Afternoon tea doesn’t have to be all finger sandwiches and Earl Grey tea. Sosharu, an izakaya-style restaurant in Farringdon takes it to another level by giving it a distinctly Japanese twist.
I’d been looking for an excuse to visit Sosharu for ages and was finally able to last week when I took my mum there for a very belated Mother’s Day present. I’ll be honest, I may have had an ulterior motive here (being a blogger obsessed with Japanese food) but we were both blown away. Afternoon tea is served Friday and Saturday only. It’s £28 per person (£35 if you upgrade to cocktails), so once you’ve included service and assuming you get a few extra drinks this isn’t the cheapest afternoon tea option out there, but it’s definitely the finest.
First things first, the drinks. The afternoon tea menu offers cocktails – WABI (matcha, shochu, Pernod Ricard, prosecco, jasmine) and SABI (rhubard, yuzu, Contratto bitter, Perychaud bitters, prosecco, lemon sorrell). Both are light, refreshing and slightly sour, as good cocktails often are. They’re garnished very delicately and you can watch the bar staff mixing them up if you’re lucky enough to be close to them. We also opted for tea (in between our savour and sweet food) and I highly recommend the kukicha with cherry blossom, which is subtle in taste and fragrance.
Now let’s move on to the food, which is full of surprises. You choose from a selection of temaki (tuna, salmon and winter vegetables) but they’re like nothing you’ve had before. These look more like burritos, packed with sushi rice and a range of other ingredients, and the nori they’re wrapped in are fried in tempura. They’re almost a work of art and look too good to eat, but eat them you must. I could wax lyrical about the tuna temaki but Time Out has already done that. It really does taste absolutely amazing – crispy, flavoursome and satisfying all at the same time.
Even the chicken karaage, which can be found in every Japanese restaurant and is essentially fried chicken, is divine. The chicken’s been marinated for three hours in buttermilk before being tempura’d and it’s so much fresher and juicier than any other karaage I’ve had.
Onto the piece de resistance – the cake tier! The cake selection itself apparently changes but I’m sure you’ll never find a bad cake here. Once you’ve spent several minutes photographing it from every possible angle, I recommend starting with the pineapple, coconut and mango matcha roll. The cream filling is the bit to focus on – extremely fruity and melt-in-the-mouth moreish.
We also had mini matcha mille crepe cakes, which I’m glad are becoming a semi-regular site in London. I love mille crepe cakes and that satisfying way the filling spills out as your cake cuts through it. Sosharu’s are certainly some of the best I’ve tried.
Sosharu also does its own twist on the taiyaki, the traditional fish-shaped cake stuffed with adzuki beans. This one instead is filled with raspberry and, despite appearances, reminded me of a donut. I love eating taiyaki whenever I’m in Japan and they don’t really seem to have caught on over here, so I’m glad to finally find them somewhere.
I recommend saving the chocolate sesame praline petit gateaux with miso caramel, as it’s the richest of the cakes. Not that you’ll have trouble finishing them because they are heavenly – topped with gold leaf flakes and oozing caramel, they scream #foodporn!
I highly recommend afternoon tea at Sosharu if you’re celebrating something or want to treat yourself. The food’s very different and the restaurant is classy without being pretentious. The staff are funny, attentive and friendly, and there definitely isn’t that stuffiness you might get at some other higher end restaurants.
A visit downstairs to the toilets (complete with the magical Japanese toilet and accompanying music), walls plastered with Japanese pop culture and media references, and the very cool looking bar, is also in order.
I’d love another excuse to go back to Sosharu for afternoon tea. Given how delicious that was, I’m sure dinner would be a good bet as well. This is definitely one of my favourite finds this year.