Japanese food can be incredible, but unless you get the good stuff – which can be pricy – it pretty much tastes of nothing. As anyone who has seen the excellent Jiro Dreams Of Sushi will tell you, there’s a lot of love and an intense attention to detail that goes into what can appear to be a simple food. You’re not going to get that from drones working in a Tesco sushi factory. There’s a tendency for sushi joints to be flashy but there’s little shiny about E-Kagen, based above oriental supermarket Yum Yum. In fact it’s – we have to say – a little drab.
After going back and forth through the sizable menu we decide to start with mixed sashimi, sushi and gyoza. The dumplings (£5) are astounding, having been fried slightly to take that sludginess away. They’re full of flavoursome pork. The sushi is just as good. From a large selection we choose sea bass and ginger (£4) which is fresh, lively with a zing. You can really taste every component. Raw fish can be hit and miss but the sashimi (£8) doesn’t let the side down, with thick slices of tuna, salmon, sea bass and squid, all of which taste different and you can’t always say that. When you get a chance to eat eel you really ought to give it a whirl and the una-don (£8) doesn’t disappoint, being rich and tender in a toasted sesame seed sauce that gives a woody edge. The katsu curry (£8.50) is large with plenty of gravy and a sizable crispy chicken cutlet. It’s as warm tasting and easy going as you’d hope of the dish.
This is like those places you find on holiday and then come back raving that “It doesn’t look like much but the food is amazing!” E-Kagen clearly put their every effort onto the plate. Amongst the best Japanese food we’ve had in Brighton – the gyoza were certainly the best – every item screamed its own flavour. Real food, great ingredients, beautifully presented.
WERE WE SUSSED?
Well, it wasn’t very busy, and there’s an open kitchen, but we don’t think it’s unusual to the Japanese to take photos of their food. We’re gonna say we got away with it.
Tues-Weds 11.30am-6pm; Thurs-Fri 11.30am-3.30pm, 6.30pm-10pm; Sat 11.30am-4pm, 6.30pm-10pm;
Sun noon-4pm, Mon closed