Sachi showcases authentic Japanese flavours from its home in the vault of Pantechnicon, a concept store bringing a forgotten enclave of London back to life. Olivia Palamountain reports
Japanese restaurant Sachi must be the latest contender for the crown of best sushi in Belgravia, no mean feat with neighbours that include Zuma and Sumosan.
It’s housed in the bowels of Pantechnicon, a concept store that occupies a magnificent heritage building dating from 1830, and which celebrates the best of Nordic and Japanese craftsmanship and creativity.
These two design-conscious cultures are celebrated through a cornucopia of shopping and eating opportunities: two Japanese and Nordic design shops, the UK’s first Café Kitsuné, a roof garden bar and winter terrace, a Nordic bar and restaurant – Eldr (meaning “fire” in Old Norse), and Sakaya – a micro-bar and bottle shop.Globetrender begins the night in the latter, a bar with only four (official) seats and wall-to-wall bottles of fine Japanese spirits. The loveliest things come in small packages, right? That’s definitely the case at Sakaya, where we have a private audience with a mixologist and her arsenal of delightful drinks.
Expect a peachy twist on a Martini with the “Sakura” or for something a bit more refreshing, try the “Awamori and Yuzu”, a blend of Harusame Kari Awamori (a Japanese spirit that isn’t sake but is also made from rice) topped with a yuzu and shiso tonic, blended especially for the bar.The word on the street is that Sakaya also hosts some pretty outrageous micro-parties, but don’t quote us on that – you’ll have to discover it for yourself, perhaps after one of the bar’s whisky masterclasses?
In order to reach Sachi, we first have to move through one of Pantechnicon’s retail spaces: when everything is just so achingly cool it’s difficult to resist splurging, but resist we do.
Downstairs, a bespoke installation of plants and flowers by Japanese creative director Satoshi Kawamoto hangs over Sachi’s entrance, welcoming guests into the restaurant like a bridge between two worlds.
Basement dining isn’t always the easiest look to pull off (I should know, I live in a lower ground floor flat) but the clever people at Sachi have pulled off a beautiful and soothing 130 cover space that truly captures the minimalist spirit of Japanese design.The furniture has been created by Karimoku Case Study, a collaboration between Japanese furniture maker Karimoku and Copenhagen-based Norm Architects, while ceramics, cutlery, chopsticks, and wooden bowls are all handcrafted across Japan by specialist workshops.
Diners can choose from central tables, hidden booths or a private room, or sit at the eight-seater sushi counter and watch the chefs at work.
While there’s a healthy range of classic sushi and sashimi plates on offer, the menu also explores more unfamiliar Japanese dishes and regional cooking, inspired by the local delicacies in Hokkaido, Osaka and Fukuoka. Ingredients, however, are sourced closer to home, from Japanese Greens grown in Sussex and meat from British farms, to trout organically reared in Scotland and wasabi produced in the UK.
Sharing is the way to go – and be sure to check in with Sachi’s sake expert Natsuki Kikuya, one of the UK’s few Sake Samurais.
We keep things simple to begin with: creamy cuts of fatty tuna sashimi is first to arrive, followed by the moriawase plate, aka the chef’s selection of nigiri, which features the likes of salmon, scallop and yellowtail, sitting atop delicate rice thrones.
Vegetarians and carnivores alike should order the Kinoko maki, a shiitake, enoki and black garlic babe of a roll that beats its Toro minced tuna and spring onion counterpart hands down.Mains? The Wagyu sirloin with beetroot and miso comes recommended but we’re up for keeping things pescatarian with the Lobster & Squash Tempura. The nuggets of lobster enrobed in lacy batter shells are extraordinarily good, and even better once dunked into the accompanying dashi.
Nasu Aubergine and Miso is another hit, a crowd-pleasing umami bomb nicely offset but the fresh and light spinach and sesame Gomae salad. Less successful is the Agedashi Tofu with mushroom and seaweed. It’s bland, rubbery and joyless – the kind of dish only a dieter could convince themselves to like.
Room for pud? There’s just one option on offer at present (an elegant duo of tiny cakes – matcha flavour and a fig Madeira) but Sachi is planning to poach one of the patissiers from Cafe Kitsuné upstairs, and install them any day soon. I’d say that’s just one excellent reason to return.