THE GEN Pan Asian cuisine? Why wouldn’t I? I love it! Sadly, until now my experiences have ranged as broadly as a cheeky chow mein from the local take away or a hastily snatched sushi selection from an anxiety-inducing conveyer belt. A pleasure in the right mood, but the Pan-Asian food served at Cisoce’s is of a markedly different quality. Tey’ve done enough panning to turn up a little nugget of gold... and they were kind enough to bring it to Norwich.

ATMOSPHERE An unremarkable entrance from Ber Street and décor that was wholly forgettable. Fortunately, it just doesn’t matter. If you go to a restaurant to enjoy the wallpaper you’re sort of missing the point (unless it tastes of snozzberries), like going to a football match and expecting a stimulating chat on the work of the Pre Raphaelite brotherhood. I came here to eat but happily our welcome was warm and the service we received perfectly efficient. Te focus is, and should be, on the food and to that end the kitchen is open on two sides to the dining room. Great smells burst out from the corner and the spectacle of the food is open for us to admire.

THE MAIN EVENT I talk a lot of nonsense so let me be clear here. Tis was the best meal I have had while reviewing for Outline. Te Japanese and Asian fusion food allows a great many ingredients and flavours to be drawn together but the way they combined on the plate was simply remarkable. Te presentation was stunning, food at its most beautiful. When you dress for a meal you dress for fancy company or posh surroundings. Here I literally felt the need to smarten up when faced with a plate that made me look like a scruffy little nerf herder


beside it. I could feel my Tokyo Tower main course wondering why I hadn’t done something nice with my hair. It was an ornate affair with tempura battered softshell crab rising in the centre, a juicy bite complimented with a sweet, sticky sweet chili sauce. Uramaki sushi with dashes of tobiko (salmon roe caviar) add bright shots of orange colour and a salty flavour. If the rich tastes risked becoming too much, the inclusion of mango slices in the sushi cut through and gave a clean finish. A final contrast and theatrical flourish was the pickled ginger rose at the corner of what was a damn fine plate.

We also went with a simple selection of vegan sushi which allowed you to pick as you wished from their menu. We went with the chef’s recommendation and weren’t disappointed. A great assortment of lovingly crafted morsels.

So, I may have skipped past our starters, but I was just too excited to tell you about the mains! Te starters themselves were pretty damn good too, each one a different experience in taste and texture. Potato and wasabi balls; a shot of heat that cleared the sinuses, Agadashi tofu; a crisp golden exterior that cracked revealing a delicate glistening centre charged with delicious ginger. Both wonderful - and as with all our dishes, felt like they had been crafted, not just cooked.

PUD I could come here just for the desserts, and may well do. Why wouldn’t you when you can order an enormous ball of ice cream deep fried in tempura batter and served with spoonfuls of sickly sweet honey and slices of strawberry. Juxtaposed heats make simple flavours something really special and after such elaborate main meals it was a perfect way to finish our evening.

OVERALL You may have guessed I quite enjoyed myself. I also learned quite a lot about a different food culture that before now I have only seen snatches of. It is a bit on the pricey side and ranges from ‘special occasion’ expensive to ‘the children won’t eat this week’ expensive for some of their dining experiences. Te quality is undeniable and is worth the price but it doesn’t make it any cheaper. Maybe save a visit for an occasion more special than just ‘Happy Wednesday!’ or ‘Congratulations! You remembered to put the recycling out!’ Ciscoe’s would be an easy place to drift past if you’ve never heard of it. Now you have you really have no excuse to make that mistake.

James MacDonald


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