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The Art of Japanese Dining in Belgravia – Kouzu:
The press release announcing the soft launch of Kouzu in Belgravia sounded truly amazing. In a Grade II listed period mansion just a stone’s throw from Victoria, this Japanese fine dining restaurant boast a sushi bar, cocktail bar, chef’s table and general dining area spread over two floors of a beautifully refurbished palatial building. The decor is refined and yet opulent. It’s meticulously well planned; friendly and unassuming though with an amazing level of attention to detail.
Headed up by Kyoichi Kai from Zuma and Kyubi (The Arts Club), Kouzu aims to create an authentic Japanese experience. Kai is regarded as one of London’s most prominent Japanese chefs and he has recruited a skilled team to work with him. Our own personal sushi chef, Yamaguchi told us that he’d trained in Japan before working in some of London’s best Japanese restaurants including most recently Matsuri.
Before we got as far as food, a cocktail at the bar seemed in order. My choice of a yuzu Bellini was lovely, not overpoweringly citrussy but not too sweet either. My companion enjoyed a yuzu Martini which was delicate and rather pretty too.
Then, upstairs for a ‘Sushi experience’
Seated at the counter we took a quick look at the menu before agreeing that the best option would be to let the chefs work their magic and serve us their own recommendations.
Edamame were a nice way to start the meal while we watched in awe as the fish was sliced and prepared for various sushi and sashimi dishes. We went on to enjoy two of the small plates of what the restaurant calls ‘new stream sashimi’ which are actually finished in a separate kitchen with various fusion dressings and garnishes.
Salmon with yuzu was a lovely fresh dish and a perfect way to begin the meal
While seabass with salsa and green pepper sauce was piquant and spicy beneath a stunning composition of microherbs.
The next dish to be served was a stunning plate of fresh sashimi – umi with toro, salmon, yellowtail and more served with a garnish of sea vegetables
Beautiful enough to grace any table, it seemed a shame to eat this particular feast. But, we did – and really enjoyed the freshness of the sushi fish. I asked what happened if any fish was left over and rather charmingly was told that it was cooked the next day for staff lunch. Later, the front of house told me that she’d tried black cod for the first time since working at Kouzu. A great way to build staff loyalty.
Aburi is seared fish, japanese style. Our next selection of dishes were a selection nigiri and aburi; o-toro (the best part of the belly of tuna), yellow tail, eel, mackerel and botan ebi
By this stage I was feeling quite full, but we had main dishes to come. The recommended daily chef special turned out to be a deep, rich beef tongue stew
And we had a roasted baby chicken with chilli sauce, a nice light contrast to the beef
I even managed to find space for dessert…a dark chocolate mousse with apricot brandy and salted caramel ice-cream. Paired with chilled plum wine, the perfect end to one of the best meals I’ve had in 2014.
It’s all too easy to forget that dining out should be an experience. Part of what made this evening special was watching the extremely skilled sushi chefs at work. But that in no way detracted from the quality of the food itself. Now, while all of this comes at a price, I was actually quite suprised at the cost of the dishes. Sushi fish needs to be extremely fresh and it is for that reason in this country the prices can sometimes break the bank. Here the main courses are between £20 and £30 while small plates, sashimi and most of the grills are under £20. Of course, if you want to push the boat out, there’s a wagyu rib loin for £85 but for the most part Kouzu offers an affordable indulgence. I’m sure I will be back. And I hope that happens very soon indeed.
21 GROSVENOR GARDENS
TEL +44 (0)20 7730 7043