because I don’t make sushi or many Japanese dishes at home, so when I go out, spending more money than I should on it makes it feel more luxurious.

Everyone knows Oshibori in Dundee. Settled below sister venue Tang’s Dynasty, the restaurant on Nethergate has been a part of the food scene since 2014. Admittedly though, before a few weeks ago I had never been.

I suggested grabbing a bite there after work to my colleague Mariam who has been multiple times and assured me that the food was good.

Outside Oshibori in Dundee. Pictures by Kenny Smith/DCT Media.

Celebrating its eighth year in business, I figured they must be doing something right so booked us a table.

We headed along on a Wednesday evening and parked across the road. When we arrived at the front door a sheet of paper informed us that we’d be dining in the upstairs restaurant tonight instead.

Both Oshibori and Tang’s Dynasty (Chinese restaurant) share the same kitchen so it didn’t seem unusual to have all bookings within one space on quieter nights.

Pivoting, we walked back to the front of the building and headed upstairs where we were then met with a second flight before arriving at the restaurant’s entrance.

The entrance to Tang’s Dynasty upstairs where Julia and Mariam dined instead of the main Oshibori restaurant downstairs.

And what an entrance it was.

The bar area alone was mesmerising with all the colours, draping curtains and chandeliers, and the feast for the eyes didn’t stop there, with greenery, mirrored walls, painted roofs carrying through into the dining area.

Even the furniture looked very regal.

Greeted by one of the team at the door, we were guided around the front of the venue and seated near the windows. We were both on soft drinks, so ordered a Diet Coke each and diverted our attention to the menu.

Another shot of the dining space.

To paint the picture of what I was missing downstairs in Oshibori’s main home, Mariam described its eccentric interior.

With wacky patterned wallpaper to a wooden roof, not to mention floor seating, dragon sculptures and unique lighting, it sounded just as flamboyant as upstairs.

Oshibori downstairs.
Inside Oshibori.

Glancing up from the menu I could see a few more tables join the three already seated when we arrived. The music was more oriental with pipes playing, adding to the atmosphere of the venue.

Our bamboo placemats reminded me of the mats used to make sushi which showed real attention to detail.

There was plenty of choice on the menu with a whole range of sushi, gyoza, bento boxes, ramen and more available.

I suggested we shared a variety of items and Mariam luckily bought into my fascination with trying as much as I could.

The food

For starters we picked a crab and spicy tuna California roll (£8.95) which boasted eight uniform pieces.

The sushi really didn’t take long to grace our tables and we tucked in as soon as it arrived. Fresh ginger, soy sauce and wasabi was provided on the side and the tuna and crab within the roll was deliciously moist making it an easy task to keep the whole piece together.

Crab and spicy tuna California roll.

There were big pieces of crab used and the tuna has a lovely subtle spice that was quickly masked when cleansing my palate with the ginger. They were gone in no time.

We’d ordered a chicken katsu bento box (£16.95) and the Guruden Gyuniku beef (£27.95) for mains. The bento box came with miso soup, so we ordered another bowl (£3.95) to make sure we had one each.

The veggie broth itself was umami and had tiny pieces of tofu and chopped spring onion hidden within. It was served in a plastic bowl with a plastic spoon and was what I can only describe as a warming hug – exactly what we needed after a long day’s work.

The chicken katsu bento box.

The various compartments of the box were filled with a variety of goodies including fluffy rice, green salad, which was drizzled with a gorgeous Japanese mayonnaise, two vegetable gyoza, two pieces of California roll and edamame beans.

The slice of orange each was a nice way to refresh our palates

The main event of course, in this dish, was the breaded chicken breast with the katsu sauce, of which I really would have loved to have seen more of.

The sauce was brilliant, but the sheer lack of it made the whole experience that little bit less exciting. Although I will say the chicken was cooked very well and the crumb stayed put, even when cut.

The  Guruden Yuniku dish.

Costing £11 more than the bento box, the beef was a spectacle when presented.

Not only was it served on a gold dish which was in the shape of a fish, but it was dressed with scallop shells, flowers and had been covered in edible gold glitter as well.

This is the first time I’ve ever had gold glitter sprayed over my beef, and to be honest, I hope it is the last. While I appreciate the food is clearly art at Oshibori, much like the setting of the restaurant, good beef doesn’t need a bit of sparkle to make it stand out.

The thinly sliced pieces of meat were cooked perfectly, and the signature onion sauce with bits of soft vegetable through it worked really well with the fluffy rice. There was plenty of it as well and we struggled to polish it off. It was the crunchy shallots on top that really sold this dish to me, though.

Death by Chocolate.

By this point we were pretty full but just had enough space to stomach a dessert between us. I’m a big chocolate fiend so the Death by Chocolate (£6.95) dish spoke to me immediately.

Thankfully Mariam was on board.

Layers of hot dark chocolate cake were topped with two small bit-sized chocolate brownie, a chocolate mousse sauce and plenty of cream, meringue and fresh strawberries. It was delectable and the stand out of the night, although the katsu would have stolen the show had there been more sauce.

The layered dessert.

The verdict

Oshibori certainly brings the wow-factor when it comes to its dishes, and while there’s certainly no show without punch, I’m not sure the food needs to be dressed as over the top as it was.

Good food speaks margins by itself, and showering dishes in gold, massive flowers, shells and other items deters from their brilliance in my opinion.

That said, with social media playing such a vital role in diners choosing where they want to eat, I understand why they have done it and I presume they use this to attract those who love to share their experiences online.

I would like to return to uncover more dishes and see what else Oshibori has to offer.

Service could have been a lot more attentive as we had to ask multiple times to pay and struggled to catch anyone’s attention, but overall we enjoyed our time somewhere a little different to the norm.


Information

Address:162 Nethergate, Dundee DD1 4EE

T: 01382 690370

W: oshiborirestaurants.co.uk

Price: £70.65 for two soft drinks, California roll, miso soup, katsu bento box, Guruden Yuniku and a dessert. A £7.07 service charge was added to the bill bringing the total to £77.72.

Scores: 

  • Food: 4/5
  • Service: 3/5
  • Surroundings: 4/5

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