Words by Hannah Swerling
‘Without soy sauce… but if you want to.’ It’s a strange choice of tagline for Yashin, High Street Ken's recently opened Japanese restaurant. The stated absence of soya sauce – repeated ad nauseam on the website, the menu and even in neon lights behind the sushi counter – is supposed to be in order that diners can enjoy the fish on its own merits. So why then go and undermine it with the jarringly meaningless afterthought, ‘but if you want to’? It’s almost as if Yashin’s trying to be bold, but doesn’t quite have the courage of its convictions to pull it off.
Which is odd, because left to its own devices the quality of the fish and sushi speaks for itself and the presentation is immaculate – rather as you’d expect from long-toothed itamae Shinya Ikeda (one-time head chef at Yumi), and Yasuhiro Mineno (formerly of Ubon). From our perch at the bar, we enjoyed tuna with ponzu jelly and assorted sashimi while watching the chefs go about their work slicing, dicing and even blowtorching the ingredients in front of our eyes. Pretty serious stuff, in other words.
Aside from the food, the décor is easy on the eye, modern and sleek – all shiny tiling, Tom Dixon pendant lamps and Mooi rabbits sitting on pedestals – although there are some odd features, like the weirdly suburban (tinted glass panels and all) front door. The atmosphere on ELLEuk’s visit was a little subdued too, so this isn’t the place for a lingering dinner or special occasion, but it’s great for an after work snack. With or without the soya.
The ELLEuk Score
Style of food: Japanese
Good for: Quick bite after work; first date; work lunch/dinner
Prices & Other Details at Yashin
Address: Yashin, 1A Argyll Road High Street Kensington W8 7DB
Opening hours: Lunch 12-2.30pm; dinner 6-11pm; everyday
Prices: £40 per person for a two-course meal
Set menu: Sushi sets - Omakase 8 for £30, Omakase 11 for £45, The Yashin for £60
Price of bottle of house wine: Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, 2009, £28
Price of glass of house wine: Bourgogne Blanc Les Femelottes, 2009, £7.50
Price of glass of house champagne: Dosnon & Lepage, £11
Price of bottle of house champagne: Dosnon & Lepage, £60
Private dining? Basement available for private hire
Garden/al fresco dining? No
Bar? Diners only
Best tables? At the bar – so you can watch the itamae at work
Who goes? Young Japanese people looking for an authentic bite and raw fish enthusiasts
Nearest tube: High Street Kensington