Soy sauce not needed

On Thursday night I had a wow-meal. The restaurant, Yashin, will always be imprinted on that part of the brain, which somtimes sends out an impulse saying “I crave that restaurant”. After two rather disappointing meals at Eight Over Eight and Nobu, I was in a Japanese food rut. Yashin however, has brought back the spark.

The sushi restaurant, situated conveniently off High Street Kensington, is a very small space spread out over two floors. It looks smart and sleek, yet not intimidating and the piéce de resistance is the open kitchen bar where sushi chefs work meticulously with maki rolls, nigiri and sashimi. You get quite drawn into the action.

I however, didn’t initially understand the beauty with the bar. Like the pretend-to-be-princess I am, I demanded another table. This was apparently not possible, and the maitre’d looked at me with slight fear in his eyes. I expected support from The Italian, who’s usually more high maintenance than myself, but he looked rather pleased with our seats. I gave up on the idea of moving and when the manager came back after a short while, I had forgotten about the plush-looking downstairs.

Every Yashin reviewer so far has noticed the neon sign on the wall above the bar saying “Without soy sauce”. This might seem like an odd statement, but in fact it does make sense. Soy sauce is often empowering and limits other flavours. If the ingredients you’re working with are fresh, you don’t want, or need, to hide their true taste.

Yashin’s got fresh covered.

From the starter menu, we ordered the twelve piece sashimi platter, ranging from tuna with fresh wasabi topping to sea bass with vinegar jelly (or was it tomato salsa?) and sea bream with ponzu dressing. The presentation was a treat in itself. We also ordered the white fish carpaccio of the day (parrot fish), and salmon carpaccio in yellow pepper sauce. Mamma mia, it was excellent.

As we were glancing at our fellow diners, we noticed a plate with black truffle. The Italian has got a soft spot for this expensive delicacy, as do I, so it didn’t take much for my Med man to convince me to order that too. Not yet on the menu, the best dish of the night was hands down the wagyu beef with shaved black truffle.

There was still more to come.

An eight piece selection of omakase sushi (chef’s choice), with rice so moist and sweet it didn’t feel like a chore chewing, came next, and I can’t even remember what the Italian and I were talking about. Possibly detoxing. Down, the slightly seared salmon went, along with fatty tuna and other silky smooth raw fish. The Japanese white wine we ventured to try was slightly too sweet and light for my taste, but even that disappeared in a jiffy.

Sometimes restaurants find a concept that simply feels right, and Yashin has certainly figured out what works. From friendly, smiling staff, high quality food and a stylishly discreet decor (rabbit lamps, anyone?), Yashin just has it.

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