The Orchid

July 22, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Posted in Restaurants, Takeaway | Leave a comment
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If you fancy some exotic cuisine, then London Road has you covered: Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Turkish – food from the four corners of the globe can be found on this humble Sheffield street. Tonight, we fancied a spot of Thai and, feeling adventurous, we opted for somewhere we haven’t been before: The Orchid.

Inside, The Orchid is all red and gold, with plastic orchids lined up in the window. The decor is more traditional (read : dated) than modern oriental eateries like Sakushi and WasabiSabi, but it’s also spacious, well-lit and clean, so we weren’t put off by the tired decor. Feeling authentic, we ordered a round of Singha beers while we perused the food menu. The waiter inquired whether we’d like large bottles – “why not!” we said. A word of caution: these gigantic bottles come with an eye-watering price tag of £5.50 a bottle, something we weren’t aware of at the time. Although you get plenty of beer for your buck, I personally resent paying over a fiver for anything that comes in a bottle, and isn’t champagne or wine.

Ravenous, we ordered a vegetarian mixed starter to share (£6.95) that consisted of mixed vegetable tempura, veg spring rolls and sweetcorn cakes. This battered platter arrived with a refreshing amount of greenery on the side, including some carved carrot, shredded cabbage, a mint leaf, and a crisp salad soaked in deliciously fiery ginger.

The salad in its hot dressing was soon polished off, and we both raved about the tempura batter, which wasn’t in the slightest bit greasy. The grease-free spring rolls were packed with veggies, and the sweetcorn cakes were an unusual combo of juicy sweetcorn and crunchy peanuts. With a trio of dips thrown into the mix – sweet chilli, minty vegetables, and a creamy coconut-based curry sauce – the sweetcorn cakes, salad and spring rolls disappeared in double quick time. However, the mixed vegetable tempura divided opinion. There was a good selection of battered veggies; whole florets of broccoli and cauliflower, as well as slices of carrot and entire button mushrooms, but I found them a bit tasteless for my liking, and had to ladle on the dipping sauce. Thankfully, there was more than enough sauce to add extra flavour to the veg tempura. At the other end of the table, it was a completely different story, as the tempura won rave reviews.

In the mood for something spicy, we ordered two red curries, one with tofu and vegetables and one with beef, which came in at a rather pricey £7.95 each. To complete our mains, we ordered a helping of delicious-sounding steamed thai fragrant rice (£2.10) and egg fried rice (£2.25). Our curries arrived nicely presented in bubbling pots on top of a candle, and I could already spot a good selection of vegetables – chilli, mushrooms, carrots and bamboo shoots. Finished off with a sprinkling of herbs, the curries looked, and smelt, wonderful.

Despite being advertised with a “two chilli” rating, the red curries didn’t pack any serious kick and had the creamy richness of a korma. While I would have prefered something hotter, the rich sauce went down well, and the vegetables were still a little firm which gave them that satisfying crunch, especially the beans and bamboo shoots.

The meat equivalent was bulked out with plenty of beef, and got a big thumbs up from our reviewer, as did the egg fried rice. Meanwhile, I was left wondering what made my thai fragrant rice so special, as it tasted exactly the same as plain old boiled rice. It also should be noted that at a tenner a pop, this curry and rice main is very expensive for the amount you get. Those expecting to come to The Orchid for a curry and be full, are going to be disappointed.

To cap off our thai feast, we ordered some ice cream, which was served in retro-tastic fashion, complete with colourful sprinkles and a slice of chewy waffle. It was just enough, and the oldschool presentation was very cute.

The grub at The Orchid comes in slightly stingy portions, but there’s no skimping on quality and taste. It’s the sort of place where the tempura isn’t a heaped plate of defrosted, deep-fried pureed veg, but a handful of carefully-selected fresh vegetables. A little on the pricey side and a little dated in terms of decor, but our three-course thai feast was consistently tasty, with quality, fresh ingredients used throughout. Just remember to bring plenty of cash with you, and book in advance because this place gets busy!

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Yama Sushi

May 13, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Posted in Restaurants | 3 Comments
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Sushi is definitely in our list of Top 10 Favourite Foodstuffs at Sheffield Eats HQ. But, pick up a box of ready-made sushi on your lunch break and you’d better have some notes in your wallet: it doesn’t come cheap! So, when we heard rumours of a sushi restaurant located on London Road that was – shock – reasonably priced, we had to find out if the legends were true.

Yama Sushi doesn’t look much from the outside, or to be fair, from the inside, either. The handful of tables are squashed together, so there’s a very real danger of bumping elbows with the person at the table next to you. Our party were shown to a table at the back of the room and we squeezed into our seats. Not a great first impression, but all that changed when we were handed the menu. Wow! This place has the most exhaustive and exotic sushi menu I’ve ever seen, and all the rumours about the prices are true.

The only thing the Yama Sushi menu lacks is a mixed sushi platter, you can only order a type of sushi by the plate full, which typically means 6 pieces. It’s worth pulling up the menu online and doing a little research before visiting, so you don’t end up ordering a big plate of something you don’t like. As there were a few members in our party, we decided to treat ourselves to a long list of different dishes, and then share the bounty between us. This works out as an inexpensive option if you’re dining in a large group, and means you get to sample types of sushi you wouldn’t normally order.

We started our meal with a selection of sashimi: salmon (£2.30) prawn (£2.50) tuna (£3.20) and scallop (£3.00) to be precise. These are served in pairs and are the perfect way for sushi lovers to take the next step and try some sashimi. The portions are extremely generous, especially the tuna sashimi, which turned out to be a thick wedge of dark tuna atop a formidable chunk of rice. Also on order were Yama Dragon Rolls (£7.90) an unusually crunchy take on sushi thanks to some delicious tempura batter.

On a roll now, we ordered some Sake and Avocado Maki (£6.00) which was layered with creamy avocado and succulent fresh salmon – quite simply the tastiest sushi I’ve ever had! This geneous eight-piece portion was polished off in no time, and we couldn’t resist ordering another plate of the stuff.

Although it’s not the first thing to jump off the menu at a sushi restaurant, Yama Sushi’s edamame beans are well worth a whirl. The bowl of steamed soy bean pods, perfectly seasoned with salt, was a surprise hit at our table.

If you’re not a sushi fanatic, Yama Sushi offers a range of cooked meals, too. The Tofu and Vegetable Udon (£6.50) is a fragrant blend of crunchy bamboo shoots, mushrooms, carrots, spring onions, tangy seaweed, miso soup noodles and some of the best tofu I’ve ever tasted. Of course, it can’t stand up to the restaurant’s sushi.

When eating out, it’s often the drinks that bump up your bill, but at Yama Sushi the staff bring you a teapot of green tea as soon as you take your seat, and are only too happy to keep topping it up with fresh leaves and hot water throughout your meal, all at absolutely no charge. They even provide traditional Hohin cups, a nice touch that really makes the meal feel authentic. If you fancy something stronger, Yama Sushi has a limited drinks menu, but they do serve red, white and rose wine at a reasonable price, I ordered a glass of rose for £3.

Yama Sushi has some stiff competition from its London Road neighbour WasabiSabi but, despite the more polished surroundings of the larger WasabiSabi, Yama Sushi’s bargain prices and the sheer freshness and tastiness of its generously-sized sushi portions, means it really is the best place to get sushi in Sheffield. If you like sushi, you really need to visit this place – go on, you deserve it!

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