This classy little restaurant in High Street Ken has set the blogging world alight with its magnificent sushi. And it’s no wonder, even if the service isn’t nearly as skilled as the handiwork behind the counter.
Tucked away just down Argyll Road, Yashin’s attractive interior is a lesson in how to do understated elegance. Dark woods sit next to racing green tiles, immaculate whites and a few unobtrusive bits and bobs, all seductively lit by the glow of swooping baubles of amber. A long bar overlooking the preparation area definitely represents the plum spot, where you can marvel at all those nimble little digits working their magic. A downstairs area is perfect for more intimate dining, but that intimacy is at the expense of all the intoxicating theatre upstairs.
Having a front of house that doesn’t seem to really understand you isn’t the best start to an evening, nor is being shuffled onto someone who appears to be a little bored. It’s certainly not the end of the world though, and you get the feeling that it’s simply a need to iron out faults rather than anything more intrinsic - it is a relatively recent opening after all. Otherwise, it’s a great little venue, with the sedate showmanship behind the counter ensuring everyone’s enthralled, and inoffensive deep house keeping things informal. Fellow diners include those that you’d expect to find in such an affluent part of town, but also a fair smattering of well-to-do Japanese who’ve clearly heard good things.
After starring at the now defunct Ubon by Nobu, head chef Yasuhiro Minemo showcases just why it’s so good to have him back doing his thing; this is seriously good stuff. If you don’t know a great deal about sushi then fret not, because the best way to tuck in at Yashin is to put your trust in the ‘Omakase’, or 'chef’s menu', where everything is chosen and prepared for your easy – and incredibly enjoyable – digestion. Eight pieces are £35, eleven are £45 and The Yashin – a water feature of a plate with fifteen pieces – comes in at £60.
The first thing you notice as these lovingly crafted, beautiful pieces of nigiri are carefully laid out in front of you is how fluffy and light the rice is – just as it should be, in other words. Then you’ll probably notice the exquisitely plump fish and want to jump straight in, so do. Particular highlights include the fatty tuna that’s blow-torched to melt a little of the top layer; yellow tail with a tiny touch of sake paste; the salmon with ponzu jelly and some very impressive soft shell crab. But rest assured, everything is impeccably done and well worth the High Street Ken prices you’ll end up paying.
Sake is a spectacle in itself, served in two test tubes and dunked in a glass of crushed ice. It’s good quality and is a great little introduction to your meal. Lager fans looking to keep things traditional can sup on Koshihikari Echigo beer (clean, crisp and refreshing), but if you want wine then Yashin has an impressive selection that starts with an excellent house and rises steadily up to the higher echelons that will keep even the hardest-to-please High Street Ken local happy.
The Last Word
If you’re looking for some of the best sushi London has to offer, then Yashin certainly comes up trumps thanks to stunningly fresh fish and clear expertise behind the counter. And if they iron out those staffing issues, they’ll get a five.