Review – Itsu
Popular London chain Itsu – the brainchild of Julian Metcalfe, the man behind Pret a Manger – opened its first Brighton branch this week on North Street.
Broadly based around an Asian theme with a focus on fresh, healthy food, Itsu are very quick to point out their main USPs: the freshness of their produce and the authenticity of their dishes. Dishes are ‘protein packed, low in carbohydrates, wheat free, fat free and mayonnaise free’, plus, they’re sponsoring the England volleyball beach tour, so you can definitely see a healthy ethos going on.
The brand-new restaurant features both upstairs and downstairs seating areas, modelled on a faux Japanese cafe. Each table has a stack of delicious condiments such as their own-brand hot sauce, hoi sin and teriyaki.
The menu is split into many different sections all promoting Itsu’s “eat beautiful, eat light” mantra. Although a fairly comprehensive menu, the main bulk is made up of sushi, noodle/rice pots and salads. The main source of protein on many of the dishes comes from salmon, tuna and chicken which is all sourced responsibly from high-grade suppliers.
I opted for the Best of Itsu sushi set (£7.99), which included tuna, prawn and salmon nigiri and three types of California rolls. Instantly the quality of the fish was apparent, boasting a rich, deep flavour. The California rolls were delicious and I was impressed to find fresh green beans and avocado that still had texture.
I also had to try one of the famous hot Itsu pots, so went for a delicious Thai duck (medium £4.99, large 6.99). I was very impressed – its bulk was rice but contained more than enough duck to warrant the price, with bags of flavour throughout. Itsu’s choice of vegetables in these pots is great as the edamame beans stayed fresh all day and retained their crunch brilliantly.
I was very impressed with Itsu as all the dishes we tried were great and the service was impeccable. Fear not, if you don’t like sushi, there are many other options on the menu that tick the more ‘traditional lunch’ box. It’ll be hard not to make Itsu a lunchtime habit.
Itsu, 68-70 North Street, Brighton.
Words and image by Rob Ling.