Such noodles have already enjoyed a cult following at Yen's first restaurant in St Germain, Paris, with ultra dedicated devotees from the fashion and film world. Handmade soba noodle bars are also quite a thing in New York. Yen is the Pastaio of noodles, and far healthier (gluten-free) too. We like the simple ritual of drinking a little broth, using chopsticks to add condiments to the noodles – spring onion and wasabi – then adding more soup, savouring the noodles with a delicate slurp before finishing the broth. And what's more, soba noodles are best eaten cold for full impact.
There is something very zen about Yen. The vast interior including a mezzanine cocktail bar is decorated with minimalist jenga like timbers, exquisite backlit shoji screens with leaf motifs and Ikebana displays that exude serenity.
The food is superlative. Whether it is an appetiser of freshly made tofu with a soupy grainy texture in a jewel like blue bowl, or mesmerising marbled otoro tuna belly sashimi that melts with peerless zing.
Even more exceptional is the sushi, especially a lightly torched salmon belly nigiri with a whisper of smoke. It is probably the most divine sushi I've ever tasted. There's a sushi counter at the vast open kitchen and it is mesmerising to watch the dexterity with which it is prepared. The black cod is the best we've tried in London. Light, glistening opaque flakes, yet as buttery as its competitors.
The menu includes plenty of robata and tempura dishes, including Yen’s signature oyster and courgette flower tempura, as well as Wagyu steak with Ponzu sauce. To really push the boat out, opt for the omakase menu, where the choice of dishes is left up to the chef.
Cocktails too are beautifully considered, blending typical Japanese flavours such as yuzu and lychee. No. 1 is a mix of toasted sesame and coconut infused Ketel One vodka, mandarin juice, nutmeg syrup and scorched coconut foam. There's a large variety of Japanese saké, beer, shōchū, and plum wine.
A wonderfully courteous experience, the staff are impeccably dressed, extraordinarily knowledgeable and completely intent on ensuring it is refined and memorable experience.
Yen is truly zen and raises expectations of high end Japanese dining in London to a more rarified level.
Price: £150+ dinner for two including wine
|What||Yen restaurant London|
|Where||Yen, 190 Strand - 5 Arundel Street, London, WC2R 3DX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Temple (underground)|
24 Nov 17 – 30 Nov 18, Open every day breakfast 8am-12pm lunch 12pm - 3pm dinner 6pm - 11pm