Japanese fine dining in London has a new name: Kouzu. Unobtrusively tucked away by the Goring Hotel in Victoria, your eyes are instantly drawn to this great big chandelier sweeping across a spiral staircase, and a bar area and tables tucked away behind. The room is all decked out in pale woods and pale greens and it’s all a little too neutral to my taste. The chandelier goes some way to make up for it though!
Initially seated downstairs, I cheekily request if there’s a spot by the sushi bar upstairs and sure enough they are able to squeeze us in and Lady Loves Cake & I gleefully head up, delighted by the thought of some dinner theatre to go with our meal. Instead of paying attention to our menus, we’re soon fixated by Chef carefully and lovingly tending to slicing fresh sashimi, fashioning nigiri and sushi rolls to order, all at the speed of lightning and with untold precision.
Once we stop gaping, we turn our attentions to the most important order of the day: Drinks! The cocktail menu is a mouth-watering delight and sated with some salted edamame, we opt for a fruity bunch. The lady’s Grapefruit Fizz manages to pack a punch but still isn’t too sweet, which is quite an achievement and my Passion Star is fruity and frothy and fun.
The food menu is just extensive and we’re a little slow on the uptake of actually ordering (The bar is very interesting to watch!) but the waiter could not be more helpful in outlining our options, explaining each dish and then when we still couldn’t decide, patiently went through the pros and cons of each dish as we struggled to make our choices. That’s going above and beyond the call of duty, luckily it was relatively early so we could commandeer his attention.
Finally after much deliberation we settle on the Salmon with Yuzu soy dressing and Beef tataki from the sashimi menu and a selection of Nigiri and Sushi as well, really just to watch the chef at work. The salmon was far and away my favourite, the Yuzu sauce wasn’t at all overpowering and had we been in less refined surroundings, I may have been tempted to lap at it, like some sort of domesticated pet, but it complemented the delicateness of the salmon perfectly. The beef tataki was a little bit dryer and to my eye, less punchy in flavour but this turned out to be the Lady’s favourite so we each got to grab the final slice of our favourite! That’s the sign of a perfect dinner date, you each like the same things when it comes to ordering, but don’t fight over the last mouthful!
The sushi is great and oh so fresh, but less special than the sashimi platters but there’s something so fabulous about watching someone make your sushi right before your eyes instead of wondering how long it’s been sat at the counter at Itsu.
If there’s one thing you should take away from my visit to Kouzu, it’s that it is entirely possible to over-order, despite all these lovely light and healthy sounding dishes like Sashimi and Yuzu and Nigiri and Sushi. Since Gary raved about the Chilli Chicken it had to be ordered and ever since my delicious experience of Black Cod at Novikov, this was another immediate shoo-in.
The Black Cod here is quite different; both equally fabulous in quite different ways. Kouzu’s is almost light and a tad sweet, with a fennel and celery and orange salad that is simply wonderful paired with the fish and adds a special sort of wow factor to the flaky cod with the orange sauce underneath. The chilli chicken is good and that sauce is so much better than I’ve made my photos look, but my heart was lost to the cod.
Not being able to face the dessert menu quite so quickly post-mains, we picked away at the last bits of our dinner at a leisurely place, oohed and aahed over the chef’s creations for other diners and then finally moved our attentions over to the dessert menu. The charming waiter, perhaps sensing he’d have to face another half hour of our deliberations smoothly guided us in the direction of his recommendations and the specialties of the kitchen. I’m not a matcha fan but the Lady loves her teas and was immediately taken by the Matcha Tiramisu. I tried to make her change her mind, for how else was I going to be able to eat both desserts, but she firmly resisted my efforts and stayed true.
I opted for something a bit different and went for the Sesame platter of desserts – these are quite unusual flavours but I love Sesame things and so a sesame icecream, cracker and numerous little sweet bits went down a treat. I did think the ice-cream could have used being a bit colder but that’s just minor niggles in an otherwise faultless dessert. The Lady didn’t even speak to me during the devouring of her dessert so I can safely tell you she loved it just as much as I loved mine.
As we leave, I’m already planning what I’m going to try another time (I have my eye on the dazzling selection of sashimi) so watch out for tales of another visit to Kouzu.
Kouzu can be found at 21 Grosvenor Gardens, Belgravia, London SW1 0JW, just a tiny stone’s throw from Victoria station. Reservations are recommended and do ask for a spot at the bar if one is available.
We dined as guests of Kouzu, but as always, opinions are my own.