The warmest welcome in London, and not at all as overpriced as everyone keeps saying….
Yashin sushi restaurant is tucked away on one of the classic, white-washed backstreets that lead off Kensington’s opulent high street. It was incredibly easy to find and required not even the slightest bit of the usual iPhone-wandering that makes you look and feel like a tourist goober.
“Remember, it’s Saturday and we haven’t booked a table,” said Sylvie, “so be prepared for them to turn us away when we get there.”
Stepping inside, we were instantly greeted by the host in Japanese – “Irasshaimase!” Her welcome was echoed by the three sushi chefs behind the huge bar/kitchen that dominates the restaurant. It’s like a sort of Japanese-truck-stop-diner. I put this atypical greeting down to the fact that we had turned up in a rather cool, calm and collected manner. I’m telling you, those iPhones are nothing but trouble!
There were two couples sitting on stools at the “bar”, looking both casual and wildly rich and successful all at the same time. We were offered a dining space at the bar, which I can only describe as a kind of lavish, Spanish tapas bar, only without the calamari, mustaches and beer bellies.
Yashin’s strap line is, “Without Soy Sauce”.
The idea being that the quality of the sushi is so gosh darn good that it would be a sin to mask its flavours with such a strong a flavour. It’s the equivalent of going to Le Gavroche and asking for le ketchup! Tut, tut.
Sitting at the “sushi diner bar”, you really do get to see how much skill, passion and artistic talent goes into the creation of good sushi.
The warmth of the greeting extended through to the service, efficient and helpful, with only the slightest attempt to up-sell us on the “daily special roll”. We refused on the basis that she didn’t tell us how much it was; and you know what they say: if you have to ask how much something costs…..
I flicked through the wine menu and was a little disheartened to find that the majority of bottles were priced between £50 and £250. This is the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, though, so it’s to be somewhat expected, what?
I concealed a high-pitched yelp of relief when the waitress told me that they also served bottles of Kirin Ichiban Japanese beer, at £4.50 a pop.
After reading so many reviews about Yashin being overpriced, I was pleasantly surprised when they brought us over a couple of vintage bone china cups of miso soup, and a very delicious green salad with a sweet, onion dressing (this was a real test on my rather subversive chopstick skills). Both were delicious, fresh and simple, and added, I thought, offered outstanding value.
I was instantly drawn to the Salmon Sushi Lunch (£12.50) – five pieces of salmon nigiri and spicy salmon roll. The salmon was light and exceptionally fresh, and meleted like butter in my mouth. Certainly, there was no need for soy sauce.
Sylvie went for the Tuna Sushi Lunch (£15.00) – five pieces of tuna nigiri and spicy tuna roll. Which I must add, looked like a work of art on her plate. Again, the tuna was wonderfully fresh and delicious. Both the salmon and tuna nigiri were topped with a variety of interesting pastes, including sun-dried tomatoes, parsnip, wasabi, ginger and sesame seeds.
Whilst eating, I watched one of the chefs spreading the sticky rice over slithers of seaweed and sprinkling it with seeds, adding fresh salmon on top and rolling it in a bamboo rolling mat, like a giant sushi cigar. You can even see how they portion each segment of the roll, rinsing the knife in a bowl of water in between each effortless carve.
In fact, it wasn’t long (about as long as it takes to drink two bottles of Kirin Ichiban) before I was planning my future as a sushi chef artist!
Yashi sushi restaurant was a breath of fresh air. The service was exceptional – the host was on the phone as we were leaving, but I noticed her asking the caller to hold the line for a moment so that she could thank us for coming, which was again echoed by all four sushi chefs.
The sushi itself was of the highest quality and made, as you can see for yourself, with a great deal of dedication, passion and skill.
The lunch menu does seem to offer much better value than the evening menu, so I would be inclined to recommend it more as a great little place for lunch in the Borough of Chelsea and Kensington than anything else. Our total bill came to £46, which included a big bottle of mineral water and my two beers. For high-end sushi in Kensington, I think that is a fantastic price.
If, like me, you believe dining out is about the overall experience, and not exclusively about the food, then I would confidently recommend that you visit Yashin sushi. I’d also urge you to take a seat at the bar/kitchen, so you can see the chefs at work.
Yashin Sushi Address: 1A Argyll Road Kensington London W8 7DB
Nearest Tube Stop: High St. Kensington
Extra Top Tip:
After you’ve eaten, do as we did and take a stroll down Kensington High St. and into Holland Park. It’s full of blossom and perfectly-kept lawns, and has that magical Chelsea sheen that makes everything in this affluent area feel so special. The Kyoto Garden (set within the park) is also the perfect backdrop for some Zen-like contemplation.
Do you have any other sushi recommendations for London?
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