These Brompton road premises have seen a number of restaurants over the years. For a long time the building was home to a Scandinavian restaurant called Lundums, then the lovely but ill-fated Ambassade de l’Ile, then the less lovely Bistro K. Now it has been taken over by the owners of Yashin Sushi, who in September 2013 opened it as Yashin Ocean House.
The dining room has counter seating as well as regular tables, able to accommodate 70 diners at one time. There are also two private dining rooms downstairs. The menu format is modern Japanese, though the chef who cooked my meal is Italian, Daniele Codini, who has worked previously at Tour d’Argent and Atelier Robuchon in Paris. The Japanese pastry chef, Seiko Kokubun, has also worked at Tour d’Argent and Waterside Inn, and more recently for two years at The Royal Oak.
There is a quite extensive sake list in addition to wines. The wine list was quite ambitious in that its 150 odd wines started at £24 but went up to £780, with very little below £40, and featured plenty of grander wines. Marcel Deiss Pinot d’Alsace 2011 was £38 for a wine that costs £15 in a shop, Greywacke Wild Sauvignon Blacn 2011 was £52 for a wine that retails at £23, and there were prestige offerings such as Gaja Piemonte Langhe Nebbiolo "Sori San Lorenzo" 2006 was £392 for a wine that will set you back around £280 in a wine merchant.
An amuse bouche of miso mousse in a mushroom consommé with parsnip root and raw button mushrooms was an enjoyable way to begin the meal. The parsnip provided a textural contrast to the soft miso mousse, with the mushroom broth having good earthy flavour (14/20).
Celeriac and crab (£11.50) were served with mayonnaise and a layer of tosazu (vinegar) jelly, with crab tuile, crab powder and eel sauce, with a little glass of crab consommé on the side. The delicate crab and the earthy celeriac flavour worked well together, the drops of eel sauce providing a deeper flavour (14/20).
Dry-aged sea bass (£8.30) was “instant smoked” for 20 seconds, then served on a salad of radicchio and dandelion with drops of coriander sauce. This was a pretty dish, the smoking mercifully light, though for me a bit more of the coriander sauce would have been welcome (13/20).
Yellowtail kama (£13.60) comprised yellowtail from Japan marinated in miso and then grilled, served with chilli and daikon (radish) mixed with vinegar jelly. The fish was carefully cooked, with crisp skin and firm flesh, the jelly and chill lifting the dish (14/20).
Freshwater eel (£17.20) is killed here in the kitchen rather than being pre-prepared, slow cooked in a water bath for 8 minutes at 60 degrees. It was served with a passion fruit sauce, freshly grated wasabi (the real thing from Japan, not the coloured horseradish in a tube that most London restaurants pass off as wasabi), vinegar jelly and eel sauce. The eel had quite good flavour, and the wasabi worked well with it; I am not entirely convinced about the pairing with sweet passion fruit puree, but this was still a nice dish (14/20)
“Miroir” chocolate dessert (£10) was made with Valrhona chocolate, with chocolate mousse and vanilla sauce inside a chocolate glaze on a biscuit base, with hazelnuts and walnuts, garnished with edible gold and flowers. This was a very pretty dish that had lovely flavour, the chocolate rich and the nuts providing a texture to complement the rich mousse. For me the vanilla ice cream could have had more vanilla flavour, but that is the only niggle This dessert could have easily come from a Michelin starred French restaurant (16/20 may be a mean score).
Service was very good, my waiter knowledgeable and enthusiastic. The bill came to £76 per person with just water to drink, though of course if you had fewer dishes or went for the £24 three course set lunch you would pay less than this. At dinner, with three courses and a modest wine, a bill might be of the order of £70 per person. Yashin Ocean House should do well: it has an interesting menu and very capable cooking in a pleasant dining room.