Although it sounds like this restaurant was named with our locality in mind, this is actually their third restaurant to open in London. Chisou opened last year (2011) opposite Chiswick’s much-loved Sam’s Brasserie, on Barley Mow Passage. The outside isn’t much to look at but the interior is pleasant: low-lit, clean, sophisticated.
If you are looking for high-end Japanese dining, as of April 2012 this is by far the best restaurant in Chiswick. The restaurant was reviewed by AA Gill earlier in 2012; I think we can all agree that his reviews say more about his perpetual bad mood than the restaurant at which he is dining at any given point in time. Also given the fact he slagged-off our beloved Chiswick (he has a habit of slagging off localities – once writing-off the whole of Cambridge in a review), I think we can further agree we should read his articles for entertainment purposes only, then toss them quick-smart into the recycling.
Chiswick does have some great alternatives when it comes to Japanese and Pan-Asian, but the choice of sakes and cocktail menu – not to mention the gorgeous menu – doubtless make this the finest Japanese restaurant in the area.
My only advice is to venture out (i.e. splash out!) on some of the more interesting dishes on the menu, as this is where the restaurant stands-out amongst its local competitors, and try to engage waiting staff in a discussion about the food – where it comes from, how it’s prepared, etc. You are in for some real treats.
Treat 1: Canadian fresh snow crab, wrapped in king crab & avocado slivers & tobiko (fish roe)
You really don’t get this kind of dish at your average sushi joint.
Treat 2: The amazing Yellowtail Sashimi in black truffle-infused soy sauce
As the above dish cost just below £20, perhaps the average punter might not order it. But it’s one of those dishes you go home and think about for a while. Beautiful, delicate flavours – and a great use of truffle.
Treat 3: Sushi and Sashimi Platter
Although the above photo is a little grainy, you can see the effort that has gone into presentation, and you can get a good idea about the cut of fish they use. The sushi experience – at least in London – doesn’t get much better than this.
Treat 4: Aubergine in Dark Miso Paste
The weirdest of the evening’s dishes was this one. Although it looks slightly burnt in texture, this is actually a thick layer of miso paste. I’ve always found food smothered in miso paste a bit rich, but this was absolutely delicious. The sesame seeds really offset the flavour of the miso. More to the point, the texture of the aubergine itself was wonderful; a real treat to scoop out the flesh. You know sometimes you eat a well-known food, but somehow it’s almost recognisable as that bit of food? Well this aubergine tasted nothing like I expected. It was utterly melt-in-the-mouth and if I were blindfolded I’d have no idea what I was eating!
A trip to Chisou, Chiswick, is not be complete without sampling at least one of their delicious cocktails or sakes.
This lemon sake was surprising, and was more akin to a limoncello than anything else:
And oh, the cocktails. For a full-on cocktail experience, retire to the upstairs cocktail bar, or just drink them alongside your meal. As a general rule, cocktails are priced between £7.95 and £10.50.
Also worth a try is the wonderful Umeshi Plum wine made with rice Shochu.
As with some of Chiswick’s other top restaurants, it’s possible to come in and spend £20 per head, or blow the budget and come away with a bill of £200 for two (though you have to try pretty hard to do that). Either way Chisou is a wonderful addition to Chiswick’s array of Asian restaurants and is perfect for couples, groups, and especially those who love fine dining.