Bringing London quality sushi to Harpenden
- Credit: Archant
Tucked away on Leyton Road is a small, yet very busy, sushi café and takeaway, Zero Sushi. Well-known to Harpenden regulars, it also attracts customers from miles away who tell me this is the best sushi outside of London; have you tried it yet?
I love the contemporary design of the shop, with strong black and orange Japanese styling. I chatted to Jack Yarwood the owner about how he came to bring sushi to Harpenden.
Jack comes from a family who work in the fish business; his father is a fish buyer and Jack’s uncle runs an award-winning fishmonger in Manchester. Jack studied making sushi and now recruits and trains his own chefs. He really cares about the sourcing of his fish and buys from small boats including mackerel from Cornwall and buys the best grade Blue Fin tuna.
The first Zero Sushi opened in Berkhamstead three years ago, followed shortly by Harpenden. There is seating for about 10 people or you can take away. Last time I went it was a chilly day so I chose a bowl of miso soup and vegetable gyoza. It was all beautifully presented (the gyoza on a board with banana leaf), and delicious. I had gyoza in Yo Sushi recently and Zero’s was much better, with more filling and nicely crispy wrappers. The dipping sauce had a fantastic umami flavour. My teen chose prawn katsu curry, which she loved; they also make chicken katsu. The prawns were generous and in a light, crispy crumb. I thought prices were very good for the quality. Service was friendly and quick, which is exactly what you need in your lunch break.
Most people go for the sushi of course; you can get sashimi, nigiri and maki made with prawns, salmon and tuna. Dragon sushi contains avocado and eel and they also make caterpillar rolls, which are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
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The crunchy prawn tempura rolls are very popular. Order at the counter and they will make it fresh for you, or there are a few trays in the chilled counter ready to go. Selection platters are very popular and they have supplied weddings, parties, bar mitzvahs and office events; they are also really popular for families on friday evenings – prices start at about 25.00. They also sell a good range of cold-pressed juices.
Jack explained that he buys the same grade fish as used by Roka and Zuma, two world-famous Japanese restaurants in London. The supermarkets selling takeaway sushi just can’t buy the same quality at the prices they sell at, so if you really want to eat great quality fresh sushi, you really won’t find it in the supermarkets.
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There had been some local chat about Waitrose opening a sushi counter right opposite Zero Sushi. Thankfully, the small indie has managed to survive the direct competition, and loyal customers continue to go.
Last time I popped in on a Monday, usually a very quiet time for food retail, the shop was busy with a steady stream of customers.
Jack also has plans to open in St Albans at the end of the summer, in time for the busy back to school and work period. The location will be on George Street, which is an ideal location as this is fast becoming a very buzzy foodie part of town, with Dylan’s, The Abbey and Loft as neighbours. It will offer something different to the lunchtime crowd, and you will be able to order the platters too. Jack is going to look into opening some evenings – watch this space.
Harpenden Zero Sushi is open 9am-5pm Mondays to Saturdays. If you want to order a platter, aim for at least a day’s notice as they buy the fish fresh daily and take around 100 orders a week across the two shops at the moment.