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Nozomi (Bar, Restaurant)

Picture of Nozomi in Knightsbridge, London

15 Beauchamp Place, Knightsbridge, London, SW3 1NQ
Cuisine: Japanese
Tel: 020 7838 1500 | Email to Nozomi | Transport: Knightsbridge | Write review

Nozomi Review

Best for: luxurious dining in Knightsbridge.

Great: delicious beef from cows reared on classical music and massages.

In Japan you bow and exchange business cards, rather than shake hands and ask for a mobile number. I’m fascinated with the idea of going to a Japanese restaurant: I am expecting elegance, filled with surprises to the point of shock. This is what I’ve always thought about Japan: tradition and astonishment, a powerful mix.

The elegant, linear environment of this luxurious restaurant exudes colour - cream, brown, grey – reminding me of those chocolates that, in Italian, we call “cremini” or “little cream stuff”. Chocolate is indulgent and the elegance of the surroundings feels as if I just walked into a chocolate box, wrapped in silver and gold; beautiful and decadent, ready to offer many magic choices.

French men greet us: French manager, French maître, French waiters. They will serve impeccable modern Japanese food. I’m nervous since nobody else is there. It’s somewhat austere, and yet also quite dramatic and fashionable. The music is loud, though, and rather a contrast.

All of a sudden I am in the streets of Tokyo, where everything is modern, fast, and colourful. The era of the samurais is still the backdrop of this eclectic city; so is the contrast between extreme modernity and extreme tradition.

I am Banana, Haruki, Yoko and all those fascinating artists through whom I have tried to reveal to myself the mystery of the Far East and the culture of the Rising Sun.

The colours around me are the same colours I have always imagined when reading books about the emancipation of Geishas, troubled and explicit love among young students, tragedy of lives lived independently; or whilst reading about Japanese art: artistic décor which masters the idea of elegant simplicity.

The food arrives and, at some level, brings me back to reality. It’s a great pleasure to discover mouth melting beef tataki, unbelievable scallops, and miso marinated yellow tail. Everything is so elegant, and again minimalistic: three scallops, 6 slices of beef, a little bit of fish. It is so much of what I expected, the equivalent of an amazingly sophisticated, classic Kenzo dress or the simple perfect repetitive design of a Pagoda.

The cocktails are psychedelic: pink, yellow, icy white. They are seamlessly in line with the wild colours of a Japanese disco in contrast with the austere outdoors.

I wish I was wearing my Furisode Kimono, with the longest possible swinging sleeves. It would be the perfect garment to accompany these pleasant cocktails, but yet again, on second thought - in perfect Japanese style of mixed contrasts - a simple Uniqlo jumper and skirt might do the trick!

I am temporarily in a videogame: all colourful, modern and yet based on the most ancient and traditional rules; in this case the rules of hosting and serving virtuous food. I am also amused and somewhat intoxicated by the experience: I know I will have to stop at some point but I am swallowed into the magic of the game. My eyes are glued to the screen, or, in this case, the scenery and the food.

All of a sudden people arrive and the restaurant becomes busier and possibly more chic. The silence, despite the soundtrack, takes me back to an atmosphere of the past melting into modernity: scenes from a hectic underground tube station, oddly calm, orderly and silent; vapours of stir fry, light tea and sashimi in the busy streets of a modern city.

We taste heaven with a portion of square bites of pork belly, placed in a geometrical line, marinated in miso and soy. We gasp after a morsel of sea bass and love the sophisticatedly tuna tartar.

The French staff’s conduct reminds me of Japanese manners: helpful and knowledgeable, but with a Mediterranean spark. They bow and thank and fill our water glasses as soon as they’re half empty. They move around with little, svelte steps, like a gentleman in a kimono walking about his house.

When dessert arrives, I am taken into a Japanese garden, made of miniature landscapes: small chocolate soufflé and tiny strawberry cheesecakes. They are lovely and perfect, like bonsai trees that grow on windowsills, to the amazement of the world.

When ready to leave my inspired imaginary world of warriors and cartoons, miso and tempura, psychedelic neon lights, beautiful design, tradition and electronics, we exit our chocolate box impressed by the quality and the experience we’ve had.

I say goodbye, in my heart, to Hiroshi and Kurosawa, Yohj and Yamamotoi. I don’t know if I will ever understand the deep complexity of the ancient Japanese culture, the pride of its apparently shy and quiet people, their straightforwardness. What I know is that I will always been drawn to it and I will always eat Japanese food, which tonight I discovered to be perfect in this elegant corner of Knightsbridge.
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Additional Information

Special offers, discounts and deals at Nozomi

Nozomi Delivered. A new lunch and dinner delivery service, order online and have your favourite dishes delivered to your door. Catchment area applies. Perfect for an office lunch or dinner at home.

Updated 01/05/2012

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