What: A modern interpretation of a traditional Japanese handroll bar located in the heart of Brixton’s buzzing Market Row.
Who: Temaki has been founded by Anglo-American A.M. Dupee, whose passion for food and hospitality started at a young age and eventually led him to spend time training at Le Cordon Bleu. Last year at a lockdown pop up, Dupee met chef and 'Japanese rice specialist' Shaulan Steenson, who trained in Japan at Tokyo's Hakkoku under chef Hiroyuki Sato; and Sushijin in Toyama. Having spent the early years of his career working in finance, Dupee was keen to make a permanent move into restaurants. He bonded with Steenson over their shared love of temaki, which eventually pushed him to embark on his first standalone venture with Steenson joining the project as executive chef.
The food: As you would expect, the menu at Temaki is focused around its Japanese namesake. Steenson uses golden Uruchimai rice for the core of each handroll, which is specially prepared to a recipe he developed during his time at Hakkoku and Sushijin. Temaki uses a blend of Akazu, Japanese red vinegar, giving each grain an alluring, golden shine and deeply aromatic flavour that neatly compliments the fish. The menu features a 'signature selection' of traditional handroll combinations, which can be ordered individually or as part of a set menu. Flavour combinations include prawn tempura with spicy mayonnaise, spring onion and cucumber; white and brown crabmeat, egg yolk and white soy; tuna, fresh wasabi and nikiri soy; and ‘Unagi’ eel with a barbecue sauce, cucumber and wasabi. Given the quality of the product and technique involved, prices remain impressively modest and accessible (top-end sushi often comes with high price barrier), with single handrolls ranging from £4 to £8 each, and set menus of between three and six handrolls costing between £16 and £30. A short selection of regularly-changing small plates also features, including monkfish karaage with ponzu and spicy mayonnaise; salmon tataki with picked onion, shichimi and dashi soy; and yellowtail sashimi with ponzu, chilli and rice crisp (all £7).
The drink: The food is accompanied by a range of wine, sake and Japanese beers, alongside a short menu of pre-prepared bottled cocktails by Karol Bobinski of Fire Water Workshop, specifically crafted for Temaki with Japanese twists on the classic serves. They include a goma abura old fashioned with sesame oil-washed rye whiskey, soy distillate, sugar and bitters; yuzu sakura negroni with gin, umeshu, campari, yuzu and cherry blossom; and shiso sansho gimlet with gin, shiso leaf, lime and sansho pepper.
The vibe: The lively, intimate handroll bar features paired-back oak interiors and industrial concrete flooring focussed around a central communal counter, with nothing to divide the chefs and their guests. Temaki's indoor seating spills out onto Brixton Village’s market, offering covered outdoor tables for casual drinking and dining, accompanied by the occasional live DJ.
And another thing: Dupee has significant plans to grow Temaki. As well as eyeing a central London location, he tells BigHospitality that there have also been discussions about expanding the brand both nationally and internationally, with franchise and in-house expansion strategies both under consideration.
Unit 12 Market Row, Brixton, London, SW9 8LD