Restaurant: Yashin Ocean house
117-119 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 3RN
020 7373 3990
Yashin Ocean House is a Japanese fish restaurant that demands its diners’ full attention. The establishment’s philosophy is to use every part of the fish, head to tail. The result is unique food (mackerel bone crisps, anyone?) with a smartly trendy atmosphere that’s sure to impress.
The restaurant’s menu is a picture of a fish, with the various dishes annotated on the different parts of its anatomy, indicating their source. It’s a nice concept, emphasising the Ocean House’s speciality. Sadly the mixing up of smaller and larger dishes makes it rather difficult to know how much to order, though our waiter did a good job of explaining what we needed. Don’t let anxiety put you off: the food is delightful, although the ordering process definitely deserves a place in the Government Major Projects Portfolio.
To begin, we had the aforementioned mackerel bone crisps, served with crisp versions of various vegetables, on a charred piece of wood. This dish was tasty, with a flavour just (by an inch) on the right side of burnt.
We followed this with a shared platter of sashimi omakase: a selection of incredibly fine raw fish. I was slightly worried when the waiter detonated dry ice in the centre of the dish: had things taken a turn for the tacky? Fortunately, the display was well-executed, and the sashimi was so superb I could have forgiven far more.
My tuna cheek main meal was marinated and cooked to perfection, falling off the fish’s thick bones at the touch of a chopstick. My dining companion was very pleased with her buri daikon – a traditional dish of root vegetable and yellowtail fish that somehow managed to be both hearty and delicate.
Oddly for a Japanese restaurant, the staff kept bringing us bread well into the main meal. Not just any old bread, it was jet-black, coloured with squid ink, and served with seaweed and cod roe butters. This was genuinely tasty, though it did feel as if the bread might be intended partly to compensate for the slightly mean size of some of the portions.
The desserts were all visual works of art, and the chocolate mousse we shared was excellent and beautifully textured. A cavernous cellar (we had a refreshing Japanese white wine called Grace) will keep wine buffs amused, and very attentive service certainly impressed CSW.
Located near London’s Gloucester Road station, if you’re looking for something within striking distance of Whitehall that is sure to impress, and where the focus is on novel and skilfully-prepared food, Yashin Ocean House is a good bet.
By Jon Stone