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Chrysan in London

Rating: 89.
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Note: Chrysan has closed in March 2013.

In 2012, the Hakkasan Group expanded their empire with new restaurant openings in Europe, the US and the Middle East. The group opened three new Hakkasan restaurants in Qatar, San Francisco and New York, the latter already being awarded a Michelin star in the 2013 Michelin New York City guide. This autumn, London saw the opening of two new restaurants in London City, HKK (Cantonese cuisine) and Chrysan (Japanese (Kaiseki) cuisine).

Executive chef of Chrysan (opened in September 2012) is the celebrated Japanese chef Yoshihiro Murata, master of traditional Japanese Kaiseki cuisine. Yoshihiro Murata is also the owner of three restaurants in Japan, Kikunoi Honten (3 Michelin stars) and Kikunoi Roan (2 Michelin stars) both located in Kyoto and Kikunoi (2 Michelin stars) in Tokyo. Head chef of the restaurant in London is Daisuke Hayashi, formerly of Sake No Hana in St James's, London, a protégé of Yoshihiro Murata.

Chrysan is open for lunch and dinner Monday till Saturday (no lunch on Saturday). At lunch the restaurant offers a set lunch menu, a 'Crystal box lunch' for £39, a vegetarian 'Crystal box lunch' for £29 and an a la carte menu with a selection of starters, soups, salads, sashimi, sushi, mains and desserts. In the evening there's also a 'Kaiseki course'  menu for £85 and a vegetarian 'Kaiseki course' menu for £70. I had lunch with my husband at Chrysan on Monday 12 November 2012 and we both chose dishes from the a la carte menu.

The restaurant also has a great cocktail bar were they serve bar snacks and modern and creative cocktails, like the Kyoto Elixer (Belvedere vodka, cherry tomatoes, elderflower, grapefruit, coriander bitters) I had as an aperitif or hubby's "Aged Barrel Flight" - you can trust him to order a tasting of something, given half a chance.

We both started with the Japanese style mock turtle soup - duck meatballs, butternut squash, oxtail stock, pine nuts. Lovely clear and flavoursome oxtail stock with two tender and moist duck meatballs. Great texture (soft but still with a bite) and delicate sweet flavours from the butternut squash. Also in the soup was some thinly sliced daikon which added a nice light and fresh touch.  A simple yet refined soup with elegant flavours.

Next up was Blackened smoky aubergine 'Yakibitashi'. Very smoky tender and squashy aubergine served with a light and fragrant soy based Happo dashi sauce and a nice hot red chilli. The smoky chargrill flavours were powerful and slightly overpowered the natural flavour of the aubergine.

Then the Ebi-ten roll arrived. Eight pieces of prawn tempura and wakame seaweed rice wrapped with carrot paper. With the roll came a small bowl of soy sauce and a small brush so each piece could be brushed with some soy sauce. The roll was absolutely delicious, tasty moist and well-seasoned rice, a touch of mayonnaise and wonderful juicy and crunchy prawn in the middle. So fresh, so pure. The mayonnaise added the perfect touch of smoothness. Great colour and texture from the wafer-thin carrot paper.

The next course was a Sashimi selection. Six types of sashimi Chrysan-style: (i) fresh and succulent prawns with ponzu jelly - (ii) tuna with English mustard - (iii) terrific seabream delicately flavoured with sun-dried tomato and Parmesan, the Mediterranean flavours married beautifully with the seabream - (iv) salmon with a fresh tosa jyogyu jelly - (v) yellowtail with a lovely pure mixture of mooli, ginger and horseradish - (vi) gorgeous creamy and tender scallop with lime and shaved truffle; the truffle flavours were wonderful it was as if they had penetrated the scallop.  A great sashimi selection, very artfully presented.

On to the main course: Angus beef (fillet steak), Dorset wasabi, shiitake mushroom puree, dried tomato puree, sweet potato crisps. Perfectly cooked juicy and tender beef served with a delicious beef jus and soy reduction. The beef has a wasabi (grown in Dorset) puree filling. I like a bit of heat, but there was just far too much wasabi here; half of it would have been more than enough. Both purees were wonderful and high on umami; they served as a perfect accompaniment to the beef. The saltiness of the dried tomato puree added a nice contrast to the sweet flavours in this dish. A wonderful dish with beautifully balanced Eastern and Western flavours; the only let down was the wasabi.

With the beef I had ordered two side dishes, a delicious and creamy crushed potato salad and some lovely 'Tsukemono' (pickled) vegetables with a light yoghurt cream sauce.

Time for dessert, Soy caramel apple tatin, cinnamon ice cream, Yatsuhashi biscuit. Beautifully made tatin, thin apple layers and a divine buttery and caramelised pastry bottom. Lovely cinnamon ice cream with a well-judged touch of cinnamon. The shard-shaped Yatsuhashi biscuit was wonderfully light and crisp. Also on the plate was some nice and tart green apple puree. A splendid dessert with wonderful caramelised flavours and a perfect touch of soy.

Elegance and understatement are two defining aspects of Japanese culture and cuisine. Both the dining room and the food mirror these ideals. The food at Chrysan however is more than (just) Japanese food served in London. It is an attractive union of Western and Eastern flavours, without trying to be trendy. They have only started recently and it is not perfect yet. There were still some errors in the menu but on the whole the flavours were precise and there are extra marks for the top-quality (British) produce in the vibrant dishes we enjoyed. Japan meets Britain in this place and we were being spoiled with clean cooking and artful presentation. No doubt further fine-tuning will even improve quality further. A place to watch.

Chrysan on Urbanspoon

Posted 13-12-2012


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