The latest London outpost of Michelin-starred culinary emperor Jason Atherton, Sosharu, taps into a trend gathering pace in the capital: Japanese izakaya-style dining – beyond sushi feasting (stretching from fast food to fine dining) where snacky food accompanies drinks (i meaning to stay and sakaya a sake shop), a sort of old-school, eastern “tavern” culture. Those who’ve dined at Kurobuta, Flesh & Buns or Bincho Yakitori and loved it will be happy – bookings are now being taken from February 1.
Set in Clerkenwell Road’s newly built Turnmill Building, the space has been designed by Shanghai-based studio Neri & Hu, previously responsible for Atherton’s Pollen Street Social. Interiors, not only food, will bring a taste of Japan to London with the 75-cover restaurant framed by a timber structure inspired by traditional minka houses. Meaning “people’s house”, this was once the dominant style of Japanese home, and the restaurant surroundings will evoke that intimate domestic feel.
Executive head chef Alex Craciun, previously sous-chef at Pollen Street Social, has for the past year immersed himself in all things Japanese, including studying at the Kyoto Culinary School and working at highly acclaimed Tokyo restaurant RyuGin, under chef Seiji Yamamoto. The menu will be made up of small dishes representing the wide range of Japanese kitchen specialities, from sashimi to tempura to temaki. Star turns will include chashu pork belly with udon and king oyster; bream sashimi with shichimi and crispy potato, and scallop, yuzu butter and fresh nori. Those with a sweet tooth will be able to indulge in apple pie with miso butterscotch.
Beneath this relaxed restaurant space will be Seven Tales, an edgy cocktail bar emulating after-hours Tokyo, and reflecting the capital’s subculture through bespoke wallpaper illustrations. Bar manager Geoff Robinson has created a drinks menu that draws on Japanese culture and culinary heritage, with highlights such as Munenori’s Mojito, where cold-brewed matcha, nigori, Cuban rum, tonka bean and absinthe muddle together to pack a punch.
A third room, Kisetsu (meaning “season”), will operate independently, with its own kitchen, and here the chef will serve a tasting menu of his choice, changing daily – in the omakase tradition.
“Sosharu is a complete departure from anything I’ve done before,” says Atherton, “which makes it that much more exciting for us.”
And for us waiting to try it, too…