If you have not been, go!
It’s a long time since I have been to a restaurant that’s wowed me; in fact, it’s a long time since I have been to a restaurant and wondered why I have not been here before.
Issho is, in essence, a high-end Japanese tapas restaurant, but so much more. It is hidden down an alleyway on the third floor in Victoria Gate, Leeds centre. As you leave the shopping centre, head to the lifts, then out onto the third floor where everything is quiet in the evening, then you walk into the coolest, most vibrant bar in Leeds. It is totally shocking.
We thought we were going to be the only people there, but wow – it was packed to the rafters with über-cool guests. All the men had no socks and the ladies looked like models. The music was upbeat Ronnie Scotts in style. The atmosphere was electric. The fully-heated outdoor veranda was also full. Why had I not been here before? Plus it’s open until 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays.
We were shown through to the other side, which is completely separate, to the super trendy, London-style restaurant area with an open kitchen. I was shocked, to say the least. We were seated and a very pleasant lady explained the concept which is like Japanese tapas, with some full meals on offer, too. She explained the menu and we were good to go.
I was so busy people-watching (mainly trying to spot the men with socks) and looking at the chefs doing their thing that I forgot about the menu.
We ordered the Emperor tasting menu
which is £65 per head (min 2 people)
Pea Guac, Crackers
Chicken Karaage, Wasabi Mayo
Tomato Salad, Whipped Tofu
Miso Braised Lamb Bao
Cornish Squid Tempura
Issho Sushi & Sashimi Selection
Rib Eye Steak
Miso Black Cod
Issho Dessert Selection
Set menus start at £25/head
The food was astonishingly good. Every single mouthful was a taste explosion; the textures, flavours, innovation and food expertise was superb. How can a tomato salad be one of the finest dishes I have ever had the pleasure of eating? How can rice miso be so fluffy and light with a filling that literally exploded with flavour in my mouth? How can tuna sushi be so invigoratingly fresh and packed with flavours of the sea? It was so good that my wife and I were talking about the flavours all the way home.
The pudding – oh the pudding! It was a delicious assiette of rice pudding with banana; ice cream; sorbets (each one better than the previous); a unique crème caramel, and lollypop doughnuts with sides of melted dark and white chocolate – a visual and oral feast.
All this was washed down with a super chilled, yet vibrant atmosphere, superb service and even though £130 for food for two is on the pricey side it was worth every penny and more.
This restaurant is quite frankly fantastic! We have never in 18 years raved about
a restaurant like this and awarded so
Victoria Gate 3rd Floor Rooftop, Ludgate Hill, Leeds LS2 7AU
T: 0113 426 5000