IT'S always a delight to see a new business appearing to flourish. And never more so than in these challenging economic times.
So last night when we ate out at Woktastic in Paradise Forum, it was fantastic not to be the only ones. Far from it in fact - the new sushi and noodle bar was bustling with diners, many of them taking advantage of the all-you-can-eat sushi for £10.
And if that offer doesn't fend off the winter blues then the restaurant's psychedelic interior and Manga-style artwork will.
My other half and I started with a plate of mixed sushi. I'm the first to admit I'm something of a novice when it comes to eating sushi and still find it an acquired taste and texture, but this was exemplary.
I particularly liked the tuna sashimi and the maki rolls filled with tempura prawns and was pleasantly suprised by the octopus nigiri.
It was all washed down with mango and apple juice, which was freshly squeezed, foamy, and a far cry from the processed, syrupy J2O-type drink I'd been expecting. We both agreed it felt like it was doing us some good.
Prawn crackers sprinkled liberally with togarashi followed. They were light and flavorsome and filled the gap between the arrival of our main courses.
I chose the TeppanYaki Soba, a delicious noodle dish with marinated chicken, jumbo prawns, red onion, beansprouts, egg and peppers.
Satisfying and well-balanced I could not have asked for more. I was especially impressed by the texture of the prawns, which were tender, juicy and not at all chewy.
The other side of the table was very quiet as he munched through his Beef chilli soba. He later admitted that the chilli heat was little uncompromising.
"The clue is in the name," I quipped.
I think it was just an excuse to order ice-cream for pudding.
But this was no ordinary ice-cream. Grey in colour, it looked a bit unappealing, but this belied a taste revelation.
Flavored with Japanese black sesame seeds it was creamy, rich and moreish, similar in texture to tahini in Middle Eastern cooking.
By the time we scooted out of the restaurant the place was almost full and the atmosphere lively. I hope this run of good fortune continues for Ali and his team, because they really deserve it.
More details at www.woktastic.co.uk