When people learn that I voluntarily relocated from Sydney to London, I am most commonly met with a confused stare, followed by ‘…why?’.
Why, indeed. Well, it wasn’t for the weather, I can tell you that much.
It was only when I arrived in London that I was introduced to the concept of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) – a type of depression that comes and goes in seasonal patterns, with symptoms supposedly becoming more apparent during the winter months. Despite being told about it time and time again, I refused to believe that this was actually ‘a thing’. Having hailed from a city that receives upwards of 340 sunny days per year, I had never so much as entertained the thought that perhaps something as trivial as the weather may have an impact on my emotional well-being.
However, having survived my second London winter, I am now 95% certain it is a real thing. A very real thing.
The cooler months in London settle in quickly, with days becoming short, endlessly grey and unforgivably wet. The trees lose their green, the flowers disappear and the whole city becomes seemingly monochrome. This is the point at which I begin to feel it set in. My mood becomes persistently low, I am increasingly irritable, I lose interest in activities and getting out of bed in the morning turns into a bitch-worthy chore…I become SAD.
At the time I am not necessarily aware of the change. However, with the blanket of darkness slowly being lifted from across London and the first signs of spring beginning to shine through, so great has been the shift in my overall outlook that I have finally been forced to put two and two together.
Temperatures are rising, blue skies abound, blossoms have established themselves on almost every street and the park has turned a vibrant shade of green. The line between indoor and outdoor living is well on its way to becoming blurred and the curse has been lifted – I am sad no more.
And what better way to kick those winter blues and celebrate the brighter months to come than getting in a little early when it comes to those lighter, warm-weather-appropriate meals that I love so much. And where better than Yashin Ocean House?
…You don’t need to ask me twice!
I dine at Yashin quite often and whilst I tend to frequent the outpost located just off Kensington High Street due to convenience, it is actually the quieter location down on Old Brompton Road that I prefer. The food is relatively on par across both sites. However, the airier dining room filled with tonnes of natural light and the more comprehensive menu means Ocean House holds a slight edge for me.
For this dinner I chose to be seated at one of the tables in the smart main dining room for a little extra privacy – but I do love to perch at the sushi counter and I recommend this space just as much! Service can be a little on the slow side at times, but it is always friendly and helpful.
Our order was placed and we were promptly presented with an amuse bouche of cured salmon. Tasty and much appreciated, this was a nice bite-sized start to the meal.
More than a little obsessed with salmon roe at the moment, first to the table was ikura with cubed vegetables and truffle soy (£9). The pearl-like eggs were perfectly fresh (even if perhaps a touch on the salty side) and the veil of truffle provided an interestingly earthy undertone without being too overpowering. Super simple, but super good.
A dish I struggle to move past on any visit is the tuna carpaccio with truffle-infused ponzu jelly (£11.00). One of my favourite dishes on the menu and definitely a must-order!
Again with the dry ice! This is something I also encountered recently at Kiyomi on Australia’s Gold Coast and I cannot say I totally understand seemingly everyone’s insistence on serving sashimi this way. Perhaps it gives the illusion of ice cold…and in the realm of raw fish, cold = fresh; and fresh = good.
Who knows! Anyway, the so called ‘sashimi island’ (£32) carried six varieties of fish (including fatty tuna belly, salmon, sea bream, sea bass, yellowtail and mackerel), each of which came topped with its own individual flavouring component. As with Yashin Sushi and Bar, Ocean House carries a no soy sauce policy and each piece of sushi and sashimi comes pre-seasoned in a way that the chef believes best showcases the ingredient. Everything was fresh and really tasty – it certainly could have stood its own without the additional bells and whistles.
Curiosity got the better of me and I threw in a last minute order of the wagyu sirloin sushi (£20 for 2 pieces). From the Gifu prefecture of Japan, the premium beef is exclusive to Yashin. Delicately marbled, it came lightly seared and positively melting over well-seasoned sushi rice. My idea of heaven.
I underwent another unfamiliar tangent on the menu and went for the foie gras glazed in aged red miso (£15). A less vegetarian-friendly take on the Japanese menu staple, nasu dengaku (AKA miso-glazed eggplant), this came beautifully seared and satisfyingly fatty, with the liver carrying an almost creamy texture. I did feel that the candied sesame crackers rendered the dish a little too sweet, even if they did provide some much needed texture. Overall, enjoyable.
The final dish of the evening was grilled eel with sweet soy and Maldon salt (£9.80). I appreciated the fact that this didn’t come slathered in sauce and the delicate flavour of the eel was left to shine. I also loved the smoky kiss and savoury char that the grill imparted.
As much as I absolutely love it, this is the kind of food that doesn’t feel overly satisfying when the temperatures plummet below ten degrees – that kind of weather calls for hearty stews and rich braises. However, now we are coming into the warmer months, I can definitely see myself spending a lot more time at Yashin Ocean House, especially given that they offer a collection of fantastic value set lunch menus. These light meals are part of what I love about spring and summer. Bring it on!
Yashin Ocean House
117-119 Old Brompton Road
London, SW7 3RN
T: 020 7373 3990