Test Driving Jiji - a buzzy new sushi and shawarma spot for Islington

sushi at jiji islingtonThe colourful dining room at Jiji

What do we need to know about Jiji?

This is the newest restaurant from restaurateur Janina Wolkow, the woman behind celebrity hangout Sumosan. Billed as a Japanese/Middle Eastern fusion restaurant, it sees her working once more with Executive chef Bubker Belkhit, who helped found Sumosan, with the Head Chef here being Jeremy Borrow who used to head up the kitchens at The Palomar. So, yes, there's a pretty impressive body of talent involved.

Where is it?

You'll find it in the new Islington Square development in the old Post Office on Upper Street. It looks out onto the courtyard at Esther Anne Place and has a rather lovely and capacious terrace that's perfect for alfresco dining.

sushi at jiji islingtonCovered and heated, this terrace is primed for year-round action.

Where should we meet friends for a drink first?

There is a small bar section inside the restaurant, but if you want to meet elsewhere, there's the Humble Grape wine bar on nearby Theberton Street, or the newly opened The Boutique Grocer, right next door.

If you do meet here, you should definitely try the cocktails which were proving popular on the night we were in.

sushi at jiji islington The Saketini (£13) - a potent blend of sake, Roku gin, Pomegranate juice, ginger syrup and lemon.

Where's a good place to sit?

The terrace is popular on a warm night, but there's also a nice high top table inside that's good for groups. The booths along the left hand side of the room are also good for larger parties or you could always perch at the counter and watch the sushi chefs at work.

What kind of food is it?

As the earlier description of Japanese/Middle Eastern fusion suggests - it's a mix of sushi, sashimi and the kind of dishes you'd expect to find in somewhere like the Palomar. It's an unusual combo, for sure, but we reckon it works. The menu's split into sushi, main acts and after-party (desserts).

Here's a taster:

sushi at jiji islingtonFlat bread Jiji-style, baked on the robata grill with olive oil and zaatar (£4.50) - gorgeous chewy, smoky bread. You MUST order some.

sushi at jiji islingtonSushi selection (prices per piece) - salmon with sweet soya and furikake spices (£3.50), Tuna & avocado tartare with creamy truffle sauce (£4.25) and Scallop with unagi sauce crème fraiche and salmon roe (£3.90). Top rate sushi - where the price reflects the quality.

sushi at jiji islingtonJapanese yellow tail carpaccio with honeydew melon and grapefruit, seasoned in house olive soy vinaigrette (£14.50) - not sure we could taste the vinaigrette, but the yellowtail and that perfectly ripe melon worked a treat.

sushi at jiji islingtonSlow-cooked pulled lamb shawarma in ‘Jiji’ spice mix with yoghurt tahini, tomato jam and zhug (£19.50) - a low carb shawarma (but you can also add more of that Jiji bread). 

sushi at jiji islingtonHoney soy marinated hanger steak on smoked aubergine cream with lovage pesto and Jerusalem artichoke crisps (£24.50) - beautifully cooked steak with that lovage making this a standout dish.

What about vegetarians?

There's plenty for them here too, including a roasted cauliflower dish with tofu cream and poached egg in panko parmesan crumb with fresh corn truffle polenta and Shitake mushroom ragout. 

sushi at jiji islingtonSmoked aubergine sashimi with finely chopped Israeli salad, feta and blueberries (£9.50) - once again proving that London restaurants' devotion to aubergine inventiveness knows no bounds.

Room for dessert?

There are just two options, so you might as well go for both... there are tahini blondies and this:

sushi at jiji islingtonMalabi rose milk panna cotta with hibiscus caramel and Iranian roasted pistachios (£7) - if you can't have panna cotta because of the gelatine, these dessert is made using cornstarch, so it's perfect for vegetarians and vegans too.

What about drink?

While starting at £28, the wine list stays mainly in the £40-£50 range, covering Europe with a few New World additions. If you're after something a little different, the White Tulip wine from Galilee (£44) is kosher as well as being light and refreshing.

Summing up:

Jiji should do very nicely in Islington. There's not much in the way of decent sushi in the area (barring Hot Stone) and the sheer glamour of the dining room here is going to prove alluring for locals looking for a fun night out.


More about Jiji

Where is it? 6G Esther Anne Place, London N1 1WL

How to book: Book online 

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram @jijirestaurant

Hot Dinners dined as guests of Jiji. Prices are correct at time of publication.


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