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Moshi Moshi News July 2014


It's our Birthday!

We are celebrating 20 years of conveyor belt-sushi arriving in London!
1994 - 2014

What were you doing 20 years ago today? July 24 1994 was the date Moshi Moshi opened its doors for the first time and brought the 'kaiten' sushi conveyer belt to the UK. We'd love to catch up with anyone who visited us in those early days. If you were there, please let us know. The first few to respond will be invited to a special birthday celebration! For a chance to be there at the party please email us your memories of your first visit to Moshi Moshi.

Hugh Ferneally Whittingstall was there, and says:

"Walking into Moshi Moshi for the first time, almost 20 years ago to the day, was one of the most memorable 'first impression' moments of my restaurant reviewing career. The location, the design, the buzz - it all felt very new and exciting. But being suspended in a cool glass capsule over the rail tracks, and sitting on chic minimalist furniture, would have counted for nothing if it wasn't for the outstanding quality of the sushi.

Two decades later it is immensely to the credit of Caroline Bennett and her team that MM is still one of the best places to eat Japanese food in the capital. Not only that, but they are flying the flag for sustainably caught fish in a way that proves that even in the ruthless environment of the London restaurant scene it's still possible to stick to your principles and make a success of your business."

Happy Memories

Our birthday celebrations are getting under way. Thank you for sending in so many of your Moshi Moshi thoughts and memories! Our sprits have all been lifted from your kindness in sharing these with us – wonderful, thank you!

Now it is time to share some of ours. There have been many changes since we first opened 20 years ago in July 1994. But I am privileged to still be working with three incredible chefs who have been with me since the beginning, and Emily at the front of house. I'm sure you'll recognise Hong, Dionisio, Benji and Emily from these photos, as eating sushi every day means they haven't aged much.

Here are some of their first memories of our opening back in the early 90s – 'kitchen confidential' sprang to mind!

Chef Hong
(pictured behind the sushi counter in 1994!)

"I Remember when we first opened we used to close at 5pm, the City was so quiet in those days, even the pub on the station Hamilton Hall closed at 7pm"

"People didn't know how to eat sushi in those days, nowadays, everyone knows"

"It's like a big happy family working here – after all, I see Dionisio more than I see my family! I remember customers used to walk past the glass window on their way to work in the morning and wave – we would say ' see you later!' and they all came in for lunch. They came early at 11.30am so they didn't have to wait so long in the queue"

"Our customers were mostly men, but there were a few girls that would come in on their own after lunch when it was less busy, and we were young, so we had time to chat them up!"

"Sushi chefs were unusual in those days, we commanded a certain respect from our customers I think and we wanted to treat each one well. We made special dishes for them, and joked with each other 'hey, Dionisio, your girlfriends just come in'. And then one day, for some reason, all our girlfriends came in on the same day – we panicked - didn't know what to do!!"

"I remember a different Christmas party to the one Dionisio remembers – I remember one at Havana in Soho where I came with my wife, we'd been trying for a baby for ages but had given up hope, then soon after that party she conceived and we had a millenium baby! "

"It's nice when customers who have moved away come back to say hello. There are many, but recently I have seen a woman who had moved to Scotland and a man who must have done well in the City and retired early to live in Cambridge and they came back and worried I wouldn't remember them – of course I do! They are surprised I am still here but its nice they are pleased to see me."

"It's nice to see our old customers dropping in when they are in London. Chefs aren't paid much, but seeing that customers are happy, makes me happy."


Chef Dionisio
(pictured with Caroline on a visit to Loch Duart salmon in 1999)

"I remember Caroline coming over from Tokyo to interview me at the Sheraton hotel in Manila where I worked. She gave me a contract for three years, and I thought to myself 'wow, that's way too long! And here I am 20 years on..."

"I was so happy to be going home in the first year for Christmas that at the Moshi Moshi staff Christmas party I got more drunk than I ever had before, I got into my first ever taxi but couldn't remember where I lived!"

"I remember how much our customers used to eat, they would come four or five times a week for lunch, and the traders would sit in their coloured jackets stacking the plates up vertically and the beer bottles horizontally. Two of them came together nearly every day. I saw one of them again just a few months ago, but he hardly ate anything compared to when he was young!"

"I've seen lots of customers come in as singles, then find a girlfriend, and now they come in with their teenage children! "

(pictured Emily serving sushi platters at Sony's headquarters in Wales)

'My romantic and lovely experience working in the world of Moshi Moshi' By Emily:

"Well I remember a German customer coming in every day, many customers did, but he came in because he wanted to see me"

"One day he came in with flowers and chocolates for me, ....but my husband was working in the kitchen"

"Another of my regulars was an old man who always kissed me on the cheek... Dionisio used to joke with me that his lips were cold... anyway, he always ate uni (sea urchin), ikura salmon roe and scallop... but he doesn't come anymore"

"When I first arrived from the Philippines I started work and had to ask a customer what the orange fish was... Salmon he said! "

"I've often had to be vigilant - customers try to hide plates in their bags or leave them in the toilet. A few times other customers have spotted them up to no good and alerted me to the thieves. That was nice."

"It's nice when the regulars walk past and wave, sometimes I saw customers coming in 5 times a week. They always told it was the best sushi in London. A young couple used to come in as girlfriend and boyfriend, now they come in with their children, and still tell me ' we love the food, we love the people, we love the place' and now their children are saying the same thing. Then we had a regular who even through her pregnancy came in most days and her baby was really strong! Now she comes in with her 3 children."

"Back in the old days some customers used to think I was the owner, and come up to me and say ' good business!' ... I was a bit shy to hear that! "

"I miss some of my old colleagues, especially Tulay our manager for a while, and Yuki. Yuki fell in love with one of our chefs, and they planned to live with each other in Brazil, but he didn't even turn up to the airport."

"Yuki has won the lottery now, over a million I hear, so that was her blessing. We still all love the chef though, he's still with us! At the beginning I remember it wasn't easy – the Italian mafia management used to eat in front of us and sit at the back together and tell us to get on with our work – we Asians were like the slaves."

"One day, we saw one of the cashiers taking money from the till, we told the manager, but because the cashier was a friend of his he did nothing, so we all went on strike. Me and Mr Hong, Benji and Dionsio, we shut the restaurant and went and sat in MacDonalds! I've loved meeting all the people here, they are what keep me going."

Member Offer

20% discount Today

In a few days time we will be 20 years old! Celebrate today with a 20% discount on all food! Just show us your Members card to benefit from the offer anytime from 11.30am to 10pm.

Get a taste of the past at Moshi Moshi

Gone are the days when our customers wanted diet coke with a crabstick and avocado maki roll. Everyone's palates seem to have become more refined over the last 20 years. Now customers devour more obscure dishes like our ankimo, the liver of the monkfish – our 'foie gras' of the sea – or our prawn head crispies. Who would have thought the British would eat anything with eyeballs intact? And instead of Coca Cola with sushi, you are opting for a cup of sencha green tea or an Asahi.

Being a sushi chef might be hard, choosing MSC isn't

Moshi Moshi is committed to sustainable food and we are delighted to be working with the Marine Stewardship Council on the tricky business of traceability in the fisheries chain.

Here's what they had to say about our collaboration: "At the MSC we work with partners like Moshi Moshi to safeguard seafood stocks for this and future generations. Buying seafood bearing our blue ecolabel will help us do just that". Being a sushi chef might be hard, choosing MSC isn't.

Watch MSC video here.

It's our birthday - come join the party

Well, today is our big day - we are officially 20 years old. We've been overwhelmed by the responses from you, our much treasured and lovely customers. We are throwing a party tonight, and are thrilled to have so many of our loyal and regular customers join us. Here are snippets of some of the memories you have kindly shared with us:

"'I can remember my initial excitement at being seated at a bar where the little multicoloured plates busily sped past carrying their precious cargo. Having only experienced the usual suspects of cooked fish from these shores, what those plates were carrying could have been from another planet - the unusual presentation, wonderful textures, unrecognisable colours and glistening in the light, looking so fresh that they could almost jump off the merry go round." - Chris

"Moshi Moshi very soon became the place I go to treat myself. I have had birthday celebrations, office xmas parties and other occasions but first and foremost usually once a month I slip into the Liverpool Street restaurant nod to Hong, sit at the bar alone and think, watching those busy little plates going about their business and enjoying every mouthful of what they carry." - Chris

"Happy birthday, Caroline and Moshi Moshi! Like Hugh said – great to see both the business doing well and you sticking to your sustainable fishing principles all these years down the line, inspirational!" - Charlotte

"I've been coming since 1994 and my wife and I broke her no raw fish fast while she was in early labour with our oldest who is now nearly 17!" - Simon

"I have been a devoted customer of yours since the mid nineties when I worked in Canary Wharf!" - Andrew

"I just wanted to congratulate you on 20 years of Moshi Moshi. It is still my favourite Sushi Place, made all the more special by Mr Hong. I hope he is still there as I have not been in a while. The years 1999-2003 were my Moshi Moshi obsession years, when I would go about 4 days a week after work. It is where I took my 18 month old nephew and started his love of sushi and my niece a few years later, when Mr Hong made her a special grape Maki." - Sheba

"Over the years I have leant to really appreciate Moshi Moshi's really fresh fish. I particularly love you Yellow Fin Sashimi. It's one of the reasons I bring people to Moshi Moshi when I want to impress." - Eric

"I remember eating there in 1996 when I started at UBS which was just round the corner. Always a firm favourite.I ate there yesterday and I mentioned that one of the chefs had been with you since I started eating. Quite amazing.

We had a guy from the States who used to come over in the 90's - Dave Schoneberg - affectionately nicknamed Dave Sconeberg - he was a huge man - he held the record for the number of plates eaten - 20 - now that was a lot of sushi!" - Graeme

"A visit to Moshi-Moshi used to be a pay-day treat but now I attend more frequently as I like to practice my Japanese with some of the staff." - Eric

"In 1994, I worked in a City firm, which was only about 10 minutes walk from Liverpool Street Station. One day, a friend mentioned to me that a new sushi place was opening inside the station, and we went there for lunch the following day.
For me, it was love at first sight (and first bite!). The beautiful food creations were floating by on the conveyor, each one of them tempting! The food was delicious, light and satisfying, and we often commented that it was a 'happy food.
We became regulars, always coming early, at about 12, so that we could grab a place, since Moshi Moshi very soon became so popular with the City workers that around 1 pm, there was always a huge queue of devotees.
I used to go there during the day and in the evening, with friends and family, with colleagues from work and with foreign visitors, including Japanese - who were immensely impressed and amused by the food and the ambiance. I took a friend's young son there, who is autistic - possibly, it was his favourite place of all the restaurants I have taken him to, as he could choose any dish he wanted from the conveyor and watch the departing trains at the same time. Moshi Moshi has always been friendly, and after being done up, quite chic. We still go there, even though I do not work in the City anymore. If you want the loveliest sushi place in London, this one is for you! " - Julia

"Caroline, I only recently met you but to say that I've been coming to Moshi Moshi since 2002 and its still my favourite sushi. I've been to previous locations at Brighton, Canary Wharf and Ludgate Circus and now I am a regular customer at Liverpool St. I try and come once a week, and to me Moshi Moshi is a treat to take home on a Friday night to share. " - Tom

"My girlfriend and I love your restaurant and are delighted that it's been so successful Two decades is no mean feat!" - Ben

"Thanks for being an outstanding contributor to building an ethical and sustainable business! You're one of very VERY few restaurants I know that seeks to make a difference." - Ann

"I was one of the people who queued up or got there hugely early to enjoy far too many plates of wonderful sushi – it was and still is a fantastic concept !!" - Andrew

Our first ever customer

This is a photo of our first ever customer; Marina, from Germany (though at the time, I didn't know that). I remember her walking through the door and asking ' are you open'? I looked at the chefs, they looked at me, shrugged, and we said ' yes, sure!' She spent about £3.60 but had only £2.70 on her - I was just pleased to have welcomed my first customer, so didn't mind at all. Years later on my return from Japan, I went to yoga at a nearby gym ….and there she was, standing in front of me, teaching me downward dog.

Eat like it's 1994

Fancy eating like it's 1994?

For one day only Moshi Moshi customers can go back in time and order our once popular crabstick & avocado maki roll for just 90p – our price in 1994! - and our our second bestselling dish in the early 1990s. Just ask one of our team and 'roll' back the years.

1994 Menu & Prices today

To celebrate our 20th birthday we will be making our 1994 menu and charging 1994 prices at the sushi counter today! Back in 1994 our cheapest plate price was £90p and the most expensive one £2.50 and we had a number of dishes that have now disappeared.

But while our prices may have gone up over the last 20 years, so too have our costs, though not in proportion, a sad reflection on how poorly people and our planet's resources are valued. While our rent was just £8,000 a year in 1994, it has now increased by more than 12 times. Wages though have risen far less dramatically: in 1994 the basic hourly rate of our service team was £3.50; now, I am neither proud or pleased to say, it's set at £6.31, the minimum wage. With housing costs fast outstripping earnings its perhaps no surprise that food suppliers have been facing relentless pressure to keep costs down – with poor animal welfare and environmental destruction the accepted means of staying competitive.

But at Moshi Moshi we firmly and sincerely believe that there has to be better way and we remain committed to good value without costing the Earth . See our website for more details.