The thing that I love about having my own little space on the internet, is being able to tell you all about the places that I love the most.
Aqua Kyoto has long been one of my favourite places in London, our restaurant of choice for celebrating Valentine’s Day, birthdays and friend’s engagements, but up until now I’d never tried their famous brunch. The combination of some of my favourite bloggers, bottomless champagne, sushi and an outstanding restaurant with a view seemed like the ideal way to to spend a Saturday. Read to the end for a special promo code!!
We started off in the bar area, Aqua Spirit, and as I hadn’t seen Lauren in ages, a welcoming cherry cocktail seemed the perfect way to toast our reunion. Multifunctional space, Aqua Kyoto also shares a building with Aqua Nueva, the group’s Spanish Tapas restaurant, both being on the fifth floor of the building.
And from there you can head to the terrace where you can pretty much spot most of London’s famous landmarks, despite the typically foggy day.
Back in Aqua Kyoto, we settled down with our personalised menu cards, and with Lauren next to me and my dear friend Emma opposite, I knew we’d be in for a really fun day. I was also reunited with May who writes the fantastic gastronomic travel blog, Eat, Cook, Explore and leads Ladies in Blogging and Dannielle who I met in Paris nearly two years ago. It was my first time meeting Geraldine who writes London’s best interiors blog and Adrienne writing for food blog, Mondo Mulia.
We were introduced to Chef Paul Greening who filled us in on his history. Interestingly Paul’s background is in micro biology, but instead of taking his father’s lead and becoming a marine biologist, he pursued his passion for food. His scientific background still informs his cuisine in many interesting ways that’ll go into later. Chef Paul has been at Aqua for four years but he has worked for many starry chefs such as Pierre Koffman, Marcus Wareing and Pierre Gagnaire.
We also discovered the Paul was from New Zealand, and he and fellow Kiwi, Emma, soon found common ground and chatted away about their native country. Meanwhile our first glasses of Veuve Cliquot champagne were poured…and I don’t think our glasses ever ran dry…
The bottomless champagne is a huge selling point of this brunch and with the price being £65, it’s incredible value for money. When you think one bottle of Veuve alone is £75! As we sipped our champagne and admired the sleek black interiors of the restaurant with floor to ceiling windows our starter arrived.
The seven-course set menu starts with a pot of white miso soup with tofu and wakame and it’s the perfect way to kick off. It’s something I always order myself anyway, there’s something really comforting about the salty broth and it’s super healthy and nourishing too.
It really isn’t a Japanese set menu without edamame beans and you have the choice of having the beans with sea salt or with chilli and garlic.
Now…here’s the science bit. Chef Paul explained how he creates skin for the sushi by cleverly making sheets out of mango. He loves experimenting in his kitchen / laboratory and creating things from scratch. He uses his scientific knowledge to approach fermentation processes that are often used in Japanese cookery, and experiments with creating his own miso using acorns.
I don’t need to tell you by now, that the sushi course is my favourite and there was a huge omakase selection.
One thing I really love about sushi is just how pretty it is, look a that platter…just a jewellery box of delight. And speaking of the platter, Chef Paul told us that all the dishes are imported from specialists in Japan and the chop sticks are custom made with ceramic tips.
He likes to keep things as authentic as possible, and as I learnt during my time in Japan, everything on the plate has a meaning and purpose. May, a fount of foodie knowledge, told us that we should eat the mooli on the platter as it helps eliminate any toxins that might be encountered in the raw fish…not that there would be with food this amazingly fresh.
There was a fantastic combination of salmon and tuna sashimi as well as classic nigiri and more inventive rolls. The salmon and avocado was a big hit on the table as was the shrimp tempura maki but a resounding favourite was the unique soft shell crab with avocado wrapped in that mango paper.
Paul also showed us the ingredients that go into his creations and explained a little more about his fascination with pickling and fermentation. Everything he uses is of the highest quality and he imports his wasabi and other key ingredients from Japan. But Paul also emphasises the use of local ingredients too and is a keen forager, noting that ingredients such as seaweed and mugwort used in Japanese cookery can be found in the wild in the UK.
I’m huge fan of tempura and at Aqua Kyoto it’s beautifully crisp and not overly oily. Huge prawns and a mixture of vegetables came with a delicious side of kimchee and garlic sauce. I loved the twirls of aubergine skin on top too.
This deceptively simple looking soba noodle dish combines several of the techniques and processes that Chef Paul described to us, and for many it was the top dish of the day. The soba noodles are home made and the dish includes three types of mushroom, wakame and pickled wild garlic, in a light sauce. It’s actually not available on the main menu yet but I expect it soon will be if it’s popularity around the table is anything to go by.
Next up some yakitori skewers and we enjoyed sweet and sticky robata chicken with spring onion as well as mushroom for vegetarians.
For a £10 supplement you can order Wagyu beef skewers instead though personally I actually preferred the chicken.
It’s not on the menu but Chef Paul wanted us to give this special dessert a try. Called Fuji Apple, the apple itself has been deconstructed and made out of glucose fondant and filled with apple foam. With all the shapes and colours on the plate, the dish is truly a work of art!
With that epic feast it’s unlikely you’ll still have room for dessert but trust me save a bit of space for the Japanese brulée, it’s not too sweet and the caramelisation is simply perfection!
Overall, I can safely say that weekend brunch at Aqua Kyoto was the best I’ve had in London. For quality of food, value for money and the beautiful surroundings it can’t be beaten. And seriously who wouldn’t love bottomless Veuve Cliquot!
PROMO CODE: I’m collaborating with Aqua Kyoto and Booktable so that the person booking brunch receives theirs for free when they bring three or more friends. Just click this link.
The weekend brunch menu is available on Saturdays and Sundays for £65 with bottomless Veuve Cliquot or £49 with bottomless bubbles or Bellinis. If you choose to skip the unlimited drinks option, the food only is priced at £34.
PIN FOR LATER:
240 Regent Street
020 7478 0540
We were guests of Aqua Kyoto for a press event and our brunch was complimentary