A self-confessed sushi lover, I was excited at the prospect of trying Yashin’s sister restaurant, Ocean House, placed on the Old Brompton road and a stones throw from the uber trendy and fashionable Knightsbridge. Stepping into the effortlessly chic front room I am faced with an open sushi bar with two chefs demonstrating some precise knife skills. And so, planting myself opposite and in my self-proclaimed best seat in the house, I ponder what looks to be a very exciting menu.
We do the unthinkable in a sushi restaurant, “Decide for us” we say, and as we sit wondering what on earth is going to be placed in front of us, the prospect of some super challenging sushi ahead starts to worry me. I confess, my obsession for sushi is counterfeit. You see I am rather western in taste when it comes to the cuisine. I love salmon tempura rolls, soft-shell crab ura maki, spicy edamame and lashings of soy sauce and wasabi and so facing two samurai chefs in the making slicing and dicing some hardcore sushi made me a little nervous but nonetheless, ready for the challenge. And so with a sake in hand I watch the masters at work.
Exquisite. Lightly seared tuna, tangy ponzu truffle jelly and a crispy topping. This was absolutely delicious and polished off in an impressive one minute. I could have eaten more, but when it dawned on me that the sushi platter that was being lovingly and painstakingly created ahead was indeed for us, I knew I had some serious sashimi next on the cards.
As much as I probably shouldn’t expose this nugget of information about myself I ought to, because if like me, sashimi makes you squirm then take note. I never order sashimi. Unless it’s dressed with textural toppings, seared, sitting on rice as with a piece of nigiri or covered in sauce, I can’t muster the will to chew on a fatty piece of raw fish. With no soy sauce on offer, I was a little scared and I’ll be honest, this was out of my comfort zone.
On the platter we had fatty tuna with ponzu infused truffle jelly, wild sea bream with pops of sweet crunchy crackers, mackerel, sweet prawn, salmon with Tosazu jelly and Marmite infused salmon with finely sliced shallots, all surrounded by dots of the most intense black garlic puree.
The fish was so fresh and tender it was like chewing into butter. Each one fragrant, but not overpowering. The sea bream was delicious and the texture of the crunchy balls was a welcome addition. And who knew, I was actually rather keen on the sweet prawn, raw and shell still intact this was a like a delicate soft-shell prawn, tender and covered in a delicious sweet sauce. Platter cleared and we eagerly await to see what’s next.
Winning. Now we’re talking. The Watarigani roll, a deep-fried soft shell blue crab with a sweet soy sauce and a wedge of pickled ginger.
Undeniably tasty and admittedly appealing to my westernised pallet, this is sushi as I know it. I love a good roll and although I usually opt for a raw fish roll I sometimes like the idea of soft shell crab or an ebi roll of prawn tempura. Coated in those delicious crunchy balls this was utterly sublime. Every mouthful popped with freshness and flavour in such a nonchalant yet polished way that it had me coming back for more with every bite and fighting over the last piece. The sweet soy was delicious. I could have drenched my rice in the elixir but with two experienced sushi masters ahead of me, I daren’t be so British; tempted though I was.
Next up is a platter of nigiri each.
This is where I learnt something – a valuable lesson if you like. Sushi, to this standard, with rice as well-flavoured as this does not need soy sauce. Yes, I said it – it does not and never will need soy sauce. It would in fact be detrimental to the incredible flavours that each one of these had to offer; it would ruin it I believe, and so, I made way through the platter enjoying every mouthful sans the soy.
If you’re still a little afraid of sashimi, then try the nigiri, the fish is thinly sliced and moulded around a perfectly seasoned brick of rice. Freshness and simplicity at its finest.
And finally, a bit of fun for the table, we were brought over two signature Paradise prawns.
Two giant tempura prawns, floating on a wire and swaying in front of us like a carrot on a stick. Our waitress explains these are intended to be eaten head to tail; the motto of the restaurant. With prawns, I do occasionally eat the tip of the tail, some of you might find that odd but that’s where I think a lot of the flavour lies, and so facing the prospect of eating the head too, shell and all this was a different experience altogether. Gungho, I do it and crikey o’riely, it’s sweet, crispy, and insanely delicious. Again, a fine example of simple flavours, showcased at their best.
I can’t even begin to describe how polished and perfect this restaurant is. The decor, the service, the constant topping up of perfectly matched sake and the sushi … oh the sushi.
Yashin, Ocean House, in my opinion, has nothing short of some of the finest sushi in London and I absolutely urge everyone, sushi fearing or sashimi lover to give it a try. Clean and fresh food at its finest, even without soy sauce which is something I never thought I’d hear myself say. All of the staff are friendly and accommodating, and if you go, try to get a seat at the bar to watch the masters at work. The attention to detail these chefs put into their food makes you believe you’re eating a work of art, and in my experience, you absolutely are.
117-119 Old Brompton Road South Kensington
London SW7 3RN
Tel : +44(0)2073733990