Restaurant review: Hello to Hachi Sushi Grill in Frances Street

Hachi Sushi Grill
Hachi Sushi Grill is in Frances Street in Woolwich

With the second lockdown at an end, local restaurants are looking to fill their tables once again. PAUL BREEN wandered over the border into SE18 to welcome a newcomer…

I have seen light at the end of this tunnel of whatever way we wish to describe it, crudely or otherwise. I discovered two new places within one evening that remind me this will be over one day in the future and when it is, maybe we’ll come out of it all the stronger.

The two new venues that I’m talking about are Hachi Sushi Grill up in Frances Street between Woolwich and Charlton and the revamped White Horse Bar and Bistro on the main road between the same two places. Each of these are new in their own way and deserving of local support. That’s not singling them out for special praise. They’re just two examples of the many businesses that are struggling through these crazy times.

Inconsistently we’ve got a system that lets people fly on planes with a hundred strangers, but not eat out with half-a-dozen friends. Neither’s ideal in the midst of a pandemic, but the inconsistency’s stomach-churning. That’s why we need to support such places to help them survive.

Okay mini-rant over. Let’s get down to the meat and veg – metaphorically since I’m a pescatarian. Probably just as well too, since the first stop on my tour of local eateries is the new sushi restaurant on Frances Street, just around the corner from where the King’s Arms used to be. That appears to have been eaten up by yet another apartment block in a city that’s hungering to look like parts of Tokyo. Maybe that’s a good omen for the little business taking up residence in what seems an unlikely place.

Hachi Sushi Grill is a new venture that is run by people from the Philippines who have a real passion for Japanese cuisine. Being nosey, I fished for this information and also got told that the chefs have worked for the more famous Sticks’ N’ Sushi chain. Having lived in Japan and then Korea for a few years, I’ve high standards when it comes to Asian restaurants. Generally speaking, the real gems are most often not found in the high streets but slightly off the beaten track like the amazing Seoul Bakery in Bloomsbury or Sensaru, closer to home in east Greenwich.

Hachi is a lot closer to Seoul Bakery than Sensaru in spirit, if not in geography. It’s a small place that offers both take-away and sit-in options. It’s not licensed though seems open to the BYB idea. On the menu there’s a good selection of sushi, sashimi and other more substantial, hot meals. Though basic in furnishings and appearance, the authenticity of the food is what made this place a real gem for me. In Japanese cooking, every meal’s treated as a work of art. Each piece of sushi should have the aesthetics of sea and mountain, fish and rice. There’s no throwing things onto the plate, as if appearance is secondary to taste.

The guys at Hachi seem to get that. They wanted us to like our food – their food – laid out on the plate as if inviting us to pause for a moment and upload it onto Instagram. Better than that, they gave us free bowls of miso soup to accompany it. The price was reasonable too and the place safe as possible in these times, with customers being sensible around each other. If it hadn’t been that way, I wouldn’t have eaten in.

It took me the best part of this year to make a tentative return to eating out, rarely. Probably from now on, I’ll mostly get takeaways from this place until such times as it’s a more normal sit-in experience – but, I will support them. Places like this need our support for having the courage to start out on a new venture in these times when so many are fighting to stay in existence. And both new and old need to survive so that when things do normalise, there’s a world and a locality worth going back to.

Hachi Sushi Grill is also on Just Eat. Tomorrow: Paul visits the revamped White Horse on Woolwich Road.


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