My expectations for Yashin were sky high. No more than 3 months old, it has received almost universal acclaim; every review I’ve read already proclaiming it one of the two best sushi restaurants in London. On top of that, it is just 10 minutes walk from my flat. I really, really wanted to love it. Sadly, I didn’t.
Modern, vibrant, buzzy, Yashin feels more like a place you might find in New York rather than on a quiet side road behind the Tesco Metro on Kensington High Street. The contemporary theme extends to the food too - a large neon sign at the back of the sushi counter bearing the phrase ”Without Soy Sauce but if you want to” giving the first indication that this is not going to be a traditional sushi experience.
The menu is centered around 3 omakase (chef's selection) options of 8, 11 or 15 pieces of nigiri sushi, complimented with a number of side dishes. We began with two plates of carpaccio - Tuna with Ponzu Jelly and Wagyu with Wasabi Sauce. They were a pleasant enough start to the meal, even if the two dishes were so similar I could barely tell them apart. This was followed by the most traditional dish of the evening, Yose Tofu with Ponzu Jelly and Kisame Wasabi. From the moment the lid was lifted on this dish, I knew it would be good – the aroma of freshly made tofu emanating from the pot exceeded only by the pureness of the taste. The accompanying ponzu jelly and wasabi helped to accentuate the flavour further and served as perfect accompaniments to the tofu.
For the main event, I had to go for the 15-piece omakase, dubbed “The Yashin”. Served over two courses, the plates contained a combination of both fresh, and Yashin’s much talked-about blow torch sushi, each topped with a different garnish. The fish was fresh and of a high quality, and there were a few pieces that stood out – Prawn with Foie Gras, Salmon with Ponzu Jelly, and Crab with Sea Urchin were all very nice. However, overall, the two plates left me rather underwhelmed. I was very much looking forward to trying the blow torch sushi, and the better pieces were indeed of this type, but I was not as taken with it as I hoped I might be. It is a novel concept, and one that I really wish had worked, but it doesn’t quite deliver on its promise. The lack of use of soy sauce also caused a few problems, a number of pieces of the nigiri arriving at the table over-salted by the chefs – and I have a fairly high tolerance for salt.
I finished with one serving each of the White Sesame and Sencha Ice Cream. The ice cream had a lovely smooth texture, the green tea version especially outstanding with the pure green tea taste coming through very strongly. This was probably the best green tea ice cream I have had in London. I do have one final gripe, however. The ice cream was served in a leaf wrapped in the shape of a cone, laid sideways on a flat plate. It was a reasonably creative presentation but was exceedingly impractical for ice cream. And in many ways that summed up Yashin – it attempts to be creative, which I applaud, but falls short in its execution.
In a nutshell…
Great atmosphere and setting. Overall quality of the food was good but Yashin does not quite succeed in its attempt to put a creative spin on traditional sushi. Rather expensive for what it is – the 15 piece omakase menu is priced at £60.
1a Argyll Road, London, W8 7DB
Average Price: £50-£60