I may be getting my first look at Jamie Oliver and Adam Perry Lang’s barbecue mecca tonight, lunching at young chef of the year Stevie Parle’s gaff tomorrow and still getting the occasional kimchi burger flashback, but I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a new opening in a long time. Flying completely under the radar, new sushi bar Yashin Sushi (headed by Ubon’s ex-itamae Yasuhiro Mineno and Shinya Ikeda, formerly of Yumi) opened quietly two weeks ago on Argyll Road, just off Kensington High Street. The manager explained they were slowly getting the word out to allow time to finalise the staff and execute a few last minute decorative touches (when I visited today, the restaurant had doors that were waiting to be replaced and scaffolding up front).
Despite all this there were quite a number of patrons present, partaking of the lunch menu which ranges from a Salmon Sushi lunch (£12.50), to the top-end Omakase “The Yashin” at £60. The latter may seem punchy but it does contain 15 superb pieces of sushi, and if you do the maths (roughly £4 a piece) it’s still half the price of somewhere like Sake no Hana. And this is not your run-of-the-mill stuff folks; I would even go out on a limb to say it’s better than foodie darling Sushi of Shiori. Yes, that good. Of course it’s still quite a bit to fork out for some, but they cover all bases with a selection of other omakase sets priced at £20, £30 and £45.
Like eateries in Japan that specialise in one item only, Yashin deals only with sushi. If you want tempura, kushiyaki or noodles this is not the place for you (although I believe a selection starters and small dishes is available in the evenings). The course starts with a lightly-dressed seaweed salad, followed by a miso soup filled with slippery nametake mushrooms. We sipped the cup of intensely deep broth and watched chef Ikeda at work behind the counter in the quirky modern restaurant bar. Above him is a blue fluorescent light fixture on a green tiled wall that reads “without soy sauce but if you want to”, in reference to the noticeable lack of soy bottles on the tables. Like our magnificent meal at LA’s Urasawa, the fish is lightly brushed with the optimal amount of soy sauce (or otherwise seasoned) prior to being served.
Our first flight of sushi contained some choice pieces. Fatty chutoro with a dab of kizami wasabi, sansho salsa topped oily mackerel and turbot, and sea bream flown in from Japan sprinkled with roasted rice cracker dust. The front row consisted of a selection of seared nigiri (blow-torched in front of us on a marble centrepiece) that included salted otoro, salted wagyu beef, scallop with tomato salsa and plump botan prawn smeared with foie gras. All spankingly fresh and easily some of the highest grade fish I’ve eaten in London. The seared sweet scallop was a revelation, the prawn and liver combo was to die for, and the wagyu although not as melt-in-the-mouth as ones I’ve had at Sushi of Shiori, had the robust flavour of mature beef which I really enjoyed. The rice itself was soft, perfectly seasoned and at room temperature, as it should be.
The second platter featured a line-up of chutoro with a blob of special red miso, succulent boiled prawn, more of the lovely wagyu with jalepeno salsa, seared razor clam (sweet, soft and not at all fishy), seared ponzu-jelly topped salmon belly, sake marinated salmon roe gunkan and a fluffy rice-stuffed tamago wedge. In Japan the quality of a chef’s egg omelette (tamago) is as a true test of a chef’s skill and this sweet, spongy almost dessert-like specimen was exemplary. Everything was again exquisite and the thick slices of pickled ginger on the side were sweet, vinegary and unbelievably tender.
The omakase does not include dessert but there is a selection of ice creams and sorbets available. We bypassed the white sesame and yuzu options, opting instead for the sencha (green tea) ice cream and shiso sorbet. Both arrived alongside a small bowl of fruit salad with jelly-like cubes of konnyaku and a splash of brown sugar syrup (traditionally served with mochi). The sencha was wonderfully creamy with a deep flavour of tea running through it, and the refreshing shiso sorbet was equally good with a pleasant texture which was powdery rather than icy.
No doubt this was an indulgent lunch and may seem pricey compared to the likes of Sushi of Shiori, as the set isn’t peppered with as many courses. However I truly believe what I ate today was a notch above, and the more reasonable lunch sets that other diners ordered looked pretty spectacular too – I can’t wait to head back for a more modest lunch. Finally, the capital is getting the proper sushi joints it deserves.
1A Argyll Road
London W8 7DB
t. 020 7938 1536