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Nozomi Knightsbridge defends its title as London’s best Japanese

As a rule of thumb (nude selfies aside) if JLaw is doing something then I probably should be too, so when I found out that the restaurant I was heading to in Knightsbridge later in the evening was frequented by the Hollywood A-lister when she was this side of the pond during awards season, I had high expectations. When, moments later, a friend mentioned it was where Rihanna celebrated her birthday when in the capital, my expectations rose further still.

Having been established 9 years ago, Nozomi has a loyal following of royal postcode regulars, but with a fast growing list of celebrity clientele and a new look interior they are starting to draw in customers from all across the capital and around the world.

After winning Best Restaurant Bar in 2006, 2011 and 2013 in the London Club & Bar Awards, and come runner up in the London Lifestyle Awards for both Best Bar and Best Restaurant last year, they might have rested on their laurels. But Nozomi, determined to be the gift that kept on giving, re-launched with head chef Ian Pengelly and completely renovated the interior bar, main dining area and private dining room. The bold move has seen the restaurant transformed by dark colours, low lighting and a extraordinary glass atrium-style roof. So, last week, TGJ headed over to the SW3 restaurant to see exactly what the relaunch had brought and to try out the new a la carte menu for ourselves.

The Vibe: At 7pm on a Thursday night in Knightsbridge I was expecting Nozomi be filled to the rafters and buzzing with glamorous people having raucous conversations whilst sipping on Sake. In fact, the restaurant was near empty and there were only few people sitting by the bar. This did little to deter from the moody atmosphere, the newly darkened interiors and low lighting did their job well. The interior has a 1920s Art Deco theme with natural light shining through the panoramic glass atrium onto pleated silk-lined walls and and luxuriously soft leather banquet seating.

The Food: If you don’t know your sashimi from your nigroni then put your trust in the knowledgeable waiters, they’ll come up with the perfect selection for you. This was some of the best Japanese I’ve tasted in London, from soft shell crab that was crisp on the outside and succulent on the inside, and just the right level of salty, to melt in the mouth black cod marinated for 48 hours and accompanied by sautéed pak chou. The latter is their signature dish and you’d be hard pushed to find a finer plate of food anywhere in London (and trust us, we’ve tried a lot).

Even plain old salmon sashimi gets an exciting update here, arriving to our table overflowing with dry ice. Other insider tips include skipping desert and going straight for a Nozomi Martini to wash down your wasabi, it’s ‘a refreshing combination of fresh lychee and blueberries, shaken with Belvedere Cytrus and a hint of rose petal water, cut with Japanese yuzu skin’. But you won’t care what’s in it, this is one damn good cocktail.

The Drinks: They have an extensive cocktail list. After recommendation from our delightful waiter, I went for the Passion Fruit Martini while my friend opted for a Mango and Chilli Margarita. Both were beautifully presented without an umbrella or sparkler in sight.

The Damage: It’s on the expensive end of the spectrum, but for the exceptional level of service it’s definitely justified.

The Conclusion: The food is beautifully prepared and from the moment you walk into the cool Knightsbridge venue, you are impeccably well looked after. If you’re looking for a luxurious night out with friends then this would be a good place to start, and it would work equally well as a date venue. Any woman would be amply impressed and you can head to the bar afterwards if you’d rather not pound the pavements after dinner. The service is spotless, the charming waiters know the menu head to tail and they even do take-out. We’ve got them on speed-dial.

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