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|Address:||Fifth Floor, 240 Regent Street (entrance 30 Argyll Street), London W1B 3BR|
|Tel:||020 3589 3945|
|Price: £55.00||Wine: £22.50||Champagne: £72.50|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sat 12N-2.30pm 5.30-10.30pm (Thurs-Sat -11pm) Sun 12N-4pm|
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It's Christmas and Regent Street is awash with men, women, children and all things furry in a panic as Santa's coming very soon. Even the master of the house is out there somewhere laden with bags filled with stuff that will keep me busy for months trying to work out what I should be doing with it. For me, it's time to escape the hustle and bustle for some wonderful food, I hope!
I'm outside the London Palladium where the crowds have gathered to see the musical the Wizard of Oz and Toto the dog who is loved by all. I'm also directly opposite the entrance to a restaurant that I have not visited before. Aqua Kyoto is a Japanese restaurant that I have read and heard a lot about. The majority of reviews appear to concentrate on the somewhat gloomy entrance. My guess is someone had to come up with something different and dramatic for an entrance lobby that comprises a small desk and a lift. Bring out the dark walls and heavy black curtains and a poor greeter who appears to have to stand in the lobby all day. It reminded me of the entrance to a fairground show that promises something wondrous and more often delivers nothing more than five minutes of badly performed magic tricks and a draughty backside. Sometimes restuantants get things wrong. We all do and sometimes we are smart enough to know to change them. Please Aqua Kyoto change the entrance, as I love your restaurant and I know others will too. When I visited, I sat at the Sushi counter and watched the very skilled sushi chef fillet a whole salmon with such respect and patience that I was mesmerised. Why not put on such a display in the lobby, make it a show to match the wonderful Wizard of Oz, so when the audience are standing in the cold queueing they could experience and glimpse such art for themselves. Or how about having a short film playing of this stylish restaurant and bar, just like the fairground shows, but one that really catches the imagination.
I take the lift to the fifth floor and I'm already impressed. Yes there is another desk and greeter, but I like this. I like the attention you receive and why not. Eating out should be a memorable experience and one where you are looked after. I am led through a stylish bar with a cosy seating arrangement to the main restaurant. Naturally, I order the set sushi lunch. The service is impeccable and professional. It is clear the waiting staff really do wish to make your time here a special occasion and everyone knows their role and things seem to run like clockwork. I am given a nice bowl of warm Edamame beans with a sprinkling of sea salt and I am a happy bunny. My sushi arrives beautifully presented on a bamboo plate and the quality is outstanding. It's a dish to savour and enjoy and that I do with a nice cold Japanese beer. I also receive some Japanese pickles and a tasty miso soup.
I cannot wait to return and I scratch my head as to why the reviews have not been better. For me this is one of the very best Japanese restaurants in London currently. Yes, they say first impressions matter, but just click your heels and get past the dark lobby where you will be transported to somewhere just as beautiful as the land of Oz and you never know, order a cocktail from the bar and stroll out onto the stunning terrace and you may even see a rainbow.