Ohhh, I found this post in my drafts. And I don’t know why I didn’t finish it!
Anyway, there we go.
This is a restaurant that tries, but fails because everyone here seems to hate each other and, even worse, they hate their customers too!
We went here after visiting the Design Museum in Kensington. It was our first museum visit in so many months so we felt like it had been an extraordinary experience!
We also had a booking for Japan House, in the same area, later in the afternoon, and a couple of hours to have lunch. But where to go? High Street Kensington is an area of London that does not know if it wants to be Oxford Street or Westbourne Grove. Tourists en masse or pretend-low-key chi-chi.
And so the food options are quite extreme. From generic chain to independent restaurants.
I was ready to go to a chain and just be done with it, but I think empowered by the excitement and the novelty of being outside and into museums, which we could not do for months, Devvers suggested we went to this place.
It was easy to get a reservation for in 5 minutes time. We walked there in a moment.
When we entered, everyone, and I mean everyone in the restaurant was looking at us.
It was as if they were really not expecting us, and sort of didn’t like that we were in the restaurant that early (it was barely 12.30 or so, I think).
It was like one of those movies set in the Wild West, where a stranger walks into the saloon and everyone looks at them with distrust while assessing if they are dangerous/innocuous and/or can be robbed.
We were offered to sit right by the door, which I strongly dislike, because each time the door opens you get all the draught in your face. We opted to sit at the counter so we could see the sushi assembly. We do this frequently when we go to Kazu, and we thought it would be a similarly pleasant experience.
Oh but how wrong we were…!
We chose the omakase menu, and a couple of Asahi beers.
First we got this strangely foamy miso soup in this old-fashioned tea cup.
I have never had foamy miso before (as far as I remember), but the tea cup reminded me to the cafes we went to when we were in Japan, and the whole aspect of Japanese culture who enjoys to use this style of cups for tea and coffee, so it kind of made sense to me.
Apart from the fact that it was so hot that I had to wait a couple of eternities for it to cool down before I could take a sip without burning my lips or tongue, it had good flavour, and I didn’t mind the foam. Given it was not a particularly warm day, I actually enjoyed it more than I expected.
Then they brought us the citrus seasoned salad.
This is when things started to become… interesting.
While the flavours were good, what we quickly realised is that it was not possible to eat it in a relaxed, easy going way, because… the salad had not been cut into edible pieces.
So instead of gracefully picking up a leave or two, you started pulling from a leaf with your chopsticks and ended up with half of a watercress plant, which is really hard to eat, without splashing dressing all over your face, yourself, the person next to you… 🙁
In the meantime we started realising the strange dynamic that was developing between the sushi chef(s) and the kitchen chefs. There seemed to be some sort of animadversion between the two groups: each time the kitchen chefs would bring a new pot of cooked rice, the sushi chefs would look at them with hate. Each one would then go on to mumble various hateful sounding things to themselves in their own languages. There was English, there was Spanish, there were other things. There was also hate between the two sushi chefs, who looked at each other with mutual contempt. There was also hate towards the Deliveroo tablet which kept spouting order after order; there was hate between the waiters and chefs, and between the waiters and the front of house. The glances they all gave each other…!
At some point a new customer turned up at the door and the same Wild West moment happened, where everyone stopped to look and judge the newcomer.
Quite a situation…
Next came the sushi itself.
They pride themselves in the fact that their rice and fish is so perfectly seasoned already, and it has such great and innovative condiments on top, that you won’t need soy sauce. There’s even a neon sign in the wall referring to that.
And so they don’t give or offer it to you (not even a mention of the possibility!)
And the sushi? It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t so extraordinary either. Maybe I am spoiled after having eaten some really delicious sushi in my life.
At some points the waiter was either bored, trying to be super efficient or trying to project their hate towards me too, and kept doing deeply uncomfortable things such as placing things on the bar by putting the arm right in front of me, pouring beer as fast as possible (creating a horrible amount of foam) or almost ripping the beer out of my hands when I hadn’t even finished it.
We also had the constant traffic of the take-away bags being placed almost literally next to us. Maybe it should have crossed their minds that you cannot sit guests next to your waiters area, so that they aren’t in your way, and you’re not disturbing their peace with your constant comings and goings.
In the background, I could also hear the other waiters discussing (in Spanish) how much wine so and so had ordered and how expensive it was. So much judgement going on!
I ate the sushi and made up my mind: I want to go now.
I didn’t want to give them any more money or time. This had been enough.
They tried to entice us to have dessert (which wasn’t included in the menu). I refused.
Before leaving, I went to the bathroom, which is downstairs. What a scene. It looked like one of those attics full of abandoned clutter, covered with some old blankets to try to hide the clutter, except it makes it even worse as it looks like dead ghosts covered in dust. And it was in the basement. It made such a negative impression on a restaurant that is trying to be fancy. Blergh!
Should you go? Maybe if you want to experience the Wild West moment.
I personally will not go back. If I wanted drama and contempt, I would watch some telenovela.
1A Argyll Road
London W8 7DB