Sushi in the Clouds
9 October 2019
When someone offers sushi for lunch I tend to feel quite short-changed. So when a good friend suggested I might like a new opening in West London a few months ago, I advanced with trepidation. It was only under a little further investigation, when I read that Giles Coren had labelled it ‘probably the most perfect meal I have eaten in a restaurant in more than 20 years as a critic’ , that I got really excited.
I duly prepared myself to go into battle for a table, with only 15 seats in the entire restaurant, scarcity rules. Not to mention a reputation that precedes the head Chef, Endo Kazutoshi, third generation sushi master and former executive chef for the entire Nobu group.
Table secured, glad rags on, we emerged one autumnal evening on the 8th floor of the old BBC headquarters in White City. As we sat down for dinner, I felt as though I had entered Endo’s own dining room. He immediately started chatting to us, telling me to move my bag in case it got water on it, whilst informing that his favourite designer was Chlöe. Small talk over, he addressed all 15 diners and we got down to business.
Each of the 18 dishes is introduced by one of the chefs, but this doesn’t feel at all pretentious. It feels necessary. Ingredients are sourced from far and wide and preparation is meticulous. We heard tales of a Japanese fisherman in Devon, a Japanese farmer in East Sussex and the best mushrooms sourced from Denmark, because apparently no one does them better. Many of the techniques used were so foreign to me, I was grateful for an explanation before each course.
Nigiri were often served straight into the palm of our hands, devoured in one bite, on instruction from the Master himself. I could go into the merits of each piece for hours but I wouldn’t want to bore you, so I’ll pick out some highlights.
The Oyster nigiri was like eating air, I’ve never had anything like it. So delicate, so beautiful, so fresh and clean. The 3 day aged cuttlefish tempura was served in a delectable broth with cauliflower tempura atop. Wagu beef cooked to perfection. And just when I thought they couldn’t do any better, out came the most divine little brown sugar soufflé (a surprise course), served with brown sugar crème fraiche and rum jelly.
I doubt I have even skimmed the surface of how sublime this place is. On reflection, it feels a bit like sorcery; an out of body experience. The calmness that Endo instils in his team, the relative quiet of the kitchen, the adeptness of his staff, the insane flavours of all the food, the delicate glassware, the gorgeous ceramics, the home pickled ginger. It’s ephemeral; no wonder it’s called Sushi in the Clouds.
Sushi in the Clouds