Sachi at Pantechnicon in Belgravia: “An understated cross-continental triumph”
A Japanese-Nordic fusion is as natural as a covalent bond, when you think about it. Though these two distinctly Eastern and Western cultures are stretched seven time zones apart, their Venn diagram has considerable overlaps in their appreciation for minimalistic, functional design and quality craftmanship. More specifically, their culinary worlds collide when it comes to their respect for fresh ingredients and their acclaimed mastery of seafood cookery (or in this case, no-cookery). Sachi, the latest addition to the Pantechnicon, mines this middle ground and the result is an understated cross-continental triumph.
Before sitting down we take a short tour around the Belgravia building itself, which has six floors housing eight separate ventures, including cosy coffee spot Café Kitsune and the new intimate four-seater bar from sake and Japanese whisky specialists Sakaya. On the top level is Nordic terrace Eldr, a horticultural heaven resembling a five-star greenhouse.
Downstairs at Sachi, a door festooned with flowers opens out into a dark yet lively space. The bar team are ready to greet us, but we are drawn straight towards the sushi counter, which sits in the spotlight, illuminating two chefs who banter against a background of abstract art (doing an admirable job at multitasking with knives and avoiding major injury). We are warmly welcomed by a small army of staff, each of whom seem to know exactly what you need at any given moment – sometimes before you know it yourself. It’s a real testament to Japanese hospitality, instinctive in a way that would be unsettling if it weren’t so impressive.
We order two cocktails with very different appeals: the first is a refreshing summer spritz made with yuzu sake and lifted with cucumber and melon, while the second is an interesting take on the Manhattan made with shochu, vermouth and soy sauce, the latter of which adds an intriguing and slightly salty umami edge.
The aperitifs, both fresh and refined, set the tone perfectly for the food. The Toro maki roll arrives first, reminding us why this is the reigning champion of sushi fish, the lean meat melting in the mouth alongside spring onion and buckwheat.
Then comes a plate of sashimi, which looks so vibrant alongside shredded daikon and shiso leaves that it almost leaps from the dish. The sushi chef slices the fish before us with a pinpoint precision that even machines can’t fathom – it’s closer to a caress than a chop. Of the selection, our favourites are the smooth tuna and the buttery yellowtail. Unusually there is no salmon on the menu, but the trout, which looks deceptively similar, easily holds the floor.
If you’re looking for a show, the nigiri is a true masterpiece, a selection of nine pieces put together at the artist’s studio in front of us. Trout roe is added with chopsticks – a feat that shouldn’t be underestimated given their status as the most slippery food known to man. Each component delivers, some notable highlights being the turbot, the sea bream and the lobster.
We then go for a veggie course which I can’t resist: Nasu is a recently discovered favourite of mine, and here the execution is spot-on, the aubergine tender enough to scoop with a spoon and glazed with sticky, sweet miso sauce. The Hotate No Chori – scallops with artichoke, yuzu and fermented grains – is equally impressive, exhibiting simple yet exquisite shellfish cookery .
However, at the risk of sounding obvious, the standout plate is the Wagyu Beef. In this case it’s not only down to that gorgeous, fat-marbled meat: it’s also the accompanying peppercorns, which have been cooked until they pop like berries, punctuating each mouthful with hits of flavour that don’t overpower.
We also pair our meal with a sake flight. The first is a Gozenshi 1859 Prototype from Okayama, a bold yet smooth variety, while the second is a more complex cup from UK-exclusive brand Te To Te, with earthy notes of coffee and nut. The last, Ine Mankai Rose Sake, is made with ancient red rice, the fruity yet umami flavour providing a nice introduction to our final sweet dish.
There’s no dessert menu as such but we close with a light macha cake. I’m not a big fan of the tea on its own but here it is balanced pleasantly with chocolate, lightly lifting the sponge for a subtle conclusion.
Sachi serves up polished Japanese Nordic plates that feel both healthy and decadent, like a salad so good you would eat it on your birthday (if the very idea weren’t a sacrilege). At this Belgravia spot, both the cookery and the service are intuitive but never intrusive, allowing the ingredients shine and the guests to sit back and relax.
Photos: Azhul Mohamed
To book a table at Sachi, 19 Motcomb Street London SW1X 8LB, call or visit their website here.