For the opening, Kai chose a Grade-II listed palatial suite in Belgravia. Kouzu is housed in a beautiful Grade-II listed 19th century period mansion overlooking Victoria’s prestigious Grosvenor Gardens, The restaurant looks stunning from the outside, as for the interior, they are very welcoming. The design is sleek and ultra-modern with a lower cocktail lounge and a floating mezzanine with an Omakase sushi bar, all mated by a spectacular and magnificent chandelier that sets the grand tone of the restaurant.
The restaurant can cater to 80 covers. At the level below, beyond the silver open- kitchen, is a secret door leading to a private dining room. This is where seven people can dine exclusively with a private chef all to themselves to create a bespoke meal in front of their eyes until they are happily content. I was very fortunate and privileged to be sat at the highly sought after Omakase sushi bar where one of chef Kouzu’s talented chef prepared all my sushi dishes in front of me. It was incredible to witness the attention to detail and the quality of the ingredients and innovativeness that my personal chef put into my meal. The private chef’s table is perfect for intimate dining, near to where the dishes are compositionally put together.
The stylish, dimly-lit evening at Kouzu had arrived, which gave it a very sensuous appeal. My fellow diners around represented the rich, the famous and the glamorous. The ambiance was perfect, and I was more than ready to sample more of the Kouzu experience. A combination of Japanese classics ranging from Sashimi to tempura, as well as the ‘new stream’ cuisine where premium Japanese ingredients are given a modern twist.
Yasuhiro Komatsu of the very posh Chisou Izakaya of Mayfair and Knightsbridge takes the helm as General Manager and Kenichi Kakita is the restaurant manager. I was given educated recommendations by Kakita. He demonstrated great knowledge of all the dishes and recommended an outstanding choice for me to sample which did not disappoint. I began with an absolutely delicious Beef Fillet Tataki, and the generous slices of high quality beef were tender and succulent. The beef, marinated in a zealous soy sauce with striking flavors of ginger and garlic with juliennes 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 herb 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 flavor and presentation.
Next was the scallop Aburi Nigiri, which had a fresh and a delicate, melt-in-the-mouth consistency. I was told to eat it with the scorched side on my tongue to really experience the flavors and the difference in texture. Perfect. My chef suggested the Aburi Nigiri without the 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 something I would go back for
Some suggestions for Sushi Lovers when travelling to and around London
Nanakusa 441 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow (0141 332 6303)
Beneath an incongruous but beautiful Victorian corniced ceiling, this minimalist wood-panelled dining-room is bathed in soft neon light. A peaceful spot, then, to try a colourful platter of sashimi moriawase, featuring seabass, mackerel and octopus (£12.90)
Obento 69 Baldwin Street, Bristol (0117 929 7392)
The bento boxes here, especially the grilled teryaki salmon (£10), are indeed popular, but it’s worth starting with a temaki or two: a nori-wrapped cone of tempura prawn and avocado (£4.20) is a great choice. A round of karaoke upstairs afterwards is optional…
Etsu 25 The Strand, Liverpool (0151 236 7530)
Call ahead for a table at this small, tucked-away restaurant – its friendly staff and excellent sushi menu keep it perpetually fully booked. For heartier appetites, main courses include unagi-don, a bowl of rice topped with grilled eel, toasted nori and Japanese pickles (£15.95)