Places To Eat In London: Yashin Ocean House, Kensington
It has recently been brought to my attention that while I love sushi (anyone following my Deliveroo habits on Instagram Stories could attest to this!), there are no longer any reviews for sushi restaurants that are still open on this site. Londoners looking for somewhere to eat their body weight in raw fish and perfectly prepared Japanese rice are being left out! So, when Yashin Ocean House invited me along for lunch last month I thought it would make the perfect spot to highlight for you all; a place where all the sushi is top notch, where luxury ingredients are in abundance (but used to raise the quality of the food, not the price tag) but where you can still get an affordable meal rather than a celebratory supper (though they do those too!)
Yashin’s motto is to serve sushi how it was meant to be served, without soy, so you’ll just find simple plates, napkins and chopsticks when you arrive in their beautiful dining room (or indeed at their other Kensington restaurant Yashin, which my lunch date arrived at first by mistake, leaving me to get started on the cocktail menu!) I’d choose a table for a leisurely lunch, but try to get seated up at the bar to watch the chefs work in the evenings.
We both just stuck to one cocktail with our lunch, because why deviate from the first one on the menu when it is so good. The Unami Margarita is the classic drink, but with added vermouth for smoothness and shaken with cherry tomatoes for a savoury twist. Order up a couple of these – especially if like me you’re a margarita lover – and don’t forget to eat the delicious dried tomato garnish when you reach the bottom of your drink! Peckish waiting for Kelly, I also ordered the unami mackerel bone (savoury), served with beetroot crisps (sweet) to nibble on. If you’re after nibbles, get this. It is rather unusual, and will make a pleasant change from edamame beans (though I’m sure those will be delicious too!)
After an intense menu session (I’m pretty sure everything on the menu would be fantastic) we decided to come with a lunch set each – such fantastic value – a few small plates and a couple of extra sushi pieces we fancied like trying. Both of our lunch sets came with the most amazing Japanese dressed salad (I sense the French technique of dressing the bowl and tossing the leaves to get a perfectly dressed bowlful here) topped with pickled carrots which we both became slightly addicted to, and a Miso Cappuccino with a Tofu Foam. Seeing them on the menu, those would have both been take it or leave it items, but even if you give the leaves a miss to make room for more sushi (but please don’t!) get one of these Cappuccinos. Not only are they fun, but they’re also super delicious, and I never want a cup of miso without that foam ever again. These came first to get our palettes ready for the main event, while the chef was preparing our lunch.
First came the tuna carpaccio topped with a truffle infused ponzu jelly, with fresh basil oil on the side. The fish was fresh, plump and meaty, and held up really well to the insanely flavourful truffle ponzu jelly. I’ve had some questions since posting pictures from our lunch on Instagram if the truffle works with the fish. It really does, but only go for it somewhere where you know they’re focused on ingredients, not just adding luxury touches for the sake of it, because used incorrectly it could easily become overwhelming.
For me, the hands down best thing we had for lunch was the Toro Sashimi with shavings of Summer Truffle. The fish itself without the truffle would have been enough; meaty, tender, and with the very slightest hint of sea salt with really brought the rich, buttery flavours out to almost melt in your mouth. However, the truffle shavings took things to a whole other level with an earthy, aromatic note. True perfection.
Kelly ordered the salmon sushi lunch, which at £12.50 was an utter steal. Five pieces of perfect, delicious salmon nigiri with varying flavours, a spicy salmon roll, a perfect whole chunk of pickled ginger to cleanse the palette on the side (I’d never had it in chunks you can take bites from before, and it was fantastic, a little touch that really elevated the meal) – and don’t forget the salad and Miso Cappuccino that came with it! All of the sushi we had was fresh and bright, with the most perfectly seasoned rice. I loved the punchy sesame on the spicy salmon rolls, just with the slight let down neither of us got any heat from them.
I had the Omakae Eight lunch set, a fair bit pricier at £30, which came with the roll of the day, which I upgraded to a California Roll for an extra couple of pounds. Again coming with salad and miso, this is the best way to try the very best pieces Yashin have to offer. It is different every day, and your very helpful (the service was flawless throughout the dining room) server will describe each piece to you when they arrive. If you get them, save the mackerel with the crispy skin, anything topped with parmesan shavings (an utter unami revelation atop pieces of sushi) or fresh shaved truffle for the end so you get the best right at the end!
We loved the California roll, made with fresh snow crab, and garnished with salmon roe and delicate crisps. The flavour of the crab was exquisite, and each bite was rich and creamy. However, another roll-related let down that while I got some crunch from some cucumber, I could not taste any buttery avocado in any of them. Also, they’re very rich, so perhaps only get them if you’re planning on sharing, not keeping them all to yourself. In any case, while everything was delicious, I’d go for nigiri over rolls every time.
Finally, the pieces we ordered a la carte: a scallop and a uni (sea urchin) piece each. The light, snowy scallop pieces were divine, so fresh and luxurious; don’t miss out on these! However, especially at £8.30 a piece I felt very let down by the uni. I adore uni as an ultimate luxury, either as part of a high end dish (such as with shaved mushrooms at Son of a Gun in West Hollywood) or added to a simple bowl of fried rice (which I love at the Pot Bar at The Line Hotel in L.A.’s Koreatown), but here it was a bit bitter, and I only ate half of my piece. One to give a bit of a miss to.
Visit Yashin Ocean House for a delicious, great value sushi lunch in a beautiful dining room (perhaps a good one for a working lunch), or dress up and perch up at the bar with a cocktail or two to mark a special occasion, or for your next date night. I’m certainly going to make the most of it as (rarely for me now I live in West London) it only takes me half an hour to get to!