There are times (read: most of the time) when I get excited about food - you might have noticed this if you've seen any of my other posts…
A couple of weeks ago I got REALLY excited about food because I found out that something new was coming to town - Zero , a sushi and fresh juice shop. Sushi! A five minute walk from my house!
Berkhamsted caters for pretty much every type of food but the one thing it's been lacking is sushi and from the moment I heard about Zero I knew it would go down a treat
Through the powers of technology (Facebook) I got in touch with the owner, Jack, who very kindly asked if I would want to come along to have a taste of the sushi he makes and then totally surprised me by asking if I'd like to learn how it's actually made. Tasty AND educational!
So with LouLou in tow we headed to the shop only days after it had opened.
What used to be an old fashioned sweet shop had completely transformed into a colourful, quirky and welcoming place to visit. The bold orange and black walls were filled with two massive menus, one for juice and one for sushi. When I say massive, I mean size as there isn't an overwhelming amount of things to choose from - 16 juice combinations (including "juice of the week") and 16 sushi options. Not a lot but don't worry because those 32 options cover all types of flavours!
The two floor to ceiling windows frame two beautiful wooden bars with a polished surface but with the natural edge still there - there's enough space for about 8 people. There are also a few metal tables with quite an industrial feel.
I've left the best bit 'til last - on the right is the kitchen which is completely open so you can see Jack in action while tucking in to your nigiri or sashimi!
LouLou and I once tried to make sushi at home…we didn't really know what we were doing…it was edible but nowhere near perfect so it was interesting to be shown how to do it properly and imagine my delight/awe when this was put down in front of us!
I thought it was absolutely stunning and was very impressed to find out that fresh fish is delivered to Zero every day which is excellent because you don't want to eat raw fish that isn't very fresh…
Jack explained to us which part of the salmon was used for what - the tail is used in the rice bowls, the tender and fatty belly is served simply as sashimi, the middle section is for the rolls and the top is placed over the top of moulded rice for nigiri.
It's also all in the way you cut each part - the strips of salmon for the rolls are just cut vertically but for nigiri and sashimi you need to cut at about a 45 degree angle.
The rice that Jack uses comes in a huuuuuge bag and is much better quality than what you might find on a supermarket shelf…
It's washed, washed again, drained, soaked and then finally cooked in a rice cooker . It's then stirred gently around a hangiri (Japanese wooden tub) with a few other simple ingredients. The rice is sticky enough that you can form and shape it but you can still see each individual grain.
Here's the fun bit - the rolling! Jack showed us how to cut the sashimi, roll two types of (rice inside, rice outside) and then it was time for us to have a go…
He guided us though each step of the process (minus the salmon cutting because he has a spectacularly sharp Japanese knife and I really like having all my fingers) which was really fun but also kind of relaxing…until LouLou and I decided that making the best looking sushi was a competitive thing…because that's just how we roll. Roll! Ha! Get it?! :/
What do you think? Not quite sushi master but not bad for a beginner!
Then it was time to have a taste…I can honestly say that I will never, ever eat sushi from a supermarket ever again. Not when Zero is practically on my door step!
I ventured in at the deep end and tried the sashimi first. It wasn't as overpowering as I thought it might be and instead had a delicious, fresh salmon flavour. It was unlike any meat I've ever tried - so tender and soft that it practically melted in my mouth!
The other pieces didn't disappoint either. I loved the salty "pop" of the tobiko (fish eggs), the delicately flavoured rice, a hint of the ocean from the nori, creamy avocado and of course, the fantastic salmon.
I didn't get a chance to try any of the juices so if you go, let me know which you like best!
I've already had to pop in again to satisfy my salmon cravings and have a feeling it won't be the last time - excellent quality of food, fun environment and really lovely, passionate and friendly people!
Guess what? They now have a few hot dishes on the menu! Being partial to gyoza I had to try some. I normally go for steamed and grilled dumplings but these crispy duck gyoza were so tasty - crisp on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside.
Hosomaki - £3.50
Nigiri - £4.00
Sashimi - £5.50
Juices - £3.50
Gyoza (veggie, duck or chicken) - £3.99
Miso soup - £1.50
Zero Juice & Sushi - check page for opening hours
8 - 12 Lower Kings Road,
*Prices correct when posted