Wednesday, 3 November 2010


Dining at Kayashii is an extraordinary experience. From the burly bouncer on the door to the blinding white decor, neon lighting and house music on rotation, it feels more like a club than a restaurant. Or, at the very least, a fusion of the two: a clubaurant.

Kyashii's club credentials are no coincidence. Having started life in the basement of the ├╝ber bling Kingly Club, which opened (and closed) during the recession, the restaurant has taken over the entire site in a bid to make the venue more food-focused.

Its former life as a club is still evident. The bright white tables, plush leather seats and shiny white floor tiles are very Supperclub, or Bond by way of Marbella. It may have lost its disco balls, but Kyashii is very much a place to see and be seen. There's something very mid '90s hip-hop about the place. I can imaging P Diddy and Jay-Z cracking open the Cristal (pre Frederic Rouzaud dispute) and nibbling on sashimi here, shooting club scenes for their latest video.

The space is divided into four dining areas: a ground floor bar with a polished granite sushi counter for casual diners, the 'white room' - with white leather seating and Italian tiled flooring, a bespoke mezzanine level where you can spy on the chefs, and the 'blue room', where I dined, complete with a panoramic electric blue-lit fish tank teeming with tropical fish. Enveloped by the tank, it reminded me of the scene in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo & Juliet when the star-crossed lovers first set eyes on one another through the glass.

Admiring the neon fish as they dart about in the tank, I feel pangs of guilt that I'm about to eat a shoal of their brothers and sisters. It's like having a cattle pen in a steak house. But what of the food? Head chef Jacky Yu (ex-Zuma) is clearly an incredible talent. The menu mixes traditional Japanese fare: sashimi salad with yuzu, black cod tempura, dragon rolls, with more unusual dishes: exquisite yellowtail ponzu with truffle oil, a foie gras sushi set including the standout foie gras beef tataki with nonomi-miso, and pan-fried beef fillet with dynamite mustard sauce.

The food is painstakingly cooked and artfully presented – the sashimi gleams it's so fresh. The dishes seem to mirror the surroundings – flashy and polished; almost too perfect. For those looking to flash the cash at a sleek and stylish sushi venue, Kyashii ticks all the boxes. But there's more to it that mere gloss – it delivers on both the aesthetic and flavour front. Don't let the ostentatious surroundings put you off – Kyashii couldn't be more serious about food.

Kyashii, 4a Upper St Martin's Lane, London WC2H 9NY,, around £50pp.

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