Just a stones throw from Harrods, tucked away at the end of the very exclusive (Range Rover lined) Beauchamp Place lies Chisou, a Japanese restaurant popular with locals and natives alike. Invited along to sample the mouth watering menu, Ellie and I headed to the venue at 6.30pm on Saturday, eager to put all the great reviews and recommendations to the test.
A rather modest exterior reveals a very plush interior upon further inspection, lined with decadent leather booths for private dining and open tables (mostly two seaters, so as I later discovered, is very popular with couples), Chisou offers everything you would expect from a top London restaurant, only better. Japanese cuisine is admittedly my favourite, although the more authentic restaurants are hard to find. It was rather telling that the menu was presented both in English and in Japanese, proving that the natives are regular diners, alongside London foodies.
I habitually look at the menu of a restaurant online before dining there, as it normally takes me several hours to ponder over the different choices. I am a vegetarian due to the fact I don’t like the taste of meat and don’t enjoy it but I do eat salmon and white fish (I know, don’t ask) so usually what I can eat is rather limited. Upon first glance, I was delighted to see that there were a number of vegetarian options available, in addition to those that included fish ingredients – so I was certainly spoiled for choice with regards to what I could eat.
The staff kindly popped a bowl of edamame beans on our table to snack on whilst perusing the menu (a lovely touch) and also brought over a much needed glass of bubbly. The waitress informed us that diners usually order a few starters and share, so we took note and opted for the vegetable gyozas, vegetable tempura, Chisou spicy tiger prawns and vegetable sushi rolls. Quite the feast.
Although I’m no cuisine expert, the gyozas were the best I’ve ever tasted, with a gorgeously crispy, deep fried to perfection outer layer and a warm, soft vegetable mix inside. The gyoza sauce wasn’t too overpowering – and although I thought I’d struggle eating five, I enjoyed them so much, I could have happily devoured another plate. Described as vegetable dumplings (which isn’t the most appetising description) if you’re looking for a rather tame, but absolutely delicious introduction into Japanese food, opt for these.
The tempura, although very tasty, seemed a rather odd mix of vegetables to choose to deep fry – including spring onion and what looked like asparagus (but I could be wrong). I really enjoyed it, but I would have preferred softer vegetables, such as small peppers, green beans and sweet potato.
Often Japanese food can be overly greasy, which tends to leave you feeling a nasty sort of full that takes ages to recover from, however when done right – you walk out feeling satisfied, but not sick. The cuisine is all about sharing and trying lots of different dishes, so it is advisable to arrive with a relatively empty stomach – however even after a delicious portion of starters, we were excited and ready to try our mains.
Again, with an amazing array of food on offer including oysters, tiger prawns, sea bass, mackerel and beef, we were spoiled for choice when it came to options. Eventually I settled on a favourite dish of mine (ever the adventurous one) Teryaki Salmon, whilst Ellie opted for the delicious sounding Saikyo Yaki, grilled black cod marinated in white miso paste. Accompanying these dishes, we chose a portion of sushi rice each (which came topped very photogenically with sesame seeds) and a plate of udon noodles, with tempura dressing.
It would be an understatement to say that my salmon was exquisite, because I honestly have never tasted something so amazing. I was expecting the salmon to be glazed in sticky sweet teriyaki sauce but instead it was lightly brushed over the top, something which enabled the dish to be more accessible, less sickly and far more enjoyable. Ellie’s black cod was ‘the best she’d ever tasted’, with a sweet miso paste and soy dressing.
Determined not to be beaten and with an undeniably hard to hide sweet tooth, we ordered a selection of puddings to share. Although I have eaten in plenty of Japanese restaurants, I’m not normally enticed by the dessert menu, which can sound more savoury than sweet – but with sweet rice cakes, filled pancakes and chocolate fondant on offer, how could we possibly resist?If you’re looking for a very authentic, luxurious and welcoming restaurant in the Knightsbridge area of London – or you’re simply looking for somewhere delicious food is guaranteed, I would definitely recommend a visit to Chisou. The staff are attentive, without being overbearing or intrusive – and they go above and beyond if you’re a newcomer (as we were to Sake) talking us through the different grades of the popular rice wine. The prices are in my opinion, fair and justified for the quality and taste of the food (with main dishes priced at around £12-£17).
Chisou Knightsbridge, 31 Beauchamp Place, London, SW3 1NU, 020 3155 0005