So. Aqua Kyoto is a funny one. It balances so very delicately on the knife edge between pretentious (most likely due to the irritating flash website of its parent company, Aqua Restaurant Group) and comfortably cool, serving up modern Japanese cuisine five floors up from London’s bustling Oxford Circus.

I’ve now been twice, and I still can’t quite pick a camp. I mean, the waiters float around straightening up your chair should you get up and leave it not perfectly parallel and six inches from the table (pretentious) but then you can have drinks on their awesome balcony overlooking Regent Street, which caters for one and all and doesn’t require a pompous reservation (very cool).

Y’see? I just don’t know.

Aqua Kyoto isn’t really on the top of my list when I think of heading out for Japanese, mainly because I can’t be bothered dressing up just for some good sushi, but last week’s little visit was for a special occasion. Sorry, make that two special occasions… my darling friends Babs and Mags (who are twins, yes twice the gorgeousness) turned the ripe young age of 30.

I’m not going to go into the whole friendship-blah-blah thing in this post because we have a lot of food to get through (priorities!) but suffice to say, I love them, they love me, we’re pretty much family and *smooooooooooch*

{see? I can do that and they will still love me}

Ok, onto the food!

There were about a billion people at this dinner, but a few of us managed to segregate ourselves off at one end of the table which was good planning because we managed to order and eat within a reasonable time while the rest of them chatted and went hungry. I mean who wants to chat. Food, people!

crab & rocket salad with spicy yuzu vinaigrette

prawn & scallop harumaki with mustard sauce

beef tataki with onion sauce

chicken thigh skewers with sansho teriyake

twice cooked crispy pork belly with
langoustines & yuzu pepper

chargrilled sea bass and shiitake mushroom
with truffle garlic soy

chef’s sashimi selection

innovative sushi platter

banana tempura with matcha ice cream

The food in general is ok ~ not bad by any means but nothing mind blowing either. Surprisingly one of the bigger stars of the night was the crab & rocket salad with spicy yuzu vinaigrette. I know it doesn’t look like much from the photo, but there was a heap of fresh crab meat under that pile of leafy greens and the yuzu vinaigrette was delicious.

The prawn & scallop harumaki with mustard sauce was also quite good, the twice cooked crispy pork belly wasn’t crispy at all (sad face) and everything else I’d say was just on par.

After dinner we moved over to Aqua Spirit and had a drink or two, the most interesting being Aqua Kyoto’s signature cocktail made with traditional tanqueray gin, shaken with akinoto sake and dry sherry, sweetened with apple and elderflower, balanced with yuzu. And all that is served with a tiny skewer with one grape, cheese and quince. And it’s poured from a sake bottle and sipped.

By the way, here are the beautiful birthday girls…

How awesome do they look? Can you believe one of them has a two year old?!

ps. I’m still undecided if Aqua Kyoto is pretentious or cool. I think if you ignore some of the investment wanker types and girls with high high high HIGH heels swanning around, it’d probably be cool.

pps. Within the same building is also Aqua Restaurant Group’s Spanish arm, Aqua Neuva. I actually kinda wanna try it.

Aqua Kyoto
5th Floor, 240 Regent Street
(entrance on 30 Argyll Street)
London, W1F 7EB
0207 478 0540

Aqua Kyoto on Urbanspoon

7 Thoughts on “Aqua Kyoto: undecided between pretentious or cool (and happy birthday to my favourite twins!)

  1. Banana tempura sounds good! And that pork belly… YUM!

  2. I just did the friendship blah-blah post today for my bestie, don’t hate on me ;P They are wearing matching outfits which also match the drink in the photo above, so they look pretty cool to me.

  3. This place looks pretty good. Usually I find if it’s fancy then the food is not that good or the service is really bad. Was it expensive? The drinks look good too!

  4. Maria: the banana tempura was good actually – like a fritter but lighter 🙂 pork belly not so good 🙁

    Sasa: damn right they’re cool. And erm, they don’t always dress the same! 🙂

    kawami: It was an ok price actually… worked out at £35pp without drinks which isn’t toooooo bad!

  5. That pork belly briefly made it onto my pork belly database until you pointed out that the crackling wasn’t crispy. Isn’t there a law against that kind of thing?

    PS: Liking the new look of your blog!

  6. The mention of yuzu dressing always perks up my interests! I have always wanted to try it.

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