Food review: Oriental joy with lobster masterpiece

Food review at Oisoi Restaurant, St Paul's Place, Sheffield. Pictured is chef Wayson Ang. Picture: Chris Etchells
Food review at Oisoi Restaurant, St Paul's Place, Sheffield. Pictured is chef Wayson Ang. Picture: Chris Etchells

In a corner of St Paul’s Place there is a spot where lobster is always the most popular dish ... even at lunchtimes.

That might surprise you in good old Sheffield, it certainly did me, but apparently you can put that down to students with expensive dining tastes.

Food review at Oisoi Restaurant, St Paul's Place, Sheffield. Pictured is the Lobster Noodles. Picture: Chris Etchells

Food review at Oisoi Restaurant, St Paul's Place, Sheffield. Pictured is the Lobster Noodles. Picture: Chris Etchells

And once you have sampled Oisoi’s signature dish, it is blindingly obviously why. Let’s not beat around the bush, it is mind-blowingly delicious.

When Oisoi opened in 2015, restaurant manager Oliver Hawcroft described the food as “out of this world”.

A lot has changed since then but that statement remains quite definitely true.

The contemporary oriental restaurant originally only occupied the first floor of the building while downstairs was dedicated to an artisan market.

Food review at Oisoi Restaurant, St Paul's Place, Sheffield. Picture: Chris Etchells

Food review at Oisoi Restaurant, St Paul's Place, Sheffield. Picture: Chris Etchells

Now it is just the impressive range of teas that remain on the supermarket-style shelves, and the restaurant has expanded to take over downstairs too.

Distinct differences between the two floors have been maintained throughout the recent changes, not least the decor.

This would seem to create a restaurant of two halves, except you are completely unaware of that wherever you are sat.

Crucially, there is only one menu so the food is just as spectacular everywhere.

Food review at Oisoi Restaurant, St Paul's Place, Sheffield. Pictured is the Korean Seafood Bibimbop. Picture: Chris Etchells

Food review at Oisoi Restaurant, St Paul's Place, Sheffield. Pictured is the Korean Seafood Bibimbop. Picture: Chris Etchells

The first floor is plusher. The chairs are more comfy and it has much more of a restaurant feel.

The downside is, if you want to dine upstairs you had better plan ahead as it is exceptionally popular.

Being a tad disorganised, we booked on the day and sat downstairs. Here there is more of a cafe feel to the furniture.

The best bit was we were able to watch, enthralled as artistic deserts creations were piped, in front of our eyes.

Food review at Oisoi Restaurant, St Paul's Place, Sheffield. Picture: Chris Etchells

Food review at Oisoi Restaurant, St Paul's Place, Sheffield. Picture: Chris Etchells

The only negative is it can get a bit draughty when the glass doors open for people to leave or enter.

Although the market has gone, Oisoi is still more than just a restaurant or cafe with a patisserie.

It also boasts a cocktail bar and, since it was a Friday, it would have been rude not to try one.

I went for blackberry blitzer, freshly mixed, a wonderful balance of flavours and decorated with not only berries but a coordinating purple pansy. What’s not to like?

Everything runs smoothly at Oisoi. The same level of care that goes into the food is also reserved for looking after customers.

Our waiter happily answered our questions and told us about the history of the business as well as the recent changes.

He talked us through the menu but there was never any doubt what would tempt us. The dish in question is the Signature Lobster with lemongrass, fresh coconut and Thai curry.

It costs £23 but, wow.

Although the lobster was carefully balanced on top of the meal, the meat had already been removed and added to the curry.

The flavours were strong enough to enjoy individually and melted together sublimely. It was sweet yet had the kick which all good Thai curries preserve.

The menu boasts an impressive list of ‘superfood starters’ which it seemed rather unhealthy to ignore, or at least that was my excuse.

At £5, the Artisan tofu with sliced shitake mushrooms and long green beans dressed with Shibanuma soy sauce was simply superb.

I have never eaten tofu with that texture, taste or presentation.

It was more reminiscent of wonderfully fresh scallops than the usual uninspiring tofu so often presented.

Others most worth special mentions were the main course aubergine tower with spicy black bean and prawn meat at £14, and the starter of king prawn skewers with Japanese dressing, £7.

One was quite literally a tower with alternate layers of perfectly cooked aubergine and tasty prawn meat.

The other boasted four very large prawns, still in their shells and on skewers, in a divine sauce.

Rice or noodles have to be ordered as extras and while the classic signature Yang Zhou seafood fried rice at £6 was good, we didn’t really need it.

After sitting next to the patisserie all evening we couldn’t leave without taking cake with us, although we definitely didn’t have room in our tummies to eat them there.

Again, it was hard to pick a favourite but the lime and cashew cheesecake just pipped it for me.

The combinations of matcha and raspberry; pear, chocolate and whiskey; or mango and chocolate were all, almost, equally good.

Prices for the deserts range between £6 and £7. I would recommend nipping in for one of their specialist cups of tea and a cake if you fancy something deliciously different yet light.

But let’s end where we started.

Most people go for the lobster. It is a long time since I was a student but if I was today, and had a big bank balance behind me, Oisoi lobster is most certainly where I would invest it.

We left with a spring in our step and a smile on our faces.

Food heaven.

n Oisoi, Unit 2, St Paul’s Place, Sheffield. 0114 2756566