Kyashii, Covent Garden
It’s Friday night, and Covent Garden is alive with theatre-going throngs and after-work drinkers. So stepping from bustling St Martin’s Lane into the uber-slick serenity of Kyashii– London’s premium spot for Japanese dining- is an irresistible prospect. We enter into this bubble of style and tranquillity through a fairly discreet entrance on St. Martin’s Lane, which couldn’t be more different from what’s inside. Reminiscent of a scene from a James Bond film, we’re as entranced by the futuristic décor as we’re about to be by the food: white lacquered walls and leather benches offer clean-cut glamour, whilst royal blue fish tanks built into the walls (once the largest of their kind in Europe) give off an almost futuristic, yet infinitely therapeutic vibe.
After taking our seats in the ground floor brasserie (there are 3 other dining rooms underground, including a private dining room overlooking the kitchen), we sample a mix from Kyashii’s plethora of exotic cocktails. A vibrant green, Midori-based Japanese Assassin is delectably fruity, with a distinct sourness; the zing of the lemon is perfectly offset by the sweet passionfruit. Shamefully judging a book by its cover, I’m sold by the ‘fashionista’ cocktail before I even see what’s in it. I’m not disappointed by this beautifully cool and cleansing mix of gin, cucumber and mint.
Offsetting the pristine white lacquer and glitzy mirrored walls of the brasserie, our starters arrive in considerably more earthy receptacles. For the first starter, a simple bamboo dish resembling a canoe was filled with succulent soy & ginger-marinated chicken encased in a light and crispy batter. Beef tataki was another highlight, with bitesize slices of supremely tender rare beef encircling a delicate onion and soy salad.
After much deliberation of whether to go for some of the perfectly-rolled sushi we’d seen pass our table, or a Japanese main course, I opted for one of the house favourites: grilled black cod. Cooked to perfection, this meaty, flaky fillet was drizzled with a delicate miso dressing that offered a classic oriental flavour, without overpowering the fish.
The second main came in a sizzling hot clay pot, with the juicy pork belly inside tender enough to cut with a chopstick. Sides were fresh, tender broccoli stems with a light garlic and soy sauce and a sprinkling of pine nuts, and a flavoursome dish of stir-fried udon noodles with vegetables- I’d have been happy enough eating these with no accompaniments!
We’re utterly torn with the dessert menu: which follows a theme of European classics served with a distinct Japanese flourish. These little works of art arrive presented on chic frosted glass tiles: buttery vanilla cheesecake offset by the clean, crisp tang of lychee sorbet, and coffee-infused Japanese chocolate biscuits with dainty lemon macarons.
As we leave, our host tells us that a top secret, star-studded event is due to be held at Kyashii in the near future. There’s a twinkle in his eye, but he’s not going to breathe a word. If tonight’s anything to go by, it’s sure to be a glittering success.
4a Upper St. Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9NY
Online booking available here
Monday – Wednesday: 12:00 – 14:45 18:00 – 22:45
Thursday – Saturday: 12:00 – 14:45 18:00 – 23:15
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