Like most great ideas, the idea for Etsu was created following a night of too much beer.
Some years ago now David Abe met up with his friend for a few beers. Just like many times before but little did he know, this wouldn’t be like all those other times. His friend is a successful business man from Japan who would come to Liverpool to visit. He asked David to book a authentic Japanese restaurant for dinner to which David replied “Liverpool doesn’t really have one”. It was at that very moment, when his friend looked up at him and said “well, why don’t you open one?” his life would change forever. Later on that day they both laughed off the idea due to having no experience but the dream brewed deep within David and he spent the following 18 months learning everything about Japanese food that he could. His parents believed in him and he started to believe in himself and in 2007 Dave acquired a space that would sustain the standards of sushi in its homeland whilst flying the flag for Japanese culture.
Sushi isn’t anything new, in fact the history of it dates back to the 8th century. The original type of sushi was first developed in Southeast Asia as a means of preserving fish in fermented rice. In the Muromachi period, people began to eat the rice as well as the fish. Despite its history, never has sushi been so popular. Real sushi isn’t just food; it’s an art form. Watching the masters at work is part of the experience. The attention to detail and the respect to the produce is like no other food in the world. You can find pre-packaged California rolls and suspiciously bright-red tuna rolls made with sickly sweet grainy rice in most supermarkets, but their resemblance to the real thing seems, at times, to only be in name.
David Abe has been at the forefront of a demand for authentic Japanese food for not far off a decade. His Head Chef is Hiroshi Ohara, an incredible sushi master who hails from Yamaguchi with over 30 years experience. His two fellow high level chefs have similar experience, meaning the team have around a combined experience of a century. Even though the sushi is incredible, it isn’t just about the sushi. Their “Ginadara Saikyo Miso”, a black cod glazed in a secret recipe miso sauce is a beautiful insight into Japanese culinary prowess. The gyoza’s are delightful. Crispy on the outside, soft in the middle with an incredible punch of flavour. They say judge a Japanese restaurant by its Katsu and this one certainly does not disappoint with its sumo-sized portions. As well as the food, there is also an emerging drink market in Japan that can be sampled at the bar. There’s many sakes, craft beers, plum wines and whiskeys to choose from that will blow your mind. As well as all the alcohol, there is also a diverse non-alcoholic offering and an incredible green tea and black sesame ice cream to die for.
Just before our time was up with David, we asked him “what do you think it is that makes you so popular?” He looked vacant into the distance, like something out of a music video and came up with this beautiful quote:
“I think we are just an honest restaurant trying to be the best we can be and our regulars get it. We’ve stayed true to using the best possible ingredients we can get our hands on without compromise and done our best to keep the price as low as we possibly can.
Our restaurant has always been about passion for what we are doing and whether you are an early bird diner coming in at 5pm on a Tuesday night or somebody coming in at 8pm on a Saturday night why shouldn’t you all get the same level of service, food and cost.
We also understand that if we fail on our part then we could possibly ruin not only somebody’s night but also it could be the most important occasion for that person from a first date to a proposal or a special celebration so I think as restaurants we always have an obligation to be the best we can be. We have also always tried to continue to evolve and get better and we have brought so many new things to Liverpool that were never here before from Grilled Eel to Sparkling Sake!”
Even though they don’t need it, we’ll still wish them luck for the future in their valiant efforts of bringing Japanese food and culture into Liverpool. One bento box at a time.
25 The Strand (Off Brunswick)