It’s always hard to choose a place to dine when eating out in the city as London has a great many restaurants to choose from. If you’re looking for a Japanese treat then head to Kouzu, it will charm and seduce you with a delectible menu and attentive staff. Treat it as a lesson in the art of sushi making- there’s so much to learn and you have the chance to see it all first hand.
Kouzu – Japanese
In three words: Sensational, Meticulous, Masterful
The Lowdown: Don’t know where to eat dinner tonight? Head to Kouzu. Just pick up the phone and ask for a seat in front of Chef Ryu. Do it now before it becomes a hotter dinner-ticket than the Chiltern Firehouse.
Kouzu is a gorgeous new restaurant boasting a stellar line-up of professionals that are some of the most celebrated in London. Chef Kyoichi Kai of Zuma’s fame is at the helm, accompanied by staff that show a zealous dedication to the fine concept of Japanese cuisine.
The menu is extensive, geared towards sushi and the freshest of ingredients. Downstairs offers an area to dine in a relaxed, casual environment or get a drink at the bar, while the glamorous mezzanine floor boasts a floating bar that provides an incredible opportunity to watch the chefs in action.
Location: Kouzu is not five minutes from Victoria Station, in an impressive Grade II period mansion with cool white columns and an imposing facade, located directly opposite the Goring Hotel.
The Occasion: When you want to feel excitement and enthusiasm about the food you are about to eat – the overwhelming passion displayed by the chefs can only rub off on the diner. You’ll also learn all about the art-form and tradition of sushi making. Somehow all that knowledge makes the raw fish taste even better.
Decor: Sophisticated and chic, with muted tones of white, grey and light wood complemented by the shine of an oak bar. The majestic sweeping staircase and hanging paper lamps that look like a cross between popcorn and clouds add interest and design savvy.
Atmosphere: Relaxed but attentive. Everyone is very helpful and keen to display their skills, from the bartender to the sommelier; the hostess to the chefs. At Kouzu you are encouraged to ask question, be given advice, and be open minded. If you don’t know what something on the menu means then say so – you’ll soon learn!
Culinary Concept: Japanese food presented as an art. The outrageously fresh ingredients are combined with skill of an artisan craftsman to make each mouthful as unique and perfectly balanced as the last.
What we tried: If you can swing the honour of sitting at the sushi bar in front of Chef Ryu then grab it with both hands, as you will be in for a sushi extravaganza. We left ourselves in his hands, and started with Salmon with Youz soy dressing and Yellow Tail with Truffle dressing. The first combines slivers of divine, melt-in-the-mouth fish with the zingy freshness of Yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit), while the rich truffle dressing complemented the fiery ginger and cuts of tuna to fabulous effect. We also tried the Fois Gras and Spinach with Teriyaki Wasabi – a sticky, indulgent treat of powerful flavour that was accompanied by the fruity, deep mellowness of a red wine chosen by the sommelier.
After that it was a perfectly choreographed display of sushi morsels, including crispy-skinned Eel with grated yuzu and Japanese salt crystals, Botan Ebi, (spotted shrimp that created an explosion of ocean flavour in the mouth), and the smokey richness of O-Toro.
If you’re bringing someone who is adamant they need something more substantial then never fear – we gave the special duck course a taste, complete with sweet sticky sauce and Japanese peppercorns that crunched in the mouth with deep fried Daikon. As for the desserts – don’t leave without trying the chocolate mousse – a shining capsule of cocoa-heaven in the midst of which nestles an orange gooey treat, all pulled together with smooth hazelnut ice cream.
For next time: The Roasted Black Cod with miso sounds super and is always a sell-out success, but to be honest you’ll just want to come back for more of that sushi.
Veggie delights: We can recommend the mound of refreshing and nutty goodness that is the spinach with black sesame, and there are vegetarian sushi and tempura options that are no doubt delicious. But it would be a shame to come here and not experience the fish.
Best of the booze: The sushi was served with a bone-dry and ice-cold sake – libation perfection, and there is also a good wine list with a sommelier on hand to offer advice. We started the night with two very delectable cocktails, the Mama’s Tea, which incorporates vodka, lemon, Earl Grey tea and Mikkakouji-Awamori – a type of subtle Japanese vodka made from rice that mixed with the tea for a delicate and thoroughly unusual flavour.
Fun Fact: In the opening week Kouzu had an unexpected visitor – the Princess of Monaco stopped by to try some of their specialities!
Overall: Chef Ryu speaks Japanese, Chinese and English fluently – a talent that he finds help express the Japanese gusto for the craft of sushi to customers. Sit in front of him, watch him grate fresh wasabi on stretched shark skin, and let him take your taste buds on an adventure, while being served by some of the most passionate and attentive staff you’ll have ever met.