We would be remiss not to mention upfront that the omakase offering at Sushi Kanesaka is priced at £420. Per person. While that might make you wince, on arrival it makes a bit more sense. Located within the 5-star 45 Park Lane Hotel, this is Mayfair sushi at Mayfair prices.
That said, a meal at Sushi Kanesaka has the power to transport you to Japan through the spirit of omotenashi, a mindful, wholeheartedly compassionate approach. You’re tenderly taken care of by its London team, many who have moved over from Tokyo.
Everything about this intimate, 13-seat restaurant is thoughtfully curated, from the muted, minimal interiors and stunning cedar wood chef's counter, to the selection of hand-cut sake glasses guests are invited to choose from.
Cornish crab with junsai watershield was beautiful and elegant, looking like something made by a glassblower.
Tradition and craftsmanship runs through every element. A focus on your needs and enjoyment is anticipated, often before you realise it yourself. Prior to your visit, a gentle suggestion is made in the confirmation email to forego perfume, to limit distraction. Between the first and second courses, once it became apparent to the staff that one guest was left-handed, adjustments were subtly made in response.
A good omakase experience will have you feeling like an active participant on a journey, rather than a passive passenger. This is the service that Sushi Kanesaka provides – particularly with their sake pairing (between £150-220). You are invited to choose from a selection of colourful kiriko glasses, and the symbolism behind the shape or design you choose is described to you, illuminating its significance.
There were seventeen courses in total, each a work of art. Cornish crab with junsai (watershield) was beautiful and elegant, looking like something made by a glassblower. Chutoro sushi, as well as the negi toro maki (tuna with green onion hand roll) were particular standouts, as was the grilled Kobe beef with wasabi. The menu concluded with miso soup made using lobster stock, a luxurious twist on the familiar dish.
The experience evokes a sense of ichigo- ichie, an idiom representing the unique and unrepeatable nature of a single moment, and the mindful appreciation of that fact. As the chef places each course before you, you become aware of the level of skill and knowledge that informs every bite. Everything is prepared in front of you, and presented carefully, with context provided. You learn where each ingredient is sourced, and why certain times of the year are better than others to fish in different waters.
When I ask what he wanted to impart to his guests, head chef Hirotaka Wada replied ‘It is my sincere desire to bring a new understanding of traditional Japanese sushi to a different audience here in London – to deepen the appreciation of Japanese cuisine by adapting flavours, and through time-honoured techniques.’
In our opinion, he’s done it with aplomb. I leave the meal feeling like I’ve truly had a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Yet at this staggering price, for many a visit to Sushi Kanesaka is probably not something easily repeatable, and the somewhat rapid nature of the edomae sushi style of dining might seem a bit rushed to those less familiar. A meal at Kanesaka will set you back a bit – but all things considered, it’s cheaper than a trip to Japan.
The vibe An elegant, intimate and rather pricey example of Japanese hospitality.
The food Traditional Japanese omakase - small, beautifully crafted courses of quality sushi and seafood.
The drink An extensive selection of sakes, including sparkling and unpasteurised.
Time Out tip The dessert course doesn’t come with a sake pairing, so a post-dinner digestif of a matcha liqueur with soda is a fantastic way of rounding off the evening.