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Kouzu Japanese Restaurant


Invited to lunch at Kouzu, a newly opened Japanese restaurant in Belgravia, I knew I was in for a different experience from that at my local, no –frills, neighbourhood sushi bar. Located in a Grade 11 listed building, once a bank, Kouzu is not yet easy to find as planning regulations have delayed the name board being hung outside. At first I assumed this was one of those annoying affectations, places so posh you have to be in the know as to their whereabouts. I was relieved to discover the reason for its lack of signage for there is nothing affected about Kouzu. Just jolly fine food.

Chandelier Kouzu

On entering the calm interior one encounters a huge chandelier hanging from the upper floor.  On closer scrutiny it appeared to be made up of hundreds of porcelain acorn shaped vessels. It is but the first of many visual surprises. The restaurant was dressed in neutral shades with blinds drawn to keep the hectic city out. Kouzu is located a hop and a skip from Victoria station but one forgets all that once inside. Orchids and other exotic plants add to the peaceful ambience.

We began with a refreshingly cold sake served in a delicate carafe  that rested in a bamboo ice bucket. The water tumblers were equally pleasing, having indentations for fingers which was not only a marvelously clever design, but also comfy to hold. The table was well appointed with small pebble chopstick rests and cute soy sauce jugs.

Plants Kouzu

There was much to tempt us on the varied menu. We began with two dishes from the section entitled New Stream Sashimi.  The menu informed us that Yellowtail with Truffle Dressing consisted of sliced yellowtail, shiso, myoga, ginger, spring onion with a truffle ponzu dressing.

Yellowtail Kuozu

While I expected the yellow tail to be pungent, it was delicately subtle and flappingly fresh, the onion topping adding textural interest rather than overpowering the fish it adorned.

Foie-Gras and Spinach with Teriyaki Wasabi was one of those dishes you dream about for weeks after. Unctuous, deeply meaty with that unmistakable texture of foie-gras, the liver was pan-fried and served with spinach, a fruit coulis, wasabi and teriyaki sauce.

Pan fried foie gras, Kuozu

The deeply glazed ceramic plate on which was served was as covetable as the recipe.

From the Nigiri and Sashimi menu we chose O-Toro and Botan Ebi. For me, the latter was the one disappointing note in the meal as I found the butterflied prawn somewhat squishy. Perhaps I just prefer my prawns cooked.

Nigiri and Hamashi Roll, Kuozu

The Negi Hamachi Roll from the New Style Roll section arrived artfully piled on a beautiful dish. The pearls of rice were flecked with very finely chopped chives which added both visual interest and taste. The proportion of rice to filling – chopped yellowtail, avocado, spring onion and chilli miso – was perfect.

Moving on to the mains, we shared a portion of Roasted Black Cod which was accompanied by a fennel and celery salad. The fish, which flaked beautifully, was perched on a pool of miso sauce and was offset with a bit of crunch from the vegetables.

Blackened Cod, Kuozu

Next up was a pair of lamb chops with a spicy miso. I can confidently state that I have never eaten, nor expected to eat, lamb chop in a Japanese restaurant. Yet this was one of the highlights of an already excellent meal. Luckily we were offered cutlery at this point as my chopsticks skills do not extend to the necessary level of dexterity.

Lamb chops , Kuozu

The miso sauce was mildly spiced and rust coloured, a revelation with lamb. The meat shared the plate with grilled cherry tomatoes on the vine, courgettes and a roasted onion.

By now we were very satisfied diners but the lure of dessert led us to bow to the advice of our helpful waiter who suggested that we try the Black and White Sesame dessert. We were expecting a visual feast and that is what we marveled at, briefly, before digging our spoons into a sesame selection in the form of wafer, biscuit, puff, and white sesame ice cream.

Sesame dessert, Kuozu

The meal reached its climax with the arrival of the Green Tea Tiramisu. It looked simply gorgeous and was undoubtedly one of the most unusual desserts I have had the pleasure to eat in some time. The slightly bitter taste of green tea was layered between delicately boozy layers of cream. I would return to Kouzu simply to eat this again.

Green Tea Tiramisu, Kuozu

Having had a serious bout of menu envy when eyeing the next table’s platter of tempura prawns, I hope it will not be long before I can make my way back. In an area not exactly brimming with restaurants one wishes to eat in, this is one to make a beeline for especially when they introduce their lunchtime menu in the near future.

I emerged feeling light and well satisfied. This restaurant has talented chefs, attentive and informative waiters, and excellent, inventive food. All it needs now is its name.

Kouzu Japanese Restaurant
21 Grosvenor Gardens, SW1W OJW
Belgravia
020 7730 7043
www.kouzu.co.uk