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.