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Dai Chi

Japanese·
££££
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Silver Award
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SquareMeal Review of Dai Chi

Silver Award

We weren’t sure about the idea of Dai Chi at first. While kushikatsu (skewered and deep-fried dishes) excels as street food, stretching it to a six-course tasting menu seemed ambitious. Sister restaurant Angelina, however, wowed the masses with Italo-Japanese fusion. Proving sceptics wrong, as we would soon find out, runs in the family.

The raw course hit the ground running. Wafer-thin kingfish tranches arrived laced with soy and a dash of truffle. Salmon roe, underpinned by a base of savoury custard and sausage, couldn’t have surprised us more. Among the equally impressive vegetable dishes was a humble cucumber, wrapped in shiso leaves, lightly panko-ed and spiked with umeboshi (fermented plum).

The famous squid donuts were served with katsuobushi and sweet mayo, okonomiyaki-style. They were so much lighter than expected, which would soon become a recurring theme. Ruby-red tuna sashimi, housed in tare and panko, came neatly cross-sectioned like a kind of sushi beef Wellington, perfectly finished with a blob of authentic wasabi.

The duck and beef skewers were wholly outshone by the chicken karaage, impossibly succulent and housed in a sweet Hokkaido milk bun. With the raw, vegetable, seafood and meat segments over, a dessert now would have left us a course short. This thought was dissolved by a glossily-glazed, still-sizzling kingfish jaw, carefully balanced with pickled Japanese beetroot.

Concerns that a dessert might be overkill were similarly dissolved, this time by a compact matcha panna cotta. This was playfully tinged with blood orange and finished with white chocolate, roasted until brown. Exciting wines and sakes were paired perfectly, delivered by confident, passionate staff who clearly knew what our reaction would be.

We expected six courses of sticks, but were given a fifteen-dish odyssey. And, when the bill arrived, Dai Chi had one final surprise. Each dish was - on average - £2.53.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Cuisines
Japanese
Ambience
Cool, Cosy, Dark and moody, Fun, Quirky, Romantic, Unique
Food Occasions
Dinner
People
Dates, Romantic, Special occasions

About

The founders of Italo-Japanese restaurant Angelina’s in Dalston have opened Japanese-inspired kushikatsu restaurant Dai Chi in the heart of Soho. Bringing the cuisine of Osaka to London, it champions the dish kushikatsu via a six-course tasting menu, which loosely translates to ‘deep-fried skewers’. Guests can dine on expertly-cooked skewers featuring fresh fish, meat and vegetables, with the option to choose a simple or more complex tasting menu. There is a drinks pairing available at an extra cost, as well as the option to add extra skewers to your meal if liked.  

Kick off with a couple of crudo courses, which could be tuna tobiko tacos and hamachi (sushi) with truffle soy and furikake. The main event is of course the kushikatsu skewers which typically include the likes of ribeye with wasabi, duck with negi and ginger, Hokkaido milk bun with chicken karaage and cod kabayaki. Ok, so we’re not exactly sure what it all means but we can guarantee there will be a concoction of fusion flavours and, yes, they will mostly be served on a stick. Dishes are served with unlimited tsukemono pickles and chilled miso soup, while the final courses might include a Japanese risotto and dessert. If the idea of panko-breadcrumbed deep-fried skewers of meat, fish and vegetables sounds like your idea of heaven, then this restaurant has you covered. 

To drink, there is an international wine list and sake list, created by Haruka Hisata, its sake and wine sommelier. The 28-cover dining room boasts a six-seat counter and cosy low-level lighting – a promising date spot we imagine. Japanese-style lanterns hang from the ceiling while various bottles of sake and other Japanese spirits line the walls. The design blends Japanese minimalism with Italian marble accents, with the addition of a vinyl record player as a focal point to the restaurant.


FAQs

Is there a non-tasting menu option?

Yes, you can order individual dishes a la carte. However the tasting menu is best for the full experience.

Helpful? 0

Are there vegetarian options?

Yes, although most of the dishes feature fish or meat.

Helpful? 0

Does the restaurant do private dining?

Yes.

Helpful? 0

Location

16A D'Arblay Street, Soho, London, W1F 8EA

020 7734 1449 020 7734 1449

Website

Opening Times

Lunch
Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed Closed
Thu Closed
Fri Closed
Sat 13:00-15:00
Sun Closed
Dinner
Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed 18:00-23:30
Thu 18:00-23:30
Fri 18:00-00:00
Sat 18:00-00:00
Sun Closed

Reviews

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3 Reviews 
Food/Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

PATRICIA C

28 December 2022  
Food & Drink 3
Service 3
Atmosphere 3
Value 3

well seasoned food

Attractively served

Anon

24 November 2022  
Food & Drink 5
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 5

Love this place! With a carefully curated set menu and authentic decor, this restaraunt is truly one of a kind!

Anon

23 October 2022  
Food & Drink 1
Service 4
Atmosphere 4
Value 0.5
Falsely Advertised, Minuscule Dishes and Expensive

Quite disappointed with the food for the price we paid.

Firstly at the time of booking, there were two options for menus, one costing at £42 and the other at £62 (or something along those lines as the website has since changed). Upon arrival, there was only one option for a £68 menu. I appreciate that menus could change but it would have been courteous to have been informed about this. Regardless, they have an extremely strict cancellation policy where it is a non-refundable deposit and will only allow us to move the date of reservation once; so even if we were informed about the changes of the menu and we had decided not to go ahead, we would have lost £10 deposit per person.

Secondly the courses were minuscule (see pictures. The meals look sizeable as pictures are zoomed in but imagine each dish being eaten in one mouthful. In some picture there are three portions because there were three of us) and supposedly Japanese inspired. The 'kushikatsu' style of fried food on skewers at the beginning of the meal was I guess the only Japanese inspired dish but after that, there was nothing Japanese related. The 'omakase' format is what they're trying to follow but is certainly a world away from what omakase is. This just felt like false advertising to us, there was nothing else in the menu that was Japanese related/inspired.

The fourth dish was sourdough bread with a bit of butter. Usually at restaurants, bread is served as a starter. Considering we paid £68 for the meal, being served bread as a course felt like an absolute rip-off (seriously? Bread?? What's it got to do with Japan?) Another dish was called 'okonomiyaki', we thought this was the traditional Japanese savoury pancake but it was a tiny cube (tiny - the size of a mint!) of something covered in seaweed that tasted nothing like okonomiyaki. The wood pigeon was the size of my thumb and was quite chewy and the dessert of the madeleine and pate de fruits were each the size of a Werther's Original.

Service was great and the atmosphere was good. However, overall I was very disappointed with the food especially how much we paid: I cannot justify the price I paid for what it was. I've had both omakase and kaseki meals before (in Japan also) and I'm very aware of the concepts/prices/portions and have in the past, been happy to pay high prices for the 'experience' and the quality of food. However this meal was a car crash, not to mention that my friend also found a bit of fluff in one of her dishes.

I suggest the management take a look at the menu served tonight and make some dramatic changes. What a disappointment. I do not recommend the restaurant: I felt ripped off, mis-informed and left the restaurant hangry. From reading the positive reviews, it seems as if we were at a completely different restaurant. Avoid at all cost.

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