Long before I started my blog, the restaurants in the Aqua group were the location for special occasions for myself and Mr S. I’m now thrilled to be collaborating with them on regular basis. If you’re not the familiar with the group it’s comprised of Hutong and Aqua Shard at The Shard and Aqua Kyoto and Aqua Nueva on Argyll Street in the UK. I’ve even been to the OG Aqua in Hong Kong, where there are several different restaurants and even a traditional junk boat owned by the brand.
My day started off at Aqua Shard and quite honestly I think that might be the best possible way to start a day in London. Serving breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, Aqua Shard can satisfy your dining needs all day. But best of all, it comes with a panoramic view of London’s sensational skyline so that you can enjoy the famous lobster benedict and a glass of champagne whilst looking for St Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye and the Gherkin. Classic full English (both veggie and non) are also on the menu along with healthy options too such as quinoa salad, avocado on toast and egg white omelettes.
Lunch took me to my favourite of the group, Aqua Kyoto on Argyll Street to meet up with my sister to try the brand new Ikigai menu.
If you read my post on hygge at the Storfjord Hotel or cosy luxury at The Pig on the Beach, you’ll know I’m a big fan of the idea of finding contentment. Well Ikigai is the new big thing, rather than slowing down, it’s about striving to a more purposeful life. The word actually means ‘reason for being’ and that finding your purpose in life will allow you to ‘wake to joy’ everyday, it’s something that has been practiced in Japan for years. We kick off with a cocktail, a little like a mojito it had the perfect balance of sweet and sharp – very drinkable.
The Ikigai menu is three courses long and there’s a choice of three options for the starter and main. As the menu is light we decided it wouldn’t be too greedy to just order everything!
Kicking off with a sashimi selection which is always of excellent quality at Aqua Kyoto.
The wild seaweed salad is lightly dressed with nori oil and black goma dressing made from seasame. Chef Paul Greening (who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a few times) has specifically created a menu where nothing is wasted. For this ‘root to leaf’ cooking he has used every element of the seaweed even the tougher parts. To ensure minimal waste, the left over parts of the seaweed are used in the rest of the menu.
The miso cured trout was my favourite of the starters and I loved the delicate salty flavours. For this dish a whole trout is used with cooking oil taken from the bones and skin. Accompanying asazuke vegetable which are lightly pickled and provide a perfect balance to the trout. The kombu topping is actually made from dried and ground leftovers of the aforementioned seaweed.
Main courses will satisfy meat, fish and veg lovers.
Sucking pork belly with eel, root vegetables and jade oil was rich and unctuous.
Cobia is the fish option and it’s marinated in a delicious soy mustard glaze and served with a delicious spicy pepper puree. The left over fish is also used and made into a powder to enhance the flavour. Both the pork and the cobia dishes come with a hearty bowl of fluffy rice.
My favourite was the veggie option – like a comforting bowl of risotto, with the delicious earthy flavours of shitake mushroom. Even the stalks and skins are used in the stock and the foam that finishes this dish off perfectly.
The third course is the Forest Floor which I already sampled when I tried the Go Zen bento boxes in November. This beautiful and unique dessert comprises sour cherry sorbet on a bed of azuki chocolate and almond praline with a side of yuzu shiso cream. It symbolises the ecosystem and the connotations of balance and purpose espoused by Ikigai lifestyle.
Petit fours are served at the end and these will be a changing selection including marshmallows, truffles and sesame nougatines.
It’s safe to say that both Aqua Shard and Aqua Kyoto truly deliver which is why the restaurant group will always remain one of my favourites. I highly recommend both!
The new menu is £30 for three courses, with a cocktail and petit fours in a Japanese sweet box, and will be available as follows:
Lunch: Monday to Friday 12.00-2.30pm
Dinner: Monday to Thursday 5.30-10.30pm, Friday and Saturday 5.30-7.00pm.
240 Regent Street
020 7478 0540
We were guests of Aqua Kyoto and our lunch was complimentary