I went to Aqua for lunch on Friday with my partner and had a great 3 course meal with a bottle of wine thrown in. Unfortunately the weather wasn't nice enough for the terrace, but eating inside was absolutely fine - the food was delicious and staff very attentive. It was very quiet, probably as it was lunch, but that gave us the place to ourselves!
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Posted: Thu Oct 15 2009
Aqua is brought to us, ‘concept’ and all, from an upmarket chain based in Hong Kong. It occupies the top floor of what used to be the Dickins & Jones building, sandwiched between Regent Street and Argyll Street (home of waffle stalls, teen shoppers and ‘Sister Act’).
Aqua’s entrance, complete with red velvet drapes, is on tacky Argyll Street. A doorman checks if you have a reservation (we did, but he’d not been told) and then sends you to the lift.
On the top floor, a gaggle of giggling girl greeters size you up as you leave the lift. It’s not the most professional of starts. But Aqua aims to be an upmarket fine dining destination, vying with the likes of Nobu or Zuma.
In many ways, it has fulfilled the brief. The series of rooms are decorated like smart, international hotel restaurants – smart, but not cutting-edge design.
There are two dining rooms, one – ‘Aqua Nueva’ – claiming inspiration from Spanish cocina nueva, the new wave of Spanish cooking, and other, ‘Aqua Kyoto’, inspired by Japan. There are also a few bars, and three large outdoor terraces, only used by smokers on our visit.
Curiously, the interior of Aqua Kyoto has a gaudy, Western-style, five-star hotel look, not at all like Japanese fine dining restaurants in Japan. A sushi counter sits sunken in the middle of the room, like the captain's bridge in the Starship Enterprise.
I visited at lunch. It serves only set lunches – no à la carte - that are fair value, and well-prepared by the Japanese chef – a mixed bento box for £15.95, plus the inevitable black cod with miso at £28.50. They'd pass muster in Japan - hardly surprising, as chef Shibuya Kenichi has only been outside of Japan of matter of weeks.
Service on this visit was a shambles though. Our oriental waitress knew barely a word of menu Japanese, and soy sauce - the essential and obvious condiment – was not brought (we had to ask for it). The staff managed to be in the way when not needed, then vanished when we did want their assistance. It was raining outside, so we were advised to not step out onto the balcony 'for health and safety reasons' (oh, please).
Then, I was overcharged, with two additional glasses of wine mysteriously appearing on the bill.
If you're more interested in a fair-priced set lunch in a glam setting than you are in polished service, this is worth considering. Especially if you don't want to stray far from Oxford Circus.
Aqua Kyoto Fifth floor
30 Argyll Street
- Venue phone:
020 7478 0540
- Venue website:
- Opening hours:
Lunch noon-2.30pm Mon-Sat; Dinner 5.30-10.30pm Mon-Weds, 6-11pm Thurs-Sat; Infinity brunch noon-4pm.
- Fifth floor
30 Argyll Street
- 020 7478 0540
- Fifth floor
- Aqua Kyoto
Average User Rating
3.5 / 5
- 5 star:3
- 4 star:0
- 3 star:1
- 2 star:1
- 1 star:1
My parents and I had dinner here and was really impressed, the service was very attentive but not rushed, and the food is great - the Seabss with crab ravioli was my favorite, cooked to perfection! Very well done indeed and lots of variety. I am taking my husband there this weekend.
This is my second time I have had lunch this time it was the Bento box, I had the black cod miso, which I couldn't fault, love the service, planning an afternoon on their terrace overlooking Regents st!
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Really not sure what the draw is with this place; our sushi was fine but for the price that's not good enough. Lovely balcony though!
The entire set-up is really quite amateurish. For the quality of the food and the service the prices really should be at least 20% inside Nobu and Roka. The waiter simply did not listen, all the dishes (starters and mains) were dumped on our table at the same time (soup last!). Food was really ordinary; not as good as your average high street sushi bar but they rely on the funkiness of venue to not have to worry about other more fundamental restaurant basics.