Thursday, 20 March 2014

Spring at The Shiori

Once in a blue moon I would scroll through Twitter (still don't really understand how to use it) and this time I came across a Tweet that Nigella Lawson wrote saying that she believes The Shiori is the best restaurant in London. Now that is not a statement I take lightly. So I Googled the name to find out that it is in fact a Kaiseki restaurant.  Jackpot. I've been waiting and waiting for London to open one of these.

Spring Menu

For those who are not familiar, Kaiseki is a multi-course, very traditional Old World Japanese cuisine. Originating from Kyoto, modern day Kaiseki has taken over Japan and the art of creating these dishes takes the best chefs years to master. Each dish is an art form that combines and balances taste, texture, colour and presentation to the upmost perfection. Think haute cuisine. The colour, taste and presentation of each dish would change as the seasons change. Leaves turn red in Autumn, and so would the colours on your dish. These are small details that make up the art of Kaiseki. Dishes are usually garnished with edible leaves and flowers which would be in bloom that season. Needless to say you will not find a non Japanese chef in this kitchen.

Plum Wine Aperitif

Small and intimate dining room

Unlike the Japanese food you might know like Sushi, Katsudon, katsu curry or ramen etc; this tastes nothing like that. Kaiseki is all about simplicity and subtle in taste. Simple, subtle, delicate by taste but is in fact backed up by many hours of innovation and preparation. It's hard making something taste that subtle and perfect! Hardly (if at all) any use of salt or pepper, nothing over powers each other but you know it is a royal ballroom dance in your mouth. You would need to know your palate really well to appreciate it completely.

Yam and quail egg

Clear soup has never tasted so good
Green white and pink to represent the colours of cherry blossom in Japan

Run by a husband and wife team they opened up The Shiori after having had a successful sushi restaurant in Euston. Chef Takashi Takagi was originally trained as a Kaiseki chef in Kyoto and finally felt that he had enough of making sushis and wanted to go back to his true love, so he shut down the successful sushi restaurant and opened The Shiori. I for one think that he made the right decision.

The edible yellow flower is used to clean your palate after each fish

So if this is something that you feel you would appreciate then you should hurry and make that reservation. I called two weeks in advanced and only got a table on a Wednesday. If you are trying for a weekend you may have to wait awhile. There are only 5 tables in the whole restaurant, and every diner looks at each other in agreement on how lucky they are to be here.

Sakura (cherry blossom) Sorbet

An 8 course dinner will set you back 70 GBP and a 10 course dinner is 90GBP. Looking back at the photos I can clearly see now that I have just eaten Spring. Go back in May and the menu will change again. Oh and did I mention it has one of the best Sake selection I've seen, personally selected individually by the chef and his wife. Thank you Ms. Lawson.

I know Spring is here because I no longer have to wear my big heavy coat :)

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