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Chrysan, the high-end Japanese restaurant and sibling to international success story Hakkasan, has ceased trading after just seven months.
The restaurant, which was named Best New Restaurant for autumn 2012 by Square Meal following its launch in September, was one of two new ventures opened by the Hakkasan Group last year (big-ticket Chinese restaurant HKK launched in the same building in Broadgate West later that year). It was planned as the first of many Japanese restaurants in the Hakkasan Group’s pipeline.
‘Chrysan will become the brand centre for our Japanese arm, like Hakkasan is for our Chinese family,’ Hakkasan Group’s CEO Niall Howard told Square Meal last summer. ‘We already have Sake No Hana, which is pitched a bit above smart-casual dining, and later we hope to spin something out of Chrysan which will be more a mid-level concept.’
Due to its pedigree – the restaurant’s executive chef Yoshihiro Murata is a multi-Michelin-starred hero of ceremonial ‘kaiseki’ cuisine in his homeland – and the experienced brand driving it, Chrysan was opened amid huge expectation, and initially appeared to be delivering on its promise.
In his review of Chrysan, published in the autumn 2012 issue of Square Meal Lifestyle, editor Ben McCormack praised the restaurant’s ‘fabulous looks’ and ‘vivid flavours’, while admitting that the concept was a ‘radical departure for the Hakkasan Group’.
However, the restaurant closed last Tuesday without explanation. ‘Hakkasan Group has ceased trading the Japanese restaurant concept, Chrysan, and is considering options for the site,’ said a spokesperson for the restaurant group. ‘We hope to retain as many of the Chrysan team as possible at our London restaurants.’
So, does this shock closure signal a loss of confidence in the City as a dining destination, and a wrong move by a restaurant company that has traditionally targeted diners in the West End? With high-profile newcomers such as Sushisamba and Duck & Waffle doing good business in the Square Mile, and more to come once The Shard opens this spring, it seems unlikely that Chrysan’s location was to blame for its swift demise – particularly because Chrysan’s sibling HKK (a restaurant more synonymous with Hakkasan’s core Chinese offering) continues to trade. On the other hand, not everyone warmed to the hyper-aesthetic kaiseki cuisine style offered by the restaurant – in her review of the restaurant, the London Evening Standard’s Fay Maschler labelled the concept an ‘opportunistic mismatch’.
All eyes are now on Hakkasan Group as to what will replace Chrysan – keep up with SquareMeal.co.uk/news for the latest details.