We are spoilt for choice for brunch in London, but the truth is the majority of restaurants focus on traditional British (or American) breakfast dishes. If you are looking for brunch that is truly out of the ordinary, you should try the newly launched Japanese brunch set menu at Aqua Kyoto. I was invited along to a bloggers’ brunch a few weeks ago and my friend Adrienne (a food Instagrammer @fungry.nomad) agreed to attend on my behalf. Adrienne’s thorough review of the dishes and pictures of beautiful sushi platters have already convinced me to visit Aqua Kyoto soon. I hope you will enjoy this guest post!
Aqua Kyoto, located in the heart of Soho on Regent Street, delivers indulgence at a reasonable price with its new weekend bottomless brunch menu. Led by Head Chef Paul Greening, the revamped menu is comprised of dishes that feel familiar yet unexpected. Greening, who studied Microbiology back in his home country of New Zealand before training as a chef, infuses classic Japanese dishes with innovative techniques and unusual ingredients.
Chef Greening’s passion and mastery of the Japanese cuisine comes through on each plate along with distinctive twists influenced by his love for science. It is this unique influence that makes the food at Aqua Kyoto not only sophisticated and delicious but also an unforgettable experience.
Situated on the 5th floor with outdoor terrace views of Liberty London and Soho’s famed Regent Street just below, Aqua Kyoto draws patrons in with an impressive cocktail bar known for slinging out some of London’s best boozy concoctions. The restaurant space is airy and modern specked with Asian accents in artwork and décor. The use of stunning ceramic dishware made exclusively for the restaurant and ceramic tip chopsticks imported from Kyoto enhance the elegance of the dining experience.
While the black tablecloths and red velvet chairs surely complement the trendy evening vibe at Aqua Kyoto, they feel slightly unfitting for a daytime brunch. Nevertheless, the food and price point of the new weekend brunch menu makes a visit (or two!) well worth it.
The brunch menu starts out with a light snack of edamame with sea salt or chilli & garlic followed by a miso soup prepared with three different kinds of miso. The blend of different miso pastes adds complexity and depth to the flavour.
After the soup, we were served a lavish platter of omakase sushi and sashimi. The locally sourced seafood combined with precision technique made this dish a memorable one.
In true Greening fashion, welcomed opportunities to elevate the omakase platter were found. These delightful additions included shaved truffle over fresh seabass sashimi and the use of a proprietary mango “sushi skin” for one of the sushi rolls. Again we saw Greening’s science background come into play as he explained the process in which he used pine pulp as an emulsifier alongside natural reversible pectins and fruit puree to develop the skin. Not only did everything taste wonderful, but it was so beautifully presented that it made the platter almost too pretty to eat.
A dish of lightly battered tempura prawns and vegetables followed. This was served with a side of wasabi salt, daikon-ginger tempura broth, and a kimchi and garlic sauce. While this dish may seem deceptively simple, it requires significant skill to master the right balance of texture, temperature and flavours.
The fifth and following course of green tea yaki soba with onion teriyaki & winter vegetables was a unanimous crowd favourite. After doing extensive research on the soba noodle making process, Greening came up with his own soba recipe or shall we say, soba formula. After testing different proportions of alkaline water and types of buckwheat, he developed a soba noodle with less gluten and optimal viscosity to hold the shape and texture during the cooking. The noodles had the al dente mouth feel reminiscent of Italian cuisine. A sweet sauce of mirin and reduced dashi added distinct Japanese taste, while the shimeji and shiitake mushrooms added meatiness and texture.
The savoury part of the meal finished off with skewers of robata chicken and spring onion, seasonal vegetables. Meat lovers can order supplemental skewers of Wagyu beef for £10. Each skewer was grilled to perfection, making many of us wish it was served earlier in the meal when we weren’t as full and could have appreciated this dish to its fullest. They were certainly some of the tastiest bites of the day.
Finally for dessert, a warm dish of buttery Crème Brulée was served. As an added bonus, we got to try the chef’s signature Fuji apple mousse, a true work of art. The mousse comes encased in a stunning red candy apple shell that actually uses no sugar in the making. Once the shell is cracked open, you’ll find bright apple flavor in each bite. For those daring enough to order more after Aqua Kyoto’s decadent 7-course brunch menu, the Fuji apple dessert is a must!
The Aqua Kyoto brunch menu is available on Saturdays and Sundays. The set menu costs £34 for 7 courses; £49 with bottomless bubbles or Bellini; £65 with bottomless Veuve Clicquot Champagne. Mondomulia readers will receive a complimentary brunch when they book through Bookatable for a minimum of 4 people. Click here to redeem this offer.
Disclaimer: Adrienne was a guest of Aqua Kyoto as part of a press event. All opinions are her own.
Words and photos by Adrienne Fung.