Sushi and More at Kouzu – Healthy, Affordable Lunch:
A few months ago I went to Kouzu for the first time. Still in ‘soft launch’ phase, it was a great experience, watching the very talented sushi chefs prepare a visually impeccable and delightfully fresh series of dishes. I was invited back recently, perhaps a little prematurely, to try out their new lunch menu which just so happened to be still under wraps. Now that it has launched, I can reveal that most of the dishes we ate are on the set menu, priced at £20 for two courses or £25 for three. The new lunch menu is a reflection of the Kouzu philosophy. This IS fine dining, Japanese style but although it is not cheap, given the very careful attention to sourcing of produce it seems quite keenly priced to me.
We started our lunch with two dishes, one of which is on the set price lunch menu and one which is not.
It is perhaps not surprising that the generously portioned foie gras, pan fried and served warm with spinach, fruits coulis and wasabi and teriyaki sauce isn’t there. But there again, it’s not the most expensive starter and actually you COULD enjoy the beef filet tataki (normally £17.50) or the yellowtail with truffle dressing (£15), which we did enjoy. In fact most of the new stream sashimi dishes are there.
I tried the yellowtail on my last visit to Kouzu and really enjoyed the delicate mixture of oriental flavours with a hint of truffle. This time, with Madeleine from Kitchen Journeys, I was keen she should try for herself (a thinly disguised excuse for self-indulgence).
We were offered some nigiri and what Kouzu call ‘new style rolls’. I wanted to try o-toro, a particular cut of tuna from the belly of the fish, laced with fat and regarded as something of a delicacy, while Madeleine picked the botan ebi, a breed of prawn or shrimp favoured by sushi chefs for its soft texture which is supposed to mean it can be served raw. Interestingly, if you are not sure about ‘raw’, Kouzu specialise in aburi, where the fish is lightly grilled and presented almost like a rare steak.
My o-toro was meltingly soft and deliciously freshly flavoured though. And I loved the negi hamachi rolls, filled with chopped yellowtail, avocado, spring onions and chilli miso in a sticky rice and chive wrapping.
The last time I’d visited Kouzu I did feel I’d missed out by not ordering the black cod. I was probably just a little too quick to pick the dish, which marinated with miso and served with a fennel and celery salad. It really didn’t disappoint and I’m delighted to see that it is on the set lunch menu, albeit with a £5 supplement. But, since the a-la-carte price for just this one dish, a particularly expensive type of cod, is £28, that seems like quite a bargain.
Meanwhile, Madeleine ordered the lamb cutlets, served with a spicy miso sauce. We shared and loved both dishes, though I think I’d be more tempted to re-order the black cod simply because served in this way it is a spectacular dish.
We might have skipped dessert, but it took little effort on the part of the waiter to persuade us to try two rather special offerings from Kouzu. Black sesame dessert with white sesame ice-cream was visually stunning, light and not overly sweet.
And green tea tiramisu must be one of the best ‘fusion’ dishes I’ve tried. The green tea adds a light fragrant taste to what can be quite a rich dish.
So if you happen to be around Victoria Station or Belgravia at lunchtime, you have the opportunity to grab one of the best value quality Japanese meals in town. If not, make the effort to go, either for lunch or for the sushi experience in the evening
21 GROSVENOR GARDENS
TEL +44 (0)20 7730 7043