REVIEW: Tropical Sushi, Brighton

by - February 16, 2018

Fusion food. Not a term everyone wants to hear with some really obscure dishes popping to most people's minds. Ramen Burger? Butter Chicken Risotto? Nah, not for me thanks (and yeah, actually things). But modern fusion food is everywhere, and in all guises, from little inspirational nods to full blown concept eating. (Senor Buddha in Brighton is a great example of it done well with their Spanish-Asian food.)

Tropical Sushi is a mash up of the traditional and not so traditional and I originally thought we had a hard case of concept dining on our hands here. However, Japanese-Latin hybrid food is not that at all. Immigration to South America around the 1800s was huge and thus the influence to food, with Brazil having the largest Japanese population outside Japan. There's even a word for it; Nikkei cuisine - cheers Google education.

Starting as a pop-up, and making quite a name for themselves, Tropical Sushi have been in their colourful permanent home for about 6 months now. 

Things got off to a great start with a cocktail glass of the freshest cod ceviche; lime cured as expected but with plantain chips and crunchy Peruvian choclo corn in the mix. Flavours were so fresh, sweet, sour and the textures far more interesting than any ceviche dish you've had before. 

Tuna Picante, is a popular dish for them, as it should be. This is a must-order here with the most melting tuna sashimi I think I've ever had and the perfect grade of heat running through it. An alternative would be the salmon tartare with avocado, also good, but the tuna, for quality alone, pipped it. 

Served on a vivid ultramarine platter was a selection of sushi; a nicely charred eel nigiri, again some more exceptional salmon sashimi and a quirky, spicy avocado gunkan.

More unusual but absolutely delicious was the Tronchis Taco. This was everything; crisp, squidgy, savoury, sweet...all of the flavour, all of the texture, all at once. You've probably never had anything like it, I certainly haven't - a tempura nori taco with fried plantain, salmon, avocado, wakame and eel and spicy mayo sauce. Woah!

We then worked our way though a selection of the rolls. In a regular meal here you'd probably order two or three sets after a couple of the starters. However, we tried items across the menu, and everything we tried was hugely enjoyable, the sauces and presentation of the rolls are particularly unique to this place. Highlights were the Andrea Roll; king prawn tempura with creamy spring onions and fuji sauce, each bite a delicious crunch and the steamed prawn Pana Roll with avocado, coated with sweet yellow plantain and topped with torched eel.

They cater particularly well for vegetarian and vegan diets and apparently more will be added to their new menu coming shortly. The vegan Avila Roll missed out on nothing; avocado, tempura sweet potato, plantain and crunchy wakame was a great example of vegan sushi done well. Also, my dining friend was gluten free and they effortlessly navigated that requirement, altering the sauces without a hint of a fuss. 

I noticed they do the de rigueur poke bowls for lunchtimes and the kid's meals look great too - I'd happily bring my two here for a feed. 

We finished with mochi balls. I've had these gelatinous, squidgy rice balls before and they've been tasteless and gloopy. Although I'm never going to choose them over a sticky toffee pudding anytime soon, the flavours here were great. Filled with either chocolate and peanut butter or green tea, they were a perfect sweet note to end a really, really good meal. 

Food is well sourced, local where possible and I believe most of the fish is from Newhaven Fish Sales who are ace. Service was lovely, food beautifully explained and the genuine enthusiasm for what they do contagious.

The whole visual of Tropical Sushi is wild electro. Acid limes, screaming orange and hot pink, unwieldy menu formats and the food is served on colourful electric edge perspex. It's quite full on and like me, you may have been a bit put off by it all, the aesthetic shouts far louder than the quality, history and craft of the food which is a real shame.

It's sunny, happy food but that should be the thing doing the talking. I know I'm particularly aesthetically sensitive but on asking, people have told me they have similar feelings. If you are one of these people, I urge you to by-pass that. Stick on some shades or embrace the miniature parrots on your table, this one is a must-visit.

Tropical Sushi
12 Western Rd

I dined as a guest of Tropical Sushi, words and thoughts, as always, my own.

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