23 May Kouzu: The Japanese Gem Of Belgravia
Kouzu is London’s latest contemporary Japanese restaurant situated in the exclusive Belgravia area, just a short walk from Buckingham Palace, and lying opposite the Goring Hotel.
Kouzu officially opened its doors in November 2014, and has arguably the best Japanese chef in the UK – the renowned Kyoichi Kai, of Zuma and Arts Club fame, heads up the experienced, all-Japanese kitchen team. He is originally from Kyushu and worked for ten years in Japan before moving to London in 1988.
London has no shortage of fine dining Japanese restaurants, but Kouzu is rather special with regards to the fabulous quality of dishes on offer, it’s excellent and friendly staff and a first class ambiance that will want you coming back for more. Housed in a beautiful Grade-II listed 19th century period mansion overlooking Victoria’s prestigious Grosvenor Gardens, Kouzu certainly looks stunning from the outside. Once inside, the interior is gorgeous and very welcoming, the design is sleek and ultra-modern with a downstairs cocktail lounge and floating mezzanine with an Omakase sushi bar, all united by a spectacular and luxurious chandelier that sets the grand tone of the restaurant.
The entire restaurant can seat 80 people at any one time, and downstairs, through the silver open-plan kitchen, is a secret door leading to a private dining room. This is where seven people can dine exclusively with a private chef at their beck and call to create bespoke dishes in front of their eyes until they are comfortably full. I was very fortunate and privileged to be sat at the highly sort after Omakase sushi bar where one of the talented Kouzu chef’s prepared all my sushi dishes in front of me. It was incredible to witness the attention to detail and the quality of the preparation that my personal chef put into all the dishes I was served, a real treat that made the whole experience even more memorable.
The evening was now set, and Kouzu was dimly-lit which gave it a very exciting appeal. I was surrounded by fellow diners who represented the good, the great and the glamorous. The ambiance was perfect, and I was more than ready to sample more of the Kouzu experience. The menu offers a combination of Japanese classics ranging from Sashimi to tempura, as well as the ‘new stream’ dishes where premium Japanese ingredients are given a modern twist.
The Restaurant Manager was fantastic and personally took me through the generous menu, and proceeded to carefully find out my tastes and favourite dishes in order to make educated recommendations. He demonstrated great knowledge of all the dishes and selected an outstanding choice for me to sample which did not disappoint. I started with an absolutely delicious Beef Fillet Tataki, and the generous slices of high quality beef were tender and succulent. The beef was well marinated in a zealous soy sauce with striking flavours of ginger and garlic. The julienne salad of watercress, red onion and yellow and red peppers worked well as a combination.
The Salmon with Yuzu Soy Dressing was a bright and enriching choice which I found easy on the palate. The chilled salmon had a clean taste and silky texture and was doused in a refreshing, dressing with plenty of fragrant yuzu. The herby sauce, crunchy sesame seeds and fresh coriander finished the dish off nicely. I would recommend ordering at least a few pieces of sushi at Kouzu, as it is truly wonderful, both in terms of taste and presentation.
The sushi rice was so light and smooth, that I was tempted to order more, but I resisted as I didn’t want to spoil my main course which was still to be served. I was then treated to Scallop Aburi Nigiri which had a fresh and a delicate, melt-in-the-mouth consistency. My chef told me to eat it with the scorched side on my tongue to really experience the flavours and the difference in texture, and it did just that.
My chef equally explained that Aburi Nigiri also didn’t require soy sauce, but there was a garnish of pickled ginger to the side if I wanted some extra sweetness in taste. The Spicy Tuna with red onion, fresh chilli pepper, rice cracker, spicy mayonnaise and sesame seeds was also a real favourite for me during the evening. The rice was finely applied and made it easy to devour.
For my main course, I ordered the Roasted Baby Chicken with Chilli Sauce. This was a fearless dish to stir the culinary senses, and it didn’t let me down. The roasted chicken was light, tender and juicy in the middle with a crispy, well-seasoned golden coating. It was sliced into manageable pieces, so I could fully enjoy the different textures and tastes of this delightful well prepared feast. The sauce was sticky and packed a punch with just the right amount of heat, whilst the julienne vegetables were a good addition to the platter. This was one of my favourite dishes throughout the evening, and it really has to be experienced when visiting Kouzu.
Come dessert, and I finished off with a refreshing Youzu Sorbet which was just the right balance in taste and texture to bring my Kouzu experience to a grand finale.
Overall, my visit to Kouzu was magnificent, and I firmly believe that Kouzu is a real jewel in the London fine dining landscape with an exceptional menu on offer, polished and luxurious interiors and a stylish Belgravia location. The staff are very knowledgeable and incredibly passionate about Chef Kyoichi Kai’s cuisine, which is completed to a very high standard. With its relaxed atmosphere and truly memorable ambiance, Kouzu is definitely a restaurant that I will be returning to again and again.
For more information, or to make a reservation, visit www.kouzu.co.uk.
For the full review with photos please click Luxurious Magazine