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An expensive restaurant that takes inspiration from Japan, Korea and Scandinavia for both its look and its menu.
A koan is a brief, often nonsensical riddle used in Zen practice to provoke thought, or even doubt, in the mind of the student. ‘What is the sound of one hand clapping?’ is a famous example. Another could be ‘Ikejime turbot takenono miso zuke and cream scallop bacon’.
But this isn’t a Japanese koan, or a haiku. It’s one of scores of indecipherable dishes on the menu at the Holland Park restaurant called Flat Three. Ikejime is a Japanese fisherman’s technique for paralysing a fish using a spike driven into the spine, and no one could tell us how it had been done to our turbot. And if the takenoko was present, you could be forgiven for not realising unless you already know that that’s the Japanese word for bamboo shoot. The whole point of a menu written like this is not to inform diners but to intimidate them.
Korean, Scandinavian and Japanese influences collide on this menu like a Harajuku fashion victim’s dress sense. The succession of canapé-sized portions using modernist plate presentation mash up ingredients and techniques, using odd combinations seemingly for the sake of it. Some combos work, others we’re not so sure about.
Highlights of the cheapest five-course tasting menu (£49 per head) included a chawanmushi (egg custard) topped with buckwheat popcorn, and the sea buckthorn sorbet topping a tiny dessert. Less impressive were the three tough little cubes of tuna that were fibrous and ridiculously small, costing £14 as a starter on the à la carte menu; true Japanese o-toro should be melt-in-the mouth, not chewy. The nine-course option, by the way, costs £79.
Flat Three isn’t the most inviting of premises: an awkward basement space concealed behind a nondescript entrance at the corner of two streets. But once you’re inside the dining room it’s spacious, with clean white lines, elegant Scandinavian furniture and delicate glassware. Service is solicitous, food and wine prices high. Even with cautious ordering, you’ll be lucky to get away with spending under £150 for two here; you could spend a lot more. Flat Three is proper remortgaging territory.
120-122 Holland Park Avenue
|Transport:||Tube: Holland Park|
|Price:||Meal for two with wine and service: around £160.|
|Opening hours:||Dinner served 6pm-9.30pm Tues-Sat; lunch served noon-2.30pm Fri-Sat.|
|Do you own this business?|