Although I’m a big fan of Turkish food, I don’t eat it as often as I would like. Despite passing through Victoria station daily on my commute, I must confess I haven’t really explored many eating establishments in the area. However, with Victoria station getting redeveloped at the moment and hot new venues such Kouzu opening, Belgravia and Pimlico are rising spots to watch on London’s culinary scene.
Located on Wilton Road, Kazan is a large double-fronted restaurant offering Ottoman cuisine. We were a table of seven ladies celebrating a friend’s birthday and were fortunate enough to be given a plush booth with silk cushions – a very enticing prospect which would be hard to leave. The interiors featured a mix of Turkish-influence and contemporary, leaving a modern and romantic atmosphere. One of our party was quite late and fortunately the staff were patient and obliging as we delayed ordering and occupied ourselves with the cocktail list. Usually I don’t associate Turkish restaurants with cocktails, however, Kazan has an extensive list of concoctions (including virgin cocktails) at reasonable prices. I ordered a Dusty Emerald (Belvedere vodka, apple juice, brown sugar and fresh lime, served with a light cinnamon dusting), which was refreshing and fruity and at £6.50 a good price.
A frequent problem I have when eating out is ordering too big starters, which often leave me too stuffed for dessert (a damn shame, as I love desserts!) so I was pleased to see Kazan offered various sharing platters. My friend was of similar mind so we split a Seafood Mezze Platter (£18.95), which included Smoked Salmon, Crispy Baby Calamari, Fish Kofte, Deep Fried Prawn, Baba Ganoush, Tabbouleh and Tarama. The ganoush, tabbouleh and tarama balanced out the dish so it wasn’t too fishy, with the cold salmon a nice contrast to the hot calamari and prawn.
The mains menu offered an appetising choice of grilled meats and fish dishes, but I was drawn to the vegetarian menu due to the Hellimi kebab – a Hellimi and mixed vegetable skewer, chargrilled served with bulgar (£12.95). The chefs had cooked the Halloumi cheese just right – not too chewy or salty and the chargrill really brought our the flavour. It was a perfect sized portion for me and I really enjoyed the whole dish. Despite having room, I opted for a Turkish apple tea to finish as I was continuing the evening in a bar and didn’t want to feel stuffed.
Overall, our party really enjoyed the evening. Our booth was incredibly comfortable and gave us a good view of the restaurant. I really liked the mix of modern and Turkish influence to the interiors. The food was delicious, the drinks were lovely and the bill came to a reasonable price. I’ll definitely be back again.
- Kazan, 93-94 Wilton Road, Victoria, SW1V 1DW. Nearest station: Victoria. For more information and booking, visit the Kazan website.
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With the re-development of Victoria station and the surrounding area, Belgravia is the next hot postcode. Although long renowned as an upmarket residential and business area of the capital, SW1 has been lacking in choice of nightlife and restaurants.
Located at the prestigious address of Grosvenor Gardens opposite the Goring Hotel, Kouzu is a new contemporary Japanese restaurant and bar. The restaurant encompasses two floors in the Grade II-listed former National Bank Belgravia branch, which closed in 1970. Overseen by head chef Kyoichi Kai (formerly of the Arts Club and Zuma), the kitchen is staffed by an all-Japanese crew, ensuring authentic cuisine.
Upon arrival, we were given a Japanese greeting by all the staff, which was a nice touch. We were seated on a cosy table for two, under the window and near the bar, providing an intimate dining experience. Aside from the wine list, there is an extensive cocktail list full of many original creations alongside traditional favourites. We started with a Bellini with a twist – with a peach liqueur espuma on top and mist of peach bitters, which was light and fluffy and a Momo Awa, a red fruity concoction. The cocktail menu looked so good, we decided to forgo our usual wine accompaniment for the meal and went on to order Sakura Ume and Passion Victoria cocktails for our mains.
The menu features a wide range of sushi, sashimi, salads, small plates and grills. We were in the mood to mix things up so decided to try a mix of sushi, nigiri and hot dishes. To start with I ordered the Blanched Spinach, Sesame Sauce and Sesame Seeds. Although a simple dish, it will certainly please spinach-lovers such as myself. I loved the two flavours of the sesame sauce and seeds with the spinach. My friend opted for the Prawn Tempura, served on a salad, which I was able to try. The tempura was light and not oily at all – a welcome contrast to often greasy tempura I have eaten at other restaurants.
For main, I ordered a mix of sushi and Nigiri – Cucumber rolls with salmon, mackerel and scallop, with homemade Wasabi on the side. The fish nigiri tasted fresh and rich in flavour, with the beds of rice cooked to perfection, just sticky enough to remain intact between the chopsticks. My friend opted for the grilled salmon, which was well cooked and served with crunchy vegetables. With the manageable size of our first mains, we continued with the Chef’s Selection of sashimi, a fine spread of raw fish including toro, salmon, yellow tail, scallop and tuna, which was delicious and filling.
As we were pretty indecisive with the mouth-watering dessert menu, we ended up sharing a selection between us. The Crème Brulee had a Japanese twist as it was served with Maccha (powder green tea), which gave it a lovely savoury hint. The Dacquoise and Fig cake was an appetising light dish, perfect for after such a filling meal. The desserts were accompanied by various flavours of ice cream, but I particularly enjoyed the sesame, yuzu (Asian citrus fruit) and salted caramel flavours. The sesame ice cream admittedly sounded strange, but was delicious. It was an unusual combination of sweet and savoury, and took a few bites before I was able to process the taste and realise I liked it.
Overall, all the dishes were brilliant. With Kouzu’s contemporary twist on traditional Japanese dishes, it was quite the culinary adventure. The service was attentive and fast, while the setting proved for a relaxing environment. I would definitely recommend for Japanese food connoisseurs or those looking for a special venue for a birthday or other occasion.
- Kouzu, 19 – 20 Grosvenor Gardens, Belgravia, SW1W 0BD. Tel: 020 7730 7043. Nearest station: Victoria. For more information, visit the Kouzu restaurant website.
Disclaimer: Metro Girl was a guest of Kouzu restaurant for this review.
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