"Upmarket Japanese where the food does the talking"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
On paper Kouzu has all the defining aspects of a swanky Japanese restaurant aimed at the well-heeled: it’s located within a Grade II listed building on Grosvenor Gardens, on a path frequented by diplomats and royals, and the kitchen is headed up by one Kyoichi Kai, formerly of members only The Arts Club and celebrity favourite Zuma. However once inside, flourishes are kept to a minimum – in fact the only adornment is a cluster of lights that hangs all the way down from the mezzanine ceiling to the ground floor.
They’ve decided they want the food to do the talking, and fortunately it’s all conversation-worthy. Yellowfin tuna with ponzu dressing and truffle oil is superb, with the perfect balance of rich and citrussy. Ordering sushi may seem a less exciting proposal than say, the wagyu beef rib loin (priced at an eyewatering £85) or the charcoal-grilled salmon marinated in sake, but we’re impressed with the chu-toro nigiri, an irresistibly fatty tuna. Even the humble salmon and avocado roll with mustard leaves tastes punchier than usual.
But it’s not just the fish that’s good. Lamb chops are supremely tender, served with a spicy miso sauce and a salad of cherry tomatoes, asparagus, onion, peppers and courgettes; duck breast is perfectly cooked and rosy pink, sprinkled with Japanese peppercorns.
For dessert we’re urged to try the black sesame ice cream, as silky smooth as gelato but more nutty than sweet, which works. There’s also dacquoise, a French sponge dessert layered with nuts and cream; Kouzu’s version comes with fig jam, figs and salted caramel, which despite how it sounds avoids being too gloopy.
With most dishes designed for sharing, Kouzu is a little on the pricey side, but that’s to be expected when guests like Princess Stephanie of Monaco turn up within the first two weeks of opening. But this is no showy establishment without substance - on the night we visit, restaurant royalty Alan Yau is perched at the bar facing the open kitchen with two of his chefs, taking notes.
Leila reviewed Kouzu on Wed 17 Dec 2014